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2008 Papahanaumokuakea Maritime Heritage Expedition
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Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise
 

Mission Blog: August 25, 2008
Coral Reef Genetics Research Team

(Information taken from HI-08-08 Cruise Report, Stephen A. Karl, Ph.D., Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology)

From 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

From 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 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.

Each 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.

Each 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.

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.

All colonies are also mapped by measuring the distance from a
transect tape.

All colonies are also mapped by measuring the distance from a transect tape.

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.

To ask us questions, you can email the team at: sanctuaries@noaa.gov and we will answer your questions within the blog, or in a live internet broadcast later in the cruise. Again, stay tuned for details.

 

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