Effects of algal turfs and sediment on coral settlement.

Marine pollution bulletin

PubMedID: 15757739

Birrell CL, McCook LJ, Willis BL. Effects of algal turfs and sediment on coral settlement. Mar Pollut Bull. 2005;51(1-4):408-14.
Successful settlement and recruitment of corals is critical to the resilience of coral reefs. Given that many degraded reefs are dominated by benthic algae, recovery of coral populations after bleaching and other disturbances requires successful settlement amidst benthic algae. Algal turfs often accumulate sediments, sediments are known to inhibit coral settlement, and reefs with high inputs of terrestrial sediments are often dominated by turfs. We investigated the impacts of two algal turf assemblages, and of sediment deposits, on settlement of the coral Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg). Adding sediment reduced coral settlement, but the effects of different algal turfs varied. In one case, algal turfs inhibited coral settlement, whereas the other turf only inhibited settlement when combined with sediments. These results provide the first direct, experimental evidence of effects of filamentous algal turfs on coral settlement, the variability in those effects, and the potential combined effects of algal turfs and trapped sediments.