St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
The CREST project involves a blend of process and monitoring activities relevant to understanding the resilience of shallow water reef environments. Current areas of research include the Dry Tortugas, Virgin Islands and Biscayne National Parks, and selected areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Research goals include:
Find out more in the Overview.
Monitoring Coral Reef Growth
It is critical to start measuring calcification rates in a systematic way now, particularly at subtropical latitudes where conditions fluctuate seasonally, so that we can understand how dynamic ocean conditions affect calcifying organisms today and predict possible changes in the future. We established a calcification monitoring network in the Florida Keys and have been measuring calcification rates since 2009.
Synchronized field work focused on geochemistry, geology, and metabolic processes overlaid on a habitat map of an entire reef to produce a synoptic overview of reef processes that contribute to carbonate precipitation and dissolution.
Reef History and Climate Change
This information is critical to our understanding of the natural history of corals and provides clues to the future of reef accretion processes and climate change.
Community Calcification & Metabolism
Changing ocean chemistry resulting from climate change and ocean acidification also affects coral reefs at the community level. The severity of impacts to coral reefs depends, in part, on the ability of reefs to continue growing enough to keep up with rising sea level.
Benthic Habitat Mapping & Monitoring
Benthic community composition, percent cover, areal extent, and temporal stability are critical factors that contribute to the value of a given marine habitat. Knowledge of these benthic cover components provides a baseline for National Park Service resource managers, as well as a tool for planning research activities for other CREST scientists.
Coral diseases have been reported worldwide and with increasing frequency. Disease is now recognized as one of the major causes of reef degradation and coral mortality.
A century of ocean warming on Florida Keys coral reefs: Historic in-situ observations - Estuaries and Coasts
Possible Return of Acropora cervicornis at Pulaski Shoal, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida - Journal of Coastal Research