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Tourism today is moving towards sustainable approaches because the industry poses significant threats to the environment. This includes a shift in construction type: to building structures that aim to coexist with their surroundings. One example of this is the overwater resort bungalow. Although there is a substantial amount of research on the effects of coastal development on the environment, there is little research on the effects of sustainable approaches. This study aimed to quantify the effects of oceanic overwater resort bungalows on coral reef ecosystems. Two overwater bungalow resort sites were investigated on the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia to see whether or not they impacted their environment. The percentage of living coral coverage, percentage of algae coverage, species abundance, and richness, were examined by surveying different areas of the lagoon that all varied in distance away from the bungalow chain. The resort sites were ultimately compared to two control sites, both without bungalows and slightly removed from the resort sites, in order to account for other factors influencing the response variables. Living coral coverage, species abundance, and species richness, were all positively correlated with distance away from the bungalow chain. Algae coverage was negatively correlated with an increase in distance. The data collected provides evidence that bungalows are impacting the environment they are situated in. Increased algae presence near the bungalow chain may be due to shade coverage produced by the bungalows. Decreased living coral coverage, species richness, and species abundance, in close proximity to the chain, may be due to the impacts of initial construction, tourists, and competition. Regulations need to be imposed on future construction of bungalows in order to avoid prolonged and greater effects on reef ecosystems. It also needs to be considered that all ecofriendly structures may be inherently affecting the environments they surround.
This is a submission to PeerJ for review.
Algae coverage, living coral coverage, species richness, and species abundance, at different distances from bungalow chain