Page 1

Smithsonian Institution

CCRE REPORT 2011 Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems • National Museum of Natural History

October 2011







Columbus Cay

Mexic o

B e liz e City

Dang rig a


. .

Hutson Cay


Mosquito Cay Sandfly Cay Cross Cay


Garbutt Cay $PMVNCVT3FFG

17º N


5PCBDDP3BOHF Tobacco Cay Guatemala

Coco Plum Cay

Ho n d u ra s


Man-o'-War Cay

88º W

Ragged Cay Twin Cays


South Water Cay

Sittee Point

Carrie Bow Cay $VSMFX#BOL


Stewart Cay Wee Wee Cay


Spruce Cay



Douglas Cay Riversdale

1FMJDBO$BZT Manatee Cay

Jonathan Point

N mag.

Elbow Cays

Quamino Cays

Cat Cay Channel Cay


False Cay Crawl Cay

False Point


Tarpum Cay

5 km

Bakers Rendezvous Rendezvous Cay 88˚15'W

Gladden Cays 88˚05'W


Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program Fort Pierce, FL 34949

October 2011

Table of Contents CCRE News 2011...........................................................................................................................................................1 Flashbacks...........................................................................................................................................................................2 Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................................................5 Research Projects .............................................................................................................................................................6

Biodiversity and its Links to the Ecosystem ...............................................................................................6 Ecology....................................................................................................................................................................9


Species Interaction and Behavior ........................................................................................................................15

Reproduction and Development..........................................................................................................................23

Scientific Diving....................................................................................................................................................17

Species Conservation.................................................................................................................................18 Climate Change..........................................................................................................................................19 Ecological Monitoring...............................................................................................................................24

Contributions 2011 .......................................................................................................................................................30 Participants 2011 ..........................................................................................................................................................31 Photograph & Art Credits ..........................................................................................................................................33

CCRE News 2011 In 2011, the Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems (CCRE) Program made significant contributions towards the Smithsonian’s commitment to understanding global biodiversity. By hosting an impressive number of scientific visitors, undergoing major infrastructure improvements, and initiating program-sponsored reef monitoring efforts, the CCRE program and its Carrie Bow Cay field station are well-positioned for a successful future. 2011 was a very busy year on Carrie Bow Cay, with 94 scientific visitors logging an impressive 1226 visitor days. Numerous groups of students, teachers, and tourists visited as well, and were treated to station tours and demonstrations by visiting scientists and station managers. Station tours are having a large impact on outreach efforts, as the station hosted close to 2,000 individual visitors this year. CCRE visiting scientists continue to produce noteworthy scientific publications. The program’s contribution list surpassed 900 scientific publications in 2011, and is currently at 912. Infrastructure improvements on Carrie Bow Cay have improved the island’s power effeciency, enhanced dive operations, and reduced its ecological footprint. A new marine-grade diesel generator capable of 10kw of output was purchased and installed. Additionally, station manager Zach Foltz worked to add new, high output solar panels and upgraded the inverter system. These improvements greatly increased the photo-voltaic system’s efficiency and output, decreasing the island’s dependence on the generator, which is now only needed to supplement power to run the seawater pumps, or other electrical devices as needed. In addition to the generator, the station also acquired and installed a new breathing air compressor for SCUBA tank fills. The new unit is an offshore-grade compressor that boasts greater reliability and an increased fill rate compared to the previous unit. Lastly, in an effort to reduce the station’s impact on the reef, new outhouse buildings with composting toilets were installed on the island. These facilities reduce the island’s footprint and while setting a good example for the numerous public visitors the station receives. CCRE program staff have begun collaborative reef monitoring efforts with exciting potential outcomes. A long term reef monitoring program has been started in an attempt to assess the effects of the new South Water Caye Marine Reserve that surrounds Carrie Bow Cay. CCRE staff and collaborators from the New England Aquarium established 24 permanent transects in May 2011, and will continue to survey them bi-annually. In addition, Smithsonian Endowment funds were secured to start a demographic study of threatened Acropora spp. corals. These corals are vitally important reef-builders, yet very basic questions about their populations remain unanswered. These monitoring efforts fit nicely with the continuing efforts of the CARICOMP program and are designed to complement with similar monitoring efforts elsewhere in the Caribbean. The Carrie Bow Cay Field Station has already contributed to, and will continue to play an important role in the Smithsonian Institution’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. Research and outreach activities at Carrie Bow Cay are especially important for addressing the Grand Challenge of Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet and also contribute to the Grand Challenge of Valuing World Cultures. Through research activities the CCRE program can address important questions about biodiversity, systematics and ecology of coral reef ecosystems.


Flashbacks 1971 1972 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983


1984 1985 1986 1987

• National Museum of Natural History’s I.G. Macintyre (geology & sedimentology), W. Adey, P. Kier, T. Waller (paleobiology), A. Dahl (botany), A. Antonius (postdoctoral fellow, invertebrate zoology), M. Rice, and K. Ruet- zler (invertebrate zoology) found the program Investigations of Marine Shallow Water Ecosystems (IMSWE). • IMSWE search party identifies Carrie Bow Cay on the barrier reef of Belize as ideally located and affordable site for long-term, collaborative field research on tropical coastal ecosystems • Establishment of principal reference transect across the Belize barrier reef just north of Carrie Bow Cay • Hurricane Fifi destroys laboratory structures, uproots coconut trees, and reduces the surface area of Carrie Bow Cay by about one third, to 0.4 hectare. • EXXON Corporation provides grant for study of the coral reef ecosystem at Carrie Bow Cay. • Marine and terrestrial post-hurricane surveys.• Establishment of all-manual meteorological station. • Refinement and calibration of profiles and maps with the aid of vertical aerial photographs taken by Royal Sig- nals Detachment helicopter • Introduction of aerial photography by helium balloon for community mapping • Submersible tide recorder installed at Carrie Bow Cay concrete dock. • Field trip to Carrie Bow Cay by participants of the Third International Coral Reef Symposium.• Aerial and underwater surveys expanded to cover the entire barrier reef of Belize • Geology team drills first cores to determine reef history • EXXON’s The Lamp publishes article on company-sponsored research at Carrie Bow Cay (“Where seaworms glow..”). • Hurricane Greta destroys Carrie Bow Cay field station. • Post-hurricane survey and rebuilding of laboratory with several improvements • Count of participating scien- tists and of published scientific contributions both pass the 50 mark; 23 scientific institutions are now collabora- ting with NMNH. • EXXON Corporation funds new initiative: comprehensive study of a western Atlantic mangrove swamp ecosys- tem, now known as SWAMP (Smithsonian Western Atlantic Mangrove Program) • Mapping of Twin Cays, principal site of SWAMP, by aerial photography and ground truthing. • Initiation of Art in a SWAMP project where scientific illustrators and scientists collaborate in analysis and picto- rial rendition of mangrove communities in time and space • Employment of H. Edgerton underwater time-lapse camera with strobe light (on loan from the inventor) to record day-night activity in benthic communities • Vibracoring at Twin Cays to determine internal structure and development. • Publication of The Atlantic Barrier Reef Ecosystem at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, 1: Structure and Communities. Smithsonian Institution Press (K. Ruetzler & I.G. Macintyre, eds.). • New weather protected and enlarged seawater system for laboratory experiments installed on Carrie Bow Cay • Series of extremely low tides at noon time were observed to have catastrophic effects on reef and mangrove organisms. • First automated weather station installed at Twin Cays • Cooperation with Belize Government identifying coastal marine areas suitable for natural resource conservation • Busiest year since program start: 8 months con- tinuing laboratory operation for 45 research staff. • First year of operation of Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems (CCRE), a new program of the National Museum of Natural History. It replaces the old IMSWE project and supplements the ongoing SWAMP program which is supported by a renewed annual grant by the EXXON Corporation. • Renovations on Carrie Bow Cay to accommodate dry-laboratory space, added living quarters, and boat, diving, and laboratory equipment • Mangrove vegetation map for Twin Cays completed • Published scientific contributions pass the number 200. • Record visitation of Carrie Bow laboratory, 120 total: 90 scientists and assistants; others dignitaries, including the Prime Minister of Belize, Smithsonian administrators, and media people working on documentaries and

news-related productions • Continued facility renovation, including addition of solar photovoltaic system, large seawater tank, two fiberglass whalers, fluorescence microscope, and time-lapse video recorder with underwater camcorder. 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

• Mangrove workshop for 37 EXXON-SWAMP scientists at Solomons, Maryland, entitled A Mangrove Ecosystem: Twin Cays, Belize. • Science as Art exhibit at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center displays scientifically important and aesthetically pleasing products from SWAMP mangrove research, such as community drawings, paintings, photo- graphs, and sculpture-like epoxy casts of soft-bottom animal burrows • Vandalized and malfunctioning weather station reconditioned and relocated to the Carrie Bow field laboratory • Increasing problems with anthropogenic stresses at research sites, such as heavy tourist visitation, garbage dumping, and clear-cutting mangrove trees. • CCRE-SWAMP program represented at first Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity workshop, Jamaica, CARICOMP is a program for Caribbean-wide monitoring of environmental quality in reefs, mangroves, and seagrass meadows. • Belize Forestry Department helps stopping disturbances to SWAMP research sites. Belize Department of Natural Resources reviews legislation with intention of declaring Carrie Bow Cay - Twin Cays area protected research site • CCRE-SWAMP program staff participates in developing Belize Tropical Forestry Action Plan and helps designing Institute for Ecology to be based in Belmopan. • CCRE-SWAMP researchers produce video documentary on mangrove swamp biology • Unprecedented, severe problem with hydrozoan stings to snorkelers and divers in the Carrie Bow area traced to microscopic siphonophorans • CCRE-SWAMP staff and Belize Fisheries Department and Agriculture representatives conduct first workshop for Belize high-school teachers entitled Mangrove Conservation through Education • CCRE-SWAMP lecture series started in Belize City, co-hosted by Belize Audubon Society • CCRE officially joins the CARICOMP network and initiates monitoring program. • Belize Ministry of Natural Resources grants rights to Twin Cays for mangrove research • Launching of new 8 m (25 ft) research vessel Physalia, funded by a grant from the U. S. National Science Foundation, extends research radius over most of central and southern Belize • Ivan Goodbody pioneers surveys of Pelican Cays, a tunicate heaven at SSW of Carrie Bow. • Start of collaborative surveys and experimental projects in the Pelican Cays • Pelican Cays workshop, co-hosted by Candy Feller (SERC), at Edgewater, Maryland. • Finalized lease with the Villanuevas of Placentia to southern portion of Northeast Cay, Pelican group, to establish a field base for future studies • Malcolm Spaulding develops plans for new integrated environmental sensing system with radio- telemetry link to the University of Rhode Island’s COASTMAP network. • Installation by Tom Opishinski of self-contained Endeco-YSI-Campbell monitoring station of meteorological and oceanographic parameters and hookup to Internet • Visit of field party from 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panamá. • Celebration of the 25th birthday of the Carrie Bow Marine Field Station • New U. S. National Science Foundation grant allows purchase of a second 8-m (25 ft) boat to back up the heavily used Physalia (under construction) • International team of seven expert systematists conducts workshop at Carrie Bow Cay to quantify the unusually high sponge diversity of the Pelican Cays • Number 500 reached in CCRE scientific contributions • Carrie Bow Field Station, including laboratories, weather station, kitchen, and living quarters is consumed by an accidental electrical fire which was apparently sparked by a short in the wiring and aided by dry, termite-riddled lumber and strong northerly winds. Luckily, no-one was hurt. • Island clean-up and design for new field station completed. Construction work initiated but delayed by flooding and coastal erosion from hurricane Mitch • Completed editorial work on CD-ROM containing over 100 represen- tative CCRE scientific papers that resulted from research at Carrie Bow Cay • Cosponsored Smithsonian (STRI) exhibit Our Reefs –Caribbean Connections in Belize City. Contributed large poster describing 25 years of CCRE coral reef research in Belize • Serious coral bleaching and die-off on reefs off Carrie Bow and Pelican Cays observed, partly caused by hurricane Mitch. • Rededication ceremony for the new Carrie Bow Marine Field Station, in August • BBC team (Bristol, UK) films segments for its Blue Planet TV series, including (with E. Duffy) eusocial shrimps living in sponges. • Publication of Natural History of Pelican Cays, Belize, in Atoll Research Bulletin (Macintyre & Ruetzler, eds, 2000) • Replacement of environmental monitoring station lost in the 1997 fire • Initiation of Twin Cays 3

