Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Gorgonian and Scleractinian Coral Communities of the Turks and Caicos Islands

Event Name/Location

9th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali, Indonesia, October 23-27, 2000

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Shallow-water (4-21 m) coral communities were surveyed at 24 sites spanning over 100km of reef around the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in August 1999. Line transects were used to survey scleractinian and gorgonian communities in the vicinity of Grand Turk, Providenciales, South Caicos, West Caicos and the Mouchoir Bank. A total of 26 scleractinian species among 18 genera and 11 gorgonian genera were recorded in 68 transects. Scleractinian coral species diversity (H’) was 1.77 on average, ranging from 1.04 to 2.29. Comparison among different locations revealed that Providenciales and West Caicos had higher scleractinian diversity than other locations. The number of Gorgonian genera was also highest in West Caicos, but overall scleractinian and gorgonian diversity did not show a correlative relationship. Q-mode cluster analyses of scleractinians, gorgonians, and the whole coral communities all showed the formation of distinct communities separated mainly by locations (islands). However, scleractinians and gorgonians showed a somewhat different way of clustering: gorgonian communities were characterized more strongly by the location, suggesting overall environmental conditions to be an important determinant in gorgonian communities. On the other hand, water depth seemed to play an important role in structuring scleractinian communities. These results implicitly support the hypothesis that different factors are responsible for structuring scleractinians and gorgonians communities.


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