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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 115:165-173 (2015)  -  DOI:

Coral health on reefs near mining sites in New Caledonia

T. Heintz1,*, J. Haapkylä2, A. Gilbert

1Soproner, 1 bis rue Berthelot, BP 3583, 98846 Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia
2College of Marine and Environmental Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coral health data are poorly documented in New Caledonia, particularly from reefs chronically subject to anthropogenic and natural runoff. We investigated patterns of coral disease and non-disease conditions on reefs situated downstream of mining sites off the coast of New Caledonia. Surveys were conducted in March 2013 at 2 locations along the west coast and 2 locations along the east coast of the main island. Only 2 coral diseases were detected: growth anomalies and white syndrome. The most prevalent signs of compromised health at each location were sediment damage and algal overgrowth. These results support earlier findings that sedimentation and turbidity are major threats to inshore reefs in New Caledonia. The Poritidae-dominated west coast locations were more subject to sediment damage, algal overgrowth and growth anomalies compared to the Acroporidae-dominated east coast locations. If growth form and resistance of coral hosts influence these results, differences in environmental conditions including hydro-dynamism between locations may also contribute to these outputs. Our results highlight the importance of combining coral health surveys with measurements of coral cover when assessing the health status of a reef, as reefs with high coral cover may have a high prevalence of corals demonstrating signs of compromised health.

KEY WORDS: Coral disease · Sediment damage · Algal overgrowth · Mining · New Caledonia

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Cite this article as: Heintz T, Haapkylä J, Gilbert A (2015) Coral health on reefs near mining sites in New Caledonia. Dis Aquat Org 115:165-173.

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