Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Dr. Pamela-Hallock Muller.

Keywords

Sedcon, Community structure, Bioerosion, Water quality, Bioindicator

Abstract

Resource managers need inexpensive bioindicators to evaluate the health of coral reef ecosystems and to inform decisions on when and where to utilize more expensive assessment techniques. Following USEPA Guidelines for Evaluating Ecological Indicators, I developed the SEDCON Index (SI), a rapid-assessment protocol whichutilizes reef sediment composition to assess the integrity of coral-reef communities. Keyadvantages of this index are that it entails non-destructive sampling and is applicable to reefs worldwide. The underlying assumption of the index is that community structure is reflected by proportions of recognizable remnants of calcareous shells and skeletal remains of mixotrophic (zooxanthellate corals and larger foraminifers), autotrophic (calcareous and coralline algae), and heterotrophic (e.g., bryozoans, molluscs, smaller foraminifers) benthic organisms, as well as unrecognizable debris as a proxy for bioerosion.

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