(1/71) Epidermal lesions and mortality caused by vibriosis in deep-sea Bahamian echinoids: a laboratory study.

When significant mortality of the bathyal spatangoid echinoid Paleopneustes cristatus occurred under laboratory conditions, we investigated the cause and course of the disease by culturing and identifying internal pathogens, then experimentally infecting healthy urchins with isolates of the suspected disease organism. The pathogen was determined to be the gram-negative halophilic bacterium Vibrio alginolyticus. This species was also recovered from frozen post-challenge specimens of P. cristatus and from moribund individuals of Archaeopneustes hystrix, another spatangoid reared under similar in vitro conditions. This is the first experimental study of bacterial disease in any deep-sea invertebrate.  (+info)

(2/71) Natural restoration of the species-area relation for a lizard after a hurricane.

We document the decimation and recovery of the commonest lizard species, Anolis sagrei, on 66 islands in the Bahamas that were directly hit by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. Before the hurricane, an island's area was a better predictor of the occurrence of A. sagrei than was its altitude. Immediately after, altitude was a better predictor: Apparently all lizards on islands lower than about 3 meters maximum elevation perished in the storm surge. After about 1 year, area again became the better predictor. By 19 months after the hurricane, A. sagrei populations occurred on 88% of the islands they formerly occupied. Recovery occurred via overwater colonization and propagation from eggs that survived inundation, mechanisms that were enhanced by larger island area. Thus, natural processes first destroyed and then quickly restored a highly regular species-area distribution.  (+info)

(3/71) The breeding biology of lemon sharks at a tropical nursery lagoon.

Surprisingly little is known about the reproductive behaviour and breeding biology of most shark species, especially in natural populations. Here, we characterize reproductive patterns and use of a natal nursery at Bimini, Bahamas by lemon sharks, Negaprion brevirostris. We systematically and exhaustively sampled young lemon sharks at Bimini annually from 1995 to 2000 and opportunistically sampled adults over the same period. Out of the 897 young sharks sampled, 119 could be assigned to five sampled mothers using microsatellite genotyping. Reproductive females showed strong philopatry to the nursery, returning to Bimini every two years to give birth. Each of these females may rely entirely on the Bimini nursery for recruitment. The protection of known nursery grounds should therefore figure prominently in conservation efforts for large coastal shark species. The reconstruction of paternal genotypes indicates that litters are sired by multiple males, and females mate with different males nearly every breeding cycle. The ubiquitous polyandry reported here raises the possibility that genetic incompatibility and post-copulatory paternity-biasing mechanisms may operate in viviparous sharks.  (+info)

(4/71) Genetic evidence for local retention of pelagic larvae in a Caribbean reef fish.

The pelagic larvae of many marine organisms can potentially disperse across hundreds of kilometers, but whether oceanographic or behavioral mechanisms can constrain dispersal over periods sufficient for the evolution of genetic differentiation remains unclear. Here, we concurrently examine larval duration and genetic population differentiation in a cleaner goby, Elacatinus evelynae, a member of the most species-rich genus of Caribbean reef fishes. Despite evidence for extended pelagic duration (21 days), populations of E. evelynae show strong genetic differentiation: among color forms (1.36 to 3.04% divergent at mitochondrial cytochrome b) and among island populations within color forms (Phi(ST) up to 70%). These results suggest that marine populations can remain demographically closed for thousands of generations despite extended larval duration, and that recognition cues such as color may promote speciation when geographic barriers are transient or weak.  (+info)

(5/71) Persistence of Mhc heterozygosity in homozygous clonal killifish, Rivulus marmoratus: implications for the origin of hermaphroditism.

