This study describes the coral communities near Qatarand Abu Dhabi (UAE) ten years after the recurrent elevated temperature anomalies of 1996, 1998 and 2002 which resulted in the mass mortality of Acropora spp. Data derived from photo transects taken over a four-year period were analyzed to characterize the existing coral communities, to compare these to the pre- and post-disturbance communities in the adjacent waters near Dubai, and to project the time-frames required for the communities to return to pre-disturbance levels. The massive corals, dominated by Porites spp. and faviids, showed no long-terms affects associated with exposures to the three thermal anomalies; whereas acroporids, comprising 0% - 8% of the live coral cover, were in various stages of recovery. Projections indicated that acroporid regeneration will require 15 - 32 years to achieve the ≥40% pre-disturbance area cover. The existing communities are too small in size and number to be self-seeding; thus, they are dependent upon the recruitment of larvae from remote refuges of colonies that survived the thermal anomalies. Efforts to identify these refuges and to establish appropriate multi-national conservation programs shall become critical to the future survival of acroporids throughout the southeasternArabian Gulfas the projected regeneration times exceed the periods between disturbances, which are expected to occur more frequently as a result of global climate change.
Cite this paper
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