Population dynamics of Siderastrea stellata Verrill, 1868 from Rocas Atoll, RN: implications for predicted climate change impacts at the only South Atlantic atoll.

Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias

PubMedID: 28513777

Pinheiro BR, Pereira NS, Agostinho PGF, Montes MJF. Population dynamics of Siderastrea stellata Verrill, 1868 from Rocas Atoll, RN: implications for predicted climate change impacts at the only South Atlantic atoll. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2017;0.
Coral reefs are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to ocean warming and acidification, and it is important to determine the role of reef building species in this environment in order to obtain insight into their susceptibility to expected impacts of global changes. Aspects of the life history of a coral population, such as reproduction, growth and size-frequency can contribute to the production of models that are used to estimate impacts and potential recovery of the population, acting as a powerful tool for the conservation and management of those ecosystems. Here, we present the first evidence of Siderastrea stellata planulation, its early growth, population size-frequency distribution and growth rate of adult colonies in Rocas Atoll. Our results, together with the environmental protection policies and the absence of anthropogenic pressures, suggest that S. stellata population may have a good potential in the maintenance and recovery in the atoll. However, our results also indicate an impact on corals' recruitment, probably as a consequence of the positive temperature anomaly that occurred in 2010. Thus, despite the pristine status of Rocas Atoll, the preservation of its coral community seems to be threatened by current global changes, such as more frequent thermal stress events.