Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Terrestrial degradation impacts on coral reef health: evidence from the Caribbean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Coral reefs are in decline worldwide. While coral reef managers are limited in their ability to tackle global challenges, such as ocean warming, managing local threats can increase the resilience of coral reefs to these global threats. One such local threat is high sediment inputs to coastal waters due to terrestrial over-grazing. Increases in terrestrial sediment input into coral reefs are associated with increased coral mortality, reduced growth rates, and changes in species composition, as well as alterations to fish communities. We used general linear models to investigate the link between vegetation ground cover and tree biomass index, within a dry-forest ecosystem, to coral cover, fish communities and visibility in the case study site of Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands. We found a positive relationship between ground cover and coral cover below 10m depth, and a negative relationship between tree biomass index and coral cover below 10m. Greater ground cover is associated to sediment anchored through root systems, and higher surface complexity, slowing water flow, which would otherwise transport sediment. The negative relationship between tree biomass index and coral cover is unexpected, and may be a result of the deep roots associated with dry-forest trees, due to limited availability of water, which therefore do not anchor surface sediment, or contribute to surface complexity. Our analysis provides evidence that coral reef managers could improve reef health through engaging in terrestrial ecosystem protection, for example by taking steps to reduce grazing pressures, or in restoring degraded forest ecosystems.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
StateAccepted/In press - 13 Sep 2017

    Research areas

  • Sediment, Environmental conservation, Dry forest, Island ecosystems, Bonaire

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Low and annually variable migratory connectivity in a long distance migrant: Whinchats Saxicola rubetra may show a bet-hedging strategy

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W. 18 Jul 2017 In : Ibis. 159, 4, p. 902-918

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Estimating the Irish public's willingness to pay for more sustainable salmon produced by integrated multi-trophic aquaculture

    van Osch, S., Hynes, S., O’Higgins, T., Hanley, N., Campbell, D. & Freeman, S. 3 Aug 2017 In : Marine Policy. 84, p. 220-227 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Pesticides and bees: ecological-economic modelling of bee populations on farmland

    Kleczkowski, A., Ellis, C., Hanley, N. & Goulson, D. 14 Jul 2017 In : Ecological Modelling. 360, p. 53-62 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management

    Williams, R., Wright, A. J., Ashe, E., Blight, L. K., Bruintjes, R., Canessa, R., Clark, C. W., Cullis-Suzuki, S., Dakin, D. T., Erbe, C., Hammond, P. S., Merchant, M. D., O'Hara, P. D., Purser, J., Radford, A. N., Simpson, S. D., Thomas, L. & Wale, M. A. Oct 2015 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 115, p. 17-24

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. The modelling and assessment of whale-watching impacts

    New, L. F., Hall, A. J., Harcourt, R., Kaufman, G., Parsons, E. C. M., Pearson, H. C., Cosentino, A. M. & Schick, R. S. Oct 2015 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 115, p. 10-16

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Approaches to knowledge sharing and capacity building: The role of local information systems in marine and coastal management

    Stojanovic, T., Green, D. R. & Lymbery, G. Dec 2010 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 53, 12, p. 805-815 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Acoustic mapping of fish aggregation areas to improve fisheries management in Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama

    Harper, S. J. M., Bates, C. R., Guzman, H. M. & Mair, J. M. Oct 2010 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 53, 10, p. 615-623 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 251061650