Partial mortality in massive reef corals as an indicator of sediment stress on coral reefs

M M Nugues, C M Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Partial mortality and fission on colonies of four common massive coral species were examined at sites differing in their exposure to river sediments in St. Lucia, West Indies. Rates of partial mortality were higher close to the river mouths, where more sediments were deposited, than away from the rivers in two coral species. Frequency of fission showed no significant trend. The percent change in coral cover on reefs from 1995 to 1998 was negatively related to the rate of partial mortality estimated in 1998 in all species. This suggests that partial mortality rates could reflect longer-term temporal changes in coral communities. Similar conclusions could also be reached using a less precise measure and simply recording partial mortality on colonies as <50% and greater than or equal to 50% dead tissue. We conclude that partial mortality in some species of massive reef corals, expressed as the amount of dead tissue per colony, could provide a rapid and effective means of detecting sediment stress on coral reefs. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-323
Number of pages10
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003

Keywords

  • bioindicators
  • Caribbean
  • colony size
  • coral reefs
  • partial mortality
  • sediment pollution
  • BUILDING CORALS
  • SCLERACTINIAN CORALS
  • WEST-INDIES
  • REGENERATION
  • GROWTH
  • EUTROPHICATION
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • REJECTION
  • ANNULARIS
  • BARBADOS

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