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Abstract Detail

Recent Topics Posters

Jerris, Kyle [1].

Characterizing the Invasion of the Seagrass Halophila stipulacea in St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands .

The Indian ocean seagrass Halophila stipulacea, has invaded the Caribbean, first being seen in 2002 on Guadeloupe and rapily expanding its range. The invasive potential of this species is demonstrated by the fact that it invaded the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. Its ability to reproduce through fragmentation, has allowed it to be especially successful at invading new areas. This study aims to characterize the invasion of this seagrass on the island of St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands. H. stipulacea has never officially been documented on St. Thomas, making this the first report. In the Caribbean, there are no recorded occurrences of flowering. Thus, this angiosperm is reproducing solely through fragmentation. We are investigating the clonal diversity of H. stipulacea in the northern US Virgin Islands. We collected eight samples along a 64 m transect in water 1-2 m deep at eight sites. Three were at the south side of St. Thomas and another three were at the north side. The remaining two were on Water Island and St. John. We then collected morphological data by measuring the length and width of the leaf blades, as well as the space between nodes on the rhizome. DNA samples were also collected. The morphological data suggest some differences between sites. These morphological differences might be caused by either environmental or genetic differences. The genetic data we have already sequenced suggest that there are some differences in genotype among sites and even within the same population. This can indicate multiple source populations of the invasion or mutations in the current population. Historical data suggest this new seagrass has also changed community structure of seagrass beds on the islands by replacing native species. Because seagrasses are important ecosystem engineers, this invasion has the potential to dramatically alter Caribbean marine communities; thus, the spread of this invasive should be monitored. This summer, we plan to map the current seagrass species distribution in Brewer’s bay. We will use this data to monitor changes in community structure as well as rate of spread within the bay over time.  

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1 - University of the Virgin Island, Science and Math, #2 John Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 00802, USA

invasive species

Presentation Type: Recent Topics Poster
Session: P, Recent Topics Posters
Location: Exhibit Hall/Omni Hotel
Date: Monday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PRT014
Abstract ID:761
Candidate for Awards:None

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