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The University of The Bahamas

Biology Research

Below are recent and/or current Biology research projects at the GRC (updated November 2016).

To download a PDF list of all past Biology projects, please click HERE.

Number Project Title, Researcher, & Abstract
B-107 Studies on Tropical Marine Cave Invertebrates, Jerry Carpenter

Several caves on San Salvador Island are unusual in that they have saltwater at the surface of the cave waters, rather than below a freshwater layer. This has allowed my research teams to collect, observe, and describe a unique variety of marine cave animals, including several new species: two isopod crustaceans (Bahalana geracei and Neostenetroides stocki), a remipede crustacean (Speleonectes epilimnius), and most recently (2011) the world's first and only known cave brittle star (Amphicutis stygobita). My students and I have been studying the behavior, life histories, and population dynamics of the cave crustaceans since 1978. Now I plan to study some of these same aspects of the cave brittle star. This will require collecting brittle stars from their only know location (Bernier Cave), with the hopes of studying such things as: reaction to various wave lengths of light, tolerance to different salinities, habitat preferences, interactions with potential predators, possible feeding strategies, and reproduction and embryologic development. Some of these studies may be performed at GRC, while others will require exporting specimens to the U.S. for long-term observations.
B-133 Population Biology of Inland Fishes in the Bahamas, Michael Barton

In our ongoing studies of the biology of inland fishes of the Bahamas, we are currently focusing on the population biology and behavior of the three known morphs of pupfishes of the genus Cyprinodon that inhabit San Salvador Island. In previous field work, we have looked at the comparative morphology and behavior of the "bulldog" and "normal" morphs. We wish to now expand this study to include the "bozo" morph which has been recently discovered to be quite common, especially in Crescent Pond and Little Lake. We wish to assess the capacity of this morph to interbreed with other morphs, and evaluate the morphological consequences of such interbreeding. This will entail collection of preserved material for scanning electron microscope analysis in our home lab, as well as collection of live specimens for purposes of breeding such that a comparative study of larval development can be made.
B-155 Long Term Monitoring of the Health of Coral Reefs off San Salvador, Bahamas, John Rollino

B-176 Reproductive Biology of Mangroves and Associates on San Salvador Island, Bahamas and other Bahamian Islands, Lee Kass, Robert Hunt, and Susan Danforth

The purpose of our research is to characterize the reproductive biology and plant-animal interactions of mangroves and other plant species on San Salvador Island with the long-term goal of doing comparative studies with conspecific populations on other islands and mainlands. Other island populations may have different interactions with pollinators and may have evolved different pollination syndromes and breeding systems. We also hope to understand which species are vulnerable to environmental changes that islands, in particular, are experiencing. We propose to continue our studies of the reproductive biology of mangroves and other plant species on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. We have gathered extensive data on the pollination biology and breeding systems of the following species that have been published in journals and proceedings: Red Mangrove, (Rhizophora mangle: Rhizophoraceae), White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa: Combretaceae), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans: Avicenniaceae), Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus: Combretaceae), Bahama Swamp-bush (Pavonia bahamensis: Malvaceae), Strongback (Bourreria succulenta =B. ovata: Boraginaceae), Quicksilver-bush (Thouinia discolor: Sapindaceae); Red Anneslia (Calliandra haematomma: Fabaceae) and Woolly Corchorus (Corchorus hirsutus: Malvaceae/Tiliaceae). We also have small data sets for Wild Tobacco (Pluchea symphytifolia: Asteraceae), Bay Lavender (Tournefortia gnaphalodes: Boraginaceae, [Syn. Mallotonia gnaphalodes]) and Bay Cedar (Suriana maritima: Surianaceae). We have collected additional data for Buttonwood, and Bay Lavender. We have initial observations on Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus: Apocyanaceae), Bay Cedar (Suriana maritima: Surianaceae) and have set up a preliminary investigation of Seven Year Apple (Casasia clusiifolia: Rubiaceae). We plan to continue studies of Bay Cedar, Seven Year Apple, Ink Berry (Scaevola plumieri) and the invasive White Ink Berry (Scaevola taccada). In June 2010, we established a site to study the ecology of the dune plant Bay Lavender and two sites to study the effects of Australian Pine on native dune plants. We plan to continue characterizing the reproductive biology and pollination of different species on San Salvador and to make comparisons with other island populations and with populations on mainland Florida.
B-208 Tenebrionid beetles and associated insects of the Bahama Islands, Warren E. Steiner

