Severe 2010 cold-water event caused unprecedented mortality to corals of the Florida reef tract and reversed previous survivorship patterns

Diego Lirman, Stephanie Schopmeyer, Derek Manzello, Lewis J. Gramer, William F. Precht, Frank Muller-Karger, Kenneth Banks, Brian Barnes, Erich Bartels, Amanda Bourque, James Byrne, Scott Donahue, Janice Duquesnel, Louis Fisher, David Gilliam, James Hendee, Meaghan Johnson, Kerry Maxwell, Erin McDevitt, Jamie MontyDigna Rueda, Rob Ruzicka, Sara Thanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Coral reefs are facing increasing pressure from natural and anthropogenic stressors that have already caused significant worldwide declines. In January 2010, coral reefs of Florida, United States, were impacted by an extreme cold-water anomaly that exposed corals to temperatures well below their reported thresholds (16°C), causing rapid coral mortality unprecedented in spatial extent and severity. Methodology/Principal Findings: Reef surveys were conducted from Martin County to the Lower Florida Keys within weeks of the anomaly. The impacts recorded were catastrophic and exceeded those of any previous disturbances in the region. Coral mortality patterns were directly correlated to in-situ and satellite-derived cold-temperature metrics. These impacts rival, in spatial extent and intensity, the impacts of the well-publicized warm-water bleaching events around the globe. The mean percent coral mortality recorded for all species and subregions was 11.5% in the 2010 winter, compared to 0.5% recorded in the previous five summers, including years like 2005 where warm-water bleaching was prevalent. Highest mean mortality (15%-39%) was documented for inshore habitats where temperatures were <11°C for prolonged periods. Increases in mortality from previous years were significant for 21 of 25 coral species, and were 1-2 orders of magnitude higher for most species. Conclusions/Significance: The cold-water anomaly of January 2010 caused the worst coral mortality on record for the Florida Reef Tract, highlighting the potential catastrophic impacts that unusual but extreme climatic events can have on the persistence of coral reefs. Moreover, habitats and species most severely affected were those found in high-coral cover, inshore, shallow reef habitats previously considered the "oases" of the region, having escaped declining patterns observed for more offshore habitats. Thus, the 2010 cold-water anomaly not only caused widespread coral mortality but also reversed prior resistance and resilience patterns that will take decades to recover.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23047
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011

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Coral Reefs
Anthozoa
Reefs
corals
reefs
Survival Rate
survival rate
Mortality
Water
Ecosystem
water
Bleaching
coral reefs
habitats
bleaching
Extreme Cold
Temperature
temperature
oases
Satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Severe 2010 cold-water event caused unprecedented mortality to corals of the Florida reef tract and reversed previous survivorship patterns. / Lirman, Diego; Schopmeyer, Stephanie; Manzello, Derek; Gramer, Lewis J.; Precht, William F.; Muller-Karger, Frank; Banks, Kenneth; Barnes, Brian; Bartels, Erich; Bourque, Amanda; Byrne, James; Donahue, Scott; Duquesnel, Janice; Fisher, Louis; Gilliam, David; Hendee, James; Johnson, Meaghan; Maxwell, Kerry; McDevitt, Erin; Monty, Jamie; Rueda, Digna; Ruzicka, Rob; Thanner, Sara.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 6, No. 8, e23047, 15.08.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lirman, D, Schopmeyer, S, Manzello, D, Gramer, LJ, Precht, WF, Muller-Karger, F, Banks, K, Barnes, B, Bartels, E, Bourque, A, Byrne, J, Donahue, S, Duquesnel, J, Fisher, L, Gilliam, D, Hendee, J, Johnson, M, Maxwell, K, McDevitt, E, Monty, J, Rueda, D, Ruzicka, R & Thanner, S 2011, 'Severe 2010 cold-water event caused unprecedented mortality to corals of the Florida reef tract and reversed previous survivorship patterns', PLoS One, vol. 6, no. 8, e23047. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023047
Lirman, Diego ; Schopmeyer, Stephanie ; Manzello, Derek ; Gramer, Lewis J. ; Precht, William F. ; Muller-Karger, Frank ; Banks, Kenneth ; Barnes, Brian ; Bartels, Erich ; Bourque, Amanda ; Byrne, James ; Donahue, Scott ; Duquesnel, Janice ; Fisher, Louis ; Gilliam, David ; Hendee, James ; Johnson, Meaghan ; Maxwell, Kerry ; McDevitt, Erin ; Monty, Jamie ; Rueda, Digna ; Ruzicka, Rob ; Thanner, Sara. / Severe 2010 cold-water event caused unprecedented mortality to corals of the Florida reef tract and reversed previous survivorship patterns. In: PLoS One. 2011 ; Vol. 6, No. 8.
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abstract = "Background: Coral reefs are facing increasing pressure from natural and anthropogenic stressors that have already caused significant worldwide declines. In January 2010, coral reefs of Florida, United States, were impacted by an extreme cold-water anomaly that exposed corals to temperatures well below their reported thresholds (16°C), causing rapid coral mortality unprecedented in spatial extent and severity. Methodology/Principal Findings: Reef surveys were conducted from Martin County to the Lower Florida Keys within weeks of the anomaly. The impacts recorded were catastrophic and exceeded those of any previous disturbances in the region. Coral mortality patterns were directly correlated to in-situ and satellite-derived cold-temperature metrics. These impacts rival, in spatial extent and intensity, the impacts of the well-publicized warm-water bleaching events around the globe. The mean percent coral mortality recorded for all species and subregions was 11.5{\%} in the 2010 winter, compared to 0.5{\%} recorded in the previous five summers, including years like 2005 where warm-water bleaching was prevalent. Highest mean mortality (15{\%}-39{\%}) was documented for inshore habitats where temperatures were <11°C for prolonged periods. Increases in mortality from previous years were significant for 21 of 25 coral species, and were 1-2 orders of magnitude higher for most species. Conclusions/Significance: The cold-water anomaly of January 2010 caused the worst coral mortality on record for the Florida Reef Tract, highlighting the potential catastrophic impacts that unusual but extreme climatic events can have on the persistence of coral reefs. Moreover, habitats and species most severely affected were those found in high-coral cover, inshore, shallow reef habitats previously considered the {"}oases{"} of the region, having escaped declining patterns observed for more offshore habitats. Thus, the 2010 cold-water anomaly not only caused widespread coral mortality but also reversed prior resistance and resilience patterns that will take decades to recover.",
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AU - Lirman, Diego

