Rapid external erosion of coral substrate in subtropical Hong Kong waters

Yip Hung Yeung, James Y. Xie, Yu Zhao, Hiu Yan Yu, Chong Chen, William Weijia Lu, Jian Wen Qiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Erosion of coral substrate plays a crucial role in reef calcium carbonate budget, but little is known about erosion in subtropical corals. In a 2-year study of coral substrate erosion, we deployed Porites skeletal blocks at nine sites across subtropical Hong Kong waters. External erosion varied from 0.05 to 3.07 kg m−2 yr−1 and accounted for 23.4–99.2% of the total erosion. More than half of the study sites had substantial external erosion (> 1 kg m−2 yr−1), and the values were positively correlated with density of the sea urchin Diadema setosum. Excluding urchins from access to the skeletal blocks using cages reduced external erosion by more than 90%. Overall, our study revealed that external erosion caused by urchin grazing contributed predominantly to the total coral skeletal loss in Hong Kong waters. Control of sea urchin population is needed to reduce coral erosion in places with high urchin density. (149 words).

Original languageEnglish
Article number112495
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date27 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bioerosion
  • Coral health
  • High latitude reef
  • Porites
  • Reef budget
  • Sea urchin


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