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Variation in benthic communities of eastern Caribbean coral reefs in relation to surface sediment composition
Begin, C.; Wurzbacher, J.; Côté, I.M. (2013). Variation in benthic communities of eastern Caribbean coral reefs in relation to surface sediment composition. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 160(2): 343-353. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-012-2092-5
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Begin, C.
  • Wurzbacher, J.
  • Côté, I.M.

Abstract
    The effects of sedimentation on coral reefs are commonly studied at local scales, but larger-scale patterns have been elusive, making it difficult to determine the role of sedimentation in region-wide changes in these ecosystems. We examined the relationships between characteristics of reef-associated surface sediment and benthic composition of 22 reefs around 11 islands of the eastern Caribbean. The terrigenous fraction in surface sediment increased with proximity to a clear source of sediment input. The percent cover of live coral, macroalgae, and turf algae decreased with higher terrigenous sediment fraction, while sponge cover increased. Sites with sediment containing high and low terrigenous fraction differed in coral species assemblages. In particular, the cover of Montastraea annularis complex decreased with increasing terrigenous sediment fraction. The proportion of fine-grained sediment had no effect on benthic composition. These results suggest that sedimentation may play a role in shaping coral reef communities at a regional scale.

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