Kenyon, J. C., Wilkinson, C. B., Aeby, G. S.
Community structure of hermatypic corals at Maro Reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands: A unique open atoll
Atoll Research Bulletin
"Percent cover of shallow-water (< 20m) scleractinian corals at Maro Reef, an open atoll with no perimeter reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), was quantified from analysis of imagery recorded along more than 81 km of benthic habitat by towed divers and at 18 sites surveyed with video transects and photoquadrats. Colony densities and size class distributions were determined from censuses within belt transects at the same sites. All three methods showed statistically significant differences in total coral cover and relative abundance of coral genera among four geographic sectors characterized by different exposure to prevailing wave regimes. Massive and encrusting growth forms of Porites dominated coral cover and density throughout all sectors, with Montipora the next most dominant genus. Patterns of highest coral cover differed from that of most other classic and open atolls in the NWHI. Populations of Pocillopora, though contributing little to percent cover, attained the largest colony sizes of any reef system in the NWHI surveyed with similar methods. Numerous indicators, including coral percent cover, recovery from bleaching, low coral disease prevalence, rarity of crown-of-thorns seastars, and high larval recruitment rates suggest healthy coral communities at Maro Reef, although the predicted accumulation of marine debris from outside sources remains problematic. These data enable the most comprehensive quantitative description of coral communities at Maro Reef produced to date and are a valuable baseline for assessing change."
FY2008 CRCP Project ID 1221; Project Title: Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP): Biennial Monitoring for the U.S. Pacific Islands and Atolls; Principal Investigator: Rusty Brainard