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Marine Paleoecology Laboratory

Florida Keys

Macroecology Applied to Management of Coral Reefs

Will the small-scale biological and physical processes revealed by small-scaleexperimental studies be reflected in regional dynamics? We are conducting a long-term, biogeographic-scale program to track corals, sponges, algae and other bottom-dwelling organisms in fully-protected zones (FPZs) and reference reefs within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Videographic and photographic records enable us to detect changes in coral cover, diversity, and recruitment success, and to determine the contributions of large- and small-scale disturbances to those changes. We are especially interested in the landscape- to regional-scale predictors of coral diversity and in the changeover from coral-dominated to algae-dominated reef communities. These studies are of special concern to managers and policymakers.

Supported by grants from NOAA's Sanctuaries and Reserves Division