Distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, and prevalence of white-band disease at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
- 359 Downloads
In the 1970s and 1980s elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, declined dramatically throughout the Caribbean primarily due to white-band disease (WBD). In 2005, elkhorn coral was proposed for listing as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. WBD was first documented at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM). Together with hurricanes WBD reduced live elkhorn coral coverage by probably over 90%. In the past decade some recovery has been observed at BIRNM. This study assessed the distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral and estimated the prevalence of WBD at the monument. Within an area of 795 ha, we estimated 97,232–134,371 (95% confidence limits) elkhorn coral colonies with any dimension of connected live tissue greater than one meter, about 3% of which were infected by WBD. Despite some recovery, the elkhorn coral density remains low and WBD may continue to present a threat to the elkhorn coral population.
KeywordsAcropora palmata Buck Island Reef National Monument Elkhorn coral US Virgin Islands White-band disease
We would like to thank Richard Berey, Kassandra Cerveny, Letitia Dusich, Kimberly Ferrán, and Amy Swailes for being an outstanding field crew. We also thank Kathleen Batke, Chris Caldow, Crista Carroll, John Christiansen, Carol Daniels, Matthew Kendall, Mark Monaco, Joel Tutein, Ernesto Weil, Violeta Villanueva-Mayor, and Kimberly Woody. Funding was provided by NPS.
- Anderson M, Lund H, Gladfelter E, Davis M (1986) Ecological community type maps and biological community descriptions for Buck Island Reef National Monument and proposed marine park sites in the British Virgin Islands. In: Biosphere Reserve Research Report No. 4, Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, USVIGoogle Scholar
- Acropora Biological Review Team (2005) Atlantic Acropora status review document. In: Report to National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, St. PetersburgGoogle Scholar
- Bruckner AW (ed) (2002) Proceedings of the Caribbean Acropora workshop: potential application of the US Endangered Species Act as a conservation strategy. NOAA Tech Memo NMFS-OPR-24, Silver SpringGoogle Scholar
- Bythell JC, Gladfelter EH, Gladfelter WB, French KE, Hillis Z (1989) Buck Island Reef National Monument—changes in modern reef community structure since 1976. In: Hubbard DK (ed) Terrestrial and marine geology of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. West Indies Laboratory, Fairleigh Dickinson University, St. Croix USVI, pp 145–153Google Scholar
- Oliver J (2005) Endangered and threatened species; proposed threatened status for elkhorn coral and staghorn coral. Fed Regist 70(88):24359–24365Google Scholar
- Gladfelter WB (1982) White-band disease in Acropora palmata: implications for the structure and growth of shallow reefs. B Mar Sci 32(2):639–643Google Scholar
- Gladfelter WB, Gladfelter EH, Monahan RK, Ogden JC, Dill RF (1977) Environmental studies of Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. West Indies Laboratory, Fairleigh Dickinson University, St. Croix, USVIGoogle Scholar
- Patterson KL, Porter JW, Ritchie KB, Polson SW, Mueller E, Peters EC, Santavy DL, Smith GW (2002) The etiology of white pox, a lethal disease of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. Ecology 99(13):8725–8730Google Scholar
- Rogers C, Gladfelter W, Hubbard D, Gladfelter E, Bythell J, Dunsmore R, Loomis C, Devine B, Hillis-Starr Z, Phillips B (2002) Acropora in the US Virgin Islands: a wake or an awakening? In: Bruckner AW (ed) Proceedings of the Caribbean Acropora workshop: potential application of the US Endangered Species Act as a conservation strategy. NOAA Tech Memo NMFS-OPR-24, Silver Spring, pp 99–122Google Scholar
- Stedman TL (2000) Stedman’s medical dictionary, 27th edn. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar