Effects of eutrophication on reef-building corals
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- Tomascik, T. & Sander, F. Mar. Biol. (1987) 94: 53. doi:10.1007/BF00392900
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Seven fringing reef complexes were chosen along the leeward coast (west) of Barbados to study the effects of eutrophication processes upon the scleractinian coral assemblages. The structure of scleractinian coral communities was studied along an eutrophication gradient with a quantitative sampling method (line transect) in terms of species composition, zonation and diversity patterns. On the basis of these data the fringing reefs were divided into three ecological zones: back reef, reef flat, and spur and groove. Statistically discernible and biologically significant differences in scleractinian coral community structure, benthic algal cover and Diadema antillarum Philippi densities were recorded among the seven fringing reefs. High correlations between environmental variables and biotic patterns indicate that the effects of eutrophication processes (nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, turbidity, toxicity and bacterial activity) were directly and/or indirectly affecting the community structure of scleractinian coral assemblages. In general, species diversity was most sensitive in delineating among-reef, and among-zone, differences, which were attributed to intensification of eutrophication processes. Porites astreoides Lamarck, P. porites (Pallas), Siderastrea radians (Pallas), and Agaricia agaricites (Linnaeus) were the most abundant coral species in the polluted southern reefs. The absence and/or low abundance of coral species previously characterized as well adapted to high turbidity and sedimentation [i.e. Montastrea cavernosa Linnaeus, Meandrina meandrites (Linnaeus)] indicate that eutrophication processes may adversely affect these species. It is suggested that sediment rejection abilities, combined with feeding and reproductive strategies, are the primary biological processes of scleractinian corals through which eutrophication processes directly and/or indirectly affect the structure of coral communities.