Investigative Research

Project Gardens Of The Queen

The Ocean Foundation has recently begun working with partners in the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago, the largest no-take marine preserve in the Caribbean, to focus on research, management and economic issues related to what are considered the most healthy and extensive coral reefs in the Caribbean region. We are working closely with the Cuban
Center for Coastal Ecosystems and Marine Research Center of Cuba to better study the natural resources of the region while also assessing their economic and social values.

Project Gardens of the Queen is a comprehensive, aggressive and forward-looking program to research and protect the unique and pristine ecosystems of Jardines de la Reina. This research ensures that these protections will endure in perpetuity, serve as a compelling model for marine protected areas worldwide, dramatically advance human understanding of how healthy coral reef ecosystems function, and yield critical insights to inform management decisions for protecting coral reefs globally.

Furthermore, this ecosystem and educational research model is bringing Americans and Cubans closer together. Former fishermen and their families are now employed in diving and fly fishing operations. Through this they are continually creating human connections by educating visiting ecotourists creating a sustainable way of life; which in turn, is fostering future generations of stewards in this marine park.

Investigation Papers List

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Reference

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Weber L, Gonzalez-Díaz P, Armenteros M, Apprill A. 2019. The coral ecosphere: A unique coral reef habitat that fosters coral–microbial interactions. Limnol. Oceanogr. 9999, 2019, 1–16

Scleractinian corals are bathed in a sea of planktonic and particle-associated microorganisms. The metabolic products of corals influence the growth and composition of microorganisms, but interactions between corals and seawater microorganisms are underexplored. We conducted a field-based survey to compare the biomass, diversity, composition, and functional capacity of microorganisms in small-volume seawater samples collected adjacent to five coral species with seawater collected > 1 m away from the reef substrate on the same reefs. Seawater collected close to corals generally harbored copiotrophic-type bacteria and its bacterial and archaeal composition was influenced by coral species as well as the local reef environment. Trends in picoplankton abundances were variable and either increased or decreased away from coral colonies based on coral species and picoplankton functional group. Genes characteristic of surface-attached and potentially virulent microbial lifestyles were enriched in nearcoral seawater compared to reef seawater. There was a prominent association between the coral Porites astreoides and the coral symbiont Endozoicomonas, suggesting recruitment and/or shedding of these cells into the surrounding seawater. This evidence extends our understanding of potential species-specific and reef site-influenced microbial interactions that occur between corals and microorganisms within this near-coral seawater environment that we propose to call the “coral ecosphere.” Microbial interactions that occur within the coral ecosphere could influence recruitment of coral-associated microorganisms and facilitate the transfer of coral metabolites into the microbial food web, thus fostering reef biogeochemical cycling and a linkage between corals and the water column.
Phrases: Most reefs within JR lie within a marine protected area and they are some of the most protected and preserved reefs in the Caribbean.” JR reefs include a variety of habitats and hydrodynamic regimes (i.e., tidal currents and wave exposure), contributing to microbiological differences between these reefs.”

1

Hernández-Fernández L, González de Zayas R, Olivera YM, Pina Amargós F, Bustamante López C, Dulce Sotolongo LB, Bretos F, Figueredo Martín T, Lladó Cabrera D, Salmón Moret F. 2019. Distribution and status of living colonies of Acropora spp. In the reef crests of a protected marine area of the Caribbean (Jardines de la Reina National Park, Cuba). PeerJ 7:e6470 DOI 10.7717/peerj.6470
The reef crests of the Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) are largely formed by Acropora palmata, but colonies of A. cervicornis and the hybrid A. prolifera are also present. This study shows spatial distribution of colonies, thickets and live fragments of these species in the fore reefs. Snorkeling was used to perform the direct observations. The maximum diameter of 4,399 colonies of A. palmata was measured and the health of 3,546 colonies was evaluated. The same was done to 168 colonies of A. cervicornis and 104 colonies of A. prolifera. The influence of the location and marine currents on a number of living colonies of A. palmata was analyzed. For such purpose, reef crests were divided into segments of 500 m. The marine park was divided into two sectors: East and West. The Caballones Channel was used as the reference dividing line. The park was also divided into five reserve zones. We counted 7,276 live colonies of Acropora spp. 1.4% was A. prolifera, 3.5% A. cervicornis and 95.1% A. palmata. There were 104 thickets of A. palmata, ranging from eight to 12 colonies, and 3,495 fragments; 0.6% was A. cervicornis and the rest A. palmata (99.4%). In the East sector, 263 colonies (3.8% of the total), six thickets (5.8%) and 32 fragments (1%) of A. palmate were recorded. In the same sector, there were 11 fragments (50%) of A.cervicornis and two (2%) colonies of A. prolifera. Health of A. palmata was evaluated as good and not so good in the study area. Health of A. cervicornis was critical and health of A. prolifera was good in all five reserve zones. There was a significant increase in the number of colonies from east to west (Χ2 = 11.5, gl = 3.0, p = 0.009). This corroborates the existence of an important abundance differences between the eastern and the western region of the JRNP. A negative relationship was observed between the number of colonies and the distance from the channel (Χ2 = 65.0, df = 3.0, p < 0.001). The influence of the channel, for the live colonies of A. palmata is greater within the first 2,000 m. It then decreases until approximately 6,000 m, and no significant increase beyond. The orientation of the reef crests significantly influenced the abundance of the colonies (Χ2 = 15.5, df = 2.9, p = 0.001). The results presented here provide a baseline for future research on the status of the populations of Acropora spp., considering that there has been a certain recovery of the species A. palmata during the last 10–16 years. Given the current status of the populations of Acropora spp., conservation actions focusing A. cervicornis should be prioritized.
Up to 85 % of wave energy can be reduced by reef crest, once dominated by Elkhorn coral, currently an endangered species as its relative Staghorn coral. A comprehensive survey of Elkhorn/Staghorn corals was carried out in Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP), Cuba, between August 27 and October 15, 2017, in order to assess species status and distribution patterns. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (5 scientists, 5 research assistants), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (2 dive instructors) joint efforts to survey 100 % of the 91 km of suitable habitat for these species in JRNP. During the survey almost 7 300 colonies were recorded (about 7 000 of Elkhorn coral). About 100 Elkhorn coral thickets and 3 600 fragments of Elkhorn coral were recorded as well. Elkhorn coral thickets will be the focus for conservation and monitoring efforts. 96 % of the colonies, 94 % of the thickets and almost 100 % of the fragments are located in the western half of JRNP. More than half of the colonies rank in “good” and “very good” condition, an indicator of a healthy population. Data process and analysis are underway to assess whether these species are recovering in JRNP as it seem to be. This is only the second survey of its kind in the Western Atlantic and the largest one (previous covered 7 km).

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Igalza Galañena Y and García-Quintas A. 2018. First records of piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and American kestrel (Falco sparverius) in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, Cuba. Florida Field Naturalist 46(3):73-75.

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. This National Park not only protects marine ecosystems and biota, but terrestrial ones as well. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (5 scientists and 3 research asistants), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 3 crew and 1 skipper) joint efforts to monitor JRNP terrestrial ecosystems on November 4 to 17, 2017. For the first were sightings two species of birds in Jardines de la Reina archipelago: piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and American kestrel (Falco sparverius).

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Gerhartz JL, Kritzer JP, Gerhartz A, Miller V, Pina-Amargós F, Whittle D. 2018. An evaluation of the framework for national marine environmental policies in Cuba. BMS. Vol. 94, No. 2 443-459.

A slow rate of economic development and a national commitment to sustainable development has enabled Cuba to maintain some of the best preserved marine ecosystems in the Caribbean region. Still, important environmental threats persist, at the same time that changes in the rate and magnitude of marine environmental impacts are occurring because of increased globalization, new relations between Cuba and the United States, and eorts to reform Cuba’s economic model. Since Cuba lacks an explicit overarching national ocean policy, marine conservation is implemented through a combination of policy instruments. We evaluated nine major policy instruments to understand whether and how they create conditions for sustainable use and conservation of marine resources. Our evaluation is based on five key attributes identified in the literature: attention to multiple levels of ecological organization, operation at multiple spatial scales, coordination of interacting uses, adoption of precautionary and adaptive approaches, and establishment of a sound scientific basis for management. Although our evaluation suggests that Cuba’s marine environmental–policy framework is relatively strong, with individual policies scoring on average 68% of the maximum for the five key attributes, we found a marked bias toward terrestrial ecosystems and issues. We also found that too little attention is paid to the inclusion of precautionary and adaptive approaches, which received a score of 22%, a significant deficiency in the face of ongoing ecological and socioeconomic changes. Cuba should develop a forwardlooking national ocean policy that integrates existing and future laws and policies, as current limitations in the policy framework could undermine the country’s ability to achieve its sustainability and environmental protection goals as economic development pressures grow.
Phrases: Tabla 1 Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) covers 217,036 ha (200,957 marine and 16,079 terrestrial). Box 1 “…scientists detected the first spawning aggregation site of goliath grouper in Cuba, located outside JRNP…” Box 1 “Goliath groupers are more abundant inside the Park than outside…” Box 1 “Sharks are 2.5-18 times more abundant inside JRNP than outside…” JRNP owes its significance to the existence of abundant populations of fish and invertebrates of commercial importance. The eectiveness of maintaining and increasing fish biomass in this national park has been scientifically established. The largest biomass of fish of the families Serranidae and Lutjanidae in the Caribbean region is reported in this area.” Many of the most important diving centers of the island are in MPAs, including…Avalon Fleet on Jardines de la Reina. Catch-and-release sport fishing is also considered compatible with the management of Cuban MPAs and has been developed at Jardines de la Reina and Ciénaga de Zapata national parks and in Campos-Rosario Faunal Refuge.” Guidelines and methods have been developed to assure appropriate implementation of tourism in the MPAs. These include…sustainable tourist products (e.g., diving, trekking, y fshing) for Jardines de la Reina National Park, Ciénaga de Zapata National Park…”

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Perera S, Hernández A, González J, Moreno O, Cobián D, Ferro H, Milián E, Caballero H, Alcolado P, Pina-Amargós F, Hernández Z, Espinosa L and Rodríguez LF. 2018. Marine protected areas in Cuba. BMS. Vol. 94, No. 2 423-442.

Cuba has recognized that conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity is a priority. One of the main strategies it has developed is the creation of the National System of Protected Areas (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, or SNAP), which includes an important marine component. Here, we present the current status of the Cuban marine protected areas (MPAs) and their challenges and prognoses. To date, 105 MPAs have been proposed; they cover 25% of the Cuban insular shelf. Of these, 57 have been legally incorporated into the system and 13 more are being managed to its standards, a total of 70 have some degree of implementation. About 30% of the Cuban coral reefs, 24% of the seagrass beds, and 35% of mangroves are legally protected by SNAP. The main challenges are insufficient financing and the difficulty of reinvesting profits generated within these areas. Prohibited fishing practices and capture of protected species are the principle issues that aect MPAs. The priorities for the immediate future are to assess the value of ecosystem services, strengthen connections with fishing communities, and achieve greater integration with other sectors to guarantee the proper management of tourism and fisheries in and near MPAs for the benefit of sustainable development.
Phrases: Tabla 1 Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) covers 217,036 ha (200,957 marine and 16,079 terrestrial). Box 1 “…scientists detected the first spawning aggregation site of goliath grouper in Cuba, located outside JRNP…” Box 1 “Goliath groupers are more abundant inside the Park than outside…” Box 1 “Sharks are 2.5-18 times more abundant inside JRNP than outside…” JRNP owes its significance to the existence of abundant populations of fish and invertebrates of commercial importance. The eectiveness of maintaining and increasing fish biomass in this national park has been scientifically established. The largest biomass of fish of the families Serranidae and Lutjanidae in the Caribbean region is reported in this area.” Many of the most important diving centers of the island are in MPAs, including…Avalon Fleet on Jardines de la Reina. Catch-and-release sport fishing is also considered compatible with the management of Cuban MPAs and has been developed at Jardines de la Reina and Ciénaga de Zapata national parks and in Campos-Rosario Faunal Refuge.” Guidelines and methods have been developed to assure appropriate implementation of tourism in the MPAs. These include…sustainable tourist products (e.g., diving, trekking, y fshing) for Jardines de la Reina National Park, Ciénaga de Zapata National Park…”

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Hernández-Betancourt A, Puga Millán R, Borroto Vejerano R. 2018. Conservation strategy for the sea cucumber (Isostichopus badionotus) fishery in Cuba. BMS. Vol. 94, No. 2: 409-421.

Coastal areas of Cuba harbor rich biodiversity that provide a variety of important ecosystem services, including fisheries production. High-value invertebrate fisheries in Cuba are managed on the basis of scientific assessments, but comparable data and analyses are lacking for the much larger number of exploited finfish species. However, dramatic declines in finfish catch despite minimal management restrictions suggests resource depletion, and the need for scientific and management attention. To prioritize finfish for such attention, we conducted productivity-susceptibility analyses (PSA) for 34 species within each of Cuba’s four fishery management zones. The resulting 136 estimates of vulnerability to overfishing revealed few dierences in species-specific scores among zones, despite ecological and socioeconomic heterogeneity along the Cuban coast. Vulnerability scores were generally low, although this relative metric does not necessarily mean that overfishing has not occurred. Spatial dierences in catch composition relative to the vulnerability scores underscore potential dierences in socioeconomic vulnerability of fishing communities based upon their reliance on dierent species. Therefore, our PSA results should be used to prioritize research, monitoring, and stock assessment eorts, as well as management actions, within each fishing zone to conserve locally important resources, recover those that are depleted, sustainably develop those that are underutilized, and promote ecological and socioeconomic stability across Cuba as it confronts the challenges of a changing world.
Phrase Cuba’s southeastern region has the highest abundances of I. badionotus, primarily o the southern coast of Camagüey, where the largest annual catches occur. Harvests in this area have represented 36%–70% of the national total. This zone is of great importance for the species, with extensive areas of preferred habitat, which includes cays, shallow sites, and sandy-muddy bottoms associated with seagrass meadows (Alfonso et al. 2004). It is also adjacent to a protected area, Jardines de la Reina National Park, which may provide a significant opportunity for recruitment (spillover) into fishing areas.”

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Puga R, Valle S, Kritzer JP, Delgado G, Estela de Leon M, Gimenez E, Ramos I, Moreno O, Karr KA (2018) Vulnerability of nearshore tropical finfish in Cuba: implications for scientific and management planning. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):377-392.

Coastal areas of Cuba harbor rich biodiversity that provide a variety of important ecosystem services, including fisheries production. High-value invertebrate fisheries in Cuba are managed on the basis of scientific assessments, but comparable data and analyses are lacking for the much larger number of exploited finfish species. However, dramatic declines in finfish catch despite minimal management restrictions suggests resource depletion, and the need for scientific and management attention. To prioritize finfish for such attention, we conducted productivity-susceptibility analyses (PSA) for 34 species within each of Cuba’s four fishery management zones. The resulting 136 estimates of vulnerability to overfishing revealed few dierences in species-specific scores among zones, despite ecological and socioeconomic heterogeneity along the Cuban coast. Vulnerability scores were generally low, although this relative metric does not necessarily mean that overfishing has not occurred. Spatial dierences in catch composition relative to the vulnerability scores underscore potential dierences in socioeconomic vulnerability of fishing communities based upon their reliance on dierent species. Therefore, our PSA results should be used to prioritize research, monitoring, and stock assessment eorts, as well as management actions, within each fishing zone to conserve locally important resources, recover those that are depleted, sustainably develop those that are underutilized, and promote ecological and socioeconomic stability across Cuba as it confronts the challenges of a changing world.

Phrases:
“…the majority of catch now derives from the southeast zone, with 44% of the national total. High contemporary catch and CPUE in the southeast zone might be attributable in part to the presence of the Gardens of the Queen Marine Park, the largest and most well-resourced MPA in Cuba. Investment in this MPA has generated higher levels of monitoring and enforcement, ecological recovery, and fishery spillover in this management zone.”

Accumulating global experience shows that science-based management, spatial allocation of access, and MPAs together constitute an eective approach to managing nearshore fsheries in developing countries.”

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Hueter, RE, Tyminsky,JP, Pina-Amargós, F, Morris, JJ, Ruiz-Abierno, A, Angulo-Valdés, JA and López-Fernández, N. 2018. Movements of three female silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) as tracked by satellite-linked tags off the Caribbean coast of Cuba. BMS. Vol. 94, No. 2 329-343.

The silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis (Müller and Henle, 1839), is a large circumtropical, oceanic, and coastal-pelagic species whose spatial ecology is not well understood. In Cuba, silky sharks are captured in local fisheries and are subjects for shark-based diving tourism o the Caribbean coast. Our study tracked three female C. falciformis (ranging 174–200 cm precaudal length) using satellite-linked tags to characterize the movement patterns and behavioral ecology of this species o the southeast coast of Cuba. Field work was conducted in the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) archipelago and utilized a novel inwater method for attaching pop-up satellite archival tags to free-swimming sharks. Results from both archival and position-only tags suggest the sharks traveled <30 km from the tagging site during the month-long deployments. The depth and temperature ranges recorded for two specimens were 0–640 m and 11.5–27.5 °C. Time-at-depth/temperature data revealed preferences for the upper-mixed layer (down to 150 m) and a temperature range of 24–27 °C. A diel vertical movement pattern was observed with silky sharks spending greater time at depth during the day than at night. Plasticity of vertical habitat utilization was noted with occasional forays to depths in excess of 550 m during both day and night. Daytime forays to surface waters were also observed and were most common during the morning hours between 09:00 and 11:00, possibly due to the ecotourism industry’s use of bait during that time to attract sharks to the dive area.

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Azanza Ricardo J, Gerhartz Muro JL, Forneiro Martín-Viaña J, Moncada Gavilán F, Bretos F, Medina Cruz Y, Nodarse Andreu G, Pérez Martín R, García Alfonso E. 2018. Achievements and challenges of marine turtle conservation in Cuba. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):297-312.

Marine turtle populations have become seriously depleted throughout the world as a result of factors such as overharvesting and habitat degradation. Conservation eorts in Cuba have led to important achievements, with several species increasing in population. However, illegal capture continues, the black-market trade in marine turtle products is increasing, and new threats are being identified. Here, we: identify and assess threats and challenges to sea turtle conservation in Cuba; evaluate the management, monitoring, and protection capacity to address specific threats; and summarize achievements, drawbacks, and challenges over the last 6 yrs. Fourteen threats to nesting populations of marine turtles in Cuba were identified, with illegal fishing and poaching in nesting areas being the most critical. Management and enforcement in protected areas are uneven, and as a result, some nesting areas have benefited from marine turtle conservation, but others remain seriously threatened

Phrase:
Jardines de la Reina exhibit positive trends for all nesting species (of marine turtles).”

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Lugioyo Gallardo GM, Loza Álvarez SL. 2018. Spatiotemporal variability and trophic relations of bacterioplankton and phytoplankton in Cuban oceanic waters. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):283-295.

Studying the temporal variability of lower trophic levels allows a better understanding of the type and degree of coupling that exists in the pelagic ecosystem in the Caribbean region. The aim of the present study was to characterize the structure and functioning of the <20 µm planktonic fractions in oligotrophic oceanic waters of Cuba and their relation with environmental parameters, as well as the role played by heterotrophic components in the microbial loop in the pelagic ecosystem. The distribution of picoplanktonic and nanoplanktonic biomass in the oceanic waters of Cuba did not dier significantly among years in the same season. The highest biomass values were found in the northern vs the southern region, which may be related to coastal upwelling, as well as to the contributions of nutrients and organic matter from coastal ecosystems. Furthermore, the biomass of the heterotrophic component was much larger than that of the autotrophic component, confirming the role played by small (<20 mm) heterotrophic organisms in the microbial loop. The present findings may be useful for tracking future variation in bacterioplankton and phytoplankton in the Caribbean region

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Martínez Daranas B, Suarez AM. 2018. An overview of Cuban seagrasses. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):269-282.

Here, we present an overview of the current knowledge of Cuban seagrasses, including distribution, status, threats, and eorts for their conservation. It has been estimated that seagrasses cover about 50% of the Cuban shelf, with six species reported and Talassia testudinum K.D. Koenig being the most dominant. Seagrasses have been studied primarily in three areas in Cuba (northwest, north-central, and southwest). Talassia testudinum and other seagrasses exhibit spatial and temporal variations in abundance, and updating of their status and distribution is needed. The main threat to Cuban seagrass ecosystems is low seawater transparency due to causes such as eutrophication and erosion. High salinities limit their distribution in the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, partly the result of freshwater dams and roads. Seagrass meadows play important ecological roles and provide many ecosystem services in Cuba, with eorts underway to preserve this ecosystem. Research and management projects are directed toward integrated coastal zone management, including a ban on trawl fisheries and the extension of marine protected areas to contain more seagrass meadows. In addition to updating species distributions, it is urgent that managers and researchers in Cuba examine the resilience of this ecosystem in the face of climate change

Phrases:
“…Hurricane Paloma’s eects on seagrasses along the
Jardines de la Reina Archipelago in 2008 and found that seagrass meadows were only partially a
ected by sediment siltation and the uprooting of rhizomes.”

Jardines de la Reina Archipelago…with low coastal anthropogenic development and clear waters.”

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Armenteros M, Saladrigas D, González-Casuso L, Estevez ED, Kowalewski M. 2018. The role of habitat selection on the diversity of macrobenthic communities in three gulfs of the Cuban Archipelago. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):249-268.

Diversity and faunal composition of macrobenthic communities remain poorly known in the Caribbean Sea. Here, we explore the diversity and abundance of marine macrobenthos across three gulfs of the Cuban Archipelago and examine the role of habitat type in determining faunal composition and function. Samples collected from 32 soft-bottom sites across four habitat types (mangroves, seagrass beds, unvegetated mud bottoms, and coral reefs) yielded 4231 individuals representing 22 higher macrobenthic taxa. The most abundant taxa were polychaetes, nematodes, crustaceans, and mollusks. Mollusk fauna was particularly diverse (105 species and 74 genera) despite being dominated by two taxa: a bivalve (Parvilucina sp.) and gastropods (Caecum spp). Habitat type was weakly interrelated with the faunal composition of the entire macrobenthos and its molluscan component (<20% of explained variance, in both cases). Tis weak correlation might reect the inuence of within-habitat heterogeneity, ecological drift, or dispersal barriers. Functional traits diered among habitats, with infaunal mollusks typically found in mud bottom and carnivores more abundant in mangroves. The regional mollusk species richness (105 species) exceeded the richness observed within individual gulfs (39, 40, and 59 species), highlighting high regional diversity. Anthropogenic factors could also be at play. The results suggest, tentatively, that fisheries might have aected the functional and taxonomic structuring of the sampled macrobenthic communities. Tis initial survey suggests that habitat selection does not exert a strong eect on the macrobenthos (or its molluscan component), and other assembly processes such as drift, dispersal, and human impacts may be important.

Phrases:
“…density of macrobenthos was lowest in (Golfo de ) Ana María …. This density trend could reect deleterious eects of historical fisheries.”

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Gonzalez Diaz P, Gonzales Sanson G, Aguilar Betancourt C, Alvarez Fernandez S, Perera Perez O, Hernandez Fernandez L, Ferrer Rodriguez VM, Cabrales Caballero Y, Armenteros M, de la Guardia Llanso E. 2018. Status of Cuban coral reefs. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):229-247

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 dierences 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. Oshore 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.

Phrases
Jardines de la Reina, have been described as among the least damaged reefs in the Caribbean Sea.”

Mangrove forests are largely intact and function as nursery areas for top predators that are abundant as adults in Jardines de la Reina.”

low density (of sponges in) Jardines de la Reina.”

Orbicella spp. are moderately common at…Jardines de la Reina, and diversity and abundance are high, making them comparable to some of the healthier reefs.”

Many studies have shown that the removal of grazers can result in an explosive increase in macroalgal abundance. The most relevant exception to these patterns in Cuba is the reef system at Jardines de la Reina, where enforcement of the protected area is visible, strong, and well organized.”

coral and gorgonian densities at Jardines de La Reina had the best ecological status (higher densities and species richness values).”

Jardines de la Reina…seem to be in pretty good condition.”

The well-preserved reefs, such as Jardines de la Reina.”

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Galford GL, Fernandez M, Roman J, Monasterolo I, Ahamed S, Fiske G, González-Díaz P, Kaufman L. 2018. Cuban land use and conservation, from rainforests to coral reefs. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):171-191.

Understanding of population genetics is important for the conservation and management of species and ecosystems, providing information on population structure, connectivity, and demography. Here, we review the genetic patterns and processes that shape the natural populations of marine organisms in Cuba, including penaeid shrimps, reef fishes, marine turtles, and bottlenose dolphins. Investigations performed over the last 20 yrs indicate three general patterns of population structure across the Cuban coast: a north-south break, an east-west split in the south, and local genetic dierentiation. These patterns have been shaped by factors that include the size of the island, current patterns, lack of suitable habitats for reproduction, larval recruitment, and foraging behaviors. No single trait can predict dispersal and population structure across these diverse groups, but in every case, there are key life-history features that guide connectivity. These include limited larval dispersal in damselfishes and shrimps, social structure in dolphins, and natal homing in marine turtles. Population genetic partitions can reveal the boundaries of isolated ecosystems, guiding the design of marine protected areas

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García-Machado E, Ulmo-Díaz G, Castellanos-Gell J, Casane D. 2018. Patterns of population connectivity in marine organisms of Cuba. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):193-211.

Cuba is an ecological rarity in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Its complex political and economic history shows limited disturbances, extinctions, pollution, and resource depletion by legal or de facto measures. Vast mangroves, wetlands, and forests play key roles in protecting biodiversity and reducing risks of hazards caused or aggravated by climate change. Cuba boasts coral reefs with some of the region’s greatest fish biomass and coral cover. Although it has set aside major protected areas that safeguard a host of endemic species, Cuba’s environment is by no means pristine. Through much of its early history, deforestation and intensive agricultural production under colonial then neocolonial powers was the norm. Using remote sensing, we find Cuba’s land today is 45% devoted to agricultural, pasturage, and crop production. Roughly 77% of Cuba’s potential mangrove zone is presently in mangrove cover, much of it outside legal protection; this is likely the most intact Caribbean mangrove ecosystem and an important resource for coastal protection, fish nurseries, and wildlife habitat. Even the largest watersheds with the most agricultural land uses have a strong presence of forests, mangroves, and wetlands to buer and filter runo. This landscape could change with Cuba’s gradual reopening to foreign investment and growing popularity among tourist trends that have devastated natural ecosystems throughout the Caribbean. Cuba is uniquely positioned to avoid and reverse ecosystem collapse if discontinuities between geopolitical and ecosystem functional units are addressed, if protection and conservation of endemic species and ecosystems services accompany new development, and if a sound ecological-restoration plan is enacted

Phrases:
“…startling concentrations of grouper and sharks in parts of the Jardines de la Reina.”

Jardines de la Reina continue to exhibit high fsh biomass and coral cover.”

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Roman J. 2018. The ecology and conservation of Cuba’s coastal and marine ecosystems. Bull Mar Sci. 94(2):149-169.

Cuba has some of the most well-protected coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean Sea, with strong marine policies and legislation, including a system of marine protected areas intended to cover 25% of its insular shelf. The crown jewel of the system, Jardines de la Reina National Park, has near pristine levels of apex predators and well-preserved coral reefs. Yet overfishing, illegal fishing, land-based pollution, and global changes, including increased bleaching events and more intense hurricanes, are widespread stressors and major threats to marine ecosystems. Limited resources have hindered Cuba’s ability to address these threats. Despite having numerous shared species and resources with the United States, the political division between the two governments has resulted in limited transfer of scientific information. At the end of 2014, the Obama and Castro administrations announced that they would begin improving relations after an approximately 50-yr gap that followed the US embargo of 1962, presenting an opportunity for more scientific exchange and collaboration in environmental management. This special issue of the Bulletin of Marine Science celebrates Cuban marine science and conservation eorts, while recognizing that improved relations and increased tourism and trade could put some natural areas at risk. Joint research shows promise that Cuba, the US, and other countries can work together on regional conservation eorts

Phrases:
Cuba’s most renowned reefs—such as Jardines de la Reina o the south-central coast—are among the most pristine in the Caribbean region, largely due to strong enforcement and distance from major cities.”

Cuba is known for its abundant shark populations, at least in the well-protected area of Jardines de la Reina National Park.”

The total predatory fish biomass in the Jardines de la Reina National Park is within the range that would be expected in the absence of human activities.”

Jardines de la Reina is one of the premier protected areas of the Caribbean region, showing evidence of good management, restoration of highly valued fish species such as sharks, and economic benefits.”

Essential in preserving Cuba’s marine life will be continued enforcement in areas such as the Jardines de la Reina…”

16

Ciénaga de Zapata National Park (CZNP) Coral Reef Fish Survey Report

The model of Jardines de la Reina tourism management based on science have proved to be successful and is applied to CZNP. MV OFY (3 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon (3 dive masters) carried out a fish survey in CZNP coral reef from March 3 to 16 and May 12 to 18, 2018, along Golfo de Cazones region. Visual censuses were carried out in March in 37 sites and Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) were carried out in May in 40 sites during more than 66 hours. Pictures were taken to support fish identification. We group the sites in 6 areas: ETE (Lavandera-Punta Brava), ETW (Punta Brava-Calvario), EC (Cayo Cobo-Cayo Palomo-Ensenada de Cazones), DP (Cayo Diego Pérez), DPS (Faro Diego Pérez-Cayo Sigua), SCB (Cayo Sigua-Cayo Blanco). We recorded large species abundance (sharks, large groupers, large snappers, barracuda, hogfish, eels, rays and turtles) and produced an inventory of fish species. There were recorded 154 fish species. Sharks were observed in four of the six areas: ETE (reef shark, nurse shark), EC (reef shark), DPS (tiger shark), CBS (great hammerhead shark). The gradient of abundance of large animals is CBS>ETE>ETW>DPS>DP>EC, being 2.2 times higher in CBS than in EC. Further data process and research are required to establish the causes of this gradient but it is likely to be related to differential fishing pressure. Large species abundance is up to 3.5 times higher in JRNP than in CZNP which stress the point that actions must be taken for effective enforcement and self-compliance to advance conservation of CZNP.

17

Jardines de la Reina National Park Fall 2017 Coral Reef Monitoring Report

Long standing effective marine protected areas are rare cases in the conservation practice worldwide. Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (3 scientists), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (3 dive instructors, 2 skippers) joint efforts to assess JRNP effectiveness between September 23 and October 17, 2017. There were surveyed 24 coral reef drop offs on 8 zones and 15 coral reef crests on 5 zones. Protected coral reef drop offs show 1.7 more large fish (adults reaching more than 40 cm), 3.2 more hogfish (species extremely vulnerable to spearfishing), 2.6 more large jacks and mackerels (adults reaching more than 40 cm), 1.6 more medium size fish (adults reaching less than 40 cm), 2.1 more urchins (keystone species on healthier reef), 1.3 higher coral cover, 1.1 higher fleshy algae cover and similar structural complexity than unprotected coral reef drop offs. Since no large reef crests occur in unprotected zones, the comparison was carried out among central and western zones of the JRNP, being the central zones the best protected ones. Central coral reef crests show 1.5 more large fish, 2.9 more hogfish, 2.1 more large jacks and mackerels, 2.9 more medium size fish, 3.1 more urchins, 4.9 less fleshy algae cover, similar coral cover and 0.8 lower structural complexity than western coral reef crests. Although benthic variables (urchins, algae, corals and structural complexity) require further data process and analysis to assess influence of protection and ecological relationships, the results on several fish groups cannot be explained for any other reason than effective protection of JRNP for over 20 years.

18

Sharks and Rays Research and Conservation in Southeastern Cuba 2017 Report

Many species of sharks and rays are endangered worldwide. But little was known of these species in Cuba, particularly about movement pattern and response to marine protected areas. This project started in 2012 as a joint effort among Rachel Graham, former staff of Wildlife Conservation Society and currently managing her own NGO Mar Alliance, and Cuban scientists, two of them currently MV OFY Environmental Advisors. The project has been supported by the Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research and Avalon/Marlin. It is taken place in southeastern Cuba (provinces of Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila y Camaguey, mainly in Cayos de Ana Maria, islands of the Golfo de Ana Maria and Jardines de la Reina archipelago). There have been carried out ten expeditions setting thousands of set lines on mangroves and dozens of longlines in coral reefs. Results show that there are 2.5-18 times more sharks inside Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) than outside. Taking into account the recapture rate by zones, JRNP offers better protection for the lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) and reef shark (Carcharhinus perezii) than for the nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus). Seventy-seven percent of recaptured tagged sharks have been taken outside JRNP, mostly by commercial fishermen, an indication of heavy fishing outside the protected area. Economical valuation shows that SCUBA diving with sharks in JRNP contributes with more than $700,000 yearly to Cuban economy. These findings were include in the JRNP 2017 – 2021 Management Plan and in the first National Action Plan for the Conservation of Sharks and Rays in Cuba issued in 2015 and implementation underway.

19

Jardines de la Reina National Park Winter 2017 Whale Shark Sightings Report

Whale shark, the largest fish ever exists, is an endangered (IUCN, vulnerable) and highly migratory species that regularly visit favored feeding sites. Sightings of whale sharks in Jardines de la Reina National Park are usually more frequent the last quarter of every year, particularly in November, but they have been absent from it in the last couple of seasons. Since October 30 to December 1, 2017 there were whale sharks sightings every week from one to six individuals per day. They have been part of the assemblage of plankton-silversides-small tunas-silky sharks.

