The Effects of Habitat on Coral Bleaching Responses in Kenya
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This study examines the bleaching responses of scleractinian corals at four sites in Kenya (Kanamai, Vipingo, Mombasa and Nyali) representing two distinct lagoon habitats (relatively shallow and relatively deep). Bleaching incidence was monitored for the whole coral community, while zooxanthellae densities and chlorophyll levels were monitored for target species (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lutea, and Porites cylindrica) during a non-bleaching year (2006) and a year of mild-bleaching (2007). Differences in bleaching responses between habitats were observed, with shallower sites Kanamai and Vipingo exhibiting lower bleaching incidence than deeper sites Nyali and Mombasa. These shallower lagoons display more fluctuating thermal and light environments than the deeper sites, suggesting that corals in the shallower lagoons have acclimatized and/or adapted to the fluctuating environmental conditions they endure on a daily basis and have become more resistant to bleaching stress. In deeper sites that did exhibit higher bleaching (Mombasa and Nyali), it was found that coral recovery occurred more quickly in the protected area than in the non-protected area.
KeywordsCoral reef Bleaching Resilience
This study was made possible by the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation and the Swedish International Development Agency.
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