Second Field Season of Pollution and Ecosystem Characterization in the U.S. Virgin Islands Set to Begin
In June of this year, scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) will begin the second phase of research aimed at characterizing impacts of land-based sources of pollution on diverse habitats of the St. Thomas East End Reserve (STEER) in the US Virgin Islands.
The first phase of the research took place in June of 2011 and involved a Bioeffects assessment of sediment contamination, benthic community characterization and sediment toxicity throughout the STEER. During the second phase (Jun 2012), NCCOS researchers will be conducting a biological habitat survey of the entire Reserve, along with the collection of biota (coral, conch and fish) for chemical contaminant analysis and histological evaluation.
Additionally, as a part of this research, NCCOS and the University of the Virgin Islands are collaborating on monthly monitoring for nutrients, total suspended solids (a measure of turbidity in the water column), and sedimentation (a measure of the amount of sediment being deposited on reefs and other habitats in the STEER) using sediment traps.
At its completion, this research will provide managers with integrated baseline assessment information that can be used to understand current conditions and optimize restoration and resource management efforts to enhance valuable resources in the STEER. Partners in the project include the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Coastal Zone Management and Environmental Protection, the University of the Virgin Islands, and The Nature Conservancy.