A hypothesis-driven ecological experiment involving standardized modules (SMs) has been initiated at two sites along the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The purpose is to bridge gaps in our understanding of coral reef restoration by applying select treatments (artificial substrate pads, coral transplants, settlement plates, and controls) to SMs. As of September 2007, 2 of 6 planned bi-annual monitoring trips have been completed. Divers conducted non-destructive visual counts of fishes (abundance, species, and size class), coral recruitment surveys, substrate pad collections, and digital imaging of quadrat survey areas and transplanted corals for settlement and growth analyses. Additionally, transects were established on nearby natural reef (NR) at both sites for comparison with SMs using identical methods. Statistical analysis (ANOVA) of initial results indicate no difference (p>0.05) in abundance or species richness of fishes among treatments at both sites in March 2007, and NR had higher species richness than SMs (p<0.05). In March, Puerto Morelos SMs had greater abundance and species richness than Akumal, and there were no differences detected on NR between sites. In September there was still no difference among treatments at Puerto Morelos; however, SMs had higher abundance and species richness than NR. Comparisons of March to September in Puerto Morelos demonstrated a predicted increase in abundance and species richness on SMs over time. Coral recruitment on Puerto Morelos SMs averaged 13 recruits/SM, and there was no difference detected in coral recruits/m2 among treatments. Of the three coral species transplanted to SMs, Porites astreoides and Agaricia agaricites both have had 100% survival, while Montastrea annularis has 95%; resulting in 98% survival overall. Further work will involve analysis of settlement plates, invertebrate community composition on substrate pads, coral transplant growth rates, and areal coverage by competing species.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/richard-dodge/161/