Assessing land use, sedimentation, and water quality stressors as predictors of coral reef condition in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
- 161 Downloads
Coral reef condition on the south shore of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was assessed at various distances from Charlotte Amalie, the most densely populated city on the island. Human influence in the area includes industrial activity, wastewater discharge, cruise ship docks, and impervious surfaces throughout the watershed. Anthropogenic activity was characterized using a landscape development intensity (LDI) index, sedimentation threat (ST) estimates, and water quality (WQ) impairments in the near-coastal zone. Total three-dimensional coral cover, reef rugosity, and coral diversity had significant negative coefficients for LDI index, as did densities of dominant species Orbicella annularis, Orbicella franksi, Montastraea cavernosa, Orbicella faveolata, and Porites porites. However, overall stony coral colony density was not significantly correlated with stressors. Positive relationships between reef rugosity and ST, between coral diversity and ST, and between coral diversity and WQ were unexpected because these stressors are generally thought to negatively influence coral growth and health. Sponge density was greater with higher disturbance indicators (ST and WQ), consistent with reports of greater resistance by sponges to degraded water quality compared to stony corals. The highest FoRAM (Foraminifera in Reef Assessment and Monitoring) indices indicating good water quality were found offshore from the main island and outside the harbor. Negative associations between stony coral metrics and LDI index have been reported elsewhere in the Caribbean and highlight LDI index potential as a spatial tool to characterize land-based anthropogenic stressor gradients relevant to coral reefs. Fewer relationships were found with an integrated stressor index but with similar trends in response direction.
KeywordsCoral reefs Landscape development intensity Sedimentation Impaired water quality
Outstanding field assistance in conducting coral reef surveys was provided by Jed Campbell, Peggy Harris, Becky Hemmer, Robert Quarles, and Sherry Vickery (U.S. EPA Gulf Ecology Division); Charles LoBue and Danny Rodriguez (U.S. EPA Region 2); Mel Parsons (U.S. EPA Region 4); Aaron Hutchins (The Nature Conservancy, St. Croix); Rich Henry (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Response Team); Alan Humphrey (U.S. EPA, Environmental Response Team); and Jon McBurney and Scott Grossman (Lockheed Martin, Scientific, Engineering, Response and Analytical Services (SERAS) Program). The crew of the OSV Bold, Captain Jere Chamberlain, provided excellent support in all aspects of field data collection and logistics. Kent Bernier (U.S. Virgin Islands, Department of Planning and Natural Resources) provided small boat support for the survey teams. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Abt Associates, Inc. (2016). Describing the ocean economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/econ-usvi-pr.html
- Bradley, P., Fore, L., Fisher, W., & Davis, W. (2010). Coral reef biological criteria: using the Clean Water Act to protect a national treasure. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Narragansett, RI. EPA/600/R-10/054, July 2010.Google Scholar
- Brodie, J., Schroeder, T., Rohde, K., Faithful, J., Masters, B., Dekker, A., Brando, V., & Maughan, M. (2010). Dispersal of suspended sediments and nutrients in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon during river-discharge events: conclusions from satellite remote sensing and concurrent flood-plume sampling. Marine and Freshwater Research, 61(6), 651–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Burke, L., & Maidens, J. (2004). Reefs at risk in the Caribbean. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute 81 pp.Google Scholar
- Burke, L., Reytar, K., Spalding, M., & Perry, A. (2011). Reefs at risk revisited. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute.Google Scholar
- Clark, K.R., & Gorley, R.N. (2006). PRIMER v6: user manual/tutorial, Plymouth, UK.Google Scholar
- DPNR, (2010). USVI integrated water quality monitoring & assessment report. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection Water Quality Management & Planning Program. 165 pp. Retrieved 2018, 10 February from: http://www.horsleywitten.com/stx-east-endwatersheds/pubs/2010IntegratedReport_b.pdf.
- Fisher, W.S. (2007). Stony coral rapid bioassessment protocol. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Gulf Breeze, FL. EPA/600/R-06/167, July 2007.Google Scholar
- Friedlander, A.M., Jeffrey, C.F.G., Hile, S.D., Pittman, S.J., Monaco, M.E. & Caldow, C., eds. (2013). Coral reef ecosystems of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands: spatial and temporal patterns in fish and benthic communities (2001-2009). NOAA Technical Memorandum 152. Silver Spring, MD. 150 pp.Google Scholar
- Froese, R., & Pauly, D., eds. (2013). FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (12/2013).
