Sound Science, not Politics, must Inform Restoration of Florida Bay and the Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys

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The comment by Julian (2020) criticizes aspects of our paper, “Nitrogen enrichment, altered stoichiometry, and coral reef decline at Looe Key, Florida Keys, USA.” The comment begins by misrepresenting our extensive literature review, while providing no justification for the claim of a “skewed reading.” Julian’s critique focused on methods of data handling, statistics, and spatial awareness, which we demonstrate in every case to be either irrelevant or incorrect. We provide additional supporting data that refute these claims. For example, Julian criticized the removal of data points below the method detection limits (MDLs), but when these points are included, the results do not change. Further, Julian criticized our removal of outliers, but so few points were excluded that it did not change the results of the statistical analyses. Julian also misinterpreted the methods of our correlation and stepwise regression analyses but did not dispute the Kruskal–Wallis tests of our 30-year dataset that revealed significant decadal changes. Julian’s closing paragraph is replete with misinformation and demonstrates a lack of understanding as to how increased freshwater flows associated with Everglades Restoration have led to a worsening of algal blooms and coral decline in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). This comment represents a smokescreen to confuse the scientific community about the physical connectivity of the Everglades basin and the FKNMS. Past water management policies based on politics, not sound science, have caused irreparable and ongoing environmental damage to sensitive coral reef communities in the FKNMS.

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Marine Biology, v. 167, article 67