Coral Reef Populations in the Caribbean: Is There a Case for Better Protection against Climate Change?


Knowledge of factors that are important in coral reef growth help us to understand how reef ecosystems react following major environmental disturbances due to climate change and other anthropogenic effects. This study shows that despite a range of anthropogenic stressors, corals on the fringing reefs south of Kingston harbour, as well as corals on fringing reefs on the north coast of Jamaica near Discovery Bay can survive and grow. Skewness values for Sidastrea siderea and Porites astreoides were positive (0.85 - 1.64) for all sites, implying more small colonies than large colonies. Coral growth rates are part of a demographic approach to monitoring coral reef health in times of climate change, and linear extension rates (mm.yr-1) of Acropora palmata branching corals at Dairy Bull, Rio Bueno, and Pear Tree Bottom on the north coast of Jamaica were c. 50 - 90 mm.year-1 from 2005-2012. The range of small-scale rugosities at the Port Royal cay sites studied was lower than that at the Discovery Bay sites; for example Rio Bueno was 1.05 ± 0.15 and Dairy Bull the most rugose at 2.3 ± 0.16. Diary Bull reef has for several years been the fringing reef with the most coral cover, with a benthic community similar to that of the 1970s. We discuss whether Jamaica can learn from methods used in other Caribbean countries to better protect its coral reefs against climate change. Establishing and maintaining fully-protected marine parks in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean is one tool to help the future of the fishing industry in developing countries. Developing MPAs as part of an overall climate change policy for a country may be the best way of integrating climate change into MPA planning, management, and evaluation.

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M. Crabbe, "Coral Reef Populations in the Caribbean: Is There a Case for Better Protection against Climate Change?," American Journal of Climate Change, Vol. 2 No. 2, 2013, pp. 97-105. doi: 10.4236/ajcc.2013.22010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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