The reorganization of coral reefs after disturbances depends on surviving individuals, spatial distribution, mobile link organisms, and import of larvae from outside the area.

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"We term this network of species, their dynamic interactions between each other and the environment, and the combination of structures that make reorganization after disturbance possible; the 'ecological memory' of the system (21, 22)…The ecological memory is a key component of ecological resilience, i.e. the capacity of the system to absorb disturbances, reorganize, and maintain adaptive capacity (25)…The disturbance regimes and human impacts on coral reefs have been reviewed in (35) (Table 1). Today's reefs have experienced various disturbances ranging from small-scale grazing, modest siltation and salinity fluctuations, to large and more infrequent events such as outbreaks of the coral predator Crown-of-Thorns starfish, diseases and hurricanes (Table 1; Fig. 3). Some disturbances, such as grazing by herbivores, are so essential for ecosystem functioning that the real threat is the loss of the disturbance, often leading to overgrowth by algae (31). Many corals are long-lived and therefore infrequent disturbance events are likely to occur during their lifetimes (61)…The ability to reorganize after disturbance is determined by surviving individuals (residuals), their spatial distribution, functions of mobile link organisms between reefs (36), the import of larvae from outside the area (all together these constitute the ecological memory), and the time before the next disturbance. Coral reefs are open systems connected to surrounding ecosystems, i.e. other coral reefs, the terrestrial, riparian (mangrove) and seagrass systems, and the open ocean (63, 64). The openness depends on the location of the reefs, on the presence of mobile link organisms and the prevailing currents transporting plankton, nutrients, and juveniles." (Bengtsson et al. 2003:389, 392)

Journal article
Reserves, Resilience and Dynamic LandscapesAMBIO: A Journal of the Human EnvironmentMarch 11, 2009
Janne Bengtsson, Per Angelstam, Thomas Elmqvist, Urban Emanuelsson, Carl Folke, Margareta Ihse, Fredrik Moberg, Magnus Nyström

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