Effects of volcanic ash deposits on four functional groups of a coral reef
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The immediate effects of pyroclastic deposits (ash fall) on reef communities after volcanic eruptions on remote tropical islands have never been critically examined. This study discusses findings from an interdisciplinary research expedition to the island of Anatahan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), 4 months after its first recorded volcanic eruption. Deep ash completely obliterated any trace of reef communities off the northeastern shores of the island; however, reefs in other areas, although still blanketed with ash deposits, fared better. Mean fish biomass recorded around Anatahan after the eruption was 0.22 kg 100 m−2, a value three times lower than at Sarigan, the closest neighbor island. Similarly, average percent cover of live coral (7.9%), crustose coralline red algal (7.7%), and macroalgal (14.3%) populations was 2.3, 1.4, and 3.0 times lower than at Sarigan, respectively.
KeywordsAlgae CCA Coral Fish Reef Volcano
Thank you to REA- and towed-divers Molly Timmers, Joe Laughlin, Rusty Brainard, and Fran Castro. Thanks to Annette DesRochers for data support, Tomoko Acoba and Amanda Toperoff for figure creation, and to all scientific personnel and crew members aboard the 2003 MARAMP expedition. Funding to CRED comes from the US Coral Reef Conservation Program.
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