Sensitivity of coral recruitment to subtle shifts in early community succession

Doropoulos, Christopher, Roff, George, Visser, Mart-Simone and Mumby, Peter J. (2017) Sensitivity of coral recruitment to subtle shifts in early community succession. Ecology, 98 2: 304-314. doi:10.1002/ecy.1663

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Author Doropoulos, Christopher
Roff, George
Visser, Mart-Simone
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Sensitivity of coral recruitment to subtle shifts in early community succession
Journal name Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9658
Publication date 2017-02-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/ecy.1663
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 98
Issue 2
Start page 304
End page 314
Total pages 11
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract Community succession following disturbance depends on positive and negative interactions, the strength of which change along environmental gradients. To investigate how early succession affects coral reef recovery, we conducted an 18-month experiment in Palau, using recruitment tiles and herbivore exclusion cages. One set of reefs has higher wave exposure and had previously undergone a phase shift to macroalgae following a major typhoon, whereas the other set of reefs have lower wave exposure and did not undergo a macroalgal phase shift. Similar successional trajectories were observed at all sites when herbivores were excluded: turf algae dominated early succession, followed by shifts to foliose macroalgae and heterotrophic invertebrates. However, trajectories differed in the presence of herbivores. At low wave exposure reefs, herbivores promoted coralline algae and limited turf and encrusting fleshy algae in crevice microhabitats, facilitating optimal coral recruitment. Under medium wave exposure, relatively higher but still low coverage of turf and encrusting fleshy algae (15-25%) found in crevice microhabitats inhibited coral recruitment, persisting throughout multiple recruitment events. Our results indicate that altered interaction strength in different wave environments following disturbance can drive subtle changes in early succession that cascade to alter secondary succession to coral recruitment and system recovery.
Keyword Cascade
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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School of Biological Sciences Publications
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