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Activities - Research and Monitoring

 

The National Parks are managed by a small team of seven well-trained staff. Typical park activities are diverse and planned staff activities can change suddenly in response to an emergency situation or weather change. Activities are also extremely variable, constantly providing challenges for staff, ranging from infrastructure maintenance, boat or hiker rescue through to law enforcement.

Research and Monitoring
The National Parks carry out in-house research and monitoring projects (by staff, interns and volunteers), and also invite visiting scientists to assist with more extensive research projects, or to visit St Eustatius to fulfil individual research programmes. We are currently building a database of all project reports or published publications following research on St Eustatius in recent years. This database will become available through the ‘downloads’ web page. Summaries of some recent and ongoing research and monitoring activities follow.


Island-wide

Bird monitoring
During January 2004, volunteer ornithologist, Jacqualyn Eales, created and implemented a bird monitoring programme with a series of bird counts at four stations around the island. The long term objective of was to monitor bird populations using counts at various sites that represent the main classes of vegetation type on St Eustatius. This survey technique of point counts is very simple as it is designed to be carried out by volunteers. In 2008 staff members received the first specialist training in bird monitoring techniques led by Dr. Adrian Del Nevo, a professor at the California State University, since then regular workshops and additional training has been given and now these surveys are repeated on an annual basis.

Invasive species
Corallita
Surveys completed in 2007 looked into how Corallita is propagated and best methods of eradication. Further surveys were conducted in 2014 to determine the spread of the plant around the island. Results showed that now nearly 33% of the island is covered by the vine but mostly in already disturbed or cultivated ground. Currently the vine is not spreading into the National Parks but the organisation continues to monitor the situation.

Lionfish
In December 2010 the first lionfish was seen in Statian waters. Lionfish have become a hugely invasive species all around the Caribbean and Gulf region since the 90’s and so their arrival to St Eustatius was an unfortunate inevitability. Since this first sighting over 1600 lionfish have been removed from the Marine Park and of course this number increases daily. Marine Park staff carry out regular patrols of reefs and culls of all lionfish observed. Dive shops and members of the public also assist in the control effort by reporting sightings to the parks office. Although we will never be able to eliminate this invasive species, the efforts we take to control the population by means of culling is very important to maintain the health of the marine ecosystem surrounding the island.

Research investigations about reptiles on St Eustatius
In June 2004, five faculty members and ten undergraduate students were lead by Dr Robert Powell from Avila University in Missouri (USA) to carry out fieldwork on reptiles with a focus on the Quill and Boven – and also elsewhere. The research resulted in over nine publications that are referenced in the Guidebook Reptiles and Amphibians of the Dutch Caribbean – St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten including:
• Foraging and display behaviour of the Lesser Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima)
• Abundance and behavioural time allotments by the Red-bellied Racer Snake (Alsophis rufiventris)
• Habitat utilisation and abundance of Statian Dwarf Geckos (Sphaerodactylus sabanus and S. sputator)

A second and updated revision of this publication was released in 2015

 

St Eustatius National Marine Park

Fish catch survey
This assessment was organised and funded by MINA and implemented from February 2004 onwards. The assessment commenced with a Rapid Fishery Survey and supplemented with data collected by the Marine Park ranger about fish catch and effort. The final report was made available in 2007.

Fish baseline assessment
No full fish population assessment in the Marine Park was carried out until 2004, when UNEP CAR awarded a small grant to collect data from a large number of sites in- and outside of the Marine Reserves. The study results showed a significant increase in diversity in comparison to limited historical figures. The report Fish population assessment of St Eustatius Marine Park was published in mid 2006. The survey will be repeated in 2007.


Queen Conch and Spiny Lobster
A preliminary survey of Queen Conch was conducted by Marine Park intern, Julie Davis in 2003. This work was extended in mid 2005 with a survey conducted by MSc student, Joanna White (a former Marine Park intern). The survey culminated in publication of an MSc dissertation Population assessment of Queen Conch and Spiny Lobster in St Eustatius Marine Park in late 2005. This report gives recommendations for further work and possible amendment of Marine Park law concerning the two species.

 

 

 

'Killy-Killy' or American Kestrel

 

The Corallita vine poses a threat to the local flora of Statia.

 

 

Anolis Bimaculatis, a common species in the Quill National Park

 

 

Marine Park intern researching.

 

Marine Park intern monitoring.