The analysis of coral reef resilience - a generic modelling tool
|Other Titles:||Die Analyse der Resilienz von Korallenriffen - eine generische Modellanwendung||Authors:||Kubicek, Andreas||Supervisor:||Reuter, Hauke||1. Expert:||Reuter, Hauke||2. Expert:||Wild, Christian||Abstract:||
Coral reefs, rainforests of the sea, are of greatest ecological and economical importance. Although they cover just a small fraction of sea floor, they provide indispensable functions for the associated flora and fauna, and invaluable services for livelihoods of large human populations in tropical coastal regions. Within the last few decades coral reefs have been increasingly endangered for various reasons, which can be directly or indirectly ascribed to anthropogenic influence. Chronic stresses can undermine the resilience of coral reefs, which then become more susceptible to the effects of pulse stresses, like hurricanes or thermally induced bleaching. Such an event may then diminish relevant ecosystem properties beyond a threshold, and thus trigger a sudden shift to an alternative state, which may not be in favour of corals but an alternative live form that then achieves dominance. In my thesis I developed a spatially explicit individual-based model to simulate a benthic reef community, typical for a reef in the Western Indian Ocean region. The application was then used to explore key variables and -processes for resilience and to identify potential triggers for phase shifts. Several coral species with contrasting life histories and algae compete for space under different environmental influences. Evoked by direct neighbourhood-interactions and individual responses to environmental conditions, the system performs dynamic self-organisation, and properties of superordinate hierarchical levels (population, community) emerge as a consequence. In multiple scenarios I tested the influences of (i) two different perturbation types (bleaching and mechanical disturbances), -intensities and frequencies, as well as (ii) various levels of grazing and recruitment on the dynamics of coral reef communities. As the results show, perturbations can generate heterogeneous outcomes. While extreme temperature events render a disadvantage for more susceptible branching coral species, these species can dominate under high frequencies of mechanical disturbance events, because they recolonize empty space faster, due to their faster growth rates. Low disturbance levels always benefit the dominance of massive growth forms and a combination of both perturbations at intermediate levels leads to high evenness in the community composition. The results additionally confirm, that herbivory and recruitment are crucial processes for the resilience and persistence of coral reefs. This study also highlights the importance of a diversified analysis of coral reef dynamics to understand the full magnitude of consequences, caused by environmental change. The presented application renders an excellent tool (a) to integrate current knowledge, which can be kept up to date with little effort and (b) can be coupled with other modelling systems that operate on different spatial and temporal scales. Complexity and non-linear dynamics of coral reef functioning can thus be simulated and analysed with a high level of detail and informative value.
|Keywords:||ecology, spatial competition, benthic community dynamics, ecological modelling, complex systems, coral reef resilience||Issue Date:||2-Nov-2012||Type:||Dissertation||URN:||urn:nbn:de:gbv:46-00102883-16||Institution:||Universität Bremen||Faculty:||FB2 Biologie/Chemie|
|Appears in Collections:||Dissertationen|
checked on Jan 27, 2021
checked on Jan 27, 2021
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