Navigation Links
Smithsonian coral biodiversity survey of Panama's Pearl Islands
Date:7/7/2008

A comprehensive survey of coral biodiversity in Panama's Las Perlas Archipelago, published in the journal Environmental Conservation by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and their colleagues, has resulted in clear conservation recommendations for a new coastal management plan.

"To evaluate strategies for the protection of natural resources in the Las Perlas archipelago, we gathered basic information about coral species distributions. Our recommendations include large conservation units, "no take zones" and marine reserves, with an emphasis on the northern part of the archipelago, and extremely careful regulation of fishing, tourism and development," said Smithsonian staff scientist, Hector Guzman.

The Las Perlas Islands in the Gulf of Panama are one of two archipelagos in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. The other is the Galapagos. The Las Perlas Marine Special Management Zone, created under Panama's Law 18 in May 2007, is the most recent addition to a major regional marine conservation corridor extending from Costa Rica to Ecuador. The 1688-km2 management zone includes 250 mostly uninhabited rock islands and islets.

The authors conducted an extensive biodiversity inventory, determining coral distribution and species richness across the region. They counted a total of 57 coral species: 19 hard (scleractinian) corals and 38 soft corals (octocorals). For comparison, the species count for Panama's Pacific biodiversity hotspot in the Gulf of Chiriqui is 74, whereas near Cao Island Biological Reserve, Costa Rica's hot spot, there are 43 coral species.

Coral reefs in the Las Perlas archipelago tend to be small and patchy. Some corals also grow directly on bedrock, where they form communities, but not consolidated reefs. This study showed that reefs and coral communities in Las Perlas are equally diverse. The analysis defined areas of high species richness near Isla Galera, Isla San Telmo, Isla Camote, Isla Monte and Bajo Trollope in the southern part of the archipelago; the south and west coast of Isla San Jose; the southwest shore of Isla Pedro Gonzalez and around the northernmost islands, especially Isla Pacheca and Pachequilla. Isla Del Rey and areas near Isla Viveros and Isla Mina were low in species richness.

Live coral cover on reefs averaged 61.2%, ranging from 0.1 to 96.4%, whereas live cover in coral communities averaged 26%. Reef sites with the highest live coral cover are along the north and east shores of Isla Contadora and in the San Telmo Islands. The central archipelago tended to show low coral cover.

In the Las Perlas archipelago, coral cover and coral species richness do not go hand in hand. Extensive areas of coral can be low in species diversity, whereas smaller, patchy areas of coral can be higher. Patchy distribution of high coral biodiversity areas makes it challenging to specify discrete conservation areas, therefore the authors recommend larger conservation units. The central archipelago is less important both in terms of coral cover and coral species richness, while the islands from Isla Mogo Mogo north are more important.

Because coral communities in the archipelago tended to have higher species diversity and a higher proportion of soft corals (octocorals) than typical Pacific Panama reefs, the authors recommend that the management plan protect a significant proportion of the coral communities. Bajo Trollope, San Jose Island, the southern coast of Pedro Gonzales Island, and San Telmo, Galera, Mogo-Mogo and Pachequilla islands should be fully protected marine reserves.

Sedimentation, pollution, overfishing and coastal development have already been targeted as the most significant threats to marine biodiversity in Las Perlas. Developers plan to build entirely new towns with residential areas, malls, marinas and golf courses on several of the islands in this fragile ecosystem, which Guzman describes as "lacking concern for the fragility of the archipelago and island ecosystem functions. Whatever you do to an island affects the others. It's a chain-reaction."

The Marine Special Management Zone regulates fisheries, but not tourism. It protects coral reefs and mangroves and creates a framework for participatory governance of the area but does not regulate land use, although several of the forested islands have protected areas or are designated as reserves.

The authors recommend further study of the connectivitythe movement of marine organism and their offspring along the coastthat may be extremely important to the health of protected areas across the Tropical Eastern Pacific region.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-487-3770 x8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Smithsonian researchers develop models to assess wetland health
2. Smithsonian scientists help lead effort to barcode worlds species
3. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
4. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
5. Smithsonian scientists working to save microscopic threatened species
6. Smithsonian scientists highlight environmental impacts of biofuels
7. Smithsonian study: Sediment prediction tools off the mark
8. Science, not romance, controls mating at Smithsonians National Zoo
9. Smithsonian announces Global Forest Carbon Research Initiative
10. Rare North Island brown kiwi hatches at the Smithsonians National Zoo
11. Turtle nesting threatened by logging practices in Gabon, Smithsonian warns
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Smithsonian coral biodiversity survey of Panama's Pearl Islands
(Date:5/16/2016)...   EyeLock LLC , a market leader of ... an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, ... of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... May 9, 2016 Elevay is ... to expanding freedom for high net worth professionals seeking ... today,s globally connected world, there is still no substitute ... ever duplicate sealing your deal with a firm handshake. ... by taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs like ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO and BANGALORE, India ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... service provider, today announced a global partnership that ... convenient way to use mobile banking and payment services. ... Mobility is a key innovation area for financial services, but ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: SQNM ... lives through the development of innovative products and services, ... the United States denied its petition to ... of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 Patent") are ... by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Newly created 4Sight ... solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary focus is on new product ... marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies efficiently bring their products to ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... --  Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design ... awarded as one of the World Economic Forum,s ... innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to ... in the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. ... including Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the z-dimension ... are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. Z-dimension ... bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow cell ...
Breaking Biology Technology: