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Life on the edge: corals in mangroves and climate change

July 13, 2012

Coral diseases have played a major role in the degradation of coral reefs in the Caribbean, including those in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). In 2005, bleaching affected reefs throughout the Caribbean, and was especially severe on USVI reefs. Some corals began to regain their color as water temperatures cooled, but an outbreak of disease (primarily white plague) led to losses of over 60% of the total live coral cover. Montastraea annularis, the most abundant coral, was disproportionately affected, and decreased in relative abundance. The threatened species Acropora palmata bleached for the first time on record in the USVI but suffered less bleaching and less mortality from disease than M. annularis. Acropora palmata and M. annularis are the two most significant species in the USVI because of their structural role in the architecture of the reefs, the large size of their colonies, and their complex morphology. The future of the USVI reefs depends largely on their fate. Acropora palmata is more likely to recover than M. annularis for many reasons, including its faster growth rate, and its lower vulnerability to bleaching and disease.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Life on the edge: corals in mangroves and climate change
Authors Caroline S. Rogers, James J. Herlan
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70158629
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southeast Ecological Science Center