Advertisement

Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 647–653 | Cite as

Recovery without resilience: persistent disturbance and long-term shifts in the structure of fish and coral communities at Tiahura Reef, Moorea

  • Michael L. Berumen
  • Morgan S. Pratchett
Report

Abstract

Disturbances have a critical effect on the structure of natural communities. In this study long-term changes were examined in the reef community at Tiahura Reef, on the northern coast of Moorea, which had been subject to many and varied disturbances over the last 25 years. Tiahura Reef was subject to an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) in 1980–1981, causing significant declines in the abundance of scleractinian corals and butterflyfishes. By 2003, the abundance of corals and butterflyfishes had returned to former levels, but despite this apparent recovery, the species composition of coral communities and butterflyfish assemblages was very different from those recorded in 1979. Ongoing disturbances (including further outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, cyclones, and coral bleaching events) appear to have prevented recovery of many important coral species (notably, Acropora spp.), which has had subsequent effects on the community structure of coral-feeding butterflyfishes. This study shows that recurrent disturbances may have persistent effects on the structure and dynamics of natural communities.

Keywords

Community structure Alternate stable states Chaetodontidae Scleractinia Coral reefs Corallivore 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Fieldwork was conducted at CRIOBE station on Moorea, as part of a postdoctoral research position awarded to MSP from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Universite de Perpignan. D. Pratchett provided field assistance. Comments from P. Munday and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.

