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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Doing Business As Name:University of The Virgin Islands
PD/PI:
  • Henry H Smith
  • (340) 693-1062
  • hsmith@uvi.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Nicolas Drayton
  • Richard Nemeth
Award Date:09/17/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 11,500,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 12,450,867
  • FY 2013=$950,867
  • FY 2010=$2,435,438
  • FY 2008=$2,500,000
  • FY 2012=$1,901,733
  • FY 2011=$2,162,829
  • FY 2009=$2,500,000
Start Date:09/01/2008
End Date:11/30/2014
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.083
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:VI-EPSCoR: RII: Building Research Strength in the US Virgin Islands
Federal Award ID Number:0814417
DUNS ID:090003765
Parent DUNS ID:090003765
Program:EPSCoR Research Infrastructure
Program Officer:
  • Sean Kennan
  • (703) 292-7575
  • skennan@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:#2 John Brewers Bay
City:Charlotte Amalie
State:VI
ZIP:00802-6004
County:St Thomas
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of The Virgin Islands
Street:#2 John Brewers Bay
City:Charlotte Amalie
State:VI
ZIP:00802-6004
County:St Thomas
Country:US
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Goals: This Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award seeks to build upon prior RII-supported efforts to expand the core facilities of the University?s Center of Excellence in Marine and Environmental Studies. At this center, scientists investigate the connections between ocean and coastal waters; the biological and geophysical linkages of the land-sea interface; and their potential impact on coral reef ecosystems. Specifically, this project will investigate the factors that enhance or reduce coral reefs? tolerance to environmental stress to better understand ecological resilience. The people of the Virgin Islands rely heavily on Caribbean coastal resources for subsistence, and are alarmed by findings that indicate that nearly 70% of the coral reefs are threatened by costal development, pollution, sedimentation, and over-fishing. Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and ineffective management add further threats to Caribbean coral reefs. Project Major Foci: Because of the US Virgin Islands? reliance on the surrounding coastal waters and coral reef ecosystems for tourism (economic engine), transportation, food and recreation, the research focus is Biocomplexity in Caribbean Coral Reefs. Three research projects have been developed into the Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystem Research Plan: 1) Evolutionary and Ecological Patterns and Processes team will investigate the numerous processes that threaten coral reef ecosystems; 2) Ocean and Coastal Processes team will provide the physical foundation for interpreting biological processes based upon field data and ocean modeling; and 3) Environmental Analysis and Management team will address the gap between physical and human interactions in coastal ecosystems and the underlying importance of socio-economics on successful natural resource management. Intellectual Merit The project will investigate factors that enhance or reduce a coral reef?s tolerance to environmental stress and the coral reef?s resistance to transitions to alternate ecological states. Anticipated project outcomes include a better understanding of how ecological patterns and processes are influenced by natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Broader Impacts The research outcomes will inform decision-makers on natural resource management and spatial planning and will enhance human and ocean health. There is an urgent need for this information given the trends on coral reef mortality in the region and the potential negative impact to the region?s economy. Research results may be applicable to regions outside the Caribbean.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Pittman SJ, Kneib RT, Simenstad CA "Practicing coastal seascape ecology" Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.427, 2011, p.187.

Rhodes, K.L., Nemeth, R.S., Kadison, E. & Joseph, E. "Spatial, temporal and environmental dynamics of a multi-species epinephelid spawning aggregation in Pohnpei, Micronesia." Coral Reefs, v., 2014, p.. doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1172-z 

Pittman, SJ, Brown, KA "Multiscale approach for predicting fish species distributions across coral reef seascapes" PLoS One, v., 2011, p..

Soffer, N., Brandt, M.E., Correa, A.M.S., TB, S., & Vega Thurber, R. "Viruses as putative pathogens of white plague coral disease." The ISME Journal, v.8, 2013, p.271.

Renshaw, M. A., R. S. Nemeth, and J. R. Gold. "Isolation and characterization of microsatellite markers from yellowfin grouper, Mycteroperca venenosa" Conservation Genetics Resources, v.3, 2011, p.341.

