Deterioration Index (DI): A suggested criterion for assessing the health of coral communities

O. Ben-Tzvi*, Y. Loya, A. Abelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extensive deterioration of coral reefs worldwide highlights the importance of creating efficient monitoring methods to best assess their state of health. At present, several suggested parameters serve such indicators. None of these, however, is well accepted as reliably representing reef community health. In the present study we examine a new approach based on the ratio between mortality and recruitment rates of branching corals, which we term 'Deterioration Index' (DI). It aims at providing a quantitative indication of the state of health of reef-building coral communities. The method was developed and tested on 16 coral communities on artificially laid rocks along the coast of Eilat, Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba). In contrast to frequently used indices (i.e. mortality rate, abundance and species richness), which did not demonstrate a consistent result in comparing disturbed vs. undisturbed coral communities, the DI revealed significant differences between these communities. Our results suggest that the use of the DI may enable the detection of disturbed coral communities in one instance monitoring, where the other parameters had failed. The DI, therefore, may provide a comparable quantitative assessment of the deterioration process and its intensity in a coral community. We propose the DI approach as an efficient and applicable tool for coral reef monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)954-960
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Coral reef
  • Deterioration
  • Monitoring
  • Mortality rate
  • Recruitment rate
  • Red Sea


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