Temporal variation in the coral reefs of the east coast of the inner gulf of Thailand
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A series of permanent line transects established on fourteen reefs on the eastern seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand were monitored through a three-year period (1995- 1998) using a video transect method. Hierarchical cluster analysis shows three distinctive reef community types dominated by 1) Porites, 2) Acropora and 3) zoantharians. The reefs are developed under naturally turbid conditions and relatively low salinity due to the proximity of four major river outlets located in the uppermost area of the gulf. The number of Acroporid species on the reefs is positively correlated with distance from the major flver outlets. Eighty-seven species of scleractinian coral were found on the transects. Over the three-year period, the comparison of 1995-97-98 matched stations using Repeated Measures ANOV A reveals no significant time-dependent change in percent area cover of reef components except for an overall significant reduction in the faviid coral component. In the 1997-98 matched station comparison, statistical tests reveal significant increases in both Acropora and Porites components that translated into an overall increase in total living coral cover. These findings indicate that the overall environmental conditions have been favorable for coral growth. Outcompetition of massive corals by faster growing corals on several reefs also indicates conditions favorable for reef expansion. Growth of newlyformed Porites colonies over primary rock substrate and dead coral skeleton was presumably responsible for its rapid increase. Although these reefs are in an area of rapid industrialization and population growth, resultant anthropogenic effects have not yet stopped active coral accretion.