[Coral-List] Re: A healthy Reef in the Florida Keys?

Phillip Kramer pkramer at tnc.org
Thu Feb 16 15:18:04 EST 2006

Hi Phil- As Chris mentioned, The Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) has
been working on this question for the past year. Finding few agreed upon
quantitative metrics for assessing resilience on Florida reefs in the
literature has led us to approaching it from a number of different angles-
expert input, review and analysis of existing monitoring data, statistically
based broad-scale surveys to quantify response to disturbance (in this case
bleaching) across all sub-regions and reef zones that have been identified
within the Florida reef tract, and finer scale investigations tracking coral
survivorship along selected gradients.

Below is a summary from a pilot expert based (delphic) exercise we did last
year to tap into local knowledge. Not surprisingly, we found quite a bit of
disparity between what experts thought were "resilient" often based on
background/expertise/age of the person. From this excersise, we have a GIS
database and can provide maps which identify over 43 "resilient" reefs as
identified by experts along with the reasons these reefs were identified.
This might be a useful starting point for where to start looking at some
standard metrics. Steven Miller's group also has a very rich baseline
dataset collected over a number of years for a much broader set of
functional and structural indicators that may also help inform this

If anyone is interested in the expert maps or an overview of the FRRP
program just let me know.  We can also share results of the first broad
scale bleaching surveys carried out last summer.


Philip Kramer, Ph. D.
Director, Caribbean Marine Program
The Nature Consevancy
55 N. Johnson Road
Sugarloaf Key, FL 33042
305-745-8402 ext. 103

Summary of South Florida Reef Expert Meetings on Reslience

One of the initial goals of the Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) is to
locate and map coral reefs within the region that exhibit characteristics of
resilience.  To arrive at this goal, several activities have been
implemented by The Nature Conservancy during spring 2005.  Along with
conducting an analysis of existing coral reef monitoring data, anecdotal
information has been collected from local reef experts to help identify
where potentially resilient reefs are located.  A diverse array of
individuals with considerable first hand knowledge of the coral reef
resources within the region were identified and subsequently interviewed for
this effort.  Three tropical sea life collectors, 2 fishers, 6 federal
employees (NOAA and USGS), 1 state employee, 5 individuals affiliated with
universities, 7 members of local non-governmental organizations, and 1 dive
industry representative were involved with  this process.  These 25
individuals provided a wealth of information from a wide geographic range
and from varying perspectives.

Interviews with individuals or small groups were conducted over a 4 week
period; from April 1 through Aril 26, 2005.  During each interview, a
similar range of questions were asked to ensure compatibility of responses.
Reef experts were first given a brief description about the FRRP goals and
overview of a number of activities currently underway.  Each person was
first asked to comment on the spatial framework which identifies unique reef
“strata” that occur within different subregions and cross shelf zones of the
Florida reef tract. This spatial framework will function to identify
distinct reef biotopes within the region and guide the a regional
stratiofied sampling design to assess response to disturbances such as coral
bleaching.  Interviewed participants provided useful information on ways to
improve the framework and/or confirm it’s accuracy from their point of view.
Experts were asked if they know of existing data sets that may be useful for
the further improvement of the spatial framework as well.   In order to
assess the geographic areas each individual is most familiar with, the zones
and sub-regions within the spatial framework were used as a reference.
Following these discussions, using nautical charts, benthic habitat maps,
and other spatial datasets, reef experts were asked to identify reef or
hardbottom areas they believe have maintained its functional integrity over
the past years to decades given the various disturbances which have
influenced south Florida.  They were also asked if they know of “special or
unique areas” that may act as refuges (e.g., do not bleach when other areas
do or have functional or structural characteristics indicative of resilience
such areas with particularly high coral cover or large living coral heads,
etc..).  Interviewees identified a wide range of potentially resilient
areas- from specific parts of individual reefs to entire habitats or zones.
The information gathered from these interviews on potentially resilient reef
areas was tabulated and then digitized in GIS.  Along with these questions,
we asked the experts to comment on why they belief these areas are showing
signs of “resilience” (factors of resilience).  Finally, we asked each
expert to describe what attributes of a reef is most valuable to them.

Table 1:  List of interviewed reef experts

Reef Expert 	Organization/Occupation	Geographic Area of Expertise
Don de Maria 	Fisher	Lower Keys
Billy Causey 	Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary	Region wide
Ken Nedimyer 	Tropical sea life collector	Upper and Lower Keys
Lad Atkins 	Reef Environmental Education Foundation	Keys wide and SE coast
Harold Hudson	Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary	Keys wide
Forest Young	Dynasty Marine	Rebecca Shoal to Middle Keys
Bob Ginsburg	University of Miami, RSMAS	Region wide
Margaret Miller	NOAA-Fisheries	Upper Keys through Miami
Dana Williams	NOAA-Fisheries	Upper Keys through Miami
Rodrigo Garza	University of Miami, RSMAS	Tortugas and Miami
Michelle PaddockUniversity of Miami, RSMAS	Upper Keys through Miami
Bill Parks 	Tropical sea life collector	Palm Beach County
Gene Shinn 	US Geological Survey	Region wide
Bob Halley 	US Geological Survey	Region wide
Walt Jaap 	Florida Wildlife Research Institute	Region wide
Pam Muller	University of South Florida	Region wide
Dr. Ray McAllister Prof. Emeritus, Florida Atlantic University	SE Coast
Stephen Attis 	Vone Research (501c3)	Broward County
Timothy Attis	Vone Research (501c3)	Broward County
Debrorah Devers	Vone Research (501c3)	Broward County
David Zinni	Vone Research (501c3)	Broward County
Randy Brooks	Vone Research (501c3)	Broward County
Jeff Torode 	Greater Ft. Lauderdale Diving Association 	Broward County
Peter Cone	Lobster diver	Key West
Erich Bartels	Mote Marine Laboratory	Region wide

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]On Behalf Of Christopher
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:17 AM
To: Phil Dustan; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Cc: Dave Loomis
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Re: A healthy Reef in the Florida Keys?


  A good question.  I know that TNC folks, as part of the Florida Reef
Resiliency Program (which has state, Sanctuary, NOAA and university
partners), is working on this as we speak.  I am fairly sure they haven't
inked anything concrete yet, though.


><));>  ><));>  ><));>  ><));>
  Christopher Hawkins, PhD student
  Human Dimensions of Resource Management
  Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Program
  Department of Natural Resources Conservation
  314 Holdsworth Hall
  University of Massachusetts
  Amherst, MA 01003
  Hawkins at forwild.umass.edu

  Dear Listers,
 With all this work, talk, and conferencing on
coral reef resiliency
underway, I was wondering if anyone can identify
a healthy reef (as
measured by some suite of measurable parameters)
in the Florida Keys or
Dry Tortugas that we could use as a "standard, or
baseline reef".


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