Host population genetic structure and zooxanthellae diversity of two reef-building coral species along the Florida Reef Tract and wider Caribbean
In preparation for a large-scale coral restoration project, we surveyed host population genetic structure and symbiont diversity of two reef-building corals in four reef zones along the Florida reef tract (FRT). There was no evidence for coral population subdivision along the FRT in Acropora cervicornis or Montastraea faveolata based on microsatellite markers. However, in A. cervicornis, significant genetic differentiation was apparent when extending the analysis to broader scales (Caribbean). Clade diversity of the zooxanthellae differed along the FRT. A. cervicornis harbored mostly clade A with clade D zooxanthellae being prominent in colonies growing inshore and in the mid-channel zones that experience greater temperature fluctuations and receive significant nutrient and sediment input. M. faveolata harbored a more diverse array of symbionts, and variation in symbiont diversity among four habitat zones was more subtle but still significant. Implications of these results are discussed for ongoing restoration and conservation work.
KeywordsMexico Bahamas Honduras Acropora cervicornis Montastraea faveolata Symbiodinium Clade D
This study was funded in part by the NSF OCE 0825979 and a NOAA contract to IB, Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative, the TNC/NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program grant, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and supported by the National Undersea Research Center. Collection and export permits for corals were obtained from the local authorities. Field collections were done by A. Banaszak, E. Bartels, D. Gilliam, J. Herlan, R. Iglesias Prieto, L. Larson, D. Lirman, the Medina lab, T. Moore, K. Nedimyer, B. Riegel, T. Smith, C. Walter, A.Valdivia and D. Williams. Thanks to T. LaJeunesse for comments on the manuscript.
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