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Effects of the 2000 southern Mozambique floods on a marginal coral community: the case at Xai-Xai

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In early 2000 the southern part of Mozambique suffered the worst flooding in 50 years, causing fatalities and considerable material loss. This study aimed to investigate the impact of this flood on the coral communities in Xai-Xai lagoon. Benthic cover was assessed in January 2000 (before the floods) and September 2000 (after the floods) using the line intercept transect technique. A decrease in hard coral cover of the order of 58.5% was observed. The soft coral community was significantly affected, with a decrease in percentage cover of 90.4%. Coralline algae also decreased by 85.1%. All other categories increased in percentage cover: turf algae (164.4%), other invertebrates (e.g. sponges, sea urchins — 111.1%), fleshy algae (80.4%), rubble (34.4%) and dead coral (379.0%). The main causes of this degradation were the reduced water salinity and the large amount of sediment discharged by the Limpopo River. Some massive (e.g. Porites, Favia, Favites and Goniopora) and encrusting (e.g. Echinopora) hard coral genera seemed less affected, suggesting an elevated capacity to cope with this kind of stress through mucus-sheet formation. The extent of the flood effect on other reefs on the southern Mozambique coast is discussed and a monitoring programme is proposed.
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Keywords: BENTHIC COMPOSITION; FLOOD EFFECT; SALINITY; TURBIDITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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