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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:SUNY at Buffalo
  • Howard R Lasker
  • (716) 645-4870
Award Date:07/22/2013
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 314,563
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 314,563
  • FY 2013=$314,563
Start Date:09/01/2013
End Date:02/28/2018
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative research: Ecology and functional biology of octocoral communities
Federal Award ID Number:1334052
DUNS ID:038633251
Parent DUNS ID:020657151
Program Officer:
  • Daniel Thornhill
  • (703) 292-0000

Awardee Location

Street:520 Lee Entrance
Awardee Cong. District:26

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:SUNY at Buffalo
Street:411 Cooke Hall
Cong. District:26

Abstract at Time of Award

The recent past has not been good for coral reefs, and journals have been filled with examples of declining coral cover, crashing fish populations, rising cover of macroalgae, and a future potentially filled with slime. However, reefs are more than the corals and fishes for which they are known best, and their biodiversity is affected strongly by other groups of organisms. The non-coral fauna of reefs is being neglected in the rush to evaluate the loss of corals and fishes, and this project will add on to an on-going long term ecological study by studying soft corals. This project will be focused on the ecology of soft corals on reefs in St. John, USVI to understand the Past, Present and the Future community structure of soft corals in a changing world. For the Past, the principal investigators will complete a retrospective analysis of octocoral abundance in St. John between 1992 and the present, as well as Caribbean-wide since the 1960's. For the Present, they will: (i) evaluate spatio-temporal changes between soft corals and corals, (ii) test for the role of competition with macroalgae and between soft corals and corals as processes driving the rising abundance of soft corals, and (iii) explore the role of soft corals as "animal forests" in modifying physical conditions beneath their canopy, thereby modulating recruitment dynamics. For the Future the project will conduct demographic analyses on key soft corals to evaluate annual variation in population processes and project populations into a future impacted by global climate change. The broader impacts of this project will be at multiple educational levels. At the university level, the project will have impacts on the quality of the academic environment at an RUI institution (CSUN) and a leading PhD-awarding institution (University of Buffalo). Additionally, it will provide unique opportunities for training and research by graduate students, as well as opportunities for undergraduate participation in fieldwork through existing funding and REU supplements. The PIs will build on an existing relationship with a high school in St. John, USVI since 2006. We will host: (1) marine biology club activities at the school through participation of faculty, a postdoctoral research associate and graduate students, (2) laboratory opportunities focused on the biology of soft corals, (3) field opportunities for teachers from the US to work in St. John, and (4) with the support of parents and CSUN, will offer a St. John field trip for select students from local schools. The reach of these opportunities will be broadened through new collaborations with two teachers based in the public schools of LA County. Finally, in the Caribbean established "ecocamps" at the host marine laboratory will be used to work with children from Caribbean islands to provide educational experiences focused on ecology and conservation.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Lenz E.A., Bramanti L., Lasker H., and Edmunds P.J. "Long-term variation of octocoral populations in St. John, US Virgin Islands" Coral Reefs, v.34, 2015, p.. doi:DOI 10.1007/s00338-015-1315-x 

Coelho, M.G. Lasker, H.R. "Larval behavior and settlement dynamics of a ubiquitous Caribbean octocoral and its implications for dispersal" Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.561, 2016, p.109. doi:10.3354/meps11941 

Edmunds, P Lasker, HR "Cryptic regime shift in benthic community structure on shallow reefs in St. John, US Virgin Islands" Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.559, 2016, p.1. doi:10.3354/meps11900 

Edmunds, P. J. Tsounis, G. Lasker, HR "Differential distribution of octocorals and scleractinians around St. John and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands." Hydrobiologia, v.767, 2016, p.347. doi:10.1007/s10750-015-2555-z 

P.J. Edmunds, G. Tsounis, H.R. Lasker "Differential distribution of octocorals and scleractinians around St. John and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands" Hydrobiologia, v.767, 2015, p.347.

Gambrel, B. Lasker, H.R. "Interactions in the canopy among Caribbean reef octocorals." Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.546, 2016, p.85.

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