The concurrent rise in the prevalence of conspicuous benthic cyanobacterial mats and the incidence of coral diseases independently markmajor axes of degradation of coral reefs globally. Recent advances have uncovered the potential for the existence of interactions between the expanding cover of cyanobacterial mats and coral disease, especially black band disease (BBD), and this intersection represents both an urgent conservation concern and a critical challenge for future research. Here, we propose links between the transmission of BBD and benthic cyanobacterial mats. We provide molecular and ecophysiological evidence suggesting that cyanobacterial mats may create and maintain physically favorable benthic refugia for BBD pathogens while directly harboring BBD precursor assemblages, and discuss how mats may serve as direct (mediated via contact) and indirect (mediated via predator–prey–pathogen relationships) vectors for BBD pathogens. Finally, we identify and outline future priority research directions that are aligned with actionable management practices and priorities to support evidence-based coral conservation practices.
Map of management areas for Bonaire. The management areas are projected on top of the Bonaire landscape map (see details here) to emphasize the diversity within a management zone. To maintain the diversity present, it is important to recognize these differences when developing and implementing management strategies.
The southern wetlands of Bonaire represent a unique environment for the island. Consisting of a wide variety of habitat types including caves, karsts, dry tropical forests, coastal areas, salt pans and mangroves. The Ramsar site Pekelmeer lies completely in this area, as well as a small portion of the buffer zone of the Ramsar site Lac Bay.
Culturally, a number of Bonaire’s historic monuments and tributes to its past can be found as you drive around the perimeter, from ruins of old salt pans to the remains of slave huts and gravestones. Maintaining and respecting these sober reminders of Bonaire’s history is vital to ensuring the sacrifices of the enslaved populations are not forgotten. It would be impossible to separate the historic and cultural identity of Bonaire from this area.
Economically the southern wetlands represent commercial opportunities for salt extraction by Cargill Salt Works as well as a significant driver of tourism, whether it is history enthusiasts, cyclists, kiteboarders, recreational fishers, scuba divers or bird watchers.
The cultural and economic value of this area is only surpassed by its environmental value. The southern wetlands are recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA), as a site of regional importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, as an area important for sea turtle nesting and as a Ramsar site. The Ramsar site Pekelmeer, which encompasses most of the southern portion of the wetlands, is critical to a number of threatened, endangered or keystone species. Pekelmeer offers a much-needed rest stop for a number of migratory bird species while also serving as an important breeding ground for the Caribbean Flamingo and five different tern species. Furthermore, the southern wetlands constitute most of the natural habitat of the rare and endemic Bonaire Sabal Palm.
This management plan offers a description of the southern wetlands (chapter 1), a legal and legislative overview (chapter 2), a description of resources and utilities (chapter 3), an explanation of the spatial development plan (chapter 4), an overview of conservation target habitats (chapter 5), an analysis of threats and issues (chapter 6), an outline of management actions and strategies (chapter 7), and provides recommendations for the management plan evaluation and review (chapter 8). Conserving this unique wetland will be a major challenge. A critical first step is to designate Pekelmeer as a protected area under island and national legislation, and appoint a management authority.
Between November 23rd and the 27th, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) held its annual Nature Convention on Curaçao. Due to covid-19 restrictions, the last conference had to be held virtually, so all participants were eager to meet face to face again.
Throughout the week, the Dutch Caribbean park authorities met to discuss critical issues affecting their parks. The conference focused on three main topics:
- Governance in Times of Recovery
- Increasing Resilience to Climate change
- Improving Youth engagement
This conference was the perfect opportunity for all six Protected Area Management Organizations of the Dutch Caribbean to discuss how to strengthen strategic nature management policies for the coming years. In addition, the Patron of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands was also in attendance.
During the convention there were three workshops held on the following projects. Learn more below:
Automatic Species Recognition Tools
With this project, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Observation International will work together to create image recognition for the animals and plants found on the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean. This image recognition model will be aimed at the marine and terrestrial species of the Dutch Caribbean and will be made available via the internet and an app for all observers. In addition, the observations will be reviewed by an active validator team for quality control. These activities will lead to more observers, more sightings and a higher quality of data in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
During the DCNA convention, a workshop was held to set-up and train a local validator team. Click here for more information >
Climate change and governance in Indonesia and the Caribbean: A pilot program on marine protected areas (MPA’s) and coastal nature reserves
KITLV, NIOO, NIAS, and WUR joined forces in a KNAW-funded interdisciplinary study of the impact of climate change on social-ecological systems (SES). A consortium including Indonesian and Caribbean partners in academia and NGOs will co-create and implement pilot research in four coastal zones in these two tropical archipelagoes. Concretely, it seeks to write a joint ecological and sociopolitical history of selected protected areas in both regions and its effects in the present.
Click here for more information >
DCNA 2030- Strategy sessions
During the convention, the DCNA held two halfway strategy sessions with the board to align around a shared vision and core competencies, sharpen understanding of the trend and future challenges and build commitment towards the organization’s direction to achieve their collective aspiration.
