Invasive Sun Coral in Tropical Protected Coral Reef Areas: Monitoring Expansion and Social Engagement

17 Nov 2023 Laboratório de Biologia Marinha e Conservação, Brazil, Central and Latin America Corals | Fishes | Marine | People

Ricardo Miranda

Other projects

23 May 2013

Invasive Cup Coral in Coral Reef of the Todos os Santos Bay (TSB): Effects of Interspecific Competition in the Native Coral Community and Management Actions

19 Mar 2015

Assessment of Management Actions and Impacts of Invasive Cup Coral on Ecological Processes (Recruitment and Herbivory) in Brazilian Coral Reef

7 Sep 2020

Invasive Sun Corals on Brazilian Coral Reefs: Monitoring, Management and Communication

After 30 years since the first report, the invasive sun coral (Tubastraea spp.) has expanded its distribution along the coast and impacting natural environments in Brazil. Studies show that native invertebrate and fish species have suffered negative effects on reefs where sun coral has become dominant, in addition to this invader having altered important ecological processes such as coral recruitment and herbivory. Previously concentrated in the southeast region of Brazil, more recently these invaders have expanded to the northeast coast, recorded in shipwrecks and ports very close to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that concentrate important coral reefs, such as the APA Costa dos Corais (APACC) and the Lagoa de Jequiá da Praia Marine Extractive Reserve (RESEX Jequiá) in the state of Alagoas. This region is of great relevance not only ecologically, but especially for traditional fishing communities who live and depend on the marine resources available in these reefs for their sustenance and survival. However, invasive species are unknown to civil society, and the socio-cultural impacts on traditional communities have been poorly studied.

Invaded coral reef.

Invaded coral reef.

Our project will monitor the expansion of sun coral in federal marine protected areas and evaluate the perception of the traditional fishermen community about the sun coral impacts, starting a baseline monitoring of the socio-cultural invader impacts. We hypothesize that i) the ecological and potential socioeconomic impacts of invasive species on the traditional fishing communities are unknown and ii) invasive species such as sun coral can cause socio-ecological and cultural impacts on fishermen traditional communities in the MPAs. Project actions include diving monitoring of the invader occurrence in the coral reefs and shipwrecks as well as face-to-face interviews and meetings with fishermen community members in partnership with environmental managers. We intend to expand knowledge about biological invasions, their occurrence, geographic expansion and the importance of control actions in relevant MPAs and increase civil society engagement in managing the impacts of invasions.

Header: Invader Sun Coral Tubastraea tagusensis.

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