Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

5-2010

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David W. Kerstetter

Second Advisor

John F. Walter III

Third Advisor

Richard E. Spieler

Abstract

The rainbow parrotfish Scarus guacamaia is a prominent herbivore in the coastal waters of southeastern Florida whose life history is strongly linked to a dependence on both mangrove and coral reef habitats. Rainbow parrotfish in turn serve in maintaining the health of coral reefs by keeping algal populations in check. This study used NOAA Fisheries data from the Mangrove Visual Census and the Reef Visual Census in Biscayne Bay and Upper Florida Bay. Observations of abiotic factors at individual sites were used to correlate and predict presence and absence of this species. This was done to visualize habitat presence and ontogenetic shifts present in this species between juvenile and adult stages through ArcGIS mapping. Logistic regression analysis was used to predict presence or absence using the environmental variables of temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, average depth, distance from channel openings, mangrove presence, temperature Δ, and salinity Δ. Average depth, distance from channel openings, temperature Δ and salinity Δ were significant in predicting the presence of this species, while salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and mangrove presence were not. Conservation efforts for this species, listed as vulnerable under the IUCN, need to be given greater consideration. The health of this and other parrotfish may have a greater impact on coral reef ecosystems across the Caribbean Sea than currently acknowledged and management breadth and priorities should be adjusted to reflect this role.

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