2001 2002 2003

Biocomplexity Study funded by an NSF grant (to I. Feller & colleagues). • Completion of 3-room cottage over the eastern shore of Carrie Bow Cay • Hurricanes Michelle and Iris (October) barely miss Carrie Bow Cay, causing some damage to buildings and heavy beach erosion and devastate (Iris, in particular) large areas in southern Belize • Signing of MoU with Belize Fisheries Department officially acknowledging the Carrie Bow Marine Field Station as a nationally recognized laboratory • Publication of Golden (50-year anniversary) issue of Atoll Research Bulletin recognizing prominent coral reef scientists through their autobiographies, several of them participants in the CCRE Program. • Founding of the Smithsonian Marine Science Network (MSN), incorporating the CCRE Program and the Carrie Bow Marine Field Station • Number 600 reached of CCRE scientific contributions • Ranger Station established on southeast Twin Cays by Belize Fisheries Department to oversee South Water Cay Marine Reserve. • Cristián Samper, recently appointed director of the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, visits the Carrie Bow station in July, dives on the barrier reef, and snorkels in mangroves habitats • Hurricane Claudette threatens Carrie Bow (July) and necessitates temporary evacuation • Smithsonian Secretary Larry Small visits the Carrie Bow lab in December and dives on the reefs • Twin Cays Mangrove Biodiversity Conference is held at Ft. Pierce, Florida (December), convened by Klaus Ruetzler, Ilka Feller, and Ian Macintyre, and cosponsored by Valerie Paul of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce. 2004 • CCRE Postdoctoral Fellowship established • Hurricane Ivan causes substantial coastal erosion of Carrie Bow Cay • Atoll Research Bulletin volume dedicated to Twin Cays Mangrove Biodiversity goes to press • Number 700 reached of CCRE scientific contributions • Carla Dietrich takes over from Michelle Nestlerode as CCRE research assistant • Addendum to MoU with Belize Fisheries Department signed, clarifying intellectual property rights and issues of bioprospecting sponges in particular • CCRE Program Administrator Marsha Sitnik (recently, administrative advisor) retires. 2005 • A total of 13 hurricanes formed this season. Three category five hurricanes (Katrina, Rita and Wilma) caused substantial coastal erosion and damage to the Carrie Bow facilities. The record number of 25 named storms in the Caribbean broke the previous record (from 1933) of 21 named storms • An external scientific review of the CCRE Program was conducted and resulted in a strong endorsement of the program’s mission and accom plishments • Over 50 new CCRE scientific contributions were published. 2006 • The first Belize National Marine Science Symposium, cosponsored by Belize Fisheries and Forestry departments and the Hugh Parkey Foundation, took place and CCRE was represented with 4 talks and 8 posters, including a review of 35 years of Smithsonian Marine Science in Belize • CCRE hosted the U. S. Ambassador and 35 Embas sy staff for a picnic, including a tour of the Carrie Bow lab facilities • More than 130 Smithsonian Asociates, North Carolina teachers, and members of the Sierra Club visited Carrie Bow for guided tours of facilties and ongo ing projects • A film crew for a Discovery channel in The Netherlands worked at Carrie Bow to document Gordon Hendler’s work on newly discovered brittle-star light-sensing organs • The CCRE program and the Carrie Bow Marine Field Station, along with all other Smithsonian marine programs and facilities, took part in an external re view ordered by the Smithsonian Undersecretary for Science; The efficiency and scientific productivity of the program and its field station received excellent marks. 2007 • Hurricane Dean strikes Northern Belize and Yucatan, Mexico (August), Felix passed over Honduras south of Belize (September); both cause major beach erosion at Carrie Bow Cay but no damage to buildings. 2008 • The Belize Minister of Natural Resources and his staff visit our facilities and tour the Pelican Cays to view dam- age caused my mangrove clear-cutting in this part of the Southwater Cay Marine Reserve.

2009 • Ilka “Candy” Feller was again offered use of Light Hawk, a volunteer pilot-based organization


at Lander, WY, to observe and photograph environmental damage to mangrove coast and cays. •Pro- ceedings of the first Smithsonian Marine Science Symposium highlight CCRE’s diverse contributions to knowledge of the biology and geology of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Belize •Mike Carpen- ter retired after 25 years of service as CCRE Operations Manager and will build a new home in the woods of Georgia •Klaus Ruetzler resigned as CCRE Director after 25 years in this position (and a total 37 years as leader of the IMSWE, SWAMP, and CCRE programs). He will be followed by Valerie Paul of SMSFP.


• Director Valerie Paul and new staff at Fort Pierce assume responsibility for CCRE • Michael Carpenter, Zach Foltz, and Woody Lee spend three weeks on Carrie Bow Cay, for training and transition • A new CCRE website is

launched: • U.S. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally and five others from the U.S. Embassy in Belize visit Carrie Bow Cay on August 30, 2010 • Belize Fisheries establishes the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, with a no-take zone encompassing the area around Carrie Bow Cay (

2011 • Carrie Bow Cay recieved major infractructure improvements, including 10 kw diesel generator,

improved photovoltaic system, air compressor for SCUBA, and composting toilets • CCRE contibutions list reached #900 • Randi Rotjan, Peter Gawne, Jay Dimond, Scott Jones, and Zach Foltz initiated 24 permanent reef transects, establishing a long-term reef monitoring program to assess the effects of the SCWMR no-take zone • CCRE director, Valerie Paul, along with Raphael Ritson-Williams, Scott Jones, and Nicole Fogarty receive an award from the Smithsonian Endowment Program for “Population dynamics of threatened Caribbean acroporid corals at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize.”

Acknowledgements Our research is hosted by the Belize Fisheries Department and we thank Ms. Beverly Wade and Mr. James Azueta and staff for collaboration and issuing permits. The owners and staff of Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga provided logistical support for our fieldwork.; Earl David and his fine staff provided boat transportation as well invaluable advice and support. Numerous volunteer managers helped run the field station and assisted in research activities; we greatly appreciate their many efforts: Joel and Linda Moore,George Scheff, Karen Koltes, John Tschirky, Jim Taylor and Tanya Ruetzler, Danny Gouge and Cheryl Thacker, Jonathan Hootman, Jerry and Sandy Alanko, Ed and Bonnie James, Dan Miller, Greg and JoAnn Dramer, Keith and Shirley Parsons, Craig Sherwood, and Tom Pezzella. Back in Fort Pierce, we sincerely thank Joan Kaminski for administrative advice and assistance with many fund management tasks. The Smithsonian Marine Station’s Dive Safety Officer, Sherry Reed was a huge help with scientific diving. In Washington, Klaus Reutzler and Mike Carpenter were always willing to share wisdom stemming from their many years of experience in Belize. Michael Lang and Laurie Penland supervised scientific diving at Carrie Bow Cay Field Station. Marty Joynt was always available to answer our many questions. We also thank the Smithsonian offices of the Undersecretary for Science and the Director of National Museum of Natural History for continued support. The CCRE program is supported by Federal funding complemented by the Hunterdon Oceanographic Research Fund.

Many hands make light work. Station manager Zach Foltz (center) installs a new SCUBA air compressor with the help of Belizean friends.



cies of Bathygobius, one new species of the soapfish Biodiversity and its Links to the genus Rypticus and seven new species in the blennioid genus Starksia have been discovered and described. Ecosystem Collections from Carrie Bow were critical in helping to understand the geographically restricted patterns of Caribbean reef fish diversity and distribution of Starksia species. Currently, morphologbiogeography ical investigations of gobiesocid clingfishes and Risor gobies are being conducted, as initial molecular invesCarole C. Baldwin tigations revealed inconsistencies between the existing species classification and COI sequence data. Larval Biologists have studied Caribbean reef fish diversity fishes collected at Carrie Bow over the past 10 years are for centuries, yet new molecular data suggest species being investigated for an upcoming paper highlighting diversity may be higher than what is currently recog- the potential phylogenetic importance of color patterns nized. The work conducted at Carrie Bow Cay is part in marine teleost larvae. of a large, ongoing project reanalyzing species diversity of Caribbean shorefishes through combined molecular (DNA Barcoding) and morphological approaches. Support from the Smithsonian Marine Science Network, Laboratories of Analytical Biol- Starksia sangreyae 18.5 mm (standard length), is one of seven new species of western Atlantic Starksia described earlier this year. S. sangreyae is geographically restricted to waters off Belize and Honduras. ogy, and Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce has allowed for extensive collecting A recent Smithsonian Grand Challenge award through throughout the Caribbean, including Florida, Belize, the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a BioBahamas, Tobago, Curacao, Saba Bank and South Cai- diverse Planet expanded the project to include collections cos Island. All specimens collected are photographed of deep-reef fishes from 150-1,000 ft off Curacao in the in the field to document fresh color patterns, tissue southern Caribbean through the utilization of a manned sampled for barcoding, and preserved as vouchers for submersible. This expansion will provide the opportunity permanent archival in the National Museum of Natural to compare diversity and taxonomic connectivity of shalHistory’s fish collection. low- and deep-reef species. Genetic and morphological investigation will allow us to determine, for example, if To date, the project has amassed over 8,000 COl se- species collected in deep reefs off Curacao and shallow quences (DNA barcodes) of Caribbean shorefishes, reefs off Belize actually represent the same species. which have enabled identification of numerous larval fishes collected at Carrie Bow Cay (a paper on larval Apogon cardinalfishes is in press) and helped resolve the specieslevel classification of multiple taxa including Bathygobius and Coryphopterus gobies. In Risor ruber 14mm (standard length) collected off Carrie Bow in 2010. addition, two new spe-

Future investigations in Belize and other areas of the Caribbean will undoubtedly continue to shed light on our current understanding of reef fish diversity and distribution. As the pieces of the Caribbean fish biodiversity puzzle fall into place, we can begin to investigate evolutionary history of reef-fish species and use existing data to monitor future changes in reef systems.

