[Coral-List] Macroalgae in the Keys

Alex Brylske brylske at aol.com
Tue Jun 24 10:02:02 EDT 2008


Well said. As a representative of a major user group, I could not  
agree more. Clearly, the situation is not a good one for reef  
anywhere. But given the challenges facing the coral reefs of the Keys— 
and all of Florida—we have much to be proud of; and the folks at the  
FKNMS have always been the leaders in the effort to manage them.


Alex Brylske, Senior Editor

4314 SW 18th Place
Cape Coral, FL 33914
Phone: 239-471-7824
Cell: 954-701-1966
Fax: 281-664-9497
E-mail: brylske at aol.com
Website: www.dtmag.com

On Jun 24, 2008, at 7:55 AM, Billy Causey wrote:

> Curtis,
>    I will try to respond to your note without seeming personal or
>    defensive, but both are difficult to manage.  However, since you
>    have sent  this message to the Coral-list, and indeed the world, I
> cannot
>    stand by without responding this time.  A long time ago, when you
> moved to
>    Montana, I stopped reading your messages based on your snap-shot
> visits to the
>    Florida Keys.  Your passion runs high for this very special place,
>    no one could ever question that about you.  What I take exception  
> to is
>    how you seem to imply that you are the only one who cares about the
> Florida
>    Keys coral reef ecosystem - that none of the FKNMS Team share your
>    passion for this place.  You are mistaken.
>    The FKNMS Team is made up of the most dedicated people I have ever
>    worked with, in state or federal government.  But the FKNMS Team
>    is more than government employees who get paid for their work  
> (and not
>    nearly enough).  They are government employees who work a third to
>    half of their time without compensation.  We are a community who  
> cares
>    about this very special place we call home.  The paid staff of the
>    FKNMS Team come from 2 state agencies and 1 federal agency who
>    work together, focusing on protecting and conserving the resources
> of this
>    special area.
>    The FKNMS Team is also made up of dozens of hard working
>    volunteers, such as those who serve on the Sanctuary Advisory
>    Council, or Team OCEAN volunteers, or Reef Medic volunteers, or
>    the dozens of volunteers who support Sanctuary operations in a
>    variety of ways.  The Sanctuary Advisory Council has served since
>    February of 1992, and dozens of individuals have given of their
>    precious personal time and made personal sacrifices to help
>    protect and conserve the Florida Keys. Curtis ... you should
>    attend one of these meetings some time and experience the passion
>    and commitment that makes yours pale by comparison.
>    The FKNMS Team is also comprised of all of the local, state,
>    federal and NGO partnerships that exist.  These are partnerships
>    that are essential if the goals and objectives of the Sanctuary are
> to be realized.
>    Goals and objectives that were created by the Sanctuary Advisory
> Council -
>    again, individuals and leaders in the community who have given of  
> their
>    time to make a difference in this special place.
>    Coral reef ecosystems around the world are facing the same major
>    threats: climate change, land-based sources of pollution, habitat  
> loss
>    and degradation, and overfishing.  And the Florida Keys are no
>    different.  Yet there are differences.  Millions of people visit  
> the
>    Keys and most of them end up on the water.  The coral reefs here
>    are the most accessible in the world and are the heaviest used  
> coral
> reefs
>    in the world.  They are on the door-step of 5-6 million people who
> live in
>    South Florida, many of whom trailer their own boats down a single
>    highway and launch them.  The Florida Keys are at a cross-roads of
>    connectivity between the waters of the Wider Caribbean, 40% of the
>    drainage off North America and downstream of the South Florida
>    Ecosystem.  It is a special place in high demand and under
>    extraordinary stresses from use. These facts cannot be denied, or
>    underestimated.
>    Curtis ... you make a good point in your statement: "The job of the
>    FKNMS was to protect and manage the coral reef ecosystem of the  
> Keys
>    _for the good of all___._" That one sentence captures the entire
>    challenge of managing a multiple-use marine protected area like the
> Florida
>    Keys. Not everyone shares your values or opinions about how the
>    resources are to be used. Nor do they share mine or those of the  
>>>    Team. In fact I would say that the vast majority of those
>>> visiting the Florida
>>>    Keys don't share our values. But they still have a right to
>>> access and use of the
>>>    resources ... in ways that make me cringe. However, the situation
>>> gets
>>>    more complicated. The FKNMS shares authority and jurisdiction
>>> with 27
>>>    other local, state and federal agencies. The State of Florida is
>>>    co-trustee and owner of the submerged lands in 65% of the  
>>> Sanctuary.
>>>    They have shared authority and jurisdiction over the majority  
>>> of the
>>>    waters of the Sanctuary. Many who may have read your posting
>>> wouldn't
>>>    know that there are multiple, overlapping jurisdictions ... in an
>>> area
>>>    the size of the State of Vermont.  Can you imagine ... how many  
