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Coral reefs, Foraminifera, Indian Ocean, Sediment Constituent Index, FoRAM Index

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Assessments of reef sediments in the North Ari Atoll (Maldives) were conducted in 2015 and 2018 on reefs of three islands with different management strategies: community, resort, and uninhabited. Indices applied were the Foraminifera in Reef Assessment and Monitoring Index (FI) and the Sediment Constituents Index (SI). Both indices are based on shells or fragments of functional groups, which for the FI are foraminiferal shells and for the SI are sediment components. The FI is considered to be an indicator of water quality and the SI an indicator of water quality, community structure, and processes such as grazing and bioerosion. Both indices indicated that environmental deterioration occurred between 2015 and 2018, likely related to the intense temperature anomaly in March–June 2016 that caused widespread coral bleaching and mortality. Median FI declined from 5.1 to 4.0 overall, indicating that water quality still supports reef accretion, though the replacement of coral cover by algae and sponges likely provides more food sources for smaller, faster-growing foraminiferal species. The median SI values similarly declined from 3.8 to 3.0, reflecting a decrease in identifiable coral fragments and an increase in unidentifiable clasts, likely indicative of increased bioerosion. Although a minor component, molluscan fragments also increased by 25%, likely in response to more algal cover for grazers. In 2015, the FI and SI data indicated that the island management regime contributed to the reef health status. Uninhabited islands were associated with higher indices compared to resort and community islands. A clear distinction between management regimes was not observed in 2018, because a major decrease in FI (median: 4.9 in 2015, 2.9 in 2018) was recorded offshore from an agricultural settlement on the previously “uninhabited” island surveyed. These observations support the usefulness of these indices in reef assessment, and provide additional understanding that the FI can respond to a coral-mortality event that alters food sources in the benthic community.


P. Dietsche, I. Eymard, N. Farley, M. Fau, A. Foubert, B. Lauper, A. Lehmann, M. Maillet, H. Negga, L. Ordonez, G. Peyrotty, V. Rime, A> Ruggeberg, I. Schoellhorn, L. Viempere

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Ecological Indicators, v. 112, art. 106128

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