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Coral Community Structure Change in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The rapid change in community structure over a relatively short period of time in Hawai`i compelled me to conduct a similar study on my home reefs in the Virgin Islands. 
My mentor, Dr. Brandt, and I utilized the field techniques I learned in Hawai`i to gather coral community structure data and compare it to data collected 30 years prior at the same sites. In this project, I learned about statistical analysis and was responsible for performing all statistical tests. Our analyses indicate a significant loss of coral cover and rugosity at all sites surveyed between 1982 and 2012. 
These results suggest a gradual decline in coral health over the last 30 years and differed from the drastic declines seen at CIMR. However, within Brewers Bay, one site had significantly less coral cover than the others, both in 1982 and 2012. This disparity sparked my interest in oceanography and I hypothesized that it may have been related to water quality or current flow  between the sites.


  1. Coral Cover Decreased Significantly Between Years - Live coral cover has declined in comparison to the Rogers (1982) study conducted from 1978-1982. This may be due to multiple factors, including worsening environmental conditions of Brewers Bay. 
  2. Created and Presented Poster - This project was articulated in a poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in 2013.
  3. Presented Research - The study and its results were presented as a 15 minute talk at the Benthic Ecology Meeting in 2013.