Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2014

Publication Title

Bulletin of Marine Science

ISSN

0007-4977

Volume

90

Issue/No.

2

First Page

665

Last Page

679

Abstract

The 1983–1984 caribbean-wide mass mortality of the once ubiquitous long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarum Philippi, 1845, is one of several factors considered responsible for coral reef change throughout the region. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of pre-mortality event density data for D. antillarum in the Florida Keys, making it difficult to determine pre-1983 population density levels. results from surveys conducted during 1970–1973 in the lower Florida Keys, in shallow (<12 m) fore reef habitats, yielded relatively abundant and widespread D. antillarum densities in qualitative transects at five reefs prior to the 1983–1984 die-off. In quantitative surveys at one reef, Middle sambo reef in 1972, up to 7.9 individuals m–2 were recorded using quadrats in high-relief spur and groove habitat. A second mortality event in the Florida Keys, beginning in April 1991, again depressed urchin densities that had begun to recover from the 1983–1984 mass mortality. By 1992, D. antillarum densities (<0.01 m–2) were two orders of magnitude lower than pre-die-off estimates (range of 0.07–0.57 m–2 from several spur and groove reefs in the lower Florida Keys) and remained so through 2009. The pre-mortality echinoid density estimates detailed in the Florida Keys provide a baseline to compare with their current population status and should help inform managers about realistic recovery or restoration targets for D. antillarum.

Comments

©2014 Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami

Additional Comments

NOAA grant #: NA96RU-0260

DOI

10.5343/bms.2013.1022

Peer Reviewed

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