US CRI, NSF, Part 2

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at
Wed Apr 17 06:51:14 EDT 1996

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ICRI, Part 2 

The Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Symbiotic Cnidarians: Action 
Spectra, Sites of Damage, and Bleaching Michael Lesser, University of New 

The decrease of the stratospheric ozone layer has resulted in an increase 
in the amount of harmful ultraviolet radiation reaching both terrestrial 
and aquatic ecosystems. Recent data indicates that this phenomenon will 
also affect tropical ecosystems. Tropical ecosystems have a long 
evolutionary history of exposure to fluxes of UV radiation, and can 
provide considerable insight into evolved mechanisms of protection against 
the deleterious effects of UV radiation. We presently do not know with 
confidence the wave length-dependent efficiency (action spectrum) of UV 
radiation for any physiological function in symbiotic cnidarians. 
Widespread coral bleaching events have recently been observed following 
anomolously high sea surface temperatures around the world. If UV 
radiation synergistically interacts with increased sea water temperatures, 
action spectra will be required to predict what dose of UV radiation can 
induce bleaching, with or without an increase in sea water temperature. An 
important step in understa nding the bleaching phenomenon is to determine 
the independent and synergistic effects of temperature, visible radiation, 
and UV radiation on the functional biology of symbiotic associations. 

A Facility for Research and Education at the Caribbean Marine Research 
Center, Lee Stocking Island Marine Field Station. Romuald Lipcius, 
Virginia Institute of Marine Science 

The Caribbean Marine Research Center (CMRC) is one of six National 
Undersea Research Centers. CMRC's marine field station on Lee Stocking 
Island (LSI) in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas comprises 28 buildings, a 
915-meter airstrip, nine research vessels, wet and dry submersibles, and 
recompression chamber and an underwater habitat. The station affords 
access to a pristine marine environment with a diverse array of tropical 
habitats including shallow and deep coral reefs, grassbeds, sand flats, 
mangroves, submerged carbonate terraces, subsea caves, blue holes, tidal 
channels and stromatolites, a unique bio-geological feature. During 1993, 
131 visiting scientists and students conducted research in the fields of 
benthic ecology, invertebrate biology, fisheries ecology, oceanography, 
coral reef ecology, paleo-oceanography, macroalgal ecology, aquaculture, 
global climate change, coral bleaching and marine geology. In addition, a 
limited number of field courses and workshops were held at LSI. However, 
the station is hinde red by a paucity of accommodations for visiting 
scientists, and the lack of a suitable lecture and workshop facility, 
which prevents CMRC from meeting numerous requests to conduct field 
courses, workshops and research. The proposed partnership between CMRC, 
The College of William & Mary (W&M), and NSF would significantly enhanced 
the utility of one of the most productivity marine field stations in the 
Caribbean. Specifically this project will provide for the construction of 
a dormitory and lecture/workshop building at LSI. Key contributions by 
CMRC include property for the facility, support services, and 
administrative framework for coordination of activities, and maintenance 
of the building over the facility's lifetime. 

Calcification by Hermatypic Corals:  Regulation of the Calcium Pathway 
Erich Mueller, University of South Alabama 

Reef-building corals display two modes of calcification, that which occurs 
in the light and that taking place in the dark. Calcium carbonate 
deposition is greater in the light, a phenomenon attributed to the 
photosynthetic activity of algal endosymbionts (zooxanthellae). There is 
evidence that the two modes may differ in mechanism as well as 
quantitatively. In spite of numerous studies, the link between coral 
calcification and zooxanthellae photosynthesis remains unresolved. The 
significance of this link can be succinctly stated: the partnership of 
corals and their zooxanthellae is essentially responsible for the 
existence of the world's living (and most fossil) coral reefs. A major 
question is whether either of the calcium carbonate substrates, calcium 
and dissolved inorganic carbon dioxide, are limiting to calcification and, 
if so, under what conditions. The importance of calcium to living systems 
has led to a variety of well-conserved calcium regulatory mechanisms, 
however, very little coral research has examined such regulation. This 
strategy has a large base of information from research on other 
biomineralizing organisms and in many areas of cellular physiology. Such 
an approach, coupled with recent advances in coral culture, promises 
substantial progress in a research area that has made little during the 
past decade. This research project will focus on whether coral 
calcification is limited by calcium availability at the site of 
skeletogenesis (not in seawater) and how availability may be affected by 
symbiont photosynthetic activity. Using a combination of pharmacologic and 
kinetic approaches, the calcium pathway from seawater to skeleton will be 
compartmentally characterized. Calcium movement and regulation between 
compartments by membrane transport systems and messenger systems (i.e. 
cAMP, calmodulin ) will be of central interest. While this basic research 
question may be sufficient justification for this projec t, there are 
benefits of more practical value as well. Optimization of coral culture 
could h ave far reaching implications for coral reef conservation. 
Directly, it offers a means for propagation of corals to repair damaged 
reefs. Use of coral culture in the aquarium trade could indirectly help 
natural reefs by reducing the rapidly increasing wild harvest. 
Understanding the light-enhancement of coral calcification would allow 
manipulation of culture conditions to produce skeletons with consistent 
physical properties. Such skeletons would be of value for use in bone 
reconstruction where natural coral has been successfully employed. 

