Abstract Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems worldwide. Since the 1970’s the coral populations of Acropora spp. around Bonaire Island have been declining due to White Band Disease (WBD) and due to heavy storms and hurricanes (i.e., hurricane Lenny in 1999). Acropora cervicornis is one of the species selected as restoration target because its critically endangered status according to the IUCN red list and its ecological value as reef builder. Promoting genetic diversity is key to aid the recovery of degraded populations and give this species higher chance to survive in the long-term. In this study, we measure growth and healing, as phenotypic traits of propagated corals to assess the different genotype performance in the nursery phase. Linear length and tissue regeneration have been monitored for 8 weeks for 10 different genotypes (n=5), respectively with in situ measurement and image analysis. The preliminary results suggest that some individual fragments can grow up to one centimeter per week and achieve complete tissue regeneration from cutting and handling damage in 15 days. Being able to determinate the differences in performance from various coral genotypes can help nursery based coral restoration to be more performant. Indeed, selecting coral genotypes that can grow and regenerate faster is a considerable advantage for coral restoration practitioners that could therefore optimize their outplanting efforts.
Coral reefs worldwide are currently jeopardized by anthropogenic factors such as land-based pollution, coastal development, and sediment erosion. In the Caribbean alone, nearly two-thirds of coral reefs have been deemed as threatened. This study investigated the potential negative effects of water quality and eutrophication, Enterococci bacteria (found in human gut), and sedimentation on coral disease, bleaching, and macroalgal growth on the near shore reefs of Bonaire, N.A. Monitoring sites were defined according to their proximity to anthropogenic activity: “more impacted” or “less impacted” (< 200 m and > 200 m from coastal development, respectively). Water samples at 5 m were collected weekly and at 12 m biweekly from each site and tested for nutrient concentrations (NO3, NO2 - , NH4-N, PO4), Most Probable Number of Enterococci bacteria, sedimentation rates, and particle size distributions. Video transects (100 m) were also taken at defined depths and analyzed for live coral cover and diversity, percent disease and bleaching, and macroalgal cover. Data showed elevated NH4-N levels at all sites, Enterococci bacteria present at 3 of the 4 sites (mainly at 5 m), and sediment particle counts showed significant differences among sizes at both depths and between the interaction of size and impact at 12 m. There was also a strong trend of finer grained sediments at high impact sites and coarser grained sediments at low impact sites. Very little overall coral disease (1.105 ± 1.563 % at more impacted sites and 0.400 ± 0.566 % at less impacted sites in 12 m) and bleaching (3.245 ± 0.615 % at more impacted sites and 1.390 ± 1.966 % at less impacted sites in 12 m) was found on the reefs however, neither were present at 5 m. There was significantly more macroalgae at 12 m and a strong trend of more macroalgae at the deeper, more impacted sites. This study suggests that increased anthropogenic activity on Bonaire is contributing to the increased NH4- N levels, Enterococci bacteria presence, and finer particle sediments, which future studies may correlate significant interactions between these parameters and coral disease, bleaching, and macroalgal growth.
The ecology of common snook Centropomus undecimalis in Amatique Bay, a tropical estuary in eastern Guatemala, was investigated and life-history traits were used to conduct a meta-analysis of the species from Florida to Brazil. The reproduction cycle of C. undecimalis in Amatique was strongly related to the precipitation cycle, with a lag of 2months. Spawning occurred from April to November with a peak spawning after the onset of the summer rains. Protandric sex reversal occurred early in the dry season (December) before somatic recovery from spawning. The growth cycle preceded that of body condition by c. 1month, and was out of phase with the reproductive cycle. Growth was fast, as many individuals reached >70% of the maximum observed total length (LT, 102cm) after 3years. Sex transition occurred within a relatively narrow LT range (70–79cm), but over a wide range of ages, indicating plasticity in this respect. The meta-analysis indicated a latitudinal-temperature gradient in life-history traits, as well as different seasonal patterns relative to temperature and hydrographical cycles. Centropomus undecimalis from cooler winter waters (e.g. Florida) reach larger maximum LT and LT at sex change, as well as greater gonado-somatic indices and longer life spans. Further, increased fishing mortality results in younger age at sex reversal and male predominance in the populations compared. Recognition of large-scale biogeographic patterns in this important, but little studied, fish species helps in the formulation of management advice in other areas of its occurrence.
The parrotfish Sparisoma viride is an abundant and ecologically important member of the tropical NW Atlantic reef fish fauna. Sagittal otoliths of 417 individuals were analysed to estimate age-based demographic variables at 4 localities (Lee Stocking Island, Barbados, Los Roques Archipelago and the San Blas Archipelago) spanning 14° of latitude. The sampling localities ranged from an area protected from trap- and net-based reef fisheries (Los Roques) to an area supporting a dense human population and sustained trapping and spearing for reef fishes including S. viride (Barbados). Examination of sectioned sagittal otoliths from each locality revealed regular increments in the sagittal matrix. A preliminary validation at San Blas was consistent with these increments being annual check marks. These increments provided estimates of age structure, maximum longevities and mortality rates for the 4 study populations of S. viride. Von Bertalanffy growth functions fitted to each size-at-age plot generated similar growth curves from 3 of these 4 localities. The exception was Lee Stocking, where fish grew faster and reached a substantially larger size than those from the other 3 localities. Further analysis of the growth curves demonstrated that the differences between Lee Stocking and the other localities were attributable to more rapid growth over the first 4 yr of life. Age-based growth curves derived from the Los Roques population were very similar to a size-based curve generated by an independent study on S. viride carried out in Bonaire, adjacent to Los Roques. Maximum longevities for all 4 of our populations varied from 7 to 9 yr. Mortality rates generated from catch curve analysis were also similar among localities and suggest that maximum life spans do not exceed 12 yr. This result differs from that obtained at Bonaire, where repeated censuses of tagged fish suggest 30 yr maximum longevity. Abundances of S. viride varied 3-fold among localities, being highest at Los Roques (protected from reef fishing), lowest at Barbados (high fishing) and Lee Stocking (low fishing). Thus our age-based study suggests that S. viride is a relatively short-lived fish with consistent demographic parameters over a range of localities, latitudes and fishing intensities.