Invertebrate diversity: Marine worm-snails and mangrove spiders Rudiger Bieler and Petra Sierwald Marine worm-snails, member of the family Vermetidae, are unique among gastropods in cementing their shells to hard substrata such as dead coral and adopting an “oyster-like” life style of suspension feeding. Their unique anatomical modifications (including an extra set of tentacles that spread a mucous net for trapping particles from the water column), great range of reproductive modes, and unusual gene order differences among closely related species have intrigued researchers over time. Despite their great potential as model organisms in several fields of biological sciences, data on these intriguing animals remained underutilized because species identification has remained extremely difficult and

the literature data often were commingled with superficially similar polychaete worms. The Belizean reef, particularly the area around Carrie Bow Cay, was identified in our earlier field work (1986) as a hotspot of Caribbean worm-snail diversity. At the time, no samples were taken for molecular studies and this repeat visit attempted to recollect the identified morphospecies found 15 years earlier. As part of a larger National-Science-Foundation-sponsored project on the systematics of this group, our 2011 Carrie Bow team also included Timothy Collins (Florida International University), Timothy Rawlings (Cape Breton University), project postdoc Rosemary Golding (Field Museum of Natural History). Collecting in the intertidal, shallow subtidal (by snorkeling) and deeper habitats (by SCUBA) produced an astonishing variety of vermetid species, many of which are not represented in existing collections and include several entirely new to science. All species encountered in 1986 were located again, plus several additional taxa not previously found. Specimens from 14 morphospecies belonging to the genera Dendropoma, Thylacodes, Thylaeodus, Petaloconchus and Vermetus sp.l were collected, photographed, and preserved for molecular and morphological (including sperm ultrastructure) study. This was also a unique opportunity to observe feeding behavior, egg capsules, larvae and spermatophore formation in vermetids. The specimens and data collected during this field work will be used for several concurrent projects, including the description of several new western Atlantic species, a catalog of Caribbean vermetid diversity, a molecular phylogeny of Vermetidae, and a population-level analysis of key Caribbean worm-snail taxa. A second project focused on invertebrate diversity in mangrove habitats, led by Petra Sierwald. Several different mangrove sites were sampled and the encountered spiders collected for a multi-site comparison of mangrove spider diversity. Comparison sites include locales in Panama and the Florida Keys.

Thylacodes “species orange” emerging from its shell tube. Note the four tentacles (two with eye spots) and a mucous thread with trapped particles above the mouth slit. The triangular pad in the lower part is the very flexible foot – it can seal the aperture.


Decapod biodiversity of Carrie Bow Cay made on other project elements proposed by D. Felder, including the continued obtaining of genetic samples and vicinity: Surveys and guidebook for selected groups of burrowing thalassinideans (with production

associates), majoid crabs, xanthoid crabs, pinnotherid crabs, and porcellanid crabs that are under study; all obDarryl Felder, Rafael Lemaitre, Chris Tudge, jectives on this front were met. Return to several sites Simon Pecnik, Jennifer Howell Felder near Carrie Bow also allowed D. Felder to confirm preCollections were again focused on and immediately vious observations bearing on the non-indigenous spearound Carrie Bow, Twin Cays, and shoals along South cies Charybdis helleri (populations of which appeared Water Cay. Extensive collections of decapod crusta- to be in decline in 2011) and to add records to reports of thalassinideans and brachyurans from the region. ceans were obtained toward production of the regional checklist which, as proposed, continues work begun by D. Felder and R. Manning in the early 1980’s; the 2002, 2007, and 2009 trips contributed extensively to a collections of color photographs for potential use in production of a regional guidebook to the decapod crustaceans, in an anticipated collaborative effort between D. Felder and R. Lemaitre and S. de Grave, for which over 1900 photographs were accumulated. Over 400 additional decapod crustacean photographs by D. Felder were added by the present effort, samples of which are shown here. Additional progress was made toward a description of a new Processa shrimp Hermit crab, Iridopagurus reticulatus, that R. Lemaitre and C. Tudge are using in studies of reproductive sexual tubes, to be featured in guidebook. from the region, and work as initiated on a description of a new Paguristes from the CBC reef crest. Progress was also

The grapsoid crab Percnon gibbesii, common on the high energy shallow subtidal reef front, to be featured in guidebook


A follow-up trip is planned for additional work on and around Twin Cays and Carrie Bow Cay to more comprehensively represent the decapod fauna in the envisioned guidebook. Intertidal, shallow subtidal snorkeling, in addition to shallow SCUBA sampling will be required. This is particularly important to assure adequate coverage of caridean shrimp fauna, now that we have committed to inclusion of this group in the field guide. For the decapods overall, however, we also seek to reach asymptotic levels in species richness measures, but continue to add taxa with expected frequency. Work at present continues efforts to describe and name a number of new taxa, as this must be completed in advance of the regional guidebook.

Recent investigations using stable isotopes to trace production sources through food webs suggest a more limited role of mangrove production in aquatic food webs than originally thought. Fishes sampled from near to mangroves generally appear to consume more mangrove production than those sampled from distant habitats. However, such findings may overestimate the contributions of mangrove production because the carbon isotopes used to trace production flow can pass from mangroves to consumers through a recently hypothesized incidental pathway, not just directly up the food chain. Microbes decompose mangrove leaves and branches that fall into the Platyactaea setigera, one of the reef crest species to be featured in guidebook and a water. These microbes can be eaten subject of current molecular phylogenetic studies. by invertebrates and so on up the food chain (direct pathway), but just like we breathe out, microbes also respire carbon dioxide into Ecology the water. This carbon has the isotopic signature of the mangrove material the microbes are breaking down. Other aquatic producers such as phytoplankton, seaUntangling the web: the importance of grass, and algae then take up this carbon from the water mangroves in marine food webs. for their own photosynthesis. The result is that these producers when located near to mangroves may end up Ronnie Baker, Ilka Feller with carbon isotope signatures that look like mangrove Mangroves around the world have long been considered critically important habitats for a great diversity of species. The complexity of the mangrove forest is believed to provide refuge for many juvenile fish and shrimps, while mangrove biomass is thought to fuel the base of adjacent aquatic food webs. Mangrove habitats also contain a variety of other primary producers such as algae, and so may provide rich and important foraging grounds even if the consumers entering the forest do not feed directly on mangrove-based food chains. Separating who feeds in the mangroves from who feeds specifically on mangrove production remains poorly resolved but is important for a full understanding of the functional roles of mangrove ecosystems. Mangrove prop roots at Twin Cays, Belize.


carbon, and consumers that feed on these might appear grove ponds and to quantify the environmental condito be feeding on mangrove production, when in fact it tions of these hidden habitats. may be this alternate pathway labeling their true food In three paired sets of shallow (1-2 m average depth) source. and very shallow ponds (<0.5 m average depth) on We mapped the spatial extent of the “mangrove label” Twin Cays mangrove islands, we deployed continuous by measuring the carbon isotopes in a variety of algae, water quality data monitoring sondes to collect 24 hour seagrass, and filter-feeding invertebrate species across records of temperature, salinity, pH, turbidity, chloroTwin Cays and the surrounding waters. All showed a phyll, and dissolved oxygen. Due to the high primary strong and consistent label which rapidly diminished productivity of mangrove environments, the high temwithin a few meters away from the edge of the man- peratures of tropical shallow waters, and the relatively groves. Using this map we were able to demonstrate still waters in ponds, we expected to see diel-cycling that while very few of the fishes we examined relied hypoxia, which occurs at night when photosynthesis directly on mangrove production, many forage on other ceases but high rates of respiration continue and deplete dissolved oxygen. Indeed, we observed this cycle ocproduction sources located in the mangrove forest. curring in ponds. Nighttime hypoxia was most severe in very shallow ponds, where oxygen dipped below 1.0 Ecology of an extreme environment: mg/L, an acutely stressful condition for aerobic life. Mangrove ponds We also observed the cycle to a lesser degree in shallow ponds. We sampled oxygen levels in nearby channel Denise Brietburg, Ilka Feller, Keryn Gedan environments, which have faster moving water with a Mangrove ponds are extreme environments where greater exchange of nutrient-depleted waters offshore, physiological stresses are intense. Still, shallow, and and did not observe a diel-cycle in dissolved oxygen, tropical, pond waters reach high temperatures, and the indicating that such dramatic swings are a unique fealack of freshwater inputs, restricted tidal flow, and high ture of mangrove pond waters in Twin Cays. evaporation rates can create hypersaline conditions. Yet, ponds harbor exceptional diversity and abundance In addition to the stressful oxygen conditions, daytime of fish, algae, and invertebrates. Obscured and obstruct- water temperatures reached over 38ºC (100ºF) in very ed by mangrove forest on all sides, however, mangrove shallow ponds. Yet, even at these extreme temperatures, ponds have rarely been scientifically described or stud- ponds teemed with life. We used a cast net and visual ied. We aimed to identify the species inhabiting man- surveys to identify fish and invertebrates in the ponds, and found many species using these habitats, including killifish, mojarras, stingrays, and barracuda. Some ponds had an abundance of the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopeia frondosa. In the future, we plan to look at the temperature and oxygen tolerances of the small fish that are abundant in ponds even during stressful conditions and also to test the hypothesis that these extreme environments provide a refuge from predators for juvenile stage and small-bodied fish. (note: you can read a blog post about our field work in the mangrove ponds at: Post-doctoral fellow Keryn Gedan deploys water quality data monitoring sonde.


During the summer and fall of 2011, over 400 colonies Population dynamics of threatened Caribbean Acroporid corals at Carrie Bow were tagged, mapped and measured in 7 plots. Tissue samples were also taken and genotyping is currently Cay, Bellze Nicole Fogarty, Valerie J. Paul, Raphael RitsonWilliams, Suzy Arnold, Zach Foltz, and Scott Jones Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis were the dominant shallow-water corals in the Caribbean for millions of years, yet over the past 30 years losses exceeding 97% of the population have led to the listing of these species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The loss of these species could have devastating effects on shallow Caribbean reef ecosystems and their associated biodiversity because of their rapid growth and the three dimensional structure they create for other reef organisms. Despite the tremendous ecological importance of Caribbean acroporids, their demographic processes are not well understood. The recent development of Caribbean acroporid microsatellite markers provides a technique to genotype individual coral colonies and to distinguish between genetically unique and clonal individuals. The specific objectives of this study are to (1) tag, map, and measure all acroporid colonies at the field site at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, (2) genotype all mapped colonies, (3) monitor colonies to examine incidence of disease, predation, and bleaching and to identify new sexual recruits or asexually produced ramets, and (4) create a matrix model to determine the population growth at this site and its future trajectory.

underway. Condition assessment surveys of all the colonies have been completed twice.

