Coral Gardens Reef in Belize remains a refuge for Acropora spp. coral despite widespread devastation in other areas of the western North Atlantic/Caribbean, according to a study published September 30, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lisa Greer from Washington and Lee University, Virginia, USA, and colleagues.
Once a key coral species providing the architectural framework for sprawling coral reef structures across the tropical western North Atlantic/Caribbean region, Acropora spp. coral populations have dramatically declined since the 1950s, and are now increasingly rare. Understanding the resilience and longevity of the remaining Acropora reefs in this area is critical to conservation efforts.
In order to test whether one of the largest populations of extant Acropora cervicornis in the western Caribbean was recently established (post-1980s) or a longer-lived, stable population, the authors collected 232 samples of premodern and recently dead A. cervicornis coral skeleton material across 3 sites at Coral