Climate Change (Updated 12/1/2014)
Global climate is changing due to human activities. We anticipate increased occurrences of worldwide mass
coral bleaching events if human carbon footprints remain at current levels. How these climate change impacts
will affect or cascade through the different components of the marine ecosystem is not fully known or predictable.
Coral Reef Management (Updated 12/1/2014)
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS or Sanctuary) includes 1,400 km2 of coral reefs and
several other distinct habitats. Human activities, such as boat and ship groundings, accumulation of marine
debris, and improper anchoring cause extensive physical damage to reefs. In addition, a range of anthropogenic
and natural stresses affect reef-building corals and associated organisms. The collective effects of physical
damage and stresses are manifested as decreases in coral cover and species diversity and increases in coral
diseases and coral bleaching in the Sanctuary. How much these changes in coral reef health are driven by
anthropogenic factors that could be ameliorated by management actions are not known, due in part to the poor
understanding of the population dynamics of reef building species, and what levels of climate change, fishing
pressure, habitat loss, and land based sources of pollution will be realized over the next three decades.
Habitat Protection and Management (Updated 12/1/2014)
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS or Sanctuary) seascape has a complex, yet intimately
connected set of plant and animal communities. Although coral resources are a subject of intense research, other
habitat types are critical components of the overarching coral reef ecosystem; hard-bottom, seagrass, algal, and
mangrove habitats all share a critical role in sustaining our marine ecosystem health and function.
Marine Zone Effectiveness (Updated 12/1/2014)
Marine zones are an integral resource management tool for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS
or Sanctuary). All zone types implemented to manage a certain aspect of use or resource protection need to be
(re)evaluated to determine if the zone type and associated regulations are producing the expected results for the
resource and the user groups affected by the associated protection strategy.
Physical Oceanography (Updated 12/1/2014)
There is a need to further develop the Florida Keys circulation model in order to better understand regional
oceanographic connectivity at varying spatial and temporal scales.
Population Dynamics of Fin Fish (Updated 12/1/2014)
Fish stocks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS or Sanctuary) were serially overfished
during the last four decades and are under steadily increasing fishing pressure as the human population of south
Florida and the Florida Keys continues to increase. There is insufficient information on the habitat utilization,
migration, and spawning aggregation behavior of both food fish and "non-food" fish at the spatial and temporal
scales needed to protect ecosystem services within the Sanctuary.
Water Quality (Updated 12/1/2014)
Nutrient loading, storm water, and other pollution discharges to the waters of the Florida Keys can result in
changes of ecosystem structure and function that cascade throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
(FKNMS or Sanctuary).