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Abiotic and biotic controls on coral recovery 16 years after mass bleaching

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Abiotic and biotic controls on coral recovery 16 years after mass bleaching. / Robinson, J.P.W.; Wilson, S.K.; Graham, N.A.J.

In: Coral Reefs, Vol. 38, No. 6, 01.12.2019, p. 1255–1265.

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Robinson, J.P.W. ; Wilson, S.K. ; Graham, N.A.J. / Abiotic and biotic controls on coral recovery 16 years after mass bleaching. In: Coral Reefs. 2019 ; Vol. 38, No. 6. pp. 1255–1265.

Bibtex

@article{ab53200e061a4d1dbe89d061547b8738,
title = "Abiotic and biotic controls on coral recovery 16 years after mass bleaching",
abstract = "As climate changes increase heat stress on tropical ecosystems, the long-term persistence of coral reefs requires rapid coral recovery following coral bleaching events. Using the extent of coral cover return to a pre-bleaching baseline as a benchmark, recovery of fast-growing and stress-tolerant coral growth forms suggests that reefs can bounce back between repeated disturbances if given adequate time and protection from anthropogenic disturbances. However, long-term recovery dynamics of coral communities following severe bleaching and mass mortality are limited, particularly for fringing reefs along inhabited coastlines where human stressors may compromise recovery potential. Here, we examine the dynamics and drivers of coral recovery in Seychelles, where 12 reefs returned to pre-bleaching coral cover levels after a severe bleaching event caused > 95% coral mortality. Six reefs with initially low cover (<25%) recovered within 7–12 yr and, after 16 yr, exceeded pre-bleaching cover levels by 132–305%. In contrast, six reefs with initially high cover (20–60%) remained at 48–93% of pre-bleaching levels, with recovery projected to take 17–29 yr. Abiotic and historic conditions constrained recovery rates, with the slowest recovery times observed on deep and wave-exposed reefs with high pre-bleaching coral cover. Reefs with high juvenile coral densities and low nitrogen levels recovered fastest, possibly due to the interplay between nutrient enrichment, algal proliferation, and coral recruitment. Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding small-scale variation in recovery potential, whereby recovery times were governed by natural limits on growth rates and modified by coral recruitment and nutrient enrichment. Ultimately, climate-impacted reefs can recover to moderate coral cover levels, but, if bleaching causes repeated high coral mortality, short recovery windows will prevent a return to historic levels of coral dominance. {\textcopyright} 2019, The Author(s).",
keywords = "Benthic community, Climate change, Disturbance, Logistic growth, Resilience, Thermal stress",
author = "J.P.W. Robinson and S.K. Wilson and N.A.J. Graham",
note = "The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00338-019-01831-7",
year = "2019",
month = dec
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s00338-019-01831-7",
language = "English",
volume = "38",
pages = "1255–1265",
journal = "Coral Reefs",
issn = "0722-4028",
publisher = "Springer-Verlag",
number = "6",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Abiotic and biotic controls on coral recovery 16 years after mass bleaching

AU - Robinson, J.P.W.

AU - Wilson, S.K.

AU - Graham, N.A.J.

N1 - The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00338-019-01831-7

PY - 2019/12/1

Y1 - 2019/12/1

N2 - As climate changes increase heat stress on tropical ecosystems, the long-term persistence of coral reefs requires rapid coral recovery following coral bleaching events. Using the extent of coral cover return to a pre-bleaching baseline as a benchmark, recovery of fast-growing and stress-tolerant coral growth forms suggests that reefs can bounce back between repeated disturbances if given adequate time and protection from anthropogenic disturbances. However, long-term recovery dynamics of coral communities following severe bleaching and mass mortality are limited, particularly for fringing reefs along inhabited coastlines where human stressors may compromise recovery potential. Here, we examine the dynamics and drivers of coral recovery in Seychelles, where 12 reefs returned to pre-bleaching coral cover levels after a severe bleaching event caused > 95% coral mortality. Six reefs with initially low cover (<25%) recovered within 7–12 yr and, after 16 yr, exceeded pre-bleaching cover levels by 132–305%. In contrast, six reefs with initially high cover (20–60%) remained at 48–93% of pre-bleaching levels, with recovery projected to take 17–29 yr. Abiotic and historic conditions constrained recovery rates, with the slowest recovery times observed on deep and wave-exposed reefs with high pre-bleaching coral cover. Reefs with high juvenile coral densities and low nitrogen levels recovered fastest, possibly due to the interplay between nutrient enrichment, algal proliferation, and coral recruitment. Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding small-scale variation in recovery potential, whereby recovery times were governed by natural limits on growth rates and modified by coral recruitment and nutrient enrichment. Ultimately, climate-impacted reefs can recover to moderate coral cover levels, but, if bleaching causes repeated high coral mortality, short recovery windows will prevent a return to historic levels of coral dominance. © 2019, The Author(s).

AB - As climate changes increase heat stress on tropical ecosystems, the long-term persistence of coral reefs requires rapid coral recovery following coral bleaching events. Using the extent of coral cover return to a pre-bleaching baseline as a benchmark, recovery of fast-growing and stress-tolerant coral growth forms suggests that reefs can bounce back between repeated disturbances if given adequate time and protection from anthropogenic disturbances. However, long-term recovery dynamics of coral communities following severe bleaching and mass mortality are limited, particularly for fringing reefs along inhabited coastlines where human stressors may compromise recovery potential. Here, we examine the dynamics and drivers of coral recovery in Seychelles, where 12 reefs returned to pre-bleaching coral cover levels after a severe bleaching event caused > 95% coral mortality. Six reefs with initially low cover (<25%) recovered within 7–12 yr and, after 16 yr, exceeded pre-bleaching cover levels by 132–305%. In contrast, six reefs with initially high cover (20–60%) remained at 48–93% of pre-bleaching levels, with recovery projected to take 17–29 yr. Abiotic and historic conditions constrained recovery rates, with the slowest recovery times observed on deep and wave-exposed reefs with high pre-bleaching coral cover. Reefs with high juvenile coral densities and low nitrogen levels recovered fastest, possibly due to the interplay between nutrient enrichment, algal proliferation, and coral recruitment. Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding small-scale variation in recovery potential, whereby recovery times were governed by natural limits on growth rates and modified by coral recruitment and nutrient enrichment. Ultimately, climate-impacted reefs can recover to moderate coral cover levels, but, if bleaching causes repeated high coral mortality, short recovery windows will prevent a return to historic levels of coral dominance. © 2019, The Author(s).

KW - Benthic community

KW - Climate change

KW - Disturbance

KW - Logistic growth

KW - Resilience

KW - Thermal stress

U2 - 10.1007/s00338-019-01831-7

DO - 10.1007/s00338-019-01831-7

M3 - Journal article

VL - 38

SP - 1255

EP - 1265

JO - Coral Reefs

JF - Coral Reefs

SN - 0722-4028

IS - 6

ER -