Benthic community and environmental analysis of Scleractinian coral habitat in Tela Bay, Honduras

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  • Coral reef degradation and loss of coral species is occurring at increasing rates throughout the world's oceans, where corals are faced with the effects of a destructive combination of natural and anthropogenic stressors. Overfishing, tourism, extraction of fossil fuels, coral mining, increased CO2 emissions from industry, and climate change all contribute to this, and a greater understanding of coral ecology is needed. It was the goal of this study to characterize benthic communities and the environmental parameters that have the potential to influence community structure of a healthy population of Scleractinian coral species in Tela Bay, Honduras (hard coral coverage as high as 80%), and then compare that area to a less healthy, but typical (coverage of 17%), reef nearby. Data collections took place from June 18-July 26, 2014 at the Tela Marine Research Centre and represent the first analysis of these unique reef systems. There were distinct differences between the reefs, including reef depth; turbidity levels; and sedimentation rates. Three transects at 5 different dive sites on the main reef at 10m and 15m and then three transects at a nearby reef of 3 sites at 5m were conducted to determine coral and macroalgae cover, relative abundance, species diversity, and dominant species. Results of low turbidity and high sediment may have an important role in reef protection and resilience in regard to anthropogenic influences. Assessment of the benthic community and the environmental conditions can then determine which parameters in particular are helping to shape this reef community where the Scleractinian species in Tela Bay are doing so well.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International