Defense Date

4-23-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Joana Figueiredo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David Gilliam, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rosanna Boyle, Ph.D.

Abstract

Corals along the Florida Reef Tract and the wider Caribbean have been declining for decades. Low densities of adult colonies hinder the ability of corals to replenish themselves through sexual reproduction, thus reef managers are focusing on restoration actions that increase coral biomass. Microfragmentation is a way to quickly increase the biomass of bouldering corals by cutting the coral into small pieces which forces the coral to allocate its resources away from reproduction and back into growth, increasing its growth rate. This study assessed the optimal location for grow-out (land vs. offshore nursery) and its synergy with size of fragment in 4 bouldering coral species (Orbicella faveolata, Siderastrea siderea, Pseudodiploria clivosa and Diploria labyrinthiformis). Survival and growth rates were tracked through monthly pictures of the microfragments to determine differences between the locations, fragment sizes, species, and individuals. Coral microfragments of all species and sizes grown in the land-based nursery had increased survival and growth rates compared to the counterparts grown in the offshore nursery. These results help inform managers to make the best choices for growing coral microfragments. The longevity of coral reefs is dependent on techniques such as this succeeding in increasing coral cover quickly.

Comments

Collection for this project was done under permits SAJ-1989-90804 (MOD-LCK) and SAJ-1989-90804 (GP-CGK). Funding for the project was provided by The Explorer’s Club Southern Chapter, and The Lerner-Gray Fund for Marine Research through the Museum of Natural History. Thank you to University of Miami for the temperature data in the offshore nursery.

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