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Swarthmore College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management

Abstract

Coral reefs constitute irreplaceable networks of marine biodiversity as well as an important economic resource to many coastal communities in the tropics. Many factors threaten these fragile ecosystems worldwide: overfishing, pollution, ocean acidification, and increasing sea temperatures all interact to diminish reef-building coral health in a variety of ways. This study aims to characterize the taxonomic and spatial patterns of several acute negative health conditions affecting hard corals in and near Lokobe National Park, Nosy Be, Madagascar. Bleaching, coral disease, filamentous algal overgrowth, and soft coral colonization were surveyed at six fringing reef sites representing different ecological zones. While Acropora were most vulnerable to bleaching, Porites were most susceptible to coral diseases. No connection was detected between site proximity to freshwater inflow and disease, and no positive correlation was observed between any condition and percent hard coral cover, although sites with the greatest representation of certain genera had higher counts of the conditions affecting those taxa. Overall, sites adjacent to human habitation had the highest rates of all four conditions, confirming that anthropogenic disturbance both on and off the reef itself is likely detrimental to coral health. External environmental drivers’ strong influence on coral health highlights a need for holistic conservation approaches in reef management.

Disciplines

Environmental Health | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

 

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