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Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles

Foster N.L.,University of Exeter | Foster N.L.,University of Plymouth | Paris C.B.,University of Miami | Kool J.T.,James Cook University | And 21 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Understanding patterns of connectivity among populations of marine organisms is essential for the development of realistic, spatially explicit models of population dynamics. Two approaches, empirical genetic patterns and oceanographic dispersal modelling, have been used to estimate levels of evolutionary connectivity among marine populations but rarely have their potentially complementary insights been combined. Here, a spatially realistic Lagrangian model of larval dispersal and a theoretical genetic model are integrated with the most extensive study of gene flow in a Caribbean marine organism. The 871 genets collected from 26 sites spread over the wider Caribbean subsampled 45.8% of the 1900 potential unique genets in the model. At a coarse scale, significant consensus between modelled estimates of genetic structure and empirical genetic data for populations of the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis is observed. However, modelled and empirical data differ in their estimates of connectivity among northern Mesoamerican reefs indicating that processes other than dispersal may dominate here. Further, the geographic location and porosity of the previously described east-west barrier to gene flow in the Caribbean is refined. A multi-prong approach, integrating genetic data and spatially realistic models of larval dispersal and genetic projection, provides complementary insights into the processes underpinning population connectivity in marine invertebrates on evolutionary timescales. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Kelly L.W.,San Diego State University | Barott K.L.,San Diego State University | Dinsdale E.,San Diego State University | Friedlander A.M.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | And 10 more authors.
ISME Journal | Year: 2012

The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km2). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. © 2012 International Society for Microbial Ecology All rights reserved. Source

Marhaver K.L.,University of California at San Diego | Vermeij M.J.A.,Carmabi Foundation | Vermeij M.J.A.,University of Amsterdam | Rohwer F.,San Diego State University | Sandin S.A.,University of California at San Diego
Ecology | Year: 2013

The Janzen-Connell hypothesis states that host-specific biotic enemies (pathogens and predators) promote the coexistence of tree species in tropical forests by causing distance-or density-dependent mortality of seeds and seedlings. Although coral reefs are the aquatic analogues of tropical forests, the Janzen-Connell model has never been proposed as an explanation for high diversity in these ecosystems. We tested the central predictions of the Janzen-Connell model in a coral reef, using swimming larvae and settled polyps of the common Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata. In a field experiment to test for distance-or density-dependent mortality, coral settler mortality was higher and more strongly density dependent in locations down-current from adult corals. Survival did not increase monotonically with distance, however, revealing the influence of fluid dynamics around adult corals in structuring spatial patterns of mortality. Complementary microbial profiles around adult coral heads revealed that one potential cause of settler mortality, marine microbial communities, are structured at the same spatial scale. In a field experiment to test whether factors causing juvenile mortality are host specific, settler mortality was 2.3-3.0 times higher near conspecific adults vs. near adult corals of other genera or in open reef areas. In four laboratory experiments to test for distance-dependent, host-specific mortality, swimming coral larvae were exposed to water collected near conspecific adult corals, near other coral genera, and in open areas of the reef. Microbial abundance in these water samples was manipulated with filters and antibiotics to test whether the cause of mortality was biotic (i.e., microbial). Juvenile survivorship was lowest in unfiltered water collected near conspecifics, and survivorship increased when this water was filter sterilized, collected farther away, or collected near other adult coral genera. Together these results demonstrate for the first time that the diversity-promoting mechanisms embodied in the Janzen-Connell model can operate in a marine ecosystem and in an animal. The distribution of adult corals across a reef will thus influence the spatial pattern of juvenile survival. When rare coral species have a survival advantage, coral species diversity per se becomes increasingly important for the persistence and recovery of coral cover on tropical reefs. © 2013 by the Ecological Society of America. Source

Stampar S.N.,University of Sao Paulo | Maronna M.M.,University of Sao Paulo | Vermeij M.J.A.,Carmabi Foundation | Vermeij M.J.A.,University of Amsterdam | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

The use of molecular data for species delimitation in Anthozoa is still a very delicate issue. This is probably due to the low genetic variation found among the molecular markers (primarily mitochondrial) commonly used for Anthozoa. Ceriantharia is an anthozoan group that has not been tested for genetic divergence at the species level. Recently, all three Atlantic species described for the genus Isarachnanthus of Atlantic Ocean, were deemed synonyms based on morphological simmilarities of only one species: Isarachnanthus maderensis. Here, we aimed to verify whether genetic relationships (using COI, 16S, ITS1 and ITS2 molecular markers) confirmed morphological affinities among members of Isarachnanthus from different regions across the Atlantic Ocean. Results from four DNA markers were completely congruent and revealed that two different species exist in the Atlantic Ocean. The low identification success and substantial overlap between intra and interspecific COI distances render the Anthozoa unsuitable for DNA barcoding, which is not true for Ceriantharia. In addition, genetic divergence within and between Ceriantharia species is more similar to that found in Medusozoa (Hydrozoa and Scyphozoa) than Anthozoa and Porifera that have divergence rates similar to typical metazoans. The two genetic species could also be separated based on micromorphological characteristics of their cnidomes. Using a specimen of Isarachnanthus bandanensis from Pacific Ocean as an outgroup, it was possible to estimate the minimum date of divergence between the clades. The cladogenesis event that formed the species of the Atlantic Ocean is estimated to have occured around 8.5 million years ago (Miocene) and several possible speciation scenarios are discussed. © 2012 Stampar et al. Source

Vermeij M.J.A.,Carmabi Foundation | Vermeij M.J.A.,University of Amsterdam | Marhaver K.L.,University of California at San Diego | Huijbers C.M.,Radboud University Nijmegen | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Free-swimming larvae of tropical corals go through a critical life-phase when they return from the open ocean to select a suitable settlement substrate. During the planktonic phase of their life cycle, the behaviours of small coral larvae (,1 mm) that influence settlement success are difficult to observe in situ and are therefore largely unknown. Here, we show that coral larvae respond to acoustic cues that may facilitate detection of habitat from large distances and from upcurrent of preferred settlement locations. Using in situ choice chambers, we found that settling coral larvae were attracted to reef sounds, produced mainly by fish and crustaceans, which we broadcast underwater using loudspeakers. Our discovery that coral larvae can detect and respond to sound is the first description of an auditory response in the invertebrate phylum Cnidaria, which includes jellyfish, anemones, and hydroids as well as corals. If, like settlement-stage reef fish and crustaceans, coral larvae use reef noise as a cue for orientation, the alleviation of noise pollution in the marine environment may gain further urgency. © 2010 Vermeij et al. Source

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