Coral Reefs

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 241–253 | Cite as

Effects of turbidity and depth on the bioconstruction of the Abrolhos reefs

  • Lourianne M. FreitasEmail author
  • Marília de Dirceu M. Oliveira
  • Zelinda M. A. N. Leão
  • Ruy Kenji P. Kikuchi


Turbidity increase is one of the main stressors to coral reefs. It affects light availability and will act together with global sea level rise to reduce potential photosynthesis that is important to light-enhanced calcification in corals. Corals are the main contributors to the morphological complexity of reefs through skeletal calcification. Bioconstruction by corals is a multifactorial process that is controlled by physical (e.g., irradiance and turbidity) and biological factors such as photoacclimation process. In this paper, we intend to show how turbidity and photobiology might interplay to produce a coral species distribution that controls reef growth and structural complexity. The Abrolhos complex is composed by a group of reefs closer to the coastline characterized by a high light attenuation value (Kd490 = 0.11), and another one about 60 km far from the coast characterized by a light attenuation coefficient of Kd490 = 0.08. In these reefs, different coral communities produce bioconstruction potential accordingly. We used data collected for 7 yrs, with the AGRRA (Atlantic and Gulf rapid reef assessment) Protocol. Coral species cover and distribution data were used to estimate reef bioconstruction [sensu Done (1995)] rates. A field experiment examined the metabolic function of five species (Mussismilia braziliensis, Mussismilia hispida, Mussismilia harttii, Montastraea cavernosa and Siderastrea stellata) through respirometry and rapid light curves (RLC). Bioconstruction potential and primary gross productivity demonstrated a substantial variability between reefs and species. In combination, these functional responses meant that coral species distribution is controlled by local factors and acclimation process. Therefore, our results suggest that these functional responses are useful tools to understand photoacclimation process and its consequences, species distribution and the space occupation on Abrolhos bank. We highlight the deleterious effect of turbidity in bioconstruction. This suggests that the local processes that increase sediment runoff is an immediate impact and must be controlled.