Path of Carbon in Photosynthesis and Release of Glycerol by Zooxanthellae 
Leonard Muscatine, University of California 

One of the most intriguing, and enigmatic phenomena in the field of coral 
reef ecology is the symbiotic relationship between the coral polyp and the 
nutrient producing dinoflagellate that it hosts. This relationship is the 
key feature in the stability of coral reefs and many of the organisms 
which reside there. The objective of this project is to study the 
translocation of carbon from symbiotic dinoflagellates to the coral host 
cells. This will be achieved by a revolutionary approach to studying this 
relationship, by artificially altering the biochemical carbon pathways, 
and evaluating the subsequent metabolism of the coral polyp and the 
photosynthetic capacities of the dinoflagellates. This shall give us new 
insights on the nutritional relationship between the two. Dr. Muscatine 
has a string of success with prior NSF awards and is at the forefront in 
this field of study. His project will help to achieve two objectives: 1) 
further contribute to our understanding of the role of coral symbioses, 
which could po tentially have biotechnological value, and 2) provide 
another opportunity for collaborative work with Russian scientist in U.S. 

Housing Facility for Visiting Scientists Award 
Valerie Paul, University of Guam 

The University of Guam Marine Laboratory will build a housing facility for 
accommodating visiting researchers including visiting graduate students. 
The 2000 sq ft building will contain three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 
kitchen, and a living area for dormitory style accommodations and a 
separate suite with two bedrooms, one bath, and a kitchen for an apartment 
style unit. Earlier support allowed the university to complete the 
architectural and engineering plans for this building. Such a facility is 
considered extremely important because 1) the institution is in an 
isolated academic environment and visiting investigators are a valuable 
resource for interactions and new ideas, and 2) skyrocketing rents and a 
serious housing shortage combine to make it difficult to impossible to 
find adequate lodging for visitors staying less than 6 months. The 
University of Guam Laboratory supports the research of 8 full-time 
faculty, numerous graduate and undergraduate students, as well as visiting 
investigators. The research dem ands on facility have increased due to the 
addition of new faculty at the laboratory, the recent establishment of 
collaborative programs between the Marine Laboratory and the University of 
Hawaii and the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa, Japan), and the 
awareness of the Marine Laboratory as a resource for coral reef research 
by over 550 scientists who attended the 7th International Coral Reef 
Symposium on Guam in June 1992. The new building will allow the support of 
increasing numbers of visiting scientists that wish to conduct research at 
the laboratory , which will in turn enhance the research environment. 

Assessing the Chemical Defenses of Caribbean Sponges 
Joseph Pawlik, University of North Carolina 

Sponges are important components of benthic marine communities, 
particularly on coral reefs. Organic extracts of their tissues have 
yielded a wealth of unusual chemical compounds that are not known to be 
involved in primary metabolism. These secondary metabolites have a 
diversity of pharmacological effects in laboratory assays, but it is 
unclear why sponges produce them. The most commonly held theory is that 
these compounds are distasteful to potential predators. The proposed 
research will provide an assessment of the chemical defenses of Caribbean 
demo sponges, a group whose taxonomy and chemistry is fairly well 
described. The investigation will proceed within a theoretical framework 
established by previous research on the chemical ecology of terrestrial 
plants and marine algae. Overall, this research project represents the 
first systematic investigation of the chemical defenses of tropical marine 
sponges. The results will be useful in judging the general applicability 
of optimal defense theories based on s tudies of terrestrial ecosystems. 

