Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 635–644

Scaling water motion on coral reefs: from regional to organismal scales

  • Joshua S. Madin
  • Kerry P. Black
  • Sean R. Connolly
Report

DOI: 10.1007/s00338-006-0137-2

Cite this article as:
Madin, J.S., Black, K.P. & Connolly, S.R. Coral Reefs (2006) 25: 635. doi:10.1007/s00338-006-0137-2

Abstract

To live successfully in wave-swept habitats, plants and animals must be able to survive, consume resources, and reproduce in the presence of incessant, variable and often unpredictable levels of water motion at a range of scales. However, there is a relatively poor understanding of water motion in natural habitats at the scales necessary to determine its potential physiological and ecological consequences. Using an historic record of hourly wind conditions, a depth profile and two rigorously tested oceanographic models, 37-years of hourly wave driven water motion were hindcast spatially on a typical subtidal coral reef platform (maximum horizontal displacement, velocity and acceleration per wave cycle). For larger waves, those likely to constitute ecological disturbances, around 95% of the wave’s height that is lost over the whole reef occurs within the first 50 m of the crest. The field-validated model of spatiotemporal variation in water motion provided a framework for quantitatively predicting several physiological and ecological effects of wave motion, such as nutrient and gas fluxes and mortality rates from hydrodynamic disturbances. It also suggested a sharp ecological transition between a crest habitat in which disturbance-mediated coexistence mechanisms are important, and a flat habitat in which they are much less important.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua S. Madin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kerry P. Black
    • 3
  • Sean R. Connolly
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine and Tropical Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.National Center for Ecological Analysis and SynthesisUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.ASR LimitedRaglanNew Zealand