HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Vladimir N. Kosmynin

Third Advisor

Howard R. Lasker

Fourth Advisor

Alison L. Moulding

Fifth Advisor

Richard E. Spieler


Due to the continuing anthropogenic degradation of coral reefs worldwide, there is the need for effective, experimentally-tested, reef restoration methodologies. Much effort and energy has been spent on scleractinian (stony) coral transplantation. However, less attention has been directed towards effective restoration techniques for gorgonian (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) transplantation. While most primary restoration activities involve the salvaging and transplantation of loose or fragmented coral colonies following a disturbance, this study used clippings from healthy adult gorgonian donor colonies as transplants to test the effectiveness of different gorgonian attachment techniques. Two abundant local gorgonian species were targeted as donor colonies for this study, Pseudopterogorgia acerosa (Pallas, 1776) and Plexaura flexuosa (Lamouroux, 1821). In April 2007, 160 clippings (80, 25 cm clippings from each species) were transplanted at a large vessel grounding site offshore Broward County, southeast Florida. Two attachment materials, Portland cement and Aquamend® underwater epoxy, were compared for attachment success. Of the 80 total clippings for each species, 40 had 10 cm of their base tissue removed from around the proteinaceous axis, while the remaining 40 clippings did not undergo the base stripping treatment. Within a month, all clip wounds on the donor colonies were completely healed. After 1 year, the highest percent attachment and survival (100%) was observed for the P. flexuosa clippings that underwent the base stripping treatment and were attached with epoxy. The least successful treatment, with the highest percent missing and lowest survival (30%), was the P. acerosa non-stripped base treatment attached with cement. For cemented P. acerosa clippings, tissue that had not been stripped became necrotic and sloughed off, resulting in a loose attachment, preventing the clipping from forming its own independent attachment. Pseudopterogorgia acerosa had lower survival than P. flexuosa due to heavy predation by Hermodice, Cyphoma and Simnia species. For both species, the epoxy treatments had the highest percent survival. Cemented colonies had lower survival due to colonies breaking near their base, likely a result of the caustic and abrasive nature of cement. Growth of the transplants differed, showing species-specific variation, while the growth rates for the donors fell between rates published within literature for both species. Both species of transplanted clippings formed new holdfasts, where actual gorgonin had been deposited over the attachment material, the greatest holdfast formation being observed in the epoxy treatments.

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