The study involves making collections of insect specimens, with a primary focus on the beetle family Tenebrionidae, from each of the major island groups. From earlier literature and studies of a few known collections in museums, this group of beetles has been shown to be information-rich and contains a number of species from the Bahamas that are new to science. Others are non-native species, of a possible pest status and a threat to native life, and the spread of these among the islands needs to be detected and monitored. In addition to continued field research on San Salvador, future visits to other islands will be made on separate trips in the coming years. As in previous years, faunal lists and descriptions of new species with information on biogeography, life history, conservation, and economic importance, will be published in refereed scientific journals. Samples will be taken using various manual techniques and with standard entomological equipment, with no disturbance to natural habitats. Specimens will be preserved and labeled by locality for ongoing systematic studies (faunal lists for each island and descriptions of species and habitats) and will be kept for future studies, reference and teaching, in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC USA, the Department of Agriculture, Nassau, Bahamas, and other Bahamian natural history museum(s) that will maintain insect collections in the future. Results and information will be of value in mapping the greater distributions and relationships of species throughout the Caribbean and Middle American region.
B-209 Australian pine (Casuarinas equisettifolia, L.) in the Bahamas: the distribution, dispersal, and interaction with the native environment, John Rodgers

The purpose of this project is to quantify the dispersal and population ecology of the invasive casuarinas (Casuarina equisetifolia L.) in the Bahamas. Long-term field plots have been established, and the size, location, and distribution patterns have been recorded over time. Additionally there are plans to document the intra-island and inter-island genetic variability of this invasive species. The ultimate goal is to quantify the impact of these invaders on the native habitat, to learn more about its dispersal potential, and to develop effective control procedures.
B-212 Systematic collection of the flora of San Salvador Island, Todd Egan

Flora of San Salvador Island, The Bahamas: I will collect plant samples for curation of plants from San Salvador Island. Samples will be brought to the U.S.A. and mounted for use in updating the "Flora of the Bahama Archipelago." This data will serve as a baseline for which species occur on San Salvador Island. Specimens can also be used for systematic research.
B-213 A Paleological Study of the Late Quarternary Vegetative History of San Salvador Island, Thomas Synder

The flora of the Bahamas has been extensively describes but the effects on the vegetation of climate and anthropogenic inputs by both indigenous peoples and colonial era settlement is unclear. Examination of pollen profiles in cores from inland lakes provides the best method to explore the past vegetative history. An unresolved issue is the representative nature of pollen profiles in the hypersaline lakes of San Salvador with their high loads of cyanobacteria and cyanobacterial EPS. Cores for inland lakes are being examined, a key to Bahamian pollen has been produced, studies are underway to compare extant vegetation with pollen in recent sediments.
B-214 Palynology and Paleoecology of San Salvador: Analysis of Pollen Cores from Inland Lakes, Jeffrey Blick

Several sediment cores were taken in May 2005 by Kjellmark and Blick from North Storr's Lake, Long Bay Settlement Pond, and Triangle Pond, located near the Storr's Lake, Long Bay, and Minnis-Ward archaeological sites. Two additional cores were obtained from Six Pack Pond in June 2012. Coring was designed to provide information about paleoclimatic and paleobotanical conditions near these sites and on the island generally in prehistoric times. Based on shell fragments near, and bedrock encountered at, the base of the Triangle Pond core, Triangle Pond appears to have been open to the ocean between 2450+-25 B.P. and earlier (ca. 4000 B.P.). A foraminifer present in the basal sediments of the Triangle Pond core supports this interpretation. These findings have implications regarding the accuracy and timing of the Holocene Bahamian sea level curve. Calculation of sedimentation rates based on known radiometric dates taken from the Triangle Pond core is utilized to help address this and other chronological issues. Around 1000+-40 B.P. and somewhat earlier, terrestrial archaeological deposits at the Minnis-Ward site of Cerion suggest local environmental conditions were generally similar to those of the present day, perhaps more humid. The presence of Cerion, as a paleoclimatic indicator, suggests there was a moist leaf litter environment associated with the ground surface at Minnis-Ward. Shortly thereafter (ca. 960 B.P.), Kjellmark's finding of increased charcoal concentrations in Triangle Pond sediments at 35 cm is explicable by prehistoric Lucayan slash-and-burn agricultural practices; evidence for later burning at 28-30 cm is attributable to English colonial farming practices and dated to 180+-20 B.P. (cal A.D. 1730-1810). Kjellmark's identification of pollen represented throughout the sediment core indicates the presence of many taxa that were available as utilitarian plants to the Lucayans (various mangrove, myrtle, palm, and other species used for wood, firewood, medicine, fiber, thatch, etc.); other pollen taxa (sedges, grasses including Zea mays, and disturbance indicators) indicate human alteration of the local vegetation from prehistoric to historic and modern times (ca. A.D. 1950). Work on the North Storr's Lake, Long Bay Settlement Pond, and Six Pack Pond cores is still in progress as of September 2012.
B/G-220 Discrimination between species of the hydrozoan millepora using morphologic and genetic analyses, Craig Tepper

Fire corals of the genus Millepora are ubiquitous in tropical western Atlantic reefs. Two distinct morphologies of Millepora, currently classified as separate species, exist off the coast of the Bahamas. M. complanata have broad, smooth blades and prefer shallow waters whereas M. alcicornis have finer, knobby branches and prefer deeper waters. However, due to extensive phenotypic plasticity in the group, a wide range of intermediate growth forms exist that do not fit into either species group. In order to untangle the evolutionary relationship of the Millepores, we have initiated a phylogenetic analysis. A maximum likelihood tree that was constructed from rDNA sequences showed that the Millepores separated into two distinct clades that were independent of depth, reef location and growth form. This suggests that Millepores may be reproductively isolated cryptic species. A major concern with using rDNA is the existence of variability among repeated rDNA units within single individuals. We analyzed the variability within rDNA repeats and our results indicated that there was little intragenomic sequence variability within these repeats. We are also examining the potential folding patterns of these rRNA repeats (important for proper rRNA processing) in order to determine whether each clade has a common secondary structure.
B-229 The effect of hurricane activity on the reproductive life histories of the scaly pearl oyster in San Salvador's inland ponds, Eric Cole

By capturing live oysters, measuring their shells (hinge length) and performing field needle biopsies, we can determine both age and sex of a living population of scaly pearl oysters living in the inland ponds on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. By tagging and caging these, we can determine growth rates, and schedule of sex changes during their life history. By collecting, and preserving tissues from these oysters, we can return to the US and establish gender and reproductive maturity more accurately using wax histology and light microscopy. Our aim is to characterize the variety of life history trajectories exhibited by these populations and relate these to possible environmental and evolutionary influences.
B-232 Bacterial Communication in Microbial Mats: A Metagenomic Approach to Understanding Quorum Sensing Gene Diversity and Expression, R. Sean Norman

The aim of this study is to understand how microorganisms respond at a molecular level to changes in environmental conditions (e.g., changes in salinity) and how these molecular level changes relate to overall ecosystem function. We are examining hypersaline microbial mats as a model ecosystem and are using metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches to determine change in microbial community structure and gene expression over time.
B-234 Field survival of divergent ecomorphs within a young adaptive radiation of Cyprinodon pupfishes on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Christopher Martin

In March 2011, four mesh enclosures (4 m diameter by 1.6 m height) were constructed in Crescent Pond and Little Lake. Approximately 1900 individually tagged Cyprinodon pupfishes, second-generation juvenile fish raised in the lab at UCDavis, were transported to San Salvador Island and introduced into these enclosures in low and high-density treatments. Populations from Crescent Pond and Little Lake were kept separate in the lab so that F2 generation fish were returned to the same lake as their grandparents and no inter-lake gene flow was possible. In July 2011, all experimental fish were collected from these enclosures (approximately 400 survivors), euthanized, and returned to Davis for measurement and tag retrieval. Enclosure supports were left in place for future use and enclosure mesh was stored on site under tarps. All fishes used in this experiment are currently being measured and no results are yet available. This project will result in an empirical estimate of the fitness landscape for pupfish morphology within inland lakes on San Salvador Island.
B-236 Health and taphonomy of Telephone Pole Reef: A model for recognizing rapid biotic transitions in ancient coral-algal reefs, David Griffing

