Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Biochemistry & Molecular Biol.

First Advisor

Dr. Paula Lessem

Second Advisor

Dr. Annemarie Kramer


Marine life is the basis for most industries in the Turks and Caicos Islands, located on the outskirts of the Caribbean Sea. Few studies have been carried out to assess the current status of reefs in this region, especially those off the shore of South Caicos Island. The AGRRA v.4.0 methodologies were employed create baseline assessments of stony corals, macroalgae and associated fishes and to explore the relationships between these key reef organisms. This study was based on 10 different locations both inside and outside of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and including exposed and sheltered reefs in proximity to South Caicos. Findings were highly variable, although a statistically significant positive correlation was found between macroalgal cover and herbivorous fish abundance, namely Acanthuridae and Scaridae. No significant relationships were found between macroalgal cover and coral cover or between coral cover and herbivore abundance. Minimal differences were found between exposed and sheltered reefs or between protected and unprotected areas. The findings of this study indicate a need for further reef assessments at additional locations.