• The abundance of herbivorous fish on an inshore Red Sea reef following a mass coral bleaching event

      Khalil, Maha T.; Cochran, Jesse; Berumen, Michael L. (Springer Verlag, 2013-01-08)
      A healthy herbivore community is critical for the ability of a reef to resist and recover from severe disturbances and to regain lost coral cover (i.e., resilience). The densities of the two major herbivorous fish groups (the family Acanthuridae and scarine labrids) were comparatively studied for an inshore reef that was severely impacted by a mass coral bleaching event in 2010 and an unaffected reef within the same region. Densities were found to be significantly higher on the affected reef, most likely due to the high algal densities on that reef. However, densities of herbivores on both reefs were found to be on average about 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than previously published reports from some Pacific reefs and from Red Sea reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba and only slightly higher than Caribbean reefs. Thus, it is predicted that recovery for this reef and similarly affected reefs may be very slow. The protection of herbivores from overfishing and the introduction of other management strategies that maximize reef resilience in Saudi Arabian waters are highly recommended. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
    • Accumulation of Carbonates Contributes to Coastal Vegetated Ecosystems Keeping Pace With Sea Level Rise in an Arid Region (Arabian Peninsula)

      Saderne, Vincent; Cusack, Michael; Almahasheer, Hanan; Serrano, Oscar; Masqué, Pere; Arias-Ortiz, Ariane; Krishnakumar, Periyadan Kadinjappalli; Rabaoui, Lotfi; Qurban, Mohammad Ali; Duarte, Carlos M. (American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2018-04-12)
      Anthropogenic sea level rise (SLR) presents one of the greatest risks to human lives and infrastructures. Coastal vegetated ecosystems, that is, tidal marshes, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests, elevate the seabed through soil accretion, providing a natural coastline protection against SLR. The soil accretion of these ecosystems has never been assessed in hot desert climate regions, where water runoff is negligible. However, tropical marine ecosystems are areas of intense calcification that may constitute an important source of sediment supporting seabed elevation, compensating for the lack of terrestrial inputs. We estimated the long-term (C-centennial) and short-term (Pb-20th century) soil accretion rates (SARs) and inorganic carbon (C) burial in coastal vegetated ecosystems of the Saudi coasts of the central Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Short-term SARs (±SE) in mangroves of the Red Sea (0.27 ± 0.22 cm/year) were twofold the SLR for that region since 1925 (0.13 cm/year). In the Arabian Gulf, only mangrove forest SAR is equivalent to local SLR estimates for the period 1979-2007 (0.21 ± 0.09 compared to 0.22 ± 0.05 cm/year, respectively). Long-term SARs are comparable or higher than the global estimates of SLR for the late Holocene (0.01 cm/year). In all habitats of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, SARs are supported by high carbonate accretion rates, comprising 40% to 60% of the soil volume. Further studies on the role of carbonates in coastal vegetated ecosystems are required to understand their role in adaptation to SLR.
    • Acoustic backscatter at a Red Sea whale shark aggregation site

      Hozumi, Aya; Kaartvedt, Stein; Røstad, Anders; Berumen, Michael L.; Cochran, Jesse E.M.; Jones, Burton (Elsevier BV, 2018-03-28)
      An aggregation of sexually immature whale sharks occurs at a coastal submerged reef near the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast each spring. We tested the hypothesis that these megaplanktivores become attracted to a prey biomass peak coinciding with their aggregation. Acoustic backscatter of the water column at 120 kHz and 333 kHz –a proxy for potential prey biomass –was continuously measured spanning the period prior to, during, and subsequent to the seasonal whale shark aggregations. No peak in acoustic backscatter was observed at the time of the aggregation. However, we observed a decrease in acoustic backscatter in the last days of deployment, which coincided the trailing end of whale shark season. Organisms forming the main scattering layer performed inverse diel vertical migration, with backscatter peaking at mid-depths during the day and in the deeper half of the water column at night. Target strength analyses suggested the backscatter was likely composed of fish larvae. Subsurface foraging behavior of the whale sharks within this aggregation has not been described, yet this study does not support the hypothesis that seasonal peaks in local whale shark abundance correspond to similar peaks in prey availability.
    • Acoustic Estimates of Distribution and Biomass of Different Acoustic Scattering Types Between the New England Shelf Break and Slope Waters

