Coral Reefs

, Volume 12, Issue 3–4, pp 193–201 | Cite as

Effects of disturbance on coral communities: bleaching in Moorea, French Polynesia

  • M. G. Gleason
Reports

Abstract

This study examines patterns of susceptibility and short-term recovery of corals from bleaching. A mass coral bleaching event began in March, 1991 on reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia and affected corals on the shallow barrier reef and to >20 m depth on the outer forereef slope. There were significant differences in the effect of the bleaching among common coral genera, with Acropora, Montastrea, Montipora, and Pocillopora more affected than Porites, Pavona, leptastrea or Millepora. Individual colonies of the common species of Acropora and Pocillopora were marked and their fate assessed on a subsequent survey in August, 1991 to determine rates of recovery and mortality. Ninety-six percent of Acropora spp. showed some degree of bleaching compared to 76% of Pocillopora spp. From March to August mortality of bleached colonies of Pocillopora was 17%, 38% recovered completely, and many suffered some partial mortality of the tissue. In contrast, 63% of the Acropora spp. died, and about 10% recovered completely. Generally, those colonies with less than 50% of the colony area affected by the bleaching recovered at a higher rate than did those with more severe bleaching. Changes in community composition four months after the event began included a significant decrease only in crustose algae and an increase in cover of filamentous algae, much of which occupied plate-like and branching corals that had died in the bleaching event. Total coral cover and cover of susceptible coral genera had declined, but not significantly, after the event.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Acevedo R, Goenaga C (1986) Note on coral bleaching after a chronic flooding in southwestern Puerto Rico. Caribb J Sci 22:225Google Scholar
  2. Bouchon C (1985) Quantitative study of scleractinian coral communities of Tiahura reef (Moorea Island, French Polynesia). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Congr, Tahiti, 6:279–284Google Scholar
  3. Brown BE, Suharsono (1990) Damage and recovery of coral reefs affected by El Nino related seawater warming in the Thousand Islands, Indonesia. Coral Reefs 8:163–170Google Scholar
  4. Connell JH (1978) Diversity in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Science 199:1302–1310Google Scholar
  5. Connell JH, Keough MJ (1985) Disturbance and patch dynamics of subtidal marine animals on hard substrata. In: Pickett, STA, White PS (eds) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, New York, pp 125–152Google Scholar
  6. Cook CB, Logan A, Ward J, Luckhurst B, Berg Jr CJ (1990) Elevated temperatures and bleaching on a high latitude coral reef: the 1988 Bermuda event. Coral Reefs 9:45–49Google Scholar
  7. Done TJ, Dayton PK, Dayton AE, Steger R (1991) Regional and local variability in recovery of shallow coral communities: Moorea, French Polynesia and central Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 9:183–192Google Scholar
  8. Egana AC, DiSalvo LH (1982) Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae by Easter Island corals. Pac Sci 36:61–63Google Scholar
  9. Faure G (1989) Degradation of coral reefs at Moorea Island (French Polynesia) by Acanthaster planci. J Coastal Res 5:295–305Google Scholar
  10. Fisk DA, Done TJ (1985) Taxonomic and bathymetric patterns of bleaching in corals, Myrmidon Reef (Queensland). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Congr, Tahiti, 6:149–154Google Scholar
  11. Gates RD (1990) Seawater temperatures and sublethal coral bleaching in Jamaica. Coral Reefs 8:193–197Google Scholar
  12. Ghiold J, Smith SH (1990) Bleaching and recovery of deep-water, reef-dwelling invertebrates in the Cayman Islands, B.W.I. Caribb J Sci 26:52–61Google Scholar
  13. Glynn PW (1984) Widespread coral mortality and the 1982–83 El Nino warming event. Environ Conserv 11:133–146Google Scholar
  14. Glynn PW (1988) El-Nino Southern Oscillation 1982–83: nearshore population, community and ecosystem responses. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 19:309–345Google Scholar
  15. Glynn PW (1990) Coral mortality and disturbances to coral reefs in the tropical eastern Pacific. In: Glynn PW (ed) Global ecological consequences of the 1982–83 El Nino-southern oscillation. Elsevier Oceanography Series, Amsterdam, pp 55–126Google Scholar
  16. Glynn PW (1991) Coral reef bleaching in the 1980s and possible connections with global warming. Trend Ecol Evol 6:175–179Google Scholar
  17. Glynn PW, D'Croz L (1990) Experimental evidence for high temperature stress as the cause of El Nino-coincident coral mortality. Coral Reefs 8:181–191Google Scholar
  18. Goreau TF (1964) Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae from Jamaican reef communities after hurricane Flora. Science 145:383–386Google Scholar
