Authors

Einat Sandbank

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Abstract

The queen conch (Strombus gigas) is a large gastropod found in the waters of the Florida Keys. Due to harvest pressure, its population in Florida has declined dramatically leading to the closure of the Florida fishery in 1986. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been conducting yearly surveys of adult breeding populations located in the back-reef of the Florida Keys from 1992-2013. Yet, patterns of larval dispersal and recruitment in the area are still mostly unknown. In this study, the relationship between egg-mass densities and juvenile densities three years later was examined using regression and correlation analyses. A significant positive correlation exists between the egg-mass densities and juvenile densities three years later within the Keys (p=0.04). A further analysis of regional recruitment patterns showed a weak positive relationship between egg-mass densities and juvenile densities three years later between almost all regions of the Florida Keys except for two regressions which showed a negative relationships between these two variables. My findings suggest that queen conch are self-recruiting within the Florida Keys, but that spatial patterns within the different regions of the Florida Reef Tract aren’t clearly present. Due to the limitations of this study, a detailed planktonic larval survey and a DNA analysis of conch in the regions should be done to give a more accurate picture of larval sources and recruitment patterns.

Comments

Department: MBF

MPS Track: TME

Location: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Student conservation association

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