HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Joana Figueiredo

Second Advisor

David Gilliam

Third Advisor

Margaret Miller


Ocean warming and increased sedimentation from coastal activities are major threats to coral persistence. This study assessed the effects of increased temperature and sedimentation on the survival and growth of Acropora cervicornisrecruits. The potential for adults from different regions and genotypes to confer their offspring with higher or lower tolerance to heat and/or sediment was also determined. Gametes were collected and brought to the laboratory for cross fertilization of different genotypes within the regions collected. Larval rearing and settlement were then performed in the laboratory. Newly settled recruits were reared at 29 and 31°C (current summer temperature for August 2017 and +2°C as predicted for 2050) and 4 deposited sediment levels and turbidity (0, 30, 60, and 120mg cm-2, corresponding to 0, 4.52-5.35, 8.16-9.7, and 18.53-19.4 NTU). Recruit survival and growth were measured weekly for 3 months. Increased temperature reduced survival, suggesting faster usage of energy reserves. Regardless of temperature, survival was maximized under 30mg cm-2sediment; the highest sediment level drastically reduced survival. Increasing temperature by 2°C was as deleterious as doubling the natural level of deposited anthropogenic sediment, suggesting that eliminating local stressors may allow recruits to better sustain ocean warming. Growth was not affected by temperature nor sedimentation. Recruits produced by parents from the Florida Keys had a lower initial size but higher growth rate than those from Broward County. None of the parental genotypes conferred their offspring with higher or lower tolerance to warming and/or sedimentation. Reducing turbidity to 4.52-5.35 NTU or less during coastal construction may facilitate the persistence of this species by reducing recruit mortality the first 3 months post-settlement.