20

Lionfish in Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) was invaded by lionfish like most of the wider Caribbean places but its current abundance seems to be lower than abroad. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (3 scientists), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (3 dive instructors, 2 skippers) joint efforts to assess lionfish status and the role of natural predators and of humans in the control of this exotic invasive species in JRNP between September 23 and November 30, 2017 and between February 14 to 23, 2018. There were surveyed 24 coral reef drop offs (8-13 m deep and 13-20 m deep) on 8 zones, 46 SCUBA diving sites (13-20 m deep) on 3 zones and 15 coral reef crests on 5 zones. More than 96 % of lionfish were sight on coral reef drop offs 13-20 m deep, more than 91 % were hidden in crevices and overhangs and almost 62 % were in groups of 2 to 4 specimens. These observations might be behavior responses to natural and human predation. The sites hosting 70 % of the potential predators (50 % of all sites) host about 45 % of the lionfish sightings, while the sites hosting 30 % of the potential predators (50 % of all sites) host about 55 % of the lionfish sightings, suggesting than natural predation alone is not enough to control lionfish and that the combination of natural predation and human control, like the one taking place in JRNP, is the key to keep this exotic invasive species in low numbers.

21

American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Jardines de la Reina National Park.

Presence of American crocodile in Jardines de la Reina National Park have been reported for many years and in 2012 there was detected one nest in Cayo Caguamas. Between May 21 and 30, 2019, 12 scientists and research assitants of the Empresa Nacional para la Protección de la Flora y Fauna of 4 provinces carried out an expedition to assess, for the first time, distribution and habitat use of American crocodile in JRNP. There were surveyed by foot from Punta Macao to Boca de Guano to assess coastline features and to detect direct evidence (nests and individuals) and indirect ones (footprints, tracts, shelters). Survey of channels, lagoons by boat and nocturnal surveys were carried out as well. American crocodile occurs at discrete sites from Mexican Channel to a beach in Boca Grande stretching about 70 km. Of the studied sites, only three (beaches at Boca Seca, Boca de Piedra Grande y Boca Grande) showed a combination of proper substrate for nesting and shelter for neonates and juveniles. The other sites have only one of them. There were identified three nesting sites on the beaches of Boca Seca, Boca de Piedra Grande y Boca Grande with one nest detected on each, with evidence that they are used by only one female at a time during the nest season. There were observed five shelters, three footprint and three tracts as well. Two nest were assessed with 33 births, without embryo death nor malformations. Three neonates were caught, measured and tagged. Average size was 26,7 cm. These results must be considered preliminary and do not allow to make abundance estimates nor population trend, for what a higher survey effort is required.

22

2019 Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) spawning in Jardines de la Reina National Park

Reproduction is a critical process for all species, particularly for endangered species such as elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata). In August 2017 environmental advisors of MV OFY recorded for the first time in Cuba the spawning of elkhorn coral in JRNP but its magnitude remained unassessed till now. Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana (2 scientists, 3 research assistants and 2 students), Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (2 scientists) and MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) joint efforts to assess spawning of elkhorn coral for the first time in Cuba, in August 16 to 21, 2019. The selected site was La Puntica crest for its high density and large size of healthy elkhorn colonies and logistic feasibility. Spawning forecast was for the second day of full moon (August 16) but it happened the fourth (August 19) from 9:43 pm to 10:18 pm. Of the four forecast spawning days, it only was observed in one. 21 colonies spawned though gametes were only collected from 4 due to low density of gametes release by the rest of the colonies. The gametes collected were mixed onboard and after two hours fertilization was detected. Adtionally, six reef crest sites were sampled. There are a high number of fragments young elkhorn colonies oversheeting old-mortality colonies. Prevalence of diseases and bleaching was low.

23

Jardines de la Reina National Park Winter 2019 Coral Reef Monitoring Report

Jardines de la Reina National Park and surroundings coral reefs were surveyed between March 3 and 21, 2019. Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (3 scientists), Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana (3 scientists and 4 research assistants), Center for Fisheries Research (3 scientists) and MV OFY (3 environmental advisors, 6 crew) joint efforts to surveyed 44 sites (25 reef drop offs / spur and grooves and 19 reef crests) in 9 zones (7 inside the National Park and 2 outside of it). For the first time were surveyed spiny lobster and sea cucumber. Preliminary, fish are more abundant inside the National Park, coral density is similar inside the National Park than outside, sea cucumbers are scarce in all coral reefs, spiny lobsters are more abundant outside the National Park and most of the female lobsters were ripped.

24

Jardines de la Reina National Park winter 2019 marine turtles monitoring Report

Jardines de la Reina National Park is the only place in Cuba where three species of marine turtles show a positive trend of nesting but last monitoring was carried out in 2016. National Enterprise for the Conservation of Flora and Fauna (seven scientists and research assistants), Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (two research assistants), MV OFY (3 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (two environmental advisors) joint efforts to carry out between January 25 and February 7, 2019, the first monitoring of marine turtles since 2016. There were surveyed 32 beaches along the whole archipelago, covering more than 39 km. There were detected 236 nests of hawksbill turtle and 683 nests of green turtle. There were assessed 159 nests of hawksbill turtle and 147 nests of green turtle. There were deployed four temperature loggers on two nests (one in the nest and one out of it) on Caballones East beach for monitoring incubation temperature. Although data require further process and analysis, it is evident that Jardines de la Reina National Park continues being the only place in Cuba where these species of marine turtles show a positive trend of nesting thanks to its effective protection.

25

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) Deep Coral Reef Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) Survey Report

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) is a research method particularly good for assessing the abundance of sharks, keystone species heavily depleted around the world. It is also good to survey deeper environments, where safe SCUBA diving bottom time limits visual censuses. MV OFY (3 environmental advisors, 4 crew) used, for the first time ever, this method to assess large species abundance in JRNP deep coral reef (shelf border, 20 – 30 m deep) from April 20 to 28, 2018. There were surveyed 75 sites during more than 147 hours along JRNP. Besides sharks, we recorded other large species (large groupers, large snappers, barracuda, hogfish, eels, rays and turtles). There are up to 1.6 times more large animals inside the protection than in fishing grounds. In the case of sharks, there were up to 6.8 times more inside the protection than in fishing grounds. These findings cannot be explained for any other reason than the effective protection of JRNP for over 20 years.

26

Workshop to Advance Monitoring and Research in Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Reina National Park (JRNP) between December 9 and 14, 2018. We gathered several Cuban institutions relevant to conservation and science in JRNP: eight scientists, officials and field assistants of the National Enterprise for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (JRNP administrator); six scientists and officials of the Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research; four scientists and officials of the Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana; four scientists of the Center for Fisheries Research and seven environmental advisors and crew of MV OFY and Avalon. On Sunday 9 we navigated to JRNP. We briefed about MV OFY programs and features and about the knowledge gathered for more than 20 years of work in Jardines de la Reina archipelago. On Monday 10 we exchanged about the 2017 – 2021 management plan and conservation targets (American crocodile, mangrove ecosystem, marine turtles, coral reef ecosystem, large groupers, gamefish, sharks and rays) and discussed about American crocodile and mangrove ecosystem monitoring and research activities. Field visits were carried out in tourism facilities at Nicola’s channel, mangrove channel, seagrass, coral heads and fore reef crest. On Tuesday 11 we discussed about marine turtles, coral reef ecosystem, fisheries, large groupers, gamefish, sharks and rays monitoring and research activities. Field visits were carried out in reef crest channel, reef slope and sighting silky sharks. On Wednesday 12 we worked on monitoring and research proposals for the conservation targets and timeframe for 2019. Field visits were carried out in fore and back reef crest, coral reef lagoon, island channel, seagrass and reef slope. On Thursday 13 we worked on monitoring and research proposals for the conservation targets and timeframe for 2019. Field visits were carried out in fore reef crest, island channel and seagrass. On Friday 14 the workshop was close and participants returned their homes.

27

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) Effect on Large Parrotfishes Protection Report

Grazing is a key ecological process in tropical coral reef ecosystems. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (2 scientists, 2 research assistant), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 dive instructor) joint efforts to assess, for the first time ever, JRNP effectiveness on large parrotfishes (rainbow and midnight parrotfishes) protection and their grazing behavior between January 8 to 18 and between February 22 and 23, 2018. There were surveyed 42 coral reef sites from 5 to 20 m on 2 zones, inside the National Park and outside it. There are 5.4 times more large parrotfishes inside and they are bigger inside too (59 % of fishes are bigger than 50 cm inside the protection vs 33 % outside). Grazing intensity is 1.6 times higher inside than outside. Although these findings require further data process and analysis to assess influence of protection and ecological relationships, it is likely the results cannot be explained for any other reason than effective protection of JRNP for over 20 years.

28

Elkhorn & Staghorn corals survey in Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Up to 85 % of wave energy can be reduced by reef crest, once dominated by Elkhorn coral, currently an endangered species as its relative Staghorn coral. A comprehensive survey of Elkhorn/Staghorn corals was carried out in Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP), Cuba, between August 27 and October 15, 2017, in order to assess species status and distribution patterns. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (5 scientists, 5 research assistants), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (2 dive instructors) joint efforts to survey 100 % of the 91 km of suitable habitat for these species in JRNP. During the survey almost 7 300 colonies were recorded (about 7 000 of Elkhorn coral). About 100 Elkhorn coral thickets and 3 600 fragments of Elkhorn coral were recorded as well. Elkhorn coral thickets will be the focus for conservation and monitoring efforts. 96 % of the colonies, 94 % of the thickets and almost 100 % of the fragments are located in the western half of JRNP. More than half of the colonies rank in “good” and “very good” condition, an indicator of a healthy population. This is only the second survey of its kind in the Western Atlantic and the largest one (previous covered 7 km). See Hernandez – Fernandez et al 2019 peer reviewed paper for more detailed analysis.

29

Fall 2018 Terrestrial Monitoring in Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Terrestrial monitoring of the raining season was carried out in seven islands of Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) (Grande, Caballones, Anclitas, Piedra Grande, Cachiboca, Caguama and Cabeza del Este). The monitoring includes flora and vegetation, mollusks, arachnids, insects, reptiles, birds and, for the first time, qualitative assessment of beaches. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research and Center for Environmental Research of Camagüey (8 scientists, 3 research assistants), MV OFY (1 environmental advisor, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 skipper) joint efforts to carried out this monitoring between September 22 to 26, 2018. For the first time was recorded permanent small-leave forest in JRNP in cayos Cachiboca and Grande and two new records of plants for cayos Grande and Anclitas. Beaches show escarps as a sign of erosion by natural causes in all islands but cayos Cachiboca and Cabeza del Este where gentle slope occur.

30

Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) Research and Conservation in Cuba Report

Goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara, is a giant fish that can grow to 800 pounds and had nearly disappeared by the 1970s due primarily to overfishing. But little was known of this species in Cuba. This project was the Pew Fellowship on Marine Conservation of MV OFY Environmental Advisor Fabian Pina Amargos carried out from 2012 to 2015 supported by the Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research and Avalon/Marlin. It took place in southeastern Cuba (provinces of Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila y Camaguey, mainly in Cayos de Ana Maria, islands of the Golfo de Ana Maria and Jardines de la Reina archipelago). There were carried out ten expeditions setting thousands of set lines on mangroves; handline hundreds of hours on spawning aggregation sites and SCUBA dives dozens of hours on spawning aggregation sites. All information is first of its kind in Cuba. There was confirmed the existence of one spawning aggregation site, the first detected by science in Cuba. Goliath grouper was more abundant inside Jardines de la Reina National Park than outside, but its density was very low, probably due to fishing at the spawning aggregation site. Although the Goliath grouper did not constitute an important fishery in Cuba, there was caught commercially during the spawning season and for subsistence year-round. The only fishing regulation was a weight limit of 960 grams. More than 20 years ago, fishing for Goliath grouper generally took place in shallower waters, which probably indicates the impact of fishing in species depth distribution. Based on these findings it was recommended that Goliath grouper fishing be banned in the spawning aggregation site found in Jardines de la Reina during July, August, and September, and that a minimum legal size of 110 cm be established. It was also recommended a ban on spearfishing of Goliath grouper in Cuban waters. The Cuban government went a step further: Consensus was built among the stakeholders and Resolution 178/2018 was passed to fully protect goliath grouper in Cuban waters.

31

Jardines de la Reina National Park hurricane boulder deposit Report

Boulder deposits in Caribbean coastal areas have been studied, mainly to answer to their controversial origin: paleohurricanes or paleotsunamis? The answer of this question is relevant for risk analysis in the face of climate change. There are several areas with boulder deposits in Cuba; some of them are huge and named as megablocks. In the southern coast of the Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP), boulder deposits occur as well. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (1 scientist, 1 research assistant), MV OFY (1 environmental advisor, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 skipper) joint efforts to assess quantitatively boulder deposits in JRNP between August 24 September 6, 2018. Boulder deposits are in the central region of JRNP stretching from the eastern most part of Cayo Grande to the Cayo Cachiboca lighthouse. The largest megablock is located in Cayo Boca de Piedra which weight has been estimated over one hundred tons. Preliminary analysis suggests paleohurricanes waves as the force that deposited these boulders in JRNP.

32

Photo ID of marine turtles in feeding grounds of Jardines de la Reina National Park

Jardines de la Reina is the largest marine reserve of the Caribbean and hosts many keystone species for Cuban archipelago marine biological diversity, including marine turtles. This research used photo ID of these species in Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) feeding grounds. Noel López Fernández (Avalon), Fabián Pina Amargos (MV OFY) and Tamara Figueredo Martin (MV OFY) compiled 284 photos taken in SCUBA diving sites of JRNP between 2010 and 2016 analysed by Julia Azanza Ricardo (Instituto Superior de Tecnología y Ciencias Aplicadas). A total of 47 individuals were photo ID: 44 hawskbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and 3 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). They were sighted 54 times. The highest frequency of sightings were in 2012 with 20 and 2011 and 2014 with 8 each one. It was possible to photo re-ID seven individuals, one of them twice in 2013. Average time between sightings was 2,5±1,6 years (min,: 1 year; max.: 5 years). Results show is possible to follow up JRNP marine turtles in feeding grounds using photo ID, becoming a valuable tool for the conservation in marine protected areas.

33

Spring 2018 Terrestrial Ecosystems Monitoring of Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. This National Park not only protects marine ecosystems and biota, but terrestrial ones as well. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (4 scientists and 2 research asistants), the Center for Environmental Research of Camaguey (4 scientists) and MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 3 crew and 1 skipper) joint efforts to monitor JRNP terrestrial ecosystems on April 8 to 17, 2018. Additionally, there were assessed the health condition of 113 mangroves sites (89 alive and 24 death) to study the mortality of this ecosystem in the area. There were surveyed 8 islands spread in the entire archipelago. There was record a new species of plant for the archipelago at the east of Cayo Caballones. Species richness of mollusks was low in general but there were recorded 3 new species for the archipelago. The highest densities of mollusks were found in Cayo Caguamas and the lowest in Cayo Grande. The islands with highest abundance of lizards were Caballones and Caguama. There were recorded 2 new species of lizards for the archipelago in Cayo Caballones. Although data require further process and analysis, experts believe terrestrial ecosystems and biota in the Park remain stable.

34

Jardines de la Reina National Park Summer 2018 Effectiveness on Seagrass Protection Report

Long standing effective marine protected areas are rare cases in the conservation practice worldwide. Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (4 scientists, 1 research assistant), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 dive instructor) joint efforts to assess JRNP effectiveness on seagrass protection between June and July, 2018. There were surveyed 16 seagrass sites on 8 zones, assessing seagrass and its associated large fish. Seagrass coverage were about 50 % of turtle and manatee grass and calcareous algae with up to around 600 plants/m2. Main epiphytes algae on seagrass were crustose ones. Water temperature, salinity and pH were the usual ones for the season. Large fish were surveyed using Baited Remote Underwater Video. Protected seagrass show 2.4 more large fish (adults reaching more than 40 cm) than unprotected seagrass. On species level, protected seagrass show 2.1 times more jacks and mackerels (adults reaching more than 40 cm) than unprotected seagrass. Fish species richness is also higher in protected than unprotected seagrass (15 species vs 5). Although seagrass variables require further data process and analysis to assess influence of protection and ecological relationships, these results are consistent with those of the winter 2017 survey and it is likely the results cannot be explained for any other reason than effective protection of JRNP for over 20 years.

35

Tropical storm Nate impact on Jardines de la Reina National Park coral reef crests Report

Tropical storms are well known to severely impact coral reef. Tropical storm Nate big waves hit Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) from October 5 to 7, 2017. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (3 scientists), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 dive instructors) joint efforts to assess Tropical storm Nate impact on JRNP coral reef crests. From October 10 to 15 there was surveyed 21 % of the almost 7 000 colonies of Elkhorn coral of JRNP, an endangered species of branching coral, highly susceptible to tropical storm damage. Just 3.4 % of them were damaged, most of them with few broken branches. Taking into account this figure it can be concluded that Tropical storm Nate had an extremely low impact on JRNP coral reef crests. Further studies are needed to assess whether this resilience is due to the healthy condition of JRNP coral reef.