      McLaren, Alexander (2011-11)
      Due to their great ecological significance, mesopelagic fishes are attracting a wider audience on account of the large biomass they represent. Data from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provided the opportunity to explore an unknown region of the North-West Atlantic, adjacent to one of the most productive fisheries in the world. Acoustic data collected during the cruise required the identification of acoustically distinct scattering types to make inferences on the migrations, distributions and biomass of mesopelagic scattering layers. Six scattering types were identified by the proposed method in our data and traces their migrations and distributions in the top 200m of the water column. This method was able to detect and trace the movements of three scattering types to 1000m depth, two of which can be further subdivided. This process of identification enabled the development of three physically-derived target-strength models adapted to traceable acoustic scattering types for the analysis of biomass and length distribution to 1000m depth. The abundance and distribution of acoustic targets varied closely in relation to varying physical environments associated with a warm core ring in the New England continental Shelf break region. The continental shelf break produces biomass density estimates that are twice as high as the warm core ring and the surrounding continental slope waters are an order of magnitude lower than either estimate. Biomass associated with distinct layers is assessed and any benefits brought about by upwelling at the edge of the warm core ring are shown not to result in higher abundance of deepwater species. Finally, asymmetric diurnal migrations in shelf break waters contrasts markedly with the symmetry of migrating layers within the warm ring, both in structure and density estimates, supporting a theory of predatorial and nutritional constraints to migrating pelagic species.
    • Acoustic Monitoring of a Previously Unstudied Whale Shark Aggregation in the Red Sea

      Cochran, Jesse (2012-01)
      The whale shark (Rhincodon, typus), is a large, pelagic, filter feeder for which the available information is limited. The Red Sea populations in particular are practically unstudied. An aggregation site was recently discovered off the western coast of Saudi Arabia. We report the use of passive acoustic monitoring to assess the spatial and temporal behavior patterns of whale sharks in this new site. The aggregation occurs in the spring and peaks in April/ May. Whale sharks showed a preference for a single near shore reef and even a specific area within it. There is no evidence of sexual segregation as the genders were present in roughly equal proportion and used the same habitat at similar times. This information can be used to guide future studies in the area and to inform local management. Continued study will add to the collective knowledge on Red Sea whale sharks, including the population dynamics within the region and how they interact with the global whale shark community.
    • Acoustic surveys for juvenile anchovy in the Bay of Biscay: Abundance estimate as an indicator of the next year's recruitment and spatial distribution patterns

      Boyra, Guillermo; Martínez, U.; Cotano, Unai; Begoña Santos, Maria; Irigoien, Xabier; Uriarte, Andrés (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013-08-16)
      A series of acoustic surveys (JUVENA) began in 2003 targeting juvenile anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the Bay of Biscay. A specific methodology was designed for mapping and estimating juvenile abundance annually, four months after the spawning season. After eight years of the survey, a consistent picture of the spatial pattern of the juvenile anchovy has emerged. Juveniles show a vertical and horizontal distribution pattern that depends on size. The younger individuals are found isolated from other species in waters closer to the surface, mainly off the shelf within the mid-southern region of the bay. The largest juveniles are usually found deeper and closer to the shore in the company of adult anchovy and other pelagic species. In these eight years, the survey has covered a wide range of juvenile abundances, and the estimates show a significant positive relationship between the juvenile biomasses and the one-year-old recruits of the following year. This demonstrates that the JUVENA index provides an early indication of the strength of next year's recruitment to the fishery and can therefore be used to improve the management advice for the fishery of this short-lived species. © 2013 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
    • An acoustic system for autonomous navigation and tracking of marine fauna

      De la Torre, Pedro; Salama, Khaled N.; Berumen, Michael L. (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2014-08)
      A marine acoustic system for underwater target tracking is described. This system is part of the Integrated Satellite and Acoustic Telemetry (iSAT) project to study marine fauna. It is a microcontroller-based underwater projector and receiver. A narrow-band, passive sonar detection architecture is described from signal generation, through transduction, reception, signal processing and up to tone extraction. Its circuit and operation principles are described. Finally, a comparison between the current energy detection method versus an alternative matched filter approach is included.
    • Acoustic telemetry reveals cryptic residency of whale sharks

