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Resilience of a high latitude Red Sea corals to extreme temperature

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DOI: 10.4236/oje.2013.33028    3,988 Downloads   6,303 Views Citations

ABSTRACT

Our research objective was to expand the very limited knowledgebase pertaining to the ecology of fringing coral reefs in the Gulf of Suez, Egypt. Specifically, determine dominant coral species and investigate why this reef is capable of surviving at such a high-latitude and extreme harsh environment. Data collection included annual reef surveys, randomized quadrat sampling, five permanent video transects and in situ seawater temperature. Of the known Gulf of Suez 35 taxa, only six (Acropora humilis, A. microclados, A. hemprichii, Litophyton arboretum, Stylophora pistillata, Porites columna, and P. plantulata), compose 94% of the reef's coral cover. Coral dominance across species shifted drastically during the study period. However, the six coral dominance remained unchanged, while some decreased others increased. These six coral taxa regularly experience daily changes in seawater temperature and seasonal variations that exceed These extreme temperatures variation and the fact that only six coral taxa dominance remained unchanged, suggest that these corals may have developed a mechanism to cope with extreme seawater temperatures as evidenced by their continued growth and survival over the study period. We speculate that species dominance shift occurred largely as a result of a local oil spill rather than exposure to extreme temperatures. Further scrutiny of these species and the mechanisms by which they are able to thrive is recommended, as they hold the potential to benefit other coral communities as a resilient transplant species and model for understanding coral survivability in extreme environmental conditions.

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Moustafa, M. , Moustafa, Z. and Moustafa, M. (2013) Resilience of a high latitude Red Sea corals to extreme temperature. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 242-253. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.33028.

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