- Halpern, B. S., Walbridge, S., Selkoe, K. A., Kappel, C. V., Micheli, F., D’Agrosa, C., Bruno, J. F., Casey, K. S., Ebert, C., Fox, H. E., Fujita, R., Heinemann, D., Lenihan, H. S., Madin, E. M. P., Perry, M. T., Selig, E. R., Spalding, M., Steneck, R., & Watson, R. (2008). A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science, 319, 948–952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Horsely Witten Group, Inc, (2013). St. Thomas East End reserves watershed management plan. Report to NOAA coral Reef Conservation Program, USVI DPNR, and The Nature Conservancy. 73 pp.Google Scholar
- Humann, P., & DeLoach, N. (2002). Reef coral identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas. Jacksonville: New World.Google Scholar
- Islands Resources Foundation, USVI-Conservation Data Center, & U.S. Geological Survey. (2001). Watersheds for St. Thomas and St. John, US Virgin Islands. https://databasin.org/datasets/47140a08e8d340fea9a3f4118f15febe.
- Jackson, J. B. C., Donovan, M. K., Cramer, K. L., & Lam, V. V. (Eds.). (2014). Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012. Gland: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, IUCN.Google Scholar
- Jupiter, S., Roff, G., Marion, G., Henderson, M., Schrameyer, V., McCulloch, M., & Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2008). Linkages between coral assemblages and coral proxies of terrestrial exposure along a cross-shelf gradient on the southern Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 27(4), 887–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kaczmarsky, L. T., Draud, M., & Williams, E. H. (2005). Is there a relationship between proximity to sewage effluent and the prevalence of coral disease? Caribbean Journal of Science, 41(1), 124–137.Google Scholar
- Karr, J. R., & Chu, E. W. (1997). Biological monitoring and assessment: using multimetric indexes effectively. EPA 235-R97-001. Seattle: University of Washington.Google Scholar
- Kendall, M. S., Kruer, C. R., Buja, K. R., Christensen, J. D., Finkbeiner, M., & Monaco, M. E. (2001). Methods used to map the benthic habitats of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Silver Spring: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NCCOS Biogeography Program http://biogeo.nos.noaa.gov/projects/mapping/caribbean/startup.htm.Google Scholar
- Kisabeth, J. K., Smith, T., Primack, A., & Wilson, K. (2014). Cruise ship induced sediment resuspension characteristics in Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the West Gregerie Channel, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. St. Thomas: Doctoral dissertation, University of the Virgin Islands.Google Scholar
- Liu, G., Heron, S. F., Eakin, C. M., Muller-Karger, F. E., Vega-Rodriguez, M., Guild, L. S., De La Cour, J. L., Geiger, E. F., Skirving, W. J., Burgess, T. F. R., Strong, A. E., Harris, A., Maturi, E., Ignatov, A., Sapper, J., Li, J., & Lynds, S. (2014). Reef-scale thermal stress monitoring of coral ecosystems: new 5-km global products from NOAA Coral Reef Watch. Remote Sensing, 6(11), 11579–11606. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs61111579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Loya, Y. (1976). Effects of water turbidity and sedimentation on the community structure of Puerto Rican corals. Bulletin of Marine Science, 26(4), 450–466.Google Scholar
- Menza, C., Ault, J., Beets, J., Bohnsack, J., Caldow, C., Christensen, J., Friedlander, A., Jeffrey, C., Kendall, M., Luo, J., Monaco, M., Smith, S., & Woody, K., (2006). A guide to monitoring reef fish in the National Parks Service’s South Florida/Caribbean Network. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCOOS 39. 169 pp.Google Scholar
- Morelock, J., Ramirez, W.R., Bruckner, A.W., & Carlo, M. (2001). Status of coral reefs in southwest Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal Science Special Publication No 4.Google Scholar
- Nemeth, R. S., & Nowlis, J. S. (2001). Monitoring the effects of land development on the near-shore reef environment of St. Thomas, USVI. Bulletin of Marine Science, 69(2), 759–775.Google Scholar
- Novoa, S., Chust, G., Froidefond, J.M., Petus, C., Franco, J., Orive, E., Seoane, S., & Borja, A. (2012). Water quality monitoring in Basque coastal areas using local chlorophyll-a algorithm and MERIS images. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 6(1), 063519. doi: https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JRS.6.063519.
