SGER: Population Studies at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute San Blas Field Station
Howard Lasker Principal Investigator
MetadataShow full item record
Population studies of the gorgonian coral Plexaura kuna in the San Blas Point region of Panama have identified patterns of mortality which suggest clone specific sensitivity to environmental stressors. Such patterns are known from laboratory studies and some patterns in nature are consistent with clone specific mortality, but there has not been a demonstration of such patterns being important among natural populations. Such a demonstration is possible among P. kuna populations due to our extensive database on the clonal structure of populations in the San Blas. In order to demonstrate clone specific patterns it will be necessary to resample and analyze many of the populations that were previously surveyed. Such analyses must be undertaken immediately due to the closure of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute field station in the San Blas. Immediate sampling is also required in order to characterize the nature and effects of reduced zooxanthellae densities among P. kuna during the onset of `coral bleaching` that we predict for 1998. Data on zooxanthellae density and reproductive output will be compared from April and June and will be compared with historical samples collected over the past 10 years.