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Diversity 2011, 3(3), 296-307; doi:10.3390/d3030296
Article

Juvenile Coral Abundance Has Decreased by More Than 50% in Only Three Decades on a Small Caribbean Island

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Received: 30 April 2011 / Revised: 9 June 2011 / Accepted: 13 June 2011 / Published: 27 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Diversity: Climate Change and Coral Reef Degradation)
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Abstract

A comparison of the community structure of juvenile hermatypic corals of 2 to 37 m depth at the fringing reefs of Curaçao between 1975 and 2005 shows a decline of 54.7% in juvenile coral abundance and a shift in species composition. Agaricia species and Helioseris cucullata, the most common juveniles in 1975, showed the largest decline in juvenile abundance (a 9 and 120 fold decrease in density respectively) with Helioseris cucullata being nearly extirpated locally. In 2005, Porites astreoides contributed most colonies to the juvenile coral community, increasing from 8.2% (in 1975) to 19.9% of the total juvenile community. Between 1975 and 2005, juveniles of brooding species decreased in relative abundance while the abundance of juveniles of broadcast spawning species increased or remained the same. These data illustrate the magnitude of the changes that have occurred in only three decades in the composition of juvenile coral communities.
Keywords: recruitment; degradation; phase-shift; Helioseris cucullata; brooder recruitment; degradation; phase-shift; Helioseris cucullata; brooder
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Vermeij, M.J.; Bakker, J.; Hal, N.; Bak, R.P. Juvenile Coral Abundance Has Decreased by More Than 50% in Only Three Decades on a Small Caribbean Island. Diversity 2011, 3, 296-307.

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