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The goals and objectives of this project are:
- To spatially characterize and monitor the
distribution, abundance, and size of both reef fishes
and macro-invertebrates (conch, lobster, Diadema);
- To relate this information to in-situ data
collected on water quality and associated habitat parameters;
- To use this information to establish the
knowledge base necessary for enacting management decisions
in a spatial setting;
- To establish the efficacy of those management
- To work with the National Coral Reef Monitoring
Program to develop data collection standards and easily
implemented methodologies for transference to other agencies
and to work toward standardizing data collection throughout
the US states and territories.
To achieve the above objectives, the CCMA's Biogeography Branch (BB) has been working since 2000 in the US Virgin Islands
and Puerto Rico. It is critical, with recent changes in management
at both locations (e.g. implementation of MPAs) as well as
proposed changes (e.g. zoning to manage multiple human uses)
that action is taken now to accurately describe and characterize
the fish/macro-invertebrate populations in these areas. It is also important
that BB work closely with the individuals responsible for recommending and
implementing these management strategies. Recognizing this, BB has been collaborating
with partners at the University of Puerto Rico, National Park Service, US
Geological Survey and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural
To quantify patterns of spatial distribution and make meaningful
interpretations, we must first have knowledge of the underlying
variables determining species distribution. The basis for this
work therefore, is the nearshore benthic habitats maps (less
than 100 ft depth) created by NOAA's Biogeography Program in
2001 and NOS' bathymetry models. Using ArcView GIS software,
the digitized habitat maps are stratified to select sampling
stations. Sites are randomly selected within these strata to
ensure coverage of the entire study region and not just a particular
reef or seagrass area. At each site, fish, macro-invertebrates,
and associated water quality and habitat information is then
quantified following standardized protocols see methodology
link below). By relating the data collected in the field back
to the habitat maps and bathymetric models, BB is able to model
and map species level and community level information. These
protocols are standardized throughout the US Caribbean to enable
quantification and comparison of reef fish abundance and distribution
trends between locations. Armed with the knowledge of where "hot
spots" of species richness and diversity are likely to
occur in the seascape, the BB is in a unique position to answer
questions about the efficacy of marine zoning strategies (e.g.
placement of no fishing, anchoring, or snorkeling locations),
and what locations are most suitable for establishing MPAs.
Knowledge of the current status of fish/macro-invertebrate
communities coupled with longer term monitoring will enable
evaluation of management efficacy, thus it is essential to
future management actions.
|Photo Credits: Biogeography Branch
Reports and Publications
- Eakin, C.M., J.A. Morgan, S.F.Heron, T.B.Smith, G. Liu et al. 2010. Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005. PLoS ONE 5(11): e13969. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013969
- Pittman, S.J., S.D. Hile, C.F.G. Jeffrey, R. Clark, K. Woody, B.D. Herlach, C. Caldow, M.E. Monaco, R. Appeldoorn. 2010. Coral reef ecosystems of Reserva Natural La Parguera (Puerto Rico): Spatial and temporal patterns in fish and benthic communities (2001-2007). NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 107. Silver Spring, MD. 202 pp.
- Clark, R., C.F.G. Jeffrey, K. Woody, Z. Hillis-Starr, M. Monaco. 2009. Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Coral Bleaching Around Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Bulletin of Marine Science, 84(2): 167-182, 2009. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for a copy of the article.
- Pittman, S.J., S.D. Hile, C.F.G. Jeffrey, C. Caldow, M.S. Kendall, M.E. Monaco, and Z. Hillis-Starr. 2008. Fish assemblages and benthic habitats of Buck Island Reef National Monument (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands) and the surrounding seascape: A characterization of spatial and temporal patterns. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 71. Silver Spring, MD. 96 pp.
- Monaco, M.E., A.M. Friedlander, C. Caldow, J.D. Christensen, C. Rogers, J. Beets, J. Miller, and R. Boulon. 2007. Characterizing Reef Fish Populations and Habitats within and Outside the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument: A Lesson in MPA Design. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 2007, 14, 33-40. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a digital copy of the report.
- Pittman S.J., Christensen J. Caldow C. Menza C & Monaco M. (2007a). Predictive mapping of fish species richness across shallow-water seascapes of the U.S. Caribbean. Ecological Modelling 204, 9-21. Contact email@example.com for a copy of the report.
- Pittman SJ, Hile SD, Caldow, C & Monaco ME (2007b). Using seascape types to explain the spatial patterns of fish using mangroves in Puerto Rico. Marine Ecology Progress Series 348, 273-284. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the report.
- Pittman, S.J., C. Caldow, S. Davidson Hile, and M.E. Monaco. 2006. Poster: Explaining patterns in abundance of juvenile fish using Caribbean mangroves: a multi-scale seascape approach. 2006. First International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat. Poster Presentation, Miami, Florida, April 19-21, 2006.
- Clark, R., M.E. Monaco, R.S. Appeldoorn, and B. Roque. 2005. Fish habitat utilization in a Puerto Rico coral reef ecosystem. In (R.L. Creswell, Ed.) Proc. 56th Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, British Virgin Islands, November 2003, pages 467-486. Contact email@example.com for a digital copy of the report.
- Jeffrey, C.F.G., R. Clark, K. Woody, C. Menza, C. Caldow, M. Monaco. 2005. Coral bleaching and recovery observed at Buck Island, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, October and December, 2005. Online Biogeography Branch Report, Silver Spring, MD.
- Kendall, M.S., J.D. Christensen, C. Caldow, M. Coyne, C. Jeffrey, M. Monaco, W. Morrison, and Z. Hillis-Starr. 2004. The influence of bottom type and shelf position on biodiversity of tropical fish inside a recently enlarged marine reserve. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 14: 113-132. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a digital copy of the report.
- Christensen, J.D., C. Jeffrey, M.E. Monaco, C. Caldow, M.S. Kendall, and R.S. Appledoorn. 2003. Cross-shelf habitat utilization patterns of reef fishes in southwestern Puerto Rico. Gulf and Caribbean Research 14: 9-27. Contact email@example.com for a digital copy of the report.
- Kendall, M.S., J.D. Christensen, and Z. Hillis-Starr. 2003. Multi-scale data used to analyze the spatial distribution of French grunts, Haemulon flavolineatum, relative to hard and soft bottom in a benthic landscape. Environmental Biology of Fishes 66: 19-26. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a digital copy of the report.
- Monaco, M.E., J.D. Christensen, A.M. Friedlander, M.S. Kendall, and C. Caldow. 2003. Quantifying habitat utilization patterns of U.S. Caribbean and Hawaii reef fish to define marine protected area boundaries: the coupling of GIS and ecology. In Proc. 13th Biennial Coastal Zone Conference, Baltimore, MD, July 13-17, 2003. NOAA/CSC/20322-CD. CD-ROM. Charleston, SC: NOAA Coastal Services Center.
- Trip Summary Reports
- St. John, USVI: July 2005, July 2006, July 2007, July 2008, July 2009, July 2010
- St. Croix, USVI: March 2005, October 2005, April 2006, October 2006, October 2007, March 2008, October 2008, March 2009, October 2009
- Puerto Rico: January 2006, January 2007, August 2007, January 2008, August 2008, January 2009, August 2009
Ongoing: 2000 - Present
For More Information
Project Manager: Kimberly Roberson
1305 East West Highway
Silver Spring , MD 20910
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