Proceedings of the 1st. European Regional Meeting of the International Society for Reef Studies
Marine Protected Area, MPA, Geomorphology, Coral Community
Africa's southernmost coral communities are situated in northern Natal, South Africa (27°50' S), within the Maputaland and St. Lucia Marine Reserves. Growing concern about the possible impact of recreational acti vities on the health of the coral ecosystem prompted the present study on the structure and health of the reefs. Coral community studies by means of line transects identified three basic coral community types, which correlated with the geomorphology of the sandstone outcrops on which corals grew. 1) Fossil dunes were dominated by alcyonacea in depths between 8 and 24 m. 2) Flat outcrops between 18 and 24 m depth were dominated by scleractinia (mainly Acropora). Within these community types, a further small-scale differentiation into sub-communities inside and outside of gullies occurred. 3) Deep hard substrata between 25 and 34 m depth were dominated by sponges, ascidians and sea-fans. Quantitative damage assessment was used to correllate community structure to damage susceptibility. The flat-outcrop Acropora community was considered most fragile, while the other community types (dominated by leathery alcyonaceans or by sponges) were considered more robust. Such quantitative assessments can be of value to the development of zoning schemes for marine reserves.
Riegl, Bernhard and Cook, Peter A., "Is Coral Community Structure Linked to Damage Susceptibility? A Case Study from South Africa" (1995). Oceanography Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures. 113.