On the Abundance, Dynamics and Regulation of Damselfish Populations 
Russell Schmitt and Sally Holbrook, University of California 

The aim of the work is to understand the dynamics and regulation of 
structured, open populations, which typify most marine reef fishes and 
invertebrates. While there is broad agreement among ecologists that 
attributes of populations are shared by more than an single process (e.g., 
availability of propagules, competition within and between life stages, 
competition with other species, predation), there remains considerable 
disagreement regarding their relative importance. There also is some 
confusion about what roles various processes have in producing dynamics; 
few empirical workers have distinguished between processes that regulate 
populations (i.e., bound fluctuations) as opposed to those that cause 
variation around the mean abundance. An enormous amount is known about the 
caused of fluctuations in abundance of reef organisms, but very little is 
known about what regulates their populations. This work will contribute in 
several key ways to understanding the general issue of dynamics and 
regulation. It is one 
 of the first comprehensive, pluralistic evaluations of reef fishes that will distinguish effects of processes on 
regulation and on variation. Second, it will use for the first time operational definitions and analytical protocols for 
quantitative assessm 

ents of the relative importance of various processes. As such, the research could yield standard approaches and 
procedures to address relative importance. Third, the application of infrared video technology enables the exploration 
of little studied but cr 

ucial processes of settlement and early mortality. 

Zooplankton Capture by Corals: Effects of Water Movement and Prey Escape 
Kenneth Sebens and Jennifer Purcell, University of Maryland 

Information on water flow in coral reef environments has generally been 
done to quantify mass transport across reefs or to identify important 
processes generating nutrient flux from reefs. This project will 
investigate the effects of water flow on several aspects of the feeding 
biology of corals. Field measurements of feeding rates on four species of 
corals will be made with prey sampling by an automated pump/sampler and 
field flume that allows concurrent measurements of water flow and prey 
availability. Feeding experiments will be manipulated by varying flow 
rate, prey type, and food availability and will be conducted over several 
days with different flow conditions. Capture events and prey type, and 
food availability and will be conducted over several days with different 
flow conditions. Capture events and prey escape behavior will be filmed 
using underwater video. Another important aspect of feeding biology in 
coral reefs is the small scale water flow around corals in the field. This 
will be accomplished with three self- contained underwater thermistors 
flowmeters with 2 mm spatial resolution, based on the design of LaBarber 
and Vogel (1976). The data collected will be used to characterize the 
general flow regime at the site, providing new information about the flow 
environment of coral reefs in Jamaica and other sites in the Caribbean. 

Pacific Paleoclimate from Reef Corals in the Eastern and Western Margins: 
Records from Galapagos, Cocos Island and the Gulf of Papua Glen Shen, 
University of Washington 

This award will support a study designed to characterize the paleoclimate 
of the eastern Pacific over the last 400 years using the best available 
coral samples and seeks to establish a new geochemical tracer in the far 
western Pacific - a region for which few marine climatic indicators 
presently exist. The foci of the eastern Pacific reconstructions will be 
the Galapagos Islands (0.5oS, 91oW) and Cocos Island ( 5.3oN, 86.9oW). The 
ratio of barium:calcium in coral argonite, a sensitive indicator of 
upwelling and fluvial discharge, will be the key measurement using an 
Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). Records spanning 
270- (Cocos) and 400-years (Galapagos) length will be produced at 
quarter-annual resolution. Additionally, annual determinations of Cd/Ca 
and Mn/Ca will be made . Developmental effort for a regional precipitation 
index over Australasia will involve determination of Ba/Ca ratios in a 
100- year coral core from the Gulf of Papua, an area markedly influenced 
by Ba-enriched contin ental runoff. The goal of this work is the 
development of climatically-relevant datasets which surpass the 
instrumental record in length yet retain the quality of latter 20th 
century measurements. Such records will allow a closer examination of 
recurrent periods (e.g annual, biennial, and three-to-seven year ENSO 
timescales) which appear to characterize the lower atmosphere and upper 
ocean, and may reveal the existence of longer time scale variations. 

