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2009 (32) - Genetic connectivity of the gorgonian soft coral Plexaura flexuosa

Biscayne National Park » 2009 (32) - Genetic connectivity of the gorgonian soft coral Plexaura flexuosa » Document List

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.

Contact Information

Mr. Herman Wrishing
Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries
University of Miami, RSMAS
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, FL 33149