, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 63-73

Corals in a non-reef setting in the southern Arabian Gulf (Dubai, UAE): fauna and community structure in response to recurring mass mortality

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 Reef coral communities in a non-reef setting on shallow, flat hardgrounds were quantitatively sampled in Dubai Emirate (UAE, Southern Arabian Gulf) before and after a coral mass mortality in 1996. The coral fauna consisted of 34 scleractinian species before and 27 after the event, which removed virtually all Acropora. No alcyonacea were recorded. Five community types were identified and characterized by the dominant species: (A) a sparse Porites lutea community in sandy areas, (B) a dense Acropora clathrata community in areas with little sand, (C) a faviid community in muddy areas, (D) a Siderastrea savignyana community in sandy areas, and (E) a Porites compressa community, which built a framework in sandy areas. These communities are comparable to those described from other areas of the Gulf, where a stable pattern of community differentiation appears to exist. The spatial distribution and dynamics of the coral communities appears to be strongly influenced by mass mortality events recurring every 15 to 20 y. A combination of extreme water temperatures and high sedimentation/turbidity appear to be the major cause of mortality.

Accepted: 13 June 1998