Marine Biotechnology Fellowship:  Natural Products from Common 
Shallow-water Soft Corals of Guam: Reproductive Considerations Marc 
Slattery, University of Mississippi 

This research project will utilize analytical chemical techniques to 
evaluate the importance of secondary metabolites and steroids in the 
reproduction of 3 species of soft corals from Guam. This project builds on 
ongoing research which has identified and examined the importance of 
secondary metabolites, organic extracts, and morphological defenses in 
soft coral predator deterrence. This project will extract, isolate, and 
determine the structures of new secondary metabolites in adult colonies 
and their eggs. Temporal changes in concentrations of these compounds will 
be correlated with reproductive indices to assess the role of the 
compounds in maturation and spawning. Standard bioassays will be conducted 
to guide isolation of bioactive compounds and to determine the importance 
of isolated natural products in egg release, sperm chemotaxis, and feeding 
deterrence. Novel compounds identified in this project will expand upon a 
growing database of metabolites that can be used as chemotaxonomic markers 
and will be incorporated into existing pharmacological programs. 
Additionally, this project will contribute significant in sights into the 
reproductive biology and chemical ecology of the common soft corrals on 
the shallow reefs surrounding Guam. 

The Physiology of Sclerochronology: Mechanism and Variation in Formation 
of High Density Bands in the Massive Coral Montastrea Annularis Alina 
Szmant and Peter Swart, University of Miami;  Richard Dodge, Nova 
University; and James Porter, University of Georgia 

High density (HD) bands mark annual cycles of growth in X- radiographs of 
reef coral skeletons and presumably form due to physiological response to 
seasonal cycles of temperature and light. However, the mechanism of 
formation has not been established for any coral. The HD band is usually 
used to define the annual band, and thus understanding its formation, and 
the controls on variability in its timing is important. In the research, a 
conceptual model of how density bands form, based on physiological and 
morphological data obtained with earlier NSF funding, is will be 
developed. Four specific aspects of the work will include: (1) development 
of a mechanistic mathematical model for the formation of the HD band of 
Montastrea annularis, a major coral used in paleoclimate work; (2) 
conducting an in situ experiment to test the validity of the model; (3) 
evaluation of the genetic vs. environmental components of variation in 
time of formation of the HD band; and (4) assessment of the variation 
among corals in the re lationship between HD bands and stable isotope 
profiles. This study will provide the type of environmental physiological 
data needed for the precise use of coral density bands for 

The Temperature History of the Western Pacific Warm Pool Over the Last 30 
Ka Frederick Taylor, University of Texas; R. Lawrence, University of 
Minnesota; and George Burr, University of Arizona 

This project will collaborate with French scientists to drill coral 
terraces in the western tropical Pacific. Three sites will span the center 
and southern margins of the Western Pacific Warm Pool, and will be drilled 
to about 30,000 yr BP. Samples will be analyzed for stable isotopes, U, Sr 
and radiocarbon. The project will address two objectives; (1) a record of 
warm pool thermal stability at several scales of climate change ( with 
implications for circum-Pacific climate) and (2) calibration of the 
radiocarbon age scale (relevant to all science which depends on 
radiocarbon dating). 

Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on the Biology of Caribbean Reef Corals 
Gerard Wellington, University of Houston 

Recent studies indicate that ultraviolet radiation can penetrate to 
considerable depths on tropical reefs. Persistent high levels of UV 
penetration, resulting from extended periods of calm sea conditions, have 
been shown to induce stress leading to the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae 
(i.e., bleaching) in reef-building corals. These conditions may have 
contributed significantly to the regional mass coral bleaching events 
observed in the Caribbean during 1987 and 1990. This project will continue 
monitoring penetration of UV radiation, sea temperatures, and recovery of 
coral exposed to UV radiation. In addition, the project will be expanded 
to evaluate the effects of UV radiation on the early life-history stages, 
namely planula larvae and newly-recruited juveniles, of predominant coral 
species. While increases in UV radiation are predicted to be minimal at 
low latitudes, increased frequency of calm sea conditions predicted by 
global warming will lead to enhanced water column clarity and high UV 
penetration with subsequent negative effects on reef corals. This project, 
by experimentally defining the maximum UV intensities that can be 
tolerated by larval and juveniles corals, will provide insight into the 
role that current intensities of UV radiation play in limiting recruitment 
and shaping subsequent coral community structure. 

