1200 year paleoecological record of coral community development from the terrigenous inner shelf of the Great Barrier Reef
Chris Perry et al., Dept. of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, John Dalton Building, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5GD, UK. Pages 691-694.
Perry et al.'s study presents a long-term (approximately 1200 year) record of reef accretion and coral community composition from a turbid-zone, nearshore reef on the inner shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and examines long-term interactions between coral communities and terrigenous sediment accumulation. This has direct relevance to contemporary issues of marine water quality and land-use change because increased terrestrial sediment and nutrient yields, linked to changes in catchment land use practices, are regarded as significant threats to coral reef health. In the central Great Barrier Reef lagoon, water quality has reportedly declined since European settlement (since approximately A.D. 1850), and inner-shelf reef conditions have purportedly deteriorated. However, the link between reef decline and water quality change remains controversial, primarily because of a lack of ecological baseline data, encompassing the pre- and post-European interval, against which contemporary ecological states can be assessed. Perry et al.'s long-term records of coral community composition from Paluma Shoals reef demonstrate the potential for coral communities to initiate and persist in settings dominated by fine-grained terrigenous sediment accumulation. Furthermore, reef-building has been dominated by a temporally persistent (but low-diversity) suite of corals for at least the past millennium, and the coral assemblages exhibit no evidence of community shifts attr
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Geological Society of America