Density of coral colonies of different coral species measured in Palau in 2017 using weight and displacement

Data Type: Other Field Results
Version: 1
Version Date: 2018-05-23

» Adjustment of western Pacific Ocean coral reefs to sea-level rise and ocean warming (Coral Reef Adjustment)
van Woesik, RobertFlorida Institute of Technology (FIT)Principal Investigator, Contact
York, Amber D.Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI BCO-DMO)BCO-DMO Data Manager

As part of reef composition survey in Palau (7°30' N, 134°30' E) the density of corals was measured as a part of the components that together quantified the production reef carbonate.


Spatial Extent: N:9.6568 E:138.2088 S:7.1878 W:134.229
Temporal Extent: 2017-06-02 - 2017-06-24

Dataset Description

These data were published in van Woesik and Cacciapaglia, 2018. Related Datasets (Palau and Yap reef data 2017): * Parrotfish surveys: * Parrotfish species information: * Coral species information: * Site list: * Urchins: * Coral surveys: * Coral extension rates: * Model output:

Acquisition Description

Coral skeletons, identified to the species level, were weighed on a scale in a lab in Palau in June 2017, and the displacement measured while placing the coral skeleton inside a glass beaker of water.

Processing Description

BCO-DMO Data Manager Processing Notes:
* This dataset was originally submitted to BCO-DMO as files  
* added column called location with values (Palau|Yap)
* added a conventional header with dataset name, PI name, version date
* modified parameter names to conform with BCO-DMO naming conventions

* Species names changed to accepted name after using World Register of Marine Species taxa match tool and communicating with PI.

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Related Publications

Van Woesik, R., & Cacciapaglia, C. W. (2018). Keeping up with sea-level rise: Carbonate production rates in Palau and Yap, western Pacific Ocean. PLOS ONE, 13(5), e0197077. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0197077

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familyTaxonomic family name of coral unitless
genusTaxonomic genus name of coral unitless
speciesTaxonomic species name of coral unitless
weightWeight of sample grams (g)
displacementVolume of displacement milliliters (ml)
densitySkeletal density of sample based on weight and displacement grams per milliliter (g/ml)
MorphologyCoral growth form/morphology unitless

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shoreside Palau
Start Date
End Date


shoreside Yap
Start Date
End Date

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Project Information

Adjustment of western Pacific Ocean coral reefs to sea-level rise and ocean warming (Coral Reef Adjustment)

Coverage: Western Pacific: Palau, Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati

NSF Award Abstract:
Increases in ocean temperatures and sea-level rise are threatening coral reef ecosystems worldwide. Indeed, some island nations are no more than 1 m above modern sea level. Yet, building sea walls on tropical coasts, to keep out the ocean, as they do in the Netherlands, is a substantial economic burden on small-island nations. Healthy coral reefs, however, have the capacity to lay down sufficient calcium carbonate to grow vertically and keep up with sea-level rise, as they did in the geological past. By contrast, damaged coral reefs do not have the capacity to keep up with sea-level rise, making the coastal communities vulnerable, and inflicting a large economic burden on the coastal societies to build sea walls. In addition, and very recently, coral reefs are being subjected to high water temperatures that are causing considerable damage to corals. This study will ask some critical questions: Are coral reefs in the western Pacific Ocean keeping up with sea-level rise? Where are reefs keeping up with sea-level rise, and what is preventing reefs in some localities from keeping up? This study will also examine whether geographical differences in ocean temperatures influence the capacity of reefs to keep up with sea-level rise. Where coral reefs cannot keep up with sea-level rise, these natural storm barriers will disappear, resulting in the loss of habitable land for millions of people worldwide. The broader impacts of the study will focus on training a post-doctoral researcher, and developing and running one-week training workshops in the proposed study locations in Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Majuro, and Kiribati. The investigators will work with local stakeholders on the various islands, focusing on connecting science to management practices to reduce local stressors to coral reefs.

Coral reefs are one of the world's most diverse and valuable marine ecosystems. Since the mid-Holocene, some 5000 years ago, coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean have been vertically constrained by sea level. Contemporary sea-level rise is releasing these constraints, providing accommodation space for vertical reef expansion. Yet recently corals have been repeatedly subjected to thermal-stress events, and we know little about whether modern coral reefs can "keep up" with projected future sea-level rise as the ocean temperatures continue to increase. This study will examine whether and where coral reefs are keeping up with sea-level rise across a temperature gradient in the Pacific Ocean, from Palau in the west to Kiribati in the east. The spatial differences in the capacity to keep up with sea level will be explored, and it is hypothesized that differential rates of coral growth and capacity to keep up with sea-level rise will be a function of regional temperatures, local water-flow rates, and land-use. One of the major tasks of this study is to determine the contribution of the various components of each reef to potential carbonate production, across the geographical temperature gradient. The investigators will quantify the rates of carbonate production, by corals and calcareous algae, and the rates of carbonate destruction, by reef eroders, by measuring the space occupied by each benthic component at each study site. The team will then sum that information to interpret the overall capacity of the reef to produce carbonate. At each study site mobile benthic eroders will be estimated, as counts and size measurements of echinoids and herbivorous fishes. The investigators will measure the densities of the different coral species, from different habitats, and develop models that relate the coral morphologies with the potential rate of carbonate deposition. This study will assess the contribution of sea surface temperature, flow rates, and land-use practice to the capacity of reefs to keep up with sea-level rise. Two different approaches will be used to predict the relationship between carbonate production and sea-level rise. The first model will assume that the capacity of vertical reef accretion is directly related to the extension of Porites microatolls at the various island locations. The second model will take a hierarchical Bayesian approach to examine reef growth, which depends on the presence and density of calcifying organisms, and on physical, chemical, and biological erosional processes.

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Funding SourceAward
NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (NSF OCE)

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