36

Jardines de la Reina National Park Winter 2017 Effectiveness on Seagrass Protection Report

Long standing effective marine protected areas are rare cases in the conservation practice worldwide. Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (4 scientists, 1 research assistant), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (1 dive instructor) jointed efforts to assess, for the first time ever, JRNP effectiveness on seagrass protection between December 2 to 15, 2017. There were surveyed 16 seagrasses sites on 8 zones, assessing seagrass and its associated large fish. Seagrass coverage were about 50 % of turtle and manatee grass and calcareous algae with up to around 600 plants/m2. Main epiphytes algae on seagrass were crustose ones. Water temperature, salinity and pH were the usual ones for the season. Large fish were surveyed using Baited Remote Underwater Video for the first time in JRNP. Protected seagrasses show 3.4 more large fish (adults reaching more than 40 cm) than unprotected seagrass. On species level, protected seagrasses show 5.2 times more great barracudas and 7 times more jacks and mackerels (adults reaching more than 40 cm) than unprotected seagrass. Fish species richness is also higher in protected than unprotected seagrasses (21 species vs 13). Although seagrass variables require further data process and analysis to assess influence of protection and ecological relationships, it is likely the results cannot be explained for any other reason than effective protection of JRNP for over 20 years.

37

Winter 2017 Terrestrial Ecosystems Monitoring of Jardines de la Reina National Park Report

Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP) has been protected for more than 20 years, since 1996 as a Marine Reserve and since 2010 as a National Park. This National Park not only protects marine ecosystems and biota, but terrestrial ones as well. The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (5 scientists and 3 research asistants), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) joint efforts to monitor JRNP terrestrial ecosystems on November 4 to 17, 2017. There were surveyed 6 islands spread in the entire archipelago, including Cachiboca, Caballones and Boca de Piedra Grande for the first time ever. From the terrestrial vegetation point of view, Caballones is the island with the highest species richness of plants where Erithalis fruticosa is the most abundant one. Vegetation covers an average of 40 % of the islands surface. The endemic species Coccothrinax littoralis are found abundant in all of the islands. Insects and arachnid abundance are low, except for Boca de Piedra Grande. In case of mollusk two genera were record with prevalence of Cerion, with patched distribution from cero to more than one thousand individuals per sample. Caguama is the island with highest abundance and mortality of mollusk, an apparent contradiction that requires further research. Caguama also is the island with the highest abundance of iguanas. Another reptile, Green Anoles (Anolis allisoni, introduced species) shows a broader distribution in Caguama than in previous surveys. In general, abundance of reptiles increases from previous surveys during the same weather season. 52 birds species were detected, two of them are new records of birds for the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago. Aquatic birds represent 58 % of species recorded. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Double-Crested Cormorant (Palacrocorax auritus) and Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) are the more abundant birds. Although data require further process and analysis, experts believe terrestrial ecosystems and biota in the Park remain stable.

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Beyer HL, Kennedy EV, Beger M, et al. 2018. Risk-sensitive planning for conserving coral reefs under rapid climate change. Conservation Letters.

Coral reef ecosystems are seriously threatened by changing conditions in the ocean. Although many factors are implicated, climate change has emerged as a dominant and rapidly growing threat. Developing a long-term strategic plan for the conservation of coral reefs is urgently needed yet is complicated by significant uncertainty associated with climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems. We use Modern Portfolio Theory to identify coral reef locations globally that, in the absence of other impacts, are likely to have a heightened chance of surviving projected climate changes relative to other reefs. Long-term planning that is robust to uncertainty in future conditions provides an objective and transparent framework for guiding conservation action and strategic investment. These locations constitute important opportunities for novel conservation investments to secure less vulnerable yet well-connected coral reefs that may, in turn, help to repopulate degraded areas in the event that the climate has stabilized.

Phrases:

Cuba (E) is one of the examples of sites that perform relatively well in Figure 2. It is among 23 % of the best reef.

“…balanced solution includes reefs in 31 of the 87 countries that have more than 500 km2 of tropical coral reefs, with multiple BCUs in countries such as Australia, Cuba, French Polynesia, Philippines, Bahamas, and Malaysia (Figure 4).”

Comments:

Figure 4 show Jardines de la Reina is one of the reef to show balanced scenario (represents the optimal portfolio presented in this paper).

40

Caballero Aragón, Hansel, Maickel Armenteros, Susana Perera Valderrama, Néstor Rey Villiers, Dorka Cobián Rojas, Karla Campos Verdecia & Pedro M. Alcolado Menéndez (2019): Ecological condition of coral reef assemblages in the Cuban Archipelago, Marine Biology Research, DOI: 10.1080/17451000.2019.1577557

The condition of coral reefs in the Cuban Archipelago is poorly known. We aimed to analyse coral assemblages across 199 reef sites belonging to 12 localities. Crest and fore reefs were assessed using six metrics: species richness, density, coral cover, mortality, coral size and reef complexity. The condition of reefs varied across the archipelago from healthy to depleted reefs. The localities with best scores were Cienfuegos, Bahía de Cochinos and Cazones. These reefs have values of living coral cover (>20%) and complexity (>50 cm) similar to the best preserved Caribbean reefs. However, the majority of crest biotopes suffered important deterioration with old mortality of Acropora palmata populations and moderate coral cover (15%); although crest reefs still maintained their structural complexity. Despite moderate levels of coral cover in fore reefs (18%), their condition was alarming because 25% of the sites had cover below the recovery threshold of 10%, accumulated mortality and structural flattening. Compared with the 1980s, the species richness was roughly the same (42) for crest and fore reefs, although dominance has changed to widespread tolerant species. Coral reef assemblages varied at local and regional scales in similar magnitude, suggesting the combined effects of natural and anthropogenic drivers.

Phrases:

“…and Jardines de la Reina had the highest values of coral cover.”

The lowest values of mortality occurred in Cienfuegos and Jardines de La Reina.”

41

Ulmo Díaz, Gabriela; Didier Casane, Louis Bernatchez, Patricia González Díaz, Amy Apprill, Jessy Castellanos Gell, Leslie Hernández Fernández, Erik García Machado. 2018. Genetic differentiation in the mountainous star coral Orbicella faveolata around Cuba. Coral Reefs 

Caribbean coral reefs are biodiversity-rich habitats which provide numerous ecosystem services with both ecological and economical values, but nowadays they are severely degraded. In particular, populations of the major framework-building coral Orbicella faveolata have declined sharply, and therefore, understanding how these threatened coral populations are interconnected and how demographic changes have impacted their genetic diversity is essential for their management and conservation. Previous population genetic surveys showed that gene flow in this species is sometimes locally restricted in the Caribbean; however, little genetic data are available for Cuban populations. Here, we analyzed the variation at the mitochondrial DNA control region and six microsatellite loci from O. faveolata colonies from five distant localities representing most of the main coral reefs around Cuba. Both genetic markers showed evidence of genetic differentiation between the northwestern area (Colorados Archipelago) and the other reefs. Colonies from the Colorados Archipelago harbored the largest number of unique mtDNA haplotypes and microsatellite alleles, which suggests long-term large population size or gene flow from other areas of the Caribbean. These results indicate that the Colorados Archipelago area is particularly important for O. faveolata populations and it is well suited for reef management and restoration efforts.

Phrases:

“…show differentiation among Colorados Archipelago and Baracoa Beach, Coco Key, Jardines de la Reina or Canarreos Archipelago.”

42

Hernández-Fernández, L. y Peralta, A.C. (2018). Registros de corales y erizos del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar., 38(1), 168-175.

Within the marine studied groups at Jardines de la Reina National Park (PNJR) there are corals and sea urchins, with data references since 1980 and 2011, respectively. At his study, we describe the first records that a Cuban scientific institution made to an Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). These reports were of coral and sea urchins species identified in situ from field sampling at September of 2015 and February of 2016 and 2017 at PNJR. For the corals study were placed 10 transects per site, every one of 10 m of large to cover 140 transect; 20 transects were placed at shallow scarp at the rest were placed at reef crests. For the sea urchin census 10 band transects per site were placed at reef crests (60), of 10 m long x 1 m width. One hundred and sixty-five records of 28 species of corals were made, 20 for the shallow scarp habitat and 19 for the reef crests. Six species of sea urchins were identified. The whole register have been added to the OBIS database, in order to update the information presented in this worldwide marine species database, which until now none Cuban contributions has been reported. Both the information of corals and sea urchins from PNJR given to OBIS begin the contribution of Cuban scientific institutions to this platform, which provides a base of scientific knowledge about global data, in issues of diversity, distribution and abundance of marine organisms in standardized format.

43

García–Quintas, A. & Parada Isada, A., 2017. Underlying factors promoting nestedness of bird assemblages in
cays of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, Cuba.
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 40.1: 7–16,

Assessing the factors associated with nestedness patterns is a crucial aspect in studies of community structure. Bird assemblages in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago have a stable nested structure but the underlying inuences have not been evaluated. We constructed a presence–absence data matrix based on a bird inventory obtained from 43 cays of this archipelago. We calculated nestedness using the NODF metric based on the overlap and decreasing fill and evaluated its significance by running 1,000 iterations of four null models. The matrix columns were rearranged to evaluate seven factors possibly related to the nestedness of bird communities. Bird assemblages exhibited a significant nested pattern (67.93) and all factors contributed (p < 0.01) to the nestedness patterns of bird communities. Habitat diversity and cay area and perimeter were the factors that contributed most to the nested structure. The nestedness pattern in the bird assemblages of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago was potentially caused by the interaction of selective extinction and differential colonization of species, with the former having a more remarkable effect.z

44

Donner SD, Rickbeil GJM, Heron SF (2017) A new, high-resolution global mass coral bleaching database. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175490. 

Episodes of mass coral bleaching have been reported in recent decades and have raised concerns about the future of coral reefs on a warming planet. Despite the efforts to enhance and coordinate coral reef monitoring within and across countries, our knowledge of the geographic extent of mass coral bleaching over the past few decades is incomplete. Existing databases, like ReefBase, are limited by the voluntary nature of contributions, geographical biases in data collection, and the variations in the spatial scale of bleaching reports. In this study, we have developed the first-ever gridded, global-scale historical coral bleaching database. First, we conducted a targeted search for bleaching reports not included in ReefBase by personally contacting scientists and divers conducting monitoring in under-reported locations and by extracting data from the literature. This search increased the number of observed bleaching reports by 79%, from 4146 to 7429. Second, we employed spatial interpolation techniques to develop annual 0.04˚ × 0.04˚ latitude-longitude global maps of the probability that bleaching occurred for 1985 through 2010. Initial results indicate that the area of coral reefs with a more likely than not (>50%) or likely (>66%) probability of bleaching was eight times higher in the second half of the assessed time period, after the 1997/1998 El Niño. The results also indicate that annual maximum Degree Heating Weeks, a measure of thermal stress, for coral reefs with a high probability of bleaching increased over time. The database will help the scientific community more accurately assess the change in the frequency of mass coral bleaching events, validate methods of predicting mass coral bleaching, and test whether coral reefs are adjusting to rising ocean temperatures

Comments:

Figure 4 shows that Jardines de la Reina had low impact/probability of bleaching in 2005, a year with a strong bleaching event worldwide.

45

Spalding Mark, Lauretta Burke, Spencer A. Wood, Joscelyne Ashpole, James Hutchison, Philine zu Ermgassen. 2017. Mapping the global value and distribution of coral reef tourism. Marine Policy 82 (2017) 104–113.

Global coral reef related tourism is one of the most significant examples of nature-based tourism from a single ecosystem. Coral reefs attract foreign and domestic visitors and generate revenues, including foreign exchange earnings, in over 100 countries and territories. Understanding the full value of coral reefs to tourism, and the spatial distribution of these values, provides an important incentive for sustainable reef management. In the current work, global data from multiple sources, including social media and crowd-sourced datasets, were used to estimate and map two distinct components of reef value. The first component is local “reef-adjacent” value, an overarching term used to capture a range of indirect benefits from coral reefs, including provision of sandy beaches, sheltered water, food, and attractive views. The second component is “on-reef” value, directly associated with in-water activities such diving and snorkelling. Tourism values were estimated as a proportion of the total visits and spending by coastal tourists within 30 km of reefs (excluding urban areas). Reef-adjacent values were set as a fixed proportion of 10% of this expenditure. On-reef values were based on the relative abundance of dive-shops and underwater photos in different countries and territories. Maps of value assigned to specific coral reef locations show considerable spatial variability across distances of just a few kilometres. Some 30% of the world’s reefs are of value in the tourism sector, with a total value estimated at nearly US$36 billion, or over 9% of all coastal tourism value in the world’s coral reef countries.

Comments:

Figure 2 shows that economic value of Jardines de la Reina coral reef for tourism is from high to very high ($356,000 km-2 yr-1).

46

Valdivia A., C. E. Cox, J. F. Bruno, 2017. Predatory fish depletion and recovery potential on Caribbean reefs. Sci. Adv. 3, e1601303

The natural, prehuman abundance of most large predators is unknown because of the lack of historical data and a limited understanding of the natural factors that control their populations. Determining the supportable predator biomass at a given location (that is, the predator carrying capacity) would help managers to optimize protection and would provide site-specific recovery goals. We assess the relationship between predatory reef fish biomass and several anthropogenic and environmental variables at 39 reefs across the Caribbean to (i) estimate their roles determining local predator biomass and (ii) determine site-specific recovery potential if fishing was eliminated. We show that predatory reef fish biomass tends to be higher in marine reserves but is strongly negatively related to human activities, especially coastal development. However, human activities and natural factors, including reef complexity and prey abundance, explain more than 50% of the spatial variation in predator biomass. Comparing site-specific predator carrying capacities to field observations, we infer that current predatory reef fish biomass is 60 to 90% lower than the potential supportable biomass in most sites, even within most marine reserves. We also found that the scope for recovery varies among reefs by at least an order of magnitude. This suggests that we could underestimate unfished biomass at sites that provide ideal conditions for predators or greatly overestimate that of seemingly predator-depleted sites that may have never supported large predator populations because of suboptimal environmental conditions.

Phrases:

“…average total fish biomass per site (mean ± SE) ranged from~55 ± 8 g m-2 at Mexico Rocks in Belize to ~445 ± 148 g m-2 at El Peruano inside the Gardens of the Queen marine reserve in Cuba (Fig. 1).”

“…total predatory fish biomass at sites within the marine reserves of Gardens of the Queen in Cuba and Dry Tortugas in Florida showed predatory fish biomass within values predicted by the models…”

Comments:

Gardens of the Queen 4 sites are among the top 9 sites of highest biomass of the 39 sites surveyed in the Caribbean (see Figure 1).

Gardens of the Queen 4 sites are among the top 9 sites of highest estimated biomass of predatory reef fish in the absence of human activities of the 39 sites surveyed in the Caribbean (see Figure 3).

47

Gerhartz-Abraham A., Lucia M. Fanning, Jorge Angulo-Valdés. 2016. ICZM in Cuba: Challenges and opportunities in a changing economic context. Marine Policy 73: 69–76.

Cuba embraced integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) after the Earth Summit, 1992. A series of legal and institutional arrangements rapidly emerged, creating a more solid framework for ICZM in the Caribbean island. Nonetheless, although nearly 48% of Cuba jurisdictional area is ocean, the scope of most ICZM initiatives in the country has been limited to coastal terrestrial issues. Thus, recognition for the inclusion of the marine component of the coastal zone in the national policies and legislation for ocean and coastal management is needed. This paper discusses a number of policy and legal shortcomings that constrain integration and success in ICZM initiatives. Such limitations coupled with opportunities arising from the current political and economic context in the island put the realization of successful ICZM at risk. Overall, the development of a new and comprehensive policy that supports integrated coastal and ocean management in Cuba is critical for: i) addressing the gaps and limitations of the national ICZM approach; and ii) addressing the imminent challenges and opportunities that the new Cuban economic model may represent to the national governance of ICZM.

Phrases:

“…Jardines de la Reina, one of the hot spots of marine biodiversity in Cuba, retains one of the most natural marine environments around the world.”

48

Barrios Valdes O. 2016. Observaciones ecológicas de Cerion santacruzense (Gastropoda: Cerionidae) en tres cayos del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Poeyana 502: 32 38.

The study was accomplished at the beginning of December of 2008. The ecological density, use of the substratum and aggregation were determined by individuals’ count at circular 1m2 plots of land, in Cayo Anclitas (Anclita I and Anclita II), Cayo Cachiboca, and in Cayo Caguamas. The ecological density of Cerion santacruzense varied between the different localities, the bigger value was registered in Cayo Caguamas, 24,5 (7 – 56 indiv/m2) and minor in Cayo Anclita I, 0,7 (0 – 13indiv/m2). The four studied populations had an aggregate distribution The riche of used plants as the substrate was fall, predominating the use of plants herbaceous, principally the grass Schizachyrium gracile. Substrates more used were grasses (Gramineae), branches and trunks principally. Regarding the strata it was characterized to use the lowest (0,1 – 0,5 m), in the which, 84% of the specimens were detected.