Telephone Pole Reef (TPR), a patch reef leeward of San Salvador Island, Bahamas, has undergone rapid biotic and taphonomic change in the past two decades, and the health of the current dominant coral species (Porites porites) continues to decline. In June of 2008, P. porites coral colonies at TPR were systemically examined, photographed and sampled, following techniques used in 1993, 1998, and 2000 surveys of TPR (Curran et al., 2004), and the decline in health was quantified by photographic area analysis. This study also noted patterns of polyp death and taphonomic transitions in dead/dying P. porites colonies at TPR, with the goal of identifying environmental causes. The taphonomy of TPR P. porites was compared with: 1) documented post-mortem skeletal changes of Acropora cervicornis corals that dominated TPR prior to 1983, and with 2) Porites and Acropora fossils from the Sangamonian (~125 Ka) reef deposits on San Salvador Island. The current phase of research focuses on: 1) continued monitoring of biotic/taphonomic changes visible on/in P. porites colonies at TPR, and 2) a more detailed stratigraphic and areal examination of post-mortem encrustations of Sangamonian fossil Porites and Acropora, with emphasis on microbial influence on the reef corals and reef sediment.
B-238 Marine Natural Products, Russel Kerr

The overall aim of our research is to discover novel bioactive natural products from marine macroorganisms and microorganisms. Bacteria and fungi are sought from sediment as well as invertebrates and algae. Since the microbial communities of many of these marine "microhabitats" is unknown much of our work focuses on the use of culture independent methods to determine the extent of bacterial and fungal diversity in different sediments and invertebrates. Once an understanding of the microbial communities is established, specific culture methods are used to isolate selected bacteria and fungi. Novel microbes are then fermented and the presence of natural products determined using bioassays and chemical screens. We are also interested in the potential of aquaculture of the octocoral P. elisabethae as a sustainable source of natural products. To establish the feasibility of this process, survival of transplanted samples and growth rates of control vs. transplanted samples will be assessed.
B-244 Population genetics of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) on San Salvador, Randall Cross

B-247 Population dynamics of the dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Emma Kennedy

B-248 Ecology and taxonomy of Leiocephalus and Anolis on San Salvador, Randall Morrison

I have been conducting a long-term population study of two populations of Leiocephalus loxogrammus (at the Sandy Point Pits and Sandy Point Plantation slave quarters) and two populations of Anolis sagrei (at the Sandy Point Plantation slave quarters and the Kerr Mount Plantation). I now intend to examine the use of skin pigmentation and color change using reflectance spectroscopy in structuring these populations. Both variability of color and color change within genders and in male/male and male/female interactions will be addressed.
B-249 Jimbay (Leucaena leucocephala) seed predation, Todd Egan

The purpose of this study was to determine if Jimbay, Leucaena leucocephala, fruits are more heavily preyed upon by insects when they are in a dense stand bordered by forest, or when they are growing in a relatively less dense stand in the open. We are testing 4 hypotheses. (1) Jimbay fruits and seeds suffer greater insect predation when growing along a denser canopy than when growing in a relatively low density because there will be more insects growing in the surrounding forest. (2) Jimbay seeds germinate better in cooler, wetter seasons because there is less water stress. (3) Jimbay seeds require scarification to germinate because their seed coats need to be abraded to imbibe water. (4) Preyed upon seeds will germinate better because they will have had their seed coats abraded. Probably not because we see embryos consumed.
B-250 Experiments in reef restoration: Transplant, relocation, and re-establishment of Acropora palmata and Diadema antillarum on shallow water patch reefs, John Rollino

B-251 Continuation of studies of bats and rats on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Craig Stihler and Phillip Dougherty

We are looking at the distribution and population trends of bats in caves on San Salvador Island and plan to supplement these data using acoustic surveys to examine areas used by bats outside of caves. Guano samples of insectivorous are collected and analyzed to examine food habits of these bats. Searches of abandoned buildings provide additional data on species, such as Eptesicus fuscus, which roost in these structures. We are using live-trapping to look at the distribution of black rats on the island in both feral and commensal settings. Capture rates (number caught/trap night) provide information on population trends in these settings.
B-252 Small leaf mahogany, Sweitenia mahagoni, distribution and silvaculture on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Thomas Synder

The purpose of this research is to identify native mahogany trees on San Salvador using GIS imagery, work out simple techniques for propagating mahogany in the island setting, determine if the current extremely limited distribution of trees is due to lack of suitable habitat or past exploitation, and to produce an educational booklet encouraging the propagation of mahogany.
B-253 Using pollination networks as a framework for the investigation of direct and indirect interations within and between coastal plant communities in San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Carol Landry

