Limits...
Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality.

Alvarez-Filip L, Carricart-Ganivet JP, Horta-Puga G, Iglesias-Prieto R - Sci Rep (2013)

Bottom Line: Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity.These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change.Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Healthy Reefs Initiative, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, México.

ABSTRACT
Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Shifts in coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity.Changes in community calcification and reef structure in shifting coral assemblages of four genera ((A); left to right Acropora, Orbicella, Porites, Agaricia). (B) Relative abundances over time. (C) Community calcification (continuous lines) and reef rugosity (dotted lines) in two hypothetical scenarios: (i) steady coral cover decline from 45% to 10% (red lines) and (ii) gradual coral cover increase from 10% to 45% (blue lines). Yellow band represents the current state of many Caribbean reefs. Pictures in the figure where taken by R. I.-P. and H. Bahena-Basave.
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f1: Shifts in coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity.Changes in community calcification and reef structure in shifting coral assemblages of four genera ((A); left to right Acropora, Orbicella, Porites, Agaricia). (B) Relative abundances over time. (C) Community calcification (continuous lines) and reef rugosity (dotted lines) in two hypothetical scenarios: (i) steady coral cover decline from 45% to 10% (red lines) and (ii) gradual coral cover increase from 10% to 45% (blue lines). Yellow band represents the current state of many Caribbean reefs. Pictures in the figure where taken by R. I.-P. and H. Bahena-Basave.

Mentions: In the first model, which assess the effects of species turnover on reef functioning, shifts in the composition and dominance of coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral community calcification rates and reef rugosity, independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals (Fig. 1A, 1B). Reef calcification and topographic reef structure were severely affected by the loss of Acropora and to a lesser extent by the loss of Orbicella in both scenarios (steady coral cover decline, and gradual coral cover increase; Fig. 1C). Even assuming rapid increases in the abundance of other coral species, the loss of Acropora was so important for reef development that community calcification rates and reef complexity did not recover, resulting in a reef with limited structural complexity. Only when coral cover shifted from 10% Acropora to 45% Porites did reef rugosity show signs of stability (Fig. 1C).


Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality.

Alvarez-Filip L, Carricart-Ganivet JP, Horta-Puga G, Iglesias-Prieto R - Sci Rep (2013)

Shifts in coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity.Changes in community calcification and reef structure in shifting coral assemblages of four genera ((A); left to right Acropora, Orbicella, Porites, Agaricia). (B) Relative abundances over time. (C) Community calcification (continuous lines) and reef rugosity (dotted lines) in two hypothetical scenarios: (i) steady coral cover decline from 45% to 10% (red lines) and (ii) gradual coral cover increase from 10% to 45% (blue lines). Yellow band represents the current state of many Caribbean reefs. Pictures in the figure where taken by R. I.-P. and H. Bahena-Basave.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3860008&req=5

f1: Shifts in coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity.Changes in community calcification and reef structure in shifting coral assemblages of four genera ((A); left to right Acropora, Orbicella, Porites, Agaricia). (B) Relative abundances over time. (C) Community calcification (continuous lines) and reef rugosity (dotted lines) in two hypothetical scenarios: (i) steady coral cover decline from 45% to 10% (red lines) and (ii) gradual coral cover increase from 10% to 45% (blue lines). Yellow band represents the current state of many Caribbean reefs. Pictures in the figure where taken by R. I.-P. and H. Bahena-Basave.
Mentions: In the first model, which assess the effects of species turnover on reef functioning, shifts in the composition and dominance of coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral community calcification rates and reef rugosity, independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals (Fig. 1A, 1B). Reef calcification and topographic reef structure were severely affected by the loss of Acropora and to a lesser extent by the loss of Orbicella in both scenarios (steady coral cover decline, and gradual coral cover increase; Fig. 1C). Even assuming rapid increases in the abundance of other coral species, the loss of Acropora was so important for reef development that community calcification rates and reef complexity did not recover, resulting in a reef with limited structural complexity. Only when coral cover shifted from 10% Acropora to 45% Porites did reef rugosity show signs of stability (Fig. 1C).

Bottom Line: Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity.These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change.Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Healthy Reefs Initiative, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, México.

ABSTRACT
Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus