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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Rutgers University New Brunswick
  • Malin L Pinsky
  • (848) 932-8242
Award Date:03/10/2014
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 93,009
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 93,009
  • FY 2014=$93,009
Start Date:03/15/2014
End Date:02/29/2016
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:RAPID: Mega-typhoon impacts on the metapopulation resilience of coral reef fishes
Federal Award ID Number:1430218
DUNS ID:001912864
Parent DUNS ID:001912864
Program Officer:
  • Michael Sieracki
  • (703) 292-7585

Awardee Location

Street:33 Knightsbridge Road
Awardee Cong. District:06

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Rutgers University New Brunswick
Street:14 College Farm Rd.
City:New Brunswick
County:New Brunswick
Cong. District:06

Abstract at Time of Award

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines it had sustained winds of 305 to 315 kph and was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Storms are one of the most important disturbances to coral reef ecosystems. Previous research has primarily emphasized that habitat recovery is important for the recovery of reef fish communities after disturbance. We understand little, however, about the role of larval dispersal in mediating species responses to disturbance. Reef fish function as metapopulations connected by larval dispersal among reefs, and larval connectivity is therefore a critical process for their dynamics. A field site directly in Typhoon Haiyan's path provides an ideal opportunity to address the role of larval dispersal during recovery. Over the course of four field seasons (2008 to 2013), nearly two thousand clownfish were surveyed along 20km of coastline. Clownfish possess the same basic life history as most reef fish (sedentary adults and pelagic larvae), but are sufficiently rare and visible that genetic parentage methods can be used to follow larval dispersal. This study site is therefore a unique location in which to understand the metapopulation impacts of a massive storm. This project will focus on three hypotheses: 1) Habitat destruction determines the short-term impacts of storms disturbance, 2) Metapopulation processes shape recolonization after disturbance, and 3) Disturbance allows rare competitors to increase in abundance. The project will address these questions with a combination of fixed and random transects to assess reef habitat and reef fish abundance and diversity, as well as detailed, spatially explicit surveys of anemones and clownfish. Genetic mark-recapture and parentage methods with yellowtail clownfish will pinpoint the origin of new recruits that recolonize the reef post-typhoon. Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse and economically important ecosystems on earth, providing food, coastal protection, tourism, and medical compounds for millions of people around the world. In order to guide conservation efforts, we need to understand the processes that influence their resilience to large-scale disturbance. This project will compliment other international conservation and research efforts and the lessons learned from this research will also be communicated to local decision-makers. The principal investigator will also prepare a presentation on this research for the Rutgers' Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences STEM Educator Series. The program provides professional development training to middle- and high-school teachers by combining current research with lesson plans designed around real world data.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Thompson, D.M. and Kleypas, J. and Castruccio, F. and Curchitser, E.N. and Pinsky, M.L. and Jönsson, B. and Watson, J.R. "Variability in oceanographic barriers to coral larval dispersal: Do currents shape biodiversity?" Progress in Oceanography, v.165, 2018, p.. doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2018.05.007 Citation details  

Holtswarth, Jordan N and San Jose, Shem B and Montes Jr, Humberto R and Morley, James W and Pinsky, Malin L "The reproductive seasonality and fecundity of yellowtail clownfish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) in the Philippines" Bulletin of Marine Science, v.93, 2017, p.. doi:10.5343/bms.2017.1010 Citation details  

Van Wynsberge, Simon and Andréfouët, Serge and Gaertner-Mazouni, Nabila and Tiavouane, Josina and Grulois, Daphné and Lefèvre, Jérôme and Pinsky, Malin L. and Fauvelot, Cécile and Cimmaruta, Roberta "Considering reefscape configuration and composition in biophysical models advance seascape genetics" PLOS ONE, v.12, 2017, p.. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0178239 Citation details  

Webster, Michael S. and Colton, Madhavi A. and Darling, Emily S. and Armstrong, Jonathan and Pinsky, Malin L. and Knowlton, Nancy and Schindler, Daniel E. "Who Should Pick the Winners of Climate Change?" Trends in Ecology & Evolution, v.32, 2017, p.. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.007 Citation details  

Pinsky, Malin L. and Saenz-Agudelo, Pablo and Salles, Océane C. and Almany, Glenn R. and Bode, Michael and Berumen, Michael L. and Andréfouët, Serge and Thorrold, Simon R. and Jones, Geoffrey P. and Planes, Serge "Marine Dispersal Scales Are Congruent over Evolutionary and Ecological Time" Current Biology, v.27, 2017, p.. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.053 Citation details  

Kleypas, Joan A. and Thompson, Diane M. and Castruccio, Frederic S. and Curchitser, Enrique N. and Pinsky, Malin and Watson, James R. "Larval connectivity across temperature gradients and its potential effect on heat tolerance in coral populations" Global Change Biology, v.22, 2016, p.. doi:10.1111/gcb.13347 Citation details  

Fuller, E., E. Brush, and M. L. Pinsky "The persistence of populations facing climate shifts and harvest" Ecosphere, v.6, 2015, p.art153. doi:10.1890/ES14-00533.1 

Thompson, Diane and Castruccio, Frederic S. and Kleypas, Joan A and Watson, James R and Curchitser, Enrique N. and Pinsky, Malin L "Variability in reef connectivity in the Coral Triangle" Reef Encounter, v.29, 2014, p.46-51.

Pinsky, M. L. and D. A. Byler "Fishing, fast growth and climate variability increase the risk of collapse" Proceedings B, v.282, 2015, p.20151053. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.1053 

Mccauley, Douglas J and Pinsky, Malin L and Palumbi, Stephen R and Estes, James A and Joyce, Francis H and Warner, Robert R "Marine defaunation: animal loss in the global ocean" Science, v.347, 2015, p.247. doi:10.1126/science.1255641 

Pinsky, Malin L and Mantua, Nathan J "Emerging adaptation approaches for climate-ready fisheries management" Oceanography, v.27, 2014, p.146-159. doi:10.5670/oceanog.2014.93 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

This project studied the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan (the largest to ever make landfall) on coral reef communities in the Philippines. We found that the type of habitat was very important for determining the degree of impact from the storm. Coral reefs built on rocky cobble were largely destroyed, while more extensive reefs on a solid platform were not severely damaged.  The density of clownfish was lower after the storm than before, potentially reflecting the relative inability of this species to move to deeper waters during large disturbances.

Even where extensive damage to the coral reef occurred, corals have also begun to recolonize the area. However, these new corals also compete with algae for space on the reef, and there is a danger that the reefs will become dominated by algae rather than corals. Sites with few herbivorous fishes are most at risk. 

We also reviewed the published literature on the past, present, and future loss of animals from the ocean. We found remarkable similarities between the trajectory of animal loss on land and in the ocean, though loss of animals from the ocean has begun much more recently than on land and has happened to a much lesser extent.

Our research helped contribute to a broader understanding of marine science and conservation issues in the ocean. Coverage of our research appeared in the New York Times, PBS News Hour, NPR All Things Considered, The Boston Globe, CNBC, and ABC.

The project also trained two Ph.D. students and a technician in marine ecological field techniques and international field studies. In addition, an undergraduate and a second technician were trained in photo analysis techniques and statistics.

Last Modified: 04/17/2016
Modified by: Malin L Pinsky

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