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1 July 2008 Historical Decline in Coral Reef Growth after the Panama Canal
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Abstract
The Panama Canal is near its vessel size and tonnage handling capacity, and Panamanians have decided to expand it. The expansion of the Canal may consider the historical long-lasting impacts on marine coastal habitats particularly on sensitive coral reefs. These potential impacts were discussed during the national referendum as were other equally important issues, such as its effects on forests, watersheds, and water supply. Coral growth rates provide a direct measure of coral fitness and past environmental conditions comparable to analyses of tree rings. We examined stable isotopes, metal geochemical tracers, and growth rates on a century-long (1880–1989) chronology based on 77 cores of the dominant reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea collected near the Caribbean entrance to the canal. Our results showed a gradual decline in coral growth unrelated to changes in sea surface temperature but linked to runoff and sedimentation to coastal areas resulting from the construction and operation of the Panama Canal.
Hector M. Guzman, Roberto Cipriani and Jeremy B. C. Jackson "Historical Decline in Coral Reef Growth after the Panama Canal," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 37(5), (1 July 2008). https://doi.org/10.1579/07-A-372.1
Received: 22 June 2007; Accepted: 1 December 2007; Published: 1 July 2008
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