[CDHC] Elizabeth Fisher final dissertation & new paper

Cheryl Woodley 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 
further information.

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.

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
843.762.8862 Phone
843.762.8737 Fax
cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov

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