Five years of coral recovery following a freighter grounding in the Florida Keys.

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Five years of coral recovery following a freighter grounding in the Florida Keys.

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Title: Five years of coral recovery following a freighter grounding in the Florida Keys.
Author: Gittings, SR; Bright, TJ; Holland, BS
Abstract: Coral community recovery has been followed for five years since the destruction of a portion of Molasses Reef, Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, by a 122 meter freighter, which ran aground in August 1984. Underwater repetitive and random photographic methods, visual counts, and artificial substrates were used between 1984 and 1989 to assess coral populations, cover, recruitment, and the fate of coral colonies damaged by the grounding. we report here on data and results from random photographic methods and underwater visual censuses. Coral abundances had redeveloped in 1989 from virtually 0% in an area of major impact to a level approximating 65-78% of supposed pre-impact populations though colonies were very small. Cover of hard corals in 1989 was 22% of pre-impact cover, and gorgonian cover approximately 40% of pre-impact cover and tend to have high rates of recruitment. Coral recruitment has been dominated by species which brood larvae. These species are also numerical dominants in mature surrounding communities. Though recovery would occur naturally over an extended period of time, transplantation could be used as a way to increase the relative abundance of species which only rarely have been found as coral recruits. These include primarily the large massive corals conspicuous in typical mature reef communities. Most of these species are broadcast spawners, which have long planktonic stages, low recruitment rates, and low relative abundances in mature communities. Transplantation also restores the habitat complexity essential to the development of the associated invertebrate and fish assemblages characteristic of these diverse ecosystems.
Description: American Academy of Underwater Sciences (http://www.aaus.org/)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9545
Date: 1990

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