Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

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

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

DOI

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
Pages (from-to)52-68
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Volume149
Early online date26 Sep 2017
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Nov 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. Temperature and aridity determine body size conformity to Bergmann’s rule independent of latitudinal differences in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, I., Kwanye, B. & Cresswell, W. R. L. 26 May 2018 (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Ornithology.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W. 2 May 2018 In : Ibis. Early View

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Population consequences of migratory variability differ between flyways

    Patchett, R., Finch, T. & Cresswell, W. 23 Apr 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 8, p. R340-R341

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Related by journal

  1. Developing methodologies for large scale wave and tidal stream marine renewable energy extraction and its environmental impact: an overview of the TeraWatt project

    Side, J., Gallego, A., James, M. A., Davies, I., Heath, M., Karunarathna, H., Venugopal, V., Vögler, A. & Burrows, M. 1 Oct 2017 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 147, p. 1-5

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. 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: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  3. 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: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  4. 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: Research - peer-reviewArticle

ID: 251061650