[Coral-List] Use and misuse of sediment traps on coral reefs

Douglas Fenner douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 20 17:29:19 EST 2011

There is research showing that corals may at times actually gain nutrition from 
eating suspended sediment particles.  Which is not to say that all effects of 
sediment on corals are good, on the contrary, far from it.   Doug

Anthony, K.R.N. and Fabricius, K.E.  2000.  Shifting roles of heterotrophy and 
autotrophy in coral energetics under varying turbidity.  Journal of Experimental 
Marine Biology and Ecology 252: 221-253.

Rosenfeld, M., Bresler, V., Abelson, A.  1999.  Sediment as a possible source of 
food for corals.  Ecology Letters 2: 345-348.

    Also, I'd recommend the review by Katharina Fabricius on the effects of 

Fabricius, K.E.  2005.  Effects of terrestrial runoff on the ecology of corals 
and coral reefs: review and synthesis.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 50: 125-146.

 Douglas Fenner, Ph.D.
Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources
American Samoa

Mailing address:
PO Box 3730
Pago Pago, AS 96799

work phone 684  633 4456

Figures on Global Climate Show 2010 Tied 2005 as the Hottest Year on Record

"New government figures for the global climate show that 2010 was the wettest 
year in the historical record, and it tied 2005 as the hottest year since 
record-keeping began in 1880.  It was the 34th year running that global 
temperatures have been above the 20th-century average; the last below-average 
year was 1976. The new figures show that 9 of the 10 warmest years on record 
have occurred since the beginning of 2001." 


From: Todd Barber <reefball at reefball.com>
To: Mike Field <mfield at usgs.gov>
Cc: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Fri, February 18, 2011 1:58:40 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Use and misuse of sediment traps on coral reefs

Good points Mike....I might also point out that sediment affect corals
in many profoundly different ways.  The most common assumption is that
sediments will block out light and reduce photosynthesis but what is
far more dangerous to coral is when the grain sizes of the particles
are similar in size to the target food source of the particular coral
species affected.  This is because the coral will mistakenly ingest
the sediment and waste significant resources processing and expelling
the sediment.

My point is that not only do you need to measure sedimentation where
it affects the corals (as your points make) but also the grain size
distribution AND have a knowledge of which corals are being affected
and what grain sizes those particular coral species prefer for food.


Todd R Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
252-353-9094 (Direct)
941-720-7549 (Cell & Goggle Voice)
toddbarber Skype

www,reefball.org (Reef Ball Foundation)
www.artificialreefs.org (Designed Artificial Reefs)
www.reefbeach.com (Reefs for Beach Erosion)
www.eternalreefs.com (Memorial Reefs)
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Foundation)

On Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 3:53 PM, Mike Field <mfield at usgs.gov> wrote:
>  Colleagues,
>  We have recently published a paper in Coral Reefs on the use and
> misuse of sediment traps in coral reef environments. We’re providing
> this information here because not all listers may have access to the
> journal, and because many monitoring protocols and research studies
> depend—sometimes inappropriately or erroneously-- on the use of traps
> to estimate or monitor sedimentation on coral reefs.
> The paper is:
> Storlazzi , C.D., Field  M. E., H. Bothner, M. H., 2011 The use (and
> misuse) of sediment traps in coral reef environments: theory,
> observations, and suggested protocols. Coral Reefs, v. 30, p 23-38
>  The abstract for the paper is below. If you would like a pdf copy of
> the paper, please send a request to Curt Storlazzi
> (cstorlazzi at usgs.gov) or to me (mfield at usgs.gov).
> Mike
> Sediment traps are commonly used as standard tools for monitoring
> ‘‘sedimentation’’ in coral reef environments. In much of the
> literature where sediment traps were used to measure the effects of
> ‘‘sedimentation’’ on corals, it is clear from deployment descriptions
> and interpretations of the resulting data that information derived
> from sediment traps has frequently been misinterpreted or misapplied.
> Despite their widespread use in this setting, sediment traps do not
> provide quantitative information about ‘‘sedimentation’’ on coral
> surfaces. Traps can provide useful information about the relative
> magnitude of sediment dynamics if trap deployment standards are used.
> This conclusion is based first on a brief review of the state of
> knowledge of sediment trap dynamics, which has primarily focused on
> traps deployed high above the seabed in relatively deep water,
> followed by our understanding of near-bed sediment dynamics in shallow-
> water environments that characterize coral reefs. This overview is
> followed by the first synthesis of near-bed sediment trap data
> collected with concurrent hydrodynamic information in coral reef
> environments. This collective information is utilized to develop nine
> protocols for using sediment traps in coral reef environments, which
> focus on trap parameters that researchers can control such as trap
> height (H), trap mouth diameter (D), the height of the trap mouth
> above the substrate (zo), and the spacing between traps. The
> hydrodynamic behavior of sediment traps and the limitations of data
> derived from these traps should be forefront when interpreting
> sediment trap data to infer sediment transport.
> ************************************************
> Michael E. Field
> US Geological Survey
> Pacific Science Center
> 400 Natural Bridges Drive
> Santa Cruz, CA 95060
> (831) 427-4737;   FAX: (831) 427-4748
> http://coralreefs..wr.usgs.gov
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