, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 641-651
Date: 15 Nov 2003

Coral recruitment: a spatio-temporal analysis along the coastline of Eilat, northern Red Sea

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Abstract

Recruitment rates of stony corals to artificial substrates were monitored for 2 years at 20 sites along the coast of Eilat, northern Red Sea, to compare with those recorded at other coral reef locations and to assess variation in recruitment at several spatial scales. Coral recruitment was low compared to that observed on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but was similar to levels reported from other high-latitude reef locations. Pocilloporids were the most abundant coral recruits in all seasons. Recruitment was twofold higher during the first year than during the second year of study. There was considerable spatial variability, with the largest proportion of variance, apart from the error term, attributable to differences between sites, at a scale of 102 m. Spearman’s ranked correlation showed consistency in spatial patterns of recruitment of pocilloporid corals between years, but not of acroporid corals. During spring, when only the brooding pocilloporid coral Stylophora pistillata reproduces at this locality, most coral recruitment occurred at central and southern sites adjacent to well-developed coral reefs. During summer, recruitment patterns varied significantly between years, with wide variation in the recruitment of broadcasting acroporid corals at northern sites located distant from coral reefs. Settlement was low at all sites during autumn and winter. This work is the first detailed analysis of coral recruitment patterns in the Red Sea, and contributes to the understanding of the spatial and temporal scales of variation in this important reef process.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe