Order of authorship was determined by coin toss.
Local and regional scale recovery of Diadema promotes recruitment of scleractinian corals
Article first published online: 12 JAN 2006
Volume 9, Issue 3, pages 271–280, March 2006
How to Cite
Carpenter, R. C. and Edmunds, P. J. (2006), Local and regional scale recovery of Diadema promotes recruitment of scleractinian corals. Ecology Letters, 9: 271–280. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00866.x
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2006
- Article first published online: 12 JAN 2006
- Editor, Howard Cornell Manuscript received 7 July 2005 First decision made 10 August 2005 Second decision made 6 October 2005 Manuscript accepted 31 October 2005
The phase change from coral to macroalgal dominance on many Caribbean reefs was exacerbated by the mortality of the echinoid Diadema antillarum in 1983–1984, and until recently, this sea urchin has remained rare on reefs throughout the western Atlantic. By the late 1990s, Diadema started to reappear in large numbers on some Jamaican reefs, and by 2000, the high densities were correlated with significantly greater abundances of juvenile corals. Here, we show that dense populations of Diadema now occur over a multi-kilometre-wide scale at six locations scattered along a 4100 km arc across the entire Caribbean. In all cases, these dense populations are found in shallow water (< 6 m depth) on outer reef communities and are associated with reduced macroalgal cover and enhanced coral recruitment. We conclude that population recovery of Diadema is occurring at both local and regional scales, and that grazing by this echinoid is creating conditions favouring the recruitment of corals.