HURRICANES AND REEF COMMUNITIES
PURPOSE OF RESEARCH
We have collected baseline data on fish biodiversity and urchin abundance every January since 2016 at 12 sites in St. John USVI. As we continue to monitor these patterns post hurricane, we have gained an understanding of the responses of these important marine players to disturbance.
Fish biodiversity is monitored by 4 snorkelers conducting 30 minute swimming surveys at each site. Urchin density is monitored by two snorkelers counting abundance patterns on three 10m x 2m transects at each site.
While some species were impacted by the hurricanes, many fish species maintained abundance patterns. Mangrove sites were particularly impacted. Urchins were negatively impacted by the hurricanes, but their numbers seem to be rebounding.
Continued long term monitoring of populations is critical in this time of changing oceans.