      Cagua, Edgar F.; Cochran, Jesse; Rohner, Christoph A.; Prebble, Clare E M; Sinclair-Taylor, Tane; Pierce, Simon J.; Berumen, Michael L. (The Royal Society, 2015-04-01)
      Althoughwhale sharks (Rhincodon typus) have beendocumentedtomove thousands of kilometres, they are most frequently observed at a few predictable seasonal aggregation sites. The absence of sharks at the surface during visual surveys has led to the assumption that sharks disperse to places unknown during the long 'off-seasons' at most of these locations. Here we compare 2 years of R. typus visual sighting records from Mafia Island in Tanzania to concurrent acoustic telemetry of tagged individuals. Sightings revealed a clear seasonal pattern with a peak between October and February and no sharks observed at other times. By contrast, acoustic telemetry demonstrated yearround residency of R. typus. The sharks use a different habitat in the offseason, swimming deeper and further away from shore, presumably in response to prey distributions. This behavioural change reduces the sharks' visibility, giving the false impression that they have left the area.We demonstrate, for the first timeto our knowledge, year-roundresidencyofunprovisioned, individual R. typus at an aggregation site, and highlight the importance of using multiple techniques to study the movement ecology of marine megafauna. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    • After continents divide: Comparative phylogeography of reef fishes from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean

      Dibattista, Joseph D.; Berumen, Michael L.; Gaither, Michelle R.; Rocha, Luiz A.; Eble, Jeff A.; Choat, John Howard; Craig, Matthew T.; Skillings, Derek J.; Bowen, Brian W. (Wiley, 2013-01-07)
      Aim: The Red Sea is a biodiversity hotspot characterized by a unique marine fauna and high endemism. This sea began forming c. 24 million years ago with the separation of the African and Arabian plates, and has been characterized by periods of desiccation, hypersalinity and intermittent connection to the Indian Ocean. We aim to evaluate the impact of these events on the genetic architecture of the Red Sea reef fish fauna. Location: Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean. Methods: We surveyed seven reef fish species from the Red Sea and adjacent Indian Ocean using mitochondrial DNA cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and cytochrome b sequences. To assess genetic variation and evolutionary connectivity within and between these regions, we estimated haplotype diversity (h) and nucleotide diversity (π), reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among haplotypes, and estimated gene flow and time of population separation using Bayesian coalescent-based methodology. Results: Our analyses revealed a range of scenarios from shallow population structure to diagnostic differences that indicate evolutionary partitions and possible cryptic species. Conventional molecular clocks and coalescence analyses indicated time-frames for divergence between these bodies of water ranging from 830,000 years to contemporary exchange or recent range expansion. Colonization routes were bidirectional, with some species moving from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea compared with expansion out of the Red Sea for other species. Main conclusions: We conclude that: (1) at least some Red Sea reef fauna survived multiple salinity crises; (2) endemism is higher in the Red Sea than previously reported; and (3) the Red Sea is an evolutionary incubator, occasionally contributing species to the adjacent Indian Ocean. The latter two conclusions - elevated endemism and species export - indicate a need for enhanced conservation priorities for the Red Sea. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    • Algal toxins and reverse osmosis desalination operations: Laboratory bench testing and field monitoring of domoic acid, saxitoxin, brevetoxin and okadaic acid

