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Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005
PLoS One
  • C. Mark Eakin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Jessica A. Morgan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Scott F. Heron, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; James Cook University - Townsville, Australia
  • Tyler B. Smith, University of the Virgin Islands
  • Gang Liu, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel - Mexico; University of East Anglia - United Kingdom
  • Bart J. Baca, CSA South Inc.
  • Erich Bartels, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Carolina Bastidas, Universidad Simon Bolivar - Caracas, Venezuela
  • Claude Bouchon, Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane - France
  • Marilyn Brandt, University of the Virgin Islands
  • Andrew W. Bruckner, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
  • Lucy Bunkley-WIlliams, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
  • Andrew Cameron, Global Vision International and Amigos de Sian Ka'an Asociacion Civil - Mexico
  • Billy D. Causey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Mark Chiappone, University of North Carolina - Wilmington
  • Tyler R. L. Christensen, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • M. James C. Crabbe, University of Bedfordshire - United Kingdom
  • Owen Day, Buccoo Reef Trust - Trinidad and Tobago
  • Elena de la Guardia, Universidad de la Habana - Cuba
  • Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Universidad de Magdalena - Colombia; Griffith University - Australia
  • Daniel DiResta, University of Miami
  • Diego L. Gil-Agudelo, Instituto de Investigaciones Marineas y Costeras - Colombia
  • David S. Gilliam, Nova Southeastern University
  • Robert N. Ginsburg, University of Miami
  • Shannon Gore, Conservation and Fisheries Department - British Virgin Islands, United Kingdom
  • Hector M. Guzman, Smithsonian Institution
  • James C. Hendee, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Edwin A. Hernandez-Delgado, University of Puerto Rico - San Juan
  • Ellen Husain, University of Exeter - United Kingdom
  • Christopher F. G. Jeffrey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Ross J. Jones, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences - United Kingdom
  • Eric Jordan-Dahlgren, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  • Les S. Kaufman, Boston University
  • David I. Kline, University of Queensland, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - Panama
  • Philip A. Kramer, The Nature Conservancy - Florida
  • Judith C. Lang, Ocean Research and Education Foundation Inc.
  • Diego Lirman, University of Miami
  • Jennie Mallela, University of the West Indies St. Augustine - Trinidad and Tobago, Australian National University - Canberra
  • Carrie Manfrino, Central Caribbean Marine Institute and Kean University
  • Jean-Philippe Marechal, Observatoire du Milieu Marin Martiniquais - France
  • Ken Marks, Ocean Research and Education Foundation Inc.
  • Jennifer Mihaly, Pacific Palisades
  • W. Jeff Miller, Virgin Islands National Park
  • Erich M. Mueller, Perry Institute for Marine Science
  • Erinn M. Muller, Florida Institute of Technology
  • Carlos A. Orozco Toro, Corporacion para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Archipielago de San Andres - Colombia
  • Hazel A. Oxenford, University of the West Indies - Barbados
  • Daniel Ponce-Taylor, Global Vision International and Amigos de Sian Ka'an Asociacion Civil - Mexico
  • Norman Quinn, St. Croix East End Marine Park - US Virgin Islands
  • Kim B. Ritchie, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Sebastian Rodriguez, Universidad Simon Bolivar - Venezuela
  • Alberto Rodriguez Ramirez, Instituto de Investigaciones Marineas y Costeras - Colombia
  • Sandra Romano, University of the Virgin Islands
  • Jameal F. Samhouri, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Juan A. Sanchez, Universidad de Los Andes - Colombia
  • George P. Schmahl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Burton V. Shank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • William J. Skirving, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
  • Sascha C. C. Steiner, Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology Inc. - Dominica
  • Estrella Villamizar, Universidad Central de Venezuela
  • Sheila M. Walsh, Brown University
  • Cory Walter, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Ernesto Weil, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
  • Ernest H. Williams, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
  • Kimberly Woody Roberson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Yusri Yusuf, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
11-1-2010
Keywords
  • Bleaching,
  • Coral reefs,
  • Thermal stresses,
  • Caribbean,
  • Corals,
  • Hurricanes,
  • Ocean temperature,
  • Surface temperature
Abstract

Background: The rising temperature of the world’s oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers’ field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles.

Conclusions/Significance: Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s Degree Heating Weeks) and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate.

Comments
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0013969
Citation Information
C. Mark Eakin, Jessica A. Morgan, Scott F. Heron, Tyler B. Smith, et al.. "Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005" PLoS One Vol. 5 Iss. 11 e13969 (2010) p. 1 - 9 ISSN: 1932-6203
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david-gilliam/23/