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The beaches

In aerial photographs dating from the 1940s, Negril’s beaches appeared forested. Dense coastal vegetation reduces wave height and establishes a buffer zone protecting structures from storms and the coastal waters from land runoff. Drought and salt resistant seagrapes (Coccoloba uvifera) and almond trees (Terminalia catappa) are staples on the beaches, as well as coconut palms (Cocos nucifera).  The organic material accumulated by coastal vegetation raises soil level, pushing the shoreline seaward. Cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) grows a stabilizing carpet over landward sandbanks. The prostrate schrub goat’s foot (Ipomoea fistulosa) also acts as a stabilizer on sandy terrain. The star lily (Hymenocallis caribaea), locally called onion plant, establishes on the shore where no other vegetation grows.

Image credit: Matthew Parker: Goldeneye -where Bond was born.

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Organic enrichment stimulates the metabolism of benthic microbial communities which in turn modify sediment chemistry. For instance, meiofauna activity quickens the denitrification and nitrification of marine sediments, consequently accelerating the removal of fixed nitrogen from the water. The benthos and sediments are notably  sensitive to organic enrichment, thus a change in their microscopic fauna is among the first indications of eutrophication.


Interactions between macrofauna, meiofauna and bacteria on ecosystem processes are poorly understood, but nevertheless emphasize how important it is to be cautious with environmental interventions when a coastal landscape can be altered by a few grains of sand.

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