      Seubert, Erica L.; Trussell, Shane; Eagleton, John; Schnetzer, Astrid; Cetinić, Ivona; Lauri, Phil; Jones, Burton; Caron, David A. (Elsevier BV, 2012-12)
      The occurrence and intensity of harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been increasing globally during the past few decades. The impact of these events on seawater desalination facilities has become an important topic in recent years due to enhanced societal interest and reliance on this technology for augmenting world water supplies. A variety of harmful bloom-forming species of microalgae occur in southern California, as well as many other locations throughout the world, and several of these species are known to produce potent neurotoxins. These algal toxins can cause a myriad of human health issues, including death, when ingested via contaminated seafood. This study was designed to investigate the impact that algal toxin presence may have on both the intake and reverse osmosis (RO) desalination process; most importantly, whether or not the naturally occurring algal toxins can pass through the RO membrane and into the desalination product. Bench-scale RO experiments were conducted to explore the potential of extracellular algal toxins contaminating the RO product. Concentrations exceeding maximal values previously reported during natural blooms were used in the laboratory experiments, with treatments comprised of 50 μg/L of domoic acid (DA), 2 μg/L of saxitoxin (STX) and 20 μg/L of brevetoxin (PbTx). None of the algal toxins used in the bench-scale experiments were detectable in the desalinated product water. Monitoring for intracellular and extracellular concentrations of DA, STX, PbTx and okadaic acid (OA) within the intake and desalinated water from a pilot RO desalination plant in El Segundo, CA, was conducted from 2005 to 2009. During the five-year monitoring period, DA and STX were detected sporadically in the intake waters but never in the desalinated water. PbTx and OA were not detected in either the intake or desalinated water. The results of this study demonstrate the potential for HAB toxins to be inducted into coastal RO intake facilities, and the ability of typical RO operations to effectively remove these toxins. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
    • Allometric relations and consequences for feeding in small pelagic fish in the Bay of Biscay

      Bachiller, Eneko; Irigoien, Xabier (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2012-11-21)
      The body size of fish is an important factor in determining their biology and ecology, as predators eat prey smaller than themselves. Predator mouth size restricts the availability of possible prey. In this paper we provide the allometric relationships of eight common, small pelagic fish species in the Bay of Biscay. In addition, we describe the predator-prey size ratios for different species, and we determine changes in their ratio-based trophic-niche breadth with increasing body size. Results suggest that gape size does not totally determine the predator-prey size ratio distribution, but predators use the entire available prey size range, including the smallest. As they grow they simply incorporate larger prey as their increased gape size permits. Accordingly, a large degree of overlap was found in the diet composition in terms of size and predator-prey ratios, even between fish of different sizes. Of the species studied, only horse mackerels seem to be clearly specialized in relatively large prey. © 2012 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
    • Applicability of Current Atmospheric Correction Techniques in the Red Sea

      Tiwari, Surya Prakash; Ouhssain, Mustapha; Jones, Burton (2016-10-26)
      Much of the Red Sea is considered to be a typical oligotrophic sea having very low chlorophyll-a concentrations. Few existing studies describe the variability of phytoplankton biomass in the Red Sea. This study evaluates the resulting chlorophyll-a values computed with different chlorophyll algorithms (e.g., Chl_OCI, Chl_Carder, Chl_GSM, and Chl_GIOP) using radiances derived from two different atmospheric correction algorithms (NASA standard and Singh and Shanmugam (2014)). The resulting satellite derived chlorophyll-a concentrations are compared with in situ chlorophyll values measured using the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Statistical analyses are used to assess the performances of algorithms using the in situ measurements obtain in the Red Sea, to evaluate the approach to atmospheric correction and algorithm parameterization.
    • Are Calanus spp. shifting poleward in the North Atlantic? A habitat modelling approach

      Chust, Guillem; Castellani, Claudia; Licandro, Priscilla; Ibaibarriaga, Leire; Sagarminaga, Yolanda; Irigoien, Xabier (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013-09-16)
      In the last decade, the analysis based on Continuous Plankton Recorder survey in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean detected one of the most striking examples of marine poleward migration related to sea warming. The main objective of this study is to verify the poleward shift of zooplankton species (Calanus finmarchicus, C. glacialis, C. helgolandicus, C. hyperboreus) for which distributional changes have been recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean and to assess how much of this shift was triggered by sea warming, using Generalized Additive Models. To this end, the population gravity centre of observed data was compared with that of a series of simulation experiments: (i) a model using only climate factors (i.e. niche-based model) to simulate species habitat suitability, (ii) a model using only temporal and spatial terms to reconstruct the population distribution, and (iii) a model using both factors combined, using a subset of observations as independent dataset for validation. Our findings show that only C. finmarchicus had a consistent poleward shift, triggered by sea warming, estimated in 8.1 km per decade in the North Atlantic (16.5 per decade for the northeast), which is substantially lower than previous works at the assemblage level and restricted to the Northeast Atlantic. On the contrary, C. helgolandicus is expanding in all directions, although its northern distribution limit in the North Sea has shifted northward. Calanus glacialis and C. hyperboreus, which have the geographic centres of populations mainly in the NW Atlantic, showed a slight southward shift, probably responding to cool water penetrating southward in the Labrador Current. Our approach, supported by high model accuracy, shows its power in detecting species latitudinal shifts and identifying its causes, since the trend of occurrence observed data is influenced by the sampling frequency, which has progressively concentrated to lower latitudes with time. © 2013 © 2013 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    • Assessing the functional diversity of herbivorous reef fishes using a compound-specific stable isotope approach

