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Coral Communities on a Seaward Reef Slope, Fanning Island

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Title:Coral Communities on a Seaward Reef Slope, Fanning Island
Authors:Maragos, J.E.
Date Issued:Jul 1974
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Maragos JE. 1974. Coral communities on a seaward reef slope, Fanning Island. Pac Sci 28(3): 257-278.
Abstract:The coral community on a 1 x 100 meter long vertical section of the
leeward ocean reef slope at Fanning Island was quantitatively investigated with
SCUBA and a quadrat transect technique. Forty-seven species of corals were noted,
and coral cover averaged over 60 percent on the transect. Common coral species
were restricted to certain depth regimes, which resulted in pronounced vertical
zonation. The community as a whole could be objectively divided into three assemblages
with respect to depth. The deepest assemblage (30 to 35 m) was characterized
by low coral cover, small average colony size, and high species diversity. Some of the
species were specialized types not found elsewhere on the transect. Environmental
conditions appeared stable with respect to wave action but suboptimal with respect
to light and sediment cover. At intermediate depths (20 to 25 m) the coral assemblage
showed higher cover and larger average colony size, but lower diversity
values due to dominance by a few species. Environmental conditions appeared to
be both optimal and stable, with biological interactions determining the nature
of the assemblage. At shallow depths (8 to 15 m) the assemblage showed slightly
lower cover, moderately higher diversity, and moderately smaller average colony
size. Wave action may periodically disrupt the environment, which is otherwise
optimal for coral development. In the shallowest environments near shore
reef substrates are dominated by coralline algae, and corals are rare. Environmental
conditions are probably both suboptimal and unstable, resulting in the
inhibition of coral development. The structure and probable factors controlling
the structure of the Fanning coral community are similar to those of other reef slope
communities recently studied, particularly those in the Red Sea.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 28, Number 3, 1974

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