Thermal Refuges and Refugia for Stony Corals in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

  • Tyler B. SmithEmail author
  • Juan L. Maté
  • Joanna Gyory
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 8)


Refugia could provide the essential conditions for coral and coral reef persistence in the marginal eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) by allowing corals to avoid extinction after disturbance events and by maintaining populations that can rapidly recolonize disturbed habitats. The low diversity and restricted ranges of ETP corals make them vulnerable to seawater warming caused by positive phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (El Niño). However, at spatial scales ranging from individual colonies (<10 m) to regions, (>100 km) there are areas or habitats that avoid stress or support corals that are more resistant to stress or with the capacity to recover rapidly. These habitats may form a network of refugia that ensures coral persistence through severe disturbance. This chapter explores evidence for the existence of refugia at multiple spatial and temporal scales across the ETP, with recent examples showing refugia may be common and perhaps even necessary for many species to survive the highly fluctuating environment in this eastern Pacific tropical ocean basin.


El Niño-Southern Oscillation Coral bleaching Extinction Resistance Recovery 



We thank Jorge Cortés, Peter Glynn, Katherine Mejía, Carlos Muñoz, Héctor Reyes Bonilla, Bernardo Vargas-Ángel, and Fernando Zapata for personal observations and unpublished data. These workers kindly shared their vast knowledge of corals in the eastern Pacific and helped to make this a more complete chapter. Peter Glynn provided a helpful review of an earlier draft and was particularly important for forming our earlier ideas of reef refugia. Likewise we also thank Iliana Chollet and Aaron O’Dea who provided excellent reviews and provided many helpful comments that are reflected in this chapter. We also thank the editors for their patience and guidance in producing this superb collection of papers on corals and coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler B. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juan L. Maté
    • 2
  • Joanna Gyory
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Marine and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the Virgin IslandsUS Virgin IslandsUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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