Caribbean

Ranking the sustainable development goals: perceived sustainability priorities in small island states

Abstract

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to elicit global mobilization to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and are increasingly used in support of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Previous studies have highlighted interdependencies between SDGs, with potential interactions between four Sustainability Domains: Economy, Governance, Planet and Society. This study aimed to assess whether people’s perception of the relative importance of the SDGs refects recognition of the need to prioritize eforts across Domains, or whether this perception is based on diferent valuations of the Sustainability Domains themselves. We designed an interactive online tool in which participants used the Q-sort technique to rank the SDGs according to their subjective valuation of importance. We analyzed the rankings of 108 participants, all learners at universities in three Small Island States (SIS): Aruba, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Analysis of the correlation structure among participants’ Q-sorts showed that higher perceived importance of the Societyand Economy-related SDGs 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 traded of with lower perceived importance of the Planet-related SDGs 13, 14 and 15. Furthermore, SDG rankings of learners from Aruba occurred furthest toward the Planet-based part of this trade-of axis. For ESD programs, our method provides a novel tool to identify key interactions between SDGs that may not yet be recognized by program participants. In this way, communicating the need for simultaneous action and policy development across Sustainability Domains could be specifcally tailored to the local context. Such connections may increase the efectiveness of ESD in addressing the substantial sustainability challenges facing SIS.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba

Ranking the sustainable development goals: perceived sustainability priorities in small island states

Abstract

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to elicit global mobilization to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and are increasingly used in support of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Previous studies have highlighted interdependencies between SDGs, with potential interactions between four Sustainability Domains: Economy, Governance, Planet and Society. This study aimed to assess whether people’s perception of the relative importance of the SDGs refects recognition of the need to prioritize eforts across Domains, or whether this perception is based on diferent valuations of the Sustainability Domains themselves. We designed an interactive online tool in which participants used the Q-sort technique to rank the SDGs according to their subjective valuation of importance. We analyzed the rankings of 108 participants, all learners at universities in three Small Island States (SIS): Aruba, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Analysis of the correlation structure among participants’ Q-sorts showed that higher perceived importance of the Societyand Economy-related SDGs 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 traded of with lower perceived importance of the Planet-related SDGs 13, 14 and 15. Furthermore, SDG rankings of learners from Aruba occurred furthest toward the Planet-based part of this trade-of axis. For ESD programs, our method provides a novel tool to identify key interactions between SDGs that may not yet be recognized by program participants. In this way, communicating the need for simultaneous action and policy development across Sustainability Domains could be specifcally tailored to the local context. Such connections may increase the efectiveness of ESD in addressing the substantial sustainability challenges facing SIS.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba

First records of three new lizard species and a range expansion of a fourth lizard species introduced to Aruba

Abstract

The Caribbean islands are becoming a hotspot for the spread of non-native reptiles. Consistent with this trend, we provide the first documentation of three new lizard species discovered on Aruba, Anolis gingivinus (Cope, 1864), Anolis cristatellus (Duméril and Bibron, 1837), and Hemidactylus frenatus (Duméril and Bibron, 1836). In addition, we provide an updated distribution on Aruba for a previously introduced lizard species, Anolis porcatus (Gray, 1840). All four species were identified phenotypically in the field and identifications were confirmed with genetics. Like most non-native lizards in the Caribbean, they tend to use anthropogenic habitats, and their impacts on Aruba’s resident species are not known.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba

A Post-hurricane Quantitative Assessment of the Red-bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris) on Saba and Comparison with St. Eustatius

We estimated occupancy, abundance (lambda), detection probability, density/ha and abundance of a regionally endemic snake in the Colubrid family on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba in 2021, four years after hurricanes Irma and Maria impacted the island. Line transect surveys were conducted at 74 sites covering 6.7 ha. The proportion of sites occupied was estimated at 0.74 (min 0.48, max 0.90), with occupancy varying between vegetation types and across elevational gradients. Similarly, lambda was estimated at 1.61 (min 0.7, max 3.7) but varied between vegetation types and elevational gradients. Detection probability was estimated at 0.15 (min 0.10, max 0.21). Using Distance sampling, we estimated 10.9 (min 7.3, max 16.2) racers/ha, with a total population estimate of 4,917 (min 2,577, max 6,362) across the entire study region (438.6 ha.) Based on anecdotal observations from Saban residents and prior literature describing the pre-hurricane population as “abundant” (at least 2.0 racers/hour), we posit that the population experienced a hurricane-induced decline but may have since recovered, though not to previous levels (1.28 racers/hour). Nevertheless, our results suggest that racer densities on Saba are currently higher than those on St. Eustatius. Despite this, given the species’ extremely limited extant range and the presence of invasive species on both islands, prevention of local extirpation should be a high conservation priority.