The purpose of this study is to describe pollination networks in coastal plant communities on San Salvador Island, including sandstrand-foredune, Coccothrinax-shrub, shrub-thicket, thicket-coppice, mangrove and coastal rock communities. Network species will be identified based on field observations; all animal-pollinated plant species in flower within the communities will be observed, and animal visitors that make contact with floral reproductive structures will be considered potential pollinators. Additional work to determine the relative effectiveness of pollination services provided by different animal species is planned for the future. The networks will be used to: 1) identify plant species that share pollinators, both within and between communities, in order to reveal potential indirect competitive and facilitative interactions; 2) determine whether some species are more important to the network than others, and if so, why; 3) compare pollination networks in similar communities on differently-sized islands; and 4) test the resilience of the pollination networks to hurricane disturbance. Additional tests will be performed to investigate potential competitive and facilitative interactions between plant species and pollinator species in order to understand the pollination dynamics within and between coastal communities. The effects of invasive species on community pollination dynamics will also be investigated.
B-254 Mating preferences of Bahamian pupfish: function of olfactory and visual cues in mate choice, Astrid Kodric-Brown and Rhiannon West

Premating isolating mechanisms that result in assortative mating and genetic divergence between species that evolved in sympatry are still poorly understood. We examine the cues used in species recognition and assortative mating in a sympatric species flock of pupfishes (Cyprinodon) from San Salvador Island, The Bahamas. The species are morphologically and genetically distinct and occupy different trophic niches. We focus on two species, a generalist detritivore and a predatory scale-eater. Our experimental results show that premating isolation relies on visual but not olfactory cues, is asymmetrical, and is present in the less abundant scale-eater but absent or poorly developed in the more abundant detritivore. Responses of detritivore females from three lakes to conspecific and scale-eater males suggest that the abundance of predators also affects the development of premating isolating mechanisms in the prey species. Only females from lakes with a higher frequency of scale-eaters showed a visual response to conspecific males. Experimental studies of underlying mechanisms of species recognition which lead to assortative mating in sympatric species provide unique insights into the importance of frequency-dependent effects and roles of predators in the evolution of premating isolating mechanisms.
B-257 Habitat use, behaviors and growth patterns of San Salvador pupfish (Cyprinodon spp) in inland ponds of San Salvador, David Lonzarich

We quantified courtship and habitat use in normal, bulldog and bozo pupfish from Crescent and Oyster ponds. From underwater observations of courtship behavior, we discovered strong female preferences for related males (in both ponds) although these preferences were more pronounced in bulldogs than bozos. The three morphs also exhibited strong spatial segregation but habitat use differed in the two ponds and, in Crescent Pond, also with tidal height. At high tide, male bulldogs in Crescent Pond were restricted to the shallow nearshore, while male bozos used the outer edge of the littoral zone. Male normals were widely distributed, occupying larges areas of the littoral zone. At low tide, male bulldogs moved into the littoral zone, where they, along with female bulldogs, foraged on scales of other pupfish. In Oyster Pond, male bulldogs occupied two distinctive habitat types. Small bulldogs courted females in muddy substrates at the edge of algal patches. Larger bulldogs defended territories atop small, densely vegetated mounds scattered across the pond bottom. Both normal and bozo pupfish used a variety of habitats, overlapping very little with bulldogs. These results suggest that interbreeding by these pupfish morphs may be limited by both behavioral and habitat-based isolating mechanisms.
B-259 Invasive lionfish at San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Mark Kuhlmann

The goal of this project is to document the distribution and abundance of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) at San Salvador, Bahamas, and gather preliminary data to begin testing the hypothesis that lionfish compete with a native predator, the coney. The project allows volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report sightings of lionfish, an invasive species, around San Salvador Island. The data will be used to build a long-term database of lionfish abundance and distribution around the island. These data can be used by a variety of resource agencies and researchers working on understanding and mitigating the effects of the lionfish invasion. Field surveys of coney, lionfish, and grouper abundance will be conducted to test the competition hypothesis.
B-261 Ecology of bat flies in the Neotropics, Katharina Dittmar De La Cruz

B-262 The effects of heterospecific aggression on winter habitat use in a migrant and resident passerine, Kathryn Peiman

