Physical environments of the Caribbean Sea

Chollett, Iliana, Mumby, Peter J., Muller-Karger, Frank E. and Hu, Chuanmin (2012) Physical environments of the Caribbean Sea. Limnology and Oceanography, 57 4: 1233-1244. doi:10.4319/lo.2012.57.4.1233

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Author Chollett, Iliana
Mumby, Peter J.
Muller-Karger, Frank E.
Hu, Chuanmin
Title Physical environments of the Caribbean Sea
Journal name Limnology and Oceanography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0024-3590
Publication date 2012-07
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.4319/lo.2012.57.4.1233
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 57
Issue 4
Start page 1233
End page 1244
Total pages 12
Place of publication Waco, TX, United States
Publisher American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The Caribbean Sea encompasses a vast range of physical environmental conditions that have a profound influence on the organisms that live there. Here we utilize a range of satellite and in situ products to undertake a region-wide categorization of the physical environments of the Caribbean Sea (PECS). The classification approach is hierarchical and focuses on physical constraints that drive many aspects of coastal ecology, including species distributions, ecosystem function, and disturbance. The first level represents physicochemical properties including metrics of satellite sea surface temperature, water clarity, and in situ salinity. The second level considers mechanical disturbance and includes both chronic disturbance from wind-driven wave exposure and acute disturbance from hurricanes. The maps have a spatial resolution of 1 km2. An unsupervised neural network classification produced 16 physicochemical provinces that can be categorized into six broad groups: (1) low water clarity and low salinity and average temperatures; (2) low water clarity but average salinity and temperature, broadly distributed in the basin; (3) low salinity but average water clarity and temperature; (4) upwelling; (5) high latitude; and (6) offshore waters of the inner Caribbean. Additional mechanical disturbance layers impose additional pattern that operates over different spatial scales. Because physical environments underpin so much of coastal ecosystem structure and function, we anticipate that the PECS classification, which will be freely distributed as geographic information system layers, will facilitate comparative analyses and inform the stratification of studies across environmental provinces in the Caribbean basin.
Keyword Coral reefs
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 26 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 14 Sep 2012, 10:42:02 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences