Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Morri C., Aliani S., Bianchi C. N. Reef status in the Rasfari region (North Malé Atoll, Maldives) five years before the mass mortality event of 1998. In: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 86 (2) pp. 258 - 264. ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 24-28 OVAL RD, LONDON NW1 7DX, ENGLAND, 2009.
The Maldives was severely hit by massive coral bleaching and subsequent mortality in 1998. The results of reef monitoring in the following years have supported contrasting views about their recovery potential, partly because of the scarcity of information on the situation before 1998. Quantitative data on coral assemblages collected in 1993 in the Rasfari region (North Malé Atoll) may provide a base-line for the evaluation of the present status of the Maldivian reefs. Five years before the 1998 mortality, most coral communities appeared to be similar, in terms of both coral cover and growth-form composition, to those described in 1958 and 1964, notwithstanding increased human pressure and local events such as minor bleaching episodes in 1987 and crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) attacks in 1989. Three lessons can be learnt from these results to help to understand the present situation, some ten years after the 1998 mass mortality. First, Maldivian reefs proved in the past to be capable of maintaining flourishing coral life despite various disturbances. Second, four years had been sufficient for complete reef recovery after a (minor) bleaching event. Third, recovery after both COTS attack and bleaching follows a predictable path suggesting that the presence of a three-dimensional community structure, which should reduce post settlement mortality of coral recruits, is essential for rapid coral recovery. As coral recruitment remains high and large tabular Acropora colonies are now reappearing, it is expected that Maldivian reefs should return to their original condition within the next few years.
URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WDV-4XSJVTB-2&_user=10203667&_coverDate=01%2F20%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000061181&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10203667&md5=08f
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2009.11.021
Subject recovery
crown-of-thorns starfish
non-taxonomic descriptors
coral cover
coral communities
Indian Ocean

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