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Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (CREMP)

The primary goal of the monitoring project is to measure the status and trends of these communities to assist managers in understanding, protecting, and restoring the living marine resources of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Data from the project will be used to determine (1) overall net increase or decrease in stony coral percent cover and stony coral species richness, (2) overall net change in measurable reef community parameters, (3) changes observed in individual reef communities with no overall change on a landscape scale (decreases in one location balanced by increases elsewhere) or changes that are linked to specific regions of the landscape. Each of these potential mechanisms of change will result in different spatial patterns of change. A Sanctuary-wide, rather than a single-location survey, is necessary to detect ecosystem change.

This Sanctuary-wide project is documenting the status of reef habitats at 40 reef sites located within 5 of the 9 EPA Water Quality Segments in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Over the duration of the project, the randomly located reefs in this project may show no net decline. Alternatively, some or all the reefs may show a net decline. Data for each successive sampling year will be compared with prior year’s data to obtain a broader understanding of the dynamics of the FKNMS coral reef system. As the coral reef monitoring is integrated with the seagrass and water quality programs, the results can be used to focus research on determining causality and can be used to inform and evaluate management decisions. The Coral Reef/ Hardbottom Monitoring Project provides the first real opportunity in the Florida Keys to address these questions at the spatial scales required to detect large-scale patterns and discriminate between hypotheses.

 

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