Environmental Implications of Growth Rate Changes in Montastrea Annularis: Biscayne National Park, Florida
Abstract:Long-term annual growth rates were determined for 25 Montastrea annularis colonies at eight reef sites in Biscayne National Park, Florida. X-radiographs of slabbed coral cores revealed chronologies that averaged 113.5 years in length with a range of 40 to 242 years. A total of 2,837 annual growth increments were identified and measured. Dating of density bands was verified by visually crossdating fluorescent bands within the coral skeleton. Average accretion rates of individual colonies varied from 5.0 mm·yr−1 in the northernmost sector of the Park to 11.3 mm·yr−1 in the southernmost sector. Long-term growth rates of most corals in this study were greatest prior to about 1950 except for a major, 3–5 year, decline in the growth record of older corals centered around 1878. Waxing and waning coral growth rates are discussed in relation to natural and anthropogenic perturbations that impact this high latitude reef ecosystem. Attention is drawn to nutrients from sewage outfalls as a possible contributing factor to observed growth rate decline since 1950.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 1994
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