The reef adjacent to Carrie Bow Cay is an ideal location because it contains both A. palmata and A. cervicornis, which may be increasing in abundance. In particular, this study will focus on the processes that drive the demographics of critical habitat building species on coral reefs. By measuring genotypic diversity of corals, this research can determine how their population fluctuations might influence associated biodiversity, and how biodiversity, and the loss of biodiversity, affect the functioning of marine ecosystems.

Coral larval ecology Valerie J. Paul, Raphael Ritson-Williams, Cliff Ross, and Suzy Arnold Our research in Belize this year focused on the larval and post-settlement ecology of various stony (scleractinian) corals. In the early summer multiple experiments were conducted to test the larval settlement behavior of different brooding corals including Agaricia agaricites, Favia fragum and Porites astreoides. We found that all of these brooding corals are selective and have more settlement and metamorphosis on the surfaces of some species of crustose coralline algae, including Hydrolithon boergesenii and Titanoderma prototypum, than on Porolithon pachydermum or Paragoniolithon solubile. In addition, we compared the post-settlement survival of these corals on tiles placed in the field at 3m depth on the reef adjacent to Carrie Bow Cay. After 25 days all of these species had high rates of survival (>80%) on the surface of T. prototypum. However, recruit survival on the surface of H. boergesenii was more variable with 72% for A. agaricites and 94% for Favia fragum, but only 25% for Porites astreoides. This trend held true even after 3 months with only 8% survival of P. astreoides recruits on H. boergesenii but 75% survival on T. prototypum. After 3 months the other corals continued to have high survival rates with between 65-90% survival on both CCA species.

Tagged colonies of Acropora corals adjacent to Carrie Bow Cay.


Due to a hurricane evacuation in August we were unable to conduct further experiments with the two species of Acropora. During September we conducted research on the spawning corals Diploria strigosa and Montastraea faveolata. We conducted experiments with D. strigosa to test how the water soluble compounds from three different cyanobacteria might affect larval survival and

settlement. None of the cyanobacteria compounds decreased larval survival, but compounds from both Dichothrix sp., and Hormothamnion enteromorphoides reduced larval settlement and metamorphosis onto Hydrolithon boergesenii. In addition, we set up a postsettlement survival experiment comparing the survival of D. strigosa, M. faveolata and Agaricia agaricites on tiles at 3m depth on the reef adjacent to Carrie Bow Cay. These tiles will be monitored for survival of these species during our next trip to Carrie Bow Cay.

Importance of bacterial biofilms for the induction of coral larval settlement Jennifer M. Sneed, Raphael Ritson-Williams, Valerie J. Paul

Newly settled Porites corals on Hydrolithon boergesenii.

Newly settled Agaricia corals on Titanoderma prototypum.

Post-settlement survival tiles attached to substrate.


Coral reefs are declining worldwide and one key to the survival of endangered coral species is their ability to recruit to appropriate surfaces during the larval settlement stage of their life cycle. Coral larvae often respond to chemical cues on the surface of crustose coralline algae (CCA) when choosing suitable substrata for settlement and metamorphosis. However, recent evidence suggests that coral larvae may additionally respond to cues produced by biofilm bacteria. At Carrie Bow Cay, we investigated the role that bacterial biofilms play in the settlement behavior of several species of coral including Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, Diploria strigosa and Favia fragum. We tested the response of larvae from these species to limestone settlement tiles that were naturally biofilmed for 30 days compared to those that were treated with antibiotics to reduce the bacterial density. The reduction of bacteria had no effect on the settlement of A. palmata or A. cervicornis larvae, however both F. fragum and D. strigosa had higher settlement rates on naturally biofilmed surfaces compared to those that were treated with antibiotics. This suggests that bacteria are important for the settlement of these larvae. In addition, there is evidence that there are higher rates of settlement and metamorphosis of A. palmata and A. cervicornis larvae in the presence of some CCA species than in the presence of others. The preference for certain CCA species may be the result of differences in the bacterial communities associated with these algae. To determine if these CCA species harbor unique bacterial communities, samples of the biofilms from different CCA species were collected at Carrie Bow

Newly settled and swimming Favia larvae.

Cay. Differences in the bacterial community composition of these samples will be determined using Next Generation Sequencing. These results may give us information about what bacterial species are playing important roles in the choice of settlement substrata by these reef-building coral species.

crete small substrata that are relatively ephemeral. Successional changes on a particular root can be dramatic, but are fairly predictable, and the overall community (i.e., all of the roots combined) changes little over time. The coral reef data, by contrast, illustrate an unexpected amount of change due to individual sponge species fluctuating in response to abiotic factors or species-specific diseases. The seagrass sponges illustrate a third kind of community dynamics, mostly reflecting local disturbances that damage or eliminate sponges in small patches, regardless of the species present. Recruitment patterns are also being followed in each habitat, using substrata that are initially bare, but these data have not yet been analyzed.

Community dynamics of sponges: coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove roots Janie Wulff In order to relate sponge community dynamics to aspects of the abiotic environment, we have been fully censusing the same plots on a coral reef, a set of mangrove prop roots, and in a seagrass meadow, at one-year intervals for 3-4 years. Because the data are being collected by following every individual sponge through time, they simultaneously provide information on the community as a whole and on the growth rates and life histories of individual species. This allows us to see how the the life history characteristics of the component species influence the overall community dynamics. Analysis of the data from the mangrove sites confirms the importance of a recruitment-competitive ability trade-off, as anticipated in a habitat of dis-

Mangrove root sponge community.


What factors control assortment of sponge species into habitats?

ferent microbes (humans included), this worm has a microbial association (or ectosymbiosis) that is extremely specific so that all the bacteria covering the surface of In a grand reciprocal transplant study, involving doz- a given worm belong to only one species (see Figure 1) ens of sponge species that are typical of either man- Such degree of specificity is extremely rare and has only groves, seagrass meadows, or coral reefs, I have been been observed in two other animals on earth, one a leafcutter ant and the other a cave dwelling crustacean. comparing growth and survival of each species in each habitat, hoping to determine what factors really control These worms live few centimeters below the sea bothabitat distribution of these common species. All pair- tom, where they migrate between superficial sand layers wise reciprocal transplants between mangroves, sea- and deeper ones. These migrations allow the microbial grass meadows, and reefs have been underway for 2-4 symbionts to alternatively obtain oxygen and sulfide. In years. One of the striking results from the experiments turn, the microbes constitute the major component of the is that some of the typical reef and seagrass sponge spe- worm’s diet. In spite of the fact that the symbionts are at cies tend to grow very much more rapidly and survive better in the mangroves then in their usual habitats. Ecological interactions may inhibit sponges from living in the habitats that are most favorable with respect to food availability and abiotic factors.

Evolution Molecular mechanisms of marine nematode symbioses Silvia Bulgheresi, Joerg Ott, Niels R. Heindl

Fig. 2 - Transmission Electron Microscopy pictures of the Laxus oneistus symbiont undergoing longitudinal fission (Scale bar is 0.5 µm).

Stilbonematids are a small family of marine round worms (Nematodes) that inhabit shallow water sands on the Mesoamerican Reef. Our interest in these worms lie in a very unique type of symbiosis. Each worm has millions of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria coating the outside of the animal. Unlike other animals that carry many dif-

the mercy of a very turbulent environment, stilbonematid symbioses can be extremely specific and stable. We are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning the recruitment of specific symbionts from the environment. In particular, we are focusing on the study of genes whose products are secreted onto the worm’s surface, the host-symbiont interface. Another extraordinary feature of stilbonematid ectosymbioses is that the bacteria have evolved highly unusual ways to proliferate: both rods and filamentous bacteria set their division plan longitudinally (Figure 2). Only bacterial rods living in symbiosis undergo cell Fig. 1 -A-R Confocal microscope images of bacterial symbionts associated with roundworms (Scale bar is 4 µm).


division lengthwise instead of transversal. If they divid- and walls to the east and south of Carrie Bow Cay. Fish ed in the â&#x20AC;&#x153;usualâ&#x20AC;? way, they would lose contact with the aggregations usually included species such as creole host nematode. wrasse (Clepticus parrae), yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), boga (Inermia vitatta) and bar jack (Caranx We visited Carrie Bow Cay in 2010 to collect nematodes ruber). for experiments to examine the molecular basis of the nematode symbiosis specificity (e.g. what is the role of Chemical analyses of the water collected from these agnematode-secreted proteins in symbiosis specificity) and gregations is ongoing, but laboratory tests on Florida to determine whether the symbiotic lifestyle affects the sergeant majors (Saxatilis abudefduf) are revealing that division of the bacterial cells themselves (e.g. which mo- these fish respond to Belize aggregation water over paired lecular machinery sets the division plan and whether this controls. Further, initial analyses on DMSP concentramachinery is steered by the nematode host). Our speci- tions of aggregations compared to control sites show mens have been transported back to the Shallow Water there is seasonal variation in background levels as well Symbiosis Lab at the University of Vienna, where ex- as differences in DMSP concentration between aggregaperiments are underway. tion and control locations. This adds to the evidence that fish aggregations may release compounds in the water Species Interaction and Behavior that other fish find attractive. Next steps include determining specific compounds which might be driving this preference and further investigating the plankton assemRelease of DMSP and other natural chemical products through reef-associated blage at the heart of these aggregations. Understanding these chemically-mediated trophic cascades will inform trophic events and the corresponding future research into how seasonally variable plankton effects on reef fish behavior assemblages and associated chemical signatures drive foraging events and how a changing climate will affect Jennifer DeBose the movement patterns of these important reef species as Establishing Marine Protected Areas inclusive of both they follow the transient chemical trail. reef fish and pelagic, reef-associated fish is challenging given how little is known of the ecology of the move- Shell-choice behavior in Coenobita ment patterns in these species. Understanding the sen- clypeatus hermit crabs sory ecology of these organisms can both stimulate basic science avenues of investigation and inform manage- Randi Rotjan, Sara Lewis, and Peter Gawne ment decisions for how to best identify and designate critical habitats and corridors for these species groups. In 2011, we continued our work on shell-choice behavMy previous research focused on how fish may use an ior in Coenobita clypeatus hermit crabs. We set up exalgal compound - dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) - to find foraging hotspots in the marine environment. These initial studies revealed that both predatory and planktivorous fish species may use dissolved DMSP to locate areas of transient productivity. At Carrie Bow Cay, I have been extending these investigations into the plankton assemblage at the center of these foraging events, the variability in the chemical signatures released from these trophic events, and the behavioral responses of fish to the temporal and spatial variation in the released chemical cues. Over this last year, I have collected water and plankton samples, and have documented fish behavior from twenty two foraging aggregations in November, May, and August. I personally conducted one hundred and fourteen opencircuit scuba dives over 6 weeks. The majority of aggregations were located off the fore-reefs

Coenobita clypeatus, the Caribbean hermit crab.


perimental enclosures on the North End of the island to test whether crabs recruit other to sites of potential shell exchange. To do this, we measured and individually labeled much of the hermit crab population with numbers (which remain on shells for several months). Preliminary findings indicate successful recruitment, but only when a viable shell source is available. These experiments have a field component that is island-wide and on-going, investigating the population and demographic patterns of the Carrie Bow hermit crab population in the face of changing available shell resources.

pheromones) to spawn within minutes of conspecifics. Synchronous release of gametes is very important to replenish degraded coral reefs because differences in spawning times of only 15 minutes can greatly reduce the chance of fertilization.

