Distance decay among coral assemblages during a cycle of disturbance and recovery

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Abstract

© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. The characterization of distance decay in similarity among plant or animal communities both extends ecosystem description and provides insights into formative ecological events and processes. Here, we examine distance decay among coral communities in a common habitat on northwestern Australian reefs, seeking to better understand the roles of disturbance and coral life history strategies in the changing reefscape. In established communities in 1997, when coral cover and generic richness were uniformly high, there was high similarity (~81 %) and negligible distance decay, both within sets of 15 contiguous 50-m transects and among 250-m sites separated by 500 km. Following a 75 % reduction in coral cover and a comparable loss of generic richness to mass bleaching in 1998, similarity declined to ~67 % and there was strong distance decay at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-738
JournalCoral Reefs
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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