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Saba
St. Eustatius

High spatial resolution mapping identifies habitat characteristics of the invasive vine Antigonon leptopus on St. Eustatius (Lesser Antilles)

On the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, Coralita (Antigonon leptopus) is an aggressive invasive vine posing major biodiversity conservation concerns. The generation of distribution maps can address these conservation concerns by helping to elucidate the drivers of invasion. We test the use of support vector machines to map the distribution of Coralita on St. Eustatius at high spatial resolution and use this map to identify potential landscape and geomorphological factors associated with Coralita presence. This latter step was performed by comparing the actual distribution of Coralita patches to a random distribution of patches. To train the support vector machine algorithm, we used three vegetation indices and seven texture metrics derived from a 2014 WorldView-2 image. The resulting map shows that Coralita covered 3.18% of the island in 2014, corresponding to an area of 64 ha. The mapped distribution was highly accurate, with 93.2% overall accuracy (Coralita class producer's accuracy: 76.4%, user's accuracy: 86.2%). Using this classification map, we found that Coralita is not randomly distributed across the landscape, occurring significantly closer to roads and drainage channels, in areas with higher accumulated moisture, and on flatter slopes. Coralita was found more often than expected in grasslands, disturbed forest, and urban areas but was relatively rare in natural forest. These results highlight the ability of high spatial resolution data from sensors such as WorldView-2 to produce accurate invasive species, providing valuable information for predicting current and future spread risks and for early detection and removal plans.

 

Referenced in BioNews publication (BioNews Article). 

 

Related Resources:

1. Supplementary Infromation (Report)

2. Topographic Wetness Index raster layer for Statia developed for use in the Coralita mapping publication (Raster Layers). 

3. Raster layers: High spatial resolution mapping identifies habitat characteristics of the invasive vine Antigonon leptopus on St. Eustatius (Lesser Antilles) (Raster Layers).

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Hurricane-induced population decrease in a Critically Endangered long-lived reptile

ABSTRACT

Catastrophic events, like hurricanes, bring lethal conditions that can have population-altering effects. The threatened Caribbean dry forest occurs in a region known for its high-intensity hurricane seasons and high species endemism, highlighting the necessity to better understand hurricane impacts as fragmentation and clearing of natural habitat continues. However, such studies remain rare, and for reptiles are mostly restricted to Anolis. Here we used single-season occupancy modeling to infer the impact of the intense 2017 Atlantic hurricane season on the critically endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana, Iguana delicatissima. We surveyed 30 transects across eight habitats on St. Eustatius during 2017-2019, which resulted in 344 individual surveys and 98 iguana observations. Analyses of abundance and site occupancy indicated both measures for 2018 and 2019 were strongly reduced compared to the pre-hurricane 2017 state. Iguanas at higher elevations were affected more profoundly, likely due to higher wind speeds, tree damage and extensive defoliation. Overall, our results indicate a decrease in population estimates (23.3-26.5%) and abundance (22-23.8%) for 2018 and 2019, and a 75% reduction in the number of opportunistic sightings of tagged iguanas between 2017-2018. As only small and isolated I. delicatissima populations remain, our study further demonstrates their vulnerability to stochastic events. Considering the frequency and intensity of hurricanes are projected to increase, our results stress the urgent need for population-increasing conservation actions in order to secure the long-term survival of I. delicatissima throughout its range.

