Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 635–644

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

Authors

    • School of Marine and Tropical Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook University
    • National Center for Ecological Analysis and SynthesisUniversity of California Santa Barbara
  • Kerry P. Black
    • ASR Limited
  • Sean R. Connolly
    • School of Marine and Tropical Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook University
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