You are here


Moorea Coral Reef LTER

Site Image
Sally Holbrook, co-PI of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER, and former graduate student Bill Douros, set up an experiment in a lagoon at Moorea, French Polynesia.
The Moorea Coral Reef LTER is located on the island of Moorea 20 km northwest of the main island of Tahiti, French Polynesia. Moorea is a high, 1.2 million year old volcanic island surrounded by a well developed coral reef and lagoon system.

The Moorea Coral Reef LTER site encompasses the coral reef complex that surrounds the island of Moorea, French Polynesia (17°30'S, 149°50'W). Moorea is a small, triangular volcanic island 20 km west of Tahiti in the Society Islands of French Polynesia.

The coastal environments of Moorea offer an unparalleled opportunity for studies of coral reef ecosystems. An offshore barrier reef forms a system of shallow (mean depth ~ 5-7 m), narrow (~0.8-1.5 km wide) lagoons around the 60 km perimeter of Moorea. All major coral reef types (e.g., fringing reef, lagoon patch reefs, back reef, barrier reef and fore reef) are present and accessible by small boat.

Prior to 2008, the reefs were in excellent condition and had been subjected to relatively few natural disturbances during the last several decades. An outbreak of the crown of thorns seastar (Acanthaster planci) that began in 2007 and a near miss by tropical cyclone Olie in early 2010 significantly reduced the cover of live coral on the fore reef and to differing degrees around the island. This “natural experiment” provides MCR scientists with an unparalleled opportunity to study the processes that influence the recovery of coral reefs from the effects of large disturbances.

Short history: 
The Moorea Coral Reef LTER was established in September 2004.
Short research topics: 
The science themes that form the nucleus of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER program include the: (1) biological bases for variation in ecological performance of stony corals (the foundational group); (2) population dynamics of key groups; (3) food web and nutrient dynamics; and (4) maintenance and functional consequences of diversity. Two additional research components cut across these themes: (a) an explicit focus on physical – biological coupling over multiple scales; and (b) physical and ecological models to synthesize field results and obtain generality. Identified issues within each thematic area will be explored through focused, process-oriented studies and by long-term experiments and time series of key abiotic conditions, ecosystem functions, and community and population attributes of major functional groups.
Marine Science Institute
University of California
Santa Barbara
805 893-7670
805 893-3777
Coral Reef
elevation comment: 
This is a marine site.
latitude comment: 
Data Source: LTER Site Characteristics Database.
Data Source: LTER Site Characteristics Database.
ecosystem comment: 
Data Source: LTER Site Characteristics Database. Primary Research sites.



Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer