Advertisement

Marine Biology

, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 183–189 | Cite as

Unprecedented bleaching-induced mortality in Porites spp. at Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia

  •  P. Mumby
  •  J. Chisholm
  •  A. Edwards
  •  C. Clark
  •  E. Roark
  •  S. Andrefouet
  •  J. Jaubert

Abstract.

In April–May 1998, mass coral bleaching was observed in the lagoon of Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia. Six months later, the extent of bleaching-induced coral mortality was assessed at three sites. Corals in the fast-growing genus Pocillopora had experienced >99% mortality. Many large colonies of the slow-growing genus Porites (mean horizontal cross-sectional area 5.8 m2) had also died – a phenomenon not previously observed in French Polynesia and virtually unprecedented world-wide. At one site, 25% of colonies, or 44% of the pre-bleaching cover of living Porites, experienced whole-colony mortality. At the two other sites, recently dead Porites accounted for 41% and 82% of the pre-bleaching live cover. Mortality in Porites was negatively correlated with depth between 1.5 and 5 m. Using a 50-year dataset of mean monthly sea surface temperature (SST), derived from ship- and satellite-borne instruments, we show that bleaching occurred during a period of exceptionally high summer SST. 1998 was the first year in which mean monthly SSTs exceeded the 1961–1990 upper 95% confidence limit (29.4°C) for a period of three consecutive months. We suggest that the sustained 3-month anomaly in local summer SST was a major cause of coral mortality, but do not discount the synergistic effect of solar radiation. Recovery of the size-frequency distribution of Porites colonies to pre-bleaching levels may take at least 100 years.

Keywords

Coral Bleaching Mass Coral Coral Mortality Live Cover Mass Coral Bleaching 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  •  P. Mumby
    • 1
  •  J. Chisholm
    • 2
  •  A. Edwards
    • 1
  •  C. Clark
    • 3
  •  E. Roark
    • 4
  •  S. Andrefouet
    • 5
  •  J. Jaubert
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies, Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, Ridley Building, The University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
  2. 2.Observatoire Océanologique Européen, Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, MC 98000, Principality of Monaco
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Sheffield Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
  4. 4.Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  5. 5.Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA

Personalised recommendations