Drivers of region-wide declines in architectural complexity on Caribbean reefs

Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, J. A. Gill, N. K. Dulvy, A. L. Perry, A. R. Watkinson, I. M. Côté

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59 Citations (Scopus)


Severe declines in the cover of live hard coral on reefs have been reported worldwide, and in the Caribbean region, the architectural complexity of coral reefs has also declined markedly. While the drivers of coral cover loss are relatively well understood, little is known about the drivers of regional-scale declines in architectural complexity. We have used a dataset of 49 time series reporting reef architectural complexity to explore the effect of hurricanes, coral bleaching and fishing on Caribbean-wide annual rates of change in reef complexity. Hurricane impacts greatly influence reef complexity, with the most rapid rates of decline in complexity occurring at sites impacted during their survey period, and with lower rates of loss occurring at unimpacted sites. Reef architectural complexity did not change significantly following mass bleaching events (in a time frame of
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1060
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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