Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Deficits in functional trait diversity following recovery on coral reefs


McWilliam, Mike (2019), Deficits in functional trait diversity following recovery on coral reefs, Dryad, Dataset,


The disturbance regimes of ecosystems are changing, and prospects for continued recovery remain unclear. New assemblages with altered species composition may be functionally deficient. Alternatively, key functional traits may be sustained by species that replace those in decline (response diversity). Here, we quantify the recovery and response diversity of coral assemblages using case studies of disturbance in three locations. Despite return trajectories of coral cover, the original assemblages with diverse functional attributes failed to recover at each location. Response diversity and the reassembly of trait space was limited, and varied according to biogeographical differences in the attributes of dominant, rapidly recovering species. The deficits in recovering assemblages identified here suggest that the return of coral cover cannot assure the reassembly of reef trait diversity, and that shortening intervals between disturbances can limit recovery among functionally important species.

Usage Notes

Trait data for 44 taxonomic groups is coded according to Table 1 in the main text, and "raw" and "cat" refer to raw and categorical data, respectively (CS=colony size, CW = corallite width, SD = skeletal density, GR = Growth Rate, CH = colony height, IB = interstitial branch spacing, SV = surface area to volume ratio). 

Abundance data is included for 44 taxonomic groups at three time points (1 = predisturbance, 2 = after disturbance, 3 = recovering), at three locations (Rio Bueno, Lizard Island, and Moorea).