Delbeek's question

Bob Steneck Steneck at
Thu Oct 8 00:22:46 EDT 1998

Charles Delbeek asked:

>Could it be that the increased presence of macroalgae in reef areas in the
>region could be the by-product of reduced "cleansing"  of reef tracts by

It's unlikely because the spatial and temporal patterns do not conform 
with the prediction.  Areas with both high and low hurricane frequencies 
have experienced macroalgal increases.  For example,  St. Croix had very 
low levels of macroalgal biomass through the 1970 despite not having had 
a hurricane hit for over 50 years.  Jamaica also had low biomass prior to 
and several years following Hurricane Allen.  In both cases, macroalgal 
biomass increased immediately following the die off of Diadema.  Diadema 
control of macroalgal biomass had been demonstrated experimentally by 
Ogden and Carpenter for St. Croix well before the die-off.  Similar 
increases in algal biomass have been observed throughout the Caribbean.  
You certainly don't need to believe me (e.g., Steneck 1994), since every 
hurricane cruise track is posted on the web, the question is testable.

Bob Steneck

	Steneck, R. S. 1994. Is herbivore loss more damaging to reefs than 
hurricanes?  Case studies from two Caribbean reef systems (1978 - 1988).  
 pp  220 - 226. In: Ginsburg RN (ed) Proc Colloquium on Global Aspects of 
Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards, and History, 1993.  Rosensteil School of 
Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. 

Robert S. Steneck, Ph.D.
Professor, School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine
Darling Marine Center
Walpole, ME 04573
207 - 563 - 3146
e-mail: Steneck at Maine.EDU

The School of Marine Sciences Web site:

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