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Coral caribbean

L M Oliver, W S Fisher, L Fore, A Smith, P Bradley
Coral reef condition on the south shore of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was assessed at various distances from Charlotte Amalie, the most densely populated city on the island. Human influence in the area includes industrial activity, wastewater discharge, cruise ship docks, and impervious surfaces throughout the watershed. Anthropogenic activity was characterized using a landscape development intensity (LDI) index, sedimentation threat (ST) estimates, and water quality (WQ) impairments in the near-coastal zone...
March 13, 2018: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Piedad S Morillo-Velarde, Patricia Briones-Fourzán, Lorenzo Álvarez-Filip, Sergio Aguíñiga-García, Alberto Sánchez-González, Enrique Lozano-Álvarez
Habitat degradation can affect trophic ecology by differentially affecting specialist and generalist species, and the number and type of interspecific relationships. However, the effects of habitat degradation on the trophic ecology of coral reefs have received limited attention. We compared the trophic structure and food chain length between two shallow Caribbean coral reefs similar in size and close to each other: one dominated by live coral and the other by macroalgae (i.e., degraded). We subjected samples of basal carbon sources (particulate organic matter and algae) and the same 48 species of consumers (invertebrates and fishes) from both reefs to stable isotope analyses, and determined the trophic position of consumers and relative importance of various carbon sources for herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores...
March 7, 2018: Scientific Reports
Elizabeth A Goergen, David S Gilliam
Acropora cervicornis is the most widely used coral species for reef restoration in the greater Caribbean. However, outplanting methodologies (e.g., colony density, size, host genotype, and attachment technique) vary greatly, and to date have not been evaluated for optimality across multiple sites. Two experiments were completed during this study, the first evaluated the effects of attachment technique, colony size, and genotype by outplanting 405 A. cervicornis colonies, from ten genotypes, four size classes, and three attachment techniques (epoxy, nail and cable tie, or puck) across three sites...
2018: PeerJ
Mike McWilliam, Mia O Hoogenboom, Andrew H Baird, Chao-Yang Kuo, Joshua S Madin, Terry P Hughes
Corals are major contributors to a range of key ecosystem functions on tropical reefs, including calcification, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, and the provision of habitat structure. The abundance of corals is declining at multiple scales, and the species composition of assemblages is responding to escalating human pressures, including anthropogenic global warming. An urgent challenge is to understand the functional consequences of these shifts in abundance and composition in different biogeographical contexts...
March 5, 2018: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Elena de la Guardia, Dorka Cobián Rojas, Leonardo Espinosa, Zaimiuri Hernández, Lázaro García, Jesús Ernesto Arias González
The first lionfish sighting at the National Park "Cayos de San Felipe" was in 2009 and could be a threat to its marine ecosystem diversity and their capacity to generate services. To analyze the incidence of the lionfish invasion in the area, an annual sampling was conducted between 2013 and 2015. Lionfish abundance and size was investigated on mangroves through visual census on ten transects of 30x2 m/station, and on coral reefs (15 and 25 m deep) with stereo video on six transects of 50x2 m/station...
March 2017: Revista de Biología Tropical
Vivek A Thampi, Madhur Anand, Chris T Bauch
The Caribbean coral reef ecosystem has experienced a long history of deterioration due to various stressors. For instance, over-fishing of parrotfish - an important grazer of macroalgae that can prevent destructive overgrowth of macroalgae - has threatened reef ecosystems in recent decades and stimulated conservation efforts such as the formation of marine protected areas. Here we develop a mathematical model of coupled socio-ecological interactions between reef dynamics and conservation opinion dynamics to better understand how natural and human factors interact individually and in combination to determine coral reef cover...
February 7, 2018: Scientific Reports
Joseph R Pawlik, Tse-Lynn Loh, Steven E McMurray
Interest in the ecology of sponges on coral reefs has grown in recent years with mounting evidence that sponges are becoming dominant members of reef communities, particularly in the Caribbean. New estimates of water column processing by sponge pumping activities combined with discoveries related to carbon and nutrient cycling have led to novel hypotheses about the role of sponges in reef ecosystem function. Among these developments, a debate has emerged about the relative effects of bottom-up (food availability) and top-down (predation) control on the community of sponges on Caribbean fore-reefs...
