HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

Andia C. Fonnegra

Third Advisor

Ryan P. Moyer


Reef-building corals are subject to high amounts of stress, including pollution and rising sea surface temperatures due to climate change. These factors can affect the ability of corals to produce their calcium carbonate skeletons. Evaluation of the effects of climate change may be facilitated by evaluation of records of coral skeletal growth over a long period of time. The aim of this study was to evaluate skeletal growth of the coral Orbicella faveolata in La Parguera, Puerto Rico over a 32-year period. For this, 14 Orbicella faveolata core samples were collected from corals at two reefs (1.2 km apart) in southwestern Puerto Rico. Coral cores were used to obtain skeletal growth data. Average skeletal extension, density, and calcification was determined for subannual and annual periods, and compared between sites. Time series and growth master chronologies were constructed and compared between corals at the two reef sites. In addition, sea surface temperature (SST) data was obtained and summarized into time series, and correlated with coral growth chronologies for the 32-year period. Results showed that two Orbicella faveolata, growth parameters (extension and calcification) were similar between Turrumote and Pinnacles reefs, while density was non-significantly greater on Pinnacles Reef between 1973 and 2004. SST had a weak, and non-significant correlation to growth parameters over time.



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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.