Coral Damage and San Salvador Hurricane History

This topic submitted by Bradley Martin ( at 11:54 AM on 6/6/03.

Tara and Scott SCUBA along the Wall at Runway Ten, 15 m deep, San Salvador, Bahamas.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


This research project seeks to examine the impact that intense tropical storms have on coral reef communities in the Caribbean. Since we will be diving extensively in San Salvador, I have chosen to use this opportunity to utilize the island's recent hurricane events (Bertha & Lili in 1996; Floyd in 1999) to examine coral reef recovery rates on the island. This research will include identification of damaged or recovering coral growths, observation of their relative position given the proximity and bearing of the storm, and an attempt to assess the reef's resilience.

The following text is a synopsis of my research presentation.  

I. Introduction

A. Brief Synopsis of Recent San Salvador Hurricane History

1. 1996; Hurricane Bertha, Hurricane Lili

2. 1999; Hurricane Floyd

B. Hurricane Formation Process (if applicable)

C. Relevance

1. Pleistocene era Disturbance

2. Paleotempestology

a. Coral core drilling

b. Storm surge sedimentation

c. Stalagmite Evidence

3. Modern Ecological Relevance 
a. Differences between ancient & modern recovery rates

b. Possible indicator of the effects that global climate change may have on hurricane intensity

II. Hurricane Effects on Coral Reef Communities.

A. Direct Effects

1. What causes damage? How?

a. sedimentation, windswept waves, pre-storm surge, debris upheaval (aquatic,anthropogenic), etc.

2. What types of corals are damaged?

3. Photographic examples

B. Indirect Effects

1. Biotic Reef Inhabitants

2. Extraneous effects (chronic anthropogenic effects, disease, extirpation, extinction,diminished water quality, etc).

 III. Recovery Process/Adapations     

A. Recovery Rates of Various Coral Species

1. Natural recovery rate? or affected by extraneous inputs?

2. Growth Rate of Selected Species

B. Adaptations

1. Resilient Features

IV. Research Design

A. Materials/Methods


AndreFouet, S. et al. “Revisiting Coral Reef Connectivity.” Coral Reefs. 21: 2002. pp 43-48.

Bayliss-smith, T.P. “The Role of Hurricanes in the Development of Reef Islands, Ontong Java Atoll, Solomon Islands.” Geographical Journal. V. 154. Issue 3. Nov. 1988. pp. 377-391.

Cheal. A.J. “Responses of Coral and Fish Assemblages to a Severe but Short-lived Tropical Cyclone on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.” Coral Reefs 21: 2002. pp. 131-142.

Connell, J.H. “Disturbance and Recovery of Coral Assemblages.” Coral Reefs.16: 1997. Suppl. pp. S101-113.

Cornell. H.V. “Coral Species Richness: Ecological vs. Biogeographical Influences.” Coral Reefs. 19: 2000. pp. 37-49.

Edmunds, Peter J. “Long-term Dynamics of Coral Reefs in St. Johns, US Virgin Islands.” Coral Reefs. 21: 2002. pp. 357-367.

Garver, John.

Hughes, T.P. “Catastrophe, Phase Shifts, and Scale Degradation of a Caribbean Coral Reef.” Science. New series. V. 265. Issue 5178. Sept. 1994. pp. 1547-1551.

Hughes, T.P. et al. “Multiple Stressors on Coral Reefs: A Long-term Perspective.” Limnology and Oceanography. V. 44 Issue 3. Part 2. The Effects of Multiple Stressors on Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems. May 1999. pp. 932-940.

Loya, Y. “Recolonization of Red Sea Coral Affected by Natural Catastrophes and Man-made Perturbations.” Ecology. V. 57. Issue 2. March , 1976. pp.278-289.

Lugo, Ariel E.; Rogers, Caroline; and Nixon, Scott W. “Hurricanes, Coral Reefs, and Rainforests: Resistance, Ruin, and Recovery in the Caribbean.” Ambio. Vol. 29, No. 2, March 2000. pp. 106-114.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Perry, C.T. “Storm Induced Coral Rubble Deposition: Pleistocene Records of Natural Reef Distrubance and Community Response.” Coral Reefs. 20: 2001. pp. 171-183.

Reef Relief:

Walker, Lawrence R. et al. “An intro to Hurricanes in the Caribbean.” Biotropica. V. 23. Issue 4.  Dec. 1991. pp. 313-316.

Woodley, J.D. et al. “Hurricane Allen’s Impact on Coral Reefs.” Science. New Series. V. 214. Issue 4522. Nov. 1981. pp. 749-755. 

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