[CDHC] Elizabeth Fisher final dissertation & new paper
cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov
Fri Jul 13 20:31:44 EDT 2007
Hi CDHC Members
In addition to new journal articles you may be publishing I thought this
may a good place to let others know about members or member's students
finishing a degree program and the availability of their dissertations
or thesis. Since I was on this committee I thought I'd start things
rolling by letting you know about Beth Fisher's work. If you'd like to
see the whole document, it should be available soon on the USF website
or you can contact Dr. Pam Hallock Muller, her major professor for
I am also posting the citation for the first paper that has been
published from Beth's work that you can find following her dissertation
For any of you students finishing please feel free to post the abstract
to your thesis or dissertation so others in the CDHC will know of your
work and how to get a copy.....Mentors you are invited to do the same
for your students as well...
All the best,
*Assessing the Health of Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Florida Keys at
Community, Individual, and Cellular Scales*
Elizabeth M. Fisher
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida
Major Professor: Pamela Hallock Muller, Ph.D.
John E. Fauth, Ph. D.
Walter Jaap, B. S.
Joseph Torres, Ph. D.
Cheryl M. Woodley, Ph. D.
Coral reefs are threatened in Florida and worldwide. Successful resource
management requires rapid identification of anthropogenic sources of
stress before they affect the reef community. I tested a multi-scale
approach for assessing reef condition at seven reefs within the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Biscayne National Park between 2001
and 2003. I examined multiple environmental parameters to identify
potential sources of stress. I utilized the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef
Assessment Biotic Reef Index to assess benthic community structure and
an indicator species of Foraminifera (Amphistegina gibbosa) to determine
if environmental conditions were suitable for calcareous organisms that
host algal endosymbionts. Small tissue samples were extracted from
colonies of Montastraea annularis species complex to assay a suite of
cellular biomarkers to elucidate possible mechanisms of the coral stress
response. I monitored regeneration rates of the resultant lesions to
determine if the coral colonies were capable of recovering from damage.
Multivariate data analyses indicated that corals at all study sites were
experiencing stress with different degrees of response and decline. On
reefs with coarse grain sediments that are adjacent to an intact
mangrove shoreline, the Cellular Diagnostic System indicated that corals
were responding to a xenobiotic stress but appeared to be compensating
as evidenced by consistently high lesion regeneration rates, a high
percentage of healed lesions, low coral mortality and high abundances of
A. gibbosa. On reefs with silt-sized sediments adjacent to developed
coastlines, corals also were responding to xenobiotic stresses, but were
negatively affected as evidenced by low regeneration rates, a low
percentage of healed lesions, high coral mortality, and low abundances
of A. gibbosa. Corals at an 18 m offshore site exhibited abnormally low
biomarker levels and some died during the study, indicating that sampled
colonies were incapable of upregulating necessary protective proteins.
Further research will be required to determine stressor sources. This
study demonstrates that a multiple-indicator approach, spanning scales
from cellular to community, can provide marine resource managers with
data linking decline of coral populations to specific environmental
conditions and events, thereby providing potential for early detection
of stressors allowing for preventive management.
*MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES*
Vol. 339: 61–71, 2007
*Lesion regeneration rates in reef-building corals Montastraea spp. as
indicators of colony condition*
Elizabeth M. Fisher, John E. Fauth, Pamela Hallock, Cheryl M. Woodley
ABSTRACT: Regeneration rates of coral lesions reflect the ability of
colonies to repair damage and
therefore can be useful indicators of coral health and environmental
conditions. We quantified regeneration
rates of boulder corals Montastraea spp. at four, 6 m deep patch reefs
within Biscayne National Park (BNP) and the upper Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), and along a 3 to 18 m depth transect in FKNMS.
Coral lesions (approx. 2 cm2) created during sampling for
cellular-diagnostic analysis were monitored quarterly in 2001 and 2002,
and in February 2003. Regeneration was a dynamic process, continuing
longer than previously reported (>300 d after lesion formation).
Geographic location was the strongest factor affecting regeneration rate
at our study sites. Lesion regeneration differed significantly among 6 m
deep sites; sites offshore from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
(Algae Reef and White Banks) consistently had the highest regeneration
rates, with colonies exhibiting exponential declines in lesion size and
a high percentage of completely healed lesions. Along the depth
gradient, corals at the 3 m site regenerated significantly faster than
corals at 6, 9, and 18 m. These results suggest that corals sampled at
FKNMS 6, 9 and 18 m sites and BNP were in poor physiological condition
or were exposed to suboptimal environmental
conditions, as evidenced by highly variable and overall low regeneration
rates, a low percentage of healed lesions, and a high occurrence of
breakage or Type II lesions (lesions that increased in size by merging
with areas of denuded tissue on the colony).
Cheryl Woodley, Ph.D.
Coral Health and Disease Program
Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research
Hollings Marine Laboratory
331 Fort Johnson Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov
More information about the CDHC