2018: PeerJ
Raquel Xavier, Ricardo Severino, Marcos Pérez-Losada, Camino Gestal, Rita Freitas, D James Harris, Ana Veríssimo, Daniela Rosado, Joanne Cable
BACKGROUND: The Apicomplexa from aquatic environments are understudied relative to their terrestrial counterparts, and the seminal work assessing the phylogenetic relations of fish-infecting lineages is mostly based on freshwater hosts. The taxonomic uncertainty of some apicomplexan groups, such as the coccidia, is high and many genera were recently shown to be paraphyletic, questioning the value of strict morphological and ecological traits for parasite classification. Here, we surveyed the genetic diversity of the Apicomplexa in several commercially valuable vertebrates from the North-East Atlantic, including farmed fish...
January 25, 2018: Parasites & Vectors
Adam Suchley, Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip
The decline of reef-building corals in conjunction with shifts to short-lived opportunistic species has prompted concerns that Caribbean reef framework-building capacity has substantially diminished. Restoring herbivore populations may be a potential driver of coral recovery; however, the impact of herbivores on coral calcification has been little studied. We performed an exclusion experiment to evaluate the impact of herbivory on Orbicella faveolata coral growth over 14 months. The experiment consisted of three treatments: full exclusion cages; half cage procedural controls; and uncaged control plates, each with small O...
December 2017: Ecology and Evolution
Jack H Laverick, Alex D Rogers
Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs) may act as a refuge for impacted shallow reefs as some of the stressors affecting tropical reefs attenuate with depth. A less impacted population at depth could provide recruits to recolonise shallow reefs. Recently, disturbance has been reported on several mesophotic reefs including storm damage, biological invasions, and coral bleaching; calling into question the extent of deep reef refuges. We report on a reciprocal transplant experiment between shallow and mesophotic reefs in the Caribbean, which occurred during a period of coral bleaching...
December 18, 2017: Marine Environmental Research
Allison M Tracy, Ernesto Weil, C Drew Harvell
Co-infection is the reality in natural populations, but few studies incorporate the players that matter in the wild. We integrate the environment, host demography, two parasites, and host immunity in a study of co-infection to determine the drivers of parasite interactions. Here, we use an ecologically important Caribbean sea fan octocoral, Gorgonia ventalina, that is co-infected by a copepod and a labyrinthulid protist. We first expanded upon laboratory studies by showing that immune suppression is associated with the labyrinthulid in a natural setting...
December 26, 2017: Oecologia
Valeria Pizarro, Sara C Rodríguez, Mateo López-Victoria, Fernando A Zapata, Sven Zea, Claudia T Galindo-Martínez, Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Joseph Pollock, Mónica Medina
Coral reefs are commonly associated with oligotrophic, well-illuminated waters. In 2013, a healthy coral reef was discovered in one of the least expected places within the Colombian Caribbean: at the entrance of Cartagena Bay, a highly-polluted system that receives industrial and sewage waste, as well as high sediment and freshwater loads from an outlet of the Magdalena River (the longest and most populated river basin in Colombia). Here we provide the first characterization of Varadero Reef's geomorphology and biological diversity...
2017: PeerJ
Katie Dunkley, Jo Cable, Sarah E Perkins
Through the removal of parasites, dead skin and mucus from the bodies of visiting reef fish (clients), cleaner fish have a significant ecosystem function in the ecology of coral reefs. Cleaners gain nutrition from these interactions and through offering a 'service' are afforded protection from predators. Given these benefits, it is unclear why more fish do not engage in cleaning, and why part-time cleaning strategies exist. On coral reefs, dedicated species clean throughout their life, whereas some species are facultative, employing opportunistic and/or temporary cleaning strategies...