Smith, T.B., Fong P, Kennison R, Smith J "Spatial refuges and associational defenses promote harmful blooms of the alga Caulerpa sertularioides onto coral reefs" Oecologia, v.164, 2010, p.1039.

Gyory, J. and J. Pineda "Turbidity triggers larval release by the intertidal barnacle Semibalanus balanoides." Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.476, 2013, p.141.

Wedding L, Lepczyk C, Pittman SJ, Friedlander A, Jorgensen S. "Quantifying seascape structure: Extending terrestrial spatial pattern metrics to the marine realm." Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.427, 2011, p.219.

Vaudo, J.J., Wetherbee, B.M., Harvey, G.M., Burnie, N., Aming, C., Nemeth, R.S., Howey, P.W., & Shivji, M.S. "Intraspecific variation in vertical habitat use of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) tagged with pop-up archival satellite tags in the western North Atlantic." Ecology and Evolution, v., 2014, p.. doi:10.1002/ece3.1053 

Bryan, D.R., Atkinson, A.J. Ault, J.S., Brandt, M.E., Bohnsack, J.A., Feeley, M.E., Patterson, M.E., Ruttenberg, B.I., Smith, S.G., and B.D. Witcher "A cooperative multiagency reef fish monitoring protocol for the U.S. Virgin Islands coral reef ecosystem." Natural Resource Report, v.NPS, 2013, p.672.

Calnan, JM; Smith, TB; Nemeth, RS; Kadison, E; Blondeau, J "Disease susceptibility on mid-depth and deep coral reefs in the USVI" Revista de Biologic Tropical, v.56, 2008, p.223.

Barbeitos, MS; Romano, SL; Lasker, HR "Repeated loss of coloniality and symbiosis in scleractinian corals" PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v.107, 2010, p.11877. doi:10.1073/pnas.091438010  View record at Web of Science

Pittman, S. J., Monaco, M.E., Friedlander, A.M., Legare, B., Nemeth, R.S., Kendall, M.S., Poti, M., Clark, R.D., Wedding, L.M., & Caldow, C. "Fish with chips: Tracking reef fish movements to evaluate size and connectivity of Caribbean marine protected areas." PLoS ONE, v.9, 2014, p.e96028. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096028 

Bryan DR, Atkinson, AJ, Ault JS, Brandt ME, Bohnsack JA, Feeley ME, Patterson ME, Ruttenberg BI, Smith SG, and BD Witcher "A cooperative multiagency reef fish monitoring protocol for the U.S. Virgin Islands coral reef ecosystem." Natural Resource Report, v., 2013, p.. doi:NPS/SFCN/NRR ? 2013/672 

Baums, I. B., Devlin-Durante, M., Aren, A., Lian, B., Feingold, J., Smith, T.B., Bruckner, A., and Monteiro, J. "A highly replicated remnant coral clone in volcanic pools of Isabella Island is the only known representative of Pocillopora type 1a in the Galapagos." Frontiers of Marine Science., v., 2014, p.. doi:1 DOI 10.3389/fmars.2014.00059 

Holstein, D.M., Paris, C.B., & Mumby, P.J. "Consistency and inconsistency is multispecies population network dynamics of coral reef." Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.499, 2014, p.1.

Alexandridis, K. and Maru, Y. "Self-Organization of Semantic Networks in Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Sciences" Information Sciences, v.200, 2012, p.1.

Aguirre, K.M., Balser, T.C., Jack, T., Marley, K.E., Miller, K.G., Osgood, M.P., Pape-Linstrom, P. & Romano, S.L. "PULSE Vision and Change Rubrics." CBE-Life Sciences Education., v.12, 2013, p.579.

Smith, TB "Temperature effects on herbivory for an Indo-Pacific parrotfish in Panama: implications for coral-algal competition" Coral Reefs, v.27, 2008, p.397.

Weinstein, D.K., Smith, T.B., & Klaus, J.S. "Mesophotic bioerosion: structural impact and changes with depth on US Virgin Islands deep reefs." Geomorphology, v.222, 2014, p.14.

