Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Biology

College

College of Science

First Advisor

Erin J. Burge

Abstract/Description

The long-spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, is a well-studied keystone herbivore on Caribbean coral reefs. The sea urchin controls benthic algae populations by grazing on macroalgae. Destruction caused by Hurricane Allen in 1980, along with the mass mortality of this urchin in 1983, greatly impacted Caribbean reef systems. In Discovery Bay, Jamaica, Diadema densities have been heavily studied over the years, allowing a review of their recovery and a prediction of their future. In Discovery Bay, densities were recorded to be up to 9.3 and 13.9 ± 2.8 m-2 at 5 m depth on the forereef before the mass mortality. After this event, values were found to be zero, or nearly zero, at multiple depths up until the mid 19902. Diadema have shown a recovery in numbers as densities in the late 2000s ranged between 3.94 ± 0.68 and 4.39 ± 0.4 m-2 at 4 – 6 m depth. In most of the wider Caribbean, recovery has been absent with values in many locations still nearly zero, with the exception of St. Croix and Dominica. We predict that Diadema densities will continue to increase in the future, but the rate will be slower than that recorded over the past 27 years.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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