- The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance will discuss three critical topics at the upcoming DCNA Convention
- Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance facilitates platform for investigation of marine protected areas in the Caribbean
- Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Provides Platform for Youth Engagement in Nature Conservation During Symposium Held in Curaçao
- Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance is Preparing Dutch Caribbean Conservation Organizations to Withstand External Shocks
- Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Highlights Nature’s Economic Value
Abstract.– Intraspecific diversity is among the most important biological variables, although still poorly understood for most species. Iguana iguana is a Neotropical lizard known from Central and South America, including from numerous Caribbean islands. Despite the presence of native melanistic I. iguana populations in the Lesser Antilles, these have received surprisingly little research attention. Here we assessed population size, distribution, degree of melanism, and additional morphological and natural history characteristics for the melanistic iguanas of Saba, Caribbean Netherlands based on a one-month fieldwork visit. Using Distance sampling from a 38- transect dataset we estimate the population size at 8233 ±2205 iguanas. Iguanas mainly occurred on the southern and eastern sides of the island, between 180-390 m (max altitude 530 m), with highest densities both in residential and certain natural areas. Historically, iguanas were relatively more common at higher altitudes, probably due to more extensive forest clearing for agricultural reasons. No relationship was found between the degree of melanism and elevation, and few animals were completely melanistic. Furthermore, we found that body-ratio data collection through photographs is biased and requires physical measuring instead. Although the population size appears larger than previously surmised, the limited nesting sites and extremely low presence of juvenile and hatchling iguanas (2.4%), is similarly worrying as the situation for I. delicatissima on neighboring St. Eustatius. The island’s feral cat and large goat population are suspected to impact nest site quality, nest success, and hatchling survival. These aspects require urgent future research to guide necessary conservation management.
Context: The invasion of the lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the French West Indies represents one of the most important marine invasions by alien species in history. Since its first recognition in Martinique in February 2011, the lionfish presence has strongly progressed, resulting in increasing envenomation cases. Our objective was to report features of lionfish envenomation and outcome.
Methods: A prospective study conducted at the Martinique University Hospital by the emergency departments, general practitioners, and the pre-hospital emergency ambulance service included all the patients referred from November 2011 to February 2014 for one or several stings by lionfish, as strongly suggested by the fish description and the association with marked local pain and edema. Recommended management included immersion of the affected body part in hot water at 35–40 °C for 60 min, analgesics, tetanus toxoid, and antibiotics.
Results: 117 patients [98M/19F; age: 42 ± 14 years [mean ± SD]; with significant past morbidities (16%)] were included. Envenomation resulted in marked pain and local edema (100%), paresthesia (90%), abdominal cramps (62%), extensive edema (53%), tachycardia (34%), skin rash (32%), gastrointestinal disorders (28%), fainting (27%), transient weakness (24%), hypertension (21%), hypotension (18%), hyperthermia (9%), bradycardia (3%), hypophosphatemia (12%), elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (10%), and thrombocytopenia (3%). The sting was complicated by local infection (18%) including skin abscess (5%), cellulitis (3%), skin necrosis (3%), and septic arthritis (2%). 26 patients (22%) were hospitalized requiring surgery (8%). Lionfish stings were single (81%) or multiple (19%). Localization was preferentially at one upper (67%) or lower limb (32%). All patients actually improved. Based on multivariate analyses, pain duration > 24 h was significantly associated with skin eruption (p = 0.001) and muscle cramps (p = 0.0002). Local infectious complications occurred more frequently in patients presenting multiple stings (p = 0.008). Immersion in hot water (44%, performed less than 3 h after the sting in 36% of the cases) significantly reduced pain duration (p = 0.02) and local infection (p = 0.02).
Conclusion: Lionfish represents a major health threat in Martinique with increasing envenomation and significant morbidities. Outcome is favorable if promptly managed, with possible reduction in pain duration and local infections with the rapid immersion of the stung body part in hot water. Our data encourage the authorities to develop investigations on the exact extent of the lionfish invasion and set up a regional taskforce to inform the ecosystem users and register all lionfish-attributed incidents.
Conservation is predicated on local support, and if scientists and resource managers wish to develop effective programs the cultural values and perceptions of surrounding communities need to be considered. As a result, researchers have shifted their attention to ethnography as a means to improve human-environment interactions and garner support for conservation. Bonaire serves as an ideal study site to explore the intricate relationship between cultural perception and environmental programs. Despite being a leader in conservation, current waste management programs greatly undermine island-wide environmental efforts and few successful solutions to address this discrepancy have been suggested. This study explored the cultural perceptions held by different subgroups on Bonaire (i.e. NGOs, divers, and conventional households) and provides valuable insight into how the community views environmental health and current management practices. Ethnographic methods were used to examine how three subgroups perceive environmental degradation, major factors contributing to ecological degradation, current management, and possible solutions, both individual and collective. Overall, 85% of all respondents identified environmental degradation as a problem on Bonaire. Salience values demonstrated that, overall, subgroups considered ‘humans’, ‘sewage’ and ‘garbage’ as the top environmental threats. Additionally, nearly all participants expressed a negative perception of management. Not only does this research highlight a general awareness of environmental issues by Bonaireans, but it also reveals that there exists a widespread feeling of support for conservation. It is imperative that the ideological and cultural differences identified through this research are noted and incorporated into future management plans.
This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XV (Spring 2014)19: 66-78 from CIEE Bonaire.
This study presents a comprehensive genetic analysis of stock structure for leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), combining 17 microsatellite loci and 763 bp of the mtDNA control region. Recently discovered eastern Atlantic nesting populations of this critically endangered species were absent in a previous survey that found little ocean-wide mtDNA variation. We added rookeries in West Africa and Brazil and generated longer sequences for previously analyzed samples. A total of 1,417 individuals were sampled from nine nesting sites in the Atlantic and SW Indian Ocean. We detected additional mtDNA variation with the longer sequences, identifying ten polymorphic sites that resolved a total of ten haplotypes, including three new variants of haplotypes previously described by shorter sequences. Population differentiation was substantial between all but two adjacent rookery pairs, and FST values ranged from 0.034 to 0.676 and 0.004 to 0.205 for mtDNA and microsatellite data respectively, suggesting that male-mediated gene flow is not as widespread as previously assumed. We detected weak (FST = 0.008 and 0.006) but significant differentiation with microsatellites between the two population pairs that were indistinguishable with mtDNA data. POWSIM analysis showed that our mtDNA marker had very low statistical power to detect weak structure (FST \ 0.005), while our microsatellite marker array had high power. We conclude that the weak differentiation detected with microsatellites reflects a fine scale level of demographic independence that warrants recognition, and that all nine of the nesting colonies should be considered as demographically independent populations for conservation. Our findings illustrate the importance of evaluating the power of specific genetic markers to detect structure in order to correctly identify the appropriate population units to conserve.
Artificial reefs are increasingly used worldwide as a method for managing recreational diving since they have the potential to satisfy both conservation goals and economic interests. In order to help maximize their utility, further information is needed to drive the design of stimulating resources for scuba divers. We used a questionnaire survey to explore divers’ perceptions of artificial reefs in Barbados. In addition, we examined reef resource substitution behaviour among scuba divers. Divers expressed a clear preference for large shipwrecks or sunken vessels that provided a themed diving experience. Motives for diving on artificial reefs were varied, but were dominated by the chance of viewing concentrated marine life, increased photographic opportunities, and the guarantee of a ‘good dive’. Satisfaction with artificial reef diving was high amongst novices and declined with increasing experience. Experienced divers had an overwhelming preference for natural reefs. As a management strategy, our results emphasize the capacity of well designed artificial reefs to contribute towards the management of coral reef diving sites and highlight a number of important areas for future research. Suggested work should validate the present findings in different marine tourism settings and ascertain support of artificial reefs in relationship to level of diver specialization.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important tool for marine conservation and management; monitoring plays a critical role in managing these MPAs. Monitoring provides the essential information required to
make management decisions and determine if the decisions are working. Without monitoring, managers are essentially operating in the dark! This book was written in response to requests from many managers of MPAs from around the world who asked for advice on how to design and implement monitoring programs that can help them manage their MPAs more effectively.
The goals of this book are to:
- Demonstrate how monitoring can play a major role in the effective management of MPAs;
- Provide advice on which monitoring programs to use to facilitate effective management; and
- Demonstrate how monitoring has played an important role in the effective management of MPAs using case studies from around the world.
Coral reefs around the world are at risk from many threats including global warming causing coral bleaching, over-fishing or destructive fishing, pollution by sediments, nutrients and toxic chemicals, coral mining
and shoreline development, and unregulated tourism. Monitoring the ecology of the reefs and the socio- economics of the people is the only way to understand the extent, nature and causes of the damage, and to identify ways to address these threats.
How can monitoring assist in the effective management of MPAs? Monitoring assists through the following tasks:
- Resource Assessment and Mapping
- Resource Status and Long-Term Trends
- Status and Long-Term Trends of User Groups
- Impacts of Large-Scale Disturbances
- Impacts of Human Activities
- Performance Evaluation and Adaptive Management
- Education and Awareness Raising
- Building Resilience into MPAs
- Contributing to Regional and Global Networks
This book will provide practical advice on how to design and implement ecological and socio-economic monitoring programs aimed at addressing these issues. Many useful references are included at the back along with Internet sites.
We have used case studies from around the world to illustrate how others have used monitoring to assist them in managing MPAs. There are many useful lessons from these case studies and all contain recommendations for other MPA managers.
The book provides information on many of the organisations involved in coral reef monitoring and management, along with the recommendations on coral reef monitoring and information processing from the recent ITMEMS2 (International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, 2003) meeting, which featured MPA managers from all over the world.
This is Version 1 of the book being released at the World Parks Congress in Durban South Africa, September 2003. Our intention is to keep it alive and continually update it. This copy will be lodged on the www.reefbase.org, www.gcrmn.org and www.aims.gov.au websites where we want to continually update it for use by MPA managers to improve their management and conservation of coral reefs.