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Structure of marginal coral reef assemblages under different turbidity regime

Loiola, Miguel, Cruz, Igor C.S., Lisboa, Danilo S., Mariano-Neto, Eduardo, Leão, Zelinda M.A.N., Oliveira, Marilia D.M., Kikuchi, Ruy K.P.
Marine environmental research 2019 v.147 pp. 138-148
coral reefs, corals, ecosystems, pollution load, population distribution, sediment yield, sediments, turbidity
Sediment load can influence both the population distribution and structures of coral reef communities. We investigated whether coral assemblages on inshore and more turbid reefs differ from those on offshore reefs in the largest coral reefs of the Southwest Atlantic. We compared inshore and offshore reefs (with different turbidity climatologies) in terms of benthic and coral assemblage structures, abundances and individual sizes of coral populations and recruitment patterns. Unexpectedly, the inshore reefs showed higher coral cover and abundance, larger colonies and more recruits. This finding is related to the predominance of sediment-tolerant species on the turbid reefs. In contrast, only Mussismilia braziliensis (main builder of Abrolhos) showed better performance (greater coverage, larger diameter and more recruits) on offshore reefs, apparently behaving as a strong competitor in less turbid environments. These results reinforce the recent thinking of coral reef of turbid environments as resistant ecosystems and potential refuges considering the unnatural increase of sediment supply.