St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
The CREST project involves a blend of process and monitoring activities relevant to understanding the health and 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 at the Project Introduction.
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.
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 will provide a baseline for National Park Service resource managers, as well as a tool for planning research activities for other CREST scientists.
Climate and Sea Level
This information is critical to our understanding of the natural history of corals and will provide clues to the future of reef accretion processes and climate change.
The chemistry of the ocean is changing due to absorption of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide, a phenomenon commonly referred to as "ocean acidification." This is a problem for marine organisms that precipitate calcium carbonate to form their skeletons, tests, and shells.
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 will depend, in part, on the ability of reefs to continue growing enough to keep up with rising sea level.
Holocene core logs and site methods for modern reef and head-coral cores: Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida - U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1095
Comparison of DNA preservation methods for environmental bacterial-community samples - FEMS Microbiology Ecology
An apparent "vital effect" of calcification rate on the Sr/Ca temperature proxy in the reef coral Montipora capitata - Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
PhyloChip™ microarray comparison of sampling methods used for coral microbial ecology - Journal of Microbiological Methods
Chapter 8: 'Baseline surveys to detect trophic changes in shallow hard-bottom communities induced by the Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area' (9 MB PDF) - Implimenting the Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area Science Plan; the 5-year report