Directorate for Biological Sciences (lead) 

Center for Ultraviolet Radiation Research at the Hawaii Institute of 
Marine Biology Paul Jokiel; Robert Kinzie; George Losey, University of 

This project will provide equipment to enable the Hawaii Institute of 
Marine Biology to serve as a center for diverse research on UV radiation 
in the tropical marine environment. An international workshop on UV 
radiation in the sea (Aug., 1994) concluded that HIMB's history of such 
research and its sub- tropical location make it the most logical site in 
the U.S.A., or the world, for such a center. A scanning spectroradiometer 
will allow precision measurement of radiation in the laboratory and the 
field. A UV- sensitive/visible wavelength remote controlled television 
will allow visual perception and measurement of portions of the sensory 
world of marine animals of which humans are dismally unaware. Visitors 
will be encouraged to use these facilities and several leading 
investigators in the field have firm plans for participation. 

Optimization Strategies for Reef Restoration Using Cultured Hermatypic 
Corals Erich Mueller, University of South Alabama 

Coral reefs are important reservoirs of biodiversity and serve as centers 
of biological production in low productivity seas. They provide 
subsistence and commercial fishing and contribute to third world economies 
by attracting tourism. It has become increasing apparent that reefs are 
being adversely affected by human activities. The impact of anthropogenic 
activities, both historical and modern, is damaging reefs to the point 
whether ecosystem functioning has been compromised. Restoration of reef 
fisheries and habitats is in its embryonic stages. Lessons learned from 
terrestrial and near-shore restoration programs are being examined to 
avoid costly or damaging errors. However, the logistics of working on 
reefs and their complex nature require new approaches. There is a good 
foundation of coral physiology and reef ecology research on which to base 
restoration efforts. This project includes two closely coupled components: 
1) examination of coral growth and physiology under laboratory culture 
conditions and 2) assessment of coral contribution to habitat structural a 
biological complexity and survival rates of laboratory -raised corals in 
field test plots. This project will examine the effect of photoperiod and 
substrates on coral growth rates and metabolic performance 
(photosynthesis, respiration and calcification). These data will be used 
to modify culture techniques which have significant advantages over simple 
transplantation strategies. Corals are generally slow-growing species and 
optimizing growth rates to attain coral of critical size will be 
fundamental to the success of a culture approach. The critical size will 
be assessed in field pilot studies. Test plots will be established in a 
vessel grounding site. Plots will include corals grown under various 
culture conditions (explants) and to varying sizes. Their effect on 
habitat structural complexity and the resulting biodiversity will be 
compared to corals transplanted from healthy reef areas and to natural 
control sites. Survivorship and growth rates of cul tured explants and 
transplanted corals will also be compared. Results obtained from this 
project should provide both physiological and ecological information for 
the formulation of viable restoration programs. In addition, the further 
development of coral culture will assist reef conservation efforts by 
reducing the increasing wild harvest of corals for commercial trade. 

Keys Marine Laboratory Research Housing Facility 
John Ogden; Kenneth Haddad, University of South Florida 

The Keys Marine Laboratory (KML) commenced academic research and education 
programs in the 1980's through a public/private partnership between the 
Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and Sea World of Florida, Inc. 
Based on the success of that partnership and recognizing the need for 
these programs and facilities the State of Florida purchased the KML in 
1990. With the closure of other residential laboratory facilities in the 
region and the unprecedented scientific and political attention on the 
mosaic of South Florida environments, the KML has now assumed an even more 
critical support role. In the last five years usage by research and 
education groups has increased steadily and is beginning to exceed some of 
the capabilities of the current facilities. Particularly urgent is the 
need for improved and expanded housing accommodations for non-resident 
researchers. Lodging has been identified as one of the major impediments 
to conducting research in the region. Laboratory and boat facilities are 
equally impor tant but at this point in time the KML can reasonably 
accommodate these needs. This project will provide funding to construct 
the first unit of a planned three-unit handicapped accessible housing 
facility which will provide additional lodging space for two to four (2-4) 
researchers/unit. This facility will help meet the need of regional, 
national, and international scientists studying the continentally unique 
systems of South Florida, including coral reefs. 

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