Volume 57

Status of Acropora palmata Populations off the Coast of South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands

Schelten, C.; Brown, S.; Gurbisz, C.B.; Kautz, B.; Lentz, J.A.
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Date: November, 2004

Pages: 665-678

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

City: St. Petersburg, Florida

Country: USA


This study is the first detailed assessment of A. palmata populations of the Turks and Caicos Islands. A total of 203 individual colonies and 62 thickets were tagged on five shallow reefs. Depth, percentages of living tissue, recent mortality and old skeleton were estimated. Presence of disease and predatory snails was noted, and disease spread and grazing rates of the snails estimated. Colonies were found in depths of 0.2 - 4 m. Living tissue for individual colonies (75.9% ± 2.2 SE) was significantly greater than for thickets (58.6% ± 3.6) and in both cases exceeded old skeleton (individuals: 22.7% ± 2.1 SE, thickets: 38.0% ± 3.4 SE). Percentage of recent mortality was very low (individuals: 1.3% ± 0.3 SE, thickets: 3.4% ± 0.7%). We found WBD (n = 2), white pox disease a (WPDa) (n = 7) and white pox disease b (WPDb) (n = 14) with greatly varying spreading rates. The WBD infected colonies showed an atypical spread from the top of the branch towards the base. Coralliophila abbreviata and C. caribaea affected 3 .7 54.7% of the populations (grazing rate: 4.29 cm 2 /day/snail ± 1.16 SE). South Caicos’ A. palmata populations are still in good condition, though increasing human disturbances combined with disease and predatory snails may threaten these populations.

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