Ilsa B Kuffner, Ph.D.
As a research marine biologist for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, I investigate the causes and effects of coral reef degradation. I explore local- to global-scale stressors on reefs, and experimentally determine how environmental variables such as sea-surface temperature, water quality, seawater chemistry, nuisance macroalgae, and ocean acidification affect coral growth, the community structure of reefs, and the process of reef building. My work informs resource managers about the mechanisms causing reef degradation and how management efforts may be improved to protect and restore degraded reefs. Please visit the USGS Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies (CREST) website for more information: http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/crest/.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Zoology, Ph.D. Chair: Paul L. Jokiel, 1999
Bachelor of Arts, University of New Hampshire, Department of Zoology, Minor: Marine Biology, 1993
Research Marine Biologist, US Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal & Marine Geology Science Center, 2002 to present
Faculty, School for Field Studies, Center for Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands, 2001 to 2002
Director, Forfar Field Station, Andros Island, Bahamas, 2000 to 2001
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Guam Marine Laboratory, Post-doc advisor: Valerie J. Paul, 1999 to 2000
Science and Products
Fidelity of the Sr/Ca proxy in recording ocean temperature in the western Atlantic coral Siderastrea siderea
Massive corals provide a useful archive of environmental variability, but careful testing of geochemical proxies in corals is necessary to validate the relationship between each proxy and environmental parameter throughout the full range of conditions experienced by the recording organisms. Here we use samples from a coral-growth study to test the...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Roberts, Kelsey E.; Flannery, Jennifer A.; Morrison, Jennifer M.; Richey, Julie
Collection methods and descriptions of coral cores extracted from massive corals in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, U.S.A.
Cores from living coral colonies were collected from Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, U.S.A., to obtain skeletal records of past coral growth and allow geochemical reconstruction of environmental variables during the corals’ centuries-long lifespans. The samples were collected as part of the U.S. Geological Survey Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies...Weinzierl, Michael S.; Reich, Christopher D.; Hickey, T. Donald; Bartlett, Lucy A.; Kuffner, Ilsa B.
The structure and composition of Holocene coral reefs in the Middle Florida Keys
The Florida Keys reef tract (FKRT) is the largest coral-reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The modern FKRT extends for 362 kilometers along the coast of South Florida from Dry Tortugas National Park in the southwest, through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), to Fowey Rocks reef in Biscayne National Park in the...Toth, Lauren T.; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Kuffner, Ilsa B.
A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs
Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren T.
A new record of the late Pleistocene coral Pocillopora palmata from the Dry Tortugas, Florida reef tract, USA
Pocilloporid corals dominated shallow-water environments in the Caribbean during much of the Cenozoic; however, the regional diversity of this family declined over the last 15 My, culminating with the extinction of its final member, Pocillopora palmata, during the latest Pleistocene. Here we present a new record of P. palmata from Dry Tortugas...Toth, Lauren T.; Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Cheng, Hai; Edwards, R. Lawrence
Investigación del USGS sobre el ecosistema de arrecifes de coral en el Atlántico
Información General Los arrecifes de coral son estructuras sólidas, biomineralizadas que protegen comunidades costeras actuando como barreras protectoras de peligros tales como los huracanes y los tsunamis. Estos proveen arena a las playas a través de procesos naturales de erosión, fomentan la industria del turismo, las...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Richey, Julie N.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Toth, Lauren T.; Torres-Garcia, Legna M.
USGS research on Atlantic coral reef ecosystems
Overview Coral reefs are massive, biomineralized structures that protect coastal communities by acting as barriers to hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis. They provide sand for beaches through the natural process of erosion, support tourism and recreational industries, and provide essential habitat for fisheries. The continuing global...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Richey, Julie N.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Toth, Lauren T.
Understanding ocean acidification impacts on organismal to ecological scales
Ocean acidification (OA) research seeks to understand how marine ecosystems and global elemental cycles will respond to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry in combination with other environmental perturbations such as warming, eutrophication, and deoxygenation. Here, we discuss the effectiveness and limitations of current research approaches...Andersson, Andreas J; Kline, David I; Edmunds, Peter J; Archer, Stephen D; Bednaršek, Nina; Carpenter, Robert C; Chadsey, Meg; Goldstein, Philip; Grottoli, Andrea G.; Hurst, Thomas P; King, Andrew L; Kübler, Janet E.; Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Mackey, Katherine R M; Menge, Bruce A.; Paytan, Adina; Riebesell, Ulf; Schnetzer, Astrid; Warner, Mark E; Zimmerman, Richard C
A century of ocean warming on Florida Keys coral reefs: historic in situ observations
There is strong evidence that global climate change over the last several decades has caused shifts in species distributions, species extinctions, and alterations in the functioning of ecosystems. However, because of high variability on short (i.e., diurnal, seasonal, and annual) timescales as well as the recency of a comprehensive instrumental...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Lidz, Barbara H.; Hudson, J. Harold; Anderson, Jeffery S.
Methods for monitoring corals and crustose coralline algae to quantify in-situ calcification rates
The potential effect of global climate change on calcifying marine organisms, such as scleractinian (reef-building) corals, is becoming increasingly evident. Understanding the process of coral calcification and establishing baseline calcification rates are necessary to detect future changes in growth resulting from climate change or other...Morrison, Jennifer M.; Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Hickey, T. Don
Calcification rates of the massive coral Siderastrea siderea and crustose coralline algae along the Florida Keys (USA) outer-reef tract
Coral reefs are degrading on a global scale, and rates of reef-organism calcification are predicted to decline due to ocean warming and acidification. Systematic measurements of calcification over space and time are necessary to detect change resulting from environmental stressors. We established a network of calcification monitoring stations at...Kuffner, I.B.; Hickey, T.D.; Morrison, J.M.
An apparent "vital effect" of calcification rate on the Sr/Ca temperature proxy in the reef coral Montipora capitata
Measuring the strontium to calcium ratio in coral skeletons reveals information on seawater temperatures during skeletal deposition, but studies have shown additional variables may affect the ratio. Here we measured Sr/Ca in the reef coral, Montipora capitata, grown in six mesocosms continuously supplied with seawater from the adjacent reef flat....Kuffner, Ilsa; Jokiel, Paul L.; Rodgers, Kuulei; Andersson, Andreas; Mackenzie, Fred T.