Patterns of Damage to the Branching Coral Acropora palmata Following Hurricane Andrew: Damage and Survivorship of Hurricane-generated Asexual Recruits

Diego Lirman, Peggy Fong

Abstract


Hurricane Andrew caused widespread damage to the Acropora palmata population on a patch reef on the Florida Reef Tract. After the storm, more than 50% of the A. palmata cover in the rubble and reef-flat zones was comprised of live fragments. Other species of coral were minimally damaged. Most fragments were distributed within or adjacent to the remaining patches of standing elkhorn colonies. Neither distribution nor mortality rate of fragments was dependent on initial fragment size. However, rate of stabilization of fragments was related to substrate type and distance from a patch of mature colonies, suggesting that standing colonies may protect regenerating fragments from removal from the reef. Differences in the substrate type (hard vs. unconsolidated rubble) where fragments landed, affected removal, total mortality, and partial mortality rates of hurricane-generated fragments. Rubble substrate favored stabilization and survival of hurricane-generated asexual recruits.


Keywords


Hurricane damage; coastal storm; coral reef; elkhorn coral

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