Biodiversity

Brief biological inventory of Bolivia, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

The lands of the former Bolivia Plantation amount to about three-thousand three-hundred (3,300) hectares of wildlands and basically constitute the eastern quadrant of the island of Bonaire, stretching along the central east coast from Lagun  to Boka Olivia. A brief biological inventory of Bolivia was conducted  3-6 November 1997, in which semiquantitative data was collected on the terrestrial flora and fauna at 34 different sites and/or transects. With exception of most of the lower limestone terrace, Bolivia was found to be well vegetated in terms of overall vegetation cover, and to possess much in the way of of scenic landscapes.

Whereas Stoffers (1956) indicated most of the Middle (limestone) Terrace areas as constituting dry evergreen vegetation, at present most dry evergreen species are virtually absent. One consequence of this finding is that the (likely) better developed dry evergreen formations on Bonaire (e.g. Colombia, Karpata, Tolo) must now be accorded a much higher conservation priority than could heretofore be realised. 

Bolivia shows extensive signs of past agricultural use and strip-mining for coral rubble. At present feral livestock (goats and donkeys) are at clearly detrimental densities, and mining activities form an immediate threat to some very rare coastal rubble vegetation.

Based on this initial assessment, several principal conservation priorities for Bolivia can be identified. These are:

  1. Nesting habitat for the Bonaire Lora, along the coastal terrace edge
  2. Ecologically important food sources, especially candelabra cacti concentrated in various areas
  3. The cave systems of Roshikiri and Spelonk
  4. Terrace edge area along the length of the coastline
  5. Coastal rubble vegetation between Spelonk and Boven Bolivia
  6. Brasía terrace woodland of Beneden Bolivia
  7. Washikemba woodland in the souther parts of Bolivia.

On the basis of these principal conservation values and the area's greater role as ecological corridor beween the northern and souther halves of the island, an initial scetch of recommended conservation areas is presented. The results indicate that any potential development  should be concentrated in the central section of Bolivia.

Date
1998
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Image

Bonaire biodivers paradijs

Een internationaal onderzoeksteam heeft de mariene biodiversiteit van Bonaire onderzocht. Mariene biodiversiteit zegt iets over de verscheidenheid in verschillende soorten planten en dieren onder water. Hoewel de conditie van de riffen rond Bonaire regelmatig wordt gecontroleerd en er veel foto’s beschikbaar zijn van het onderwaterleven, is de mariene biodiversiteit steeds onderbelicht gebleven. In de voorgaande decennia was dit type onderzoek vooral gericht op Curaçao, waar veel nieuwe soorten zijn ontdekt. Daarom was het aannemelijk dat onderzoek op Bonaire ook zou kunnen leiden tot het vinden van onbeschreven soorten. De voorlopige uitkomstenvan de expeditie lijken erop te wijzen dat dit inderdaad zo is. De resultaten worden nog gepubliceerd in vaktijdschriften en op gespecialiseerde websites waar ze toegankelijk zijn voor iedereen die meer wil leren over de mariene biodiversiteit van Bonaire. Speciaal voor Onderwatersport hier alvast een “sneak preview”.

Date
2020
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Southern Caribbean islands ecological corridor (Corredor Ecológico Islas del Caribe Sur)

The notion of an ecological corridor is to connect protected areas of high biodiversity to counteract the fragmentation of habitats, the loss of biodiversity and the negative impacts of human activities. It brings additional benefits such as strengthening ties between regions and creating a conservation area within a framework of ecological connectivity. The foundation CARIBESUR proposes the creation of a marine ecological corridor and Transboundary Marine Corridor "South Caribbean Islands" as well as the expansion of the National Parks "Paria Peninsula" and "Turuépano" and connecting them via a terrestrial ecological corridor.

 

Date
2018
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Bonaire
Curacao
Image

Management of European (Sub)Tropical Biodiversity In support of sustainable development: Policy recommendations and priorities for research

NetBiome-CSA is a European funded project that aims to extend and strengthen research partnerships and cooperation for the smart and sustainable management of tropical and subtropical biodiversity in Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). The NetBiome Network, with the participation of Ecologic Institute, has developed a Strategic Document that compiles a series of policy and research priorities for improving knowledge about biodiversity and the practice of biodiversity governance in the EU ORs and OCTs. The priorities emerged from participatory processes within NetBiome-CSA. The document is available for download.

