Jokiel, Paul L.; Ku'ulei Rodgers; Yuko Stender
Assessment of coral settlement distributions and environmental conditions
University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program
"The patterns of coral recruitment along environmental gradients in relation to coral and fish communities, in reference to historical, sedimentation, and water quality data were determined. Changes on the reef in relation to changes on the watershed were evaluated. From our evaluation of past, present and projected future condition of the coral reefs of Pelekane Bay we find that the historical reef decline has been subsiding, offering support of local action strategies including regulatory initiatives and watershed restoration. Abundance and diversity of reef fishes has increased since 1996 and coral decline has stabilized. Coral recruitment patterns show substantially lower levels in inshore waters. This is supported by manipulative lab experiments showing larval settlement blockage under very low levels of fine sediments. Results of water quality analysis and field assessment suggest no substantial change in offshore water quality from 2010 to 2014. Moreover, greater observed coral settlement offshore remained steady across years suggesting no immediate threat from land-based sedimentation. The potential threat from existing mud deposits adjacent to excellent coral reefs appears to be minimal. Baselines have been set for 34 sites within the Kawaihae/Pelekane region that will be valuable in evaluation of changes in the future in response to further natural and anthropogenic impacts and management strategies. This highly successful project produced five peer-reviewed journal articles. Outreach components include 12 venues that reached members of science, academia, and management. All goals and objectives proposed have been met or exceeded."
FY2013 Project Title: Assessment of coral settlement distribution and environmental conditions; Principal Investigator: Paul Jokiel; NOAA Award number: NA13NOS4820014