Marine Science Faculty Publications

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acropora cervicornis, acropora palmata, current distribution, gis, habitat mapping, western atlantic

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Elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis) were listed in 2006 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this study was to create model potential-habitat maps for A. palmata and A. cervicornis, while identifying areas for possible re-establishment. These maps were created using a database of reported field observations in combination with existing benthic habitat maps. The mapped coral reef and hardbottom classifications throughout Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Island reef tracts were used to generate potential-habitat polygons using buffers that incorporated 95% and 99% of reported observations of Acropora spp. Locations of 92% of A. palmata observations and 84% of A. cervicornis observations coincided with mapped coral reef or hard-bottom habitat throughout the study area. These results indicate that potential habitat for A. palmata is currently well defined throughout this region, but that potential habitat for A. cervicornis is more variable and has a wider range than that for A. palmata. This study provides a novel method of combining data sets at various geographic spatial scales and may be used to inform and refine the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration critical habitat map.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Global Ecology and Conservation, v. 3, p. 242-255

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