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Rapid coral colonization of a recent lava flow following a volcanic eruption, Banda Islands, Indonesia


Compared to the catastrophic impacts of various environmental disturbances and the subsequent recovery of scleractinian coral communities from these events, little is known about the early successional dynamics of coral communities following major volcanic eruptions. The 1988 volcanic eruption of Gunung Api, Banda Islands, Indonesia, provided a unique opportunity to study the rate at which a reef-building coral community develops on an andesitic lava flow. Coral colonization was studied at three locations varying in substrate characteristics. Five years after the eruption, the sheltered lava flow supported a diverse coral community (124 species) with high coral cover\(\bar x = 61.6\% \pm 7.5\). Tabulate acroporids were a dominant component of the lava flow coral community, with some colonies measuring over 90 cm in diameter. Higher average coral diversity, coral abundance and cover were recorded on the andesitic lava flow than on an adjacent carbonate reef not covered by the lava, and on a substrate of unstable pyroclastic deposits located on the southwestern coast of the volcano. In some areas of high coral diversity and environmental stability, andesitic lava flows may create local hot-spots of coral diversity by providing a structurally complex, predator-free and stable substrate for the recruitment of coral species from the adjacent and regional species pools.

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Correspondence to R. van Woesik.

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Tomascik, T., van Woesik, R. & Mah, A.J. Rapid coral colonization of a recent lava flow following a volcanic eruption, Banda Islands, Indonesia. Coral Reefs 15, 169–175 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01145887

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  • Lava Flow
  • Volcanic Eruption
  • Coral Cover
  • Coral Community
  • High Coral