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Disturbance Response Monitoring “DRM”

Established in 2005, the Disturbance Response Monitoring program or “DRM” was developed to annually assess reef condition during the months of peak thermal stress along Florida’s Coral Reef. With anticipated increases in ocean temperatures and frequency of coral bleaching events expected to rise due to climate change, coral mortality associated with thermal stress is of paramount concern.

The DRM is a collaborative effort among local, state, and federal environmental managers, scientists, conservation organizations, and even coral restoration practitioners, all of whom are driven by a common goal of collecting valuable and timely coral condition data to provide a condition report on the annual stats of bleaching and disease along the reef tract.

Although historically focused on bleaching, the DRM program has been very responsive in modifying its experimental design to account for the ever-changing nature of the stressors impacting the reef. Data collected by the DRM program is used to identify resilient areas of the reef, promote appropriate management or conservation strategies for reef areas based on resilience, and aid management in research and restoration decisions. In addition to the extensive dataset the DRM program provides, it offers the opportunity for partners from across the jurisdictions of Florida’s Coral Reef to work together under a unified effort. This collaboration across agencies, universities, and organizations provides multiple sources of input and expertise, generating transparency across managers and researchers. This type of collaboration is becoming more important as the threats to the reef continue to grow.

The accomplishments of the DRM have been possible due to the committed efforts of the partners, including Biscayne National Park, Broward County, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Keys Marine Laboratory, Miami-Dade County, Mote Marine Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Nova Southeastern University, Palm Beach County, Palm Beach Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, and University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.