Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Marine Biology

Advisor

Rhian Waller

Second Committee Member

Peter Auster

Third Committee Member

Robert Steneck

Abstract

Deep-sea corals are of conservation concern in the North Atlantic due to prolonged disturbances associated with the exploitation of natural resources and a changing environment. As a result, the recovery rates of deep-sea coral communities are of heightened interest. These recovery rates are suggested to be on the order of decades to millennia, based on slow growth rates and longevity, of various deep-sea coral species. In 2014 and 2017 two research cruises in the Gulf of Maine, collected samples of two locally dominant species, Primnoa resedaeformis and Paramuricea placomus. These specimen collections were coupled with video surveys, conducted by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and used in conjunction with paraffin histologic technique. This study established an understanding of regional scale gametogenic variability between coral subpopulations within the Gulf of Maine. By investigating relationships between morphology and reproduction, this study also provides the data necessary for quantifying whole colony reproductive potentials and estimating population scale reproductive potentials. This will allow for future survey work to use colony heights as a proxy measurement for estimating the reproductive output of these coral habitats. In addition, previously published data on growth rates provided a means of calculating the size of first reproduction in these species. These data strengthen our fundamental understanding of the reproductive ecology of deep-sea corals, and will help to further identify key source populations to protect and mitigate future damage and thus facilitate recovery.

Comments

Out of sight, but out of mind no longer. Deep-sea corals are integral components of biodiversity, so buckle up and enjoy the ride as my thesis takes you through a journey exploring the depths of the Gulf of Maine.

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