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Climate-modulated range expansion of reef-building coral communities off southeast Florida during the late Holocene

December 6, 2022

The Holocene reefs off southeast Florida provide unique insights into the biogeographical and ecological response of western Atlantic coral reefs to past climate change that can be used to evaluate future climate impacts. However, previous studies have focused on millennial-scale change during the stable mid-Holocene, making it difficult to make inferences about the impact of shorter-term variability that is relevant to modern climate warming. Using uranium-series dating of newly discovered subfossil coral rubble deposits, we establish a new high-resolution record of coral community development off southeast Florida during a period of variable climate in the late Holocene. Our results indicate that coral communities dominated by reef-building Acropora palmata and Orbicella spp. persisted in the nearshore environments off southeast Florida ~75 km north of their primary historical ranges between ~3500 and 1800 years before present. This timing coincides with regional warming at the northern extent of the Atlantic Warm Pool, suggesting a likely link between regional oceanographic climate and the expansion of cold-sensitive reef-building coral communities to the high-latitude reefs off southeast Florida. These findings not only extend the record of coral-reef development in southeast Florida into the late Holocene, but they also have important implications for future range expansions of reef-building coral communities in response to modern climate change.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Climate-modulated range expansion of reef-building coral communities off southeast Florida during the late Holocene
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2022.995256
Authors Alex B. Modys, Anton E. Olenik, Richard A. Mortlock, Lauren Toth, William F. Precht
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Marine Science
Index ID 70238730
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center