Evaluating the calcium carbonate budget of a South Caicos reef
Cytrynbaum, Benny Jean
May 9, 2020
Coral reefs habitats are biodiverse, highly productive, and provide important ecological services to both terrestrial and marine environments. The foundation for these ecosystems, the corals themselves, build up reef framework and habitat complexity by generating calcium carbonate skeletons. Unfortunately, corals are currently experiencing a variety of stressors, and, specifically in the Caribbean, have undergone a drastic decline. To determine how the reefs of South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands are faring, we determined the calcium carbonate budget of a local reef, the Spanish Chain, and compared its budget to that of the Arch, a nearby reef previously surveyed in the Fall of 2018. We found predominantly negative budgets at both sites, with the Spanish Chain 10 m site being the only location that showed a positive budget. Therefore, coral populations at the Spanish Chain and the Arch are struggling to maintain a rate of accretion that can support their ecosystems and allow for continued growth of reef framework. Considering all the services provided by coral reefs, it is crucial to continue to monitor their health and determine ways in which threat to coral populations can be diminished.
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