December 13, 2017: Behavioural Processes
Judith Bakker, Owen S Wangensteen, Demian D Chapman, Germain Boussarie, Dayne Buddo, Tristan L Guttridge, Heidi Hertler, David Mouillot, Laurent Vigliola, Stefano Mariani
Sharks are charismatic predators that play a key role in most marine food webs. Their demonstrated vulnerability to exploitation has recently turned them into flagship species in ocean conservation. Yet, the assessment and monitoring of the distribution and abundance of such mobile species in marine environments remain challenging, often invasive and resource-intensive. Here we pilot a novel, rapid and non-invasive environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding approach specifically targeted to infer shark presence, diversity and eDNA read abundance in tropical habitats...
December 4, 2017: Scientific Reports
John P Rippe, Mikhail V Matz, Elizabeth A Green, Mónica Medina, Nida Z Khawaja, Thanapat Pongwarin, Jorge H Pinzón C, Karl D Castillo, Sarah W Davies
As coral reefs continue to decline worldwide, it becomes ever more necessary to understand the connectivity between coral populations to develop efficient management strategies facilitating survival and adaptation of coral reefs in the future. Orbicella faveolata is one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean and has recently experienced severe population reductions. Here, we utilize a panel of nine microsatellite loci to evaluate the genetic structure of O. faveolata and to infer connectivity across ten sites spanning the wider Caribbean region...
November 2017: Ecology and Evolution
Meghann K Devlin-Durante, Iliana B Baums
The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, we use genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata , to reveal fine-scale population structure and infer the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico...
2017: PeerJ
Jessica K Jarett, Matthew D MacManes, Kathleen M Morrow, M Sabrina Pankey, Michael P Lesser
Montastraea cavernosa is a common coral in the Caribbean basin found in several color morphs. To investigate the causes for brown and orange morphs we undertook a genomics approach on corals collected at the same time and depth in the Bahamas. The coral holobiont includes the host, symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.), and a diverse microbiome. While the coral host showed significant genetic differentiation between color morphs both the composition of the Symbiodinium spp. communities and the prokaryotic communities did not...
November 22, 2017: Scientific Reports
Henry C Wu, Thomas Felis, Denis Scholz, Cyril Giry, Martin Kölling, Klaus P Jochum, Sander R Scheffers
Explanations of the Classic Maya civilization demise on the Yucatán Peninsula during the Terminal Classic Period (TCP; ~CE 750-1050) are controversial. Multiyear droughts are one likely cause, but the role of the Caribbean Sea, the dominant moisture source for Mesoamerica, remains largely unknown. Here we present bimonthly-resolved snapshots of reconstructed sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity (SSS) variability in the southern Caribbean from precisely dated fossil corals. The results indicate pronounced interannual to decadal SST and SSS variability during the TCP, which may be temporally coherent to precipitation anomalies on the Yucatán...
November 20, 2017: Scientific Reports
Timothy D Swain, Emily DuBois, Scott J Goldberg, Vadim Backman, Luisa A Marcelino
Caribbean coral reefs are declining due to a mosaic of local and global stresses, including climate change-induced thermal stress. Species and assemblage responses differ due to factors that are not easily identifiable or quantifiable. We calculated a novel species-specific metric of coral bleaching response, taxon-α and -β, which relates the response of a species to that of its assemblages for 16 species over 18 assemblages. By contextualizing species responses within the response of their assemblages, the effects of environmental factors are removed and intrinsic differences among taxa are revealed...
June 2017: Coral Reefs: Journal of the International Society for Reef Studies
Rebecca H Certner, Steven V Vollmer
Among the greatest threats to coral reefs are coral epizootics, which are increasing in frequency and severity across many reef ecosystems. In particular, white band disease (WBD) has devastated Caribbean acroporid populations since its initial outbreak in 1979. However, despite its widespread and damaging effects, the etiology of WBD remains largely unresolved. Here we examine the role of quorum sensing within bacterial communities associated with WBD-infected Acropora cervicornis. Microbial communities isolated from WBD-infected corals were exposed to quorum sensing inhibitor (QSI) - a N-acyl homoserine lactone autoinducer antagonist - and then dosed onto healthy test corals...
November 10, 2017: Environmental Microbiology
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