Live coral cover in the fossil record: an example from Holocene reefs of the Dominican Republic
Fossil reefs hold important ecological information that can provide a prehuman baseline for understanding recent anthropogenic changes in reefs systems. The most widely used proxy for reef "health," however, is live coral cover, and this has not been quantified in the fossil record because it is difficult to establish that even adjacent corals were alive at the same time. This study uses microboring and taphonomic proxies to differentiate between live and dead corals along well-defined time surfaces in Holocene reefs of the Enriquillo Valley, Dominican Republic. At Caada Honda, live coral cover ranged from 59 to 80% along a contemporaneous surface buried by a storm layer, and the reef, as a whole had 33-80% live cover within the branching, mixed, massive and platy zones. These values equal or exceed those in the Dominican Republic and Caribbean today or reported decades ago. The values from the western Dominican Republic provide a geologic baseline against which modern anthropogenic changes in Caribbean reefs can be considered.
Lescinsky, H., B. Titus, and D. Hubbard. 2012. "Live coral cover in the fossil record: an example from Holocene reefs of the Dominican Republic." Coral Reefs 31(2): 335-346.
Holocene, Microboring, Taphonomy, Assessment