Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America
KAUST DepartmentRed Sea Research Center (RSRC)
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractMany coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12–70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26–29%) when compared to the other sites (4–19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs.
CitationWild C, Jantzen C, Kremb SG. (2014) Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America. PeerJ 2:e571 http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.571
SponsorsThis research was funded by German Research Foundation (DFG) grant Wi 2677/4-1 to CW and ALDEBARAN Förderverein für Meeresforschung und Umweltjournalismus e.V. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
PubMed Central IDPMC4178456
The following license files are associated with this item:
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Monitoring of coastal coral reefs near Dahab (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea) indicates local eutrophication as potential cause for change in benthic communities.
- Authors: Naumann MS, Bednarz VN, Ferse SC, Niggl W, Wild C
- Issue date: 2015 Feb
- The impact of exploiting grazers (Scaridae) on the dynamics of Caribbean coral reefs.
- Authors: Mumby PJ
- Issue date: 2006 Apr
- Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns.
- Authors: Williams GJ, Smith JE, Conklin EJ, Gove JM, Sala E, Sandin SA
- Issue date: 2013
- The effects of nutrient enrichment and herbivore abundance on the ability of turf algae to overgrow coral in the Caribbean.
- Authors: Vermeij MJ, van Moorselaar I, Engelhard S, Hörnlein C, Vonk SM, Visser PM
- Issue date: 2010 Dec 13
- Spatial variation in coral reef fish and benthic communities in the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea.
- Authors: Khalil MT, Bouwmeester J, Berumen ML
- Issue date: 2017