Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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This report presents abundance and size-class distribution estimates for nine coral species in the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, all of which are proposed for listing or reclassification under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lack of population data for these species was highlighted as a deficiency in the ESA Review Process by the Biological Review Team (BRT) in their Status Review (Brainard et al. 2011) and also by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Federal Register 2012). Field sampling protocols were adapted from Aronson et al. (1994) and the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment program (Kramer and Lang 2003) to measure population-level metrics of scleractinian corals, with population data analyses following Smith et al. (2011). The data in this report are based on focused surveys for Acropora corals in the Florida Keys during 2005, 2007, and 2012; and for all scleractinian coral species during 2005, 2009, and 2012; and for all coral species in the Dry Tortugas for 2006 and 2008. Colony density within belt transects and size measurements were obtained for each species present. Statistical estimation procedures for population abundance metrics – means (e.g. coral density) and totals (e.g. coral abundance) – for a two-stage stratified random sampling design were adapted from Cochran (1977), and computations were carried out using SAS statistical software. Domain-wide estimates are presented in this report.

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Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center Technical Series