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


Arthur Gleason, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy, Miami, FL 33149, USA.


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.