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A new record of the late Pleistocene coral Pocillopora palmata from the Dry Tortugas, Florida reef tract, USA

Lauren T. Toth, Ilsa B. Kuffner, Cheng Hai and R. Lawrence Edwards
A new record of the late Pleistocene coral Pocillopora palmata from the Dry Tortugas, Florida reef tract, USA
Palaios (December 2015) 30 (12): 827-835

Abstract

Pocilloporid corals dominated shallow-water environments in the Caribbean during much of the Cenozoic; however, the regional diversity of this family declined over the last 15 My, culminating with the extinction of its final member, Pocillopora palmata, during the latest Pleistocene. Here we present a new record of P. palmata from Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys and infer its likely age. Although most existing records of P. palmata are from the sub-aerial reef deposits of MIS5e ( approximately 125 ka), the presently submerged reef in the Dry Tortugas was too deep (>18 m) during this period to support significant reef growth. In contrast, the maximum water depth during MIS5a ( approximately 82 ka) was only approximately 5.6 m, which would have been ideal for P. palmata. Diagenetic alteration prevented direct dating of the samples; however, the similarity between the depths of the Pleistocene bedrock in the Dry Tortugas and other reefs in the Florida Keys, which have been previously dated to MIS5a, support the conclusion that P. palmata likely grew in the Dry Tortugas during this period. Our study provides important new information on the history of P. palmata, but it also highlights the vital need for more comprehensive studies of the Quaternary history of Caribbean reef development. With modern reef degradation already driving yet another restructuring of Caribbean coral assemblages, insights from past extinctions may prove critical in determining the prognosis of Caribbean reefs in the future.


ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 30
Serial Issue: 12
Title: A new record of the late Pleistocene coral Pocillopora palmata from the Dry Tortugas, Florida reef tract, USA
Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, Saint Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, Saint Petersburg, FL, United States
Pages: 827-835
Published: 201512
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 57
Accession Number: 2016-016583
Categories: Invertebrate paleontologyGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch map
N24°41'60" - N24°41'60", W82°47'60" - W82°47'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Xi'an Jiaotong University, CHN, ChinaUniversity of Minnesota-Twin Cities, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 201609
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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