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Early trajectories of benthic coral reef communities following the 2015/16 coral bleaching event at remote Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Koester, Anna and Migani, Valentina and Bunbury, Nancy and Ford, Amanda K. and Sanchez, Cheryl and Wild, Christian (2021) Early trajectories of benthic coral reef communities following the 2015/16 coral bleaching event at remote Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles. Scientific Reports, 10 (17034). p. 17034. ISSN 2045-2322

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    Abstract

    Documenting post-bleaching trajectories of coral reef communities is crucial to understand their resilience to climate change. We investigated reef community changes following the 2015/16 bleaching event at Aldabra Atoll, where direct human impact is minimal. We combined benthic data collected pre- (2014) and post-bleaching (2016–2019) at 12 sites across three locations (lagoon, 2 m depth; seaward west and east, 5 and 15 m depth) with water temperature measurements. While seaward reefs experienced relative hard coral reductions of 51–62%, lagoonal coral loss was lower (− 34%), probably due to three-fold higher daily water temperature variability there. Between 2016 and 2019, hard coral cover did not change on deep reefs which remained dominated by turf algae and Halimeda, but absolute cover on shallow reefs increased annually by 1.3% (east), 2.3% (west) and 3.0% (lagoon), reaching, respectively, 54%, 68% and 93% of the pre-bleaching cover in 2019. Full recovery at the shallow seaward locations may take at least five more years, but remains uncertain for the deeper reefs. The expected increase in frequency and severity of coral bleaching events is likely to make even rapid recovery as observed in Aldabra’s lagoon too slow to prevent long-term reef degradation, even at remote sites.

    Item Type: Journal Article
    Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
    Q Science > Q Science (General) > Q1-390 Science (General)
    Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Marine Studies
    Depositing User: Amanda Ford
    Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 17:17
    Last Modified: 01 Mar 2021 11:02
    URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/12615
    UNSPECIFIED

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