Volume 58

Evaluating Artificial Means to Increase Acropora Coral Populations and Increase Associated Fish Communities in Jamaica

Quinn, N.A., B.L. Kojis
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Date: November, 2005

Pages: 29-34

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Eighth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres

Country: Colombia


Shallow water Acropora species were nearly extirpated on Jamaican reefs in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. They remain uncommon on Jamaican reefs today. With the loss of acroporids from hurricanes and disease and the reduction of grazers from disease and over fishing, macroalgae have proliferated on Jamaican reefs. Restoration of acroporids has been proposed to increase reef complexity and to assist fishers by increasing fish populations through the improvement of essential fish habitat on the reefs. Comparative fish counts on similar reefs with and without A. cervicornis populations demonstrate higher fish diversity and abundance, on reefs with A. cervicornis populations. Since June 2004, we have been involved with Jamaican fishers, hotel operators and environmental groups to increase the biomass of A. cervicornis and the complexity of reef habitat. With localized protection of these restored reefs we anticipate an increase in fish abundance which should result in greater fish catches for subsistence fishers. However, the potential for Acropora spp. to naturally recover should be examined before efforts to restore them are undertaken. Efforts to transplant or restore acroporids are very expensive and unnecessary if they have the natural capacity to recover. We have observed juvenile colony recruitment of A. palmata and A. prolifera on Jamaican reefs, but recruitment of A. cervicornis was rarely observed.. While A. palmata and A. prolifera are showing signs of recovery, it appears that the long-term survival of A. cervicornis is threatened by lack of successful larval recruitment. This study assessed methods of restoring A. cervicornis populations in selected habitats. Experimental transplants using several techniques were attempted to develop a suitable technology for restoring A. cervicornis populations. In one technique the mean survivorship after 55 weeks was > 60% with a high growth rate.

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