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Open Access Status of Cuban coral reefs

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Cuban coral reefs have been called the "crown jewels of the Caribbean Sea," but there are few comparative data to validate this claim. Here, we provide an overview of Cuban coral reefs based on surveys carried out between 2010 and 2016 on seven of the main Cuban coral reef systems: Havana, Artemisa, Los Colorados, Punta Francés, Los Canarreos Archipelago, Península Ancón, and Jardines de la Reina. Ecological indicators were evaluated for each of these areas at the community level. Results suggest differences among benthic communities (corals, sponges, and gorgonians) that are most evident for reefs that develop near highly urbanized areas, such as Havana, than for those far from the coast and less accessible. Offshore reefs along the south-central coast at Jardines de la Reina and Península Ancón exhibited high coral density and diversity. Acropora cervicornis (Lamarck, 1816) and the Orbicella complex corals were uncommon, possibly indicating losses prior to our study due to coral diseases or competition with macroalgae. Siderastrea siderea (Ellis and Solander, 1786) was the most consistently-abundant species at all reef sites. The ecological condition at Jardines de la Reina and Península Ancón is comparatively healthy. Our study supports claims that some Cuban coral reef systems are probably among the best preserved in the Caribbean basin, but other highly impacted areas exhibit many of the degradation patterns that are common to the rest of the Caribbean region. Strong conservation strategies are required with regard to subsistence fisheries and pollution at highly-impacted reefs to stop further degradation, and reefs that appear healthy need protection to avoid degradation and maintain resilience.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 16 No. 114, Miramar, Playa, Havana 11300, Cuba;, Email: [email protected] 2: Departamento de Estudios para el Desarrollo Sustentable de la Zona Costera, Universidad de Guadalajara, Gómez Farías 82, San Patricio-Melaque, Cihuatlán, Jalisco, CP 48980, Mexico, Canadian Rivers Institute, 100 Tucker Park Rd, Saint John, NB E2L 4A6, Canada 3: Departamento de Estudios para el Desarrollo Sustentable de la Zona Costera, Universidad de Guadalajara, Gómez Farías 82, San Patricio-Melaque, Cihuatlán, Jalisco, CP 48980, Mexico, Canadian Rivers Institute, 100 Tucker Park Rd, Saint John, NB E2L 4A6, Canada 4: Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 16 No. 114, Miramar, Playa, Havana 11300, Cuba

Publication date: 01 April 2018

This article was made available online on 29 March 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Status of Cuban coral reefs".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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