- Odum, H. T. (1996). Environmental accounting: Emergy and environmental decision making (p. 370). New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
- Oliver, L. M., Fisher, W. S., Dittmar, J., Hallock, P., Campbell, J., Quarles, R. L., Harris, P., & LoBue, C. (2014). Contrasting responses of coral reef fauna and foraminiferal assemblages to human influence in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Marine Environmental Research, 99, 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pait, A.S., Hartwell, S.I., Mason, A.L., Galdo, F.R. Jr., Warner, R.A., Jeffrey, C.F.G., Hoffman, A.M., Apeti, D.A., & Pittman, S.J. (2013a). An assessment of chemical contaminants detected in passive water samplers deployed in the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER). NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS/NCCOS 157. Silver Spring, MD. 22 pp.Google Scholar
- Pait, A.S., Hartwell, S.I., Mason, A.L., Warner, R.A., Jeffrey, C.F.G., Hoffman, A.M., Apeti, D.A., Galdo Jr., F.R., & Pittman, S.J. (2013b). An assessment of chemical contaminants, toxicity and benthic infauna in sediments from the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER). NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 156.Silver Spring, MD. 70 pp.Google Scholar
- Pittman, S.J., Dorfman, D.S., Hile, S.D., Jeffrey, C.F.G., Edwards, M.A. & Caldow, C. (2013). Land-sea characterization of the St. Croix East End Marine Park, U.S. Virgin Islands. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 170. Silver Spring, MD. 119 pp.Google Scholar
- Powell, A., Smith, D. J., Hepburn, L. J., Jones, T., Berman, J., Jompa, J., & Bell, J. J. (2014). Reduced diversity and high sponge abundance on a sedimented Indo-Pacific reef system: implications for future changes in environmental quality. PLoS One, 9(1), e85253. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0085253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Principe, P., Bradley, P., Yee, S., Fisher, W., Johnson, E., Allen, P. & Campbell, D. (2012). Quantifying coral reef ecosystem services. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Research Triangle Park, NC. EPA/600/R-11/206, January 2012, 147 pp.Google Scholar
- Rogers, C. S., Miller, J., Muller, E. M., Edmunds, P., Nemeth, R. S., Beets, J. P., Friedlander, A. M., Smith, T. B., Boulon, R., Jeffrey, C. F. G., Menza, C., Caldow, C., Idrisi, N., Kojis, B., Monaco, M. E., Spitzack, A., Gladfelter, E. H., Ogden, J. C., Hillis-Starr, Z., Lundgren, I., Schill, W. B., Kuffner, I. B., Richardson, L. L., Devine, B. E., & Voss, J. D. (2008). Ecology of coral reefs in the US Virgin Islands. In B. Riegl & R. Dodge (Eds.), Coral reefs of the USA (Vol. 1, pp. 303–373). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rothenberger, P., Blondeau, J., Cox, C., Curtis, S., Fisher, W. S., Garrison, V., Hillis-Starr, Z., Jeffrey, C., Kadison, E., Lundgren, I., Miller, W. J., Muller, E., Nemeth, R., Paterson, S., Rogers, C., Smith, T., Spitzack, A., Taylor, M., Toller, W., Wright, J., Wusinich-Mendea, D., & Waddell, J. (2008). The state of coral reef ecosystems of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In J. E. Wadell & A. M. Clarke (Eds.), The state of coral reef ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008 (pp. 29–73). Silver Spring: NOAA Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s Biogeography Team.Google Scholar
- Santavy, D.L, Fisher, W.S., Campbell, J.G., & Quarles R.L. (2012). Field manual for coral reef assessments. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, FL. EPA/600/R-12/029. April 2012.Google Scholar
- Shivlani, M., & Koeneke, R. (2010). Spatial characterization of artisanal fisheries in Puerto Rico: geographic information systems (GIS) approach for assessing the regional effort and landings. Proceedings 63rd Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, November 1–5, 2010, San Juan, Puerto Rico.Google Scholar
- Torres, J. T., & Morelock, J. (2002). Effect of terrigenous sediment influx on coral cover and linear extension rates of three Caribbean massive coral species. Caribbean Journal of Science, 38(3–4), 222–229.Google Scholar
- USVI (U.S. Virgin Islands), (2010). United States Virgin Islands 2010 revisions to: Water Quality Standards Title 12, chapter 7, Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, 22 pp.Google Scholar
- van Beukering, P., Brander, L., Van Zanten, B., Verbrugge, E., Lems, K. (2011). The economic value of the coral reef ecosystems in the United States Virgin Islands. In: Edmunds, P.E.T. (ed.), The economic value of coral reefs, IVM Report number: R-11/06.Google Scholar
- Vega Thurber, R. L., Burkepile, D. E., Fuchs, C., Shantz, A. A., McMinds, R., & Zaneveld, J. R. (2013). Chronic nutrient enrichment increases prevalence and severity of coral bleaching. Global Change Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb,12450.
- Warne, A. G., Webb, R. M. T., & Larsen, M. C. (2005). Water, sediment, and nutrient discharge characteristics of rivers in Puerto Rico, and their potential influence on coral reefs: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report, 2005-5206, 58.Google Scholar
- Whitall, D., Menza, C., & Hill, R. (2014). A baseline assessment of coral and fish bays (St. John, USVI) in support of ARRA watershed restoration activities. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 178. Silver Spring, MD. 74 pp.Google Scholar
- World Resources Institute (WRI), & NOAA (2006). Land-based sources of threat to coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Washington, DC.Google Scholar