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Genetic connectivity of the gorgonian soft coral Plexaura flexuosa


Gorgonian octocorals (soft corals) are ecologically important reef invertebrates. They provide shelter and refuge for many reef inhabitants (Jaap 1984) and contribute calcium carbonate to the reef structure (Bayer 1961). Despite their importance, however, little is known about the genetic connectivity of gorgonians across the Florida reef tract, and how this information may benefit conservation efforts. This proposal requests the non-destructive sampling (2cm branch tips) of the soft coral, Plexaura flexuosa, at four reef sites (25-60 individuals per site) within the Biscayne National Park (BNP) along its offshore eastern border - Fowey Rocks, Triumph reef, Ajax reef, and Pacific or Elkhorn reefs. The samples will contribute to a population genetic analysis of P. flexuosa across the Florida reef tract that will include reefs from the upper and lower Keys and Broward County. Results of this study will produce information about the dispersal potential and population structure of P. flexuosa, and will provide important information about connectivity that could be used to supplement conservation and management plans designed to protect the natural resources of BNP's reefs.
 
Comment Period: Closed        Jun 9, 2009 - Jun 30, 2009
Document Content:
Proposal   (181.8 KB, PDF file)
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