One aspect of my Marine Science Network post-doctoral fellowship is to identify the pheromone that is responsible for spawning synchrony. At Carrie Bow Cay, seawater was collected prior to coral spawning, during setting (i.e., when the gamete bundle becomes visible in the polypâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mouth), and after the corals have spawned. (Note: you can read Dr. Rotjanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s blog posts about her The compounds were collected by passing the seawater research here: over resin. Methanol and ethyl acetate solvents were then poured over the resin to extract the compounds. lize-expedition-riveting-experience.html) Compounds differed between pre-spawning and setting/ post-spawn samples. The compounds in the post-spawn Reproduction and Development seawater samples were identified and found to be sex steroids (progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol) and many derivatives of compounds found in fragrances or flavoring. To test if these compounds can induce corals Pheromones involved in spawning to spawn, two ripe coral fragments from a single colony synchrony of broadcast spawning corals were collected, brought into the laboratory, and placed in buckets. When the coral was observed to set, either Nicole Fogarty a treatment or a control was added to the bucket. The It has been 25 years since researchers discovered that treatments included eggs or sperm (collected from early most coral species (~85%) broadcast spawn their gam- spawning colonies), the compounds extracted from the etes during an annual spawning event, yet much is still sea water, or a cocktail of synthetic sex steroids. The unknown as to how these primitive invertebrates syn- sex steroid compound and compounds extracted from chronize the release of their gametes. Because gametogenesis is extended over 10 months, the synchrony of gamete release in broadcast spawning corals is an amazing phenomenon and has been likened to a 42-km marathon race where all the runners independently finish the race within a second of each other. A variety of different cues have been attributed to coral spawning synchrony, and it has been suggested that using more than one cue will increase spawning precision. There appears to be a hierarchy of cues that corals use to synchronize the release of gamete bundles. Previous research suggests that corals use seawater temperature and solar irradiance to cue on the same month, the full moon to cue on the Buckets holding coral colonies ready for night-time spawning experiments in the wet same day, sunset to cue on the same lab at Carrie Bow Cay. hour and perhaps chemical cues (i.e., 16

the seawater were found to induce spawning early than the control. After the experiments, the coral fragments were then returned to the reef. These results suggest that a pheromone, likely a sex steroid, is involved in spawning precision.

Scientific Diving Scientific diving techniques Michael A. Lang and Martin D.J. Sayer Science is international by nature, and marine science involves frequent underwater cooperation between scientists from many countries. The Smithsonian Institutionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Scientific Diving Program is collaborating with the U.K. National Environmental Research Council - National Facility for Scientific Diving on the third edition of UNESCOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Scientific Diving: A General Code of Practice. Lang served as editorial committee member for the second edition in 1991 and with Sayer as co-editor of this volume. Previous international collaborations include the 2007 Svalbard International Polar Diving Workshop (see The Code of Practice is designed to provide guidance on safe practices in scientific diving, methods and techniques for scientific diving in unusual or extreme conditions, the basis for mutual recognition of international scientific diving standards, a bibliography and references to accepted

Blue water diving techniques.

Seagrass survey techniques.

codes and legislation in those countries that have laws controlling scientific diving, an ethical basis for establishing diving procedures in conditions where diving has never been practiced before, and to strengthen the international community of scientific divers. The Code is published in order to provide guidance to Diving Officers at research institutions, diving administrators and scientific divers themselves. The world of scientific diving is evolving and changing radically. Equipment is being redesigned, our knowledge of decompression illness and other diving diseases is improving, research objectives are being redefined, diving experience is being gained on extreme environments, legislation and regulation of diving is being continuously proposed, and different countries are modifying their regulations in different ways. With the 300page second editionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s total of 11 black and white figures and line drawings, the necessity to approach the third edition with modern illustrations was immediately evident. A code of practice operates at a level between legislative rules and a diving manual. Legislation is usually written by persons trained in law, tends to be brief, very factual, mandatory, to concentrate on forbidding undesirable actions and to be deliberately general so as not to depend upon rapid changes in technology. A change in legislation usually takes several years. On the other hand, a diving manual (e.g., NOAA Diving Manual) is written by persons with experience in scientific diving, is technical, expounds in detail upon the construction and use of equipment, elaborates on training methods and techniques and may be 17

revised at short intervals. A diving manual also tends to discuss only those diving methods which are relevant in the geographical area to which it applies or to the agency’s mission. This Code of Practice bridges the gap between these two kinds of documents, by giving discretionary advice based on the broad experience of scientific diving experts. The mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reef, deep reef wall, and blue water surrounding Carrie Bow Cay provided the ideal backdrop for undertaking the photodocumentation of this project.

Species Conservation Ex situ conservation of the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis


across the world to several locations. In addition, we had limited electricity, flowing seawater or contact with the world, as well as no access to any additional supplies. Our crew included myself, my assistant, Ginnie Carter, NZP’s Invertebrate Keeper, Mike Henley, journalist Michelle Nijhuis, aquarist Andrew McLeod from The Deep, Hull, UK, aquarist Brian Nelson from New England Aquarium, Boston, MA and two exceptional volunteers, Abby Wood and Ned Busch, who spent their own time and money to help with this 2 weeklong expedition.

After the first week in Belize, we were on track to collect and cryopreserve enormous amounts of mateMary Hagedorn rial. The aquarists set up a larval rearing system that allows us to rear millions of larvae if need be. The Two years ago, we received funds from the Marine reef at Carrie Bow started spawning on the third night Science Network to conserve the threatened coral after the full moon, and we collected material for sevAcropora cervicornis. These coral spawn patchily eral nights after this. This involves divers going into throughout the Caribbean, and if they reproduce it oc- the water at night, examining the coral to see if they curs only once a year for about 3 days. Fortunately, are “setting” or producing egg/sperm bundles sitting this species spawns relatively consistently in small in the mouths of the polyps, then putting a net over the reefs off of the Smithsonian Carrie Bow Cay Marine spawning coral to collect their bundles. After 40 minStation in Belize. This spot is wild and beautiful, but utes, the nets with their bundles must be removed and difficult for an expedition that required transporting brought into the boat to be quickly transported back to complex reproductive equipment and supplies in and the lab for reproductive studies. Everything was movout of the country, as well as transporting live animals ing along like clockwork, until we were told we had to evacuate for Hurricane Harvey. It was heading dead-on for the station. This was a problem. I had spent thousands of dollars in sending cryo-equipment, and transporting dry ice and liquid nitrogen to cryopreserve the sperm and the embryonic cells of Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis. We had approximately 350,000 A. cervicornis and 75,000 A. palmata larvae developing in our system and had one additional night left to collect the sperm and freeze it. At 9 AM on Friday, we were told that we had to leave the station at 3 PM. This would only allow for one round of freezing (each round took about 3 hours to complete), but we also needed to secure all our Threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis, near Carrie Bow Cay, Belize. gear and our larval rearing chambers

employees two hours inland and we waited out the storm. Thirty hours later, we were back on Carrie Bow thinking that we would just clean up. Fortunately, the station was undamaged and there more than 1/3 of the larvae survived in our system. So we started making plans to settle them and send them around the world. Unfortunately, once they had arrived in the UK and Washington DC, it was clear that the larvae were not competent to settle, and all of them died.

Smithsonian National Zoo scientist Mike Henley collects gamete bundles from spawning A. cervicornis.

in case water ran over the island (everything is pretty much exposed to the elements there). Since we already had some frozen sperm from Puerto Rican A. palmata, we decided to cryopreserve the embryonic cells of the Belizian A. cervicornis. We could only fit 72 cryovials in one round, but this meant about 700 million embryonic coral cells were preserved- many of the coral stem cells that one day may be coaxed to produced new adult A. cervicornis. But what would happen to the developing larvae that we needed for the aquarists to take home so we could have a “live” bank of this species, as well? We had to turn off the seawater system, because it was too big of a risk leaving the pump running because the station had already burnt down in the past 20 years due to an electrical short from corroded wires. We had tested battery operated air pumps in Hawaii and knew that 2 D cells would give us at least 48 hours of air for the larvae. This was a bit of a “hail Mary pass”, because we thought most would die from the lack of fresh seawater circulation. Dr. Valerie Paul’s assistant, Raphael Ritson-Williams transferred the larvae into buckets with the battery-operated pumps as he and the station manager, Zach Foltz, closed the station. Terri Lewis and the great managers at Pelican Resort in Belize evacuated all of the island’s crew and

Regardless of the drama, hurricanes, delays and loss of time and material, this was an extraordinarily successful conservation effort. We have millions of frozen embryonic cells that may one day help restore this species.

Climate Change Impact of climate change and nutrient overenrichment on mangrove ecosystems Ilka C. Feller, Anne H. Chamberlain, Catherine E. Lovelock, Marilyn C. Ball Mangroves are an ecological assemblage of tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs adapted to grow in the intertidal. They are the foundation for heterogeneous ecosystems with complex differences in forest structure, biodiversity, biogeochemistry, and hydrology that vary at tidal, latitudinal, and regional scales. In addition to being under intense pressure from coastal development such as direct conversion to agriculture, aquaculture, and tourism, mangroves are threatened globally by climate change and nutrient over-enrichment. To determine if nutrient loading interacts with climatic differences to alter ecological processes in mangrove ecosystems, we have established a series of long-term fertilization experiments across broad latitudinal gradients in mangrove forests in the two major biogeographic regions of mangrove distribution: the Atlantic-Caribbean East Pacific (ACEP) and the Indo-West Pacific. In 19

the ACEP, our sites are located in the Indian River Lagoon, FL; Twin Cays, Belize; and Bocas del Toro, Panama, at field stations in the Smithsonian Marine Science Network. We have established a similar array of experiments in the IWP at seven sites in Australia and New Zealand. In these experiments, we are using latitude and tidal elevation as proxies for climate change and sea-level rise and are measuring growth, nutrient dynamics, ecological stoichiometry, and trophic structure. We have found that increased nutrients have significant effects on ecological processes that affect both mangroves and their fauna. Primary production is nutrient limited at all locations, but the nutrient limiting growth varies regionally and locally. Nutrient enrichment alters patterns of primary and secondary consumption in some but not all cases. Herbivory levels are comparable to values reported for other tropical forests. The fauna is characterized by endophytic specialists including miners, gallers, and borers. Latitudinal differences in herbivory emerge but are not the same for IWP vs. ACEP for all species or feeding guilds within a region. In the IWP, herbivory of Avicennia marina correlated significantly with latitudinal differences in air temperature, but not with nutrient availability or rainfall. In the ACEP, significant differences in feeding damage on leaves of Rhizophora mangle by the omnivorous mangrove tree crab, Aratus pisonii, across latitudinal and tidal gradients was correlated positively with crab density and forest productivity and negatively with damage imposed by herbivores. We found that a trophic cascade based on the complex size- and stage-structured population dynamics of A. pisonii plays a pivotal role in mangrove foodwebs in the Neotropics.

