South Florida Ecosystem Success Indicator - 11

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at
Tue Oct 29 14:34:07 EST 1996


The attached message is a prologue to a larger document by Dr. Michael P. 
Crosby, "South Florida Ecosystem Success Indicator - ll: Improvement of 
Coral Reef Conditions."  The entire document may be read on the Web at: 

It is also available as a postscript document in the following anonymous 
FTP subdirectory on 



Dear Colleagues, 

As part of my responsibilities and interests both within NOAA and as a 
representative on the South Florida Restoration Intergovernmental Science 
Working Group I have drafted the following short description of the 
"Ecological Success Criteria" for the improvement of coral reef condition. 
This very succinct description is the product of numerous discussions, 
meetings and e-mails (most of which began on Jim Hendee's coral listserver 
earlier this year).  I greatly appreciate the input and ideas that I 
received from many of you with expertise in this broad ecosystem.  I was 
NOT looking for verbose treatise on the subject of what is "healthy" 
versus "non-healthy".  What I was attempting to do was to identify 
specific variables (i.e., biomass, diversity, presence/absence, 
physico-chemical, indicator species) that should increase or decrease, and 
in what magnitude, in order to say the system is improving in overall 
condition.  I also want to emphasize that I was seeking criteria to 
measure significant improvement, not total restoration (that is another 
kettle of fish altogether!) 

Some variable that had earlier been suggested (although in many cases 
still requiring some degree of being quantitative) are: 

- Nutrients and suspended sediments reduced 
- Macro algae bloom and coverage decrease 
- Increase sea urchin population 
- Tortugus shrimp harvests restored to recent historic levels to support a 
    MSY of 10 million pounds annually 
- Increase in population of common snook 
- Increase in recruitment of Gray Snapper 
- Restoration of larval and juvenile spiny lobster habitat (loggerhead 
    sponges) to their historic range 
- Increase in sighting of jewfish 
- Increase in sighting of sea turtles 
- An increase in coral cover by 15-20% 
- Restore coverage and species composition of seagrasses to mid-1980s 
- Increase in wading bird, osprey and brown pelican populations 

The input of many of you, as well as an initial review (by the Everglades 
Partnership and Center for Marine and Environmental Analyses at their 
Workshop on Ecological sustainability Criteria for South Florida in April, 
1996) of draft ESI criteria developed for the entire South Florida Region 
has led to the following ESI for the condition of coral reefs in South 
Florida.  You will note an absence of criteria pertaining directly to 
fishes, birds, turtles, etc and a strong focus on the coral reef itself. 
This is in direct response to the recommendations from several of you and 
specifically the above mentioned workshop.  The more mobile species 
associated with coral reefs (Yes, we all know that coral have mobile life 
stages, but we are dealing with adults here) are addressed in other 
sections of the South Florida Ecological Success Criteria document that 
should be available in early December, 1996 from the South Florida 
Restoration Intergovernmental Science Working Group.  I have asked Jim 
Hendee to post this "final draft version" of the Coral Reef Chapter of 
that document on the CHAMP Home Page and the coral listserver in order to 
get this out ASAP and pre-final publication.  I still have time to make 
some changes to this Chapter prior to the middle of November, 1996.  I 
would also be greatly appreciative to hear back from anyone who has any 
kind of data sets and monitoring or research sites that can assist with 
creating the baseline for either the existing and previous condition of 
the identified variables.  Please feel free to either send you comments 
directly to my internet address or use the coral listserver.  And once 
again, Many Thanks to all of you who have helped with your comments, 
suggestions and encouragement. 


Dr. Michael P. Crosby 
National Research Coordinator Ocean and 
   Coastal Resource Management 
NOAA, SSMC-4, Rm 11437 
1305 East West Highway Silver Spring, MD 20910 
phone:301-713-3155, ext. 114 
fax: 301-713-4012 
Internet: mcrosby at 

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