Dr. Linda Walters
The queen conch (Strombus gigas) provides important economic, ecological, and societal benefits to local communities throughout the Caribbean. The species, however, has fallen victim to commercial exploitation and overfishing in many areas. In Belize, even with restricted harvesting seasons, size restrictions, and regulations set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), harvesting practices have significantly depleted populations. Marine reserves, including the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, were established to protect biodiversity and maintain populations of Belize’s natural coral reefs. Utilizing size, frequency, and evidence of harvesting (shell notches), the 2018 Tropical Marine Biology (BSC 3355) course analyzed the effectiveness of this reserve on protecting populations of S. gigas. Conch inside the reserve were significantly larger than those outside the reserve, a trait important for reproductive capacity. Population abundance, however, was similar, with few live conch in either area. This finding provides evidence that queen conch populations in Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve are still threatened by harvesting. It is suggested that further precautions, regulations, and educational programs be put into place to protect and increase S. gigas populations in this reserve and throughout Belize.
Fanelli, Gianna; Jarrett, Ciera; and Joralemon, Sara
"Success of Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve on Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) Populations in Belize,"
The Pegasus Review: UCF Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 13:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/urj/vol13/iss2/2