Effects of Vegetative Reproduction on the Distribution and Abundance of Benthic Marine Invertebrates
Howard Lasker Principal Investigator
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Colonial species unlike aclonal species of ten generate new colonies a sexually through fission or fragmentation. This form of vegaetative reproduction plays an important role in determining species abundances and community structure. Thus, an understanding of vegetative reproduction and the conditions under which it is successful is a necessary component of the study of marine communities. Vegetative reproduction also has important effects on population genetics and these effects may control the resilience of species to changes in climate. Previous work on vegetative reproduction has focused on quantifying the effect of vegetative propagation on short term population dynamics within single populations. That work has not considered the effects of clonal growth on the production of new clones nor the selective pressures for propagules which can disperse between habitats. In the proposed research I will complement work on vegetative reproduction among Caribbean gorgonians with new data on larval production, dispersal, survival and settlement. These data will allow me to determine the interaction between vegetative reproduction, sexual reproduction and the dispersal of larvae to new habitats. The data will provide a quantitative basis for understanding the effects of vegetative reproduction on marine communities.