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Publication Date

2011-12-14

Availability

UM campus only

Embargo Period

2011-12-14

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Marine Biology and Fisheries (Marine)

Date of Defense

2011-05-03

First Committee Member

R. Pamela Reid

Second Committee Member

Diego Lirman

Third Committee Member

Philip Kramer

Fourth Committee Member

Shouraseni Sen Roy

Fifth Committee Member

Maria Miriti

Sixth Committee Member

Robert Ginsburg

Abstract

Understanding recent decades of coral community change has been hindered by a shortage of long-term monitoring and a lack of tools that provide a lasting record of benthic reef communities. To increase our understanding of Caribbean coral reef dynamics, this dissertation research developed and used innovative technologies involving landscape mosaic images and 3D reef models, to analyze a novel 40 year dataset of coral community health from Andros Island, Bahamas. Historical data from Andros Island (1968-2000) were provided as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the University of Miami and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport. Long-term monitoring at Andros Island revealed that reef decline was a-typical over recent decades. Coral mortality and disease increased significantly between 1970 and 2000, whereas macroalgal cover did not. To complement studies of coral mortality and disease, the resilience and resistance of individual coral species at Andros were measured from 1972 to 2008. Of the 24 species studied, only three (Siderastrea siderea, Montastraea cavernosa, and Porites astreoides) were resistant to recent disturbance histories, whereas Porites porites was resilient. Further studies using 3D models explored relationships between coral population dynamics and spatial patterns of coral species. Results indicated that the arrangement of dominant coral species and the processes of recruitment, growth, and mortality were non-random over time. In summary, the application of mosaic images and 3D reef models to a previously un-published long-term coral health dataset led to improved understanding of factors controlling past reef communities.

Keywords

coral reef; resilience; 3D; long-term; mosaic; phase-shift

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