Coral Reefs

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 705–717 | Cite as

Twenty-five years of change in coral coverage on a hurricane impacted reef in Hawai‘i: the importance of recruitment

  • S. L. ColesEmail author
  • E. K. Brown


Coral coverage was monitored 1981–2005 using a high precision method at four sites near Kahe Point, leeward O‘ahu, Hawai‘i by annually photographing ten 0.66 m2 permanent plots at each site. The study began after a local storm reduced coral coverage in the area by about 50% in 1980 and included two major hurricanes in 1982 and 1992. Repeated measures ANOVA indicate significant differences among sites, time, and site-time interaction with high statistical power. Temporal changes in coral cover varied substantially among the sites, with the most stable coral coverage occurring near a thermal outfall. Although immediate impacts from hurricanes were not substantial, long-term decreases in coral coverage occurred well after the hurricanes. However, no relationships were found between coral cover and offshore wave conditions. Patterns of decline and recovery in coral cover were cyclic on a decadal time scale and significantly correlated with species and site-specific recruitment intervals of 10–12 years for Pocillopora meandrina and 15+ years for Porites lobata. Patterns indicated the potential importance of recruitment as a major factor affecting changes in coral coverage.


Coral cover Recruitment Storm impacts Variability Recovery 



This study was supported by the Hawaiian Electric Co. and AECOS Inc. Michael Carberry, Donn Fukuda, Allen Hee, Sam Kalalulo, Keith Oda, Brad Tarr and Kirk Tomita provided assistance in the field through the course of the study. Susan Burr, Roger Douglas, and Lara Ruddy-Coronel assisted with analysis of photoquadrats, Eric Guinther helped in project management and Heather Laederich assisted with graphics. Special thanks to Joe Connell for providing the motivation to compile 25 years of monitoring data into a comprehensive analysis, and for the inspiration of his own work. This is contribution number HBS 2007-009 from the Hawai‘i Biological Survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesBernice P. Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Kalaupapa National Historical ParkKalaupapaUSA

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