Phrases:

“Este estudio no hubiera podido desarrollarse sin el apoyo vital de la empresa turística Azulmar.”

49

Marichal Arbona E. 2016 El majá de Santa María, Chilabothrus angulifer (Squamata: Boidae), en el Archipiélago Jardines de la Reina: nuevo registro de distribución. Poeyana 503: 64 – 65.

A specimen of Cuban boa (Chilabothrus angulifer) was captured in Caballones Key, Jardines de la Reina archipelago. It measured nearly 1.72 m of length and was captured in February 2015 on xerophytic coastal scrub. This individual constitutes a new distribution record and expands the distribution of this boa to cays to the south of central region of Cuban archipelago.

50

Marichal Arbona, E. 2016. Dieta de Cyclura nubila nubila Gray, 1831 (Squamata: Iguanidae) en dos cayos del archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Acta Zoológica Mexicana (n.s.), 32(2): 195-198.

Cyclura nubila nubila is an endemic subspecies of Cuba and it has been listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. The present investigation was developed in November 2013 and February 2014 in Caguamas and Palomo cays, respectively. Thirty-seven fecal pellets were collected through fixed transects on sandy coast vegetation and subsequently moistened with water and alcohol to separate and identify diet‘s components. Nine species of plants in Caguamas and four in Palomo were identified as part of iguana‘s diet. The most frecuent plant species were Conocarpus erectus, Setaria parviflora and Thalassia testudinum in Palomo and Cochorus hirsutus in Caguamas. In Palomo 45% of fecal pellets contained corporal parts of dragonflies and 5% parts of crabs. The consumption of animal matter is due to the low floristic diversity of Palomo cay. The iguana‘s diet in Caguamas included more plant components mainly fruits. This study contributes to increase knowledge of trophic ecology and management of the species in the archipelago of Jardines de la Reina

51

Hernández Fernández L, Claudia Bustamante López y Lisadys B. Dulce Sotolongo. 2016. Estado de crestas de arrecifes en el Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar., 36(1), 79-91.

Four of coral reef crests were sampled in the Jardines de la Reina National Park, Cuba, to know their condition in February 2016.Ecological indicators on the Scale System for the Classification and Score of Benthos and Fish Fauna Condition of Coral Reefs in Cuba and the Greater Caribbean were evaluated. The predominant species of corals were, in descending order, Porites astreoides, Millepora complanata and Acropora palmata. Diadema antillarum urchins were predominant and Echinometra lucunter lucunter. The macroalgae with the most abundance were Halimeda opuntia and Canistrocarpus cervicornis. The coral covers was similar in most of sampling sites, but in Anclitas (Site 1), lower density of D. antillarum and less coverage of the species A. palmata was reported. However, in La Puntica site higher density D. antillarum and greater coverage A. palmata was found. The latter site was also the highest percentage of crustose macroalgae even when no significant differences with the remaining sites were found. The latter was also the highest percentage of crustose macroalgaes was determined, although no significant differences with the remaining sites. Anclitas key crest was classified as “unhealthy”, the Caballones key crest: Bayamesa y Caballones as “less healthy”, whereas that La Puntica as “healthy”. The status of coral reef crest of Jardines de la Reina National Park, as crucial element to be defined, as the nutrient composition and direction of tidal currents as well as the community of herbivorous fish.

52

Ferrer Rodríguez, VM, Silvia Patricia González-Díaz, Leslie Hernández Fernández, Daria Siciliano, Fernando Bretos, Amy Appril, Konrad Huges, Alyson Santoro. 2016. Salud de las comunidades de corales en arrecifes de Jardines de la Reina – Golfo de Ana María, región surcentral de Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar., 36(1), 34-53.

The research goal was to evaluate the health reef in a sector of the National Park Jardines de la Reina (PNJR) and the Golfo de Ana María (GAM). Four stations were established in to the PNJR and two in GAM on February of 2015. The selected biotopes were terrace border and coral patch. The selected ecologic indicators to evaluate the reef’s health were: coral health, coral density and the most abundant species, as well as coral, algal and sponge cover. To evaluate the health and density was used the belt transect method with 10 m long for 1 m of wide, and for the cover it was used the 10 m long lineal transect. Ten sample units for stations were placed. Coral health was affected mainly by bleaching (17.7% of bleached colonies). The most affected due to the blanching were Siderastrea siderea (Ellis y Solander, 1786) y Agaricia agaricites (Linnaeus, 1758). Yellow blotch disease affected to Orbicella annularis (Ellis y Solander, 1786). Old mortality mainly affected to O. annularis y O. faveolata (Ellis y Solander, 1786). Coral density varied between 35.2 colonies/10 m2 and 92.2 colonies/10 m2. Porites astreoides (Lamarck, 1816) was the specie that showed highest density. Live coral cover varied between 9% and 55%.The results permit conclude that even though the Marine Protected Areas aren’t invulnerable to global impacts, the ecological indicators evaluated and related with health, density and coral cover shows better results than for others Cuban and Caribbean reefs.

Phrases:

“Agradecemos… a la tripulación del barco La Reina de la empresa Avalon.”

53

Kough AS, Rodolfo Claro, Kenyon C. Lindeman, Claire B. Paris. 2016. Decadal analysis of larval connectivity from Cuban snapper (Lutjanidae) spawning aggregations based on biophysical modeling. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 550: 175–190

Variability in environmental conditions and ocean currents can influence population connectivity and the exchange of larvae among locations. This is especially true for species that spawn in aggregations during a limited temporal window, such as many of the commercially and ecologically valuable species of snapper (Lutjanidae) in Cuba. Biophysical modeling has been used for over a decade to describe the pelagic pathways, sources, and sinks of lutjanid larvae. Here, we build on earlier studies by incorporating more advanced modeling techniques, higher resolution oceanography, and an expanded temporal scope using circulation from 2004 to 2013. Our goal was to revisit the relative linkages of Cuban snapper larvae among regions of the Cuban shelf and neighboring countries by investigating their interannual variability and spatial patterns. Biophysical simulations suggest the majority of larvae produced from snapper spawning aggregations are retained on-island, often within the region where they were spawned, with the exception of an aggregation in northwest Cuba. We used multinomial logistic regression to identify consistency in patterns of simulated biophysical larval transport, and to determine the number of years of simulation required to approximate connectivity. The best fit model correctly identified major connections from each spawning location to greater Caribbean destinations for each species. However, connections at smaller spatial scales were less predictable, and variance increased if fewer years of larval transport were considered. While the magnitude of settlement varies annually, the spatial arrangement of connectivity is relatively consistent such that modeled pathways from spawning aggregations can effectively inform connectivity planning, such as the placement of spawning reserves.

Phrases:

“…for SE Cuba, mean Cuban settlement was 52% (2 to 99%) and mean Jamaican settlement was 6% (0 to 51%)…”

“…for SE Cuba, mean local retention was 50% (2 to 99%)…”

Comments:

Besides Jamaica, SE Cuba supply larvae to Cayman and Hispaniola (see Fig. 2) and Bahamas (see Fig. 5).

SE Cuba export and import larvae to and from SW Cuba (see Fig 3) and NW/NC Cuba (see Fig. 7).

Note: SE Cuba is where Jardines de la Reina is located.

54

García Quintas A. 2016. Descripción de las colonias reproductivas de aves acuáticas en el Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Revista Cubana de Ciencias Biológicas. Vol 4(3): 29-35

Colonialism is one of the more conspicuous reproduction characteristics of the most waterbirds species. This phenomenon constitutes an important adaptation that benefits the colonies reproduction. National Park Jardines de la Reina is included into one of the more isolated and conserved archipelago of Cuba. Knowledge about waterbirds ecology in this zone is low despite what it have great potentialities to shelter colonial reproduction sites. I conducted an extensive search of waterbirds reproductive colonies in May 2012 and described these by mean of its specific composition and characteristics of the nests and eggs. I registered 31 reproductive colonies of six birds species. Except for Charadrius wilsonia, vegetation where were located the nests was the mangroves forests. Measures of nests and eggs of sampled species were similar to the values registered on the literature. Only clutch size of Pelecanus occidentalis was lower than other works. I considered what the number of colonies registered in Jardines de la Reina is subestimated, and I highlighted the needed of increasing investigations about the waterbirds ecology.

55

PM

56

Hernández Fernández, L., Olivera Espinosa, Y., Figueredo Martín, T., Gómez Fernández, R., Brizuela Pardo, L., F. Pina Amargós. 2016. Incidencia del buceo autónomo y la capacidad de carga en sitios de buceo del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina. Rev. Mar. Cost. Vol(8):9-27.

Scuba diving is one of the main activities in the Jardines de la Reina National Park (PNJR), located o the southern coast of Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila and Camagüey provinces. This study was conducted to determine the eect of this activity on the coral reefs of the area, particularly on stony corals. A total of 28 sites were surveyed during a ten-day period. Areas with high, medium, and low diving intensity, as well as no diving were compared taking into account the percentage of stony coral cover. A total of 220 line transects were used and 51 divers were observed. In sites with high diving intensity, 36 species of stony corals were identified, mostly including S. siderea, A. agaricites, P. astreoides, M. alcicornis and O. faveolata. Of the 51 divers observed, 48 violated diving regulations such as making contact with the corals, sediment suspension, and, to a lesser degree, mechanical damage (breaking of organisms). Gorgonians, followed by stony corals, were the most contacted organisms. The amount of touches per diver was 5.8 touches/minute. Eective carrying capacity in PNJR ranged from 15 to 35 divers/site/day. It is inferred that, in spite of the impact of scuba diving recorded on the surveyed sites, the sites showed no signs of deterioration. However, monitoring aected organisms to follow up post-damage evolution and complying with the number of divers/site/day suggested in this study is recommended.

Phrases:

“…la tripulación de la embarcación “La Reina” y a Noel López Fernández, Eduardo del Sol Cruz y Jorge L. Casonova de la Sucursal Marlin Jardines de la Reina, por sus valiosos aportes.”

57

Castellanos-Gell, J., Robainas-Barcia, A., Pina-Amargós, F., Chevalier-Monteagudo, P., Metcalfe, C, Franco Molina, W., Casane, D., and García-Machado, E. 2016. Genetic diversity of reef fishes around Cuba: a multispecies assessment. Mar Biol 163:165.

We aimed to identify biotic and abiotic factors underlying genetic structure and diversity of reef fish around Cuba. For three species, Stegastes partitus, Haemulon avolineatum and Acanthurus tractus, we investigated the effects of shared environmental factors, such as the geography of the Cuban Archipelago, and specific characteristics, such as life history traits, on genetic structure and diversity. Samples were collected at five locations around Cuba. For S. partitus and H. avolineatum, mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite loci were examined, whereas only mitochondrial DNA polymorphism was analyzed for A. tractus. All three species showed high genetic diversity. Mismatch distribution analyses suggest past population expansion in all species, but at different times in each species. Haplotype network and population genetic analyses suggest that: (1) S. partitus went through a recent population bottleneck in the late Pleistocene, (2) H. avolineatum went through a population bottleneck but earlier, in the mid-Pleistocene, and (3) A. tractus has had a large and stable population size with coalescence times that go back to the late Pliocene. Genetic polymorphism in H. avolineatum and A. tractus is homogeneous throughout the archipelago, whereas there is significant genetic structure in S. partitus. Genetic differentiation among S. partitus populations is most likely the result of the combined effects of egg type and oceanic current patterns along the Cuban coast.

Phrases:

Differentiation (of Stegastes partitus) was also significant between the southern localities, i.e., the Breton and Avalos Keys. In contrast, no statistically significant differentiation between any localities was found in H. avolineatum and A. tractus, indicating genetic homogeneity.”

58

Navarro-Martínez ZM, Jorge Alberto Angulo-Valdés. 2015. Estado de conservación de la ictiofauna arrecifal en parques nacionales cubanos: una revisión. Rev. Invest. Mar., 35(1), 82-99.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become a key component in the conservation of marine life and habitats worldwide. In Cuba, their use has also gained momentum, particularly the National Parks, the second stricter management category in the country. Surprisingly, despite well-proven efficacy of fishes as indicators of habitat status, few studies have been conducted to assess National Parks’ effectiveness in protecting the fish communities. This paper aims at analyzing the current state of knowledge and conservation status of reef fish publications about their fishes. The use of different alternatives of the visual census method undermines the comparison of reef fish assemblages among areas. Nevertheless, a common lack of big and commercially important fish species was
observed in all National Parks but Jardines de la Reina. Scarcity of scientific publications about reef fish assemblages in these National Parks triggers the need to conduct management-oriented research that contributes to the protection and sustainability of fish communities.

Phrases:

“Las áreas que tienen mayor
cantidad de artículos científicos sobre agregaciones de peces son el PN Jardines de la Reina,seguido del PN Guanahacabibes”

“…el estado de conservación del PN Jardines de la Reina superó las expectativas de muchos de los turistas encuestados y casi el 80% de estos lo consideraron con atractivos superiores o similares al de otros sitios del mundo…”

“El PN Jardines de la Reina fue el que tuvo los mayores valores de densidad y biomasa en ambos biotopos…”

“El área donde se observó casi la totalidad (26 especies) de las 27 especies (amenazadas seguin UICN) fue el PN Jardines de la Reina.”

“La abundancia de peces de gran talla y alto valor ecológico y comercial, y la mayor cantidad de especies amenazadas son los atributos más conspicuos en el PN Jardines de la Reina. Esto denota su efectividad en la conservación de las agregaciones de peces, lo que no se observa en los otros parques nacionales de Cuba. Esta diferencia se debe fundamentalmente al correcto manejo y la gestión dirigida a la conservación de sus ecosistemas.”

“…sobre esta zona (Jardines de la Reina) se mantiene gran atención desde muchas esferas, incluyendo la investigativa, a fin de mantener la excelencia de sus condiciones naturales.
Por tanto, en esta dirección se debe dirigir el manejo que se realice sobre las áreas marinas protegidas, y en particular sobre los parques nacionales de Cuba.”

Comments:

Page 88 summarizes fish research findings in Jardines de la Reina.

59

Suarez AM y B. Martinez – Daranas 2015. Principales resultados en investigaciones del fitobentos marino cubano desde el cim-uH (1970-2015). Rev. Invest. Mar., 35(2), 1-23.

The key results of the research about the macrophytobenthos of the Cuban marine shelf since 1973, at the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana, are presented. Most are related with systematics of macroalgae, with 159 new records in the period. Phytobenthos ecology has been worked in the nine zones of the marine shelf. Some phytogeographical studies in Cuba and adjacent zones are reected. Some of the results on the characteristics of marine angiosperms in Cuban waters and the condition of the seagrass ecosystem, composed mainly Thalassia testudinum Banks ex König, are also presented.

Comments:

Seven new records of macroalgae are reported in Jardines de la Reina.

60

Schill SR, Raber GT, Roberts JJ, Treml EA, Brenner J, Halpin PN (2015) No Reef Is an Island: Integrating Coral Reef Connectivity Data into the Design of Regional-Scale Marine Protected Area Networks. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0144199.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144199

We integrated coral reef connectivity data for the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico into a conservation decision-making framework for designing a regional scale marine protected area (MPA) network that provides insight into ecological and political contexts. We used an ocean circulation model and regional coral reef data to simulate eight spawning events from 2008–2011, applying a maximum 30-day pelagic larval duration and 20% mortality rate. Coral larval dispersal patterns were analyzed between coral reefs across jurisdictional marine zones to identify spatial relationships between larval sources and destinations within countries and territories across the region. We applied our results in Marxan, a conservation planning software tool, to identify a regional coral reef MPA network design that meets conservation goals, minimizes underlying threats, and maintains coral reef connectivity. Our results suggest that approximately 77% of coral reefs identified as having a high regional connectivity value are not included in the existing MPA network. This research is unique because we quantify and report coral larval connectivity data by marine ecoregions and Exclusive Economic Zones (EZZ) and use this information to identify gaps in the current Caribbean-wide MPA network by integrating asymmetric connectivity information in Marxan to design a regional MPA network that includes important reef network connections. The identification of important reef connectivity metrics guides the selection of priority conservation areas and supports resilience at the whole system level into the future

Comments:

Figure 1 shows that Jardines de la Reina has a high coral reef area.

Figure 2 shows that Jardines de la Reina is strongly connected with SE Cuba, without has a high retention rate of larvae as shown in Figures 3 & 5.

Figure 7 shows that Jardines de la Reina is very important to maintain network connectivity.

61

Hernández – Fernández L. 2015 Corales pétreos sobre raíces sumergidas de Rhizophora mangle l. del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar., 35(1), 16-20.

