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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

Dense in-situ (A) and collapsed (B) Acropora colonies on a stellate reef in the Pelsaert Group lagoon.
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fig-5: Dense in-situ (A) and collapsed (B) Acropora colonies on a stellate reef in the Pelsaert Group lagoon.

Mentions: In the stellate stage the haystack reef tops and ridges reach sea level, producing a network of flat-topped star-shaped reefs (sites B, E, F, J, L, N). Water circulation within the intervening depressions is further reduced and the water column is often stratified and stagnant. Live coral is consequently restricted to shallow depths, often less than 15 m in the more enclosed depressions. The shallow subtidal reef slopes and ridges remain dominated by live branching Acropora (Fig. 5) and occasional foliose Montipora. Dead Acropora branches at depth are colonised by Nephthea soft corals and Lobophora variegata, and fine sediment accumulates in the bases of the depressions.


Self-generated morphology in lagoon reefs.

Blakeway D, Hamblin MG - PeerJ (2015)

Dense in-situ (A) and collapsed (B) Acropora colonies on a stellate reef in the Pelsaert Group lagoon.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig-5: Dense in-situ (A) and collapsed (B) Acropora colonies on a stellate reef in the Pelsaert Group lagoon.
Mentions: In the stellate stage the haystack reef tops and ridges reach sea level, producing a network of flat-topped star-shaped reefs (sites B, E, F, J, L, N). Water circulation within the intervening depressions is further reduced and the water column is often stratified and stagnant. Live coral is consequently restricted to shallow depths, often less than 15 m in the more enclosed depressions. The shallow subtidal reef slopes and ridges remain dominated by live branching Acropora (Fig. 5) and occasional foliose Montipora. Dead Acropora branches at depth are colonised by Nephthea soft corals and Lobophora variegata, and fine sediment accumulates in the bases of the depressions.

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