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CERMES Technical Reports
Full contents of 98 technical reports 2006-2021. CERMES is the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, with headquarters at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados
Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program
The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program champions coral reef conservation and empowers those who protect these diverse ecosystems. We are an international collaboration of scientists, managers, and supporters aimed at improving the regional condition of reefs in the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. For 20 years, AGRRA has used an innovative regional approach to examine the condition of reef-building corals, algae and fishes and support the conservation of coral reef ecosystems. We curate and distribute data, research and educational materials that support this mission.
The demise of a major Acropora palmata bank–barrier reef of the southeast coast of Barbados, West Indies
I. G. Macintyre · P. W. Glynn · M. A. Toscano. Coral Reefs 26(4):765-773 “Formerly attributed to human activity, the demise of a bank–barrier reef off southeastern Barbados known as Cobbler’s Reef is now thought to be largely the result of late Holocene, millennial-scale storm damage. Eleven surface samples of the reef crest coral Acropora palmata from nine sites along its 15-km length plot above the western Atlantic sea-level curve from 3,000 to 4,500 cal years ago (calibrated, calendar 14C years). These elevated clusters suggest that the reef complex suffered extensive storm damage during this period. The constant heavy wave action typical of this area and consequent low herbivory maintain conditions favoring algal growth, thereby limiting the reestablishment of post-storm reef framework. Site descriptions and detailed line surveys show a surface now composed mainly of reworked fragments of A. palmata covered with algal turf, macroalgae and crustose coralline algae. The reef contains no live A. palmata and only a few scattered coral colonies consisting primarily of Diploria spp. and Porites astreoides, along with the hydrocoral Millepora complanata. A few in situ framework dates plot at expected depths for normal coral growth below the sea-level curve during and after the period of intense storm activity. The most recent of these in situ samples are 320 and 400 cal years old. Corals of this late period likely succumbed to high turbidity associated with land clearance for sugarcane agriculture in the mid-1600s.”
Jackson JBC, Donovan MK, Cramer KL, Lam VV (editors). (2014) Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs:1970-2012. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
Newly dominant benthic invertebrates reshape competitive networks on contemporary Caribbean reefs
Ladd, Mark C et al., 2019.Coral Reefs; Heidelberg Vol. 38, Iss. 6, (Dec 2019): 1317-1328. DOI:10.1007/s00338-019-01832-6
Competition is a fundamental process structuring ecological communities. On coral reefs, space is a highly contested resource and the outcomes of spatial competition can dictate community composition. In the Caribbean, reefs are increasingly dominated by non-scleractinian species like sponges, gorgonians, and zoanthids, yet there is a paucity of data on interactions between these increasingly common organisms and historically dominant corals. Here, we investigated interactions among these groups of sessile benthic invertebrates to better understand the role of spatial competition in shaping benthic communities on Caribbean reefs. We coupled surveys of competitive interactions on the reef with a common garden competition experiment to determine the frequency and outcome of interference competition among eight focal species. We found that competitive interactions were pervasive on Florida reefs, with 60% of sessile benthic invertebrates interacting with at least one other invertebrate. Increasingly common non-scleractinian species were some of the most abundant taxa and consistently outcompeted the contemporarily common scleractinian species Porites porites and Siderastrea siderea. The encrusting gorgonian, Erythropodium caribaeorum, was the most aggressive species, reducing the live area of its competitors on average 42% ± 7.04 (SE) over the course of 5 months. Surprisingly, the most aggressive species declined in size when competing, while some less aggressive species were able to increase or maintain area, suggesting a trade-off between aggressiveness and growth. Our findings suggest that competition among sessile invertebrates is likely to remain an important process in structuring coral reefs, but that the optimal strategies for maintaining space on the benthos may change. Importantly, many non-scleractinian species that now dominate reefs appear to be superior competitors, potentially increasing the stress on corals on contemporary reefs.
Rise of aggressive reef predator may impede sea urchin recovery, study finds
Scripps 2017 “A new study suggests that an aggressive reef competitor — the Threespot Damselfish — may have impeded the recovery of Caribbean long-spined sea urchin populations after a mysterious disease outbreak caused a massive die-off of these animals over three decades ago.” references :Katie L. Cramer, Aaron O’Dea, Carolina Carpenter, Richard D. Norris. A 3000 year record of Caribbean reef urchin communities reveals causes and consequences of long-term decline in Diadema antillarum. Ecography, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02513
Overgrowth of Caribbean octocorals by milleporid hydrocorals
Chelsey Wegener et al., 2017. Invertebrate Biology x(x): 1–9.”There are 15 species of Millepora on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic (http://www.marinespec ies.org, accessed May 22, 2017), where they can function as primary hermatypes because of their capacity to rapidly calcify (Lewis 2006). In some habitats, they aggressively acquire space (Lewis 2006), including on top of scleractinians (Chornesky 1991; Dube et al. 2015) and octocorals (Wahle 1980; de Weerdt 1981), thereby functioning as structural parasites (sensu Gambrel & Lasker 2016).”
Atlantic Acropora status review
Growth dynamics in Acropora cervicornis and A. prolifera in southwest Puerto Rico
E. Weil et al., 2020. Published online 2020 Feb 11. doi: 10.7717/peerj.8435
Occupation Dynamics and Impacts of Damselfish Territoriality on Recovering Populations of the Threatened Staghorn Coral, Acropora cervicornis
Stephanie A Schopmeyer & Diego Lirman PLoS One 2015 Nov 18;10(11)
Fossil Acropora prolifera (lamarck, 1816) Reveals Coral Hybridization Is Not Only a Recent Phenomenon
William F. Precht et al., 2019 Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (2019) 132 (1): 40–55. PDF available