Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
Long term study of dolphin populations in Sarasota Bay.
Stony coral tissue loss disease is one of the most serious challenges affecting the Florida Reef Tract and certain Caribbean coral reefs. Mote Marine Laboratory's Dr. Erinn Muller is a leader within the massive collaboration to study and address this ecological emergency. Hear from Dr. Muller and colleagues in this video released in 2020 by OceanX, and read about Dr. Muller's Coral Health & Disease Research Program below.
Coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reefs worldwide and outbreaks have changed the structure and function of reefs just within the last several decades. The Coral Health & Disease Program aims to understand the tripartite association among the coral host, potential pathogens, and the environment, to determine which component drives disease dynamics on coral reefs. The Program uses a wide variety of tools to answer questions about coral health and disease including field surveys, laboratory experiments, mathematical modeling, and molecular applications.
The Coral Health & Disease Program studies the causes and consequences of coral disease outbreaks, as well as the mechanisms that may promote coral health and resilience to major stressors such as temperature anomalies, disease, and ocean acidification. Previous research showed that stressed corals are more susceptible to disease than others (Muller et al. 2008). Similar to humans, when corals are stressed their immune system becomes compromised and they are more likely to get sick (i.e., the compromised-host hypothesis). In fact, using Bayesian hierarchical modeling, Muller and van Woesik (2014) showed that white pox disease on the threatened elkhorn coral, was the result of high water temperatures stressing genetically susceptible coral hosts. Current research is underway, which aims to identify why certain genotypes of both elkhorn and staghorn coral are more resistant to disease than others.
Physiological resistance to stress, and thus diseases, may be a result of an immune competent coral, antibiotic producing bacteria within the coral mucus and tissue, or even from health conveyed by zooxanthellae, the algal symbiont. The Coral Health & Disease Program studies several components of the coral holobiont, to truly understand the mechanisms leading to coral health and disease susceptibility. The Program collaborates with experts in the field of coral immunity and gene expression research. Next generation DNA sequencing is being used to characterize the bacterial communities of both disease resistant and disease susceptible corals, and molecular techniques are also employed to identify the symbiotic algae residing with these corals.
Research with the Program also identifies areas of disease hotspots with reefs, as well as associated areas of disease resistance, to better understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of diseases on reefs today. Several methods to prevent within colony and among colony disease transmission are also being tested in the field. To date, most studies have shown that many Caribbean coral diseases do not follow a contagious disease model, again supporting the compromised-host hypothesis (Muller and van Woesik 2012, Muller and van Woesik 2014, Randall et al. 2014).
Long term study of dolphin populations in Sarasota Bay.
A Mote-FWC partnership to develop prevention, control and mitigation technologies and approaches that will decrease Florida red tide impacts
Contaminant detection of toxic substances.
Studying the impacts of nutrients and physical parameters in riverine, estuarine and coastal environments.
Understanding processes and environmental factors that influence coral reef health.
Bottom-dwelling organism response to environmental disturbance.
The only program dedicated to developing & assessing electronic monitoring (EM) for the Gulf of Mexico commercial reef fish fishery
DEVELOPING AND INTEGRATING ENHANCEMENT STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE AND RESTORE FISHERIES
Rehabilitation hospital to provide provide state-of-the-art critical care & chronic care for stranded sea turtles and dolphins.
Studying the physical, biological, geological & chemical processes that distribute nutrients and other chemical species in the ocean
Seeking to develop systems and techniques to grow coral and other reef species.
The Red Tide Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory leads Florida red tide mitigation and control research.
Studying manatee behavioral ecology, distribution, habitat use, genetics, and population status in Florida.
Coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reefs worldwide.
Investigating how marine & freshwater chemicals impact public health
Studying habitats and trends in turtle nesting to conserve Sea Turtles.
Investigating the source, fact & effects of toxins in the environment
Advancing science to support abundant, productive fish populations
Studying sharks, skates and stingrays as laboratory animal models for basic & applied research
Basic and applied research on the health and immune systems of marine vertebrates
Study of how fish interact with their habitats & how disturbances influence these interactions.
Developing technologies to produce fish & invertebrates to meet growing demand for seafood & fishing stocks.
The Sharks & Rays Conservation Research Program is dedicated to studying the biology, ecology and conservation of sharks and their relatives
Study of the Ocean's Phytoplankton Community
The Stranding Investigations Program (SIP) provides 24-hour response to sick, injured and deceased marine mammals & sea turtles.
PERC is dedicated to improving stock assessment, management and sustainability of highly migratory fishes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
Study responses of ecologically important species to projected levels of ocean acidification.
Using innovative ocean technology to accomplish interdisciplinary scientific goals