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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

Coalescing nodular patch reefs exposed on a low spring tide at Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago, Western Australia (16°4.8′S 123°35′E).Photograph by John MacFadyen.
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fig-9: Coalescing nodular patch reefs exposed on a low spring tide at Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago, Western Australia (16°4.8′S 123°35′E).Photograph by John MacFadyen.

Mentions: Patch reefs created with the basic model appear approximately circular in plan view and steeply conical in oblique view (Figs. 8A and 8B). The individual patch reefs maintain their conical form as they enlarge and coalesce with neighbouring patches (Figs. 8C and 8D). We use the term ‘nodular’ to describe the shapes and forms generated by the basic model. While the nodular reefs resemble many natural patch reefs (e.g., Fig. 9), they bear little resemblance to cellular reefs. In fact, their shapes are the inverse of cellular reefs; nodular reefs appear convex and subcircular in plan view, whereas cellular reefs are concave and stellate, surrounding subcircular depressions. However, the basic model is generic and does not intentionally represent any particular coral type.


Self-generated morphology in lagoon reefs.

Blakeway D, Hamblin MG - PeerJ (2015)

Coalescing nodular patch reefs exposed on a low spring tide at Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago, Western Australia (16°4.8′S 123°35′E).Photograph by John MacFadyen.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig-9: Coalescing nodular patch reefs exposed on a low spring tide at Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago, Western Australia (16°4.8′S 123°35′E).Photograph by John MacFadyen.
Mentions: Patch reefs created with the basic model appear approximately circular in plan view and steeply conical in oblique view (Figs. 8A and 8B). The individual patch reefs maintain their conical form as they enlarge and coalesce with neighbouring patches (Figs. 8C and 8D). We use the term ‘nodular’ to describe the shapes and forms generated by the basic model. While the nodular reefs resemble many natural patch reefs (e.g., Fig. 9), they bear little resemblance to cellular reefs. In fact, their shapes are the inverse of cellular reefs; nodular reefs appear convex and subcircular in plan view, whereas cellular reefs are concave and stellate, surrounding subcircular depressions. However, the basic model is generic and does not intentionally represent any particular coral type.

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