Documenting hurricane impacts on coral reefs using two-dimensional video-mosaic technology

Authors


Arthur Gleason, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy, Miami, FL 33149, USA.
E-mail: agleason@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

Four hurricanes impacted the reefs of Florida in 2005. In this study, we evaluate the combined impacts of hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma on a population of Acropora palmata using a newly developed video-mosaic methodology that provides a high-resolution, spatially accurate landscape view of the reef benthos. Storm damage to A. palmata was surprisingly limited; only 2 out of 19 colonies were removed from the study plot at Molasses Reef. The net tissue losses for those colonies that remained were only 10% and mean diameter of colonies decreased slightly from 88.4 to 79.6 cm. In contrast, the damage to the reef framework was more severe, and a large section (6 m in diameter) was dislodged, overturned, and transported to the bottom of the reef spur. The data presented here show that two-dimensional video-mosaic technology is well-suited to assess the impacts of physical disturbance on coral reefs and can be used to complement existing survey methodologies.

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