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Fort Pierce, FL, United States

Morrow K.M.,Auburn University | Paul V.J.,Smithsonian Marine Station | Liles M.R.,Auburn University | Chadwick N.E.,Auburn University
Coral Reefs | Year: 2011

Coral populations have precipitously declined on Caribbean reefs while algal abundance has increased, leading to enhanced competitive damage to corals, which likely is mediated by the potent allelochemicals produced by both macroalgae and benthic cyanobacteria. Allelochemicals may affect the composition and abundance of coral-associated microorganisms that control host responses and adaptations to environmental change, including susceptibility to bacterial diseases. Here, we demonstrate that extracts of six Caribbean macroalgae and two benthic cyanobacteria have both inhibitory and stimulatory effects on bacterial taxa cultured from the surfaces of Caribbean corals, macroalgae, and corals exposed to macroalgal extracts. The growth of 54 bacterial isolates was monitored in the presence of lipophilic and hydrophilic crude extracts derived from Caribbean macroalgae and cyanobacteria using 96-well plate bioassays. All 54 bacterial cultures were identified by ribotyping. Lipophilic extracts from two species of Dictyota brown algae inhibited >50% of the reef coral bacteria assayed, and hydrophilic compounds from Dictyota menstrualis particularly inhibited Vibrio bacteria, a genus associated with several coral diseases. In contrast, both lipo- and hydrophilic extracts from 2 species of Lyngbya cyanobacteria strongly stimulated bacterial growth. The brown alga Lobophora variegata produced hydrophilic compounds with broad-spectrum antibacterial effects, which inhibited 93% of the bacterial cultures. Furthermore, bacteria cultured from different locations (corals vs. macroalgae vs. coral surfaces exposed to macroalgal extracts) responded differently to algal extracts. These results reveal that extracts from macroalgae and cyanobacteria have species-specific effects on the composition of coral-microbial assemblages, which in turn may increase coral host susceptibility to disease and result in coral mortality. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


McKeon C.S.,Smithsonian Marine Station | Summers K.,East Carolina University
Evolutionary Ecology | Year: 2013

Life history trade-offs in reproductive strategy are often invoked as ecological agents of evolutionary change, despite a limited amount of experimental data from the field. The larval deposition strategy of Allobates femoralis was tested in Southeastern Peru using a blocked, fully crossed experimental design. Arrays of four pools were used to test the effects of pool size and the presence of a predatory insect (Belostomatid) on the deposition behavior of A. femoralis. Further experiments investigated the colonization of insect predators into potential larval habitats and interactions between predatory insects. Results suggest that pool size, the presence of predatory aquatic insects, and interactions between predators, influence larval deposition in A. femoralis. Similar ecological interactions may have driven toxic dendrobatids to the use of arboreal phytotelmata and associated derived reproductive strategies. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Paerl H.W.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Paul V.J.,Smithsonian Marine Station
Water Research | Year: 2012

Cyanobacteria are the Earth's oldest (~3.5bya) oxygen evolving organisms, and they have had major impacts on shaping our modern-day biosphere. Conversely, biospheric environmental perturbations, including nutrient enrichment and climatic changes (e.g. global warming, hydrologic changes, increased frequencies and intensities of tropical cyclones, more intense and persistent droughts), strongly affect cyanobacterial growth and bloom potentials in freshwater and marine ecosystems. We examined human and climatic controls on harmful (toxic, hypoxia-generating, food web disrupting) bloom-forming cyanobacteria (CyanoHABs) along the freshwater to marine continuum. These changes may act synergistically to promote cyanobacterial dominance and persistence. This synergy is a formidable challenge to water quality, water supply and fisheries managers, because bloom potentials and controls may be altered in response to contemporaneous changes in thermal and hydrologic regimes. In inland waters, hydrologic modifications, including enhanced vertical mixing and, if water supplies permit, increased flushing (reducing residence time) will likely be needed in systems where nutrient input reductions are neither feasible nor possible. Successful control of CyanoHABs by grazers is unlikely except in specific cases. Overall, stricter nutrient management will likely be the most feasible and practical approach to long-term CyanoHAB control in a warmer, stormier and more extreme world. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Campbell J.E.,Smithsonian Marine Station | Fourqurean J.W.,Florida International University
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

