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Linking Landscape Condition Impacts to Coral Reef Ecosystem Composition for the East End of Saint Croix. Chapter 10 in "Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions"

Author(s): Daniel S. Dorfman, Simon J. Pittman, Sarah D. Hile, Christopher F.G. Jeffrey, Alicia Clarke, and Chris Caldow

NCCOS Center: CCMA

Center Team: Biogeography

Name of Publisher: ESRI (edited by Dawn Wright, ESRI)

Place of Publication: Redlands, CA

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Date of Publication: 2014

Reference Information: Satin Croix, USVI

Keywords: Landscape Condition, impacts to coral reefs Impacts to Coral Reef Ecosystems, coral reef, coral reef composition, East End of Saint Croix, St. Croix, USVI

Abstract: In this land-sea characterization, we endeavored to map spatial patterns of the connections between actions on land and impacts at sea. Specifically, we analyzed 2007 land-cover data, evaluated land-use patterns, and applied a Landscape Development Intensity Index for watersheds adjacent to the East End Marine Park of Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands. We then correlated the distribution of benthic species and coral reef habitats within 300 m buff?er watershed impact zones of the landscape development intensity index to identify and explore potential linkages between land-use patterns and ecological impacts on coral reefs. We compared the benthic habitat composition of watershed impact zones within classes of anticipated impacts from land-based sources of pollution. ?is was done using benthic habitat data both from benthic habitat maps and in-water surveys. ?e benthic habitat maps indicated a positive correlation between the Landscape Development Intensity Index and seagrass presence and a negative correlation between the index and coral cover. ?e in situ surveys revealed higher coral cover in medium-impact classes compared with high and low impact. Although the results from comparing benthic habitat maps and in situ surveys are inconsistent, we anticipate that this could be because of the low number and uneven distribution of the in-water surveys. Additionally, we identified watersheds where species known to be susceptible to land-based sources of pollution are located. ?e process described here is intended to evaluate potential linkages between landscape condition and marine ecosystem condition. We expect that the methods described here could be employed to track the impacts of land-based sources of pollution on benthic habitats andspecies composition in the nearshore environment.

Availability: PDF attached, permission given from Dawn Wright to Dan Dorfman

Related Attachment: Download file (.pdf)


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