Coral Reefs

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 91-106

First online:

Changes in the reef-coral community of Carysfort reef, Key Largo, Florida: 1974 to 1982

  • Phillip DustanAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, College of Charleston
  • , John C. HalasAffiliated withKey Largo National Marine Sanctuary

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Data from 21 permanently marked line transects showed that significant changes occurred in the composition of the reef coral community on Carysfort Reef between 1975 and 1982–1983. Coral populations between 0 and 9 m show signs of change due primarily to physical disturbance while corals living between 10 and 21 m have decreased in abundance as a result of sedimentation and disease. Some species show no signs of change while others appear to be undergoing shifts in their vertical distribution and/or significantly decreasing in mean colony size. Observed decreases in species diversity and eveness of the reef-building corals suggest that the vitality of Carysfort Reef declined between 1975 and 1982–1983.