Atoll Research Bulletin
The condition of coral. algal. and fish populations in fore reefs. patch reefs, and coral reef ridges was investigated at 13 sites along the northern and south-central Belize barrier reef during May 1999, documenting effects of the 1998 warming episode and Hurricane Mitch. We found high percentages of partial, or even complete, colony mortality of major reef-builders (Acropora palmata, the Montastraea annuluris species complex and Agaricia tenuifolia) that were rarely censused as recruits. A. tenuifolia, formerly a space-dominant coral in reef ridges, had incurred nearly 100% mortality after bleaching. Nearly 45% of the M. annurluris complex was still discolored (50% had been bleached in January 1999) on some south-central patch reefs where the total (recent + old) partial mortality exceeded 60% of colony surfaces. Although turf algae dominated patch reefs and coral reef ridges, macroalgae were quite prevalent representing >30% cover at six sites. Parrotfish densities exceeded surgeontishes at most sites (11/13). Consistent patterns of lower partial-colony mortality of stony corals and greater fish densities and sizes near and within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve highlight the ecological benefits of protected areas for the maintenance of reef corals and attendant fish populations.
© Smithsonian Institute
Peckol, Paulette M.; Curran, H. Allen; Floyd, Emily Y.; Robbart, Martha L.; Greenstein, Benjamin J.; and Buckman, Kate L., "Assessment of Selected Reef Sites in Northern and South-Central Belize, Including Recovery from Bleaching and Hurricane Disturbances (Stony Corals, Algae and Fish)" (2003). Geosciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.