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Analyzing Changes to Coral Health and Metabolic Activity in an Oxygen Depauperate Environment

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Title:Analyzing Changes to Coral Health and Metabolic Activity in an Oxygen Depauperate Environment
Authors:Murphy, James
Contributors:Richmond, Robert (instructor)
Date Issued:16 Jul 2013
Publisher:University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract:Scleractinian corals play a critical role in marine ecosystems by providing essential structure for coral reef habitats. However, recent investigations have found an alarming increase in coral death as the result of stressors, which threaten the general health of tropical coastal environments. Of particular interest is the effect of oxygen deprivation on the health of Hawaiian corals through the analysis of anaerobic respiration, as it is poorly documented. The fast-paced growth of Gracilaria salicornia gives this alga the ability to overgrow coral heads, restricting water flow and light, thereby smothering corals. Field data shows hypoxic conditions (DO2 < 2 mg/L) occurring underneath algal mats at night, and concurrent bleaching and partial tissue loss of shaded corals. This study aims to simulate hypoxia in a laboratory setting in order to limit the effect of environmental variables on coral health. Analyses of stress in corals due to anoxia were accomplished through the quantification lactate dehydrogenase and opine dehydrogenase activities. Treatment corals were found to exhibit almost complete tissue loss and severe bleaching with increasing exposure duration to hypoxia. Conversely, control corals were found to exhibit little to no tissue loss or bleaching throughout the treatment cycle. Treatment corals also experienced significant increases in alanopine dehydrogenase and strombine dehydrogenase activity, while no octopine dehydrogenase or lactate dehydrogenase activity was detected. These findings suggest anoxia as a major source of increased coral stress, which occur in response to hypoxic conditions, such as invasive algae mat smothering, and provide insight into coral tolerance to controlled extremely low-oxygen environments.
Pages/Duration:38 pages
Rights:All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Honors Projects for Marine Biology

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