Assessing the correlation between coral disease prevalence and fish species richness from 2007-2011 in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
Coral reefs have existed for thousands of years and are currently subjected to many threats. Coral disease is of particular concern because of its increasing prevalence; because they reduce coral cover, diseases are likely to affect fish assemblages. This study looks at the factors of coral disease and fish species richness on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. The study tests the hypotheses that (1) the amount of coral disease present in Bonaire has increased since 2007 and (2) the species richness of fish assemblages decreases with increasing presence of coral disease. Coral disease prevalence and live coral cover was assessed using an adaptation of the AGRRA benthic methodology by laying 10 m transects at depths of 10 and 12.5 m at Cliff and Windsock, areas that are closed and opened to fishing respectively. In addition, fish species richness was assessed using the roving diver technique by REEF. There was a significant difference between coral disease, as well as live coral cover, between sites and years. Species richness had a significant weak but not significant correlation with coral disease and live coral cover. However, no significant difference was found in the fish species richness between sites or between years.