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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2017, Article ID 1351854, 10 pages
Research Article

Coral Recruit-Algae Interactions in Coral Reef Lagoons Are Mediated by Riverine Influences

Department of Oceanography and Hydrography, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Silos Rd., English Point, Mkomani, P.O. Box 81651, Mombasa 80100, Kenya

Correspondence should be addressed to S. A. Mwachireya; moc.oohay@ayerihcawm

Received 18 January 2017; Revised 31 May 2017; Accepted 1 June 2017; Published 9 July 2017

Academic Editor: Daniel I. Rubenstein

Copyright © 2017 S. A. Mwachireya et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Coral recruit and algae abundance and diversity were studied in Kenyan reefs to determine the influence of terrestrial discharge (nutrients and sediments) and the recovery potential of coral reefs after disturbances. Reefs affected by sediments and nutrients were found to have high total, turf, and macroalgae but reduced coralline algae abundance and coral recruit density. Interestingly, this response was found to be the greatest in reefs close to nutrient sources relative to “pristine” reefs and those affected simultaneously by sediments and nutrients. Further, enhanced levels of brown algae and pocilloporid recruits were observed in reefs affected by terrestrial run-off whereas acroporid recruit, coralline, and calcareous algae abundance was high in reefs under low terrestrial input. Our results show that whereas increased sediment levels negatively affect coral recruit density individually, their interaction with nutrients improves recruit density in reefs simultaneously affected by sediment and nutrients. These findings suggest that the assessment of local factors that enhance inhibitory and those that suppress promotional processes involved in coral settlement and recruitment is an important aspect to consider in the conservation and management of coral reefs in the face of local anthropogenic stress as well as future climate disturbance dynamics and their interaction.