Modelling the distribution and ecology of Trichosolen blooms on coral reefs worldwide
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Worldwide blooms of the green alga Trichosolen have been reported on damaged coral reefs following catastrophic events. However, the global distribution of Trichosolen and the factors triggering such blooms remained elusive because of a paucity of occurrence records. This study presents a presence-only niche modelling approach to map the potential distribution and delineate bloom risk areas as well as to identify environmental response optima for non-blooming occurrences and blooms. The modelled suitability map revealed a pantropical to subtropical distribution, while high suitability values delineated bloom risk areas including important tropical reef systems where Trichosolen has not yet been reported from. While both blooms and non-bloom occurrences show a strong preference for high temperatures, blooms responded better to broader nutrient ranges than non-blooms, suggesting the importance of sudden nutrient inputs during catastrophic events in the formation of blooms.
KeywordsCoral Reef Ecological Niche Modelling Photosynthetically Available Radiation Occurrence Record Species Occurrence Data
We are grateful to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (Muscat, Oman) and Five Oceans Environmental Services LLC (Muscat, Oman) for assistance in the field. Heroen Verbruggen, Frederik Leliaert, Wouter Willems and two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for their useful comments on the manuscript. Heroen Verbruggen also provided Perl scripts for GIS analyses. Mark and Diane Littler kindly provided specimens. This research is embedded in project grant G.0142.05 from the Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders (FWO), Belgium.
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