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Self-generated morphology in lagoon reefs.

Blakeway D, Hamblin MG - PeerJ (2015)

Bottom Line: In these situations reef morphology can be considered a phenotype of the predominant reef building organism.The capacity to infer coral type from reef morphology can potentially be used to identify and map specific coral habitat in remotely sensed images.More generally, identifying ecological mechanisms underlying other examples of self-generated reef morphology can potentially improve our understanding of present-day reef ecology, because any ecological process capable of shaping a reef will almost invariably be an important process in real time on the living reef.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia , Crawley , Western Australia, Australia.

ABSTRACT
The three-dimensional form of a coral reef develops through interactions and feedbacks between its constituent organisms and their environment. Reef morphology therefore contains a potential wealth of ecological information, accessible if the relationships between morphology and ecology can be decoded. Traditionally, reef morphology has been attributed to external controls such as substrate topography or hydrodynamic influences. Little is known about inherent reef morphology in the absence of external control. Here we use reef growth simulations, based on observations in the cellular reefs of Western Australia's Houtman Abrolhos Islands, to show that reef morphology is fundamentally determined by the mechanical behaviour of the reef-building organisms themselves-specifically their tendency to either remain in place or to collapse. Reef-building organisms that tend to remain in place, such as massive and encrusting corals or coralline algae, produce nodular reefs, whereas those that tend to collapse, such as branching Acropora, produce cellular reefs. The purest reef growth forms arise in sheltered lagoons dominated by a single type of reef builder, as in the branching Acropora-dominated lagoons of the Abrolhos. In these situations reef morphology can be considered a phenotype of the predominant reef building organism. The capacity to infer coral type from reef morphology can potentially be used to identify and map specific coral habitat in remotely sensed images. More generally, identifying ecological mechanisms underlying other examples of self-generated reef morphology can potentially improve our understanding of present-day reef ecology, because any ecological process capable of shaping a reef will almost invariably be an important process in real time on the living reef.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Aerial image of the Maze in the Easter Group of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (28°41′S 113°49′E).The 15 survey sites are labelled A to O. Reproduced by permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate) 2015.
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fig-2: Aerial image of the Maze in the Easter Group of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (28°41′S 113°49′E).The 15 survey sites are labelled A to O. Reproduced by permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate) 2015.

Mentions: We examined replicate sites of each stage in a 15 km2 cellular reef complex known as the Maze in the Easter Group of the Abrolhos (Fig. 2). We surveyed fifteen sites in detail and many more in brief visits, including some in the Pelsaert Group to the south and the Wallabi Group to the north. At each of the fifteen Maze sites we established four transects oriented to the cardinal directions, running upslope from the deepest to shallowest habitat. Transects varied in length from 5 m at site A (maximum depth 3 m), to 75 m at site K (maximum depth 30 m). We constructed a topographic profile of each transect by recording tide-corrected depth at one metre intervals along each transect, and quantified substrate composition by filming each transect and point counting sequential still images, using five fixed points per image (English, Wilkinson & Baker, 1997) and 25 benthic substrate categories (Data S1). The 25 substrate categories were condensed into seven categories for graphical representation: tabular Acropora, branching Acropora, massive and encrusting coral, soft coral, macroalgae, dead coral, and sediment.


Self-generated morphology in lagoon reefs.

Blakeway D, Hamblin MG - PeerJ (2015)

Aerial image of the Maze in the Easter Group of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (28°41′S 113°49′E).The 15 survey sites are labelled A to O. Reproduced by permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate) 2015.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4499466&req=5

fig-2: Aerial image of the Maze in the Easter Group of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (28°41′S 113°49′E).The 15 survey sites are labelled A to O. Reproduced by permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate) 2015.
Mentions: We examined replicate sites of each stage in a 15 km2 cellular reef complex known as the Maze in the Easter Group of the Abrolhos (Fig. 2). We surveyed fifteen sites in detail and many more in brief visits, including some in the Pelsaert Group to the south and the Wallabi Group to the north. At each of the fifteen Maze sites we established four transects oriented to the cardinal directions, running upslope from the deepest to shallowest habitat. Transects varied in length from 5 m at site A (maximum depth 3 m), to 75 m at site K (maximum depth 30 m). We constructed a topographic profile of each transect by recording tide-corrected depth at one metre intervals along each transect, and quantified substrate composition by filming each transect and point counting sequential still images, using five fixed points per image (English, Wilkinson & Baker, 1997) and 25 benthic substrate categories (Data S1). The 25 substrate categories were condensed into seven categories for graphical representation: tabular Acropora, branching Acropora, massive and encrusting coral, soft coral, macroalgae, dead coral, and sediment.

Bottom Line: In these situations reef morphology can be considered a phenotype of the predominant reef building organism.The capacity to infer coral type from reef morphology can potentially be used to identify and map specific coral habitat in remotely sensed images.More generally, identifying ecological mechanisms underlying other examples of self-generated reef morphology can potentially improve our understanding of present-day reef ecology, because any ecological process capable of shaping a reef will almost invariably be an important process in real time on the living reef.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia , Crawley , Western Australia, Australia.

ABSTRACT
The three-dimensional form of a coral reef develops through interactions and feedbacks between its constituent organisms and their environment. Reef morphology therefore contains a potential wealth of ecological information, accessible if the relationships between morphology and ecology can be decoded. Traditionally, reef morphology has been attributed to external controls such as substrate topography or hydrodynamic influences. Little is known about inherent reef morphology in the absence of external control. Here we use reef growth simulations, based on observations in the cellular reefs of Western Australia's Houtman Abrolhos Islands, to show that reef morphology is fundamentally determined by the mechanical behaviour of the reef-building organisms themselves-specifically their tendency to either remain in place or to collapse. Reef-building organisms that tend to remain in place, such as massive and encrusting corals or coralline algae, produce nodular reefs, whereas those that tend to collapse, such as branching Acropora, produce cellular reefs. The purest reef growth forms arise in sheltered lagoons dominated by a single type of reef builder, as in the branching Acropora-dominated lagoons of the Abrolhos. In these situations reef morphology can be considered a phenotype of the predominant reef building organism. The capacity to infer coral type from reef morphology can potentially be used to identify and map specific coral habitat in remotely sensed images. More generally, identifying ecological mechanisms underlying other examples of self-generated reef morphology can potentially improve our understanding of present-day reef ecology, because any ecological process capable of shaping a reef will almost invariably be an important process in real time on the living reef.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus