Koester, Anna, Ford, Amanda K., Ferse, Sebastian C. A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0930-5356, Migani, Valentina, Bunbury, Nancy, Sanchez, Cheryl and Wild, Christian (2021) First insights into coral recruit and juvenile abundances at remote Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles. PLOS ONE, 16 (12). e0260516. DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260516.

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Coral recruitment and successive growth are essential for post-disturbance reef recovery. As coral recruit and juvenile abundances vary across locations and under different environmental regimes, their assessment at remote, undisturbed reefs improves our understanding of early life stage dynamics of corals. Here, we first explored changes in coral juvenile abundance across three locations (lagoon, seaward west and east) at remote Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles) between 2015 and 2019, which spanned the 2015/16 global coral bleaching event. Secondly, we measured variation in coral recruit abundance on settlement tiles from two sites (lagoon, seaward reef) during August 2018–August 2019. Juvenile abundance decreased from 14.1 ± 1.2 to 7.4 ± 0.5 colonies m-2 (mean ± SE) during 2015–2016 and increased to 22.4 ± 1.2 colonies m-2 during 2016–2019. Whilst juvenile abundance increased two- to three-fold at the lagoonal and seaward western sites during 2016–2018 (from 7.7–8.3 to 17.3–24.7 colonies m-2), increases at the seaward eastern sites occurred later (2018–2019; from 5.8–6.9 to 16.6–24.1 colonies m-2). The composition of coral recruits on settlement tiles was dominated by Pocilloporidae (64–92% of all recruits), and recruit abundance was 7- to 47-fold higher inside than outside the lagoon. Recruit abundance was highest in October–December 2018 (2164 ± 453 recruits m-2) and lowest in June–August 2019 (240 ± 98 recruits m-2). As Acroporid recruit abundance corresponded to this trend, the results suggest that broadcast spawning occurred during October–December, when water temperature increased from 26 to 29°C. This study provides the first published record on coral recruit abundance in the Seychelles Outer Islands, indicates a rapid (2–3 years) increase of juvenile corals following a bleaching event, and provides crucial baseline data for future research on reef resilience and connectivity within the region.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Ecology > Human Agency, Resilience and Diversity in Coral Reefs
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260516
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 10:08
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2022 17:01
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/4796

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