I am a coral biologist and marine bio-geochemist with research interests in the role marginal reef environments (e.g. mangrove habitats) can play in understanding the impact of future climate change on coral reefs.
I am an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award Recipient (DECRA) & Chancellors Postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Associate Professor David Suggett in the Future Reefs Research Program within the Climate Change Cluster (C3).
I am a National Geographic Explorer and 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Associate Laureate. I am also a United Nations Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This honorary position undertaken in September 2018 will last for two years and will see me work with the UN to advocate for #Youth2030 and the SDGs.
Alongside my research, I enjoy photography and communicating my research to the wider public.
For my latest work please check out: www.emmafcamp.com
- PhD (2015), Marine Biology, University of Essex, England.
- MSc (2011), Environmental Management and Business, Sheffield Hallam University, England.
- BSc Hons. (2006), Environmental Science and Chemistry, Belmont Abbey College, USA.
- Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA, 2019)
- UTS Chancellors Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2019)
- Endeavour Research Fellow, Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Australia (2016)
- Research Fellow, Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Cayman Islands (2012)
- Rolex Awards for Enterprise Associate Laureate (2019)
- British Ecological Society Aquatic Group Early Career Research Award (2018)
- Highly commended application AAS Max Day Fellowship (2017)
- UW360 Ocean Defender of the Week (2017)
- Victor Ludorum Award, University of Essex (2016)
- AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union(2013)
- Martin Doughty Award for Best Graduate Student, Sheffield Hallam (2011)
- Biology Department Scholar Award, Belmont Abbey College (2009)
Can supervise: YES
- - Naturally extreme coral environments, specifically mangrove habitats
- -Seawater carbonate chemistry
- -Coral reef restoration at high value sites
- -Elemental signatures of stress
- -Water quality
- -Coral traits that facilitate survival during thermal stress events
- -Symbiont functional diversity and its role in the stability of the coral symbiosis
- -Coral calcification and skeletal properties
- -Coral physiology
Environmental Chemistry (65621)
Gardner, SG, Camp, EF, Smith, DJ, Kahlke, T, Osman, EO, Gendron, G, Hume, BCC, Pogoreutz, C, Voolstra, CR & Suggett, DJ 2019, 'Coral microbiome diversity reflects mass coral bleaching susceptibility during the 2016 El Niño heat wave.', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 938-956.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Repeat marine heat wave-induced mass coral bleaching has decimated reefs in Seychelles for 35 years, but how coral-associated microbial diversity (microalgal endosymbionts of the family Symbiodiniaceae and bacterial communities) potentially underpins broad-scale bleaching dynamics remains unknown. We assessed microbiome composition during the 2016 heat wave peak at two contrasting reef sites (clear vs. turbid) in Seychelles, for key coral species considered bleaching sensitive (Acropora muricata, Acropora gemmifera) or tolerant (Porites lutea, Coelastrea aspera). For all species and sites, we sampled bleached versus unbleached colonies to examine how microbiomes align with heat stress susceptibility. Over 30% of all corals bleached in 2016, half of which were from Acropora sp. and Pocillopora sp. mass bleaching that largely transitioned to mortality by 2017. Symbiodiniaceae ITS2-sequencing revealed that the two Acropora sp. and P. lutea generally associated with C3z/C3 and C15 types, respectively, whereas C. aspera exhibited a plastic association with multiple D types and two C3z types. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that bacterial communities were coral host-specific, largely through differences in the most abundant families, Hahellaceae (comprising Endozoicomonas), Rhodospirillaceae, and Rhodobacteraceae. Both Acropora sp. exhibited lower bacterial diversity, species richness, and community evenness compared to more bleaching-resistant P. lutea and C. aspera. Different bleaching susceptibility among coral species was thus consistent with distinct microbiome community profiles. These profiles were conserved across bleached and unbleached colonies of all coral species. As this pattern could also reflect a parallel response of the microbiome to environmental changes, the detailed functional associations will need to be determined in future studies. Further understanding such microbiome-environmental interactions is likely critical to target more effective manag...
Goyen, S, Camp, EF, Fujise, L, Lloyd, A, Nitschke, MR, LaJeunensse, T, Kahlke, T, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, D 2019, 'Mass coral bleaching of P. versipora in Sydney Harbour driven by the 2015–2016 heatwave', Coral Reefs, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 815-830.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. High-latitude coral communities are distinct from their tropical counterparts, and how they respond to recent heat wave events that have decimated tropical reefs remains unknown. In Australia, the 2016 El Niño resulted in the largest global mass coral bleaching event to date, reaching as far south as Sydney Harbour (~ 34°S). Coral bleaching was observed for the first time (affecting ca., 60% of all corals) as sea surface temperatures in Sydney Harbour remained > 2 °C above the long-term mean summer maxima, enabling us to examine whether high-latitude corals bleached in a manner described for tropical corals. Responses of the geographically cosmopolitan Plesiastrea versipora and southerly restricted Coscinaraea mcneilli were contrasted across two harbour sites, both in situ and among samples-maintained ex situ in aquaria continually supplied with Sydney Harbour seawater. While both coral taxa hosted the same species of microalgal endosymbiont (Breviolum spp; formerly clade B), only P. versipora bleached both in situ and ex situ via pronounced losses of endosymbiont cells. Both species displayed very different metabolic responses (growth, photosynthesis, respiration and calcification) and bleaching susceptibilities under elevated temperatures. Bacterial microbiome profiling, however, revealed a convergence of bacterial community composition across coral species throughout the bleaching. Corals species found in temperate regions, including the generalist P. versipora, will therefore likely be highly susceptible to future change as heat waves grow in frequency and severity unless their thermal thresholds increase. Our observations provide further evidence that high-latitude systems are susceptible to community reorganisation under climate change.
Goyen, S, Camp, EF, Fujise, L, Lloyd, A, Nitschke, MR, LaJeunesse, TC, Kahlke, T, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, D 2019, 'Mass coral bleaching of P. versipora in Sydney Harbour driven by the 2015-2016 heatwave (vol 38, pg 815, 2019)', CORAL REEFS, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 877-877.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Leggat, WP, Camp, EF, Suggett, DJ, Heron, SF, Fordyce, AJ, Gardner, S, Deakin, L, Turner, M, Beeching, LJ, Kuzhiumparambil, U, Eakin, CM & Ainsworth, TD 2019, 'Rapid Coral Decay Is Associated with Marine Heatwave Mortality Events on Reefs', CURRENT BIOLOGY, vol. 29, no. 16, pp. 2723-+.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Lohr, KE, Camp, EF, Kuzhiumparambil, U, Lutz, A, Leggat, W, Patterson, JT & Suggett, DJ 2019, 'Resolving coral photoacclimation dynamics through coupled photophysiological and metabolomic profiling', JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, vol. 222, no. 8.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Suggett, DJ, Camp, EF, Edmondson, J, Bostrom-Einarsson, L, Ramler, V, Lohr, K & Patterson, JT 2019, 'Optimizing return-on-effort for coral nursery and outplanting practices to aid restoration of the Great Barrier Reef', RESTORATION ECOLOGY, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 683-693.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Andersson, AJ, Venn, AA, Pendleton, L, Brathwaite, A, Camp, EF, Cooley, S, Gledhill, D, Koch, M, Maliki, S & Manfrino, C 2019, 'Ecological and socioeconomic strategies to sustain Caribbean coral reefs in a high-CO2 world', Regional Studies in Marine Science, vol. 29.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 The Authors The Caribbean and Western Atlantic region hosts one of the world's most diverse geopolitical regions and a unique marine biota distinct from tropical seas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. While this region varies in human population density, GDP and wealth, coral reefs, and their associated ecosystem services, are central to people's livelihoods. Unfortunately, the region's reefs have experienced extensive degradation over the last several decades. This degradation has been attributed to a combination of disease, overfishing, and multiple pressures from other human activities. Furthermore, the Caribbean region has experienced rapid ocean warming and acidification as a result of climate change that will continue and accelerate throughout the 21st century. It is evident that these changes will pose increasing threats to Caribbean reefs unless imminent actions are taken at the local, regional and global scale. Active management is required to sustain Caribbean reefs and increase their resilience to recover from acute stress events. Here, we propose local and regional solutions to halt and reverse Caribbean coral reef degradation under ongoing ocean warming and acidification. Because the Caribbean has already experienced high coral reef degradation, we suggest that this region may be suitable for more aggressive interventions that might not be suitable for other regions. Solutions with direct ecological benefits highlighted here build on existing knowledge of factors that can contribute to reef restoration and increased resilience in the Caribbean: (1)management of water quality, (2)reduction of unsustainable fishing practices, (3)application of ecological engineering, and (4)implementing marine spatial planning. Complementary socioeconomic and governance solutions include: (1)increasing communication and leveraging resources through the establishment of a regional reef secretariat, (2)incorporating reef health and sustainability goals into the bl...
Lohr, KE, Khattri, RB, Guingab-Cagmat, J, Camp, EF, Merritt, ME, Garrett, TJ & Patterson, JT 2019, 'Metabolomic profiles differ among unique genotypes of a threatened Caribbean coral', SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol. 9.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Camp, EF, Schoepf, V & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'How can "Super Corals" facilitate global coral reef survival under rapid environmental and climatic change?', Global change biology, vol. 24, no. 7, pp. 2755-2757.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Coral reefs are in a state of rapid global decline via environmental and climate change, and efforts have intensified to identify or engineer coral populations with increased resilience. Concurrent with these efforts has been increasing use of the popularized term "Super Coral" in both popular media and scientific literature without a unifying definition. However, how this subjective term is currently applied has the potential to mislead inference over factors contributing to coral survivorship, and the future trajectory of coral reef form and functioning. Here, we discuss that the information required to support a single definition does not exist, and in fact may never be appropriate, i.e. "How Super is Super"? Instead, we advocate caution of this term, and suggest a workflow that enables contextualization and clarification of superiority to ensure that inferred or asserted survivorship is appropriate into future reef projections. This is crucial to robustly unlock how "Super Corals" can be integrated into the suite of management options required to facilitate coral survival under rapid environmental and climate change.
Camp, EF, Schoepf, V, Mumby, PJ & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'The Future of Coral Reefs Subject to Rapid Climate Change: Lessons From Natural Extreme Environments', FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 5.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Camp, EF, Schoepf, V, Mumby, PJ, Hardtke, LA, Rodolfo-Metalpa, R, Smith, DJ & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'The Future of Coral Reefs Subject to Rapid Climate Change: Lessons from Natural Extreme Environments', FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 5.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Nitschke, MR, Gardner, SG, Goyen, S, Fujise, L, Camp, EF, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'Utility of photochemical traits as diagnostics of thermal tolerance amongst great barrier reef corals', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 5, no. FEB.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 Nitschke, Gardner, Goyen, Fujise, Camp, Ralph and Suggett. Light availability is considered a key factor regulating the thermal sensitivity of reef building corals, where excessive excitation of photosystem II (PSII) further exacerbates pressure on photochemical pathways already compromised by heat stress. Coral symbionts acclimate to changes in light availability (photoacclimation) by continually fine-tuning the photochemical operating efficiency of PSII. However, how this process adjusts throughout the warmest months in naturally heat-tolerant or sensitive species is unknown, and whether this influences the capacity to tolerate transient heat stress is untested. We therefore examined the PSII photophysiology of 10 coral species (with known thermal tolerances) from shallow reef environments at Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia), in spring (October-November, 2015) vs. summer (February-March, 2016). Corals were maintained in flow-through aquaria and rapid light curve (RLC) protocols using pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry captured changes in the PSII photoacclimation strategy, characterized as the minimum saturating irradiance (Ek), and the extent of photochemical ([1-C], operating efficiency) vs. non-photochemical ([1-Q]) energy dissipation. Values of Ekacross species were > 2-fold higher in all coral species in spring, consistent with a climate of higher overall light exposure (i.e., higher PAR from lower cloud cover, rainfall and wind speed) compared with summer. Summer decreases in Ekwere combined with a shift toward preferential photochemical quenching in all species. All coral species were subsequently subjected to thermal stress assays. An equivalent temperature-ramping profile of 1°C increase per day and then maintenance at 32°C was applied in each season. Despite the significant seasonal photoacclimation, the species hierarchy of thermal tolerance [maximum quantum yields of PSII (Fv/Fm), monitored at dawn and dusk] did not shift...
Camp, EF, Dong, LF, Suggett, DJ, Smith, DJ, Boatman, TG, Crosswell, JR, Evenhuis, C, Scorfield, S, Walinjkar, A, Woods, J & Lawson, T 2017, 'A novel membrane inlet-infrared gas analysis (MI-IRGA) system for monitoring of seawater carbonate system', Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 38-53.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2016 The Authors Limnology and Oceanography: Methods published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Increased atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are driving changes in ocean chemistry at unprecedented rates resulting in ocean acidification, which is predicted to impact the functioning of marine biota, in particular of marine calcifiers. However, the precise understanding of such impacts relies on an analytical system that determines the mechanisms and impact of elevated pCO 2 on the physiology of organisms at scales from species to entire communities. Recent work has highlighted the need within experiments to control all aspects of the carbonate system to resolve the role of different inorganic carbon species on the physiological responses observed across taxa in real-time. Presently however, there are limited options available for continuous quantification of physiological responses, coupled with real-time calculation of the seawater carbonate chemistry system within microcosm environments. Here, we describe and characterise the performance of a novel pCO 2 membrane equilibrium system (the Membrane Inlet Infra-Red Gas Analyser, MI-IRGA) integrated with a continuous pH and oxygen monitoring platform. The system can detect changes in the seawater carbonate chemistry and determine organism physiological responses, while providing the user with real-time control over the microcosm system. We evaluate the systems control, response time and associated error, and demonstrate the flexibility of the system to operate under field conditions and within a laboratory. We use the system to measure physiological parameters (photosynthesis and respiration) for the corals Pocillipora damicornis and Porites cylindrica; in doing so we present a novel dataset examining the interactive role of temperature, light and pCO 2 on the physiology of P. cylindrica.
Camp, EF, Nitschke, MR, Rodolfo-Metalpa, R, Houlbreque, F, Gardner, SG, Smith, DJ, Zampighi, M & Suggett, DJ 2017, 'Reef-building corals thrive within hot-acidified and deoxygenated waters.', Scientific reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 2434-2434.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Coral reefs are deteriorating under climate change as oceans continue to warm and acidify and thermal anomalies grow in frequency and intensity. In vitro experiments are widely used to forecast reef-building coral health into the future, but often fail to account for the complex ecological and biogeochemical interactions that govern reefs. Consequently, observations from coral communities under naturally occurring extremes have become central for improved predictions of future reef form and function. Here, we present a semi-enclosed lagoon system in New Caledonia characterised by diel fluctuations of hot-deoxygenated water coupled with tidally driven persistently low pH, relative to neighbouring reefs. Coral communities within the lagoon system exhibited high richness (number of species = 20) and cover (24-35% across lagoon sites). Calcification rates for key species (Acropora formosa, Acropora pulchra, Coelastrea aspera and Porites lutea) for populations from the lagoon were equivalent to, or reduced by ca. 30-40% compared to those from the reef. Enhanced coral respiration, alongside high particulate organic content of the lagoon sediment, suggests acclimatisation to this trio of temperature, oxygen and pH changes through heterotrophic plasticity. This semi-enclosed lagoon therefore provides a novel system to understand coral acclimatisation to complex climatic scenarios and may serve as a reservoir of coral populations already resistant to extreme environmental conditions.
