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Free Content Structure and Coral Fauna of East African Reefs

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The East African coast has over 140 known species of scleractinian corals belonging to 55 genera. The coral fauna and its partitioning into assemblages in response primarily to wave action are similar to that described for reefs of the Seychelles and Southern Maldive Islands.

Typical reef transects are described and drawn schematically. Exposed (windward) reef slopes show the development of spurs and grooves dominated by acroporids and pocilloporids in a turbulent upper zone, below which is a zone of massive poritids and faviids. Sheltered reef slopes tend to be steeper, less diverse, and are dominated by staghorn Acropora or by Galaxea clavus. The latter may form extensive monospecific reefs. On reef flats, Pocillopora and Porites are common, along with Psammocora and Pavona. The moat or lagoon behind the flat, where present, supports a more diverse mixed coral fauna.

Contemporary reef growth appears to be vigorous on many reef edges and slopes, but increasing degradation of the coastal environment and overexploitation of reef resources threaten their continued development.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1984

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