Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Event Name/Location

11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 7-11, 2008

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Proceeding Title

Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium Volume 2


Acropora, Benthic, Coral, Marine protected area, Stratified sampling


Population declines of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn coral (A. palmata) are often-cited examples of Caribbean reef change since the 1970s, due, in part, to disease and localized effects from storms and predation. Both corals were listed as threatened on the U.S. Endangered Species List based upon range-wide decline and poor recovery. A spatially intensive survey undertaken in the Florida Keys of Acropora corals quantified habitat distribution, colony abundance, size, and condition at 235 sites spanning over 200 km in 2007. A two-stage stratified sampling design using belt transects incorporated cross-shelf habitats and no-fishing management zones from < 1 m to 15 m depth. A. cervicornis was widely distributed among sites and habitats and was particularly abundant on patch reefs, with up to 1.22 colonies/m2 and surface area coverage of 2%. A. palmata was abundant on shallow spur and groove reefs, with up to 1.25 colonies/m2 and surface area coverage of 25%. Although the prevalence of disease is relatively low, both species continue to suffer predation, as well as physical impacts from lost fishing gear. Predicting the future of these corals in Florida requires information about both their present-day ecology and geologic history in Florida.

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