[Coral-List] factors driving reef decline in the Florida Keys from the coral perspective - new paper in Ecology

Carly Kenkel carly.kenkel at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 17:19:58 EST 2016

On behalf of the authors, I'd like to draw your attention to a recent
publication offering an alternative perspective on drivers of coral decline
in the Florida Keys.


Despite decades of monitoring global reef decline, we are still largely
unable to
explain patterns of reef deterioration at local scales, which precludes the
development of
effective management strategies. Offshore reefs of the Florida Keys, USA,
experience milder
temperatures and lower nutrient loads in comparison to inshore reefs yet
remain considerably
more degraded than nearshore patch reefs. A year-long reciprocal transplant
experiment of the
mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) involving four source and eight
transplant locations
reveals that corals adapt and/or acclimatize to their local habitat on a
<10-km scale.
Surprisingly, transplantation to putatively similar environmental types
(e.g., offshore corals
moved to a novel offshore site, or along-shore transplantation) resulted in
greater reductions
in fitness proxies, such as coral growth, than cross-channel
transplantation between inshore
and offshore reefs. The only abiotic factor showing significantly greater
differences between
along-shore sites was daily temperature range extremes (rather than the
absolute high or low
temperatures reached), providing a possible explanation for this pattern.
corals exhibited significant growth reductions at sites with greater daily
temperature ranges,
which explained up to 39% of the variation in their mass gain. In contrast,
daily temperature
range explained at most 9% of growth variation in inshore-origin corals,
suggesting that
inshore corals are more tolerant of high-frequency temperature
fluctuations. Finally, corals
incur trade-offs when specializing to their native reef. Across reef
locations the coefficient of
selection against coral transplants was 0.07 +/- 0.02 (mean +/- SE). This
selection against
immigrants could hinder the ability of corals to recolonize devastated
reefs, whether through
assisted migration efforts or natural recruitment events, providing a
unifying explanation for
observed patterns of coral decline in this reef system.

The link to the full article:

Link to data and scripts: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v5s13

Please contact me directly if you are unable to access the publication or
if you have any questions or comments.

Happy 2016!

Carly, Albert & Misha

Carly Kenkel
NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology
Australian Institute of Marine Science
PMB No. 3, Townsville MC
Queensland 4810, Australia
C.Kenkel at aims.gov.au
carly.kenkel at gmail.com
office: (+61) 07 4753 4268
mobile: (+61) 04 2968 3148

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