Holocene Sea-Level Change in the Caribbean: Implications for geophysical modeling and ocean-climate interactions Marguerite A. Toscano Geologists and Holocene sea-level researchers Marguerite Toscano (SI Paleobiology), Simin Liu and Nicole Khan (Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pennsylvania) and collaborators are assembling a new, high precision database of sea-level index points spanning approximately 10,000 years of peat accumulation in response to the Holocene transgression over the Belize shelf. In February 2011 we continued data collection efforts on the extensive mangrove environments and the unique deep peat deposits along the Belize Barrier Reef. This work builds upon a long-term Smithsonian-based effort to reconstruct the Belize sea-level record from mangrove peat, starting with the 1995 work of Macintyre, Littler and Littler at Tobacco Range, the 2003 Caribbean sea-level compilation of Toscano and Macintyre, and the 2004 work of Macintyre, Toscano, Lighty and Bond on Twin Cays. Complementary work by McKee et al. (2007) is increasing our understanding of the mechanisms of peat accumulation in response to sea-level change. The micropaleontological work of the Horton sealevel research laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania has expanded this effort to include surface foraminiferal and palynological transfer functions to characterize the surface subenvironments and their relationships to mean sea level.

Our current NSF-funded study follows on our 2007 University of Pennsylvania graduate students Nicole Khan and Simin CCRE-funded Liu take core samples in mangrove peat deposits. fieldwork (Toscano, Hor-


ton, McKee, Macintyre) which allowed us to explore the range of environments on West Island, Twin Cays, and to collect two side-by-side 10-m continuous peat cores on which we completed full-core stable isotope analyses, 10 AMS radiocarbon dates and preliminary foraminiferal assessments. The objective of the ongoing project has been to complete the comprehensive surveying and sampling of the Twin Cays environments, to obtain surface transects and infaunal living depths of modern mangrove foraminiferal assemblages and to delineate their distribution relative to elevation and tide level changes, from the mangrove fringe to the interior. Properly delineated surface foraminiferal assemblages then define a site-specific transfer function which can be used to interpret foraminiferal assemblages sampled at depth in long peat cores, allowing us to relate the older, dated sample to its original relationship to sea level and/or provide a definitive elevation error relative to former sea level for the sample. This new measure of past elevation allows us to create a more accurate Belize sea-level database. This in turn will enable us to calibrate geophysical sea-level models for this field area as well as those generated for latitudinally-equivalent sites without geological sea-level databases. In addition, we are obtaining stable isotopic analyses in cores as a paleo-ecological indicator of habitat stability, and to help determine the most undisturbed core levels for radiocarbon dating.

ing analysis. We greatly appreciate the help and support of station managers Jerry and Sandy Alanko, Nadineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s excellent field lunches, and the fine weather throughout our time in Belize.

Installation of new permanent survey benchmarks at the Smithsonian Field Station on Carrie Bow Cay, Belize: Toward a sentinel sea level site for scientific studies Marguerite A. Toscano, Philippe Hensel, and Patricia Delgado In June 2011, Marguerite A. Toscano (SI, Paleobiology), Philippe Hensel (NOAA NGS) and Patricia Delgado (CBNERR) established new location and elevation control on Carrie Bow Cay (CBC) and Twin Cays (TC). We developed a local geodetic control network centered at CBC, connecting CBC tidal data (e.g., mean sea level) to nearby research sites. This is a critical step in beginning the establishment of the CBC research area as a Sentinel Sea Level Site, a local geodetic control network connected to a tide gauge and elevation monitoring systems (benchmarks and RSETs) with ongoing maintenance every 5 years. A Sentinel Sea Level Site at CBC offers an unprecedented level of geodetic control and accessible reference marks at a critical research location within a World Heritage coral reef and mangrove ecosystem. In addition, CBC is currently the

During our February 2011 trip we leveled and sampled three long surface transects (two on West Island, one on East Island), took several short infaunal cores, and attempted several long cores (with a hand-driven Russian Peat Borer) in three areas of Twin Cays. We successfully obtained a complete 10-m core to bedrock on West Island (on the only rainy day of the trip) and cored to shallower and deeper depths in other areas (for basal peat samples). Modern mangrove material was sampled for isotopic analysis as an aid to interpretation of long core sequences of stable isotopes. A oneday trip to the Pelican Cays resulted in several surface transects and infaunal samples at Manatee Cay. Hundreds of samples were taken back to U Penn and SI for ongo- Scientists Marguerite Toscano, Philipe Hensel, and Patricia Delgado at Carrie Bow Cay.


only site along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef with a maintained, virtually continuous long-term tide gauge record (since 2000). Benchmarks are essential references needed to monitor the vertical stability of the tide gauge, and to reference all tidal data and sample site elevations to the ellipsoid vertical datum (International Terrestrial Reference Frame of 2008).

receivers to obtain satellite readings, but which were away from normal foot traffic to avoid painful encounters. The benchmarks are encased in 6”-diameter PVC sleeves driven 1 meter into the sand and filled with sand to maintain stability. We plan to cap them with specially-designed access covers in the near future. On CBC there are also four small brass survey buttons drilled and epoxied into concrete on the dock and We installed two new permanent deep rod survey building footings. These are turning points for leveling benchmarks on CBC, to replace a former benchmark the benchmarks to each other and the tide gauge durwhich eroded away (by 2004). Two more were installed ing future surveying for long term maintenance of the at TC, where many experiments are ongoing and nu- network. merous core sites are located. The 1.2 m long threaded stainless steel survey rods were driven manually to bed- All deep rod benchmarks and the survey button adjarock (~10-15 m), adding rods as needed, with a post- cent to the tide gauge stilling well were surveyed/locathole driver. On CBC, the primary mark is located in ed in place using GPS receivers deployed at each mark. the southeast portion of the island next to the scientist We conducted a series of at least three, 8+ hours-long house in the vine-covered open area (16° 48’ 7.93” N, simultaneous GPS/GNSS observations on both islands 88° 04’ 54.38” W). The second mark is on the northeast using three survey-grade, L1/L2 GNSS receivers (Topend behind the Lab (16°48’ 10.03” N, 88° 04’ 54.03” Con HyPer Plus and HiPer Ga integrated antenna/reW). At TC one mark is located a short distance into ceiver), to minimize the vertical difference between the an overgrown survey line at Batfish Point, West Island two islands, since they received approximately the same (16° 50’ 2.71” N, 88°06’ 14.62” W), and the other is satellite signals at the same time of day. Post-processat the northwest end of Aandera Pond on East Island ing of the GPS data was done using the National Geo(16° 50’ 3.31” N, 88° 06’ 7.56” W). In all cases we detic Survey’s On-Line Position User Service (OPUS): chose sites that were open to the sky to allow the GPS the mark with the lowest positional error (the southern mark on CBC) was designated as the Primary Control Point (PCP).

Scientists Marguerite Toscano and Philipe Hensel at Carrie Bow Cay.


After GPS/GNSS observations were completed, leveled connections were made among all marks at CBC using an optical level and geodetic leveling techniques, including balanced shots, survey buttons (as turning points), and accuracy checked via forward and backward runs. Our targeted maximum error for any bench mark connection was 3 mm. The YSI 6600EDS multi-probe tide gauge at CBC (managed by Tom Opishinski) had in the past been leveled from the stilling well to the now-lost original

observations were completed, the entire data file was submitted to OPUS, as well as two separate 4-5 hour data blocks from the entire file to test for any time-of-day effects on the GPS signals and resulting positional errors. Pairwise differences between pairs of simultaneous observations on CBC and TC were averaged to determine the average vertical difference between the PCP’s on both islands. Anticipated results – This work will allow for high precision elevation determinations and direct associations with tidal elevations for all field sites within the CCRE research area, particularly the numerous study sites and plots on Twin Cays. This alone is a vital contribution of this effort. Toscano’s NSF-funded research project to reconstruct the Holocene sea-level curve for Belize, based on chronostratigraphy of the unique deep mangrove peat cores obtained from TC, requires that the modern tidal datum of local mean sea level be acquired for each sampling location.

Scientist Philipe Hensel at Twin Cays.

bench mark. Since then, no new connection to bench marks was possible. In June 2011 we established a Vertical Point of Reference (VPR) on the stilling well by placing an etched mark on the top of the stilling tube. By making a leveled connections between the stilling well and the local control network (including the PCP), the stability of the tide gauge can now be checked and adjusted for any movement. Furthermore, through the connection to the PCP, tidal information can now be easily transferred to the deep rod locations at TC, due to the fact that simultaneous GPS observations were made on both islands. Leveling at TC was conducted to transfer the GPS/GNSS-derived ITRF 2008 elevations from the deep rod marks to all mangrove peat core locations as well as RSETs on the island. The static GPS data files have been submitted to the NGS On-line Position User Service (OPUS) for postprocessing; the outcome will be a set of coordinates in the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF 2008). An average of the (three) sets of coordinates will be assigned to the mark. After successful >10-hour

In addition, we will work with Tom Opishinski to reference all tidal elevation data to the ITRF, establish a mean sea level (MSL) zero level, and create a complete tidal dataset starting in 2000 from the current tide gauge. The tidal data will further be analyzed for tidal components, tide ranges, any sealevel trend at the site, for seasonal (steric) tidal elevation changes and other properties. We will write a paper to update the original analysis by Kjerfve et al. (1982) from the previous tide gauge, detailing these tidal properties and absolute sea-level elevations. We will report sea-level trends along the Belize Barrier Reef, and look for indications relevant to the IPCC predictions of sea-level rise and accelerations due to climate change. All tide data would ultimately be presented in graphic and numeric form on the CCRE website. Eventually CCRE may decide to augment this study with several more benchmarks located at key spots within the CCRE research area, further GPS surveys, and sufficient analysis to create a Sentinel Sea level Site for the Belize Barrier Reef.


