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USGS Researchers Travel to Florida Keys to Conduct Reef Bioerosion Surveys

Staff from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center will collect measurements from long-term coral-reef monitoring sites in the Florida Keys to assess historic rates of reef bioerosion, from February 2–7, 2021.

Divers meet in the center of the image, looking at eroded coral
Lauren Toth (Research Physical Scientist, SPCMSC) and collaborator Mike Colella (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) collect measurements of reef erosion at Molasses reef off Key Largo, FL. (Credit: Dominique Gallery, USGS. Public domain.)

Coral reefs serve as a first line of defense against storm-related hazards in coastal communities, but the ability of reefs to buffer impacts of waves on shorelines depends on the maintenance of a structurally complex reef surface and continued reef accretion, particularly as sea-level rise accelerates in the future. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that growth of Florida’s reefs has been minimal for at least 3000 years ( and that many of Florida’s reefs have experienced significant erosion during the past century ( As part of a Coastal Change Hazards enhanced funding project, Lauren Toth (Research Physical Scientist, SPCMSC) is leading an effort with partners at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) to collect data from permanent coral-reef monitoring sites to measure the rates and spatial variability of erosion on reefs throughout the Florida Keys. During the trip in February of 2021, SPCMSC staff Erin Lyons (SSC), Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Physical Scientist), BJ Reynolds (Physical Scientist), and Chelsea Stalk (Electronics Technician) will complete measurements of permanent markers installed by FWCC in 1995 that will be used to reconstruct how much erosion has occurred since that time. For more information about the project see:


Read what else is new at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center.


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