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Publications

New Review Paper on the Conservation of Western Atlantic Coral Reefs



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Research marine biologist Ilsa Kuffner and Mendenhall Fellow Lauren Toth of the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center published a review article entitled “A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs” in the resource-management focused journal, Conservation Biology. The article highlights the importance of geologic processes and geomorphologic structure of reefs in providing ecosystem services such as coastline protection and habitat for fisheries.

The authors’ aim in writing this paper was to raise awareness among ecologically focused reef managers and conservationists of processes that often go unappreciated because they occur more slowly than can be noticed easily by human observers. Processes like physical and biological erosion (see coral photo, below), sediment production and transport, and reef construction and cementation are difficult but important to measure.

A coral on a Florida Keys reef severely undercut by the process of bioerosion
Above: A coral on a Florida Keys reef severely undercut by the process of bioerosion, mostly the work of parrotfish and boring sponges. This coral colony is about the size of an exercise ball and is estimated to be around 100 years old. Over its lifetime, the coral contributed approximately 120 kilograms (264 pounds) of calcium carbonate rock to the reef. Photo credit: Ilsa Kuffner. [larger version]

Ecological monitoring programs on coral reefs traditionally focus on the thin, living veneer of the reef, carefully quantifying the extent of cover by animals and plants, but rarely quantify loss of reef structure or framework destabilization. The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program is helping achieve a more effective and balanced approach to assessing and managing coral reefs through investigations of physical (see “Coral Reefs Provide Critical Coastal Protection”), biogeochemical (see “Mangroves Protecting Corals from Climate Change”), and  geological (see “Weight-Based Approach to Measuring Coral Growth Offers Valuable Tool for Reef Researchers and Managers” and “Research: Holocene Coral-Reef Development)” reef processes.

Managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of resources in conserving coral reefs and the services they provide.

The full citation for the review paper is:
Kuffner, I.B., and Toth, L., 2016, A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs: Conservation Biology, v. 30, p. 706–715, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12725.

The paper is available for open-access download at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12725/abstract.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Coral Reefs, El Niño, and Climate Change: An Interview with Lauren Toth
April / May 2016
Coral Reefs Provide Critical Coastal Protection
May / June 2014
Weight-Based Approach to Measuring Coral Growth Offers Valuable Tool for Reef Researchers and Managers
July / August 2013
Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Growth: Historical Perspectives from Core-Based Studies
November 2009

Related Websites
A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs
Conservation Biology
Mangroves Protecting Corals from Climate Change
USGS Science Features
Research: Holocene Coral-Reef Development
USGS Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies(CREST)

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in this issue:

Research
Scientists Bring Wave Action into the Picture

New Map Reuses Decades-Old USGS Data

Website Provides Oceanographic Time-Series Data

New Data Added to USGS Time-Series Data Collection

Fieldwork
Coastal Maps from Unmanned Aerial Systems

Future Fieldwork, August–September 2016

Outreach
USF Oceanography Camp for Girls

Staff
Student Trainee Gains Work Experience at USGS

Publications
Geological Perspective on Conservation of Atlantic Coral Reefs

Polar Bear Outlook Favorable Under Certain Scenarios

June / July Publications

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