>>> law
>>>    enforcement officers there are in the State of Vermont at the  
>>> local,
>>>    county, state and federal levels?  If we had that many  
>>> Enforcement
>>>    Officers in the Keys, we would be accused of having a police
>>>    state. Yet, with all of that enforcement in Vermont people still
>>> speed and
>>>    have accidents. And we see that every day on the water in the
>>>    Keys.  Regardless of the regulations in place in the FKNMS,  
>>> people
>>>    still prop scar and run aground on seagrass beds.      The keys
>>> to the future
>>> of the Sanctuary lie in the next generations.  Education and  
>>> outreach
>>> arethe most effective management tools that we can utilize.  The
>>> Seagrass Outreach
>    Partnership in the FKNMS has gained a tremendous amount of
>    momentum over the past 5 to 7 years and people are working
>    together to address a huge problem.  Flatsfishermen, agency
>    representatives, educators and conservationists are working
>    together, to bring attention to impacts to seagrass. Government
> cannot do it
>    alone and it is in the Keys where personal ownership of resource
>    interests come together to work towards collective long term
> solutions.  In fact, the
>    Keys community is frequently sought out as a model for  
> cooperative and
>    coordinated management.
>    The problems affecting coral reefs, especially those in the
>    Florida Keys, are enormous.  There's no question about it.  It
> troubles me to
>    see the decline at popular reefs like Looe Key Reef, but it also
>    troubles me to see the decline on coral reefs in remote areas
>    around the Caribbean, or in the Pacific.  It's easy to put ones
>    self in an adversarial or finger pointing role, however it's more
> difficult to put      ones self in a role of creating positive change
> through a public participatory process.
>     The next time you visit Florida, try to attend a Sanctuary
>    Advisory Council meeting and learn about passion and commitment in
>    the trenches.  Here you would have an opportunity to provide cogent
> and realistic
>    alternatives to our current management approaches to an Advisory
>    Council comprised of a diverse range of stakeholders.  You have  
> an open
>    invitation to attend and provide public comment at any Sanctuary
>    Advisory Council meeting.
>    Billy Causey
> Curtis Kruer wrote:
>> Hi John,
>> If Billy Causey's job was only to manage for minimizing macroalgal  
>> cover
>> cover you might be correct.  But the reality is that the Keys' coral
>> reef ecosystem is a mess (for example shoreline mangroves, shallow
>> seagrass, marine habitat disturbance and degradation, trap debris and
>> trap impacts, loss of hard coral cover in popular dive sites,  
>> sacrifice
>> zones on seagrass beds where 1000s of partying boats predictably and
>> routinely congregate in shallow water, large vessels routinely
>> resuspending sediment in coral areas, etc.) and has worsened
>> considerably since the designartion of the FKNMS in 1990.  The job of
>> the FKNMS was to protect and manage the coral reef ecosystem of the  
>> Keys
>> for the good of all.   In my view (based on 30+ years of work there),
>> and the view of many others, it has failed miserably.  As your email
>> arrived I was working through some routine GIS and imagery review I  
>> do
>> in the Keys utilizing high resolution 2006 color aerial imagery.  You
>> should get a set and take a look for yourself.
>> Geez.
>> So that no one on the list is misinformed possibly you could clarify
>> your comment - "....are in my view some of the world's most  
>> successful
>> reef managers." - and explain that it applies only to macroalgae??
>> Thanks.
>> Curtis Kruer
>> John Bruno wrote:
>>> MACROALGAL COVER IN THE FL KEYS:  Dear Chip,  Macroalgal cover in  
>>> the
>>> Florida Keys is only about 10%.  A recent paper based on CREMP
>>> monitoring indicates that it was 9.6% in 2000 (Maliao et al. 2008,
>>> Marine Biology).  My own unpublished meta-analysis based on CREMP  
>>> data
>>> plus a variety of other sources indicates it was "recently" 12.2 ±
>>> 0.4% (n=1048 quantative reef surveys performed between 1996 and  
>>> 2005)
>>> and macroalgal cover exceeded 50% in only 2.5% of these surveys.   
>>> This
>>> is substantially lower than the average in the greater Caribbean of
>>> roughly 20% and identical to the Indo-Pacific mean.
>>> Nobody knows what the historical baseline (i.e., the subregional
>>> average, not the value on a single undisturbed reef) of macroalgal
>>> cover was in the Keys (or anywhere else), but I doubt that it was  
>>> any
>>> lower than 5%.  So we may have seen a rough doubling of macroalgal
>>> cover, but we are very far from a state that could rationally be
>>> described as "macroalgal dominated" or "little more than rubble,
>>> seaweed and slime".
>>> Billy Causey and his team are in my view some of the world's most
>>> successful reef managers; the quantitative monitoring data indicates
>>> that they have been very successful in managing the major threats to
>>> reefs that they are capable of mitigating.  They obviously cannot
>>> prevent climate change and coral disease outbreaks, but they have  
>>> done
>>> a good job at managing for low-ish macroalgal cover (which will
>>> ideally, at some point facilitate coral recovery).  Macroalgal cover
