Publication Type
Conference Proceedings
UWI Author(s)
Author, Analytic
Gayle, Peter M.
Author Role
Author Affiliation
Centre for Marine Sciences
Paper/Section Title
Results from the CARICOMP monitoring sites at Discovery Bay Jamaica
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Proceedings Title
Sixth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of the West Indies edited by Daniel N. Coore and Robert J.Lancashire
Date of Meeting
March 18-20, 2003
Place of Meeting
University of the West Indies, Mona. Kingston, Jamaica
Place of Publication
Kingston, Jamaica
Publisher Name
Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
Date of Publication
Date of Copyright
Volume ID
Location in Work
Extent of Work
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Series Editor
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Series Volume ID
In the early 1980ís the rate of decline of coastal ecosytems impacted by population growth coupled with increased dependence on marine resources recognized by scientist in the region. The management goal required the availability of sufficient accurate baseline data on productivity, biomass, benthic species diversity and physical parameters for the coral reefs, sea grass meadows and mangrove ecosytems. In 1985, the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory served as the host location for the first organizational meeting of CARICOMP (Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program). At present, approximately 21 sites contribute to this contribute to this regional, c-operative program that uses standardized protocols to collect and return data on these main ecosytems to the Caribbean Conservation Data Centre a part of our Centre for Marine Science. DBML and other sites have been collecting data with these protocols since the early 1990ís. At the regional levels, the five most abundant coral species were Montastrea annulari, Agaricia, Porites astreoides, Colpophyllia natans and Diploria strigosa. Various sites shows showed high variability in coral community composition. Barbados and Belize had little M. annularis but more Agaricia ssp. In Bermuda, species richness was low, while Puerto Morelos (Mexico) did not exhibit the expected vertical relief of the usual coral reef environment, but supporting its own unique hard ground pavement that although lacking M. annularis, was dominated by Dichoconia stokesii. Algal data (excluding calcareous, encrusting algae) showed high year-to-year variability in terms of percent cover. Overall trends were slight and irregular with some sites tending to increase while others declined. The relationship between the abundance of scleractinian corals and fleshly, marco algae cover was generally an inverse one with corals doing better in areas where macro algae were less abundant. The urchins, especially the long spined blank sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, also showed a tendency towards an inverse relationship with fleshly algae coner. At the DBML coral reef site the data recorded the invasion of the shallow fore reef (< 10m water dept) by the urchin Tripneustes sp. Hitherto a lagoonal grassed species. Diadema antillarum, regarded by many as a key herbivore on the fore reef terrace (especially in the context of an overfished reef), also showed a resurgence in numbers. Occurring simultaneously with this was a significant decline in both algal biomass and species diversity and an increase in the numbers of coral recruits as these depths. Coral cover at the CARIOMP site fluctuated between 11 and 12% while the algal biomass remained at 70% and consistently returned wet weights in the region of 0.2% kg/m. The most common coral species reported are Montastrea, Agaricia, Porotes and Siderastrea whil Halimeda, Dictyota and Sargassum species are the most abundant algae seen. This boom in urchin numbers has not been maintained and algae levels are currently on the rise in the immediate vicinity of the CARICOMP transects. The variability in the data reported from these transects with adjacent or neighbouring areas may be artifact of the relatively small size of the CARICOMP site or its location on the fringe of the shallow fore reef zone. Rather than being a site typical of the entire fore reef, as was originally intended by the selection process, the CARICOMP carol reef transect may actually occupy a transition zone between shallow water where urchins are abundant; algae are limited and coral recruits do well and mid reef depths where urchins are absent; coral cover is depressed to (< 10% and algae are abundant. In even deeper water (> 30m dept) the algae are again spares (approx. 10% cover) despite the absence of urchins, presumably because light availability limits growth. Corals are more abundant (35% cover) but also appearing more frequently are the sponges which are able to exploit the low light that are not as algae and eventually coral growth. Other projects undertaken by the regional CARICOMP body assisted by data from DBML-CORIMOP was isolation of the pathogen causing blade deterioration in seafans Ventalina sp and its subsequent identification as a terrestrial fungus Aspergillus sysdowii. Data from DBML-CORIMOP also helped to define the types of coral diseases occurring in the region and the fact that the incidence of disease was still fairly now (< 10%) with no signs as yet of increasing. This work illustrates the ability of the CORIMOP network to respond to particular local and regional needs and gives hope that advances in environmental management techniques could result from this ongoing research program. Given the generalized nature of its methodology, it might be that in addition to creating an extensive regional data base that is readily comparable because of its common methodology, an important function of the CARICOMP program would be to point the way to additional areas where more intensive and comprehensive investigation are needed.....
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