|Date||11 Nov 2013|
The reefs of the Lakshadweep atolls have been subject to frequent catastrophic bleaching-mortality-related disturbances since the El Nino of 1997-1998. Frequent monitoring studies have suggested that reef recovery rates vary considerably between locations. However, the processes that might be contributing to this spatial variation remain unexamined.
A critical mechanism driving reef resilience is the role of early life-history processes in structuring coral populations. We will study local- and habitat-level factors driving coral recruitment within the context of changing climate. The results of a short pilot study conducted in early 2013 three years after a major bleaching mortality (in 2010) indicated that the life-history characteristics of coral recruits and juveniles and the type of substrate they choose to settle on could have vital consequences for their survival on reefs differentially impacted by climate change. This information will be critical for identifying the processes that contribute to or are responsible for a reef’s overall resilience.
Our study will be focused on three atolls in the Lakshadweep (Kadmat, Agatti and Kavaratti). At each atoll, we will collect data to answer the following questions:
(2) Do coral genera with differing life-history traits make different settlement choices? If so, what are the consequences of these choices for the cohort? Are certain life-history characteristics more ‘successful’ than others on some reefs?
(3) What is the relationship between early life-history processes and adult benthic composition? How does this relate to the resilience and recovery potential of a given reef?
This project will present baseline information on how the early life-history choices of coral genera influence the recovery and resilience of reefs impacted by climate change. Presently, there is little reliable knowledge on coral recruitment patterns anywhere from this region.
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