Long-term impacts of coral bleaching events on the world's warmest reefs

John Burt, Suaad Al-Harthi, Ashraf Al-Cibahy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The southern Arabian Gulf houses some of the most thermally tolerant corals on earth, but severe bleaching in the late 1990s caused widespread mortality. More than a decade later, corals still dominated benthos (mean: 40 ± 3% cover on 10 sites spanning >350 km; range: 11.0-65.6%), but coral communities varied spatially. Sites to the west generally had low species richness and coral cover (mean: 3.2 species per transect, 31% cover), with Porites dominated communities (88% of coral) that are distinct from more diverse and higher cover eastern sites (mean: 10.3 species per transect, 62% cover). These patterns reflect both the more extreme bleaching to the west in the late 1990s as well as the higher faviid dominated recruitment to the east in subsequent years. There has been limited recovery of the formerly dominant Acropora, which now represents <1% of the benthos, likely as a result of recruitment failure. Results indicate that severe bleaching can have substantial long-term impacts on coral communities, even in areas with corals tolerant to environmental extremes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-229
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Abu Dhabi
  • Acropora
  • Arabian Gulf
  • Bleaching
  • Coral
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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