The ecological and evolutionary consequences of heterospecific competition have historically received little attention. The migratory WEVI and resident TBVI are sister taxa that are ecologically similar and only coexist during the non-breeding season in parts of their range, so that some populations interact with each other over winter food resources (sympatric) while other populations never encounter the heterospecific (allopatric). The effects of competition within a population should increase with temporal declines in resource abundance (from fall to winter). If either species engages in interference competition, they should display higher levels of aggression towards simulated heterospecific intruders in sympatry compared to allopatry, territories should not overlap, and aggression should be maintained from fall to winter. I studied populations on Abaco Island (sympatric), San Salvador Island (TBVI allopatric) and Mexico (WEVI allopatric) using taxidermy mounts and an auditory stimulus to simulate intrusions in territories of color-banded individuals in both the fall and the winter, and recorded the territory holder's movement and vocal responses. I also followed banded territory holders to determine territory size and whether territories overlapped within or between species. This was the first test of adaptive heterospecific aggression on the wintering grounds for any species of bird.
B-263 Pollination of Apocynaceae in the Bahamas, Tatyana Livshultz

B-264 Illustrated Guide to the Trees of San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Lee Kass and John Winter

We proposed to write a guide to the Trees of San Salvador Island, Bahamas following the format used by Kass in her Guides to the Common Plants of San Salvador Island, Bahamas (Kass 1991, 2005 2nd ed., 2009 3rd ed.) In consultation with Dr. Robert Jones, who was trained as a forester, Kass will write the tree descriptions in terms that a non-botanist can understand. Winter has extensive knowledge of the island and can locate trees in the interior that are not easily accessible on open roads. Tom and Karen Snyder accepted our invitation to join the Trees project after collecting and identifying plants for the Bahamas National Herbarium-Annex Herbarium on San Salvador in February 2012 with Kass. Winter and Kass each have over 30 years' experience working on San Salvador Island and are currently doing projects there.
B-265 Examining Carry-over Effects between Winter and Breeding Season Phenomena in Prairie Warblers Using Stable-isotope Analysis, Michael Akresh

I am examining if there is a gradient in Carbon (delta-13C) stable isotope signatures corresponding with non-breeding habitat quality for prairie warblers (Setophaga discolor) that could explain patterns in arrival dates, reproductive success, and natal dispersal on the breeding grounds. To accomplish this, I am conducting extensive demographic research during the non-breeding and breeding seasons. In the non-breeding season, I am working on San Salvador Island, where I am examining prairie warbler body condition, habitat use and territoriality along a moisture gradient in wet mangroves and dry coastal scrub habitat types. I will then assess if birds in these habitats are maintaining or have deteriorating body condition as the dry winter season progresses, and using isotope analysis, if this subsequently affects arriving birds on the breeding grounds. In San Salvador, methods include extensive mist-netting and re-sighting color banded prairie warblers. In addition to working with prairie warblers on San Salvador, I will assess non-breeding habitat use and condition of other Neotropical migratory birds. Lastly, I will continue to survey populations on San Salvador in areas where Dr. Michael Murphy conducted mist-netting work in the 1990s, so that I can augment a rare long-term mist-netting dataset of Neotropical migratory birds in the non-breeding grounds.
B-266 A study of a Branching Silver Thatch Palm (Coccothrinax argentata) in the Bahamas, Lee Kass and Sandra Buckner

Coccothrinax argentata is an endemic Bahamian palm, first collected in the Bahamas in the late 1700's and its description was first published in the early1800's (Jacquin1800-1809). While engaged in the study of Iguanas, Sandra Buckner observed a branching C. argentata palm on Sandy Cay in the Exumas. We proposed to continue to monitor this palm for future branching. Given that hurricanes are prominent in the Bahama Archipelago, we proposed that more careful observations continue to be made throughout the region to assess Coccothrinax-shrub communities for additional instances of branching in C. argentata and other solitary Bahamian palms. C. argentata is threatened in Florida (Kass et al. in press) and is described as an economically important plant in the horticultural literature. It is grown as an ornamental in yards and gardens (Gilman and Watson 2012), and provides protection to dunes (Kass 2009). The palm was also reported to propagate by offshoots from its base in Florida populations (Bailey 1939, Zona 2000). We planned to survey Bahamian populations for this phenomenon. Additionally, C. argentata is assumed to be either wind/or insect pollinated (Davis et al. 2007, Tomlinson 2001). Recent experimental studies in Florida populations support the hypothesis that insects may play a role in its pollination (Khorsand Rosa & Koptur 2009). Although we did not observe flower visitors to the Sandy Cay branching palm, Kass observed beetles visiting inflorescences on a young C. argentata on San Salvador Island, Bahamas in June 2010 (Kass unpublished). This observation provides additional support to the idea that insects may play a part in pollinating this palm. Recent studies (Korsan Rosa et al. 2012) on other palms, however, have demonstrated that field observations of flower visitors showed that they did not effectively pollinate female flowers; studies of pollen on the insects showed that it was not conspecific, suggesting that future studies should be supplemented by laboratory analysis to distinguish floral visitors from pollinators. Further observations of flower visitors and pollen are warranted for this palm.
B-267 Host use and biodiversity of sponge-dwelling shrimp Synalpheus, J. Emmett Duffy

