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Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation

Abstract

Ocean acidification, climate change, overfishing, and coastal development are endangering coral reefs across the globe. In Bocas del Toro, Panamá, coral reefs are especially threatened by the rapid growth in tourism and the subsequent anthropogenic effects caused by an increased human presence. To evaluate reef condition in this area, a study comparing percent coverage of live and dead coral as well as the diversity of marine Animalia organisms was conducted at one reef site in Big Creek beach and one reef site in Boca del Drago, Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro. It was predicted that dead coral cover would be greater than live coral cover at both sites, and marine Animalia diversity would differ between sites and depend on coral reef condition. Percent coverage of live and dead coral was determined using counts from a 1x1m2 quadrat with cross hairs, and compared within each site utilizing an equal variance two-tailed t-test. Marine organisms at each site were counted using the same 1x1m2 quadrat with cross hairs, and their diversity calculated and compared through the Shannon-Wiener Biodiversity Index, the Evenness index, the Jaccard Index, and the Effective Number of Species unit. Results showed that while Boca del Drago had a higher percent coverage of live coral than did Big Creek beach, the percent coverage of dead coral was still significantly higher than that of live coral at both reef sites. The diversity of marine Animalia organisms was higher at the Boca del Drago reef, but was not correlated with the higher percent coverage of live coral observed. Further research is needed to determine the reason behind this increased diversity at the Boca del Drago site.

Disciplines

Aquaculture and Fisheries | Community-Based Research | Environmental Health | Environmental Studies | Latin American Studies | Marine Biology | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

 

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