References

  1. Adjeroud M, Augustin D, Galzin R., Salvat B (2002) Natural disturbances and interannual variability of coral reef communities on the outer slope of Tiahura (Moorea, French Polynesia): 1991 to 1997. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 237:121–131Google Scholar
  2. Allen GR, Steene R, Allen M (1998) A guide to angelfishes and butterflyfishes. Oddysey Publishing, PerthGoogle Scholar
  3. Aronson RB, Macintyre IG, Wapnick CM, O’Neill MW (2004) Phase shifts, alternative states, and the unprecedented convergence of two reef systems. Ecology 85:1876–1891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bellwood DR, Hughes TP, Folke C, Nyström M (2004) Confronting the coral reef crisis. Nature 429:827–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berumen ML, Pratchett MS (2006) Effects of resource availability on the competitive behaviour of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). Proc 10th Int Coral Reef Symp 644–650Google Scholar
  6. Berumen ML, Pratchett MS, McCormick MI (2005) Within-reef differences in diet and condition of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 287:217–227Google Scholar
  7. Bouchon C (1985) Quantitative study of scleractinian coral communities of Tiahura reef (Moorea Island, French Polynesia). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:279–284Google Scholar
  8. Bouchon-Navaro Y, Bouchon C, Harmelin-Vivien ML (1985) Impact of coral degradation on a Chaetodontid fish assemblage (Moorea, French Polynesia). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 5:427–432Google Scholar
  9. Connell JH (1997) Disturbance and recovery of coral assemblages. Coral Reefs 16:S101–S113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connell JH, Sousa WP (1983) On the evidence needed to judge ecological stability or persistence. Am Nat 121:789–824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cox E (1994) Resource use by corallivorous butterflyfishes (Family Chaetodontidae) in Hawaii. Bull Mar Sci 54:535–545Google Scholar
  12. De’ath G, Moran PJ (1998) Factors affecting the behaviour of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci L.) on the Great Barrier Reef: 2: Feeding preferences. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 220:107–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Done TJ, Potts DC (1992) Influences of habitat and natural disturbance on contributions of massive Porites corals to reef communities. Mar Biol 114:479–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Galzin R, Pointier JP (1985) Moorea Island, Society archipelago. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:73–102Google Scholar
  15. Glynn PW (1976) Some physical and biological determinants of coral community structure in the eastern Pacific. Ecol Monogr 46:431–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gochfeld DJ (2004) Predation-induced morphological and behavioral defenses in a hard coral: implications for foraging behavior of coral-feeding butterflyfishes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 267:145–158Google Scholar
  17. Gunderson LH (2000) Ecological resilience—in theory and application. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 31:425–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Halford A, Cheal AJ, Ryan D, Williams DM (2004) Resilience to large-scale disturbance in coral and fish assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef. Ecology 85:1892–1905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harmelin-Vivien ML, Bouchon-Navaro Y (1983) Feeding diets and significance of coral feeding among Chaetodontid fishes in Moorea (French Polynesia). Coral Reefs 2:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoegh-Guldberg O (1999) Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world’s coral reefs. Mar Freshw Res 50:839–866CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Holbrook SJ, Forrester GE, Schmitt RJ (2000) Spatial patterns in abundance of a damselfish reflect availability of suitable habitat. Oecologia 122:109–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hughes TP (1989) Community structure and diversity of coral reefs: the role of history. Ecology 70:275–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hughes TP (1994) Catastrophes, phase shifts, and large-scale degradation of a Caribbean coral reef. Science 265:1547–1551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Irons DK (1989) Temporal and areal feeding behaviour of the butterflyfish, Chaetodon trifascialis, at Johnston Atoll. Env Biol Fishes 25:187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karlson RH, Hurd LE (1993) Disturbance, coral reef communities, and changing ecological paradigms. Coral Reefs 12:117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kuiter RH (2002) Butterflyfishes, bannerfishes and their relatives—a comprehensive guide to the Chaetodontidae & Microcanthidae. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UKGoogle Scholar
  27. McClanahan T, Polunin N, Done T (2002) Ecological states and the resilience of coral reefs. Conserv Ecol 6:18Google Scholar
  28. Marshall PA, Baird AH (2000) Bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef: differential susceptibilities among taxa. Coral Reefs 19:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nyström M, Folke C, Moberg F (2000) Coral reef disturbance and resilience in a human-dominated environment. Trends Ecol Evol 15:413–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Olsen CL (1976) On choosing a test statistic in multivariate analysis of variance. Psychol Bull 83:579–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ostrander GK, Armstrong KM, Knobbe ET, Gerace D, Scully EP (2000) Rapid transition in the structure of a coral reef community: the effects of coral bleaching and physical disturbance. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:5297–5302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Paine RT, Tegner MJ, Johnson EA (1998) Compounded perturbations yield ecological surprises. Ecosystems 1:535–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Petraitis PS, Latham RE, Niesenbaum RA (1989) The maintenance of species diversity by disturbance. Q Rev Biol 64:393–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pickett STA, White PS (eds) (1986) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, OntarioGoogle Scholar
  35. Pratchett MS (2001) Influence of coral symbionts on feeding preferences of crown-of-thorns starfish in the western Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 214:111–119Google Scholar
  36. Pratchett MS (2002) Dynamics of outbreak populations of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci L.), and their impacts on coral reef ecosystems. PhD thesis, School of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, p 201Google Scholar
  37. Pratchett MS (2005) Dietary overlap among coral-feeding butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Mar Biol 148:373–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pratchett MS, Wilson SP, Berumen ML, McCormick MI (2004) Sub-lethal effects of coral bleaching on an obligate coral-feeding butterflyfish. Coral Reefs 23:352–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sano M (2000) Stability of reef fish assemblages: responses to coral recovery after catastrophic predation by Acanthaster planci. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 198:121–130Google Scholar
  40. Sano M, Shimizu M, Nose Y (1987) Long-term effects of destruction of hermatypic corals by Acanthaster planci infestation of reef fish communities at Iriomote Island, Japan. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 37:191–199Google Scholar
  41. Scheffer M, Carpenter S, Foley JA, Folke C, Walker B (2001) Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature 413:591–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shibuno T, Hashimoto K, Abe O, Takada Y (1999) Short-term changes in the structure of a fish community following coral bleaching at Ishigaki Island, Japan. Galaxea 1:51–58Google Scholar
  43. Sousa WP (1984) The role of disturbance in natural communities. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 15:353–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Syms C, Jones GP (2001) Soft corals exert no direct effects on coral reef fish assemblages. Oecologia 127:560–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Willams DM (1986) Temporal variation in the structure of reef slope communities (central Great Barrier Reef): short-term effects of Acanthaster planci infestation. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 28:157–164Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook University of North QueenslandTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

Personalised recommendations