Ecological Monitoring Turbidity trends and seagrass distributions in the waters surrounding Carrie Bow Cay, Belize Charles L. Gallegos, W. Judson Kenworthy and Troels M. Pedersen Seagrasses have high light requirements, so that degradation of water quality that limits the penetration of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) underwater has the potential to severely impact the survival depth and areal coverage of seagrass meadows. Seagrass systems are, therefore, a sensitive indicator of habitat loss due to human impacts the coastal zone. Water clarity in the waters surrounding CBC has deteriorated. Since the inception of measurements in 1993 (with gaps due to closure of the station) horizontally sighted Secchi distance outside a shallow seagrass bed near Twin Cays has declined at a rate of 0.29 m 路 y-1, while the vertically sighted Secchi depth at a deep station on the fore-reef has declined at a rate of 0.52 m 路 y-1. Episodes of low visibility (<6 m) have always occurred, but appear to be more frequent in recent years, while very clear water with visibility exceeding 18 m has not been observed since 2004.

Horizontally-sighted Secchi disk in seagrass habitat.

The cause of the visibility decline has not been identified. It is likely to be due to a change in amounts and/or kinds of suspended solids because visual transparency is more sensitive to light scattering than to light absorption. The objectives of this work are: to quantify the relative contributions of suspended solids, colored dissolved organic matter, and phytoplankton to light attenuation and visibility in the vicinity of Carrie Bow Cay; to relate properties measured in the long term CARRICOMP program to inherent optical properties of the water; to improve our estimate of the light requirements of the Thalassia testudinum bed at the Blue Ground Range (BGR) site in Lagoon Channel, Belize; to biologically characterize the deep T. testudinum bed at the BGR to establish it as a sentinel site for assessing effects of deteriorating water clarity in the lagoon at Carrie Bow Cay. We visited Carrie Bow Cay for 1 week in March 2011. We measured inherent optical properties, white and black disk visibility, and light attenuation at BGR, the Twin Cays CARICOMP site, the water quality monitoring site at the forereef, and an additional station at Cat Key where a steeply sloping bottom makes for a sharply delineated Thalassia deep edge. The visibility of a white Secchi disk in the horizontal direction depends on the beam attenuation coefficient, an inherent optical property of the water, as well as the disk orientation and reflectivity. Alternatively, the visibility of a black disk depends only on the beam attenua-


tion coefficient. In order to make the most use of the historical Secchi disk visibility data, we sought to establish an empirical relationship between white disk and black disk visibility for the waters around Carrie Bow Cay. Based on data collected in March 2010, that relationship appears to be quite precise, with black disk visibility being on average 0.78×[white disk visibility] (Figure 1). As we make progress processing our data that partitions beam attenuation coefficient among particulate and dissolved components, we will be able to use the derived relationship to reconstruct past increases in the particulate attenuation.

Seagrass community.


simple, inexpensive technique for continuously monitoring water movement around CBC. The prototype was developed in response to long-term CARICOMP data that indicated a significant decline in water clarity since monitoring began at CBC in 1993. While turbidity events were strongly correlated with wind direction, movement of water masses only could be inferred because of lack of data on water flow and currents. To address the issue of the source of turbid water along the reef tract, two prototype “current meters” were developed and deployed in summer 2010 – one in the channel south of Carrie Bow Cay (3m) and a second on the CARICOMP site on the inner forereef (12m). The data now being collected represent the first instance of a continuous, long-term record of water flow being generated in the vicinity of Carrie Bow and likely along the entire MesoAmerican Barrier Reef system. Preliminary results indicate that the dominant flow of water both at 12m along the inner forereef and at 3 m in the channel south of CBC is in a south-southwesterly direction. This is consistent with the geomorphology of the coastline as well as circulation of the countercurrent gyre in the Gulf of Honduras. Tidal influences are also strongly evident in the channel as well as a weaker signal at 10m along the forereef. Preliminary estimates indicate that peak current speeds exceed 40 cm/sec in the channel on outgoing spring tides. Signatures of Hurricane Harvey (August 2011) as well as other events can be seen in the record.

Further refinement of the prototype in the summer of 2011 extended the range of current velocities that can Monitoring under the Caribbean Coastal Marine Pro- be recorded. Calibrations of the prototype now underductivity (CARICOMP) program continued in 2010- way should allow for improved estimates of current ve2011. CARICOMP was launched in 1990 as a regional locity in addition to direction. These estimates, in turn, scientific effort to study land-sea interaction processes; will be valuable not only to studies of water quality but to monitor for change on a local and regional scale and to determining potential sources and sinks of larvae and distinguish anthropogenic change from natural varia- other resource management information needs. tion; and to provide appropriate scientific information for management. Standardized, synoptic measure- 2010/2011 Meteorological and ments are made in the three primary Caribbean coastal oceanographic monitoring program ecosystems of mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs together with relevant oceanographic and meteorologi- Tom Opishinski cal measurements. The Environmental Monitoring System (EMS) on CarThe standard CARICOMP measurements were con- rie Bow Cay is a fully automated system that measures ducted at Carrie Bow Cay (CBC) in December 2010 oceanographic (temperature, salinity, turbidity, water and again in July 2011. These included enhanced mea- level, pH, and dissolved oxygen) and meteorological surements of octocorals to improve estimates of their conditions (air temperature wind speed/direction, relapopulation dynamics. In addition, testing began on a tive humidity, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, and solar Karen Koltes, John Tschirky, Stephanie Rihl


radiation) every ten minutes. It is an important resource for researchers, scientists, and environmental managers as it is the only system continuously monitoring both oceanographic and meteorological parameters on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. In fact NOAA scientists recently determined it has the only operational water level sensor in the western Caribbean north of Bocas del Toro in Panama.

to the system on Carrie Bow Cay by RF radio. It receives, processes, and then uploads data to the Internet Web Server that hosts the EMS web site.

As part of the maintenance program various anti-fouling measures are used on underwater instruments to deter biological fouling that can affect sensor performance and data quality. Figure 1 shows the oceanographic instrument after it has been prepared for deployment. Because the system is the sole resource for continuous The sensors are identified by the adhesive copper film environmental data in the region and, operates with attached to the exterior housings â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the pure copper film limited human interaction, a strict maintenance pro- is a strong deterrent to biological fouling. After the water quality instrument is serviced it is deployed inside a stilling tube located at the end of the boat dock (Figure 2).

Several sensors were upgraded on the weather system Figure 2- Stilling tube that houses oceanographic data sonde.

in 2010-2011. To access the meteorological sensors located at the top of the tower, the weather/communications tower is lowered to the horizontal service position (Figure 3). In December 2010, a new pyranometer was Figure 1- Oceanographic sonde. installed to replace a failing solar radiation sensor that was part of the original equipment installed in 2000. A new air temperature/relative humidity probe was ingram is followed to ensure system components oper- stalled in August 2011. The manufacturer no longer ate as designed and provide optimal data quality. The offered a matching replacement for the original sensor maintenance program includes inspection, cleaning, so it was necessary to rewire the sensorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cable and recalibration and evaluation of all system components program the datalogger. on Carrie Bow including underwater instruments and sensors, weather sensors, cables, power and radio te- Figure 4 shows the sealed meteorological sensor houslemetry subsystems, and structural components (e.g., ing after it was removed from the tower and prior to tower, instrument mounts). The systemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s base station installation of the new air temperature/relative humidand Internet data management system is maintained on ity. The exterior of the aluminum housing had oxidized the Belize mainland in Dangriga. The base station links however the internal components and wiring were in 26

can be viewed at this link: windrose.php?siteIndex=0. The series of Wind Rose charts presented on this page makes it easy to view and identify seasonal wind patterns. A Wind Rose is a graphic chart used to give a succinct view of how wind speed and direction are distributed at a particular location and for a specific time period. Figure 6 is the Wind Rose plot for Carrie Bow for December of 2006.

Figure 3- Weather tower lowered for servicing.

perfect condition because the seal was intact. After refurbishing and repainting the housing the new probe was installed. Figure 5 shows the top portion of the sealed housing with the new air temperature/humidity probe in place. This summer the base station had to be moved (unexpectFigure 5- New air temperature and humidity probe installed in sensor housing.

Figure 4- Meterological sensor housing during servicing.

edly) from its location in town at Naturalight Productions to the Pelican Beach Resort on the outskirts of Dangriga. We worked with the staff of Naturalight Productions and Pelican Beach Resort to provide instructions, guidance, and troubleshooting during the move. Several new features were added to the EMS web site to expand content and data products available to the viewer. For example the moon phase is now included on the web page showing real time data. A new section that presents historical monthly Wind Rose charts was also added and

Data from the EMS was provided to scientists conducting research from Carrie Bow and other regional research stations. For example, the recipient of the Smithsonian Minority Fellowship in 2009, Elizabeth Mclean, studied associations and overgrowth between octocorals and sponges and reviewed differences across species and habitats. The studies were conducted during two separate visits to Carrie Bow in 2009 and 2010. When completing her analysis early in 2011 she realized that, to reconcile the differences in water conditions for the two periods, she lacked water temperature and salinity data. Data from the EMS archives was used by Elizabeth to complete her project (E. Mclean, personal communication, January 20, 2011). The passage of Hurricane Richard (October 24 2010) and Tropical Storm Harvey (August 20 2011) in close proximity to Carrie Bow Cay marked, respectively, the beginning and end of an eventful year for the environmental monitoring program. The EMS is designed and maintained to withstand the tropical marine conditions present on Carrie Bow Cay and, during both storm events, the EMS remained operational and continued to measure and record data. Measurements show Hurricane Richard produced maximum sustained winds of 49 27

Figure 6- Wind Rose Plot.

mph, 177.8 mm of rain, and a barometric (low) pressure of 999.8 mBar while Tropical Storm Harvey had maximum sustained winds of 39.3 mph, 103 mm rainfall, and a low pressure of 1001 mBar. Data acquired by the EMS was provided to the Belize Meteorological Service and lets scientists study the impact that hurricanes and tropical storms have on local water quality. Shoreline surveys of Carrie Bow Cay continued in 201011 using the Streamline-GEO survey system and a Garmin GPS. GPS surveys started in 2006 and are meant to monitor seasonal and long-term changes to Carrie Bowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spatial geography and storm-induced erosion. Historical shoreline surveys were conducted prior to 2006 under the CCRE program but without the aid of GPS or other advanced survey equipment. Preliminary analysis of the surveys indicates that erosion has been decreasing the size of the island at a fairly rapid rate though, the good news, is that it appears to have stabilized to some extent in the past year. 28

Continued investigations of reef health and corallivory in Belize Randi Rotjan, Peter Gawne, Jay Dimond, Scott Jones, Zach Foltz

In a collaboration with CCRE, the New England Aquarium has helped to create and implement a new long-term reef monitoring program to assess the impacts of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve around Carrie Bow Cay. The program is intended to be complementary to other efforts, (for example, CARICOMP). As is typical, this monitoring program measures the diversity, abundance, and biomass of key reef organisms including benthic reef builders and fishes. The program is designed to be cross-compatible with historical and simultaneous efforts elsewhere in Belize and the Atlan-

Coral monitoring team (left to right): Scott Jones, Randi Rotjan, Jay Dimond, Walter Flaherty, Pete Gawne, Zach Foltz.

tic Ocean. However, we have also added some critically important assessments that yield information about key ecological rates and states that are thought to contribute to reef resistance, resilience, and recovery in the face of negative impacts. Rates include the herbivorous and corallivorous grazing rates of parrotfishes, and the herbivorous grazing rates of surgeonfishes. Benthic states include scleractinian coral health status (bleaching, diseased, or grazed) as well as recruitment and growth dynamics. Pelagic states include prevalence of externally visible fish diseases. Changes in benthic cover (growth, recruitment, and mortality) are measured via photoquadrats (5 per transect), which will be analyzed using Coral Point Count (CPC). Because abiotic factors play a critical role in these rates and states, we are also measuring in-situ temperature along a subset of transect sites. The first set of transects were successfully completed and analyzed; current coral cover on the CBC forereef averages around 10%.

