Key Herbivorous Fish Darwin Initiative Project Completion & Impact

July 28, 2020

This spring, CCMI scientists completed the final reporting for a three-year project investigating key herbivores in the Cayman Islands, funded by the Darwin Initiative. CCMI has received feedback from the Darwin Initiative review committee, rating this project overall an A+, indicating that the outcome exceeded expectations.

Researchers conducted extensive surveys, feeding assays, and observations of herbivorous fish, as well as interviews with fishermen and focus group meetings to gain insight and participation from community members. All of this information contributed to a supplemental chapter focused on herbivorous fish, to be added to the Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan, which CCMI developed in consultation with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment. The recommendations in this update provide reliable, evidence-based information to aid in ecosystem-based management of Cayman’s coral reefs. CCMI also received positive feedback on the education and outreach components of this project, as information gained was incorporated into curriculum for our Marine Ecology Camp, Young Environmentalist Leadership Course, Caribbean Marine Ecology Course, and internships. Materials are also freely available online, including fish and coral identification slide decks and Reefs Go Live lessons and accompanying content (lesson plans, activity sheets, vocabulary sheets). Dr. Claire Dell also shared findings with the community via presentation in the Reef Lecture Series. This project provides a prime model of CCMI’s philosophy of incorporating current research into ongoing conservation, education and outreach.

Dr. Dell’s results from this project will be published in Frontiers in Marine Science in the near future.