• Coral reef populations in the Caribbean: is there a case for better protection against climate change?

      Crabbe, M. James C.; University of Bedfordshire (Scientific Research Publishing, 2013-06)
      Knowledge of factors that are important in coral reef growth help us to understand how reef ecosystems react following major environmental disturbances due to climate change and other anthropogenic effects. This study shows that despite a range of anthropogenic stressors, corals on the fringing reefs south of Kingston harbour, as well as corals on fringing reefs on the north coast of Jamaica near Discovery Bay can survive and grow. Skewness values for Sidastrea siderea and Porites astreoides were positive (0.85 1.64) for all sites, implying more small colonies than large colonies. Coral growth rates are part of a demographic approach to monitoring coral reef health in times of climate change, and linear extension rates (mm.yr-1) of Acropora palmata branching corals at Dairy Bull, Rio Bueno, and Pear Tree Bottom on the north coast of Jamaica were c. 50 90 mm.year-1 from 2005-2012. The range of small-scale rugosities at the Port Royal cay sites studied was lower than that at the Discovery Bay sites; for example Rio Bueno was 1.05 ± 0.15 and Dairy Bull the most rugose at 2.3 ± 0.16. Diary Bull reef has for several years been the fringing reef with the most coral cover, with a benthic community similar to that of the 1970s. We discuss whether Jamaica can learn from methods used in other Caribbean countries to better protect its coral reefs against climate change. Establishing and maintaining fully-protected marine parks in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean is one tool to help the future of the fishing industry in developing countries. Developing MPAs as part of an overall climate change policy for a country may be the best way of integrating climate change into MPA planning, management, and evaluation.
    • The influence of extreme climate events on models of coral colony recruitment and survival in the Caribbean

      Crabbe, M. James C. (Scientific Research Publishing, 2012)
      Knowledge of coral recruitment patterns helps us understand how reefs react following major disturbances and provides us with an early warning system for predicting future reef health problems. We have reconstructed and interpreted historical and modern-day recruitment patterns, using growth modeling, in order to understand how hurricanes, storms and bleaching events have influenced coral recruitment in the Caribbean. The results indicate that regional hurricane events negatively impact coral recruitment patterns in the Caribbean, from the south in Tobago to more northerly areas in Belize and Jamaica. However, despite multiple large-scale disturbances, corals are still recruiting to marginal reef systems, and to the Mesoamerican Barrier reef off the coast of Belize. While recruitment and initial growth since the Caribbean-wide bleaching event of 2005 has been successful for Colpophylia natans at the sites studied in North Jamaica, medium and large sized colonies of this species have decreased in numbers since the bleaching event at most sites, except where the rugosity is highest, at Dairy Bull reef.