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Linear extension rates of massive corals from the Dry Tortugas National Park (DRTO), Florida

July 16, 2013

Colonies of three coral species, Montastraea faveolata, Diploria strigosa, and Siderastrea siderea, located in the Dry Tortugas National Park (DRTO), Florida, were sampled and analyzed to evaluate annual linear extension rates. Montastraea faveolata had the highest average linear extension and variability in (DRTO: C2 = 0.67 centimeters/year (cm yr-1) ± 0.04, B3 = 0.85 cm yr-1 ± 0.07), followed by D. strigosa (DRTO: C1 = 0.73 cm yr-1 ± 0.04; MK = 0.59 cm yr-1 ± 0.06) and S. siderea (DRTO: A1 = 0.41 cm yr-1 ± 0.03). Intercolony comparison of M. faveolata from DRTO yielded a significant correlation (r = 0.34, df = 67, P = 0.005) and similar long-term patterns. DRTO S. siderea core A1 showed an overall increasing trend (r = 0.61, df = 119, P < 0.0001) in extension rates that correlated significantly with International Comprehensive Ocean/Atmosphere Data Set annual sea-surface temperature (r = 0.42, df = 115, P < 0.0001) and an air temperature record from Key West (r = 0.37, df = 111, P < 0.0001). In conclusion, annual linear extension rates are species specific and potentially influence by long-term variability in sea-surface temperature.