FSUCML alumna, Dr. Abbey Engleman, recently published a paper, "Dead but not forgotten: complexity of Acropora palmata colonies increases with greater composition of dead coral" in PeerJ! Dr. Engleman was actually Dr. Sandra Brooke's first Ph.D. student at FSUCML! Dr. Brooke is a co-author of this research as well.
This paper examines coral's structural characteristics and underscores coral's ongoing contribution to reef complexity following mortality. In this study, they used structure from motion photogrammetry to digitally replicate living and dead coral structures. This approach allowed them to quantify coral structural characteristics with more precision and higher resolution than field-based measurement techniques.
They found that in some instances, structural complexity increases after coral morality. These findings are significant because reef surveys commonly use live coral as a proxy for reef structure, failing to capture the complexity provided by degrading coral skeletons. Reef surveys that capture both live and dead coral cover are increasingly important for conservation as reefs continue to degrade from anthropogenic impacts.
The paper is Open Access and available HERE.