The coral reefs of the Florida Reef Tract have had the attention of scientists since the 19th century. In recent years, coral disease outbreaks have been more frequent, and subsequently these reefs have experienced phase shifts and large scale die-offs. Coral reef communities have been ranked as the number one vital sign by The South Florida and Caribbean Inventory and Monitoring Network of the National Park Service. Since 2008, the inventory and monitoring network has collected data annually recording the composition of coral reefs through standardized protocol. Throughout this time, benthic communities have faced many direct and indirect anthropogenic stressors including the increase in temperatures, nutrients, and overfishing. Recently, the Caribbean has emerged as a coral disease hotspot. Dry Tortugas National Park contains reefs with some of the highest coral cover in the Florida Reef Tract. These reefs have experienced an increased frequency in coral disease outbreaks. It is important to investigate how the biotic factors of these reefs have responded to disease, as well as recognize the trends of the abiotic factors of the reefs associate with outbreaks.
Grazioso, Kathryn, "Decadal trends of coral disease and benthic community structure in Dry Tortugas National Park" (2019). Internship Reports (Restricted). 359.
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