      Tietbohl, Matthew (2016-12)
      Herbivorous coral reef fishes play an important role in helping to structure their environment directly by consuming algae and indirectly by promoting coral health and growth. These fishes are generally separated into three broad groups: browsers, grazers, and excavators/scrapers, with these groupings often thought to have a fixed general function and all fishes within a group thought to have similar ecological roles. This categorization assumes a high level of functional redundancy within herbivorous fishes. However, recent evidence questions the use of this broad classification scheme, and posits that there may actually be more resource partitioning within these functional groupings. Here, I use a compound-specific stable isotope approach (CSIA) to show there appears to be a greater diversity of functional roles than previously assumed within broad functional groups. The δ13C signatures from essential amino acids of reef end-members (coral, macroalgae, detritus, and phytoplankton) and fish muscle were analyzed to investigate differences in resource use between fishes. Most end-members displayed clear isotopic differences, and most fishes within functional groups were dissimilar in their isotopic signature, implying differences in the resources they target. No grazers closely resembled each other isotopically, implying a much lower level of functional redundancy within this group; scraping parrotfish were also distinct from excavating parrotfish and to a lesser degree distinct between scrapers. This study highlights the potential of CSIA to help distinguish fine-scale ecological differences within other groups of reef organisms as well. These results question the utility of lumping nominally herbivorous fishes into broad groups with assumed similar roles. Given the apparent functional differences between nominally herbivorous reef fishes, it is important for managers to incorporate the diversity of functional roles these fish play.
    • The Assessment of Current Biogeographic Patterns of Coral Reef Fishes in the Red Sea by Incorporating Their Evolutionary and Ecological Background

      Robitzch Sierra, Vanessa S. N. (2017-03)
      The exceptional environment of the Red Sea has lead to high rates of endemism and biodiversity. Located at the periphery of the world’s coral reefs distribution, its relatively young reefs offer an ideal opportunity to study biogeography and underlying evolutionary and ecological triggers. Here, I provide baseline information on putative seasonal recruitment patterns of reef fishes along a cross shelf gradient at an inshore, mid-shelf, and shelf-edge reef in the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea. I propose a basic comparative model to resolve biogeographic patterns in endemic and cosmopolitan reef fishes. Therefore, I chose the genetically, biologically, and ecologically similar coral-dwelling damselfishes Dascyllus aruanus and D. marginatus as a model species-group. As a first step, basic information on the distribution, population structure, and genetic diversity is evaluated within and outside the Red Sea along most of their global distribution. Second, pelagic larval durations (PLDs) within the Red Sea environmental gradient are explored. For the aforementioned, PLDs of the only other Red Sea Dascyllus, D. trimaculatus, are included for a more comprehensive comparison. Third, to further assess ongoing pathways of connectivity and geneflow related to larval behavior and dispersal in Red Sea reef fishes, the genetic composition and kinship of a single recruitment cohort of D. aruanus arriving together at one single reef is quantified using single nuclear polymorphisms (SNPs). Genetic diversity and relatedness of the recruits are compared to that of the standing population at the settlement reef, providing insight into putative dispersal strategies and behavior of coral reef fish larvae. As a fourth component to study traits shaping biogeography, the ecology and adaptive potential of the cosmopolitan D. aruanus is described by studying morphometric-geometrics of the body structure in relation to the stomach content and prey type from specimen along the cross-shelf of the central Red Sea and at a site outside the Red Sea, in Madagascar, and approach whether foraging strategies change depending on geographic location and environment, and if differences in diet are followed by phenotypic plasticity. Jointly, results suggest that biological responses and putative adaptive strategies are correlated with different biogeographic ranges and habitat preferences.
    • Assessment of Genetic Connectivity between Sudan and Saudi Arabia for Commercially Important Fish Species

