EFFECTS OF SEDIMENTATION ON THE RECRUITMENT OF THE MACROALGAE DICTYOTA SPP. AND LOBOPHORA VARIEGATA: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY IN THE TAYRONA NATIONAL NATURAL PARK, COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN
Sedimentation is frequently associated with coral reef degradation. However, there are few experimental studies evaluating the impacts of this process on the dynamics of algal recruitment on coral reefs. In a field experiment, we manipulated the levels of sedimentation and examined the impacts on the recruitment and growth of the brown macroalgae Dictyota spp. and Lobophora variegata, in two localities (Chengue and Granate) on the Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombian Caribbean. We found considerable variability in the responses of algae to sedimentation. This variability depended on the levels of sediments used, the type of algae employed and the population parameter considered (recruitment or growth). Sediment addition generally had a negative effect on the recruitment and early growth of the alga Dictyota spp. In contrast, sediment addition did not affect the recruitment of L. variegata, while sediment removal had a negative effect on recruitment. The locality with higher sedimentation rates (Granate) generally had lower recruitment and growth of both algae than that of the other locality with lower sedimentation levels (Chengue). Our study indicates that there is substantial variability and complexity in the responses of reef algae to the effects of sedimentation. The results also suggest that the process of reef degradation can modify early population dynamics of benthic algae, with important implications for understanding the ecology of reef degradation.
Colombian Caribbean; Coral reefs; Macroalgae; Tayrona National Natural Park; Sedimentation
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