The 34 European Overseas entities, including nine Outermost Regions (ORs) and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), are among the most intriguing and important zones in the world for biodiversity conservation. The rich biodiversity of the European Overseas Territories has nurtured generations of local populations and communities, and is a pillar for their future economic development and crucial for their long term prosperity and sustainability. However, this exceptional biodiversity in ORs and OCTs is faced with severe threats as a result of unregulated human activities and the negative impact of climate change.

In the framework of the NetBiome-CSA project, a co-design process was developed and implemented in order to mobilize panels of experts and build bridges across geographic regions. Adopting a bottom-up approach and going beyond the expertise of the scientific community and policy makers, specific attention was given to ensure that the perceptions of civil society and private economic stakeholders, which are key players in the field of biodiversity management, were taken into account.

This exercise enabled the identification of four major research topics on biodiversity management:

  • Improve tools for effective participation in biodiversity management, aiming to facilitate the co-design of management and the development of scenarios and solutions using the best available scientific and local knowledge whilst managing various uncertainty factors;
  • Predict effects of climate change on natural resource uses, carrying out broadscale investigations that go beyond studies directed at specific regions or specific natural resources and develop regional strategies;
  • Increase the consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in environmental assessment and valuation methods, taking them into account when designing legislation and undertaking infrastructure design and spatial planning processes;
  • Map ecological limits to extractive activities, examining linkages across habitats and species to guide decisions on limits to activities.

Addressing these Research Priorities in a collaborative approach presents significant advantages, allowing scientific experimentation at various hierarchical scales (island, archipelago, oceanic region) thereby providing a better generalization of research results to give fundamental insights into mechanisms shaping biodiversity and ecosystem processes.

By adopting a transregional and collaborative approach to these challenges, new knowledge is expected to be acquired and used in the implementation of a set of Policy Recommendations identified in the course of the NetBiome-CSA consultation process:

  • Adopt a more coherent approach to spatial planning, accounting for ecological and societal considerations, incorporating cross-sectorial and interdisciplinary cooperation to balance long-term biodiversity related issues and short-term social and economic dynamics and make decisions in a context of uncertainty;
  • Adapt international legislation to national/regional context, to better address the challenges faced by European Overseas regions and territories with regard to biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change;
  • Promote more efficient and sustainable usage of natural resources, enhancing local genetic diversity while meeting society’s needs and demands and facilitating a circular economy approach;
  • Put ecosystem-based management principles into practice, adopting management approaches that take into consideration the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including human activities;
  • Establish Biodiversity Indicators specific for European Overseas Regions and Territories, since existing biodiversity indicators based on European policy models and funding strategies designed for continental contexts and needs, are very often inadequate, insufficient or too general.

These Policy Recommendations and Research Priorities can effectively address the common challenges identified that, if not tackled, would endanger biodiversity in the European ORs and OCTs and jeopardise their future. 

Date
2016
Data type
Research report
Theme
Governance
Research and monitoring

Seabirds, marine mammals and human activities on the Saba Bank

During the HNLMS 'TYDEMAN' bathymetric expedition on the Saba Bank, April - May 1996, two observers spent 7 weeks on board and to collect data on the distribution of
seabirds, marine mammals, and human activities (fishing, shipping). The results show that the Saba Bank has a bird fauna that is relatively rich as compared with the surrounding seas, whilst the birds seem to be concentrated along the edges of the Bank. Observed cetaceans included three dolphin and one whale species. The bird and cetacean observations were made during a transitional season in which groups of animals are migrating into the area whilst others are migrating out.
Human activities included fishing (the distribution of fish pots was determined, and the activities of a few fishermen observed) and shipping. Especially the observation of large
tankers anchoring close to the edge of the Bank in areas where coral reefs occur, was identified as a threat.

The report presents the primary results of an opportunistic project which has yielded many rough but valuable data about the Saba Bank in April-May. These data are available
for future management of the Saba Bank. The preliminary elaboration of the data in this report confirm the importance of especially the edges of the the Saba Bank for birds and
suggest the Bank being a feeding area for populations that breed on the neighbouring islands. Together with the observations of different species of cetaceans, the results
confirm the idea that the Saba Bank has considerable importance or the marine biodiversity in the region of the leeward Antilles. The position of the Saba Bank, partly
within the territorial waters of the Netherlands Antilles but completely within the limits of a hypothetical Exclusive Economic Zone, offers a great promise that protection (and sustainable use) of these natural values can be legally effected.

Date
1996
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
KNAP96-03(2) Aidenvironment June 1996
Geographic location
Saba bank

Biological Inventory of St. Maarten

St. Maarten is one of the islands forming the inner arc of the Lesser Antilles. It is older than Saba and St. Eustatius. The oldest rock strata date from ± 50 million years ago. The island experienced periods of uplift and descent. In the Pleistocene period it formed one island together with Anguilla and St. Barths.

St. Maarten is irregular in form because of the many bays and lagoons. Steep rocky coasts alternate with sandy beaches. The major part of the island is hilly. Three ridges can be distinguished in the north-south direction. Only the Low Lands in the west are flat. In the past St. Maarten was a plantation island, with sugarcane cultivation reaching high up into the hills. Now tourism is the main economical activity. The island has two parts: The French and the Dutch part. About 38.000 people live on St. Maarten on the Dutch side, especially in the valleys, but also more and more in the hills. Because of the high population density and tourism development a lot of nature has already been lost, and several habitats are under pressure. According to the system of Köppen the climate of Maarten falls between a savanna and monsoon climate. The island is situated in the Atlantic hurricane zone. In September 1995 St. Maarten was hit by a severe hurricane.

At least 522 wild plants are known from St. Maarten, divided in 506 seed plants and 16 ferns. Among the plants there are two island-endemic species: Calyptranthes boldinghgii en Galactia nummelaria. Both species are very rare or have possibly disappeared already. The geographical distribution of five plants is limited to just a few islands and 3.3% of the species is endemic to the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands. With respect to the moss flora, only two true mosses are known, and no liverworts.

The major part of the Dutch side of St. Maarten is covered with secondary vegetation derived from either seasonal formations or dry evergreen formations. Only on the top of the hills some more or less original semi-evergreen seasonal forest is found. This type of forest has regionally become extremely rare too. Locally it includes several species that are lacking elsewhere in the island. Because of its small area this forest formation is very vulnerable. On the higher hills of the two ridges in the middle part of the island, and on the hills of the eastern ridge, a dense secondary woodland vegetation is growing, preventing erosion and with a high scenic value. Along the coast and inland waterways remains of mangrove forests and other types of coastal vegetation survive, which are of high ecological value, and also have scenic value.

The fauna of St. Maarten is poor in species, not only because of St. Maarten’s small size, but also because of habitat destruction, hunting, imported predators and hurricanes. One bird species, the Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, and two kinds of reptiles, the Antillean Iguana Iguana delicatissima and the original population of the Green Iguana, Iguana iguana, have already been exterminated. Among the vertebrates, birds form the largest group. Especially the number of migrating birds and visitors is big. In total there are 39 resident and nesting birds on St. Maarten and 68 species of migrating birds and visitors have been observed. These include 19 sea birds, of which 10 species breed in or in the vicinity of the island. St. Maarten is classified as an important breeding area for seabirds. Several small rocky islands just off shore accommodate breeding colonies of seabirds. 2 Amphibians and reptiles are the next largest group of vertebrates. They are represented by 15 species. Bats are probably the only native mammals. There are six species on St. Maarten.

The subspecies of the tree lizard Anolis wattsi pogus can be regarded as an island-endemic species. The animal is extinct in other islands. Several vertebrates are endemic for the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands, either at the species level or the subspecies level: one bat, one amphibian and six reptiles. The ground lizard Ameiva pleei, the tree lizard Anolis gingivinus, the gecko Sphaerodactylus sputator, the Grass-snake Alsophis rijersmai and the subspecies of the gecko Sphaerodactylus macrolepis parvus are limited to only a few islands. The White crowned Pigeon Columba leucocephala and the Red-Necked Pigeon Columba squamosa, both regionally and locally rare because of hunting, are still found in the island and could increase because of the diminished pressure of hunting. Among the breeding seabirds three, Audubon’s Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri lherminieri, the Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis occcidentalis, and the Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii dougallii, are endangered and three, the Red-billed Tropicbird Phaeton aethereus mesonauta, the Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata fuscata, and the Least Tern Sterna albifrons antillarum, are possibly endangered. Of the invertebrates not much more is known than 170 names.

The main threats to the biodiversity of St. Maarten are habitat destruction and degradation caused by the growth of inhabited areas, tourism development and pollution. Since the fifties several people argued for the need to preserve valuable nature areas, not only for ecological motives, but also for the benefit of tourism. Stinapa-St. Maarten, the later St. Maarten National Heritage Foundation, and Stinapa Netherlands Antilles, have struggled continuously to establish a hilltop protected area and a nature/culture reserve Belvédère/Bishophill. Their aim should be supported. At present the necesary island legislation is being worked on. For effective nature management in St. Maarten complete floristic surveys are necessary, and further studies of the status of the island populations of regionally and locally scarce and/or endangered species. For now, a few conclusions can be drawn regarding the conservation of biodiversity on St. Maarten. For this conservation it is necessary to safeguard the largest possible contiguous areas of nature. To this aim the following areas are recommended for conservation and management: the ‘Hillsides’, Naked Boy Hill and surroundings, and the hills and coastal area between Guana Bay en Back Bay. For the benefit of the bats the top of Billy Folly is recommended, and for the avifauna the various ponds, coastal habitats and the little islands Pelican key, Molly Beday and Hen and Chickens.

Date
1997
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
KNAP 96-10
Geographic location
St. Maarten
Author

Is larval fish diversity connected to ecosystem level diversity? A case study in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

Greater ecosystem diversity generally results in greater fish diversity. It follows that areas of greater ecosystem diversity would also exhibit greater larval fish diversity during recruitment events. To test the idea that larval fish would be more diverse in areas with greater ecosystem diversity, two sites on Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles were selected for study based on the amount of ecosystem diversity in each area. At Lac Cai, on the windward side of Bonaire, there are fringing reefs, a small barrier reef, seagrass beds, sand flats, and a mangrove lined bay. On the leeward side of the island in front of Kralendijk, the habitat is predominately fringing reef and sand flats. Three collection methods (plankton tows, light traps, and dip netting) were used to test my hypothesis that larval fish diversity at Lac Cai will be greater than that in front of Kralendijk due to greater ecosystem level diversity at Lac Cai. Simpson’s index of diversity (1-D) for Lac Cai (range 0.827 to 0.829) was significantly higher (one-tailed t-test assuming equal variance, p = 0.007, α = 0.05) than the values at Kralendijk (range 0.615 to 0.664) indicating that higher ecosystem diversity does result in higher larval fish diversity

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science IV (Fall 2008)19: 19-24 from CIEE Bonaire.

Date
2008
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Determining how coral reef habitat structure correlates with fish species richness at six dive sites in Bonaire, N.A.

Biodiversity of coral reef fish species is often related to the structural complexity and diversity of their habitats. This study explores the relationship between fish species richness, habitat diversity (substrate diversity) and habitat complexity (rugosity). Habitat diversity and topographic measures were used to predict reef fish diversity. It was hypothesized that high fish species diversity would show a positive correlation with greater habitat structure, which includes habitat diversity and topographic complexity. Fish species richness was determined at six dive sites in Bonaire, N.A. (Karpata, Andrea II, Cliff, Windsock, Angel City, and Red Slave) using data from 20 randomly chosen expert-level surveys provided by Reef Educational Environmental Foundation (REEF) for 2004 – 2009. Preliminary analysis of REEF data was used to select sites with high and relatively low fish species richness to make comparisons with the habitat structural complexity measurements (substrate diversity and rugosity). Substrate diversity and habitat complexity were measured using a 10 m transect randomly placed at 4 depths (2, 6, 12, and 18 m) at each site. Substrate diversity was determined by measuring the percent cover of the different substrates and then using the Shannon Diversity Index to determine H’. The rugosity of the sample area was measured by fitting a lead line to the reef at each of the determined depths. Overall results suggested that topographical complexity (rugosity) was not related to high fish species richness at dive sites on Bonaire. There was a weak positive correlation between H’ and fish species richness on the reef slope and a weak negative relationship between H’ and fish species richness on the reef flat. The results provide evidence that there are more factors to consider when explaining fish species richness on coral reefs than the structural complexity of the habitat at the scale of this study.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science VI (Fall 2009)19: 66-72 from CIEE Bonaire.

