Acropora Monitoring and Mapping Program

Our Mission: to produce baseline and long term assessments of the health and demographics of an important shallow water reef building coral, Acropora palmata (common name: elkhorn coral) in U.S.V.I. waters.


    Acropora palmata populations have declined by 80-98% in the region over the last forty years, and are now listed as “Threatened” under the United States Endangered Species Act and “Critically Endangered” (red listed) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Monitoring A. palmata population trends provides critical information necessary for formulating management plans aimed at preserving this species in the midst of increasing anthropogenic threats to reefs, including climate change. Twenty monitoring sites (10 - St. Thomas/St. John; 10 - St. Croix) are each comprised of three 7 m radius plots where A. palmata colonies are mapped for demographic purposes (annually) and visibly assessed for health (triannually).  Additionally, synoptic surveys will be conducted on St. Croix, concluding in December 2013.  Our synoptic surveying refers to ground-truthing randomly assigned points along St. Croix's insular shelf above 60 ft to see if any acroporids are present.  Data from this project will be combined with similar assessments performed in Florida and Puerto Rico to produce a general picture of the state of A. palmata populations in U.S. territorial waters in the western Atlantic/Caribbean basin. The final report from this project may be viewed below.

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Jun 4, 2015, 12:35 PM