The relationship between fish diversity and live coral cover and changes in fish diversity over time in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles has one of the healthiest coral reef systems in terms of fish species richness and live coral cover in the Caribbean. Numerous studies investigating the correlation between coral cover and fish diversity in reefs throughout the world have yielded inconsistent results. This study, using data from the REEF Fish Survey Project and a vertical transect method of estimating coral cover, found a significant negative correlation between coral cover and fish diversity on Bonaire. The health of Bonaire’s reef systems fuel the diving industry, which is a major part of the island’s economy. Worldwide fish populations are decreasing due to overfishing and other pressures. In an attempt to monitor the valuable fish populations in Bonaire, data from REEF surveys was used to determine whether fish diversity has decreased over time in Bonaire. Although diversity fluctuated at all sites, overall the fish diversity on Bonaire showed no significant change between 1995 and 2007. However, Bari Reef, which is the most surveyed site in the Caribbean, showed an increase in diversity over time. The number of surveys could explain the increase in diversity due to more intensive sampling than any other site.