This research is directed to understand the ecological roles that fishes play in trophic relationships of coral reef systems, and to validate the use of functional diversity metrics to understand spatiotemporal trends of fish functional organization in marine habitats of the U.S. Caribbean. Study areas are located in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where declines in fish species and their abundances are still observed, in spite the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Information from this study can be used to identify areas with high potential for ecological resilience to maintain the trophic structure of fish assemblages in coral reef areas that face disturbances, and to evaluate current zoning of established MPAs. In addition, the data set of functional traits for Caribbean reef fish species generated by this project can be used in studies of functional diversity and ecosystem services in other areas of the Caribbean Region.
Martha Patricia Rincón-Díaz, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University.
Selina S. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University.
Simon J. Pittman, NOAA, Biogeography Branch.
Colombian Department for Science and Technology COLCIENCIAS; and International Cultural Service Program at OSU (ICSP)