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Spatially explicit removal strategies increase the efficiency of invasive plant species control

Effective management strategies are needed to control expansion of invasive alien plant species and attenuate economic and ecological impacts. While previous theoretical studies have assessed optimal control strategies that balance economic costs and ecological benefits, less attention has been paid to the ways in which the spatial characteristics of individual patches may mediate the effectiveness of management strategies. We developed a spatially explicit cellular automaton model for invasive species spread, and compared the effectiveness of seven control strategies. These control strategies used different criteria to prioritize the removal of invasive species patches from the landscape. The different criteria were related to patch size, patch geometry, and patch position within the landscape. Effectiveness of strategies was assessed for both seed dispersing and clonally expanding plant species. We found that, for seed-dispersing species, removal of small patches and removal of patches that are isolated within the landscape comprised relatively effective control strategies. For clonally expanding species, removal of patches based on their degree of isolation and their geometrical properties comprised relatively effective control strategies. Subsequently, we parameterized the model to mimic the observed spatial distribution of the invasive species Antigonon leptopus on St. Eustatius (northern Caribbean). This species expands clonally and also disperses via seeds, and model simulations showed that removal strategies focusing on smaller patches that are more isolated in the landscape would be most effective and could increase the effectiveness of a 10-yr control strategy by 30–90%, as compared to random removal of patches. Our study emphasizes the potential for invasive plant species management to utilize recent advances in remote sensing, which enable mapping of invasive species at the high spatial resolution needed to quantify patch geometries. The presented results highlight how this spatial information can be used in the design of more effective invasive species control strategies

 

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Governance
Research and monitoring
Document
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Diet and growth of juvenile queen conch Lobatus gigas (Gastropoda: Strombidae) in native, mixed and invasive seagrass habitats

ABSTRACT: Juvenile queen conch are primarily associated with native seagrass such as Thalassia
testudinum in large parts of their range in the Caribbean and the southern Gulf of Mexico. Here,
a number of non-native seagrass species have been introduced including Halophila stipulacea,
which is natural to the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific. In the Caribbean, H. stipulacea often creates
dense continuous mats with little or no sediment exposed, compared to native seagrass, which
grows much less dense. We examined the diet and growth of juvenile conch in both native, mixed,
and invasive seagrass beds using stable isotope analysis and an in situ growth enclosure experiment.
Organic material in the sediment (i.e. benthic diatoms and particulate organic matter) was
found to be the most important source of carbon and nitrogen for juvenile queen conch in all 3
habitats investigated, and there was a significantly higher probability of positive growth in the
native seagrass compared to the invasive seagrass. Due to the importance of the organic material
in the sediment as a source of nutrition for juvenile conch, limited access to the sediment in the
invasive seagrass can potentially cause inadequate nutritional conditions to sustain high growth
rates. Thus, it is likely that there is a negative effect on juvenile queen conch growth currently
inhabiting invasive seagrass beds, compared to native seagrass beds, when other potential
sources of nutrition are not available.

Date
2019
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten

First evidence of plastic ingestion by Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus from St. Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands

We present the first confirmed evidence of plastic ingestion by a Red-billed Tropicbird on the Caribbean Netherlands island of St. Eustatius, which supports a regionally important nesting population. With our observations, all species of tropicbird have now been documented ingesting marine plastic pollution.

 

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean: online information system

Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean: online information system. 

A free iPhone/iPad/iPod touch application, provides tools to identify and record information about virtually all species of shallow-living marine shore-fishes from the Greater Caribbean (1,600 species from 169 families). To aid in the identification of those species, the app incorporates over 5,500 images, most of them color photographs of live or freshly collected fish. To collect specimens for this initiative, several field work surveys were conducted since 2005, in the coastal and insular waters of the USA (Florida to Texas), Bahamas, Panamá, Curacao, and Venezuela, some of them specially oriented toward locations that were not previously adequately sampled due to logistical complexities of access. During these surveys particular attention was placed on the collection of cryptic, hence poorly known, species. Additionally, collection records from many online (museums and universities) and individual databases, as well as the information provided by the scientific literature were incorporated into the system to enhance geography coverage for each species. Together those produced a database of almost 800,000 occurrence records that were used to construct the species range-maps. A notebook module allows constructing and storing lists of species, together with data relating to the list itself and each member of a list, to organize those lists in folders, and to export them by email.

Date
2015
Data type
Portal
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Image
Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean