The Effects of Nutrient Loading and Coral Contamination on the Reefs of Southeast Florida and the Keys

This topic submitted by Joel Thrash ( thrashjp@miamioh.edu) at 12:21 PM on 6/11/03.

Acropora palmata is an important indicator species of barrier reefs in the tropical Atlantic. Fire coral are also abundant in the Bahamas.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


Joel Thrash
6-2-03

The Effects of Nutrient Loading and Coral Contamination on the Reefs of Southeast Florida and the Keys

Serving as the home to the only emergent reefs in the continental United States, the coral communities in southeast Florida and the Keys are a critical national resource. However, current research suggests that these reef communities are becoming increasingly threatened from anthropogenic sources of pollution, namely nutrient loading from improperly treated sewage that continues to leak from groundwater on both sides of the Keys. Some impacts of nutrient loading include excessive algal growth, increasing coral diseases, coral contamination, marine grass and sponge mortality, and decreased living coral cover. This paper will highlight and critically examine the current research that suggests that these problems are the result of nutrient loading from, perhaps, inadequate water resource management. The patterns and evidence for fecal contamination in corals of the Florida Keys will be are described; additionally, the spread of coral diseases as well as efforts to monitor and mitigate loading will be discussed.

I. Introduction to Reefs of SE Florida and the Keys
A. Geographical Setting and Land Use Relationships
B. Background Data on the Reefs
II. Coral Contamination/Disease
A. Evidence for Human Fecal Contamination
B. Nutrient Loading and Nutrient Enrichment in Tropical Waters
C. Organochlorine Pesticide Residues
D. Patterns and Spread of Disease
III. Water Resource management
A. Groundwater Seepage
B. Municipal Underground Injection Control (UIC) Wells
C. Recent SDWA changes to allow deep well injection of municpal/industrial waste
D. Salt-Water intrusion
IV. Monitoring and Mitigation Control
A. South Florida
B. Keys
V. Future Sustainability of Coral Reefs in SE Florida and the Keys

References:

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 2003. http://www.fknms.nos.noaa.gov

Glynn, P.W., D.G. Rumbold, and S.C. Snedaker. 1995. Organochlorine pesticide residues in
marine sediment and biota from the north Florida reef tract. Marine Pollution Bulletin. v. 30, no. 6, pg. 397-402.

Harvell D, Kim K, Quirolo C, Weir J, and Smith G. 2001. Coral Bleaching and disease:
contributors to 1998 mass mortality in Briareum asbestinum. Hydrobiologia. v. 460,
no. 1, pg. 97-104.

Harvell, CD, Kim K., Burkholder JM. 1999. Diseases in the ocean: Emerging pathogens,
climate links, and anthropogenic factors. Science. v. 285, pp. 1505-1510.

Hallack, Pamela, Barbara Lidz, Elizabeth Cockey-Burkhard, and Kelly B. Donnely. 2003.
Foraminifera as bioindicators in coral reef assessment and monitoring: the FORAM index. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. v. 81, no. 1, pp.221-238

Lieman, Diego and Beth Orlando. 2003. Coral communities of Biscayne Bay, FL and adjacent
offshore areas:diversity, abundance, distribution, and environmental correlates. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. v. 13, pp. 121-135.

Lipp, Erin K, Jennifer Jarrell, Dale W. Griffin, Jerry Lukask, and Joan B. Rose. 2002.
Preliminary evidence for human fecal contamination in corals of the Florida Keys, USA.
Marine Pollution Bulletin. v. 44, pg. 666-670

Porter, JW, Dustan P, Jaap WC, Patterson KL, and Kosmynin V. 2001. Patterns of spread of
coral disease in the Florida Keys. Hydrobiologia. v. 460, no. 1, pg 1-24.

Shinn, Eugene A, Ronald S. Reece, Christopher D. Reich. 1994. United States Geological
Survey. Fate and pathways of injection well effluent in the Florida keys. Open File Report 94-276. http://sofia.usgs.gov/publications/ofr/94-276/index.html

Shinn, EA. 1998. Groundwater Seepage in the Florida Keys. USGS: Geologic Division.
Accessed from the world wide web 5 June 2003 from: http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/projects98/7242-37657.html

Sutherland, Donald. 2003. EPA to permit Florida to pollute drinking water supplies. Risk News
Report. Accessed June 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web at: http://www.riskworld.com/news/03q2/nw03a102.htm. 3 pgs.

For Further Info on this Topic, Check out this WWW Site: http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/projects98/7242-37657.html.
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