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Relating Landscape Development Intensity to Coral Reef Condition in the Watersheds of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
OLIVER, L. M., J. C. LEHRTER, AND W. S. FISHER. Relating Landscape Development Intensity to Coral Reef Condition in the Watersheds of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES. Inter-Research, Luhe, Germany, 427:293-302, (2011).
Diagnosing the degree to which local landscape activities impact coral reef ecosystems and their ecological services is critically important to coastal and watershed decision-makers. We report, for the first time, a study that relates coral reef condition metrics to metrics of human activity at a regional scale. Stony coral condition surveys were conducted in the near-shore waters of St. Croix, United States (U.S.) Virgin Islands, at 112 sites in 2006 and 2007. Land-cover/land-use data (LCLU, 2.4-m resolution) and the landscape development intensity (LDI) index, an indicator of human activity calculated from the LCLU data, were employed as indicators of human activity in the watersheds adjacent to the coral condition sites. Of the LCLU data, watershed percent impervious surface was negatively correlated only with three dimensional (3D) coral cover. The LDI index appeared to be a more robust indicator of human activity as negative correlations were observed with stony coral colony density, taxonomic richness, average 3D colony size and 3D total coral cover. These results indicate that the LDI index is an effective landscape indicator of human impact on corals, and has potential as a tool to inform land use decisions that protect coral ecosystems and the ecological services they provide.
Novel results are presented that relate a landscape development intensity (LDI) index, calculated on a watershed basis using Land Use/Land Cover data, to coral condition adjacent to the watersheds. Potential application of the LDI index in regulatory decisions related to preserving coral reef ecosystem services are discussed.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB
GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION
BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS AND POPULATION RESPONSE BRANCH