HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Third Advisor

Louis E. Fisher

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Blair


This study analyzed data collected during the Broward County beach renourishment project yearly monitoring site visits. Twenty four sample sites throughout the county were established to monitor the coral reef community during beach renourishment efforts sponsored by Broward County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Data collected during each site visit included stony coral cover, density, and colony size. Octocoral and sponge density were also collected. A sediment bottle trap was deployed at each site in order to record the sedimentation rates and grain sizes. These traps were collected and analyzed approximately every 60 days. This project used data collected from the year 2000 until 2004. During this time there were no beach renourishment construction activities therefore sedimentation can be assumed to be natural. The sample sites occur on unique habitat categories. These are: colonized pavement-shallow, ridge-shallow, linear inner, middle, and outer reef. It was previously unclear what was driving the composition of the coral reef communities at these sites. Using available information, this project’s objective is to examine whether or not the southeast Florida coral reef community varies temporally (2000-2004) and spatially (by habitat category). Additionally, this project seeks to examine whether sedimentation rate, grain size and/or depth, have any influence on the coral reef community data obtained at these sites.

Changes in the southeast Florida reef system over time (2000-2004) were examined using univariate statistics. Multivariate statistical analyses were used to determine differences by habitat category. The reef communities on the ridge-shallow were statistically different than the reef communities on the linear middle and outer reefs. Sedimentation also varied in this study. The ridge-shallow had the highest sedimentation rates and grain sizes. Some stony coral species exhibited correlations with sedimentation rate, grain size, and depth. Stephanocoenia intersepta in particular showed more cover and higher densities in area where sedimentation rates were low, sediment grain sizes were smaller and depths were deeper. The following paper examines southeast Florida community patterns and how these factors may influence them.

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