Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Coral Population Stable and Sea Urchins Are on the Rise in Florida Keys

04.11.2011
Over the past decade, the populations of staghorn and elkhorn corals in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary have remained steady after dramatic declines in the last century.

Long-term monitoring conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has revealed that while populations of the iconic branching corals remain far below their historic numbers, the surviving populations of both species have not suffered further declines.

"Our estimates for population sizes for staghorn and elkhorn have remained relatively constant over the last ten years, with millions of staghorn colonies and several hundred thousand elkhorn colonies present throughout the sanctuary," said UNC Wilmington researcher Steven Miller, principal investigator for the project. "These numbers, however, represent a small fraction of what previously existed throughout the Florida Keys.

Coral disease devastated staghorn and elkhorn corals throughout the Keys and Caribbean starting in the late 1970s. Significant population declines were also caused by severe coral bleaching.Dwindling populations prompted the 2006 listing of staghorn and elkhorn coral as threatened on the Endangered Species List.

Since 1998, UNCW scientists have monitored the coral reef communities in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). During the summer of 2011, UNCW and national marine sanctuary scientists counted and measured corals, as well as invertebrates such as urchins and anemones, at 280 Florida sites from northern Key Largo to Islamorada.

"Results from this long-term research help sanctuary managers evaluate the condition of our coral reefs,giving us a big picture view of how much coral is out there, where it's located, and its condition," said FKNMS science coordinator Scott Donahue. "Though significant natural recovery of elkhorn and staghorn has yet to be documented, the good news is that these corals are still here and their numbers are holding steady."

UNCW research indicates that long-spined sea urchins, important seaweed grazers, also appear to be on the slow road to recovery. Disease ravaged urchins in Florida and the Caribbean in the early1980s, killing massive numbers of the species.

"Although long-spined sea urchin densities are almost 100 times less than their levels in the early 1980s, we have documented a slow, but steady increase in their numbers and sizes," said UNCW researcher Mark Chiappone.

Results indicate that urchin sizes have noticeably increased in the past 20 years and researchers anticipate that with time, increasing urchin numbers and sizes may help corals to recover on reefs with abundant seaweed cover.

Research support was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Conservation Program, National Marine Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species Act Section 6 Funding, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and UNCW's Aquarius Reef Base.

William Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uncw.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>