Marine Science Faculty Publications

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The hypothesis that moderate variability in Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is associated with higher coral cover and slower rates of decline of coral cover within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) was examined. Synoptic SST time series covering the period 1994–2008 were constructed for the FKNMS with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite sensors. The SST data were compared with coral-cover time-series data from 36 sites monitored by the Coral Reef and Evaluation Monitoring Program. Sites that experienced moderately high SST variability relative to other sites showed a trend toward higher percentage coral cover in 2008 and relatively slower rates of decline over the 14-year study period. The results suggest that corals at sites that are continuously exposed to moderate variability in temperature are more resilient than corals typically exposed either to low variability or to extremes.

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Journal of Marine Biology, v. 2011, art. 981723

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