DNA Barcoding of Crustacea from Artificial Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico

Cara Womacks and Dr. Alexis Janosik, Department of Biology, University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway, Pensacola FL 32514

Artificial reefs serve an important ecological role by providing a hard surface for sessile organisms to attach to, thereby drawing in predators of these organisms and establishing a working ecosystem. Many of the small invertebrates that live on reefs are poorly studied. This study aims to ameliorate our understanding of the invertebrate communities on artificial reefs by using molecular techniques to investigate the biodiversity of brachyuran decapods living on and among artificial reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Specimens (n=1230) were collected from six different reefs across three seasons (spring, summer, and fall) using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) and were initially sorted into groups based on morphology. DNA barcoding was used to classify specimens. The COI mitochondrial sequence was amplified through PCR, and the sequences obtained from this process were compared to the BLASTn database to determine species classifications. This project aims to assess the biodiversity and spatial distribution of crustacean species throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico. Secondary objectives of the study are to track how species composition varies with the seasons and to provide information on the natural history of these organisms by tracking when females are gravid and when megalops larvae are present on the reef. As invertebrates are an integral part of the lower trophic levels of the food chain, our findings will ultimately contribute to our understanding of the whole artificial reef ecosystem.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Cara Womacks

Institution: University of West Florida

Type: Poster

Subject: Ecology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4105