Local stressors in the Caribbean

Published 2018-01-09

Photo: NOAA

Long-term monitoring is an important component of sustainable ecosystem management, allowing scientists and researchers to detect changes in the health of vulnerable environments. In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP) has collected long-term monitoring data on coastal habitats for years. A new study released 25 years of this data set to describe local and global stressors on reefs in this area.

From this very large data set, researchers analyzed trends in water temperature, salinity, and visibility at 29 sites across the Caribbean including Bermuda, Bonaire, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. found that water quality decreased 42% over the last 25 years in the Caribbean. This decrease in water quality is associated with decrease in visibility and the increase in populations living on the coast. Data collected at monitoring stations close to larger cities were different than data collected in more remote areas.

Interestingly, they did not find a significant increase in water temperatures over this period of time. This data does not match that measured by satellites, which measure temperature at the surface of the ocean, suggesting that changes in water temperature below the surface are more complex.

This long-term monitoring data set will provide valuable information for managing ecosystem stressors at the local level in the Caribbean.

Journal Reference:
1. Iliana Chollett, Rachel Collin, Carolina Bastidas, Aldo Cróquer, Peter M. H. Gayle, Eric Jordán-Dahlgren, Karen Koltes, Hazel Oxenford, Alberto Rodriguez-Ramirez, Ernesto Weil, Jahson Alemu, David Bone, Kenneth C. Buchan, Marcia Creary Ford, Edgar Escalante-Mancera, Jaime Garzón-Ferreira, Hector M. Guzmán, Björn Kjerfve, Eduardo Klein, Croy McCoy, Arthur C. Potts, Francisco Ruíz-Rentería, Struan R. Smith, John Tschirky, Jorge Cortés. Widespread local chronic stressors in Caribbean coastal habitats. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0188564 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188564