HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Scott Schatz

Second Advisor

Harold Laubach

Third Advisor

Curtis M. Burney


More than 500 species of higher marine fungi in over 300 genera have been described. Many marine fungi are highly specialized for marine environments relative to their terrestrial counterparts, having appendaged ascospores and conidia to aid in buoyancy, entrapment, and adherence to substrates. They have been reported to inhabit a wide variety of substrates including decaying wood, leaves, calcareous and chitinous substrates, seaweeds, and seagrasses. Most early studies on marine fungi were carried out in temperate regions. Investigations have now shifted to tropical locations in order to better evaluate the abundance and diversity of marine fungi on a global basis. Many surveys have focused on mangrove habitats in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, resulting in the discovery of many new taxa. The purpose of this study was to examine the distribution and seasonal occurrence of higher marine fungi along a salinity gradient in a marine estuary, Henderson Creek in Rookery Bay Reserve Naples, Florida. Parameters including temperature and salinity were measured.

Three stations were established along Henderson Creek. Mean salinity ranged from 5 ppt at the low salinity station Visitor Center to 36ppt at the high salinity station Field Station. Substrates used for fungal collections were wood panels of a hardwood Oak (Quercus sp.) and a softwood Pine (Pinus sp.). Four panels were submerged at each station and removed in 3 month increments over the course of one year.

One-hundred-and-sixteen species of filamentous higher marine fungi were identified over the course of this study, including seventy-one Ascomycetes, three Basidiomycetes, and forty-one Deuteromycetes. There was no clear pattern of seasonality in the species composition. Total species diversity and richness decreased in each 3month period following the first 3 month period. Changes in salinity appeared to alter the ratio of Ascomycetes to Fungi Imperfecti observed at each station. Marine fungi in this collection were compared with previous reports on the east coast of Florida (Adams, 2003a; Kukich, 2005; Vogel, Schatz, Laubach, & Rogerson, 2008). A higher total species number as well as greater diversity was observed in this study when compared with reports from mangroves in southeast Florida.

Marine fungi are active decomposers in mangrove environments and contribute to total dissolved organic matter in estuarine and near shore ecosystems. While most studies focused on the taxonomy of marine fungi, few have looked at their ecology. Further studies will have to be conducted to better determine the role of filamentous marine fungi in near shore and estuarine environments.

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