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In the brand new lab we will be assessing lionfish preference using chemical and visual cues in a controlled environment. Additionally, we will be changing the substrate in the trial tank from artificial to natural in order to determine if that could influence the cue preference. As well as lab trials, we will be replicating the lab setup on the reef in Tela Bay, Banco Caprio, with the overall aim of determining what stimulates lionfish grouping.

Assessing Gregarious Behaviour in Invasive Lionfish

Name: Helen Conlon

Degree: BSc Marine Zoology

Institution: Newcastle University

Nationality: English

Bio: Since finishing her degree last year Helen has been immersed in lionfish based projects and assisting with outreach events surrounding the species. Helen is looking forward to the lionfish behaviour project this summer with the aim to better inform the mitigation and management of the invasion

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The long-spined sea urchin removes huge amounts of macroalgae from the reef on a daily basis which ensures coral domination in the Caribbean. In the early 1980s a disease reduced populations by 95-99%, and to this day populations remain significantly depressed. This mass-mortality event is closely associated with large increases in macroalgal cover and decreases in hard coral cover. Max is trying to identify reasons for the continued population suppression in order to design conservation management strategies that may aid recovery and ultimately help to increase the health of Caribbean coral reefs.

Restoration of the long-spined sea urchin to the reefs of the Caribbean

Name: Max Bodmer

Degree: BA Biological Sciences @

The University of Oxford

Institution: The Open University (UK) / Operation Wallacea

Nationality: British

Bio: Max began researching the reefs of Banco Capiro in 2013 for his undergraduate dissertation. The reef system he was exposed was so special that he extended his project into a PhD. This is Max's 4th summer in Tela and by the end of it he hopes to have everything he needs to write his thesis!

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Publications in the

journal Coral Reefs

& Marine Biologist


Initial research into the reefs of Tela Bay indicates that Tela Bay Reef System may have the highest hard coral cover of any contemporary Caribbean coral reef ecosystem. This presents researchers from around the world with a unique opportunity to address some of the most important issues currently being discussed by coral reef conservationists. You can find a short description of all of the projects being conducted at Tela Marine Research Centre below - if you have any questions please email [email protected].

Coral reefs in the Caribbean have experienced abrupt declines in the health conditions due to pressures from human stressors and global climate change. On previous works I studied the influences between livelihood capitals on the resilience of coastal communities in Tela in response to extreme weather events. This has now lead me to study the interactions of the social system and abiotic factors on coral reefs.

The main objective is to determine the local stressors and the current coral reef health based on biological and physical parameters/indicators that influence the resilience of corals in the Marine Wildlife Refuge in Tela Bay.

Resilience and condition or coral reefs to stressors in Tela Bay, Honduras

Name: AndreaRiveraSosa

Degree: MSc. Water and Coastal Management @ Univ. Plymouth-UK & Univ. Cadiz-Spain

Institution: CINVESTAV Mexico

Nationality: Honduran

Bio: Tela Bay is a beautiful and complex socio-ecological system. Her main motivation is to give back to her country and assure the information obtained guides management actions for all the stakeholders involved and directly benefits the marine protected area. She aims to finish her doctoral degree in late 2018.

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My PhD work stems from my research carried out in Indonesia. My research is heavily focused on quantifying the amount of carbon stored within Honduran mangroves, paying particular interest to the essential role of ecosystem engineers; marine wood borers, decay pathways of large woody detritus and the recycling of carbon in coastal tropical ecosystems.

The role of wood and wood boring invertebrates in carbon flow in Honduran mangrove ecosystems

Name: Richard Nembhard

Degree: BSc Marine Biology @ University of Portsmouth

Institution: Univ. of Portsmouth

Nationality: British

Bio: Richard graduated from University of Portsmouth in 2011. His undergraduate research investigated plant-animal interactions, animal behaviour and habitat creation in Indonesian mangroves. Since then his interest has turn to Honduran mangroves. Richard is currently working towards his PhD and has been a member of the Operation Wallace for 5 years.

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Stereo-Video surveys are conducted along 50m transects with 12 replicates at each sub-site (6 at 5m and 6 at 15m). The videos are then uploaded to software called EventMeasure where the 2 videos can be viewed in synchronisation. Each fish along the transect is identified to species level and measured from the snout to the caudal peduncal, and from this the biomass can be calculated. These surveys are used to compare the differences in fish biomass between Utila, Roatan and Tela and also to monitor the long term changes in fish biomass at these sites.

Stereo-Video Survey in Tela Bay

Name: Georgina Wright

Degree: BSc Marine Biology

Institution: University of Portsmouth

Nationality: British

Bio: Gina has been working with Operaation Wallacea in Honduras for 4 years. In 2012 she completed her dissertation with Opwall and has since returned for 3 more seasons, supervising Stereo-Video and Benthic survey projects. The Stereo-Video data collection and analysis requires the full 8/9 weeks of the Opwall season to complete.

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Lionfish have invaded the Western Atlantic and Caribbean from their native range in the Western Pacific. They consume juveniles of many different important reef fish and are a threat to fish populations on coral reefs in the regions they have invaded. This project will look at different life history parameters across their invaded range and also look at the species composition across their invaded range. Furthermore this project will examine the effects of culling on growth rates and sex ratios in a given population.

Invasive Lionfish Population Demographics Among Four Areas of the Western Atlantic and Caribbean

Name: Rachel Grey

Degree: MS Marine Biology

Institution: College of Charleston

Nationality: USA

Bio: Rachel Grey has spent 4 summers working in Honduras. She is passionate about the ocean and hoping to conduct research that will help implement management strategies for the removal of invasive lion fish. Her current project will be running for 2 summers, with 2016 being the final year of research.

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To survey the herbivores present at Tela Bay with emphasise on the important keystone species Diadema antillarum which was decimated in the Caribbean during the 1980's. Despite this an abundant population has been reported at Tela Bay alongside a high coral cover and low fish biomass, supporting the idea that Diadema antillarum are an important species in coral dominated reef ecosystems. The data collected will be used in in completion of my MSc thesis in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor university.

The role of the Diadema antillarum as a keystone herbivor in the Caribbean

Name: Johnathan Ball

Degree: BSc Zoology and Marine Zoology (Int. Experience)

Institution: Bangor University

Nationality: British

Bio: John is a graduate in Zoology and Marine Zoology (International Experience) currently studying at Bangor University for his MSc in Marine environmental protection. Research interest include herbivory on coral reefs, coral reef ecosystems, marine protected area and the restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems. John will be surveying the reef at Tela for 5 weeks.

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England The Biologist Magazine Reefs Journal

This research is focused on conserving Caribbean reef ecosystems, through re-establishing populations of the long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum), in areas where post mortality densities are extremely low. It is widely accepted that the dramatic change from stony coral to macro algal dominance in the Caribbean is largely due to a loss of herbivorous function, mainly attributed to the devastating decline of D. antillarum in the early 80s. Post mortality densities of D. antillarum at Banco Capiro are unprecedented throughout the Caribbean. Could this be due to some kind of genetic resistance which is allowing the population to thrive at this location? Can we restore this keystone species to pre-mortality levels?

Conserving Caribbean reefs through re-establishing Diadema antillarum

Name: Natalie Andrinico Lubbock

Degree: BSc (Hons) Biology & MSc Environmental Cons. Management

Institution: University of South Wales

Nationality: Welsh

Bio: Natalie is a postgraduate currently studying for her PhD.  She is passionate about marine conservation and driven by her personal goal; to conserve the Caribbean reefs for future generations.  She is convinced that these wonderfully diverse and fascinating ecosystems will soon be lost unless radical changes take place.

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