Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 417–429 | Cite as

Terrigenous sediment impact on coral recruitment and growth affects the use of coral habitat by recruit parrotfishes (F. Scaridae)

  • E. DeMartini
  • P. Jokiel
  • J. Beets
  • Y. Stender
  • C. Storlazzi
  • D. Minton
  • E. Conklin


Some major anthropogenic stressors have impacts that occur at infrequent, unpredictable intervals; their effects are difficult to evaluate in a timely manner unless space is substituted for time. In this paper we substitute space for time along an environmental gradient that aliases a predicted temporal response to habitat restoration. We herein describe a 3-year study that combined field experiments and descriptive surveys of a fringing reef at Pelekane Bay, west Hawaii, along a sedimentation gradient from an intermittent stream that episodically discharges from the Kohala Watershed. This degraded watershed is now being restored by grazer exclusion, habitat engineering, and replanting of native flora. Sediment traps, arrays of settling plates, marked branches of endemic finger coral Porites compressa, together with surveys of benthic composition, densities of recruits of economically important parrotfishes, and the relative use of corals by fish recruits, were evaluated during the summers of 2010–2012. As expected, sediment accumulation rate decreased while all coral metrics and the densities, use, and preference of corals by recruit fishes generally increased with distance from the point of sediment discharge. Proportionate abundances of recruit through large adult-sized parrotfishes, overlayed on distributions (mapped by separate study) of sediment impact, allowed us to estimate, as an example, the amount and value of parrotfish rersources that are being unrealized because of sediment impacts on recruit parrotfish. Our Pelekane Bay case study thus illustrates how “space-for-time” substitution can be efficiently applied in an evaluation of potential watershed reclamation of reef resources—at a time considerably prior to likely temporal responses of the reef and its resources to watershed restoration.


Watershed reclamation Reef sedimentation Porites compressa Chlorurus spilurus (sordidusScarus psittacus Juvenile nursery habitat Ridge-to-reef Space-for-time substitution 



We thank D. Vidosh and D. Rafalovich of Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures, Waikoloa, Hawaii, for materials support of dive operations; and the NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation, Coral Reef Conservation Program for funding. Also gratefully acknowledged are the constructive criticisms of A. Andrews and R. Humphreys on a draft manuscript, and D. Yamaguchi for help with Figs. 1 and 7.

Supplementary material

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Supplemental Online Material (PDF 123 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. DeMartini
    • 1
  • P. Jokiel
    • 2
  • J. Beets
    • 3
  • Y. Stender
    • 4
    • 5
  • C. Storlazzi
    • 6
  • D. Minton
    • 7
  • E. Conklin
    • 7
  1. 1.NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science CenterAieaUSA
  2. 2.Hawaii Institute of Marine BiologyKaneoheUSA
  3. 3.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of Hawaii at HiloHiloUSA
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.Hawaii Institute of Marine BiologyKaneoheUSA
  6. 6.US Geological Survey, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science CenterSanta CruzUSA
  7. 7.The Nature ConservancyHonoluluUSA

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