The composition of stony corals presents in submerged roots of Rhizophora mangle L. (red mangrove) on Jardines de la Reina National Park, was established. 300 roots were quantified, in which 11 species were identified concerning to 7 genera. Predominant species were Porites astreoides and Porites divaricata. 100 % of the colonies were found in association with crustose coralline algae, mainly from genus Neogoniolithon. Apparently, the success of the settlement of the colonies of stony corals in submerged roots of mangroves depends on the presence of crusted coralline algae.

62

PAN-Tiburones. 2015. Plan de Acción Nacional de Conservación y Manejo de Condrictios de la República de Cuba. Ministerio de la Industria Alimentaria. La Habana, Cuba. 49 p.

Phrases:

“En…Jardines de la Reina…hay un turismo de buceo contemplativo muy desarrollado, el cual está enfocado en tiburones. En Jardines de la Reina los tiburones son un atractivo principalmente para muchos turistas…”

Comments:

Between 2000 – 2014 zone A (where Jardines de la Reina is located) contributed an average of 40 % of shark landings and an average of 45 % of rays landings of the total Cuban landings.

63

Parada Isada A., Antonio García-Quintas and Dianely Hernández Álvarez. 2015. The avifauna of sandy coastal vegetation during migration, in the Laberinto de las Doce Leguas sub-archipelago, southern Cuba. Cotinga 37:45–55

Las comunidades de aves han sido muy estudiadas en varias localidades costeras e interiores de Cuba durante las migraciones desde principios de 1990, aunque se les ha prestado poca atención a las regiones del sur de la isla de Cuba y cayerías aledañas. En el presente trabajo se describen algunas características de la composición y estructura de las comunidades y poblaciones de aves asociadas al complejo de vegetación costera del Laberinto de las Doce Leguas (archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina) durante las migraciones de 2009–12. Se muestrearon los cayos Grande, Anclitas y Caguama mediante redes de niebla durante al menos dos días consecutivos en las estaciones de primavera (marzo–abril) y otoño (septiembre–octubre). Se capturaron 46 especies y 745 individuos, agrupados en seis órdenes, 12 familias y 26 géneros. Se adicionaron el Tordo de Espalda Olivada Catharus ustulatus y el Solibio Icterus melanopsis a la avifauna del archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina con la captura y observación de dos individuos en los cayos Grande y Caguama respectivamente, el 3 y 9 de octubre de 2012. Entre los dos períodos de muestreo, no se encontraron diferencias signifcativas en cuanto al número de especies capturadas por día (12,7 ± 3,65 y 12,8 ± 4,14) y a la abundancia relativa general (34,1 ± 13,5 y 35,2 ± 16,43 aves / 100 horas-red). Tampoco se encontraron diferencias signifcativas entre las estaciones de anillamiento, con los mayores valores registrados en cayo Grande para ambas variables (14,7 ± 2,81 y 41,6 ± 15,06, respectivamente). Las hembras e inmaduros fueron los individuos numéricamente dominantes durante las migraciones otoñales en las tres localidades. Durante las migraciones primaverales, la proporción entre los sexos y las clases de edad fueron más balanceadas. No se registraron tasas anuales de retorno, y la persistencia invernal se manifestó solamente para dos Mariposas Galanas Setophaga discolor en cayo Grande durante los períodos invernales 2009–10

Phrases:

24 additions to the avifauna of AJR.”

To our knowledge, the mean species number trapped per day and overall relative abundance are the first such data from Cuba’s sandy coastal scrub during migration.”

“…significantly higher percentage of juveniles and lower overall relative abundance on Caguama Cay compared to the other two ringing sites in September 2009 potentially reects temporal differences in habitat quality as a result of possible detrimental effects on foraging substrate and prey availability for insectivores following Hurricane ‘Paloma’ in early November 2008. Nearly one year later, we recorded the lowest relative abundance for all field seasons when extensive structural damage to coastal vegetation (defoliation, branch breakage, uprooting) was still noted on Caguama.”

“…the geographical location of Cuba’s southern archipelagos and possibly low predation risks in the LDL may confer additional importance on the area as a stopover site for many Nearctic migrants.”

We thank…AZULMAR personnel…for providing critical logistical support…”

64

Figueredo Martín, T., L. Hernández Fernández, F. Pina Amargós, H. Fernández, J.M. Fleitas Conde, O. Moreno Gonzalez. 2015. Guía técnica – diseño y operación de productos para el turismo sostenible en el Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina. En: “Turismo Sostenible en áreas marinas protegidas”. Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente, La Habana, Cuba. ISBN 978-959-287-058-1.

This technical guide characterize the current tourism activities in Jardines de la Reina, propose sustainable tourism products to short, medium and long term, assess their costs, summarize general guidelines for sustainable tourism products and lessons learned, recommendations and next steps. The workshop where this document was produced was supported by Avalon/Marlin in Jardines de la Reina.

65

Figueredo Martín, T., F. Pina Amargós, L. Hernández Fernández, R. González de Zayas, Y. Rodríguez Cueto, E. de la Guardia Llanso, J.A. Angulo Valdez, R. Martínez Montero. 2015. Metodología para el Monitoreo de Uso Público en Áreas Marinas Protegidas (AMP) de Cuba. En: Turismo Sostenible en áreas marinas protegidas”. Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente, La Habana, Cuba. ISBN 978-959-287-058-1.

This technical guide propose methods for monitoring the impact of SCUBA diving and snorkeling in corals and fish, gamefishing, beach tourism and boating, establishes socioeconomic indicators of these monitoring and how to assess client satisfaction. The workshop where this document was produced was supported by Avalon/Marlin in Jardines de la Reina.

66

Pina Amargós, F., Angulo Valdés, J.A., Abad Salazar, M.A. 2015. Capítulo 9. Sistema de áreas protegidas relacionadas con el manejo integrado de zona costera. En: González-Díaz, P (coordinadora): Manejo integrado de zonas costeras en Cuba. Estado actual, retos y desafíos. Editorial Imagen contemporánea. La Habana. 256 paginas.

Phrases:

“Las investigaciones científicas en Jardines de la Reina son un buen ejemplo de la información científica utilizada en los procesos vinculados con las áreas protegidas, ZBREUP (reservas marinas) y ZBRMIC (manejo integrado de zonas costera) en Cuba.”

“La ZBREUP (reserva marina) Jardines de la Reina también ha favorecido a las poblaciones locales que tienen en el turismo su fuente de empleo a través de la protección, dentro de la ZBREUP (reserva marina), de peces de gran talla e importancia económica como los tiburones, pargos (Lutjanidae) y meros (Serranidae), que son los principales atractivos para el buceo; y macabí (Albula vulpes), sábalo (Megalops atlanticus), palometa (Trachinotus falcatus), principales atracciones de la pesca fly (captura y liberación). Además, la ZBREUP (reserva marina) Jardines de la Reina beneficia a las poblaciones que habitan en las comunidades costeras que viven de la pesca aportando biomasa de peces a las zonas de pesca aledañas a la ZBREUP (reserva marina) mediante el derrame de ejemplares adultos.”

67

Acevedo Rodríguez CJ y LR González-Torres. 2015. Diversidad de grupos funcionales en la vegetación de la costa arenosa de los cayos Grande, Anclitas y Caguamas (archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba). Botanica Complutensis 39: 97-104.

Sandy shores are known to be extreme ecosystems where the vegetation has evolved many morphological and physiological adaptations for its survival. With the aim of identify possible relationships between the vegetation´s functional diversity with abiotic factors and its corresponding quantification, we collected data on the abundance and richness of the sandy coast vegetation complex in Grande, Anclitas and Caguamas keys. Its flora is largely characterized by the dominance of hemicryptophytes and chamaephytes plants with nanophyllous leaves and displaying dispersal syndromes such as zoochory and anemochory. However, the functional groups´ richness, in the present study, varies from one key to another. Functional diversity is similar between the wet and dry seasons, and its spatial variation is influenced by the interplay of the set of abiotic factors herein studied.

68

Acevedo Rodríguez CJ y LR González-Torres. 2014. Modelos de Coexistencia en la Vegetación de la Costa Arenosa de los Cayos Grande, Anclitas y Caguamas, archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Mesoamericana 18(3):9-18.

Null models are an important tool aimed to predicting changes in natural communities under varying climatic conditions. Presence-absence data matrices were built up from published data on the species composition in the sandy coast vegetation of Grande, Anclitas and Caguamas keys from Cuba. For each matrix, three co-occurrence indices were calculated: number of species combinations, checkerboard score and C-score. According to the number of species combinations and C-score values, the community in Grande key during was structured by competition the rainy season. However, Caguamas and Anclitas keys showed interactions during the dry period. On the other hand, for most of the analyzed cases, the checkerboard simulation number was lower than the observed value, which indicates the compliance with the assembly rules.

69

García–Quintas, A. & Parada Isada, A., 2014. Effects of migrations on the nestedness structure of bird assemblages in cays of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, Cuba. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 37.2:127–139.

The nested subset hypothesis states that species in fragmented, less species–rich biotas are non–random subsets of those inhabiting richer sites. The effect of migration on these models has not been yet fully addressed. We compared the phenological stages of the community during the spring and fall migrations. Presence–absence data of bird species occurring at 43 cays of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago was compiled and two incidence matrices were built for fall and spring periods. The degree of nestedness was estimated based on the overlap and decreasing fll, and its significance was assessed by means of 1,000 replicates of four null models. Bird assemblages showed a higher number of species during fall (67) than they did in spring (51). They also showed a significant and stable pattern of nestedness, although this was slightly higher in spring. Seasonal uctuations caused by migratory movements thus barely affected the nested structure of bird assemblages.

70

Valdivia A., J. F. Bruno, C. E. Cox, S. Hackerott and S. J. Green. 2014. Re-examining the relationship between invasive lionfish and native grouper in the Caribbean. PeerJ 2:e348; DOI 10.7717/peerj.348.

Biotic resistance is the idea that native species negatively aect the invasion success of introduced species, but whether this can occur at large spatial scales is poorly understood. Here we re-evaluated the hypothesis that native large-bodied grouper and other predators are controlling the abundance of exotic lionfsh (Pterois volitans/miles) on Caribbean coral reefs. We assessed the relationship between the biomass of lionfish and native predators at 71 reefs in three biogeographic regions while taking into consideration several cofactors that may aect fish abundance, including among others, proxies for fishing pressure and habitat structural complexity. Our results indicate that the abundance of lionfish, large-bodied grouper and other predators were not negatively related. Lionfish abundance was instead controlled by several physical site characteristics, and possibly by culling. Taken together, our results suggest that managers cannot rely on current native grouper populations to control the lionfish invasion.

Comment:

Four out of eight Cuban sites were located in Jardines de la Reina

71

Figueredo Martín, T., F. Pina Amargós, I.M. Ramirez Roque, A.M. Perez Machado. 2014. Vínculos entre el bienestar humano y servicios ambientales que prestan las áreas protegidas marinas del sur de Ciego de Ávila y Camagüey. En ” Áreas protegidas y comunidades humanas. Una mirada desde el Sur” colectivo de autores (La Habana). Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente. Publicación del Proyecto GEF-PNUD Archipiélagos del Sur, [159-189] ISBN 978-959-287-051-2.

Phrases:

“…los beneficios de la actividad del turismo sí se revierten directa e indirectamente en la Comunidad, pues alrededor del 40 % de los trabajadores son dela misma.”

“Los valores económicos estimados para el PNJR son mucho mayores que para la zona de Ana María, a pesar de que la primera presenta un mayor grado de conservación. Las actividades económicas sostenibles pueden ayudar a incrementar los ingresos económicos, mientras apoyan la preservación de los ecosistemas y sus bienes y servicios ambientales.”

“Quisiera agradecer…A los trabajadores de Azulmar por la ayuda permanente en Jardines de la Reina y la entrega de información, especialmente a Pepe y Fleitas.”

72

Figueredo Martín, T., F. Pina Amargós, J.A. Angulo Valdes 2014. Economical feasibility of the implementation of the Jardines de la Reina Nacional Marine Park. Handbook on the Economics of Biodiversity and Management of Ecosystem Services. Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere. ISBN: 9781781951507; eISBN: 9781781951514 DOI: 10.4337/9781781951514. 27 Jun 2014.

Phrases:

The main EGS (environmental goods and services) of Jardines de la Reina were identified, evaluating those with higher market value and those with enough information available. In both scenarios (before and after implementing the National Park), NPV (net present value) and cost–benefit relation are above zero, so financially speaking, both are feasible. Nevertheless, the establishment of a National Park in the Jardines de la Reina area is more desirable. In both scenarios, it is evident that the non-use value of the EGS is higher than their use value.

The authors are thankful to the staff of AZULMAR for logistical support on Jardines de la Reina, especially to Giuseppe Omegna (Pepe), Noel, Yuri and ‘los primos’…”

73

Pina – Amargós, F; Salvat – Torres H; Cobián Rojas D; Espinosa L; Chevalier P. 2014. Resultados del programa de arrecifes coralinos. Peces. En: Estado actual de la biodiversidad marino – costera, en la región de los archipiélagos del sur de Cuba. Hernández Ávila A (editora). Centro Nacional de Áreas Protegidas. La Habana. Cuba. Impresos Dominicanos ISBN: 978-959-287-052-9. 34-50 pp.

Phrases:

En Jardines de la Reina los valores de densidad y biomasa ascendieron no significativamente hacia el final del proyecto tanto en crestas de arrecife como en escarpes-camellones. La biomasa fue superior al valor base en ambos hábitats.”

Jardines de la Reina mostro la mayor densidad de peces de gran talla e importancia comercial en los escarpes-camellones (comparado con otras 10 MPAs). En los escarpes-camellones la biomasa nuevamente fue encabezada por Jardines de la Reina.”

En los arrecifes de cresta, la densidad fue dominada por Jardines de la Reina (comparado con otras 10 MPAs)…y la biomasa fue dominada por Jardines de la Reina.”

Los sitios de crestas de arrecife protegidos de Jardines de la Reina mostraron el doble de la densidad y 1.3 veces la biomasa que los sitios no protegidos. Los sitios de escarpes – camellones protegidos de Jardines de la Reina mostraron 1.8 veces la densidad y 1.6 veces la biomasa que los sitios no protegidos.”

La comparación entre Jardines de la Reina y Punta Francés arroja que la densidad en los escarpes – camellones es más del triple superior en los sitios protegidos de Jardines de la Reina y el doble superior en los sitios no protegidos de Jardines de la Reina cuando se compara con similares niveles de protección en Punta Francés. Por su parte, la biomasa en los escarpes – camellones es casi cuatro veces superior en los sitios protegidos de Jardines de la Reina y casi el triple superior en los sitios no protegidos de Jardines de la Reina cuando se compara con similares niveles de protección en Punta Francés.”

74

Jackson, JBC; Donovan, MK; Cramer KL; Lam W (editores). Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970 – 2012. 2014. Includes: Alcolado, PM; Pina –Amargós, F; Bruno, J; Claro R; Hardt M; Kramer P; Lancho O; Paredes G; Polunin N; Williams I. Part II. Country reports. Cuba. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. IUCN, Gland Switzerland. 2006-2010 pp.

See pages 11 – 24.

Phrases:

13 % have 30 % (coral) cover including Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Jardines de la Reina on the south coast of Cuba.”

Smart decisions can make an enormous difference for the wellbeing of corals reefs and the people and enterprises that depend upon them. No place is close to perfect and everywhere is threatened, but the higher coral cover and comparative resilience to extreme heating events or frequent hurricanes on most reefs in Bermuda, Bonaire, Curaçao, the Venezuelan parks, the Flower Garden Banks, and the Jardines de la Reina in Cuba provide clear examples of what could begin to be achieved by strong and effective environmental regulation.”

75

Kritzer, J.P, Hicks, C.C., Mapstone, B.D., Pina-Amargós, F., Sale, P.F. 2014. Ecosystem-based management of coral reefs and interconnected nearshore tropical habitats. En: Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. Harvard University Press. M.J. Fogarty and J.J McCarthy (eds.). 552 pp: 369-428.

Phrases:

“…research emerging from Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) National Park is an especially good example of an information base being built to guide design and management of Cuban MPAs.”

Jardines de la Reina has been effective in protecting large, economically important fish such as sharks, snappers and groupers inside the marine reserve, and also supplying biomass to surrounding fishing grounds…”

76

Pina- Amargós, F., G. Gonzalez Sanson, F. Martin Blanco and Abel Valdivia. 2014. Evidence for protection of targeted reef fish on the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. PeerJ 2:e274; DOI 10.7717/peerj.274.

Marine reserves can restore fish abundance and diversity in areas impacted by overfishing, but the effectiveness of reserves in developing countries where resources for enforcement are limited, have seldom been evaluated. Here we assess whether the establishment in 1996 of the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean, Gardens of the Queen in Cuba, has had a positive effect on the abundance of commercially valuable reef fish species in relation to neighboring unprotected areas. We surveyed 25 sites, including two reef habitats (reef crest and reef slope), inside and outside the marine reserve, on five different months, and over a one-and-a-half year period. Densities of the ten most frequent, highly targeted, and relatively large fish species showed a significant variability across the archipelago for both reef habitats that depended on the month of survey. These ten species showed a tendency towards higher abundance inside the reserve in both reef habitats for most months during the study. Average fish densities pooled by protection level, however, showed that five out of these ten species were at least two-fold significantly higher inside than outside the reserve at one or both reef habitats. Supporting evidence from previously published studies in the area indicates that habitat complexity and major benthic communities were similar inside and outside the reserve, while fishing pressure appeared to be homogeneous across the archipelago before reserve establishment. Although poaching may occur within the reserve, especially at the boundaries, effective protection from fishing was the most plausible explanation for the patterns observed.

Phrases:

The authors thank G Omegna (Pepe) and the workers of Azulmar for logistic support…”

77

Azanza-Ricardo J, José Luis Gerhartz-Muro, Yanet Forneiro Martín-Viaña, Félix Moncada-Gavilán. 2015. Efectividad del monitoreo de la anidación de tortugas marinas para determinar el éxito reproductivo en playas del sur de Cuba. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res., 43(3): 548-556

Monitoring of nesting has been used globally to estimate the population size of marine turtles. Nevertheless, monitoring effort varies widely, for instance in Cuba, four different approaches are applied: nighttime systematic monitoring, daytime systematic monitoring, sporadic monitoring with nest verification, and sporadic monitoring with no verification. These variations imply that the amount and accuracy of data gathered and the quality of derived information, differ amongst the approaches. This paper assesses the effectiveness of the different methodologies used for determining the reproduction success of marine turtles in Cuba. Nighttime systematic monitoring is only carried out in one area, while sporadic monitoring with nest verification is the most used approach along the country. The proportion of the nesting season covered with monitoring personnel is low in most of the beaches and for all the three species (Chelonia mydas, Caretta caretta and Eretmochelys imbricata), although the species in the most critical situation is hawksbill. Significant differences were found between systematic and sporadic monitoring, which has important implications for the understanding of the nesting behavior, as the capacity to detect false and true crawls essentially depends on the monitoring frequency, according to our findings. Low detection capacity in sporadic monitoring hampered the development of efficiency assessments in all the nesting beaches. In summary, despite the effort carried out nationwide to monitor nesting populations that has even increased in the last three years, important gaps exists and new monitoring strategies are needed to guarantee the right information for the species is gathered, while adequate cost-benefit balance is achieved.

78

Azanza Ricardo J, María E. Ibarra Martín, Gaspar González Sansón, F. Alberto Abreu Grobois, Karen L. Eckert, Georgina Espinosa López and Ken Oyama. 2013. Nesting ecology of Chelonia mydas (Testudines: Cheloniidae) on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, Cuba. Rev. Biol. Trop. 61 (4): 1935-1945.

The nesting colony of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) at Guanahacabibes Peninsula Biosphere Reserve and National Park is one of the largest in the Cuban archipelago; however, little information about its nesting ecology is available. Temporal and spatial variation in nesting and reproductive success as well as morphometric characteristics of gravid females were used to ecologically characterize this colony. Nine beaches of the Southernmost coast of Guanahacabibes Peninsula were monitored for 14 years (1998-2012) to determine green turtle nesting activity, from May to September (peak nesting season in this area). Beach dimensions were measured to determine nest density using the length and the area. Afterward the beaches were divided in two categories, index and secondary. Females were measured and tagged to compare new tagged females (823) with returning tagged females (140). Remigration interval was also determined. Temporal variation was identified as the annual number of nesting emergences and oviposits per female, with apparent peaks in reproductive activity on a biennial cycle in the first six years followed by periods of annual increase in nest number (2003-2008) and periods of decreasing number of nests (2010-2012). We also found intra-seasonal variation with the highest nesting activity in July, particularly in the second half of the month. The peak emergence time was 22:00-02:00hr. In terms of spatial variation, smaller beaches had the highest nest density and nesting was more frequent 6-9m from the high tide line, where hatchling production was maximized although hatchling success was high on average, above 80%. Morphometric analysis of females was made and newly tagged turtles were smaller on average than remigrants. Our results are only a first attempt at characterizing Guanahacabibes’ populations but have great value for establishing conservation priorities within the context of national management plans, and for efficient monitoring and protection of nesting beaches.

Phrases:

C. mydas (green turtle) nesting in Cuba mostly occurs along the Southern coastlines of the Cuban archipelago, where the archipelagos of Jardines de la Reina and Los Canarreos are considered the main nesting areas for Cuban green turtles.”

79

Hueter RE, Tyminski JP, de la Parra R. 2013. Horizontal Movements, Migration Patterns, and Population Structure of Whale Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and Northwestern Caribbean Sea. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71883. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071883

Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, aggregate by the hundreds in a summer feeding area off the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. The aggregation remains in the nutrient-rich waters off Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo for several months in the summer and then dissipates between August and October. Little has been known about where these sharks come from or migrate to after they disperse. From 2003–2012, we used conventional visual tags, photo-identification, and satellite tags to characterize the basic population structure and large-scale horizontal movements of whale sharks that come to this feeding area off Mexico. The aggregation comprised sharks ranging 2.5–10.0 m in total length and included juveniles, subadults, and adults of both sexes, with a male-biased sex ratio (72%). Individual sharks remained in the area for an estimated mean duration of 24–33 days with maximum residency up to about 6 months as determined by photo-identification. After leaving the feeding area the sharks showed horizontal movements in multiple directions throughout the Gulf of Mexico basin, the northwestern Caribbean Sea, and the Straits of Florida. Returns of individual sharks to the Quintana Roo feeding area in subsequent years were common, with some animals returning for six consecutive years. One female shark with an estimated total length of 7.5 m moved at least 7,213 km in 150 days, traveling through the northern Caribbean Sea and across the equator to the South Atlantic Ocean where her satellite tag popped up near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We hypothesize this journey to the open waters of the Mid-Atlantic was for reproductive purposes but alternative explanations are considered. The broad movements of whale sharks across multiple political boundaries corroborates genetics data supporting gene flow between geographically distinct areas and underscores the need for management and conservation strategies for this species on a global scale.

Phrases:

“…along the south coast in the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago between October
and December.”

80

Hackerott S, Valdivia A, Green SJ, Cote IM, Cox CE, et al. (2013) Native Predators Do Not Influence Invasion Success of Pacific Lionfish on Caribbean Reefs. PLoS ONE 8(7): e68259. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068259

Biotic resistance, the process by which new colonists are excluded from a community by predation from and/or competition with resident species, can prevent or limit species invasions. We examined whether biotic resistance by native predators on Caribbean coral reefs has influenced the invasion success of red lionfishes (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), piscivores from the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, we surveyed the abundance (density and biomass) of lionfish and native predatory fishes that could interact with lionfish (either through predation or competition) on 71 reefs in three biogeographic regions of the Caribbean. We recorded protection status of the reefs, and abiotic variables including depth, habitat type, and wind/wave exposure at each site. We found no relationship between the density or biomass of lionfish and that of native predators. However, lionfish densities were significantly lower on windward sites, potentially because of habitat preferences, and in marine protected areas, most likely because of ongoing removal efforts by reserve managers. Our results suggest that interactions with native predators do not influence the colonization or post-establishment population density of invasive lionfish on Caribbean reefs.

Phrases:

Lionfish density in our study ranged from 0 at several sites in Belize, Cuba, and The Bahamas to ,52 individuals 100 m22 on a patch reef off Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, with an average of 4.4 individuals 100 m22 (+/20.5, SE). This range is comparable to lionfish densities found in New Providence, Bahamas and in North Carolina. Total native predator biomass was significantly higher in the 17 marine reserves we sampled and ranged widely, from 4 g 100 m22 on some spur-and-groove reefs off New Providence, Bahamas, to 51700 g 100 m22 in slope habitats of Jardines de la Reina marine reserve, Cuba. The highest predatory fish biomass value of our sites (51700 g 100 m22) is comparable to some isolated reefs of the central Pacific.”

“…in the Jardines de la Reina marine reserve in Cuba, where predator biomass was the highest observed (average ,30000 g 100 m22), lionfish were just as abundant as on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef sites (1.5 individuals 100 m22 in Jardines de la Reina and 1.6 individuals 100 m22 on Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) that have far lower predator biomass (average ,2200 g 100 m22).”

81

Figueredo Martín, T., F. Pina Amargós, JA Angulo Valdés. 2013. Aportes de Bienes y Servicios Ambientales del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina (PNJR) a la economía nacional. En “Potenciando la conservación de la biodiversidad mediante la evaluación económica y ambientalmente sostenible de actividades productivas en el Ecosistema Sabana Camagüey, Cuba” colectivo de autores (La Habana) 2013, Publicación del Proyecto PNUD/GEF Sabana Camagüey, ISBN 978-959-300-037-6.

El objetivo general de este estudio de caso es cuantificar en términos económicos, los aportes de Bienes y Servicios Ambientales del Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina a la economía. Para cuantificar el valor económico de la actividad pesquera, se realizaron entrevistas a pescadores, capitanes de embarcación, con experiencia en la pesca de langosta dentro del Parque. En el caso de los proyectos de investigación, se utilizó la información histórica y publicaciones existentes. Se trabajó además con el plan de manejo del área para el período 2012 – 2016. Para el cálculo de la demanda turística se utilizaron datos estadísticos-financieros compilados e información sobre estudio de mercado y prefactibilidad existente. Para caracterizar la demanda y conocer la disposición de retorno al Parque, se aplicaron cuestionarios a través de la técnica de entrevista personal. El sector de mercado encuestado fue el de extranjeros de visita en Jardines de la Reina. La muestra se seleccionó aleatoriamente. Se utilizó además la información de los estudios científicos realizados en el área hasta el momento y se demuestra, en términos económicos, que los aportes de Bienes y Servicios Ambientales del Parque justifican los gastos por concepto de conservación de la biodiversidad del área. Si se tiene en cuenta la proyección de mejoras presentadas, tales aportes se duplicarían en los próximos diez años. Para la administración del área se necesita alrededor del 8 % del Valor Económico Total histórico de los bienes y servicios y apenas el 6% del valor de los mismos, con la proyección de la actividad turística propuesta, lo que evidencia la viabilidad económica de invertir en la administración del Parque, a través de proyectos de investigación, para garantizar la sostenibilidad del uso de los recursos naturales y por ende asegurar los flujos de beneficios económicos a largo plazo.

Phrases:

“Quisiera agradecer…A los trabajadores de Azulmar por la ayuda permanente en Jardines de la Reina y la entrega de información, especialmente a Pepe y Fleitas.”

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Pina-Amargós, F., Salvat Torres, H y Cobian, D. 2013. Programa de Monitoreo de Arrecifes Coralinos. Peces. En: Reporte de avance del Sistema de Monitoreo de la Biodiversidad. Hernández Avila (Ed). Centro Nacional de Áreas Protegidas. La Habana. Cuba. Impresos Dominicanos s.r.l. 146 pp: 27-37.

Phrases:

“Los manglares con las mayores abundancias de peces correspondieron a los Parques Nacionales Cayos de San Felipe y Jardines de la Reina, con valores que oscilan entre los 38 y 40 individuos por 100 m2.”

“El área con mayor densidad de peces es Jardines de la Reina.”

“…Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina muestra mayor abundancia de peces en los lugares protegidos que en los abiertos a la pesca.”

83

Hernández-Fernández, L., Olivera, Y., González de Zayas, R., Salvat-Torres, H., Guimarais Bermejo, M., Ventura Díaz, Y., Pina Amargós, F. 2013. Caracterización fisicoquímica e inventario de especies del Gran Banco de Buena Esperanza, golfo de Guacanayabo, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 33(2), 43-57.

In this study, we examined physicochemical parameters and an inventory of species in the Marine Protected Area of Gran Banco de Buena Esperanza, in July 2011 and July 2012. Four sites in seagrass beds and four sites in muddy slopes were established. We measured salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen and dissolved nutrients. The inventory was carried out using visual census. Average temperature was 30.8°C, salinity was 37.2. Dissolved oxygen ranged from 5.3 to 8.0 ml/l. The average concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen was 13.2 ± 9.1 µM. In seagrass beds 21 species of macroalgae, 41 species of non-sessile invertebrates and 23 species of stony corals were identified with Cladocora arbuscula and Manicina areolata dominating. We also identified colonies of Acropora cervicornis and Acropora prolifera, with no presence of Acropora palmata. Among the fish, the Lutjanidae family was predominant. In the muddy slopes 31 species of macroalgae and two angiosperms were identified. There were 45 species of non-sessile invertebrates and 42 of stony corals, with Millepora alcicornis, Porites astreoides and the genus Oculina prevailing. The average density of Diadema antillarum was 14 individual. 10m-2. The predominant fish families were Serranidae and Lutjanidae. These results provide the basis for future ecological research and have generated new hypotheses directed mainly towards the presence of possible new species and hybridization and evolution studies, focused mainly on the genus Acropora.

Phrases:

Los autores agradecen a la tripulación de la embarcación “La Reina” y al Instructor de Buceo Noel López Fernández pertenecientes a la Sucursal Marlín Jardines de la Reina…”

84

Guimarais, M., A. Zúñiga, F. Pina-Amargos y F. Matos. 2013. Efectos del Huracán Paloma sobre los pastos marinos del archipiélago Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Revista de Biología Tropical / International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ISSN-0034-7744). volumen 61 (3).

Seagrasses are one of the most important coastal ecosystems since they promote organic matter flow, nutrient cycling, food availability and refuge. Until now, reports on damages caused by storms and hurricanes on seagrass beds are uncommon and highly variable. The seagrass meadows of the East end of Jardines de la Reina archipelago were surveyed from Nov. 29th to Dec. 5th of 2008, in order to determinate the effects from the passing of Hurricane Paloma: a category three storm on the Saffir-Simpsom scale. A rapid field assessment of the affected areas was carried out using the manta tow technique. In six sites, seagrass was quantitatively evaluated using a 15cm diameter core (four sampling units per site) and shoot density was calculated. Remote sensing techniques were used to estimate seagrass cover. To estimate the percentage of affected areas, a Region of Interest (ROI) was first created over a Landsat image. The percentage of seagrass affected within the ROI was estimated through direct georeferentiation of the contours of the damaged area and with a comparison to the total seagrass extension. To find possible explanations for damages, a false colour image was created using the near infrared band, to highlight the differences between emerged and submerged zones. The direction of winds was estimated using ArcGis 9.2 creating circular buffers, from the centre of the hurricane and generating lines tangent to the buffers. Seagrass in the region was dominated by the angiosperm Thalassia testudinum. Regional mean density was 1 321±721 shoots/m2, a value regarded as high for the Caribbean area. Seagrass meadows were partly affected by sediment accumulation on the shoots of T. testudinum and uprooting rhizomes. The 7.6km2 disturbed area represented 1% of the total seagrass area. Other sites, closer to the centre of the hurricane, did not show any damages on the marine vegetation. The keys location with respect to the hurricane track was the most likely cause of the effects. To the North of the affected area there is an opening among the keys where the generation of waves, currents and turbulence could have occurred. Three years after the hurricane event, both vegetation cover loss and silt re-colonization by macroalgae species were observed within the affected area, by showing a patchily-vegetated landscape. This site is currently undergoing a temporal succession whose assessment demands a monitoring scheme, that will provide interesting information to document its future evolution and responsiveness against upcoming natural or anthropogenic events

85

Barrios y Parada 2013. Sula dactylatra y Asio domingensis: nuevas adiciones a la avifauna del archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Rev. Cub. Cienc. Biol. Vol. 2(2) pp. 69-72

Comment:

This paper reports two new additions to the Jardines de la Reina avifauna: Masked Booby and Arawak Owl.

86

Parada A, A. García-Quintas, E. Socarrás y O. Martínez. 2013 Adiciones a las avifaunas de las cayerías norte y sur de las provincias de Ciego de Ávila y Camagüey, Cuba. Rev. Cub. Cienc. Biol. Vol. 2(1) pp. 51-56.

We document the presence of Anas crecca (Green-winged Teal) and Porzana carolina (Sora) as new additions to the avifauna of Guillermo cay and second records to the archipelago of Sabana-Camagüey, as well as nine new species to the avifauna of the archipelago of Jardines de la Reina and golf of Ana María in the cays Cuervo (Mycteria americana,Wood Stork), Anclitas (Hydroprogne caspia, Caspian Tern), Caguama (Sphyrapicus varius, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Contopus virens, Eastern Wood-Pewee), Muerto (Progne subis, Purple Martin), Cargado (Oreothlypis rufcapilla Nashville Warbler) and Grande (Oreothlypis peregrina, Tennessee Warbler; Icteria virens, Yellow-breasted Chat; and Piranga rubra, Summer Tanager) during the 2011 spring and fall migrations.

Comment:

“Es imprescindible agradecer…al personal de Azulmar que opera en el AJR (Jardines de la Reina) por las oportunas bondades logísticas…”

87

Acevedo Rodríguez CJ y LR González-Torres. 2013. Variación espacial de la diversidad en la vegetación de costa arenosa de los cayos Grande, Anclitas y Caguamas, archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Mesoamericana 17(1): 9-18.f

Sandy coasts are extreme ecosystems, where vegetation is adapted to various stresses (salinity of the substrate, low nutrient and sporadic oods, etc.), which are mostly the result of the marine inuence. During April and October 2010, we sampled the vegetation of sandy shorelines on Grande, Anclitas and Caguamas Cays, Cuba, in order to determine the spatial variations of plant diversity. On each cay, twenty plots (2 x 2 m) were randomly distributed. In these plots, we measured species richness, number of individuals, coverage, distance to the shoreline, dune height and particle size of the substrate. The vascular ora was represented by twenty-one species, twenty-one genera and eleven families. Caguamas Cay was the richest. The average richness of species observed showed no significant difference between locations; however, the number of individuals was higher in Anclitas Cay. The vegetation cover was high in Anclitas and Caguamas Cays, which determined the closed structure of the vegetation. The distance to the shoreline inuenced the richness of the Anclitas and Grande Cays and the number of individuals in Grande Cay. The height of the dune was related to vegetation cover, which was linked to the stability of the substrate

88

Acevedo Rodríguez CJ. 2013. Lista florística del archipiélago de los Jardines de la Reina, Cuba Rev. Cub. Cienc. Biol. Vol. 2(3) pp. 62-72.

The oristic inventories contribute directly to knowledge of plant resources of a region. In order to inventory the vascular plant species in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, field visits were organized and literature review. The study area was represented by 113 infrageneric taxa, 97 genera and 40 families, the keys Anclitas, Grande, Caguamas, Algodón Grande and Caballones possess the higher taxonomic richest. Endemism was low (4,5%) and alien plant species represent the 8%. The ora of the archipelago was characterized by high representation of life forms shrubbery and herbaceous, with a predominance of elements neotropical and neotropical-holarctic. The sandy coastal vegetation and coastal xeromorphic scrub exhibited the highest values of specific richness.

89

Chollett I., P.J. Mumby, F.E. Muller-Karger and Chuanmin Hu. 2012. Physical environments of the Caribbean Sea. Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(4), 2012, 1233–1244.

The Caribbean Sea encompasses a vast range of physical environmental conditions that have a profound influence on the organisms that live there. Here we utilize a range of satellite and in situ products to undertake a region-wide categorization of the physical environments of the Caribbean Sea (PECS). The classification approach is hierarchical and focuses on physical constraints that drive many aspects of coastal ecology, including species distributions, ecosystem function, and disturbance. The first level represents physicochemical properties including metrics of satellite sea surface temperature, water clarity, and in situ salinity. The second level considers mechanical disturbance and includes both chronic disturbance from wind-driven wave exposure and acute disturbance from hurricanes. The maps have a spatial resolution of 1 km2. An unsupervised neural network classification produced 16 physicochemical provinces that can be categorized into six broad groups: (1) low water clarity and low salinity and average temperatures; (2) low water clarity but average salinity and temperature, broadly distributed in the basin; (3) low salinity but average water clarity and temperature; (4) upwelling; (5) high latitude; and (6) offshore waters of the inner Caribbean. Additional mechanical disturbance layers impose additional pattern that operates over different spatial scales. Because physical environments underpin so much of coastal ecosystem structure and function, we anticipate that the PECS classification, which will be freely distributed as geographic information system layers, will facilitate comparative analyses and inform the stratification of studies across environmental provinces in the Caribbean basin.

Comments:

Jardines de la Reina and Golfo de Ana Maria belong to group 6 (see abstract and Table 2) characterized by a mixture of relatively warm waters with high salinity and high water clarity. However, in a more detailed resolution analysis, they are 2 separate physicochemical provinces (see Fig. 4 and Table 1).

Jardines de la Reina experienced a medium chronic stress given by wave exposure (data between 1999 to 2008) with values around 5 in a scale of 9 and a medium acute stress given by the frequency of occurrence of hurricanes Category 1–5 in the last 157 yr (1851–2008) with approximated 10 hurricanes of a maximum of 30. See Figure 6 for more information.

90

Clero L. y R. Cabrera. 2012. Comunidades de algas marinas en el archipiélago Jardines de la Reina y en la bahía de Nuevitas, Cuba. Revista del Jardín Botánico Nacional 32-33: 269-275.

An analysis of marine macroalgae diversity in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago and in Nuevitas bay was done in relation to Rhodophyta, Ochrophyta and Chlorophyta. 193 infrageneric taxa: 84 Rhodophyta, 24 Ochrophyta and 85 Chlorophyta were accumulated. The species of macroalgae accumulated represents the 37% of the species known for Cuba until 2005, what demonstrates the high potential of seaweeds diversity that this archipelago and this bay have. The proportion of genera, family and orders for both areas was discussed.

91

Parada A. y A. García Quintas .2012. Avifauna de los archipiélagos del sur de Ciego de Ávila y Camagüey, Cuba.: Una revisión taxo-ecológica actualizada. Mesoamericana 16(1): 35-55.

We have compiled and summarized the available information regarding the avifaunal inventories conducted in 44 cays of Jardines de la Reina archipelago, by reviewing both published papers and project reports produced in the last 80 years. At present, a total of 116 bird species organized in 17 orders, 37 families and 79 genera have been reported. The best represented orders and families are Passeriformes (49), Charadriiformes (22) and Pelecaniformes (12), as well as Parulidae, Scolopacidae and Ardeidae with 21, 11 and nine species, respectively. Endemism level reaches 10% of all the species reported, being represented by one genus (Xiphidiopicus), four nationally- and four locally-distributed subspecies. Four species are classifed as Near Threatened. In regard to the permanence status, the avifauna is made up by 30 permanent residents, 18 bimodals, 25 winter residents, 10 summer residents and 32 transients. There are six abundant species, as well as 17 common, 33 uncommon, 33 rare, 26 very rare and one vagrant. Despite the current disparity in the sampling effort in different parts of the study site, larger cays such as Anclitas (87), Caguama (71) and Grande (66) stand out for harboring higher species numbers. Species with larger distributional range are Setophaga petechia, Fregata magnifcens, Ardea herodias, Thalasseus maximus and Patagioenas leucocephala.

Comments:

“Agradecer también el apoyo logístico de nuestras expediciones, oportunamente facilitado por los trabajadores de Azulmar: Giuseppe Omegna, Antonio del Río Pérez, Iraín Abreu y los cocineros José Clemente Abreu, Eduar Hernández, Orlando Báez, Gerardo Vivas, Diosdado Romero y Felio Báez.”

92

Parada Isada A., Eliser Socarrás Torres, Jarenton Primelles Rivero and Dianely Hernández Álvarez. 2012. New bird species and distributional records for Jardines de la Reina archipelago, Cuba, during autumn and spring migrations 2009–10. Cotinga 34 55–60.

Reportamos 15 nuevas especies y 61 nuevas localidades para la avifauna del archipiélago Jardines de la Reina (AJR), Cuba, como resultado del monitoreo realizado en el complejo de vegetación de costa de los cayos Grande, Anclitas y Caguama durante las migraciones otoñal de septiembre de 2009 y primaveral de abril de 2010. Un total de 80 especies fueron detectadas con el uso de redes de niebla, transectos lineales y observaciones ad libitum durante un total de 18 días de muestreo. Se consignan las especies Zarapico Chico Calidris mauri, Paloma Sanjuanera Zenaida aurita, Arrierito Coccyzus minor, Vireo de Ojo Blanco Vireo griseus, Vireo de Ojo Rojo V. olivaceus, Tordo de Mejillas Grises Catharus minimus, Tordo Colorado C. fuscescens, Sinsonte Mimus polyglottos, Bijirita Protonotaria Protonotaria citrea, Bijirita Atigrada Dendroica tigrina, Bijirita Blackburniana D. fusca, Bijirita Castaña D. castanea, Monjita Wilsonia citrina, Cardenal Alinegro Piranga olivácea y el Chambergo Dolichonyx oryzivorus como nuevas adiciones a la avifauna de la región insular; lo que a su vez eleva a 96 el número de especies reportadas en el archipiélago.

Comments:

We are also grateful for logistical support provided by Azulmar personnel.”

93

González‐Díaz,P., Perera‐Pérez, O., Pérez‐García, J.A., Hernández‐Fernández, L. (2012) Biodiversidad de corales, gorgonias y esponjas en un sector del golfo de Ana María. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 20‐29.

The research was carried out in October, 2011 and March, 2012. Follow image satellite analyses 41 sites were selected in Ana Maria gulf, south region of Cuba. At these sites an inventory of the corals, gorgonians and sponges were carried out. Health status was analysed for corals. Inventories were carried out in mangrove, seagrass and coral reefs (patch reefs and sandrocky bottom biotopes) ecosystems. Species richness for corals was 41, 23 for gorgonians and 41 for sponges. More abundant corals species were Porites astreoides, Millepora alcicornis, Siderastrea siderea, Siderastrea radians, Agaricia agaricites and higher diversity was detected in patch reefs (41 species). More abundant gorgonians were Gorgonia ventalina, Erythropodium caribaeorum, Briareum asbestinum and the sponges were Mycale laevis, Cliona aprica, Iotrochota birotulata. Main affectation to coral health was bleaching (21 species experienced bleaching in some degree and only in 51% of sites). In Rabihorcado key and Algodón Grande key, were detected higher recruit abundance. Higher corals species richness was observed in: Algodón Grande key, Manuel Gómez key, Bergantines and Palomo keys. Having these results as base, this paper proposes research corals priorities relate to growth of colonies, connectivity among populations and health status of such populations in Ana Maria gulf-Jardines de la Reina ecosystem.

94

Rodríguez‐Viera, L., Rodríguez‐Casariego, J.,Pérez‐García, J.A., Olivera, Y., Perera‐Pérez, O. (2012) Invertebrados marinos de la zona central del golfo de Ana María, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 30‐38.

Nowadays there is little information about the biological diversity in the Ana Maria gulf. Most of the research in that region has been focused on fisheries and the hydrological character. Thus in 2011 a research project was initiated to fill this information gap. This paper presents a list of 105 species of marine invertebrates identified in the central part of the Ana Maria gulf. The mollusks was the best represented group of invertebrate’s animal with 43 species that represented a 40.9% of the total, followed by the echinoderms with 26 species and 24.8% of the total. The largest keys (Cuervo, Algodón Grande and Bergantines) harbored the highest species richness. These results provided a baseline for future research to deepen the study of the diversity and ecology of marine invertebrates in the sampled area and other areas of the gulf.

95

Acevedo Rodríguez, C.J. (2012) Inventario de la flora y vegetación en cayos de la región central del golfo de Ana María, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 78‐82.

The objective of the present study is to provide the inventory of the terrestrial flora and vegetation in the central sector of Ana Maria gulf, southern off Ciego de Ávila province, central Cuba. By conducting field surveys, literature review as well as herbarium materials consultation, up to 47 vascular plants; grouped in 43 genera and 25 families were herein enlisted. Algodón Grande key exhibited the highest species numbers among all sampled keys, due probably to have the largest superficial area of emerged land. Three main vegetation types were identified in the study area, being the mangrove forest the most representative.

96

Pina‐Amargós, F., Salvat Torres, H., López‐Fernández, N. (2012) Ictiofauna del archipiélago Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 54‐65.

Inventory of the fish inhabiting the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, south of Cuba, were carried out between 2009 and 2012. This research presents the second check list of fish on this archipelago. The species identification was mainly in situ using random swimming. The inventory includes 283 species. This adds 37 species to the list of Jardines de la Reina ichthyofauna. The best represented families of fishes are Serranidae, Carangidae, Scaridae, Lutjanidae, Haemulidae and Pomacentridae. High abundance of large size top predators specimens of Serranidae, Lutjanidae, Sphyraenidae, Carangidae. Sharks and rays are often seen in Jardines de la Reina. It is highlighted the role of mangroves as nursery habitat of groupers due the presence of juveniles of Epinephelus itajara (Lichtenstein, 1822), Epinephelus striatus (Bloch, 1792) and Mycteroperca bonaci (Poey, 1860). High frequency of the invasive exotic species Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) is also remarkable. In Jardines de la Reina occurs 25% of the Cuban ichthyofauna, 26% of the strictly marine fish, 22% of the Chondrichthyes and 27% of the Actinopterygii. Diversity of taxa is higher in Jardines de la Reina than in the northwestern and northeastern regions of Cuba, while the most diverse families are generally the same among regions although they rank different between them.

Comments:

“Los autores agradecen a los trabajadores de Sucursal Marlin Jardines de la Reina-Avalon por el apoyo logístico en Jardines de la Reina, especialmente a G. Omegna (Pepe)…”

97

Pina‐Amargós, F., Salvat Torres, H., Angulo Valdés, J.A., Cabrera Páez, Y., García‐Machado, E. (2012) Ictiofauna del golfo de Ana María, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 45‐53.

Inventory of the fish inhabiting the Ana Maria gulf, south of Cuba, were carried out between 2010 and 2012. This research presents the first check list of fish on this region of Cuban archipelago. The species identification was mainly in situ using random swimming and surveying incidental catch of shrimp fisheries. The inventory includes 170 species. The best represented families of fishes are Serranidae, Pomacentridae, Carangidae, Haemulidae, Scaridae and Lutjanidae. It is highlighted the role of mangroves, patch reefs and complex of seagrass, coral rubble and small patch reefs as nursery habitats of snappers (Lutjanidae) and groupers (Serranidae). In Ana Maria gulf occurs 15% of the Cuban ichthyofauna, 16% of the strictly marine fish, 10% of the Chondrichthyes and 16% of the Actinopterygii. Diversity of taxa is higher in Ana Maria gulf than in the north-western region of Cuba and lower than in the north-eastern one and Jardines de la Reina, while the most diverse families are generally the same among regions although they rank different between them. Having these results as base, this paper proposes research priorities in the ecosystem Ana Maria–Jardines de la Reina gulf.

Comments:

“Los autores agradecen a los trabajadores de Sucursal Marlin Jardines de la Reina–Avalon por el apoyo logístico para el trabajo en el golfo de Ana María, especialmente a G. Omegna (Pepe) y N. López Fernández…”

98

Hernández Alvarez, D. (2012) Malacofauna terrestre asociada a los cayos de la región central del golfo de Ana María, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 39‐44.

Land snails communities were surveyed in the central region of the Ana María gulf in October 2011 and March 2012. Both species density and composition were determined by using the direct count method and data were collected from 5×5 m quadrants. For each individual, the supporting plant species, vertical stratum and microhabitat used were concurrently noted. During the two sampling periods, four mollusk species were tallied (Cerion sanctacruzense, Cerion sp., Cerion sp.1 y Hemitrochus maculifera) along five keys. The two former species were distributed in two different localities, meanwhile the remainder was only found in one key. Species density reached maxima values in October 2011 by C. sanctacruzense (1,77 ind/m²) and Cerion sp. (1,70 ind/m²) in Santa María de Afuera and Palomo keys, respectively. On the contrary, H. maculifera exhibited the lowest density value (0,08 ind/m²) in the latter locality. Land snails were found in association with the 32% of the vascular plant species detected during the surveys; and the highest number of those supporting plants was reported in Santa María de Afuera and Algodón Grande keys. Most individuals of the four mollusk species were recorded in the lowest vegetation stratum (0-1 m) throughout the study site. Amongst the microhabitat more frequently used, Coccothrinax litoralis sheaths and leaves were preferred by C. sanctacruzense and Cerion sp. in Algodón Grande and Palomo keys, respectively; as well as stems by Cerion sp. in Algodoncito and Cerion sp.1 in Bergantines.

Comments:

“Quisiera gradecer…a Azulmar…”

99

Matos, F., Batista, L. M., Sánchez Hernández, A. (2012) Condiciones hidrometeorológicas en la porción central del golfo de Ana María, Cuba. Rev. Invest. Mar. 32(2), 15‐19.

Ana Maria gulf is a zone with excellent natural characteristics and specific climatic conditions, favorable for two economic sectors very important: fishing and tourism, the second sector is more developed in the later years. There were evaluated the hidrometeorological conditions on the central portion of Ana Maria gulf, studying seventeen points in October 2011 the behavior of five meteorological elements: cloudiness, wind (direction and speed), temperature and atmospheric phenomena. All the measured and observed development were made through a methodology elaborated for this objective, applicable in zones without meteorological stations. The values of temperature, as well as the behavior of the cloudiness and the atmospheric phenomena, are representatives of the annual epoch and of a maritime clime. These results increase knowledge on the characteristics of clime and time in this geographical area.