Pleistocene reef environments, constituent grains, and coral community structure: Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

Pandolfi, JM, Llewellyn, G and Jackson, JBC (1999) Pleistocene reef environments, constituent grains, and coral community structure: Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Coral Reefs, 18 2: 107-122. doi:10.1007/s003380050165


Author Pandolfi, JM
Llewellyn, G
Jackson, JBC
Title Pleistocene reef environments, constituent grains, and coral community structure: Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
Publication date 1999-07-01
Year available 1999
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s003380050165
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Start page 107
End page 122
Total pages 16
Place of publication NEW YORK
Publisher SPRINGER VERLAG
Language eng
Abstract We investigated the degree to which component grains vary with depositional environment in sediments from three reef habitats from the Pleistocene (125 ka) Hate Unit of the Lower Terrace, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles: windward reef crest, windward back reef, and leeward reef crest. The windward reef crest sediment is the most distinctive, dominated by fragments of encrusting and branching coralline red algae, coral fragments and the encrusting foraminiferan Carpenteria sp. Windward back reef and leeward reef crest sediments are more similar compositionally, only showing significant differences in relative abundance of coral fragments and Homotrema rubrum. Although lacking high taxonomic resolution and subject to modification by transport, relative abundance of constituent grain types offers a way of assessing ancient skeletal reef community composition, and one which is not limited to a single taxonomic group. The strong correlation between grain type and environment we found in the Pleistocene of Curacao suggests that constituent grain analysis may be an effective tool in delineating Pleistocene Caribbean reef environments. However, it will not be a sufficient indicator where communities vary significantly within reef environments or where evolutionary and/or biogeographical processes lead to different relationships between community composition and reef environment. Detailed interpretation of geological, biological, and physical characteristics of the Pleistocene reefs of Curacao reveals that the abundance of the single coral species, Acropora palmata, is not a good predictor of the ecological structure of the ancient reef coral communities. This coral was the predominant species in two of the three reef habitats (windward and leeward reef crest), but the taxonomic composition (based on species relative abundance data) of the reef coral communities was substantially different in these two environments. We conclude that qualitative estimates of coral distribution patterns (presence of a key coral species or the use of a distinctive coral skeletal architecture), when used as a component in a multi-component analysis of ancient reef environments, probably introduces minimal circular reasoning into quantitative paleoecological studies of reef coral community structure.
Keyword reef corals
coral reefs
constituent grain analysis
paleoecology
quaternary
community ecology
Montastraea-Annularis
Huon-Peninsula
Fringing-Reef
Barrier-Reef
New-Guinea
Facies
Growth
Assemblages
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: ResearcherID Downloads - Archived
 
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