|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||9 Jul 2015|
Curaçao, as the other Caribbean islands, depends heavily on coral reefs for fisheries, tourisms and coastal protection. However, especially the shallow reefs at Curaçao are under pressure of global and local anthropogenic perturbations. This project will serve as a pilot study to assess whether the deeper–mesophotic-reefs can serve as a refuge for sponges and shallow coral reef species. We will do so by measuring diversity of sponges and corals along a depth gradient. Sponge and coral sampling sites will include corals and sponges from both shallow (<20 m) and deeper (20-300 m) waters in Curaçao. The outcome from microbial and biochemical analyses will be additional valuable information to unravel genetic diversity of sponges along the depth gradient, as sponges are highly connected with their symbionts.
Conservation of the underwater environment is crucial to sustain tourism and is a highly valuable enhancement in local economic revenue. In a bigger frame, coral reef policies are mainly focused on shallow reef habitats, and often overlook the important role of mesophotic reefs for conservation and resource management on a broader ocean-based perspective. The limited information available regarding to what extent ecological processes change along the depth gradient present a critical knowledge gap that needs to be addressed for improvement of coral reef policies and practices. Outcomes of this project will give much information regarding mesophotic coral reef ecosystems, their biological aspects and potential to act as refugia in order to overcome the increasing pace of anthropogenic disturbances of global warming.
For further information contact: