Population connectivity of the Pulley Ridge-South Florida coral reef ecosystem

PI: Robert Cowen with numerous co-PIs.
Funding Source: NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research

As shallow coral reefs are increasingly impacted by natural and man-made stressors, population replenishment from deep water populations may become increasingly critical. Our NOAA-sponsored collaborative study of the mesophotic reefs of Pulley Ridge enabled us to examine population connectivity of reef fishes distributed across shallow, deep, and mesophotic reefs. Esther Goldstein conducted her dissertation research on the (1) population distribution, (2) settlement and survivorship, and (3) adult behavior and reproductive output of a model reef fish, the bicolor damselfish Stegastes partitus, across vertical spatial scales from shallow to deep and mesophotic reefs off the lower Florida Keys. Her research generated four publications (Goldstein et al. 2016a,b, 2017; Goldstein & Sponaugle 2020) and contributed to a broader project review (Sponaugle & Cowen 2019). Additional publications on vertical distributions of zooplankton and larval fishes are forthcoming. Learn more at Pulley Ridge Project website