Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2009. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 58 (2009): 1835-1842, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.07.024.
The Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, is located in the
western Caribbean Sea off the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Particularly in the south, the surrounding watersheds are steep and the climate is
extremely wet. With development and agricultural expansion, the potential for negative
impacts to the reef from land-based runoff becomes high. We constructed annually
resolved century-scale records of metal/calcium ratios in coral skeletons collected from
four sites experiencing a gradient of land-based runoff. Our proxy data indicate that
runoff onto the reef has increased relatively steadily over time at all sites, consistent with
land use trends from historical records. Sediment supply to the reef is greater in the south,
and these more exposed reefs will probably benefit most immediately from management
that targets runoff reduction. However, because runoff at all sites is steadily increasing,
even distal sites will benefit from watershed management.
This research was supported by funds from the PADI Foundation, B. Katz, two
anonymous donors and the Edna Bailey Sussman Foundation to J.C.
Woods Hole Open Access Server