During last October took place the yearly expedition of the PELD-ILOC (Long-Term Ecological Research Program) to St Peter and St Paul’s Archipelago (SPSPA). This year, the team was formed by Dr. Anaide Aued (UFSC), Dr. Thiago Mendes (UNIFESP), M.Sc. Amana Garrido (UFRJ) and Mateus Silva (Brazilian Navy).
SPSPA (00°55’N, 29°22’W) consists of a group of ten small islands located in the equatorial Atlantic halfway between Brazil and Africa. Given its diminished size and isolation, SPSPA is considered a natural laboratory for the study and monitoring of marine communities.
Arriving in the archipelago is not an easy task; it takes four days in a 17 meter fishing boat. After that, the team members stay sojourn for the next two weeks in the tiny scientific station maintained by the Brazilian Navy with very limited communication with the mainland.
The main objectives of the expedition was to perform the annual monitoring of reef components and activities included assessments of the benthic community and the fish assemblage, remote filming of feeding interactions between fish and the benthos, evaluation of the population status of the crab Grapsus grapsus, collection of fish, algae, cnidarians and other invertebrates.
The research conducted by our group is generating important information for this unique Atlantic reef system. Given the recent creation of a new Marine Protected Area around SPSPA we hope that our research will help improve local management and protection in face of escalating global impacts on the oceans.
The 7th PELD ILOC (Long-Term Monitoring of the Brazilian Oceanic Islands) expedition to the Rocas Atoll took place between may 24th and june 26th, 2019, attended by the researchers Natália Roos (UFRN/LECOM), Tainá Gaspar (UFSC/LABAR) and Isadora Cord (UFSC/LBMM), with the help and participation of Jarian Dantas (ICMBio). The Rocas Atoll is located 266 kilometers from the Brazilian coast and figures as the only atoll in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Rocas Atoll Biological Reserve was the first marine protected area created in Brazil, established in the year of 1979. The reserve is fully protected and the only human activity allowed is scientific research. This small atoll harbors a unique ecosystem, important to many organisms, including sharks, sea turtles, endemic reef fishes, corals and sea birds. During the expedition the researchers performed many activities related to the PELD annual monitoring of the local assembly of organisms such as 70 visual census to assess the reef fish assemblage, benthic community structure (photo-quadrats), coral health status (photo-quadrats) and coral bleaching and recruitment (visual census), sea-urchin and Aratu crab (Grapsus grapsus) assembly structure, and feeding behavior of herbivore fishes. Some algae species were collected to extract associated metabolites, and also individuals of the butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus to assess the species’ diet as well as its feeding behavior, which was investigated through visual census. The tide regime was favorable in most days, allowing lots of field work, and the experience was extremely enriching to all the researchers involved, who left the atoll with a feeling of “mission accomplished” after collaborating with the attainment of data for many different research projects.
Last October one more expedition to Fernando de Noronha Archipelago took place by the PELD-ILOC team in order to continue the annual monitoring of reef biodiversity. Every trip the team is organized to sample fish abundance, benthic community percent cover and coral colonies monitoring in three different sites. Water temperature in FN varied from 26 to 28oC yearly, with good visibility in most of the seasons (approx. 20m). As part of the Archipelago is protected from fishing in the last 30 years the abundance of jacks, snappers, sharks and rays is comparatively higher than coastal sites. Tourism and fishing outside the park limits have increased last years and monitoring the effects of such impacts in the park areas is important to understand the protection effectivity. Fernando de Noronha is an important breeding refuge for marine turtles and sharks, while maintain high abundance of many threatened species. In addition, FN is an unique site in the Atlantic where a population of Spinner Dolphins inhabit all year long. Marine tourism generated million of dollars of revenues each year from the archipelago, but new government directions while encouraging increase visitation, is weakening the protection measures. The results from the long term monitoring program is thus important to show how indicators of biodiversity is responding to growing anthropogenic pressures.
The 11th edition of the annual course of Ecology and Conservation of Reef Fishes took place in the city of Arraial do Cabo between 11th and 17th February this year. In this edition professors Carlos Ferreira (UFF) and Sergio Floeter (UFSC) received professor Guilherme Longo (UFRN) as a guest lecturer. The course was attended by both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professionals from various universities in the country (UFF, UFRJ, UNIFESP, UFRN, UFSC, UFSM) and environmental managers from ICMBio. During the week, different aspects of the ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation of reef fishes were discussed during the classes. The students still had the opportunity to develop field-oriented short-terms projects on local reefs that boosted discussions and learning. The annual course represents a great moment for scientific exchange among students, researchers and managers and provides the not only basic scientific knowledge but also the up-to-date advances on reef fish ecology.
