Where in the world is the parrotfish research team? Master's student Hannah Rempel and undergraduate research assistants Emma Barton and Peter Vanderbloomer are studying the impacts of parrotfish grazing on coral communities for three months this summer on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. This work is part of a broader study comparing patterns and impacts of parrotfish grazing across multiple regions of the Greater Caribbean.
The focus of our work this summer is to: (1) track the healing of an endangered, frequently targeted coral species from parrotfish grazing scars, and (2) compare how the intensity of parrotfish predation on corals varies on islands with high coral cover (e.g. Bonaire) compared to ones with comparatively low coral cover (e.g. St. Croix).
What have we been up to? So far, we have mapped and monitored >100 coral colonies with >250 parrotfish grazing scars! We photograph these individual scars every few days and analyze these images to determine coral healing rates. We are also recording information on parrotfish feeding preferences, parrotfish population size, and coral community composition. Later, we will assess what characteristics of scars, corals and reef sites influence coral recovery rates.
When we are not underwater, we've been organizing a citizen science project with Dive Friends Bonaire to monitor populations of the largest three Caribbean parrotfish species. In addition, Hannah is giving public talks on this research in both English and Dutch Caribbean creole at the Bonaire National Parks Foundation (where she worked before starting her master's) .
It is time for the team to get back underwater and get more data! We look forward to sharing the results of our work with you all in the future.
Thanks for your interest in our field work! Masha danki, muchisima gracias, dank u wel!