Determining the Number, Location, Size and Coral Cover for Patch Reefs in the Middle and Upper Florida Keys
   David Palandro, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission

Abstract: There is a known need for detailed and accurate maps and estimated live coral cover of the patch reef ecosystems of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). A previous FWRI project provided this information for the Lower Florida Keys, which is currently being used by NOAA and FWRI to determine locations for future monitoring sites and possible rezoning of the FKNMS. The proposed project will, for the first time, produce an identical product for the Middle and Upper Keys. In the past, research and monitoring in the FKNMS has focused most of its effort on the historically coral-dominated offshore platform reefs. Live coral cover averages less than 4% on the offshore reef sites currently being monitored by FWRI. Although much is known about the location and benthic cover for the offshore reefs, comparatively little is known about the patch reefs located in and around Hawk Channel. The ten patch reefs included in the FWRI surveys average more than 14% stony coral cover, significantly higher than the offshore coral reefs. These results were further corroborated by the Lower Keys patch reef study mentioned above. These data have shown a significant information gap for 1) number and location of patch reefs and 2) benthic cover on these patch reefs.The objectives of this project are 1) Map the number, location and size of patch reefs in the Middle (Alligator Reef to Molasses Keys) and Upper (north Key Largo to Conch Reef) Florida Keys by analyzing IKONOS high spatial resolution satellite data. 2) Determine the percent live coral cover and associated benthic components for patch reef sites from in situ surveys of the Middle and Upper Florida Keys. 3) Openly disseminate all interested parties (e.g., NOAA) results of the proposed project via a FWC SharePoint website.The expected benefit of this project is the knowledge of the location, number and benthic cover of the patch reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This will primarily benefit the resource managers whose responsibility it is to protect the coral reefs by providing them with this new, complete and accurate information. This will also provide a unique database to research scientists and NGOs.

Award Matching Funds Total
$110,168.00 $110,168.00 $220,336.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2009 7/1/2009 12/31/2011

Location: Monroe County