Research diver Jay Dimond conducts coral survey.


CCRE Contributions FY2011 Aronson, R.B. and I.G. Macintyre. 2011. Natural and anthropogenic catastrophe on the Belizean Barrier Reef. In Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. (eds.), Too Precious for Oil: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize, pp. 125-128. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727]. Baeza, J. A., & C. Piantoni. 2010. Sexual System, Sex Ratio, and Group Living in the Shrimp Thor amboinensis (De Man): Relevance to Resource-Monopolization and Sex-Allocation Theories. Biological Bulletin 219: 151-156. Baldwin, C., Castillo, C., Weigt, L., Victor, B. 2011. Seven new species within western Atlantic Starksia atlantica, S. lepicoelia, and S. sluiteri (Teleostei, Labrisomidae), with comments on congruence of DNA barcodes and species. ZooKeys 79: 21-72. Doi: 10.3897 / zookeys.79.1045. Bulgheresi, S., H.R. Gruber-Vodicka, N.R. Heindl, U. Dirks, M. Kostadinova, H. Breiteneder, J.A. Ott. 2011. Sequence variability of the pattern recognition receptor Mermaid mediates specificity of marine nematode symbioses. The IMSE Journal 5: 986-989. Carrera-Parra, L.F., K. Fauchald, M.C. Gambi. 2011. Revision of the taxonomic status of Lysidce (Polychaeta, Eunicidae) in the Western Caribbean Sea with observation on species reproductive features and habitat preference. Italian Journal of Zoology, iFirst: 1-14. Chen, H., M. Strand, J. L. Norenburg, S. Sun, H. Kajihara, A. V. Chernyshev, S. A. Maslakova, P. Sundberg. 2010. Statistical Parsimony Networks and Species Assemblages in Cephalotrichid Nemerteans (Nemertea). PLoS ONE 5(9): e12885. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012885. Diaz, M. C. and K. R端tzler. 2011. Biodiversity of Sponges: Belize and Beyond, to the Greater Caribbean. . In Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. (eds.), Too Precious for Oil: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize, pp. 57-65. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727]. Freestone, A.L., R.W. Osman, G.M. Ruiz, and M.E. Torchin. 2011. Stronger predation in tropics shapes species richness patterns in marine communities. Ecology 92(4): 983-993. Freestone, A.L. and R. W. Osman. 2011. Latitudinal variation in local interactions and regional enrichment shape patterns of marine community diversity. Ecology 92(1): 208-217. Gruber-Vodicka, H.R., U. Dirks, N. Leisch, C. Baranyi, K. Stoecker, S. Bulgheresi, N.R. Heindl, M. Horn, C. Lott, A. Loy, M. Wagner, J. Ott. 2011. Paracatenula, an ancient symbiosis between thiotrophic Alphaproteobacteria and catenulid flatworms. PNAS 108 (29): 12078-12083. Hochberg, R. 2010. Two new species of Oregodasys (Gastrotricha: Macrodasyida: Thaumastodermatidae) from Carrie Bow Cay, Belize with ultrastructural observations of the epidermal glandular system. Zootaxa 2660: 1-17. Heindl, N.R., H.R. Gruber-Vodicka, C. Bayer, S. Luecker, J.A. Ott, S. Bulgheresi. 2011. First detection of thiotrophic symbiont phylotypes in the pelagic marine environment. FEMS Microbial Ecology 77(1): 223-227. Morrow, K. M., V.J. Paul, M.R. Liles and N. Chadwick. 2011. Allelochemicals produced by Caribbean macroalgae and cyanobacteria have species-specific effects on reef coral microorganisms. Coral Reefs 30(2): 309-320. Puebla, O., E. Bermingham, F. Guichard. 2011. Pairing dynmaics and the origin of species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Published online before print September 21, 2011, doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1549. Rung, A., and W. Mathis. 2011. Revision of the genus Aulacigaster. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 633.


Tornabene, L. Baldwin, C.C., L. A. Weight, and F. Petzold. 2010. Exploring the diversity of Western Atlantic Bathygobius (Teleostei: Gobiidae) with cytochrome c oxidase-l, with descriptions of two new species. Aqua 16(4-15): 141-170. Wulff, Janie. 2011. Functional Importance of Biodiversity for Coral Reefs of Belize. In Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. (eds.), Too Precious for Oil: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize, pp. 52-56. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727].

2011 Participants * served as station manager

Alanko, Jerry & Sandy, Tilghman, MD* Arnold, Susie, University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME Baker, Ronald, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Baldwin, Carole, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Benson, Sam, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Bieler, Rudiger, The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL Brady, Jeff, Access Energy, Lakewood Colorado Brooks, Barrett, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany, Washington, D.C Brown, Curtis, University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME, Bulgheresi, Silvia, University of Vienna, Austria Burnett, Tanya, Island Exposure Photography, 836 Claremore Dr., West Palm Beach, FL Burrell, Rebecca, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Busch, William, Oahu, HI Carter, Ginnie, Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park/Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Kaneohe, HI Castillo, Cristina, Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. Chamberlain, Anne, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland Coleman, Randolph, Wildlife Conservation Society, Belize, C.A. Collins, Timothy, Florida International University, Miami, FL Craft, Jonathon, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL DeBose, Jennifer, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Delgado, Patricia, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA Dies, John, Dies Electric, Akron, OH* Dies, Jonathon, Dies Electric, Akron, OH* Dimond, James, Western Washington University, Anacortes, WA Dramer, Greg and Joann, Kalispell, MT* Ducket, Lisa, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Engene, Niclas, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Eversole, Heather, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Fagan, Margaret, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Felder, Darryl, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA Felder, Jenny, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA Feller, Ilka, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland Feller, Ray, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland Ferrier, Graham, University of California, Los Angeles, CA Flaherty, Walter, New England Aquarium, Boston, MA Fogarty, Nicole, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Foltz, Zach, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Forde, Alex, University of Maryland, College Park, MD


Gallegos, Charles, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD Gawne, Peter, New England Aquarium, Boston, MA Gedan, Keryn, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Golding, Rosemary, The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL Goodison, Mike, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Gouge, Daniel, Williston, FL* Griswold, Donald, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Hagedorn, Mary, Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. Heindl, Niels, University of Vienna, Austria Henley, Michael, Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. Hensel, Phillippe, NOAA National Geodetic Survey, 1315 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring, MD Hootman, Jonathon, 52 Easy Street, Whitesburg, KY* Jaeckle, William, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL James, Edwin & Bonnie, Tilgman, MD* Jones, Scott, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Kenworthy, Jud, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD Khan, Nicole, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Kirk, Nathan, Auburn University, Auburn, AL Koltes, Karen, Office of Insular Affairs, Dept. of Interior, Washington, D.C. Lang, Michael, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Marine Science Network, Washington, D.C. Lee, Woody, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Lemaitre, Rafael, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Washington, D.C. Liu, Simin, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Maaz, Julio, Wildlife Conservation Society, Belize, C.A. McDonald, Christian, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, CA McLeod, Andrew, The DEEP Aquarium, Hull, East Yorkshite, UK Meir, Jessica, University of British Columbia, Department of Zoology, Vancouver, B.C. Miller, Daniel, San Diego, CA* Moore, Joel & Linda, Shingle Springs, CA* Nelson, Brian, New England Aquarium, Boston, MA Nijhuis, Michelle, Paonia, CO Olsen, Kevin, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL Opishinksi, Thomas, Interactive Oceanographics, East Greenwich, RI Ott, Joerg, University of Vienna, Austria Parsons, Keith & Shirley, Atlanta, GA* Paul, Valerie, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Pecnik, Simon, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA Potter, Mike, Noahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ark Repair Service, Cocoa Beach, FL Pezzella, Thomas, Worcester, MA* Rawlings, Timothy, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada Richardson, Andrew, PADI America, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA Rihl, Stephanie, 17744 Hwy. 67, Ramona, CA Ritson-Williams, Raphael, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Ross, Clifford, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL Rotjan, Randi, New England Aquarium, Boston, MA Sayer, Martin, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, UK Scheff, George, 4092 Norris Rd., Bellville, OH* Seltman, Torsten, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Sherwood, Craig, Deale, MD* Shue, Jessica, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Sierwald, Petra, The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL Simpson, Lorae, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Sneed, Jennifer, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL Sterrer, Wolfgang, Bermuda Natural History Museum, Bermuda


Streeter, Tanya, Austin, TX Taylor, Jim & Tanya, 2100 Old Taylor Rd., Oxford, MS* Thieme, Caroline, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD Toscano, Marguerite, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology, Washington, D.C. Tschirky, John, Marine Protected Areas Specialist, The Nature Conservancy, Latin American/Caribbean Program, US Tudge, Chris, American University, Washington, D.C. Watson, Anya, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Marine Science Network, Washington, D.C. Weglinski, Roseanna, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL Wood, Abby, Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. Wulff, Colin, Talahassee, FL Wulff, Janie, Florida State University, Tallahasee, FL Photograph & Art Credits: Front cover: R. Ritson-Williams; inside front cover: M. K. Ryan (design); p.6: C. Baldwin; p.7: R. Bieler; p.8&9 (decapods): D. Felder; p. 9 (bottom): R. Ritson-Williams; p. 10: D. Breitburg; p.11: R. Ritson-Williams; p.12: R. Ritson-Williams; p.13: R. Ritson-Williams; p.14: S. Bulgheresi; p.15: R. Rotjan; p.16: N. Fogarty; p.17: T. Burnett; p.18:R. Ritson-Williams; p.19: M. Hagedorn; p.20: M. Toscano, p.21: R. Ritson-Williams; p.22: M. Toscano; p.23: M. Toscano; p.24: S. Jones; p.26: T. Opishinksi, p.27: T. Opishinski; p. 29(top): G. Dramer, p. 29 (bottom):S. Jones, Back cover: Lorae Simpson Graphic Design: M.S. Jones.


Smithsonian Marine Station Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program Fort Pierce, FL 路 Carrie Bow Cay, Belize

CCRE Staff: Valerie Paul, Director Zach Foltz, Station Manager Scott Jones, Program Coordinator 34

2011 CCRE Annual Report  

2011 Annual Report for the Smithsonian's Caribbean Coral Reefs Ecosystems Program.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you