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The good, the bad and the smelly: USGS at the 2008 Coral Reef Symposium
Date:7/7/2008

h the well-documented rise in sea level over the past 6,000 years. Why did so few reefs keep pace or build up with the rise in the present sea level? Geological history may provide an answer: two 500-year periods of non-growth of coral reefs occurred in the region 4.5 thousand years ago and 3,000 years ago. These periods of non-growth indicate times of environmental crises that predated modern human presence in the Florida Keys. The present period of rapid coral demise has spanned only about 30 years. For more information, contact Eugene Shinn at 727-533-1158, eshinn@marine.usf.edu or Barbara Lidz at 727-803-8747, ext. 3031, blidz@usgs.gov.

The Future of Coral Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Can the Two Most Important Coral Species Recover? The Caribbean bleaching and disease event that began in the summer of 2005 caused significant mortality of the two most important reef-building corals in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) and Montastraea annularis (star coral) complex (Macx). The ability of these corals to recover will largely determine the future seascape in the Virgin Islands. Research by U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and Florida Institute of Technology scientists on the effects of bleaching and disease showed that M. annularis complex was more affected by bleaching and disease than Acropora palmata. After the record-high seawater temperatures in 2005, more than 98 percent of the Macx coral cover bleached, and about 90 percent of the mortality from disease also occurred on this species group, with healing of disease lesions not seen. From 2003 to 2007, researchers documented disease prevalence on A. palmata around St. John that ranged from 0 to 52 percent, with high levels of white pox and low levels of white band disease. White pox lesions often heal. In addition, A. palmata in the U.S. Virgin Islands bleached for the first time in 2005. Over the next 50 to 100
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Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-264-3532
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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