      Wilson, Sara N. (2017-12)
      Patterns of genetic connectivity can help answer key questions about the evolutionary ecology of fishes. This knowledge is particularly useful when considering the management and conservation of species that are impacted by fisheries. Population connectivity in ocean habitats is heavily influenced by environmental and oceanographic factors. These factors can lead to strong genetic differences within populations, causing fragmentation into smaller subpopulations. The Red Sea exhibits pronounced oceanographic gradients in temperature, chlorophyll, and salinity, which have been assessed in various species’ populations and which have been found to have potential impacts on gene flow. The Red Sea also features strong cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies that may facilitate, or possibly inhibit, the transport of larvae throughout the Red Sea, potentially influencing gene flow themselves. The ability of oceanographic factors like eddies to structure wild fisheries populations in this region has yet to be fully determined. To address this, the genetic composition of two of the most highly fished species, (Plectropomus areolatus and Plectropomus pessuliferus marisrubri), in the Red Sea were evaluated utilizing genetic markers (polymorphic microsatellite loci). Samples from three geographically separate regions along the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coastline, as well as from Sudan, were analyzed to address latitudinal and cross-sea connectivity. I was able to determine that little genetic differentiation exists within Plectropomus species across all regions of the Red Sea, indicating high gene flow for these species throughout. These findings highlight the ability of currents and eddies to transport larvae along and across the Red Sea. The results from this study also indicate that a single population of P. areolatus and a single population of P. pessuliferus marisrubri occurs in the Red Sea. The high degree of genetic flow suggests that each species should be managed as individual units. This study presents a plausible avenue for buffering the effects of overfishing currently occurring in Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabian fish subpopulations may be reseeded by the Sudanese subpopulations.
    • Baselines and Comparison of Coral Reef Fish Assemblages in the Central Red Sea

      Kattan, Alexander (2014-12)
      In order to properly assess human impacts and appropriate restoration goals, baselines of pristine conditions on coral reefs are required. In Saudi Arabian waters of the central Red Sea, widespread and heavy fishing pressure has been ongoing for decades. To evaluate this influence, we surveyed the assemblage of offshore reef fishes in both this region as well as those of remote and largely unfished southern Sudan. At comparable latitudes, of similar oceanographic influence, and hosting the same array of species, the offshore reefs of southern Sudan provided an ideal location for comparison. We found that top predators (jacks, large snappers, groupers, and others) dominated the reef fish community biomass in Sudan’s deep south region, resulting in an inverted (top-heavy) biomass pyramid. In contrast, the Red Sea reefs of central Saudi Arabia exhibited the typical bottom-heavy pyramid and show evidence for trophic cascades in the form of mesopredator release. Biomass values from Sudan’s deep south are quite similar to those previously reported in the remote and uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands, northern Line Islands, Pitcairn Islands, and other remote Pacific islands and atolls. The findings of this study suggest that heavy fishing pressure has significantly altered the fish community structure of Saudi Arabian Red Sea reefs. The results point towards the urgent need for enhanced regulation and enforcement of fishing practices in Saudi Arabia while simultaneously making a strong case for protection in the form of marine protected areas in the southern Sudanese Red Sea.
    • Behavioral Strategies of Lanternfishes (Family Myctophidae) in a High-Latitude Fjord and the Tropical Red Sea

