Marine Science Faculty Publications

Contrasting Responses of Coral Reef Fauna and Foraminiferal Assemblages to Human Influence in La Parguera, Puerto Rico

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coral reef, human disturbance gradient, sediment contaminants, stressors

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Coral reef biota including stony corals, sponges, gorgonians, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates and foraminifera were surveyed in coastal waters near La Parguera, in southwestern Puerto Rico. The goal was to evaluate sensitivity of coral reef biological indicators to human disturbance. Proxies for human disturbance were measured as distance to town (DTT) and rankings of a low-level sediment contamination gradient analyzed from a previous study. Contaminant rank and DTT showed that percent mud, stony coral taxa richness, reef rugosity, and numbers of invertebrates and sponges were higher at sites closer to human disturbance, but a foraminiferal assemblage index was significantly lower at sites with higher proxies for human disturbance. Fish indicators showed no significant relationships with human activity, but associations between fish community measures and certain measures of stony corals, gorgonians and sponges were found. Contrasting responses between foraminifera and reef organisms may be due to greater exposure and sensitivity of foraminifera to sediment contaminants.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Environmental Research, v. 99, p. 95-105