  19. Goreau TJ, Macfarlane AH (1990) Reduced growth rate of Montastrea annularis following the 1987–88 coral-bleaching event. Coral Reefs 8:211–215Google Scholar
  20. Harmelin-Vivien ML, Laboute P (1986) Catastrophic impact of hurricanes on atoll outer reef slopes in the Tuamotu (French Polynesia). Coral Reefs 5:55–62Google Scholar
  21. Harriott VJ (1985) Mortality rates of scleractinian corals before and during a mass bleaching event. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 21:81–88Google Scholar
  22. Hoegh-Guldberg O, Smith GJ (1989) The effect of sudden changes in temperature, light, and salinity on the population density and export of zooxanthellae from the reef coral Stylophora pistillata Esper and Seriatopora hystrix Dana. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 129:279–303Google Scholar
  23. Hoeksema BW (1991) Control of bleaching in mushroom coral populations (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) in the Java Sea: stress tolerance and interference by life history strategy. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 74:225–237Google Scholar
  24. Hughes TP (1984) Population dynamics based on individual size rather than age: a general model with a coral reef example. Am Nat 123:778–795Google Scholar
  25. Hughes TP, Connell JH (1987) Population dynamics based on size or age? A reef-coral example. Am Nat 129:818–829Google Scholar
  26. Jaap WC (1979) Observations on zooxanthellae explusion at middle Sambo Reef, Florida Keys. Bull Mar Sci 29:414–422Google Scholar
  27. Jaap WC (1985) An epidemic zooxanthellae expulsion during 1983 in the lower Florida Keys coral reefs: hyperthermic etiology. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Congr, Tahiti, 6:143–148Google Scholar
  28. Jenkins SH (1975) Food selection by beavers: a multidimensional contingency table analysis. Oecologia 21:157–173Google Scholar
  29. Jokiel PL, Coles SL (1977) Effects of temperature on the mortality and growth of Hawaiian reef corals. Mar Biol 43:201–208Google Scholar
  30. Jokiel PL, Coles SL (1990) Response of Hawaiian and other Indo-Pacific corals to elevated temperature. Coral Reefs 8:155–162Google Scholar
  31. Karlson R, Hurd L (1993) Disturbance, coral reef communities, and changing ecological paradigms. Coral Reefs 12:117–125Google Scholar
  32. Kleppel GS, Dodge RE, Reese CT (1989) Changes in Pigmentation associated with the bleaching of stony corals. Limnol Oceanogr 34:1331–1335Google Scholar
  33. Lang JC, Wicklund RI, Dill RF (1988) Depth and habitat related bleaching of zooxanthellate reef organisms near Lee Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas. Proc 6th Int Coral Reef Symp, Townsville, 3:269–274Google Scholar
  34. Lasker HR, Peters EC, Coffroth MA (1984) Bleaching of reef coelenterates in the San Blas Islands, Panama. Coral Reefs 3:183–190Google Scholar
  35. Marszalek DS (1982) Impact of dredging on a subtropical reef community, southeast Florida, USA Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp, Manila, 1:147–153Google Scholar
  36. Muscatine L, Porter JW (1977) Reef corals: mutualistic symbiosis adapted to nutrient-poor environments. Biol Sci 27:454–460Google Scholar
  37. Muscatine L, Grossman D, Doino J (1991) Release of symbiotic algae by tropical sea anemones and corals after cold shock. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 77:233–243Google Scholar
  38. Ogden JC, Wicklund R (eds) (1988) Mass bleaching of coral reefs in the Caribbean: a research strategy. NOAA's Undersea Res Prog Rep 88-2:51 ppGoogle Scholar
  39. Rowan R, Powers DA (1991) A molecular genetic classification of zooxanthellae and the evolution of animal-algal symbioses. Science 251:1348–1351Google Scholar
  40. Salvat B (1991) Blanchissement et mortalite des scleractiniaires sur les recifs de Moorea (archipel de la Societe) en 1991. CR Acad Sci Paris 314:105–111Google Scholar
  41. Sousa WP (1984) The role of disturbance in natural communities. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 15:353–391Google Scholar
  42. Szmant AM, Gassman NJ (1990) The effects of prolonged “bleaching” on the tissue biomass and reproduction of the reef coral Montastrea annularis. Coral Reefs 8:217–224Google Scholar
  43. Wallace CC, Watt A, Bull GD (1986) Recruitment of juvenile corals onto coral tables preved upon by Acanthaster planci. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 32:299–306Google Scholar
  44. Williams EH, Bunkley-Williams L (1988) Bleaching of Caribbean reef symbionts in 1987–88. Proc 6th Int Coral Reef Symp, Townsville, 3:313–318Google Scholar
  45. Williams EH, Bunkley-Williams L (1990) The worldwide coral reef bleaching cycle and related sources of coral mortality. Atoll Res Bull 335:1–71Google Scholar
  46. Winer BJ (1962) Statistical principles in experimental design, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, New York, p 208Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. G. Gleason
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations