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New research on reef recovery shows corals need nine to 12 years to recover following large disturbance events such as mass bleaching and storm damage.
The findings are from Southern Cross University Ph.D. researcher Marine Gouezo, who works with the Palau International Coral Reef Center in the north Pacific. Her research entitled 'Drivers of recovery and reassembly of coral reef communities' is published today (20 February 2019) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Studies - Communities - Disturbances - Uniqueness - Palau
While there have been previous studies on how some coral communities recover following disturbances, the uniqueness of Palau's long-term monitoring dataset is that some of these reefs were not impacted by any large-scale disturbances for a period of 14 years or longer since a mass bleaching event in 1998.
This allowed Ms Gouezo and co-authors to use long-term monitoring data collected over 15 years through the Palau International Coral Reef Center, to identify how reefs recover from destructive events. This is the first research of its kind in Palau, located about 800 kilometres (500 miles) southeast of the Philippines in the tropical North Pacific region.
Reefs - Result - Influences - World - Palau
"Coral reefs are declining worldwide as a direct result of human influences, but unlike many reefs around the world, Palau's reefs have been fortunate to experience over 14 years free from mass disturbance," said Ms Gouezo, who originates from France.
"After nine to 12 years we could even detect stability in coral-dominated states in certain habitats, something that is rare to document as the frequency of disturbances increases due to global climate change.
Recovery - Reefs - Larval - Supply - Connectivity
"Overall, fast coral recovery was observed at reefs that had good larval supply and connectivity, high survivorship of young corals, low coverage of fleshy algae, and high density of parrotfish. This study provides invaluable information to improve local management as the uncertainty of natural disturbance patterns increases."
Her primary supervisor, Southern Cross University's...
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