>>> the GBR is about 7% (based on AIMS monitoring), but those reefs are
>>> 10s-100s of km offshore, i.e., very isolated and naturally
>>> oliogotrophic compared to the Keys, and didn't suffer the virtual
>>> extinction of their key grazer or their dominant coral species as  
>>> the
>>> Keys did due to regional epizootics.  All things considered, at  
>>> least
>>> in terms of macroalgal cover, the Keys are in relatively good shape.
>>> Lets give the Keys management team - and all the other successful
>>> local reef managers - some credit, base our arguments and discussion
>>> on the facts, and focus on the real threats to reefs.
>>> TOP-DOWN VS. BOTTOM-UP:  Dear Imam, assuming that like most of us  
>>> you
>>> are not swayed by the ideology and anecdotes you have been reading  
>>> on
>>> the list in response to your query, I'd start with Alina Szmant's
>>> authoritative review (2002 Estuaries) of the published science on
>>> nutrient and grazer control of macroalgal biomass on reefs.  You  
>>> might
>>> also look at Idjadi et al (2006, Coral Reefs), which documented the
>>> immediate loss of macroalgal cover (to 6%) as soon as Diadema  
>>> returned
>>> to the scene on a reef purported to be one of the most eutrified in
>>> the world.  There are a slew of other peer-reviewed papers that
>>> document similar removal of macroalgae on reefs widely described as
>>> highly eutrified once grazer populations recover (e.g., Edmunds and
>>> Carpenter 2001 PNAS, Carpenter and Edmunds 2006 Ecology Letters,  
>>> Mumby
>>> et al. 2006 Science, etc.).  Also see Williams and Polunin (2001  
>>> Coral
>>> Reefs); a very powerful and important study that documented the
>>> striking negative relationship (r2=0.89) between fish biomass
>>> (particularly Scarid biomass) and macroalgal cover.   Finally, if  
>>> you
>>> expand your search beyond the coral reef world, you'd find that in
>>> estuaries and in temperate and cold water benthic systems, urchins  
>>> and
>>> other grazers are easily able to control macroalgal production  
>>> that is
>>> far greater, under nutrient concentrations many orders of magnitude
>>> higher than those ever seen on reefs.  Just think about Jim Estes'
>>> work on Pacific otters-you remove them, urchin populations explode,
>>> macroalgae disappears and what remains is an "urchin barren"; and  
>>> this
>>> occurs in upwelling systems with lots-o-nutrients.  This was also  
>>> seen
>>> in the Gulf of Maine after Cod were removed by fishing (at least
>>> before people started harvesting urchins, then the macroalgae all  
>>> came
>>> back); see Steneck and Carlton's and Duffy and Hay's very nice  
>>> reviews
>>> of all this the Marine Community Ecology book (eds. Bertness et al
>>> 2001, Sinauer-http://www.amazon.com/Marine-Community-Ecology-Mark-Bertness/dp/0878930574)
>>> .  And look at the recent review by Heck and Valentine (2007  
>>> Estuaries
>>> and Coasts) which outlines all the evidence for top down control in
>>> estuaries around the world.
>>> If you stick to the hard science, the answer to your question is
>>> fairly clear - at least as clear as anything gets in ecology.  Let  
>>> me
>>> know if you have any trouble getting any of these papers.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> JB
>>> John Bruno
>>> Associate Professor
>>> Depts. of Biology and Marine Sciences
>>> UNC Chapel Hill
>>> www.brunolab.net
>>>> Dear Imam,
>>>> The relationship between nutrients and algal growth is well
>>>> established, and the influences of herbivory on algal growth and
>>>> cover have also been demonstrated.  However, as Dr. Goreau stated,
>>>> the lack of successful integration of nutrients and herbivory in  
>>>> any
>>>> of those studies has contributed to a disconnect.  In Florida,  
>>>> where
>>>> a large coastal population has resulted in mesotrophic and more
>>>> typically eutrophic coastal waters, we have a high % of algal cover
>>>> and biomass.  Add the facts that we do not fish for herbivorous
>>>> fishes, and that we have removed a fair % of their predators; it
>>>> follows that Florida would have an increase in herbivorous fishes,
>>>> and therefore our relative herbivory.  But we are still plagued by
>>>> macroalgal dominance, losses of coral and Harmful Algal Blooms.  
>>>> This
>>>> suggests that nutrients are indeed an important factor shaping the
>>>> algal community.  Hatcher and Larkum (1983, JEMBE 69, pp61-84)
>>>> compared grazing and nitrogen concentrations on One Tree Reef in
>>>> Australia and found both grazing and nitrogen were important in
>>>> limiting algal growth.
>>>> Sincerely,
>>>> Chip
>>>> Rex "Chip" Baumberger
>>>> Biological Scientist, FAU
>>>> Marine Nutrient Dynamics Dept.
>>>> Marine Science Division
>>>> Harbor Branch Oceanographic Inst.
>>>> 5600 US1 North
>>>> Fort Pierce, FL 34946
>>>> 772-465-2400 x398
>>> _______________________________________________
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> -- 
> Billy D. Causey, Ph.D., Regional Director
> Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
> National Marine Sanctuary Program
> 33 East Quay Road
> Key West, Florida 33040
> 305.809.4670 (ex 234)
> 305.395.0150 (cell)
> 305.293.5011 (fax)
> Billy.Causey at noaa.gov
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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