M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences
Coral recruitment in Southeast Florida is being outpaced by mortality, resulting in population declines in many species. Identifying the coral species most likely to recruit and survive on Southeast Florida reefs and evaluating spatial variation in recruitment and survivorship is crucial for managing decreasing coral populations. This study focuses on 12 sites in Broward and Miami-Dade counties that have served as long-term stations for monitoring adult coral cover and demographics. At each site, thirty-two 225cm2 grooved terracotta settlement tiles were attached to the substrate in winter of 2015 and retrieved in winter of 2016 to evaluate scleractinian and octocoral recruitment rates. Thirty-two corresponding 0.25 m2 quadrats were surveyed in situ for coralsconditions, such as Poritidae, Siderastreidae, and Octocorallia, exhibit signs of recruitment success and/or juvenile survivorship. Scleractinian recruitment was not variable spatially, but juvenile densities varied on site-level spatial scales, suggesting that differential survivorship structures adult scleractinian communities. This study will inform reef management and restoration efforts within Southeast Florida by identifying sites and species with potential to recover from disturbance through natural recruitment processes.
Leah M. Harper. 2017. Variation in Coral Recruitment and Juvenile Distribution Along the Southeast Florida Reef Tract. Master's thesis. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, . (458)