Impacts of turbidity on corals: The relative importance of light limitation and suspended sediments

Pia Bessell-Browne, Andrew P. Negri, Rebecca Fisher, Peta L. Clode, Alan Duckworth, Ross Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As part of an investigation of the effects of water quality from dredging/natural resuspension on reefs, the effects of suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) (0, 30, 100 mg L− 1) and light (~ 0, 1.1, 8.6 mol photons m− 2 d− 1) were examined alone and in combination, on the corals Acropora millepora, Montipora capricornis and Porites spp. over an extended (28 d) period. No effects were observed at any sediment concentrations when applied alone. All corals in the lowest light treatments lost chlorophyll a and discoloured (bleached) after a week. Coral mortality only occurred in the two lowest light treatments and was higher when simultaneously exposed to elevated SSCs. Compared to water quality data collected during large dredging programs and natural resuspension events (and in the absence of sediment deposition as a cause-effect pathway) these data suggest the light reduction associated with turbidity poses a proportionally greater risk than effects of elevated SSCs alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume117
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017

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