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Coral Communities at Rose Atoll

Favia, Acropora, Porites, Montipora, Astreopora, and Pocillopora

Coral cover, abundance, species richness, and diversity are moderate compared to other reefs in the archipelago, but high compared to the Hawaiian Islands. Dominant corals at Rose include Favia, Acropora, Porites, Montipora, Astreopora, Montastrea, and Pocillopora. About 20 species and 6 genera of corals observed in 1994 at Rose were not seen during 2002, perhaps due to a combination of a bleaching event, shipgrounding, and other factors (crown-of-starfish predation, hurricanes, tsunami waves, etc.). More recent surveys in 2002, and 2004-2007 reveal that coral recovery is proceeding rapidly following complete removal of ship debris and the earlier insults of the ship grounding, coral bleaching and several large wave events.

There are two main habitats that support coral growth. The Reef and the Lagoon.
The reef crest at Rose Atoll, constructed by countless generations of calcifying marine organisms whose remains have been cemented together over time by biochemical processes, varies from 1,000 to 3,000 feet wide. The predominance of CCA was noted by early scientific visitors (Mayor 1921, Setchell 1924) and has been reiterated many times. The reef crest is the living veneer of the ancient physical barrier separating the deep surrounding ocean from the shallow interior lagoon. By breaking the force of waves and currents, the shallow reef crest provides a sheltered environment inside which lagoon habitats have developed, and itself harbors a biotic assemblage adapted to shallow intertidal conditions. This living platform, which continues to accrete with successive generations of calcifying organisms, is resistant to physical- and bio-erosion, enabling formation and maintenance of the marine and terrestrial lagoon habitats in which other organisms exist. The reef crest is a vital habitat for Pacific reef herons and snowflake eels. 

Rose has an almost completely enclosed lagoon, measuring less than 1.2 miles at its widest point, with only one ava at the northwest corner. While much of the lagoon floor consists of unconsolidated sand and rubble (Kenyon et al. 2010), a number of hard-bottom pinnacles are found rising toward the surface, providing substrate that supports corals, faisua, other macroinvertebrates, and diverse fish populations. Coral cover on the lagoon pinnacles is dominated by the genera Favia, Montipora, Porites, and Astreopora. Faisua density is highest at the base of the lagoon pinnacles. Small- to medium-sized fish are very abundant around several of the larger pinnacle patch reefs inside the lagoon, where parrotfish, snapper, emperor, goatfish, and jacks are common (NMFS PIFSC 2008).

Facts About Coral Communities at Rose Atoll

Coral communities at Rose include about 140 species

For a list of coral species found at rose: Coral Species Index

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2016
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