[Coral-List] Cold-water stresses on the Florida reef
allison.billiam at gmail.com
Sat Jan 16 04:26:57 EST 2010
Longer term perspective
William F. Precht, Richard B. Aronson (2004) Climate flickers and range
shifts of reef corals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: Vol. 2, No..
6, pp. 307-314.
Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata),
are important reef builders in the Caribbean. In the early to middle
Holocene (10 000–6000 years ago), when sea temperatures were warmer than
today, Acropora-dominated reefs were common along the east coast of Florida
as far north as Palm Beach County. The fossil record shows that the northern
limits of these two cold-sensitive species subsequently contracted to
Biscayne Bay, south of Miami, apparently as a result of climatic cooling.
This response of the Acropora species to climate provides a context for
interpreting recent shifts in their geographic distribution. Despite recent
disease-induced mass mortalities throughout the Caribbean and western
Atlantic, the two species are now re-expanding their ranges northward along
the Florida Peninsula and into the northern Gulf of Mexico, coincident with
increasing sea temperatures. In the face of continued global warming, the
northernmost limit of this range expansion will ultimately be determined by
a combination of temperature and other physical constraints.
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