Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

8-1-2011

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Allison Moulding

Third Advisor

Vladimir N. Kosmynin

Fourth Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Abstract

Restoration efforts are being implemented in many of the world’s coral reefs due to damages from anthropogenic sources such as ship groundings and anchor damage. One restoration technique involves attempts to save dislodged and fragmented coral colonies by transplanting them back to damage sites. Research has shown that survivorship and growth of transplanted colonies is comparable to that of natural, control colonies. What remains unknown is to what extent transplantation affects the ecological success and reproduction of dislodged and fragmented coral colonies. The purpose of this study was twofold. Reproduction and spawning information is sparse for S. intersepta and Solenastrea bournoni, so the first purpose was to describe gamete development of these two species and assess correlations between environmental dynamics and spawning of each species. Tissue samples were collected throughout Broward County, Florida and processed for histological examination. Gametes were counted, and development was assessed. For S. intersepta and S. bournoni, late stage oocyte abundance was compared with environmental factors of mean daily water temperatures at depth, lunar phase, semidiurnal tides and solar insolation for correlative evidence to predict future spawning events. Findings indicated that both S. bournoni and S. intersepta are gonochoric broadcast spawners. Solenastrea bournoni spawns annually after the full moon in September when sea temperatures are at a maximum. Stephanocoenia intersepta spawns annually after the full moon of August or September, depending on the timing of the full moon. The second purpose was to determine if previously transplanted Porites astreoides, Montastraea cavernosa, Siderastrea siderea and Stephanocoenia intersepta corals produce gametes and spawn similarly to naturally occurring colonies and to address the issue of transplantation as a suitable resource management tool to aid in reef recovery for future coral generations. Results indicated no significant difference in fecundity between transplants and controls of M. cavernosa, S. siderea or S. intersepta. A significant difference was found in fecundity between P. astreoides transplants and controls, but it is thought that it is due to a difference in depth of collected samples. Overall, this study shows that transplantation of coral colonies after damage and fragmentation events does not have adverse effects on the long-term fecundity of coral colonies.

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