Is coral richness related to community resistance to and recovery from disturbance?
Zhang, SY and Speare, KE and Long, ZT and McKeever, KA and Gyoerkoe, M and Ramus, AP and Mohorn, Z and Akins, KL and Hambridge, SM and Graham, NAJ and Nash, KL and Selig, ER and Bruno, JF, Is coral richness related to community resistance to and recovery from disturbance?, PeerJ, 2 Article e308. ISSN 2167-8359 (2014) [Refereed Article]
More diverse communities are thought to be more stable—the diversity–stability
hypothesis—due to increased resistance to and recovery from disturbances. For
example, high diversity can make the presence of resilient or fast growing species and
key facilitations among species more likely. How natural, geographic biodiversity
patterns and changes in biodiversity due to human activities mediate community level
disturbance dynamics is largely unknown, especially in diverse systems. For
example, few studies have explored the role of diversity in tropical marine communities,
especially at large scales.We tested the diversity–stability hypothesis by asking
whether coral richness is related to resistance to and recovery from disturbances
including storms, predator outbreaks, and coral bleaching on tropical coral reefs.
We synthesized the results of 41 field studies conducted on 82 reefs, documenting
changes in coral cover due to disturbance, across a global gradient of coral richness.
Our results indicate that coral reefs in more species-rich regions were marginally
less resistant to disturbance and did not recover more quickly. Coral community
resistance was also highly dependent on pre-disturbance coral cover, probably due in
part to the sensitivity of fast-growing and often dominant plating acroporid corals
to disturbance. Our results suggest that coral communities in biodiverse regions,
such as the western Pacific, may not be more resistant and resilient to natural and
anthropogenic disturbances. Further analyses controlling for disturbance intensity
and other drivers of coral loss and recovery could improve our understanding of the
influence of diversity on community stability in coral reef ecosystems.
biodiveristy, resilience, stability, coral reef, disturbance, recovery, resistance, community ecology