Lin, BB, MJ Chappell, J Vandermeer, G Smith, E Quintero, R Bezner-Kerr, DM Griffith, S Ketcham, SC. Latta, P McMichael, KL McGuire, R Nigh, D Rocheleau, J Soluri, I Perfecto. "Effects of industrial agriculture on climate change and the mitigation potential of small-scale agro-ecological farms." CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, v.6, 2011, p.1.

Radke, E.G., Grattan, L.M., Cook, R.L., Smith, T.B., Anderson, D.M., & Morris Jr, J.G. "Ciguatera incidence in the US Virgin Islands has not increased over a 30-year time period despite rising seawater temperatures." American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, v.88, 2013, p.908.

Nemeth, R. & Kadison, E. "Temporal patterns and behavioral characteristics of aggregation formation and spawning in the Bermuda chub (Kyphosus sectatrix)." Coral Reefs, v.32, 2013, p.1067.

Gleason, ACR; Gracias, N; Lirman, D; Gintert, BE; Smith, TB; Dick, MC; Reid, RP "Landscape video mosaic from a mesophotic coral reef" CORAL REEFS, v.29, 2010, p.253. doi:10.1007/s00338-009-0544-  View record at Web of Science

Renchen, G. F., Pittman, S.J. & Brandt, M.E. "Investigating the behavioural responses of trapped fishes using underwater video surveillance." Journal of Fish Biology, v., 2012, p.. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03418.x 

Kuffner, I., Paul, V., Walters, L., Hickey, T., Morrison, J., Parish, E., Turner, T., and K. Grablow. "Half-dead colonies of Montastraea annularis release viable gametes on a degraded reef in the US Virgin Islands." Bulletin of Marine Science, v.87, 2011, p.855.

Robertson, A., Garcia, A.C., Flores Quintana, H.A., Smith, T.B., Castillo, B.F., Reale-Munroe, K., Gulli, J.A., Olsen, D.A., Jester, E.L.E., Hooe-Rollman, J.I., Klimek, B.J., & Plakas, S.M. "Invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans): A potential human health threat for Ciguatera Fish Poisoning in tropical waters." Marine Drugs, v.12, 2013, p.88.

Palumbi, S.R., S. Vollmer, S. Romano, T. Oliver, J. Ladner. "The role of genes in understanding the evolutionary ecology of reef-building corals." Evol. Ecol., v., 2011, p.. doi:10.1007/s10682-011-9517-3 

Budd, A.F. Romano, S.L., Smith, N., and Barbeitos, M. "Rethinking the Phylogeny of Scleractinian Corals: A Review of Morphologic and Molecular data." Integrative and Comparative Biology., v., 2010, p.. doi:10.1093/icb/icq062 

Serrano, A., Baums, I., O?Reilly, K., Smith, T.B., Jones, R., Shearer, T., Flavia, N. & Baker, A. "Geographic differences in vertical connectivity in the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa despite high levels of horizontal connectivity at shallow depths." Molecular Ecology, v., 2014, p.. doi:10.1111/mec.12861 

Smith, T., Brandt, M.E., Calnan, J.M., Nemeth, R.S., Blondeau, J., Kadison, E., Taylor, M., Rothenberger, P. "Convergent mortality responses of Caribbean coral species to seawater warming." Ecosphere, v.4, 2013, p.art87.

Renshaw, M.A., Nemeth, R.S., & Gold, J.R. "Isolation of microsatellite markers from tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris) and characterization in yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa), coney (Cephalopholis fulva), and red hind (Epinephelus guttatus)." Conservation Genetics Resources, v.4, 2012, p.1049.

Jackson, A., Semmens, B., Sadovy de Mitcheson, Y., Nemeth, R., Heppell, S., Chapman, R., Aguilar-Perera, A., Claydon, J., Calosso, M., Sealey, K., Sharer, M., & Bernardi, G. "Population structure and phylogeography in Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), a mass-aggregating marine fish." PLoS ONE, v.9, 2014, p.e97508.

Calnan, J; Smith, TB; Nemeth, R; Kadison, E. Herzlieb, S "Coral disease prevalence and host susceptibility on mid-depth and deep reefs in the US Virgin Islands" Revist Biologia Tropical, v.56, 2008, p.223.

