Blog: August 25, 2008
(Information taken from HI-08-08
Cruise Report, Stephen A. Karl, Ph.D., Hawaii Institute of Marine
Coral Reef Genetics Research Team
Maritime Heritage Team is part of a
multi-disciplinary group of scientists aboard the NOAA ship
Hi’ialakai this August. Another group of researchers is the
Coral Reef Genetics Team, headed up by Dr. Stephen A. Karl of the
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. Dr. Karl and his students are
working on a Microspatial Genetic Survey of Coral Reefs in
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. This is the third year of
this particular survey, which samples coral colonies at Pearl and
Hermes Atoll and French Frigate Shoals.
left to right – Kim Tice, Steve
Karl, Miguel Castrence, and
Kelvin Gorospe. Karl is an Associate Researcher at the Hawaii Institute
of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Manoa. Tice and Gorospe are
graduate students in the Zoology Department, UH, Manoa and Castrence is
a graduate student in the Geography"
The primary goal of the team’s research is
to understand how coral colonies within a reef are genetically related
to each other. A coral reef’s genetic diversity can
significantly influence its ability to withstand stressors such as
environmental change or challenges by disease. Thus, the information
gathered in this survey will prove critical to the Monument when
assessing the health of the coral reefs and in making appropriate
management decisions for this unique natural resource.
colony is marked with a number flag. The divers then take a
small sample of the colony and put the flag and sample into a snack
sized plastic bag.
To accomplish this goal, the team carried out
near-saturation surveys of all colonies of Pocillopora damicornis and
Porites lobata on a single patch reef at both French Frigate Shoals
(FFS) and Pearl and Hermes Atoll (PHA). The reef at FFS was completed
during the 2007 cruise. The primary objective for 2008 was to complete
a saturation survey at PHA started during the 2007 season. To
accurately document the survey areas, the team used an underwater GPS
system, as well as standard grid transects to accurately map the
colonies on the reef. Once located, team members took a small (no
larger than 3 cm2) sample of each colony. Work in 2008 resulted in a
total of 2,223 samples representing 200 person hours of effort. The
genotype of each colony will be determined using highly variable DNA
markers capable of providing an individual-specific DNA fingerprint.
Genetic analyses will be conducted over the next year at the Hawaii
Institute of Marine Biology.
All colonies are also mapped by measuring the distance from a
ask us questions, you can email the team at: email@example.com
and we will answer your questions within the blog, or in a live
internet broadcast later in the cruise. Again, stay tuned for details.