Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date

Spring 6-4-2014

Abstract

To better understand the ecological interactions of coral reefs, it is important to understand the mechanisms that control the distribution and abundance of reef-building corals as well as the mechanisms that control the diversity and abundance of the fish community that inhabits these reef habitats. The purpose of this study was to identify specific coral-fish interactions among the reefs of Grand Cayman in order to gain insight into the biological effects of fish on the assemblage of hard corals. Using data collected by the Lawrence University Marine Program (LUMP), a number of exploratory statistical analyses were run in order to determine overall spatial and temporal patterns occurring on the various reefs surveyed at Grand Cayman. Correlation statistics were then used to identify individual species involved in coral-fish interactions. The results indicate that there is a strong temporal pattern amongst the reef reef and distinct spatial trends amongst the hard corals based on wave-exposure. In addition,sixty-seven statistically significant correlations were found amongst individual coral and fish species. Overall, the findings of this study provide a strong foundation for further research on the driving mechanisms of the coral and fish communities.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude

Department

Biology

Advisor

Bart De Stasio