Student ResearcherMaryam Jama '22. Major: Biology
The Western Caribbean Ecosystem (WCE) is home to the most exceptional marine protected areas, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the largest reef system in the Western Hemisphere – and coastal marine systems of Cuba. It also hosts the largest intact tracts of seagrass and mangrove in the Caribbean, and several other ecologically unique and economically important archipelagos and offshore banks. Despite the significance of these ecosystems to global biodiversity and coastal livelihoods, nature and people of this region face interacting threats from overfishing, coastal and watershed development. Left unaddressed, these threats will reduce the resilience of coastal ecosystems and diminish ecosystem services, ultimately undermining human well-being.
To address these challenges, Wildlife Conservation Society is conducting a holistic synthesis of the coastal watershed and marine habitats, fisheries resources, management activities, socio-economic conditions, and system-wide drivers of marine environmental degradation needed to develop a regional conservation strategy to conserve the WCE. Working alongside the WCS Mesoamerica team, Maryam conducted a geospatial analysis exploring the current and potential future effects of climate change on seagrass across the WCE needed to support conservation and adaptation of marine ecosystem resourcesa and local communities in the face of climate change.