The mangrove killifish Rivulus marmoratus, a neotropical fish in the order Cyprinodontiformes, is the only known obligatorily selfing, synchronous hermaphroditic vertebrate. To shed light on its population structure and the origin of hermaphroditism, major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) class I genes of the killifish from seven different localities in Florida, Belize, and the Bahamas were cloned and sequenced. Thirteen loci and their alleles were identified and classified into eight groups. The loci apparently arose approximately 20 million years ago (MYA) by gene duplications from a single common progenitor in the ancestors of R. marmoratus and its closest relatives. Distinct loci were found to be restricted to different populations and different individuals in the same population. Up to 44% of the fish were heterozygotes at Mhc loci, as compared to near homozygosity at non-Mhc loci. Large genetic distances between some of the Mhc alleles revealed the presence of ancestral allelic lineages. Computer simulation designed to explain these findings indicated that selfing is incomplete in R. marmoratus populations, that Mhc allelic lineages must have diverged before the onset of selfing, and that the hermaphroditism arose in a population containing multiple ancestral Mhc lineages. A model is proposed in which hermaphroditism arose stage-wise by mutations, each of which spread through the entire population and was fixed independently in the emerging clones.  (+info)

(6/71) Seaweed resistance to microbial attack: a targeted chemical defense against marine fungi.

Pathogenic microbes can devastate populations of marine plants and animals. Yet, many sessile organisms such as seaweeds and sponges suffer remarkably low levels of microbial infection, despite lacking cell-based immune systems. Antimicrobial defenses of marine organisms are largely uncharacterized, although from a small number of studies it appears that chemical defenses may improve host resistance. In this study, we asked whether the common seaweed Lobophora variegata is chemically defended against potentially deleterious microorganisms. Using bioassay-guided fractionation, we isolated and characterized a 22-membered cyclic lactone, lobophorolide (1), of presumed polyketide origin, with sub-microM activity against pathogenic and saprophytic marine fungi. Deterrent concentrations of 1 were found in 46 of 51 samples collected from 10 locations in the Bahamas over a 4-year period. Lobophorolide (1) is structurally unprecedented, yet parts of the molecule are related to tolytoxin, the scytophycins, and the swinholides, macrolides previously isolated from terrestrial cyanobacteria and from marine sponges and gastropods. Until now, compounds of this structural class have not been associated with marine macrophytes. Our findings suggest that seaweeds use targeted antimicrobial chemical defense strategies and that secondary metabolites important in the ecological interactions between marine macroorganisms and microorganisms could be a promising source of novel bioactive compounds.  (+info)

(7/71) Determinate growth and modularity in a gorgonian octocoral.

Growth rates of branches of colonies of the gorgonian Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae were monitored for 2 years on a reef at San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Images of 261 colonies were made at 6-month intervals and colony and branch growth analyzed. Branch growth rates differed between colonies and between the time intervals in which the measurements were made. Colonies developed a plumelike morphology through a pattern of branch origination and determinate growth in which branch growth rates were greatest at the time the branch originated and branches seldom grew beyond a length of 8 cm. A small number of branches had greater growth rates, did not stop growing, and were sites for the origination of subsequent "generations" of branches. The rate of branch origination decreased with each generation of branching, and branch growth rates were lower on larger colonies, leading to determinate colony growth. Although colonial invertebrates like P. elisabethae grow through the addition of polyps, branches behave as modules with determinate growth. Colony form and size is generated by the iterative addition of branches.  (+info)

(8/71) Variable ecological effects of hurricanes: the importance of seasonal timing for survival of lizards on Bahamian islands.

Two recent hurricanes passed directly over the northern Bahamas 2 years apart, allowing a comparison of their effects on lizard populations inhabiting exactly the same islands. The hurricanes differed in two ways: one struck during the reproductive season and was relatively severe; the other struck after most reproduction had taken place and was milder. The late-season hurricane produced a significant relation between population reduction and lowness of the island that lasted at least through two seasons; the earlier hurricane produced no such relationship. The late-season hurricane wiped out populations of lizards on two islands (two of the three lowest) that the earlier hurricane failed to exterminate even though it was stronger. We relate these effects to the fact that the study lizards regenerated from the earlier hurricane only via the egg stage, whereas eggs were unavailable when the later storm struck and regeneration was via hatched lizards. We discriminate and illustrate four kinds of hurricanes, cross-classified by two contrasts: earlier vs. later and stronger vs. weaker. A later, stronger hurricane completely exterminated lizard populations at a second Bahamian site, whereas an earlier, weaker hurricane had no detectable effect at a third Bahamian site. We suggest that, in addition to severity, the timing of a hurricane as it coincides with reproductive scheduling or other phenological aspects may determine the magnitude of its effect on a variety of organisms.  (+info)