The Impact of Nitrogen Eutrophication on Caribbean Coral Reefs: A Review*

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Melissa Pastore


Coral reefs are declining in the Caribbean region due to a variety of reasons. Nitrogen from agriculture, sewage, and other anthropogenic sources is polluting coastal waterways and represents one major threat to reef health. The effect of nitrogen eutrophication on coral reefs was investigated in this review. Nitrogen pollution slows calcification, changes photopigment concentrations, accelerates coral disease rates, increases coral-algal competition, and reduces coral reproduction and recruitment. To conserve these important ecosystems and sustain the variety of services they provide, nitrogen loading to coral reef ecosystems must be reduced.

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Author Biography

Melissa Pastore

Melissa Pastore is a first-year M.S. student in the Biology Department studying the impacts of global change on the ability of wetlands to function as nutrient filters. This past December, she also studied the effects of varied light intensity on morphological leaf characteristics along a forest edge in Akumal, Mexico. She received her B.S. in Biology from Penn State University, where she conducted prior research comparing the timing of aboveground and belowground phenological traits in temperate tree species. In the future, Melissa plans to continue advancing scientific knowledge regarding global change through field-based research.