Bioconstruction Acclimation Turbidity Coral reefs Abrolhos 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions for improving the manuscript. Also, thanks to the Abrolhos Marine National Park/IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) for support to the experiments with the coral species. The experiments were done under the license SISBIO No. 22106–2, issued by the Brazilian Biodiversity Conservation Agency (ICMBio). The authors thank the Brazilian Navy for the authorization to stay in one of the houses on Santa Bárbara Island. Dr. David Suggett provided the equipment used in the photobiology experiment through SymBioCore Project (PIRSES-GA-2011-295191). The authors thank Lindzai Torres and Miguel Loiola for the technical support during the sampling and the experiment as well as for the discussions related to the development of the experiment. Dr. Pablo Santos helped in production of the map. We also thank Alan Matos for his invaluable help in the map layout, and Danilo Lisboa in the acquisition of the MODIS data. This work is part of the Long-Term Ecological Program (PELD) funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and by the National Institute of Science and Technology of Tropical Marine Environments INCT AmbTropic (CNPq/FAPESB Processes: 565054/2010-4, 8936/2011 and 465634/2014-1). LMF received a Ph.D. scholarship from the Bahia Research Foundation (FAPESB). MDMO received a postdoctoral fellowship from CNPq. RKPK and ZMANL were awarded CNPq-1C Grants.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Acevedo R, Morelock J (1988) Effects of Terrigenous Sediment Influx on Coral Reef Zonation in Southwestern Puerto Rico. In: Proceedings 6th International Coral Reefs Conference 2:189–194Google Scholar
  2. Allemand D, Ferrier-Pagès C, Furla P, Houlbrèque F, Puverel S, Reynaud S, Tambutté E, Tambutté S, Zoccola D (2004) Biomineralisation in reef-building corals: from molecular mechanisms to environmental control. Gen Palaeontol 3:453–467Google Scholar
  3. Anthony EJ (2008) Chapter Seven Coral Reef and Carbonate Shores. Developments in Marine Geology. pp 325–367Google Scholar
  4. Castro B, Brandini F, Pires-Vanin A, Miranda L (2005) Multidisciplinary oceanographic processes on the Western Atlantic continental shelf between 4 N and 34 S. Sea Harvard Coll 14:259–293Google Scholar
  5. Cocito S (2004) Bioconstruction and biodiversity: their mutual influence. Scientia Marina 68:137–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cortes NJ, Risk MJ (1985) A reef under siltation stress: Cahuita. Costa Rica, Bull Mar SciGoogle Scholar
  7. Costa CF, Sassi R, Amaral FD (2005) Annual cycle of symbiotic dinoflagellates from three species of scleractinian corals from coastal reefs of northeastern Brazil. Coral Reefs 24:191–193. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Done TJ (1995) Ecological criteria for evaluating coral reefs and their implications for managers and researchers. Coral Reefs 14(4):183–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dutra L, Kikuchi R, Leão Z (2006) Effects of sediment accumulation on reef corals from Abrolhos, Bahia, Brazil. J Coast Res 2004:633–638Google Scholar
  10. Fabricius KE (2005) Effects of terrestrial runoff on the ecology of corals and coral reefs: review and synthesis. Marine Pollution Bulletin 50(2):125–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Falkowski PG, Raven JA (2007) Aquatic Photosynthesis, 2nd edn. Princeton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  12. Glynn PW (1997) Bioerosion and coral reef growth: a dynamic balance. Coral Reefs in the AnthropoceneGoogle Scholar
  13. Hennige SJ, Smith DJ, Walsh SJ, McGinley MP, Warner ME, Suggett DJ (2010) Acclimation and adaptation of scleractinian coral communities along environmental gradients within an Indonesian reef system. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 391(1–2):143–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jassby AD, Platt T (1976) Mathematical formulation of the relationship photosynthesis and light for phytoplankton. Liminology Oceanogr 21:540–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Junjie RK, Browne NK, Erftemeijer PLA, Todd PA (2014) Impacts of sediments on coral energetics: Partitioning the effects of turbidity and settling particles. PLoS ONE, 9(9). Scholar
  16. Kikuchi RKP, Oliveira MDM, Leão ZMAN (2013) Density banding pattern of the south western Atlantic coral Mussismilia braziliensis. J Exp Mar Bio Ecol 449:207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Knoppers B, Meyerhofer M, Marone E, Dutz J, Lopes R, Leipe T, DeCamargo R (1999) Compartments of the pelagic system and material exchange at the Abrolhos Bank coral reefs, Brazil. Arch Fish Mar Res 47:285–306Google Scholar
  18. Knowlton N, Jackson JC (1999) The Ecology of Coral Reefs. Darwin 3:395–422Google Scholar
  19. LaJeunesse TC (2001) Investigating the biodiversity, ecology, and phylogeny of endosymbiotic dinoflagellates in the genus symbiodinium using the its region: in search of a “species” level marker. J Phycol 37:866–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lang JC, Marks KW, Kramer PA, Kramer PR, Ginsburg RN (2010). AGRRA protocols. Scholar
  21. Leão ZMAN, Ginsburg RN (1997) Living reefs surrounded by siliciclastic sediments: the Abrolhos coastal reefs, Bahia, Brazil. Proc Eighth Int Coral Reef Symp 1767–1772Google Scholar
  22. Leão Z, Kikuchi RKP (2005) A relic coral fauna threatened by global changes and human activities, Eastern Brazil. Mar Pollut Bull 51:599–611. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leão Z, Kikuchi R, Testa V (2003) Corals and coral reefs of Brazil. In: Jorge Cortés (eds) Latin American coral reefs. Elsevier B.V., pp 9–52Google Scholar
  24. Leão Z, Kikuchi RKP, Ferreira BP, Neves EG, Sovierzoski HH, Oliveira MDM, Maida M, Correia MD, Johnsson R (2016) Brazilian coral reefs in a period of global change: A synthesis. Brazilian J Oceanogr 64:97–116. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lisboa DS, Kikuchi RKP, Leão ZMAN (2018) El Niño, Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly and Coral Bleaching in the South Atlantic: A Chain of Events Modeled With a Bayesian Approach. J Geophys Res OceanGoogle Scholar
  26. Lessa GC, Cirano M (2006) On the Circulation of a Coastal Channel Within the Abrolhos Coral-Reef System - Southern Bahia (17o 40’ S ), Brazil. J Coast Res 2004:2004–2007Google Scholar
  27. Liu X, Wang M (2016) Analysis of ocean diurnal variations from the Korean Geostationary Ocean Color Imager measurements using the DINEOF method. Coast Shelf Sci, Estuar. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marsh JA (1970) Primary Productivity of Reef-Building Calcareous Red Algae. Ecology 51:255–263. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marshall AT, Clode P (2004) Calcification rate and the effect of temperature in a zooxanthellate and an azooxanthellate scleractinian reef coral. Coral Reefs 23:218–224Google Scholar
  30. McCabe-Reynolds J, Bruns BU, Fitt WK, Schmidt GW (2008) Enhanced photoprotection pathways in symbiotic dinoflagellates of shallow-water corals and other cnidarians. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105:13674–13678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morgan KM, Perry CT, Smithers SG, Johnson JA, Daniell JJ (2016) Evidence of extensive reef development and high coral cover in nearshore environments: Implications for understanding coral adaptation in turbid settings. Sci Rep 6:Google Scholar
  32. Moura RL, Secchin NA, Amado-Filho GM, Francini-Filho RB, Freitas MO, Minte-Vera CV, Teixeira JB, Thompson FL, Dutra GF, Sumida PYG, Guth AZ, Lopes RM, Bastos AC (2013) Spatial patterns of benthic megahabitats and conservation planning in the Abrolhos Bank. Cont Shelf Res 70:109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Perry CT, Larcombe P (2003) Marginal and non-reef-building coral environments. Coral Reefs 22:427–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. R Core Team (2017) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
  35. Revsbech NP, Jörgensen BB, Brix O (1981) Primary production of microalgae in sediments measured by oxygen microprofile, H14CO3- fixation, and oxygen exchange methods. Limnol Oceanogr 26:717–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rogers CS (1990) Responses of coral reefs and reef organisms to sedimentation. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 62:185–202. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosic NN, Dove S (2011) Mycosporine-like amino acids from coral dinoflagellates. Appl Environ Microbiol 77:8478–8486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Segal B, Evangelista H, Kampel M, Gonçalves AC, Polito PS, dos Santos EA (2008) Potential impacts of polar fronts on sedimentation processes at Abrolhos coral reef (South-West Atlantic Ocean/Brazil). Cont Shelf Res 28:533–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Segal B, Castro C (2011) Coral community structure and sedimentation at different distances from the coast of the Abrolhos Bank. Brazil Brazilian J Oceanogr 59:119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Silva-Lima AW, Walter JM, Garcia GD, Ramires N, Ank G, Meirelles PM, Nobrega AF, Silva-Neto ID, Moura RL, Salomon PS, Thompson CC, Thompson FL (2015) Multiple Symbiodinium strains are hosted by the Brazilian endemic corals Mussismilia spp. Microb Ecol 301–310Google Scholar
  41. Sorek M, Yacobi YZ, Roopin M, Berman-Frank I, Levy O (2013) Photosynthetic circadian rhythmicity patterns of Symbiodinium, the coral endosymbiotic algae [Erratum to document cited in CA159:147360]. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 280:Google Scholar
  42. Suggett D, Maberly S, Geider R (2006) Gross photosynthesis and lake community metabolism during the spring phytoplankton bloom. Limnology and Oceanography 51:2064–2076CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Suggett DJ, Kikuchi RKP, Oliveira MDM, Spanó S, Carvalho R, Smith DJ (2012) Photobiology of corals from Brazil’s near-shore marginal reefs of Abrolhos. Marine Biology 159(7):1461–1473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tambutté S, Holcomb M, Ferrier-Pagès C, Reynaud S, Tambutté É, Zoccola D, Allemand D (2011) Coral biomineralization: From the gene to the environment. J Exp Mar Bio Ecol 408:58–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Teixeira CEP, Lessa GC, Cirano M, Lentini CAD (2013) The inner shelf circulation on the Abrolhos Bank, 18ºS, Brazil. Continental Shelf Research 70:13–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tentori E, Allemand D (2006) Light-enhanced calcification and dark decalcification in isolates of the soft coral Cladiella sp. during tissue recovery. Biol Bull 211:193–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Titlyanov EA, Titlyanova TV, Yamazato K, Van Woesik R (2001) Photo-acclimation of the hermatypic coral Stylophora pistillata while subjected to either starvation or food provisioning. J Exp Mar Bio Ecol 257:163–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wei J, Lee Z (2013) Model of the attenuation coefficient of daily photosynthetically available radiation in the upper ocean. Methods in Oceanography 8:56–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wolanski E, Fabricius K, Spagnol S, Brinkman R (2005) Fine sediment budget on an inner-shelf coral-fringed island, Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 65:153–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Coral Reefs and Global Changes-RECOR, Institute of GeosciencesUniversidade Federal da Bahia (Federal University of Bahia–UFBA)SalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Ecology and Biomonitoring, Institute of BiologyUniversidade Federal da Bahia (Federal University of Bahia–UFBA)SalvadorBrazil

Personalised recommendations