Date
2009
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Using prey fish species as bioindicators of anthropogenic stress and predictors of predator density and diversity on coral reefs in Bonaire, N.A.

Bioindicator species have been used to determine changes in water quality and the effect of pollution at sites of environmental concern. Increasingly degraded water quality throughout the Caribbean is leading marine park managers and scientists to use bioindicator organisms to rapidly detect differences in water chemistry by determining connections between environmental parameters and changes in reef fish communities. This study sought to determine bioindicator prey species that could provide early detection of changes as a result of anthropogenic activities in the coastal waters of Bonaire, N.A. The effects of these parameters on the density and diversity of reef fish species was compared between 4 sites of “more (MI)” and 4 sites of “less (LI)” anthropogenic impact (200 m from of coastal development, respectively). Fish communities were surveyed using a modified version of the AGRRA methodology during the morning and evening. Two 30x2 m transects at 12 m depth were used at each site to survey both prey and predator fish species. Water chemistry including nutrient, bacterial and sedimentation levels were also analyzed to attempt to determine the factor(s) driving the changes. This study revealed significantly greater densities and a higher diversity of prey and predatory fish species at MI sites versus LI sites during the morning and the evening. The species that was found at greatest densities for both LI and MI sites was Stegastes partitus, with significantly more S. partitus at MI sites during both the morning and evening. Thus, S. partitus may be a possible bioindicator of stressors on the reefs in Bonaire. The use of S. partitus as a bioindicator of anthropogenic stress may help increase the effectiveness of marine management protocols in Bonaire and provide a basis for determining bioindicator species for monitoring coastal water quality throughout the Caribbean. None of the water chemistry parameters studied differed between MI and LI sites, therefore, the driver(s) of the differences in prey species (e.g. S. partitus) may be unaccounted for in this study as a result of time lags in the coral reef ecosystem.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science VII (Spring 2010)19: 12-20 from CIEE Bonaire.

Date
2010
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Habitat preferences, behavior, and inter-species associations of the yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis) in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Stenorhynchus seticornis (Yellowline arrow crab) is a decapod crustacean native to the Western Atlantic in tropical and subtropical climates. Stenorhynchus seticornis is abundant in the Caribbean and has been studied associating with many different species from different phyla. Bonaire is a small island in the Southern Caribbean where S. seticornis is common, however no research on S. seticornis has been published on Bonaire. This study provides new information on S. seticornis and its ecological role on the reefs of Bonaire. This study examined the habitat type, habitat substrates, behaviors, and inter-species associations of S. seticornis by surveying at two depths, 8 and 14 m. Stenorhynchus seticornis was observed more frequently at 14 m (n = 53) compared to 8 m (n = 27). There was a higher frequency of inter-species associations and more total species observed associating at 14 m compared to 8 m. The majority of S. seticornis at 8 m were observed on sand under ledges, while at 14 m S. seticornis were recorded primarily on turf algae in crevices. The predominant behavior of S. seticornis at 8 and 14 m were eating and hiding respectively. The data collected contributes new information about S. seticornis, which is an abundant crustacean in Bonaire and is not fully understood. The results suggest that S. seticornis associates across many phyla and could serve an important role in the larger coral reef ecosystem. 

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XIX (Spring 2016)19: 35-41 from CIEE Bonaire.

Date
2016
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author