Smith T.B., J. Blondeau, R. S. Nemeth, J. M. Calnan, E. Kadison, and J. Gass "Benthic structure and cryptic mortality in a Caribbean mesophotic coral reef bank system, the Hind Bank Marine Conservation District, U.S. Virgin Islands." Coral Reefs, v.29, 2010, p.289.

Brandt, M.B., Smith, T.B., Correa, A.M., and Vega-Thurber, R. "Disturbance driven colony fragmentation as a driver of a coral disease outbreak." PLoS ONE, v.8, 2013, p.e57164.

Nagelkerken, I; Bothwell, J; Nemeth, RS; Pitt, JM; van der Velde, G "Interlinkage between Caribbean coral reefs and seagrass beds through feeding migrations by grunts (Haemulidae) depends on habitat accessibility" Marine Ecology Progress Series, v.368, 2008, p.155.

Clark, R.D., Pittman SJ, Caldow C, Christensen, J, Appeldoorn R, Monaco ME "Nocturnal fish movements and trophic flow across patch boundaries in a coral reef ecosystem (SW Puerto Rico)" Caribbean Journal of Science, v., 2009, p..

Kobara, S, WD Heyman, SJ Pittman, and RS Nemeth "Biogeography of transient reef fish spawning aggregations in the Caribbean: a synthesis for future research and management." Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, v.51, 2013, p.281.

Costa B, Battista T & Pittman SJ "Comparative evaluation of airborne Lidar versus multibeam sonar for mapping coral reef ecosystems" Remote Sensing of Environment, v.113, 2009, p.1082.

Brandt MB, Smith TB, Correa AM, Vega-Thurber "Transmissibility and dynamics of a disturbance-induced coral disease outbreak." PLoS ONE, v.8, 2013, p.e57164.

Smith T.B., J. Blondeau, R. S. Nemeth, J. M. Calnan, E. Kadison, and J. Gass "Benthic structure and cryptic mortality in a Caribbean mesophotic coral reef bank system, the Hind Bank Marine Conservation District, U.S. Virgin Islands." Coral Reefs, v.29, 2010, p.289.

Alexandridis, K.A. & Pijanowski, B.C. "Spatially-explicit Bayesian information entropy metrics for calibrating landscape transformation models." Entropy, v.15, 2013, p.2480.

Bernard, A. M., K. A. Feldheim, V. P. Richards, R.S. Nemeth, and M.S. Shivji "Development and characterization of fifteen novel microsatellite loci for the Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) and their utility for cross-amplification on a suite of closely related species." Conservation Genetics Resources, v.4, 2012, p.983.

McCammon, A., P. Sikkel, D. Nemeth. "Effects of three Caribbean cleaner shrimps on ectoparasitic monogeneans in a semi-natural environment." Coral Reefs, v.29, 2010, p.419.

Soffer, N., Brandt, M.E., Correa, A.M.S., Smith, T.B., Vega Thurber, R. "Potential role of viruses in white plague coral disease." The ISME Journal, v., 2013, p.1.

Smith, T. B., Brandt, M.E., Calnan, J.M., Nemeth, R.S., Blondeau, J., Kadison, E., Taylor, M., & Rothenberger, J.P. "Convergent mortality responses of Caribbean coral species to seawater warming." Ecosphere, v.4, 2013, p.art87.

Radke, E.G., Grattan, L., Cook, R.L., Smith, T.B., Anderson, D., Morris, J.G. "Ciguatera incidence in the U.S. Virgin Islands has not increased over a 30 year time period, despite rising seawater temperatures." American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, v.88, 2013, p.908.

Eakin, C. "Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005" PLoS ONE, v.5, 2010, p.e13969.

Pittman SJ, Costa B & Battista T "Using Lidar bathymetry and boosted regression trees to predict the diversity and abundance of fish and corals." Journal of Coastal Research, v.S53, 2009, p.27.

Bernard, A. M., Feldheim, K.A., Richards, V.P., Nemeth, R.S., and Shivji, M.S. "Development and characterization of fifteen novel microsatellite loci for the Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) and their utility for cross-amplification on a suite of closely related species." Conservation Genetics Resources, v.4, 2014, p.983.

