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Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Coral Community Structure at Baker and Howland Islands

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Title:Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Coral Community Structure at Baker and Howland Islands
Authors:Jimenez, Winter
Contributors:Vargas-Angel, Bernardo (advisor)
Oceanography (department)
Global Environmental Science (department)
marine biology
biological oceanography
Date Issued:2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Place of Publication:Honolulu
Abstract:Baker and Howland islands are located in the Central Pacific and preserve some
of the most pristine coral reef ecosystems in the world. Due to their remote location, the
islands have had minimal human contact, but they are still under threat. Surveys
conducted by the Ecosystem Sciences Division of the National Oceanic Atmospheric
Administration Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center indicate that benthic composition
and structure vary across space and time. Baker and Howland experienced mass coral
bleaching following the 2009-2010 El Niño Southern Oscillation event that resulted in
increased sea surface temperatures. This study has examined the coral reef community
structure for the years 2012, 2015, and 2017 to assess changes in abundance and spatial
distribution of the main benthic taxa in order to provide a general overview of the current
status of the coral reef ecosystem surrounding these islands. Three different depth strata
were used to understand the composition of the forereef communities. This study focuses
on the main functional groups of coral, coralline algae, and macroalgae. Benthic
composition varied with depth, as some species thrive with more sunlight while others
can survive at lower light levels. The results of this study describe how the benthic cover
of the reef has changed, specifically an overall decrease in coral cover and coralline algae
and macroalgae equaling or exceeding coral cover. Analyzing the changes of the reef in
the past five years will give insight on how the reef might change in the future if sea
surface temperatures and widespread bleaching continue to occur.
Pages/Duration:46 pages
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Rights Holder:Jimenez, Winter
Appears in Collections: Global Environmental Science Theses

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