PROGRAM TITLE:	Tropical Coastal Ecosystems Program (TROCOES)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Process Studies
SCIENCE ELEMENT:	Ecological Systems and Dynamics

 SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (NMNH)
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

SCIENTIFIC MERIT:  Tropical coastal communities, including coral reefs, 
mangroves, sea grass beds, and rocky intertidal communities, are among the 
most productive natural ecosystems on Earth.  Understanding and ensuring 
the maintenance of this productivity is critical for human welfare, since more 
than 90% of commercial and subsistence fisheries species depend on these 
communities at some stage in their life cycle.  As the interface between land 
and ocean, these communities are exceptionally vulnerable to the effects of 
global change, such as elevated sea-surface temperatures, sea level rise, 
sedimentation caused by deforestation, and marine oil spills, and other forms 
of pollution.

Inhibiting coastal planning are the lack of knowledge of the vast plant and 
animal populations that comprise coastal communities, the processes that 
control the diversity, structure, and productivity of these communities and 
the links that occur through the exchange of water, solutes, and suspended 
material and the migration of larval and adult organisms.

The TROCOES program is poised to:  1) document the biotic communities 
that form the tropical coastal ecosystems 2) identify the physical, geological, 
biological and chemical processes that form the bases for the structure, 
diversity, and high productivity 3) identify and describe the physical and 
biotic pathways that link these communities, and 4) identify the physical and 
biotic factors that result in regional and temporal variation in ecosystem 
structure and functioning.

 This program builds on 25 years of research on marine ecosystems in three 
marine stations in Panama and 20 years in Belize and Florida. These facilities, 
and a new floating laboratory, make it particularly suited to investigate 
tropical coastal communities. Long-term monitoring of physical 
environmental factors, including temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, sea 
level and key plant and animals species has been conducted at the Galeta 
station, Panama, for 15 years and the  Carrie Bow station, Belize, for 20 years.

STAKEHOLDERS:  The TROCOES program conforms with the objectives of 
the proposed Land/Ocean Interactions in the Coastal zone (LOICZ) program 
of the IGBP.  TROCOES is a cooperative program of the National Museum of 
Natural History and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  Scientists 
from around the world participate in this program.  Information is shared 
internationally and particularly with authorities in Panama and Belize as 
well as U.S. government agencies, such as NOAA. Linkages exist with 
universities, conservation organizations, and research institutes and 
commissions around the world, such as the International Tropical Tuna 
Commission, the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity study (CARICOMP) 
based at the Florida Institute of Oceanography.  Oil pollution studies in 
Panama have been funded by U.S.G.S. and mangrove studies in Belize have 
been funded by Exxon Corporation.

POLICY RELEVANCE:  The TROCOES program directly addresses the GCRP 
Ecological Systems and Population Dynamics Milestone "Growth and 
Decline" by inventorying plant and animal species, identifying ecosystems 
processes and articulating the contribution of tropical reefs to global carbon 
dioxide fluxes.  The program relates to "Threshold Responses" with regard to 
the sensitivity of coastal ecosystems to change.

With funding provided in part by USGCRP increase the program installed a 
new weather station in FY 1991 on the Belize Barrier Reef permitting year-
round environmental monitoring.  The weather station allows real-time 
transmission of data on climatic and ocean conditions.  Future plans include  
production of a comprehensive report as the result of a long-term study on 
the effects of an oil spill on coral reef and mangrove ecosystems in Panama.

PROGRAM CONTACTS:

SI SGCR Representative:	Ted A. Maxwell
		NASM MRC 315
		Smithsonian Institution
		Washington, D.C.  20560
		202 357 1424
		FAX:  202 786 2566
		Email: tmaxwell@ceps.nasm.edu
	
Bureau Representative:	Marsha Sitnik
		NMNH MRC 106
		Smithsonian Institution
		Washington, D.C.  20560
		202 357 2670
		FAX: 202 786 2934
	Email: nmhod004@sivm.si.edu