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Coral Early Life History and Climate Change Impacts
Tiny pink egg/sperm bundles being released from an elkhorn coral branch
Photo Credit: SEFSC
Diver securing a collector over an elkhorn coral expected to spawn in a few hours. The released bundles are buoyant and float into a jar at the top of the collector.
Photo Credit: SEFSC
Spawning, enhancing larval success, OA experiments, and genetic collaborations related to climate change (2002-ongoing)
Most important reef-building coral species reproduce by releasing their eggs and sperm into the water column, a strategy known as "broadcast spawning." This requires several microscopic, vulnerable life history stages (fertilization and larval development) to occur in the open ocean environment. Generally, spawning events happen only one or a few nights per year and as coral populations have declined, the successful production of larvae to replenish imperiled populations is a serious concern.
This project is characterizing spawning success for two imperiled Caribbean coral species (Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata) in the Florida Keys. We collect gametes and culture the larvae in the lab which allows us to conduct experiments to better understand factors that may enhance the likelihood of larvae successfully settling and surviving to adults and the likely impacts of current and future global environmental changes (warming and acidification) on these vulnerable early life stages of corals.
We coordinate spawning observations and larval culture with a network of researchers working throughout the Caribbean, including academic researchers and professional aquarists from public zoos and aquaria (see links below)
- Albright R, Mason B, Miller M, et al. (2010) Ocean acidification compromises recruitment success of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(47): 20400-20404
- Miller MW, Valdivia A, Kramer KL, et al. (2009) Alternate benthic assemblages on reef restoration structures and cascading effects on coral settlement. Marine Ecology Progress Series 387: 147-156
- Vermeij MJA, Fogarty ND, Miller MW (2006) Pelagic conditions affect larval behavior, survival, and settlement patterns in the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 310: 119-128
- Miller MW, Szmant AM (2006) Lessons learned from experimental key-species restoration. In: W. F. Precht (ed) Coral Reef Restoration Handbook: Rehabilitation of an Ecosystem Under Siege. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp219-234
- Benthic Ecosystem Assessment & Research
- Acropora Corals
» Demographic Monitoring
» Acropora Disease
- Coral Early Life History and Climate Change Impacts
- Aquarius Coral Restoration/Resilience Experiments (ACRRE)
- Reef and Fisheries Assessment of Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge
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