Lohr, KE, Smith, DJ, Suggett, DJ, Nitschke, MR, Dumbrell, AJ, Woodcock, S & Camp, EF 2017, 'Coral Community Structure and Recruitment in Seagrass Meadows', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 4, pp. 1-13.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Ainsworth, TD, Fordyce, AJ & Camp, EF 2017, 'The Other Microeukaryotes of the Coral Reef Microbiome.', Trends in Microbiology, vol. 25, no. 12, pp. 980-991.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In marine ecosystems microbial communities are critical to ocean function, global primary productivity, and biogeochemical cycles. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes are essential symbionts and mutualists, nonpathogenic invaders, primary pathogens, have been linked to disease emergence, and can underpin broader ecosystem changes. However, in the effort to determine coral-microbial interactions, the structure and function of the eukaryotic microbes of the microbiome have been studied less. Eukaryotic microbes are important members of the microbiome, constitute entire kingdoms of life, and make important contributions to ecosystem function. Here, we outline the roles of eukaryotic microbes in marine systems and their contribution to ecosystem change, and discuss the microeukaryotic microbiome of corals and coral reefs.
© 2017 Fordyce AJ et al. Polyp bailout is an established but understudied coral stress response that involves the detachment of individual polyps from the colonial form as a means of escaping unfavourable conditions. This may influence both the mortality and asexual recruitment of coral genotypes across a range of species. It has been observed in response to numerous stressors including high salinity and low pH. Polyp expulsion in association with thermal stress has once been described in a geographically restricted, temperate species. We therefore cannot reliably apply this observation to tropical coral reefs around the world, which are increasingly under threat from thermal stress events. We present the first qualitative observation of polyp bailout following acute temperature shock in a near-natural mesocosm experiment. Detached polyps show similar characteristics to those described in previous studies, including the retention of endosymbiotic zooxanthellae and the ability to disperse across short distances. This finding strongly suggests that polyp bailout occurs in tropical coral reef environments and warrants further detailed research into the implication of this response in terms of individual survival, rapid migration into cooler micro-habitats and local recruitment within the reef environment and its coral community.
Camp, EF, Smith, DJ, Evenhuis, C, Enochs, I, Manzello, D, Woodcock, S & Suggett, DJ 2016, 'Acclimatization to high-variance habitats does not enhance physiological tolerance of two key Caribbean corals to future temperature and pH', PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, vol. 283, no. 1831.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Camp, EF, Suggett, DJ, Gendron, G, Jompa, J, Manfrino, C & Smith, DJ 2016, 'Mangrove and Seagrass Beds Provide Different Biogeochemical Services for Corals Threatened by Climate Change', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 3, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are driving acidification in parallel with
warming of the oceans. Future ocean acidification scenarios have the potential to impact
coral growth and associated reef function, although reports suggest such affects could
be reduced in adjacent seagrass habitats as a result of physio-chemical buffering.
To-date, it remains unknown whether these habitats can actually support the metabolic
function of a diverse range of corals. Similarly, whether mangroves provide the same
ecological buffering service remains unclear. We examine whether reef-associated habitat
sites (seagrass and mangroves) can act as potential refugia to future climate change
by maintaining favorable chemical conditions (elevated pH and aragonite saturation
state relative to the open-ocean), but by also assessing whether the metabolic function
(photosynthesis, respiration and calcification) of important reef-building corals are
sustained. We investigated three sites in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and
consistently observed that seagrass beds experience an overall elevation in mean pH
(8.15 ± 0.01) relative to the adjacent outer-reef (8.12 ± 0.03), but with periods of high
and low pH. Corals in the seagrass habitats either sustained calcification or experienced
an average reduction of 17.0 ± 6.1% relative to the outer-reef. In contrast, mangrove
habitats were characterized by a low mean pH (8.04 ± 0.01) and a relatively moderate
pH range. Corals within mangrove-dominated habitats were thus pre-conditioned to low
pH but with significant suppression to calcification (70.0 ± 7.3% reduction relative to the
outer-reef). Both habitats also experienced more variable temperatures (diel range up to
2.5◦C) relative to the outer-reef (diel range less than 0.7◦C), which did not correspond with
changes in calcification rates. Here we report, for the first time, the biological costs for
corals living in reef-associated habitats and characterize the environme...
