Identification of octocoral recruits using microsatellite primers: Relationships between recruitment and adult distribution of Pseudopterogorgia spp.

Jamison, Jennifer L., Howard R. Lasker

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(5), 2008, 1963-1972 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.5.1963

ABSTRACT: Octocorals are commonly identified from the structure of their calcium carbonate sclerites. However, small recruits cannot always be identified in this manner. Primers for microsatellite loci developed for the Caribbean branching octocoral Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae were used to identify six common Pseudopterogorgia spp. on the Little Bahama Bank. The primers consistently generated polymerase chain reaction products of different molecular weights for each species, and a combination of up to three primers enabled identification of recruits whose identity was otherwise indeterminate. Recruits were collected and adult density was surveyed at three depths at Cross Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas, during May and November 2005. More recruits were collected during May than November, suggesting that most of the Pseudopterogorgia species reproduced between November and May. There were differences in both recruitment and adult density between the three sites among the surface-brooding species. Covariation between adult and recruit abundance in P. bipinnata is consistent with the hypothesis that brooding species exhibit limited larval dispersal. Among the known broadcast-spawning species, there was a significant difference in adult distribution between the sites but no significant difference in recruitment between sites, suggesting that larvae of broadcast-spawning species are more widely dispersed.

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