From 26th to 31st of January, the PELD – Oceanic Islands members attended the XXIII Brazilian Meeting of Ichthyology, held in Belém/PA. Different studies from the network were presented and discussed including topics such as temporal changes in populations climate changes affecting the coral composition and interspecies interaction. Dr. Sergio Floeter and Dr. Carlos Ferreira organized a Reef Fish Workshop with many presentations considering the reef environments of oceanic islands and the Brazilian coast. The event, which counted on about 1,200 people, was the ideal moment of discussion about the progress and national perspectives of ichthyological studies. The PELD members’ presentations were important to advance the understanding of how the temporal monitoring is increasingly needed, knowing that it gives us the opportunity to comprehend ecosystem processes at island with little human impact. Let the next results with more data about the Brazilian Oceanic Islands come!
After a 64-days expedition on remote Ilha de Trindade (1,100 km east of Vitória / ES), Cesar Cordeiro and Linda Eggertsen members of LECAR with two UFSC researchers (Luisa Fagundes and Thais Macedo) returned to the continent. The expedition is part of the PELD-ILOC Project that carries out the ecological monitoring of the Brazilian oceanic islands. In addition, other activities of research associated with the project were carried out, including the collection of organisms and macroalgae that will be used in the bioprospecting of compounds of medical and pharmaceutical importance. Despite some difficulties were faced by the team due to bad sea conditions and technical problems, the expedition was concluded with a positive balance, counting on the support of the Brazilian Navy during the research activities on the island and in the transfer of the researchers.
A second meeting of the workgroup for fishing management in St Peter and St Paul Archipelago took place last week at SECIRM in Brasília. The group gathered together sectors of the Brazilian Navy, the Mining and Energy Ministry (MME), the Chico Mendes Institute for biodiversity (ICMBio), the Brazilian Research Funding Agency (CNPq) and scientific researchers, including Ronaldo Francini-Filho and Carlos Ferreira from PELD-ILOC research network. The main topics discussed were the maintaining of pelagic fishing of tuna, wahoo and other pelagic species, while demersal reef fish is finally prohibited to catch. As long lines were banned in 2012, shark’s abundance increased in the region, indicated by ongoing telemetry and BRUVs sampling. Now, with demersal fishes protected, another important step towards the recovery of pristine ecosystems is made. The next meeting will happen already this year. Organized by ICMBio it will focus on the establishment of a manager-council and construction of management plan of the recently created protected area.
The sixth PELD ILOC (Long-Term Monitoring of the Brazilian Oceanic Islands) expedition to Fernando de Noronha Archipelago took place between October 20th and 31st, 2018 and was attended by the researchers Carlos Eduardo Leite Ferreira (UFF/LECAR), Sergio Floeter (UFSC/LBMM), Julia Biscaia Zamoner (UFSC/LABAR), Mariana Teschima (UFRJ), Ronaldo Bastos Francini-Filho (UFPB), Guilherme Ortigara Longo (UFRN/LECOM) and Thayná Mello (ICMBio-Fernando de Noronha). During the 12 days at the archipelago, which is located 200 miles from Brazilian northeast coast, the researchers carried out activities related to the annual monitoring of reef fish assemblage (visual censuses), benthic community structure(photo-quadrats), health status of Siderastrea and Montastraea colonies (photo-quadrats and, for Siderastrea, filming for 3D modelling) and population structure of Grapsus grapsus, besides the setup of seawater temperature sensors. Activities of other researchers associated to the project were also developed, such as the collection of corals for studies of zooxanthellae – microalgae that inhabit the colonies, providing them food and being responsible for their different colours -, as well as the placing of information signs for the De Olho Nos Corais project. The good weather and sea conditions, the excellent teamwork and support of ICMBio and diver operators resulted in a successful expedition, full of hard work, discussions and learning! Natural beauties, both into and out of the water, as always, made the expedition even more incredible! We’re just ready for the next one!
The expedition to ASPSP that occurred between September 16 and 30, the team was composed by Larissa (UFAL), Thayna (ICMBio), Caio (UFES) and Moysés (UFF). The arrival happened on the night of 16/9 after 100 hours of sea. Some problems due to weather conditions prevented the actions of the PELD in the last two days, however, the expedition was completed positive balance and a relevant number of samples collected and monitoring images. A total of 80 dives were performed to improve the sampling. The ASPSP monitoring included 40 visual fish censuses, 33 plots videos of three different depths, 9 fixed benthic transects, G. grapsus census, algae collections, dinoflagellates and 20 BRUVs. The fixed transects were changed and the thermometers of the different depths were also changed. This expedition was supported by Guilherme Longo and Zélia Brito.
During May and June, three researchers of PELD-ILOC conducted extensive data collection on Rocas Atoll, one of the Brazilian oceanic islands monitored by the initiative. The team was formed by Dr. Vinicius Giglio (UFF), Dr. Katia Capel (URFJ), M.Sc. candidate Vitor Picolloto (UFSC), and the reserve assistance was provided by Jarian Dantas (ICMBio). The main objective of this expedition was to perform the annual monitoring of reef components, and the activities included underwater visual censuses to assess reef fish assemblages, photoquadrats for the benthic community and sampling of the crab Grapsus grapsus.
Researchers observed relatively high abundances of reef fish, mainly mesopredators such as the dog snapper Lutjanus jocu, lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris and the nurse shark Gynglimostoma cyrratum. These are clear indications of the effectiveness of the marine protected area.