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Anthropogenic and Natural Stresses on Selected Coral Reefs in Hawai'i: A Multidecade Synthesis of Impact and Recovery

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Title:Anthropogenic and Natural Stresses on Selected Coral Reefs in Hawai'i: A Multidecade Synthesis of Impact and Recovery
Authors:Dollar, Steven J.
Grigg, Richard W.
Date Issued:Apr 2004
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Dollar SJ, Grigg RW. 2004. Anthropogenic and natural stresses on selected coral reefs in Hawai'i: a multidecade synthesis of impact and recovery. Pac Sci 58(2): 281-304.
Abstract:In 2002, quantitative phototransect surveys documenting coral community
structure off three coastal resorts in Hawai'i were repeated to produce
long-term data sets of 12 to 22 yr duration. At the first site, in Honolua Bay off
the Kapalua Resort on Maui, a runoff event from surrounding pineapple fields
following a winter storm in early 2002 deposited sediment on the inner reef that
remained in the bay for at least 6 months. Between 1992 and 2002 survey data
showed that significant declines in coral cover occurred on seven of eight transects,
causing an overall reduction in coral cover of about 33% throughout the
entire bay. Rainfall records indicate that the 2002 storm was of relatively small
magnitude; however subsequent resuspension and flushing by waves did not take
place for several months, exacerbating the smothering effects of the sediment.
Periodic sedimentation events of various magnitude and duration have resulted
in cycles of damage and recovery that have produced a coral community that
reflects intermediate disturbance and a coral community structure dominated by
sediment-resistant species. The two other long-term surveys, off Mauna Lani
Resort on the west coast of the island of Hawai'i (1983-2002), and Princeville
Resort on the north shore of Kaua'i (1980-2002), both revealed a pattern of
consistent increase in coral cover at all stations. At these open coastal sites, anthropogenic
effects are undetectable relative to natural factors that affect coral
community structure. A lack of maximum wave events during the interval between
surveys may partially explain the increase in coral cover. Activities from
shoreline development appeared to have no effect on coral community structure
during the study interval. The results of these three studies suggest a framework
for coral reef management in Hawai'i by concentrating efforts on embayments
and areas with restricted circulation. Because such areas compose less than 10%
of the coastal areas, the overall condition of the majority of coral reefs in Hawai'i
is relatively good. Nevertheless, embayments are major recreational sites
and it is these environments for which we suggest that the major need for
management exists and should be focused. On a global scale, concerns of catastrophic
loss from anthropogenic impact to coral reefs may be valid in many
areas of the world, but they do not accurately depict the condition of coral reefs
in Hawai'i.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 58, Number 2, 2004

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