SedPods: a low-cost coral proxy for measuring net sedimentation
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Sediment derived from impaired watersheds is a major stressor to adjacent coral reefs globally. To better understand stresses generated by specific processes and events, many coral reef scientists seek to collect physical samples of settling particles and obtain reproducible information about net rates of sediment accumulation on coral reefs. Yet, the tools most commonly used to gather this information, sediment tube traps, only provide information on the gross accumulation of sediment at a site, in that all particles are effectively trapped within the container, unlike what a coral surface experiences. To address the need for an improved measurement of net particle accumulation on coral surfaces, we propose using recoverable sediment pods (SedPods) that can be constructed from readily available materials for under US $20. These devices are inexpensive, easy to fabricate, and allow for capture of particles over a given time span. The particles can then be used for laboratory analysis and accurate calculation of net accumulation rates on a coral surface proxy. In an experiment in Hanalei Bay, HI, we found that net sediment accumulation on rectangular SedPods was an order of magnitude less than gross accumulation in nearby conventional tube traps.
KeywordsSedimentation Corals Particles Reef health
This is a contribution of the US Geological Survey’s Pacific Coral Reef Project and was supported by the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program. We thank M. Bothner for insightful discussions, G. Piniak for thoughtful review comments, and J. B. Logan and S. A. Cochran for their assistance with field deployments and figure preparation, respectively.
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