Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Richard Laplace - University of the Virgin Islands
Corals are sessile animals that form some of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Since these animals are usually found growing on a piece of hard substrate, they search for cues before settlement as planktonic larvae. These animals have been known to show density dependent recruitment, and one species Montastrea faveolata shows a Janzen-Connell effect where young individuals do not mix with adults to escape bacterial and other conspecific related diseases. This information thus spurs the question, do coral recruits show density and distance dependent recruitment towards other recruits? In order to answer this question photomosaic analyzing techniques were used to find average distances between all found coral recruit genera at three sites on Palmyra Atoll, which includes Montastrea, Fungids, Favia, Pavona, Pocillopora, Stylophora, Porites, Hydnophora, Acropora, Lobophyllia, unknown and, other corals. It was found that each genera has their own specific bias, showing clustering when compared to certain species but over-dispersion towards others. These findings are also heavily skewed by population size since the genera compared were found at vastly different densities. In the future including studies of adult distances to juveniles conspecifically would potentially provide information on possible Janzen-Connell effects. Finally comparing the habitats to the densities of the coral genera may provide answers to their clustering behavior if it is dependent on the limitation of habitat.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): My research was funded by The Office of the President, University of California San Diego.
Faculty Advisor: Stuart Sandin,