Post-bleaching coral community change on southern Maldivian reefs: is there potential for rapid recovery?
Springer Verlag for International Society for Reef Studies
© The Author(s) 2017. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Given the severity of the 2016 global bleaching event there are major questions about how quickly reef communities will recover. Here we explore the ecological and physical structural changes that occurred across five atoll interior reefs in the southern Maldives using data collected at 6 and 12 months post-bleaching. Following initial severe coral mortality, further minor coral mortality had occurred by 12 months post-bleaching, and coral cover is now low (<6 %). In contrast, reef rugosity has continued to decline over time, and our observations suggest transitions to rubble-dominated states will occur in the near future. Juvenile coraldensities are also exceptionally low (< 6 indiv. m-2), well below those measured 9-12 months following the 1998 bleaching event, and below recovery thresholds identified on other Indian Ocean reefs. Our findings suggest that the physical structure of these reefs will need to decline further before effective recruitment and recovery can begin.
This work was funded through a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship (RF-2015-152) to C.T.P. We thank the LaMer Small Island Research Centre, Faaresmathooda for assistance with fieldwork.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Springer Verlag via the DOI in this record.
Published online 28 July 2017
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © The Author(s) 2017. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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