Developing a framework for assessing interactions between multiple anthropogenic stressors remains an important goal in environmental research. In coastal ecosystems, the relative effects of aspects of global climate change (e.g. CO2 concentrations) and localized stressors (e.g. eutrophication), in combination, have received limited attention. Using a long-term (11 month) field experiment, we examine how epiphyte assemblages in a tropical seagrass meadow respond to factorial manipulations of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2(aq)) and nutrient enrichment. In situ CO2(aq) manipulations were conducted using clear, open-top chambers, which replicated carbonate parameter forecasts for the year 2100. Nutrient enrichment consisted of monthly additions of slow-release fertilizer, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), to the sediments at rates equivalent to theoretical maximum rates of anthropogenic loading within the region (1.54 g N m-2 d-1 and 0.24 g P m-2 d-1). Epiphyte community structure was assessed on a seasonal basis and revealed declines in the abundance of coralline algae, along with increases in filamentous algae under elevated CO2(aq). Surprisingly, nutrient enrichment had no effect on epiphyte community structure or overall epiphyte loading. Interactions between CO2(aq) and nutrient enrichment were not detected. Furthermore, CO2(aq)-mediated responses in the epiphyte community displayed strong seasonality, suggesting that climate change studies in variable environments should be conducted over extended time-scales. Synthesis. The observed responses indicate that for certain locations, global stressors such as ocean acidification may take precedence over local eutrophication in altering the community structure of seagrass epiphyte assemblages. Given that nutrient-driven algal overgrowth is commonly cited as a widespread cause of seagrass decline, our findings highlight that alternate climate change forces may exert proximate control over epiphyte community structure. Developing a framework for assessing interactions between multiple anthropogenic stressors remains an important goal in environmental research. In coastal ecosystems, the relative effects of global climate change (e.g. CO2 concentrations) and localized stressors (e.g. eutrophication), in combination, have received limited attention. Our in situ experiment reveals that global stressors such as ocean acidification (OA) may take precedence over local eutrophication in altering the community structure of seagrass epiphytes. Given that nutrient-driven algal overgrowth is commonly cited as a widespread cause of seagrass decline, our findings highlight that alternate climate change forces, such as OA, may exert proximate control over epiphyte community structure. © 2014 British Ecological Society.


Borja A.,Tecnalia | Tunberg B.G.,Smithsonian Marine Station
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2011

The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and the St. Lucie Estuary (SLE), both located in Florida, USA, are affected by a variety of anthropogenic pressures. Benthic macroinvertebrates have been monitored quarterly since February 2005, at 15 stations, in order to assess benthic health. Since the SLE and IRL are situated in a subtropical area, it is affected by two major climatic seasons, dry (winter) and wet (summer). This contribution investigates the application of the AZTI's Marine Biotic Index (AMBI) and multivariate-AMBI (M-AMBI), to assess the ecological status of these estuaries. AMBI was firstly calculated after assigning most of the previously unassigned species to each of the five ecological groups (from sensitive to first order opportunistic species). Three main benthic assemblages, associated tooligohaline, meso-polyhaline and euhaline stretches, have been identified within the area. Reference conditions of richness, Shannon's diversity and AMBI have been derived for these assemblages; M-AMBI has then been calculated. Both methods show that the inner part of the SLE is affected by anthropogenic pressures (increased freshwater inflow, with elevated nutrient input, and sedimentation), whilst the IRL is less affected. We have demonstrated that AMBI and M-AMBI are insensitive to the dramatic seasonal changes occurring in the SLE/IRL. At some of the stations a significant positive trend in benthic quality has been identified, linked to the polluted freshwater discharges decrease. The use of both tools seems adequate in assessing benthic health in this subtropical area. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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