Camp, EF, Hobbs, J-PA, De Brauwer, M, Dumbrell, AJ & Smith, DJ 2016, 'Cohabitation promotes high diversity of clownfishes in the Coral Triangle', PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, vol. 283, no. 1827.View/Download from: Publisher's site
de Brauwer, M, Camp, E, Jompa, J & Smith, DJ 2016, 'High levels of heterospecific cohabitation among anemonefishes in Hoga Island, Indonesia', Marine Biodiversity, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 19-20.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Anemonefishes have an obligate association with host sea anemones and normally occur in conspecific groups. Occasionally, heterospecific social groups are observed (Fautin and Allen 1997). Here, we report the highest documented frequency of heterospecific cohabitation in the world. Observations on coral reefs around Hoga Island (Southwest Sulawesi, Indonesia) were conducted on the reef crest and slope habitats (3–15 m depth) during July and August 2014, and cohabitation was recorded in the sea anemones Entacmaea quadricolor, Heteractis crispa and Stichodactyla mertensii. Surveys revealed that 55 out of 106 surveyed sea anemones (52 %) were occupied by more than one species of anenomefish; all other observed sea anemones were occupied by only one. The following combinations of anemonefishes were observed: Amphiprion clarkii (adult)—Premnas biaculeatus (juvenile) (1.8 %), A. melanopus (ad.)—P. biaculeatus (juv.) (3.6 %), A. perideraion (ad.)—A. clarkii (juv.) (7.3 %), A. clarkii (ad.)—A. perideraion (juv.) (85.5 %), A. sandaracinos (ad.)—A. clarkii (juv.) (1.8 %) (Fig. 1).
Camp, EF, Krause, SL, Santos, LMF, Naumann, MS, Kikuchi, RKP, Smith, DJ, Wild, C & Suggett, DJ 2015, 'The 'Flexi-Chamber': A Novel Cost-Effective In Situ Respirometry Chamber for Coral Physiological Measurements', PLoS One, vol. 10, no. 10, pp. 1-21.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Camp, EF, Lohr, KE, Barry, SC, Bush, PG, Jacoby, CA & Manfrino, C 2013, 'MICROHABITAT ASSOCIATIONS OF LATE JUVENILE NASSAU GROUPER (EPINEPHELUS STRIATUS) OFF LITTLE CAYMAN, BWI', BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 571-581.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Manfrino, C, Jacoby, CA, Camp, E & Frazer, TK 2013, 'A positive trajectory for corals at Little Cayman Island.', PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 10, pp. e75432-e75432.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Coral reefs are damaged by natural disturbances and local and global anthropogenic stresses. As stresses intensify, so do debates about whether reefs will recover after significant damage. True headway in this debate requires documented temporal trajectories for coral assemblages subjected to various combinations of stresses; therefore, we report relevant changes in coral assemblages at Little Cayman Island. Between 1999 and 2012, spatiotemporal patterns in cover, densities of juveniles and size structure of assemblages were documented inside and outside marine protected areas using transects, quadrats and measurements of maximum diameters. Over five years, bleaching and disease caused live cover to decrease from 26% to 14%, with full recovery seven years later. Juvenile densities varied, reaching a maximum in 2010. Both patterns were consistent within and outside protected areas. In addition, dominant coral species persisted within and outside protected areas although their size frequency distributions varied temporally and spatially. The health of the coral assemblage and the similarity of responses across levels of protection suggested that negligible anthropogenic disturbance at the local scale was a key factor underlying the observed resilience.
Wavelength Reef Charters