Ecologist Bob Steneck (shown), professor of marine biology and marine policy in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences at Darling Marine Center, in Walpole, has studied and monitored coral reefs — the world’s most diverse and endangered marine ecosystems — in the Dominican Republic for the past five years. This year, trends revealed that the reefs are stressed and susceptible to disease due to fishing pressure on herbivorous fish that keep harmful seaweed in check. The Dominican Republic project, a collaboration between UMaine and the nongovernmental organization Reef Check República Dominicana, monitors the most important characteristics of the health of the reefs. Steneck coordinates the project with a Dominican partner. Students from UMaine and the Dominican Republic also take part. For more information, visit