New Coral Reef Study to Begin at Buck Island National Monument

Release Date:

Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner, Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth, and Oceanographer Anastasios Stathakopoulos, will travel to Buck Island Reef National Monument for a reconnaissance trip to plan a new study and assess hurricane impacts to the coral reefs surrounding Buck Island.

Buck Island Reef National Monument is currently experiencing structural degradation of critical coral reef habitat and concomitant shoreline erosion. A warmer ocean has already caused large areas of coral to die from bleaching and subsequent disease, and shoreline lost to potentially related erosion already totals more than 8 acres. This new study will estimate the effects of climate-change related stressors on coral growth using a method developed by the USGS, predict the rate of reef loss and habitat reduction in relation to shoreline change, and model responses of the reef-to-coastline system. This work was funded through the NPS Natural Resource Stewardship and Science funding source, and will be used by NPS to prioritize areas for increased protection and restoration efforts. The study is the Park’s top most pressing priority for resource management, and addresses the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s identified top stressors affecting Caribbean coastal habitats and cultural/historic resources.