Description: Installation of Thickets with coral colonies of Acropora cervicornis grown in SAM farms.

Sponsor: Marine Environment Society

Community Project for Coral Aquaculture and Reef Rehabilitation in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Description: The Coral Reef Aquaculture and Reef Rehabilitation Community Project in Culebra, Puerto Rico. This project has as its main goal the propagation of A. cervicornis through the use of low-tech and low-cost methods, and through the direct participation of the base communities.

Sponsor: Marine Environment Society

Demographic Dynamics Of The Common Demosponge Ircinia felix

Description: Sponges are one of the principal benthic components of Caribbean coral reefs. Despite the fact that they have multiple functional roles, little is known about their demography and ecology. For this reason, this study focuses on the demography of the common demosponge Ircinia felix in Tamarindo Bay, Culebra, Puerto Rico. Preliminary studies comparing size structure of two populations within Tamarindo Bay, Tamarindo North and Tamarindo South, indicate that sponges at TN are significantly larger than sponges at TS. These data served as baseline for the present comparative study in which we aim to determine whether such spatial differences in population size structure can be explained by differences in rates of survival, growth, and/or recruitment.

Sponsor: Marine Environment Society

Building resiliency in the Puerto Rico Northeast Reserves by reducing recreational impacts, addressing land-based sources of pollution (LBSPs), and restoring coral reef habitats.

Description: The Northeast Reserves (NER) including the island of Culebra support important coastal ecosystems that help to sustain human livelihoods, recreational usage, a high biodiversity, and are therefore vital for the economic growth in the region. Nonetheless, over the past several decades, the region has experienced a significant decline in coastal and marine habitats, particularly coral reefs, due to anthropogenic impacts including poorly planned coastal development, land-based sources of pollution (LBSP), overfishing and climate change impacts. In response to these challenges this effort will improve the prognosis for the sustained health of coral reefs and seagrasses.

Sponsor: NOAA-HBP Program

Ecosystem-level impacts of community-based coral reef rehabilitation in light of rapidly evolving ecological paradigms

Description: This project is aimed at addressing two critical management-oriented questions: 1) What is the impact of coral reef rehabilitation on the ecosystem-level functions and resilience?; and 2) What are the impacts of land-based source pollution (LBSP) on the ecosystem level outcomes of coral reef restoration? This will be addressed this through long-term monitoring of four separate cohorts (0, 1, 2, 3 year-old) of out-planted Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, colonies. Specifically, we will address temporal changes in several environmental parameters directly or potentially impacted by LBSP and climate change, and addressing impacts of ecological restoration on fish community structure, fish recruitment rates, fish and macro-invertebrate herbivore guilds, benthic community structure, and coral recruitment rates within the no-take Canal Luis Peña Natural Reserve, Culebra Island, PR.

Sponsor: Sea Grant College Program, Omnibus Proposals Program

Actual status and trends of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), Staghorn coral (A. cervicornis), and Star corals (Orbicella annularis, O. faveolata, O. franksi) across the Northeast Reserves System and Culebra Island, Puerto Rico

Description: Coral reefs are rapidly declining on a global scale due to a combination of local-scale anthropogenic factors and large-scale climate change impacts that have resulted in recurrent massive coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality events. Such changes have become highly significant across the wider Caribbean region, including Puerto Rico (PR), and have produced unparalleled coral mortality and no net signs of significant recovery for many species. In contrast, most reefs are showing permanent regime shifts in community structure and trajectory, which often result in a long-term loss in ecosystem resilience, socio-economic value, and net functions, goods, benefits and services. This has prompted the designation of several coral species across the U.S. Caribbean as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Sponsor: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Addressing land based sources of pollution and restoring reefs through coral farming in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Description:Coral and invertebrate removal and relocation at Paseo de la Real Marina, Aguadilla Bay, Puerto Rico – Mitigation Phase II

Sponsor: NOAA-CRCP

Coral and invertebrate removal and relocation at Paseo de la Real Marina, Aguadilla Bay, Puerto Rico – Mitigation Phase II

Description: The Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority was authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) to commence work on the project Paseo de la Real Marina (SAJ- 1998-5365 (IP-DD), Aguadilla, PR, in February 21, 2006. Permit was eventually transferred to the Autonomous Municipality of Aguadilla. The project consists of the construction of a riprap revetment and development of recreational facilities along a 2.14 km long section of the waterfront of the Aguadilla harbor. Approximately 7.4 acres of shoreline will be filled along the waterfront. During Phase II of the project construction activities will impact a total of 798 linear meters of shoreline from which coral colonies in excess of 4”-diameter (10 cm) will be removed from the project footprint area or the bottom immediately adjacent to it, and relocated to an adjacent reef area non-directly impacted by the project construction.

Sponsor: Adm. Muncipal Aguadilla

Long-term monitoring of coral transplanting and marine invertebrate relocation at Aguadilla Bay, Puerto Rico

Description: This project consists of periodic in situ qualitative inspection and quantitative evaluation of the coral out-planting work performed in the project Paseo Real Marina in Aguadilla, PR through the total time period of the construction activities plus three additional years after completing all coral relocation work in compliance with Special condition 3(a)(2)v of USACOE permit No. SAJ-1998-5365 (IP-DD), and in compliance with Sections 3.1.2.11 and 3.1.2.12 of the protocol approved by USACOE and NMFS.

Sponsor: Adm. Muncipal Aguadilla

Lionfish impacts on fish communities: The role of community-based experimental removal and fishing management

Description: Lionfishes have become species of great concern because of their predatory habits and rapid expansion through the wider Caribbean region. There is mounting evidence of their voracious effects upon small-sized fish species and upon the juvenile stage of multiple fish species, including many commercially-important groups. However, it is still important that impacts by lionfishes are critically addressed, particularly along shallow fish nursery ground areas, in order to establish basic, community-based, strategies to manage and control these invasions.

Sponsor: DRNA

Effects of depth change on coral cultivation

Description: Given the marked population decline of the deer horn coral, the poor natural recovery of this species and the decrease in associated organisms throughout the Caribbean region, human intervention is necessary and imperative to establish restoration, sustainability and therefore recovery of this reef system. Numerous initiatives in order to restore deer horn coral populations have been developed throughout the Caribbean. SAM has been a pioneer in this field, being the first working group to propose and establish coral farms where deer horn corals are grown, harvested and transplanted with the purpose of rehabilitating populations in their natural environment.

Sponsor: Toyota Foundation, Ford Foundation

Slowly-evolving Ramicrusta textilis (Peyssonneliaceae, Rhodophyta) invasions – Is it a driver of net shifts in Caribbean coral reef ecosystem functions?

Description: This project is aimed at addressing five management-oriented questions: 1) What is the impact of the red encrusting algae, Ramicrusta textilis, invasion of Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, biotopes on colony level dynamics (i.e.,coral skeletal extension rate, bioerosion rate, tissue regeneration ability)?; 2) What is the impact of coral tissue lesions and R. textilis invasion on A. cervicornis demographic dynamics and population projections?; 3) What is the impact of R. textilis invasion on coral reef ecosystem-level processes (coral recruitment, shifting fish community structure)?; 4) What is R. textilis turnover rate and how it can impact algal diversity and productivity?; 5) How is micro-scale water quality impacted under R. textilis canopy? These questions will be addressed through a combination of field experiments and targeted monitoring approaches. 

Sponsor: University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Omnibus Proposals Program