Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Charles G. Messing

Third Advisor

Howard R. Lasker

Fourth Advisor

Vladimir N. Kosmynin

Abstract

Octocorals are important components of many reef benthic communities, and efforts to restore populations following damage events and relocating colonies preceding permitted activities is becoming part of regulatory processes. Because many octocorals have regenerative capabilities ideal for removing branch clippings (fragments), they may make excellent donors, sources of transplants, for restoration efforts. This study examined the effect of fragment size, fragmentation timing, and transplantation on the survivorship, growth, and fecundity of Eunicea flexuosa clippings and donor colonies. Eunicea flexuosa clippings 20 cm in height were transplanted to a ship grounding site offshore southeast Florida in April 2010 and November 2010. Data collected during the June through September spawning months in 2010 and 2011 revealed high survivorship among all transplants (85%), however partial mortality from encrustation by bio-fouling organisms ensued. Growth rates among donor colonies was high. The fecundity of fragments transplanted in May was not negatively affected in 2010; however the fecundity of all transplants was lower than that of donor colonies in 2011, with oocytes failing to reach reproductive size. Re-allocation of energy resources towards tissue repair may account for the low growth and loss in fecundity. This study highlights the importance of evaluating fragment size and collection time in promoting growth and propagation of transplanted octocorals following damage and prior to marine construction events.

Comments

Funded by a collaboration between the Hillsboro Inlet District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

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