Draft 1: Coral Reef Diversity: Past vs Present

This topic submitted by Maria Gausman ( gausman.mm@pg.com) at 11:24 PM on 5/13/03.

A fabulous sunset at Drake Bay near Corcovado National park, Costa Rica. See other beautiful phenomena from the Costa Rica.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University



This work will attempt to assess coral diversity, at least at the Family level, in a representative transect of the Pleistocene-aged fossil coral reef found out Cockburn Town, San Salvador, and compare this diversity to that of a contemporary coral reef that we will be exploring during this class.

I'm interested in knowing how the diversity has changed, if it has. I'd like to look at corals that seem to exist both in the fossil record and now. Are there more or less of them now? How many different corals can be accounted for in the fossil reef, and is that more or less in the present reef?

I'd like to show the class some ways to identify fossil corals and apply the same sort of identification keys to current corals.

There are some efforts being made to relate fossilized coral reef communities to modern communities. The point of this in a conservation perspective is if fossilized coral reefs serve as a benchmark for a prestine, non-anthropogenically altered, reef community -then that sort of diversity is what conservationists should strive for when making coral reef protection plans. For the Bahamas, has there been much change in coral reef communities over the past 125,000 years? I think it is an important topic, a great example of learning from history.

I. Introduction
A. Why is diversity important?
B. What does diversity mean for coral reef communities?
C. Conservation need to understand diversity
1. Historical reference reefs
2. Plans based on fossil records, mixing conservation, ecology, and paleontology
D. Welcome to the Pleistocene
1. When and what was going on in the world
2. What was going on in the Bahamas
3. What do we know about marine life 125 ka
II. Goal: to compare coral diversity of the fossil reef to modern reef
A. Details on Cockburn Town Pleistocene reef
1. Age, facies description, elevation, etc.
2. What to expect there, via literature and past TME classes
B. Details on the Modern reef
1. Location, size, sea level, temperature, etc.
2. What is there, via literature and past TME classes
III. Methods
A. Fossil Reef
1. Surveying fossil transect
2. Taxonomic key for fossils
3. Recording coral taxons, and their abundance
4. Summarizing what was found and what percentage of the assemblage they make up
B. Modern Reef
1. Surveying reef with photos
2. Identify using taxonomic key various taxons
3. Record taxons and their abundance
4. Summarize
IV. Results
A. Compare both surveys for the same taxons and their abundance
B. Compare both surveys for differences in diversity by noting differing percentages of corals
C. Note what taxons seem to be missing from the modern reef that existed in the fossil reef

References so far:
Bahamas Natural History: http://www.acad.carleton.edu/curricular/GEOL/bahamas/info/nathistory.html
Formation and Geologic History: http://www.earth.rochester.edu/ees201/SchedlerM/schedler8.html
NMITA Azooxanthellate Corals: http://porites.geology.uiowa.edu/database/ahermcrl/ahermmnu.htm
NMITA Zooxanthellate Corals: http://porites.geology.uiowa.edu/database/corals/coralmnu.htm

Development of a systematic classification scheme of marine
habitats to facilitate regional management and mapping of
Caribbean coral reefs
Peter J. Mumbya, Alastair R. Harborne b
Biological Conservation 88 (1999) 155163

J. Paleont., 75(3), 2001, pp. 743751
Copyright q 2001, The Paleontological Society
0022-3360/01/0075-743$03.00
THE NEOGENE MARINE BIOTA OF TROPICAL AMERICA (NMITA)
DATABASE: ACCOUNTING FOR BIODIVERSITY IN PALEONTOLOGY
ANN F. BUDD,1 CHARLES T. FOSTER, JR.,1 JOHN P. DAWSON,1 AND KENNETH G. JOHNSON2

Reef classification by coral morphology predicts coral reef
conservation value
Evan N. Edinger a,b,*, Michael J. Risk a,b
Biological Conservation 92 (2000) 113
www.elsevier.com/locate/biocon

Paleobiology, 27(4), 2001, pp. 669694
Community structure of Quaternary coral reefs compared with
Recent life and death assemblages
Evan N. Edinger, John M. Pandolfi, and Russell A. Kelley

Coral Reefs (1998) 17 : 249261 ( Springer-Verlag 1998
REPORT
B. J. Greenstein H. A. Curran J. M. Pandolfi
Shifting ecological baselines and the demise of Acropora cervicornisin the
western North Atlantic and Caribbean Province: a Pleistocene perspective



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