• Lack of recruitment of non-branching corals in Discovery Bay is linked to severe storms

      Crabbe, M. James C.; Mendes, Judith M.; Warner, George F. (University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 2002)
      We developed a rational polynomial function model for coral colony growth which proved a better fit than exponential logistic, Gompertz, and von Bertalanffy models. We tested the models with published coral weight growth data, and with new growth band data with Montastraea annularis samples. There was good correlation (r = 0.92, P < 0.01) between rates of growth and the degree of the polynomial, and this related to coral morphology, where n = 1 for non-branching corals, n = 2 for plate coral and n = 3 for branching species. We used this model to verify growth rates when we measured the surface areas and calculated recruitment dates of 438 non-branching corals in sites around Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Recruitment was significantly lower in 1980, 1951 and 1944 than in other years since 1940. This low recruitment coincided with the severest storms since 1940. There was a significant negative correlation (r = −0.72, P < 0.01) between recruitment estimates and storm severity. The severest storms resulted in significantly (P < 0.002) lower recruitment estimates. We show here that severe storm damage not only destroys branching corals, it also results in limiting non-branching coral recruitment.