Reef communities were quantitatively surveyed over the range of 0.5 to 56 m in the vicinity of Discovery Bay, Jamaica, at intervals spanning 1977-1982. This study provides data on reef communities which were subsequently altered by major disturbance events (e.g., Hurricane Allen in 1980 and the mass mortality of the urchin, Diadema in 1982). Living cover by the sessile epibiota is typically high, between 82-95%, at the census sites. Corals occupy from 28-60% of the reef surface with no clear depth-related trends in cover. The most striking bathymetric trends are displayed by the algae and sponges. Cover by macro- and filamentous algae (8-32%) and fleshy sponges (2-15%) is positively correlated with increasing depth on the fore reef while cover by coralline algae (4-37%) and boring sponges (0-32%) is negatively correlated with increasing depth.
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