Carleton University visits CEI to study coral reef communities

From December 27th, 2012 to January 10th, 2013 a field course from Carleton University, led by Dr. Nigel Waltho and coordinated by the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology, came to CEI to conduct reef ecology research.  Through snorkeling and scuba diving, 8 teams of students studied the distribution and community organization of various marine habitats as it relates to ecological processes.  Some examples of projects included studying the effects of the lionfish invasion on fish community structure, studying fish species richness and abundance relative to a gradient of habitat types, as well as interspecific competition for space among corals, sponge and algal species.

The course included writing a proposal, species identification, project design, data collection, statistical workshops, and a final scientific paper.  These final reports, in addition to their publication potential, will have the opportunity to be used by the Bahamian government to inform local conservation efforts.  Highlights from the trip included seeing a whale shark, squid, eagle rays, a hammerhead shark as well as attending local Bahamian Junkanoo festivals and exploring the island!

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