Posted by: reefrescue | January 30, 2013

Study finds recent ecological declines are now suppressing the growth potential of reefs in the Caribbean.

Researchers examined rates of carbonate production across 19 reefs in the four Caribbean countries of the Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire and Grand Cayman and discovered that declines in rates of carbonate production were especially evident in shallow water habitats, where many fast growing branching coral species [i.e. elkhorn and staghorn] have been lost. In key habitats around the Caribbean, the findings suggested that in waters of around five metres in depth, reef growth rates are now reduced by 60-70% compared to the regional averages taken from historical records.

BrowardElkhorn

Given that previous studies have shown that coral cover on reefs in the Caribbean has declined by an average of 80 per cent since the 1970s, this raises alarm bells for the future state of reefs in the region. These changes have been driven by human disturbance, disease and rising sea temperatures, and are only expected to intensify as a result of future climate change.

See Press Release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/uoe-neh012413.php

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