Research

Southeast Florida Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (SECREMP)

Principal Investigator: David S. Gilliam, Ph.D.

Issue

NCRI researchers completing a stony coral survey within a SECREMP stationThe SE Florida reef system is offshore of a highly urbanized region and is under varied and chronic stressors. SECREMP is a long-term reef monitoring program along Florida's southeast coast (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties). SECREMP is an extension of the Florida Keys Coral Reef Evaluation and Monitoring Project (CREMP), utilizing the same sampling protocols. SECREMP as an expansion of CREMP ensures that important parameters are being monitored for the full extent of the Florida coral reef ecosystem.

Project and Findings

NCRI researchers completing a stony coral survey within a SECREMP stationYearly monitoring of 10 SECREMP sites began in 2003. These sites are located offshore Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Additional sites will be added offshore the northern extent of the Florida reef system (in Martin County) which will provide information along the entire Florida reef system. The project is undertaken in close collaboration with the Florida Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). The coral reef system off SE Florida is a marginal system near the environmental threshold for significant reef growth. SE Florida reefs generally have reduced stony coral species richness and stony coral cover than the Dry Tortugas or Florida Keys coral reefs. The benthic cover by octocorals is interestingly very similar throughout the Florida reef system.

Southeast Florida reefs appear to have reduced macroalgae cover but greater substrate cover than the reefs in the Keys. The presence of stony corals with incidence of bleaching and/or disease appears to be reduced in the southeast Florida region. Yearly status discussions and regional temporal trend comparisons will strengthen as the SECREMP continues. The CREMP and SECREMP will continue to provide valuable information on status and trends in the Florida reef system from the Dry Tortugas through the Keys and into SE Florida.

Implications for Management

The purpose of SECREMP is the expansion of the Florida Keys CREMP to the SE Florida coral reefs. The partnership between NCRI and FWRI expands local capacity for maintaining long-term monitoring sites which will assist in filling gaps in coverage of knowledge and monitoring of coral reef ecosystems nationwide. This work will also complement the goals of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Network to monitor a minimum suite of parameters at sites in the network. This project also supports the goals and purpose of the USCRTF local action strategy in Florida, SEFCRI/SEFAST. which is primarily funded by Florida DEP and NOAA.

Partners