Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor's Name

Ligia Collado-Vides

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joel Heinen

Third Advisor's Name

Deron Burkepile


resilience, coral reef, marine protected area, Mexican Caribbean, conservation management

Date of Defense



Coral reefs and the ecological, social, and economic benefits that they provide are seriously endangered by a colossal number of threats. This study was conducted in marine protected area (MPA) in the Mexican Caribbean. The purpose of this study was to provide results that can be directly applied by MPA managers to improve coral reef conservation and management. Characterization of four coral reef sites and stressors described in a proxy map were integrated into a comparative resilience assessment. Sites ranged from 16.5% to 3.5% coral cover and 47.5% to 12% macroalgal cover. Stressor distribution and intensity was highest near the Puerto Morelos town center and followed general water current patterns. Fishing, tourism, and pollution were identified as major stressors on which management can positively influence. The results of this study provide managers throughout the Caribbean a managerial tool chest to improve management efficacy and bolster conservation initiatives.