Documenting hurricane impacts on coral reefs using two‐dimensional video‐mosaic technology

Marine Ecology (Impact Factor: 1.84). 05/2007; 28(2):254 - 258. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0485.2006.00140.x

ABSTRACT Four hurricanes impacted the reefs of Florida in 2005. In this study, we evaluate the combined impacts of hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma on a population of Acropora palmata using a newly developed video-mosaic methodology that provides a high-resolution, spatially accurate landscape view of the reef benthos. Storm damage to A. palmata was surprisingly limited; only 2 out of 19 colonies were removed from the study plot at Molasses Reef. The net tissue losses for those colonies that remained were only 10% and mean diameter of colonies decreased slightly from 88.4 to 79.6 cm. In contrast, the damage to the reef framework was more severe, and a large section (6 m in diameter) was dislodged, overturned, and transported to the bottom of the reef spur. The data presented here show that two-dimensional video-mosaic technology is well-suited to assess the impacts of physical disturbance on coral reefs and can be used to complement existing survey methodologies.

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    ABSTRACT: In coral reefs of southwestern Cuba, we assessed the impacts from unprecedented frequent and intense hurricanes during the period 2001-2007, and from coral diseases, which are both factors considered to be associated with climate change. At the reef crests, live hard coral cover reduction varied from null to 21%, while maximum average coral diameter reduction varied from 16 to 40 cm. In the fore-reefs, the reduction of coral cover varied from null to 14%, while diameter reduction varied from null to 26 cm. However, at all sites, great shifts in species dominance patterns were observed. In reef crests, numerical dominance of Acropora palmata and other hard corals shifted towards increases of Millepora complanata or, to a lesser extent, of Porites astreoides or Acropora prolifera. At the fore-reefs, the shifts occurred from the dominance of Montastraea annularis complex, Diploria strigosa and Agaricia agaricites, towards combined increases of P. astreoides or Siderastrea siderea. With those ongoing changes, reef crests are losing effectiveness as refuges and wave dissipators because of reduction of structural complexity. The population density of the sea-urchin Diadema antillarum remained negligible and unchanged in the southern Gulf of Batabanó, while it increased significantly at the Faro Cazones reef crest. Percentages of recent mortality and percentages of disease incidence in corals remained low, suggesting a dominant influence from hurricanes on assessed coral reef decline.
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    ABSTRACT: The overall goal of the MARine and Estuarine goal Setting (MARES) project for South Florida is “to reach a science-based consensus about the defining characteristics and fundamental regulating processes of a South Florida coastal marine ecosystem that is both sustainable and capable of providing the diverse ecosystem services upon which our society depends.” Through participation in a systematic process of reaching such a consensus, science can contribute more directly and effectively to the critical decisions being made by both policy makers and by natural resource and environmental management agencies. The document that follows briefly describes the MARES project and this systematic process. It then describes in considerable detail the resulting output from the first two steps in the process, the development of conceptual diagrams and an Integrated Conceptual Ecosystem Model (ICEM) for the first subregion to be addressed by MARES, the Florida Keys/Dry Tortugas (FK/DT). What follows with regard to the FK/DT is the input received from more than 60 scientists, agency resource managers, and representatives of environmental organizations beginning with a workshop held December 9-10, 2009 at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

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