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Factors that Limit Establishment of Stony Corals

  • Author(s): Temby, Michelle C.
  • et al.
Abstract

Corals occupy less than 1% of the surface area of world oceans but provide a home for 25% of all marine fish species. This study analyzed individual coral heads, specifically the genus Pocillopora (tentative identification: Pocillopora elegans), and their establishments in Cuajiniquil using 3 locations in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica to understand why coral reefs are not establishing at some sites. These sites occur at Bajo Rojo, Bahía Thomas West, and Isla David. The size of establishing coral heads, the surrounding water temperature where each coral head occurred, the urchin cover in a 30 cm radius of each coral head, the bleaching of each individual coral head, the substrate the coral was establishing on, the approximate angle of the substrate, the depth of the coral, and the surge of the water at each site were recorded. The potential factors that affect coral establishment of Pocillopora in Guanacaste, Costa Rica along the coast of Cuajiniquil were investigated: urchin populations may compete with corals for substrate, strong surges may displace larvae, and a range in coral health measured by bleaching may affect coral establishments observed at Isla David and Bajo Rojo. Pocillopora spp. are, however, establishing in larger numbers at Bahía Thomas which may be due to the weak surge, the smaller quantities of urchins, and the good health of individual establishing corals.

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