B-268 Reconstructing evolutionary history of sea oats (Uniola paniculata) and its applications to sand dune restoration, Eva Gonzales

B-269 Population stability of crinoid echinoderms (feather stars) in the tropical Western Atlantic, David Meyer

This project will determine the diversity and abundance of crinoid echinoderms (feather stars) on coral reefs at specific locations in the tropical western Atlantic region where previous field surveys were conducted as long ago as over 40 yrs. Resurveys documented a drastic decline in crinoid abundance on reefs in Curaçao and Bonaire since the 1990s and emphasized the need to determine the broader geographical extent of this decline. This research will census crinoid populations at Discovery Bay, Jamaica, San Salvador, Bahamas, and Barbados at specific sites where previous quantitative data were obtained. While much attention has been focused on changes in diversity of corals as major reef builders and fish as reef dwellers, assessments of the status of populations of macroinvertebrate reef dwellers like crinoids are also needed to monitor reef biodiversity. As passive suspension feeders crinoids rely on stable water flow patterns, food supply, and appropriate reef substrata. Thus it can be predicted that degradation of reef environments, seen in the regional decline in coral cover, will be deleterious to crinoids. Crinoids may be significant as bellwethers sensitive to aspects of environmental change different from those affecting corals. Reassessment of reef biodiversity at the original sites of past baseline surveys will provide site- and taxon-specific data invaluable for accurate monitoring of marine biodiversity. The results will have biogeographic significance in permitting assessment of the regional extent of crinoid decline and the degree to which health of crinoid populations reflects reef health.
B-270 Molecular genetic profiling of comatulid crinoids (Echinodermata) from San Salvador, Bahamas, David Meyer

For a number of years I have been trying to resolve a question about the taxonomic status of a comatulid crinoid (feather star) from the coral reefs of Curaçao and Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. On those reefs two species, Davidaster rubiginosa and D. discoidea are the most common crinoids in depths of about 10-30 m. There is also a Davidaster variety that occurs together with D. rubiginosa and D. discoidea that is intermediate in morphology, but distinct in several characters. It has been unclear whether this variety is a separate species, perhaps a cryptic or sibling species, or possibly a hybrid. I am currently supervising a student, Olivia Storrs, who is working in the new molecular genetics lab of Dr. Herman Mays at Cincinnati Museum Center in an attempt to analyze DNA from these species and the variety. Samples of D. rubiginosa and D. discoidea, from San Salvador where the intermediate form is absent, will be will be used for comparison to samples from the southern Caribbean.
B-271 Ecology and population genetics of cryptic conduit dwelling caridean shrimps, Robert Erdman

Prominent features of San Salvador Island are numerous inland lakes many of which are marine in nature. These anchialine bodies of water are connected to the ocean via small seeps or conduits large enough for subsurface tidal flow to occur on a daily basis. The subterranean conduits that supply these anchialine environments are possible passageways for individuals to disperse among seemingly separate populations and habitats on the same landmass. Consequently, it has been proposed that, except where strong barriers to dispersal exist, high levels of gene flow and low levels of genetic variation may be the norm for populations of anchialine organisms. Among the anchialine lake inhabitants on many islands of the West Indies are a group of cryptic, poorly known caridean cave shrimp that dwell in and around the mouths of the conduits. The objective of this study is to clarify the phylogeny of Barbouria cubensis, the conduit dwelling caridean shrimp reported from San Salvador Island and investigate potential gene flow among populations from geographically separated anchialine lakes on San Salvador Island.
B-272 Headstarting of the Critically Endangered San Salvador Rock Iguana, William Hayes

