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Miller MW, Karazsia J, Groves CE, Griffin S, Moore T, Wilber P, Gregg K. (2016) Detecting sedimentation impacts to coral reefs resulting from dredging the Port of Miami, Florida USA. PeerJ Preprints4:e2146v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2146v1
The federal channel at Port of Miami, Florida, USA, was dredged between late 2013 and early 2015, to widen and deepen the channel. While the precise effects of the dredging on surrounding coral reefs are not well quantified, previously published remote sensing analyses, as well as agency and anecdotal reports suggest the most severe and largest area of sedimentation occurred on a coral reef feature referred to as the Inner Reef, particularly in the sector north of the channel. A regional warm-water mass bleaching event followed by a coral disease outbreak during this same time frame confounded the assessment of dredging-related impacts to coral reefs adjacent to the federal channel. In-water field assessments conducted after the completion of dredging and a time series analysis of tagged corals photographed pre-, during, and post-dredging, are used to discern dredging-related sedimentation impacts for the Inner Reef north. Results indicate increased sediment accumulation, severe in certain times and places, and an associated biological response, including significantly greater proportion of live coral tissue loss, occurred within coral reef sites located closer to the channel. Dredging projects near valuable and sensitive habitats subject to local and global stressors require monitoring methods capable of discerning non-dredging related impacts and adaptive management to ensure predicted and unpredicted project-related impacts are quantified. Anticipated increasing frequency and intensity of warming stress also suggests that manageable- but- unavoidable local stressors such as dredging should be partitioned from the warmest times of year.
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Data from transect sampling (sediment cover, depth, and colony condition) and photo-ed colony areas
Percentage of scleractinian corals at each site with recent partial mortality, sediment accumulation, or sediment halo and number of corals from the belt transects partitioned by habitat type. Percentage of survey points with sediment over hardbottom and deep sediment from line-intercept transects.
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