Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs

2011 Edition
| Editors: David Hopley

Reef Topographic Complexity

  • David G. Zawada
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_141


Topographic complexity is the three-dimensional arrangement of structural features over the seafloor surface, spanning all spatial scales.

Rugosity is an estimate of topographic complexity based on a single measurement scale.

Roughness is an estimate of topographic complexity based on measures spanning a range of spatial scales and pertains to the textural characteristics of a surface.


Coral reefs are among the most topographically complex biogenic structures in the sea. Topographic complexity (TC) exists on all spatial scales and influences a wide range of biological, chemical, and physical aspects of a coral reef system, such as water flow (Munk and Sargent, 1954; Monismith, 2007; Nunes and Pawlak, 2008) and, consequently, nutrient uptake and mass transfer rates (Shashar et al., 1996; Hearn et al., 2001), species richness and biomass (Friedlander and Parrish, 1998; Idjadi and Edmunds, 2006), and both refuge (Steele, 1999) and larval-settlement space (Idjadi...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveySt. PetersburgUSA