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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


In Bocas del Toro, Panamá, widespread tourism has been the main source of revenue and has become an increasing threat to seagrass meadows and the organisms they support. This study aimed to investigate and describe algae and diatom communities under three different regimes of anthropogenic disturbance: high, medium and low human impact. The biodiversity was analyzed by measuring the algae and diatom assemblages with Shannon-Weiner’s Biodiversity Index, Evenness Index and Sorensen’s coefficient. The data obtained from these three diversity indices were compared to the areas along an anthropogenic disturbance gradient of high, medium and low impact. A total of 12 species of algae and 25 genera of diatoms were found using the marine belt transect and quadrat method in triplicate for each site. Analysis showed that in the site with high human impact, the seagrass density was significantly lower, while algae biodiversity and abundance, and diatom biodiversity, were significantly higher. This study demonstrated that algae and diatom communities do, in fact, change in differing human impact sites. Thus, algae and diatoms can be accurate bioindicators of water quality and can be used to limit human impact on seagrass meadows.


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Environmental Studies | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Latin American Studies | Life Sciences | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology | Tourism


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