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Bachelor of Arts
Caribbean, Coral reefs, Acropora, Acroporids, Restoration, Coral health, Staghorn, Elkhorn
The corals Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata are two important Caribbean reef-builders that have faced significant mortality due to disease and thermal anomalies. The major decline in Acropora spp. in the Caribbean began in the 1980s with the widespread white band disease (WBD) which affects corals of the Acropora genus. I focused on A. cervicornis and A. palmata in three regions of the Caribbean: Florida, Belize, and the Bahamas. Using literature surveys and unpublished data, reef sites were evaluated for percent coral cover and signs of disease and bleaching. The data clearly indicate that both species of acroporids faced major declines following the 1980s; however, A. cervicornis was more devastated than A. palmata throughout the Caribbean. Following the significant loss of A. cervicornis and A. palmata, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) identified these species as ‘threatened’ and were listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2006. Coral restoration in the form of coral gardening was listed as a priority for the recovery of these devastated corals. Using published and unpublished data, I focused on two restoration sites in Belize and Florida to measure the success of outplanted acroporids using depth and time as factors of survivorship. Based on the available data, I found that depth did not play a significant role in the survivorship of outplanted coral. The outplants in Florida showed short-term success with an average 86% survivorship within six months of outplanting. Similarly, outplants in Belize showed long-term success increasing up to 343% in live cover in just one year. Although the status of A. cervicornis and A. palmata remains bleak and threats to these corals still exist today, restoration in the form of coral gardening is a promising solution to restoring devastated acroporid populations in the Caribbean.
©2019 Sabrina Cordero. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.
Cordero, Sabrina, "Status, threats, and restoration of acroporid corals throughout the Caribbean" (2019). Honors Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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