Recovery, Resiliency and Reggae: Is the Discovery Bay, Jamaica Coral Reef Ecosystem Recovered and Able to Withstand Natural Perturbations?

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Benthic cover and herbivore abundances on the Discovery Bay, Jamaica coral reef were measured in the 1990s by Aronson and Precht (2000). They found that Diadema, which were significantly reduced by mass mortality in the 1980s, returned to the reef after 1996 with a resultant reduction in macroalgae cover. We conducted identical, annual diver surveys of the same area of the reef from 2012-2016 in order to determine if the reef remained in this “recovered” state, that is: were the Diadema able to keep macroalgae in check? Spoiler alert: yes, they were. In addition to the reduced macroalgae cover, live coral cover in 2012-2016 was approximately five times larger than before the recovery (1993-1996). Between the 2012 and 2013 site visits, there was a reduction in Diadema abundance, possibly due to the passing of Hurricane Sandy. Our data show that while macroalgae coverage increased in this period, the Discovery Bay reef Diadema population was able to recover quickly from this perturbation.


Benthic Ecology Meeting (BEM)


Portland, ME