Smith, TB; Nemeth, RS; Blondeau, J; Calnan, J; Kadison, E; Herzlieb, S "Assessing coral reef health across onshore to offshore stress gradients in the US Virgin Islands" Marine Pollution Bulletin, v.56, 2008, p.1983.

Smith, T. B., Glynn, P.W., Maté, J.L., Toth, L.T., & Gyory, J. "A depth refugium from catastrophic coral bleaching mortality prevents regional extinction." Ecology, v.95, 2014, p.1663.

Smith, TB; Nemeth, RS: Clnan, J; Taylor, M; Herzlieb, S; Kadison, E; Blondeau, J; Carr, L; Rothenberger, P; Anluaf, U "Coral Reefs in the US Virgin Islands: patterns of health in relation to anthropogenic stress and disturbance" Marine Pollution Bulletin, v.56, 2008, p.1983.

Brandt, M.E., Smith, T.B., Correa, A.M.S., & Vega-Thurber, B. "Transmissibility and dynamics of a disturbance-induced coral disease outbreak." PLoS ONE, v.8, 2013, p.e57164.

Renchen, G.F., Pittman, S.J., Clark, R., Gall, S., Olsen, D. & Hill, R. "Impact of derelict fish traps in Caribbean waters: an experimental approach." Bulletin of Marine Science, v.90, 2014, p.551.

Sikkel, PC; Nemeth, D; McCammon, A; Williams, EH "Habitat/species differences in monogenean loads of free-living sympatric surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) in the Virgin Islands" Journal of Parasitology, v.95, 2009, p.63.

Kobara, S., Heyman, W.D., Pittman, S.J., & Nemeth, R.S. "Biogeography of transient reef fish spawning aggregations in the Caribbean: a synthesis for future research and management." Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, v.51, 2013, p.281.


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

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.

The goal of the Research Infrastructure Improvement Project undertaken by the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research was to build nationally-competitive research capacity at the University of the Virgin Islands.  This was done by improving the research infrastructure and building multi-disciplinary teams of research scientists.

 

The research was carried out through a program that integrated physical, biological and social science disciplines in order to understand the natural and social patterns and processes that exist in the coastal environment in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The second major component of the project focused on building partnerships between the researchers and the broader community in order to address marine and environmental issues and enable actions that result in sustainable development opportunities for the Territory.

 

The project produced significant results in all its components, by: providing infrastructure to support research and enhanced student learning outcomes at the University of the Virgin Islands; producing new information on the coastal ecosystems in the U.S. Virgin Islands; increasing the pool of Virgin Islanders with advanced degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields; adding to the science education of Virgin Islands students; enhancing the skills of professionals in the community; and providing technical support to local development initiatives.

 

The research infrastructure provided by the project includes upgrades to the MacLean Marine Science Center, renovations to the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station, and renovations to establish a new oceanographic laboratory, a new environmental analysis laboratory, and facilities that form the Institute for Geo-Computational Analysis and Statistics.  The infrastructure greatly increased the capacity of the University of the Virgin Islands to conduct multi-disciplinary research as required by the project.

 

The research increased local knowledge of how coral reef ecosystems function, including the connections between the physical factors and biological patterns, how coral diseases are transmitted, how corals at different depths respond to different types and levels of stress, and how ecological patterns and processes are influenced by disturbance from natural and human sources.  The project also increased understanding of the relationship between biological systems and human health.

 

The intellectual merit of the research program was highlighted by the large number of publications in scientific journals of high caliber, the increasing impact factor of those publications (indicating a greater contribution and impact on the scientific community), and the large number of external (including international) scientists that collaborated with Virgin Islands EPSCoR scientists in research activities and co-authoring scientific papers for publication.

 

The project produced impacts beyond the intellectual merit of the research program.  One such impact is the increase in the research competitiveness of the University of the Virgin Islands, as evidenced by the increase in grant awards and the number of visiting scientists that utilize the research facilities.  The enhanced capacity from improved cyber-infrastructure and the availability of various databases support collaboration with external scientists in projects where significant computing capacity is required.

 

The project was also beneficial to the wider Virgin Islands community in several ways.  The project partnered with local institutions and groups to support training for large numbers of high school students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Graduates from the ...

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