Scientific Monitoring: Results and Recommendations
Sustainable Ecosystems Institute 2002
SEI’s latest scientific results from the Marine Reserve of St. Barthelemy point to the early success of the Reserve in restoring groupers and other fish species. Corals remain healthy and show an increasing trend, but algal cover is also up.
To view previous reports and a general summary of SEI's project at the Marine Reserve of St. Barthelemy, click here.
1. This report documents the scientific results of 2001 monitoring in The Marine Reserve of St. Barthelemy, and evaluates the results in the context of recent findings on marine reserves generally. Finally, the report recommends scientific research that will support the Reserve’s mission.
2. Fish abundance has increased significantly since the Reserve was formed, with most of the change coming in the past three years. Fish density tripled at Pain de Sucre. Groupers (Serranidae), wrasse (Labridae) and damselfish (Pomacentridae) have increased in the reserve.
3. Corals cover between 30-40% of the substrate, and there is a wide mix of coral species. Since the reserve was formed corals have increased in abundance at Les Gros Islets site.
4. Fleshy algae, sponges and zoanthids have increased significantly within the Reserve. For instance, algae now cover close to a quarter of the substrate (up from a mean of less than 5% in 1996). This result is noteworthy because algae have replaced corals on many degraded reefs in the Caribbean and globally. Further monitoring is needed to determine if this is cause for concern in St. Barths.
5. The results from The Marine Reserve of St. Barthelemy indicate that the Reserve is beginning to meet its goal of restoration and recovery of fish and marine life. Results are in keeping with recent findings on marine reserves generally. For instance, other studies have noted a time lag between the establishment of a reserve and an increase in the abundance of fish. Similarly, groupers have responded well to marine reserves in other studies.
6. Reserve networks are recognized as an important way of enhancing the effectiveness of small reserves. The Marine Reserve of St. Barthelemy, because it consists of a series of discrete zones within a matrix of non-reserve areas, could be viewed as a reserve network. This should be explored.
7. We recommend: