Effects of Suspended Sediment and Burial on Scleractinian Corals From West Central Florida Patch Reefs
Abstract:The distribution and abundance of eight species of endemic scleractinian corals were determined for patch reefs off west central Florida in the depth range of 7–18 m. Phyllangia americana and Cladocora arbuscula were the most abundant species encountered. Five of the eight species censussed were absent from the shallowest reef (7 m). Seven species of corals were exposed to increasing levels of suspended sediment in the laboratory and seven species were subjected to prolonged burial in sediment. Survival rates were not affected by 10-day exposures to suspended sediment concentrations of 49, 101, 165, or 199 mg˙liter−1. Combined mean growth rates for six species were significantly different between control and experimental treatments at 165 mg˙liter−1 suspended sediment. Coral burial experiments produced survival LT50 values of 7 days for Scolymia lacera, 7.2 days for Isophyllia sinuosa, 10 days for Manicina aereolata, 13.6 days for Siderastrea radians, 15 days for C. arbuscula, 16.2 days for Stephanocoenia michelinii, and 15+ days for Solenastrea hyades. The results of these experiments indicate that the species tested are among the most resistant corals in the Caribbean region to the effects of suspended sediment and physical burial. These findings are consistent with the fact that west central Florida patch reefs are exposed to more severe environmental conditions, such as high turbidity and low light penetration (in addition to a broader range of temperatures) than more tropical reefs to the south.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1992
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