B-273 Population Genetics and Genetic Analysis of the Palms Coccothrinax argentata and Coccothrinax inaguensis on San Salvador, Randall Cross

B-274 Explaining Localized Variation In Cerion Shell Morphology on San Salvador, The Bahamas, Christine May and Ben Stanley

Cerion is a remarkably diverse genus of terrestrial pulmonate snails that has attracted over 50 years of scientific investigation. The genus is characterized by distinctive morphological variation between adjacent populations in the absence of reproductive isolation, and its peculiar distribution among the islands of the Caribbean has attracted the attention of researchers in the fields of geology, paleontology, and evolutionary biology. The goal of this study is to investigate possible mechanisms behind the maintenance of morphologically distinct populations in localized areas on San Salvador. Morphometric data from photographic analysis of about 1200 individuals found within a 40x10 meter transect residing on the stalks of palm trees was collected in August, 2012. Variance calculations from these measurements will allow insight into the scale of morphologic variability between any single individual and other Cerion in the "neighborhood" (vertical distance of 10cm), on the tree as a whole, within the patch of trees, and within the site. Dispersal measurements over seven months will also be taken for a sub-set of marked individuals at the site. When morphometric and dispersal data is analyzed in the light of varying population densities within the study site, behavioral preferences and morphologic trends may arise that can help to shed light on the puzzling spatial distribution of this genus.
B-275 Octopus prey selection and foraging, Mark Kuhlmann

B-276 Evolution and Development of Cyprinodon Morphological Diversity, Ezra Lencer

B-277 Sponge Impacts on Organic Matter Cycling on the Oligotrophic Reefs of San Salvador, Bahamas, Daniel Hoer

B-278 Testosterone, brain structure, and social behavior in Bahamian Anolis lizards, Jerry Husak

B-279 Nest density of the brown booby, Sula leucogaster, magnificent frigate, Fregatta magnificens, and the brown noddy, Sterna stolidus, on cays of San Salvador Island, Bahamas, Lynn Gillie and William Lindsay

B-280 Biotic and Abiotic Drivers of Benthic Community Structure in San Salvador, Bahamas, Joshua Idjadi

B-281 Ciguatera Investigations in the Greater Caribbean Region: Ecophysiology, Population Connectivity, Forecasting, and Toxigenesis, Michael Parsons

B-282 Microbial Community Analysis of Hypersaline Lakes on San Salvador, Bahamas, Douglas Hamilton

B-283 The Elateroid Beetles and Co-Occuring Insects of The Bahamas, Paul Johnson

B-284 Intraspecific variation of dewlap characteristics and performance in Anolis sagrei in The Bahamas, Tess Driessens

B-285 A survey of ant species on San Salvador Island and behavioral study of ant community interaction, Daniel Kjar

B-286 Genetic structure of mangrove rivulus ("kmar") populations within inland lakes on San Salvador, Ryan Earley

B-287 Plant Moisture Stress Along a Salinity Gradient in Salt Tolerant Plants on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas, Todd Egan

B-288 Investigation of Sea Star-Associated Densovirus Signs in Carribean Asteroids, Alyssa Anderson

B-289 Survey of Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) on San Salvador Island, Alyssa Anderson

B-290 The Environmental Persistence of UV Filters on San Salvador Island, Jared Baker

B-291 A comparison of patch reef coral, algae, and fish communities from 1998 to 2015, Tiffany Razo

B-292 Phage mediated horizontal gene transfer in stromatalites, Scott Michael

B-293 Status of the Population of West Indian Woodpeckers on San Salvador Following a Severe Hurricane, Robert Askins

B-294 Tenebrionid Beetles and Associated Insects of San Sal, Warren Steiner

B-295 Examining Carry-over Effects between winter and breeding season phenomenon in Prarie Warblers using stable-isotope analysis, Michael Akresh

B-296 Phagmites haploid types present on San Sal, Timothy Evans

B-297 Assessing Cryptic Diversity among small invertebrates on mairne plants, Erik Sotka

B-298 Molecular Detection of Bivalve Diet Across an Enivornmental Gradient, Stewart Edie

B-299 Symbiosis between Nerite Snails and Symbiodinium, Craig Tepper

B-298 Impact of Hurricane Joaquin on interior ponds of San Salvador, Bahamas, Dawn Ford

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