Dr. Lapointe traveled to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean to present a lecture entitled, "The role of nutrients in coral-algal phase-shifts: lessons from the Caribbean region" at the LabEx <<CORAIL>> Workshop on March 24 & 25, 2017 hosted by the Université des Antilles, laboratoire de Biologie Marine. Dr. Lapointe was honored to be invited to speak to the symposium about human impacts to coral reefs.
The role of nutrients in coral-algal phase-shifts: lessons from the Caribbean region by B.E. Lapointe
Since the 1970s, coral reefs in the Caribbean region have experienced a phase-shift away from dominance by corals and towards macroalgae and algal turfs. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that eutrophication is a major driving force behind the phase-shift, which results from local, regional and global scales of nutrient enrichment. Nutrient threshold research on the Belize Barrier Reef in the 1980s showed that coral reefs are susceptible to very low levels of reactive nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment, above which they shift towards dominance by algae. Experimental laboratory research and case studies of coral-to-algal phase shifts in Martinique, Jamaica, Bahamas, and the Florida Keys supported the nutrient threshold model. However, the algal species composition of the phase-shift is related to various environmental factors that include grazing, sedimentation, temperature, and physical factors such as turbulence. Improved land-use, including best management practices for agriculture and advanced wastewater treatment in urban areas, are needed to moderate this problem and related issues of climate change in the future.
Studying water quality and harmful algal blooms throughout Florida and the Caribbean.