AU - Schopmeyer, Stephanie

AU - Manzello, Derek

AU - Gramer, Lewis J.

AU - Precht, William F.

AU - Muller-Karger, Frank

AU - Banks, Kenneth

AU - Barnes, Brian

AU - Bartels, Erich

AU - Bourque, Amanda

AU - Byrne, James

AU - Donahue, Scott

AU - Duquesnel, Janice

AU - Fisher, Louis

AU - Gilliam, David

AU - Hendee, James

AU - Johnson, Meaghan

AU - Maxwell, Kerry

AU - McDevitt, Erin

AU - Monty, Jamie

AU - Rueda, Digna

AU - Ruzicka, Rob

AU - Thanner, Sara

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N2 - Background: Coral reefs are facing increasing pressure from natural and anthropogenic stressors that have already caused significant worldwide declines. In January 2010, coral reefs of Florida, United States, were impacted by an extreme cold-water anomaly that exposed corals to temperatures well below their reported thresholds (16°C), causing rapid coral mortality unprecedented in spatial extent and severity. Methodology/Principal Findings: Reef surveys were conducted from Martin County to the Lower Florida Keys within weeks of the anomaly. The impacts recorded were catastrophic and exceeded those of any previous disturbances in the region. Coral mortality patterns were directly correlated to in-situ and satellite-derived cold-temperature metrics. These impacts rival, in spatial extent and intensity, the impacts of the well-publicized warm-water bleaching events around the globe. The mean percent coral mortality recorded for all species and subregions was 11.5% in the 2010 winter, compared to 0.5% recorded in the previous five summers, including years like 2005 where warm-water bleaching was prevalent. Highest mean mortality (15%-39%) was documented for inshore habitats where temperatures were <11°C for prolonged periods. Increases in mortality from previous years were significant for 21 of 25 coral species, and were 1-2 orders of magnitude higher for most species. Conclusions/Significance: The cold-water anomaly of January 2010 caused the worst coral mortality on record for the Florida Reef Tract, highlighting the potential catastrophic impacts that unusual but extreme climatic events can have on the persistence of coral reefs. Moreover, habitats and species most severely affected were those found in high-coral cover, inshore, shallow reef habitats previously considered the "oases" of the region, having escaped declining patterns observed for more offshore habitats. Thus, the 2010 cold-water anomaly not only caused widespread coral mortality but also reversed prior resistance and resilience patterns that will take decades to recover.

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