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Four-year monthly sediment deposition on turbid southwestern Atlantic coral reefs, with a comparison of benthic assemblages

DOI: 10.1590/S1679-87592012000100006

Keywords: benthic communities, coral, coral reef, environmental conditions, sedimentation, zoanthid.

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Abstract:

high sedimentation is often related to stress in coral reef communities. most southwestern atlantic reefs are characterized by high sedimentation. however, there are no temporal series of sediment deposition rates. we evaluated sediment deposition, the sediment carbonate composition and coral and zoanthid covers on six reefs in brazil over four-years. sediment deposition rates varied from near zero to 233 mg cm-2 day-1, with peaks between august and december, and yearly averages ranging from nine to 104 mg cm-2 day-1. deposition rates presented site-specific correlations with wind, indicating that resuspension must be a major factor. the presence of carbonates varied from 38% to 90%, with two sites showing seasonal differences. benthic communities were fairly similar among sites, but the analyses suggested particular frequencies at each site. there was no significant correlation between sediment and benthic communities. however, palythoa caribaeorum usually occur in high sediment deposition areas. our results did not corroborate previous data that suggested that a 10 mg cm-2 day-1 would be a "critical limit for coral survival". some coral reefs may be associated with high sedimentation environments including carbonatic fractions, but which does not per se hinder the development of southwestern atlantic coral reef communities.

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