      Dypvik, Eivind (2012-12)
      The diel vertical migration (DVM) and feeding periodicity of myctophids (lanternfishes) were studied in the high-latitude Masfjorden, Norway, and the tropical Red Sea. In Masfjorden, a bottom-mounted echo sounder permitted continuous studies throughout the year, and revealed a diverse seasonal DVM behavior. During spring and summer, when zooplankton peaks in the epipelagic zone, migrating glacier lanternfish performed normal DVM (NDVM), ascending to the epipelagic zone during night and residing below ~200m during daytime. During autumn and winter, when Calanus overwinters between ~150–300 m, migrating glacier lanternfish mainly performed inverse DVM (IDVM), ascending to feed on Calanus in mid-waters during daytime. Non migrating (NoDVM) individuals were present all year below ~300 m in Masfjorden. In the Red Sea, where zooplankton has an epipelagic distribution, the whole population of skinnycheek lanternfish performed NDVM, feeding in the epipelagic zone at night, while residing at ~500–750 m during daytime. The warm waters of the Red Sea were hypothesized to limit the time individuals can stay in the mesopelagic zone without migrating to feed in the epipelagic layers. The DVM behavior of myctophids largely seemed to relate to the distribution of zooplankton, and it was hypothesized that NDVM will prevail with epipelagic distribution of prey, while IDVM and NoDVM are common in areas where zooplankton migrate seasonally to mesopelagic depths. Potential predators were continuously present, found to apparently attack glacier lanternfish, at mesopelagic depth in Masfjorden. Thus, myctophids are under threat of predation even at mesopelagic depth.
    • Biodiversity of Macrofauna Associated with Sponges across Ecological Gradients in the Central Red Sea

      Kandler, Nora (2015-12)
      Between 33 and 91 percent of marine species are currently undescribed, with the majority occurring in tropical and offshore environments. Sponges act as important microhabitats and promote biodiversity by harboring a wide variety of macrofauna and microbiota, but little is known about the relationships between the sponges and their symbionts. This study uses DNA barcoding to examine the macrofaunal communities associated with sponges of the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea, a drastically understudied ecosystem with high biodiversity and endemism. In total, 185 epifaunal and infaunal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were distinguished from the 1399 successfully-sequenced macrofauna individuals from 129 sponges representing seven sponge species, one of which (Stylissa carteri) was intensively studied. A significant difference was found in the macrofaunal community composition of Stylissa carteri along a cross-shelf gradient using relative OTU abundance (Bray-Curtis diversity index). The abundance of S. carteri also follows a cross-shelf gradient, increasing with proximity to shore. The difference in macrofaunal communities of several species of sponges at one location was found to be significant as well, using OTU presence (binary Jaccard diversity index). Four of the seven sponge species collected were dominated by a single annelid OTU, each unique to one sponge species. A fifth was dominated by four arthropod OTUs, all species-specific as well. Region-based diversity differences may be attributed to environmental factors such as reef morphology, water flow, and sedimentation, whereas species-based differences may be caused by sponge morphology, microbial abundances, and chemical defenses. As climate change and ocean acidification continue to modify coral reef ecosystems, understanding the ecology of sponges and their role as microhabitats may become more important. This thesis also includes a supplemental document in the form of a spreadsheet showing the number of macrofauna individuals of each OTU found within each sponge sample.
    • Biodiversity Patterns on an Inshore to Offshore Gradient Using Metabarcoding and Barcoding Molecular Tools

      Villalobos Vazquez de la Parra, Rodrigo (2015-12)
      It has been estimated that coral reefs shelter 830 000 species. Well-studied biodiversity patterns provide tools for better representation of species in marine protected areas. A cross-shelf gradient in biodiversity exists for fishes, corals, and macroalgae. Here, an inshore to offshore gradient in biodiversity on the Saudi Arabian coast of the Red Sea was sampled using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) with barcoding and metabarcoding techniques. It was hypothesized that differences in community structure would be driven by an increase in habitat area. The difference was attributed to the greater accumulation of sediments close to shore that increases the area habitable for sediment dwelling organisms and favors macroalgal cover. Macroalgae are inhabited by a greater number of species than live coral. Only 10% of the sequences of the barcoded fraction and <1% of the metabarcoded fraction had a BLAST hit on the NCBI database with a previously identified species sequence. In addition, the rarefaction curves for all fractions did not plateau. The ARMS community composition changed from inshore to offshore and was significantly correlated with the percentage of algal and bryozoan plate cover. The differences in community composition were related to changes in habitat but not to sediments retrieved from the ARMS.