Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats

Doropoulos, Christopher, Ward, Selina, Roff, George, Gonzalez-Rivero, Manuel and Mumby, Peter J. (2015) Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats. PLoS ONE, 10 5: e0128535.1-e0128535.23. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128535

Author Doropoulos, Christopher
Ward, Selina
Roff, George
Gonzalez-Rivero, Manuel
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats
Journal name PLoS ONE   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2015-05-26
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0128535
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 5
Start page e0128535.1
End page e0128535.23
Total pages 23
Place of publication San Francisco CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (<50 mm) coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21–50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (<20 mm) had the highest influence on reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation in reef slope environments.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 5 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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