Group Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 1. Issue 3.
Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 4. Issue 1.
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 4. Issue 1.
Alternate Title: Virgin Islands EPSCoR
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of the Virgin Islands. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
Affiliation: University of the Virgin Islands -- Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
Publisher: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
Publication Date: 12/26/2003
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States Virgin Islands
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300629
Volume ID: VID00010
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Spawning Aggregation Expedition

In this issue
- Spawning
Aggregation Expedition
- Program Coordinator
" BCCR Update
" eBird website

- Kevin Brown wins
- VI-EPSCoR goes to
the St. Croix
Agricultural Fair on
Feb. 17-20
- VI-EPSCoR has new

Contact VI-EPSCoR:
(340) 693-1478

The Virgin Islands
Experimental Program to
Stimulate Competitive
Research (VI-EPSCoR) is
supporting an exciting pilot
study on the timing and
behavior of red hind spawning
aggregations. Under the
direction of Rick Nemeth,
researchers at the Center for
Marine and Environmental
Studies of the University of the
Virgin Islands (UVI) are
studying the reproductive
behavior and spawning
population characteristics of
the red hind (Epinephelus
guttatus), an important
commercial fish in the eastern
Caribbean. Every year during
the week of the full moon
between December and
February, red hind migrate 10
to 30 km to spawning
aggregation sites. Protecting
these spawning aggregation
sites is key to stabilizing fish
populations and sustaining the
regional fisheries industry.

The UVI researchers have
been studying red hind
spawning behavior for six
seasons. Because of the
synchronized timing of
spawning aggregation,
comparative studies at multiple
sites are logistically difficult.
This year for the first time,
teams of divers are
simultaneously sampling three
sites off St. Thomas and St.
Croix in the US Virgin Islands
and Saba in the Netherlands
Antilles. Sampling three sites
will provide a regional picture
of spawning aggregations in
the eastern Caribbean and
allow researchers to describe
population size and health
across a gradient of fishing
pressure within the Caribbean

The purpose of the project is to
identify factors determining
synchronization of spawning
behavior at spatially distant
sites (e.g. 80 -120 km). An
Acoustic Doppler Current
Profiler (ADCP) has been
deployed at each site to record
current speed and direction. In
addition, a conductivity-
temperature-depth (CTD)
meter is being deployed off the
St. Thomas site to characterize
the upper mixed layer.

This study will elucidate critical
physical and biological factors
that determine spawning
success in this species and
can possibly be used to model
the spawning behavior of other
Epinephelid groupers. If
consistency is found among
these spawning aggregations
then similar management
measures can be implemented
broadly across the eastern
Caribbean to protect red hind
spawning aggregation sites.

The long term goal is to
understand the population
dynamics of economically
important species (in particular,
red hind) within the Caribbean
region. Spawning aggregations
are highly vulnerable periods
within the annual cycle, and the
success of the species during
these spawning events dictate
the success of the population,
allowing for a stable
population, and in turn a
sustainable resource to the
fisheries industry within the
Caribbean region.

Funding for this project was
provided by NSF VI-EPSCoR,
NIH SCORE, the Nature
Conservancy, and NOAA

February, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 1


Program Coordinator
Update Dr. Meri Whitaker

VI-EPSCoR has moved! The
new offices are located at
Faculty East 3 on the UVI St.
Thomas campus. Ms. Kaisa
Prentice, Program Specialist,
has a new phone number, 340-
693-1428. Other phone and
email remain the same.

The proposed Master of Arts
program at UVI in teaching
mathematics for secondary
teachers will be presented to
the UVI Board of Trustees in
March 2006. The program is
being developed by Vanere
Goodwin and others in the
UVI Division of Science and
Mathematics, with support from
VI-EPSCoR. The first cohort of
approximately 16 teachers is
expected to begin this summer.

Elizabeth Gladfelter has
submitted her report on the
feasibility of a new Master of
Science program at UVI in
marine and environmental
sciences. She visited UVI in
late January to discuss her
findings. A VI-EPSCoR funded
position of Graduate Program
Coordinator is being recruited
to lead program development
and implementation. In the
coming months the Coordinator
will take the proposed program
through the UVI approvals
process. It is hoped that the
first students could be admitted
in autumn 2007.

February, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 1

Bio-complexity of Caribbean Coral Reefs Update Dr. Richard Nemeth


Kenny Turbe, a new breed of
local fishermen in the US Virgin
Islands. Turbe works with
BCCR researchers studying
commercially important fish
resources. He is keen to
support the development of a
sustainable fisheries industry in
Virgin Islands waters that will
maintain his livelihood for
himself and for his children.

Sandra Romano and
undergraduate researchers
Tryphena Cuffy and Semoya
Phillips attended the annual
meeting of the Society for
Integrative and Comparative
Biology in Orlando, FL Jan. 4-
8. They presented a poster
entitled "Utility of multilocus
phylogenetic analysis for
assessing species differences
in scleractinian corals of
Caribbean Porites". Romano
also attended an National
Science Foundation workshop
Feb. 10-11 on preparing an
NSF CAREER proposal.

Stuart Ketcham is working on
the preparation of a grant
proposal for the NSF Program
in Biological Oceanography
related to the Population
Connectivity in Marine Systems
Specific Theme of Emphasis.

Jennifer Carroll submitted a
proposal to the National
Science Foundation's Major
Research Instrumentation
Program for the acquisition
of a high field nuclear magnetic

resonance spectrometer for
use in education and research
at UVI. This instrument is vital
to the characterization of
naturally occurring compounds
found from marine organisms.
It will also be used in research
focused on new antifouling
coatings and environmental
cleanup of radioactive metals.

Andre Francis, undergraduate
researcher working with Dave
Smith, has created a detailed
coastline map of the US and
British Virgin Islands for use
with graphic software
hopes shortly to have ARPS
and MM5 parallel weather
forecast models producing full-
scale real-time weather
forecast runs. He is also
preparing a proposal to the
HBCU-UP Interdisciplinary
Computational Science
Curriculum Development
program to develop a training
module on ARPS for students.

Kwame Williams and Kailah
Davis, undergraduate
researchers working with Marc
Boumedine, have been using
data mining tools to relate the
sweetness of papaya fruit to
plant characteristics such as
variety, length of fruit, width of
fruit, weight, flesh thickness,
color, sweetness, sex and
height of the plant's first flower,
using experimental data
provided by Tom Zimmerman
of the USDA Agricultural
Experiment Station at UVI.

Tyler Smith has been studying
this year's coral bleaching
event. Anomalously warm
water pool over the eastern
Caribbean from August to
November stressed coral
symbioses, leading to 70-100%
bleaching in reefs shallower
that 30 meters. His research
has revealed patterns of
bleaching, mortality and

resiliency. Collaborative
efforts are now underway to
understand which symbionts of
coral may be more resistant to
bleaching, and how future
bleaching events will impact
local coral reefs. Smith
presented his work at a NOAA
regional conference on St.
Croix in January. In February
he presented results from his
doctoral research at the
National Ocean Science
meeting in Hawaii, and initiated
contacts with coral reef
scientists and oceanographers
to promote opportunities for
research collaboration.

Paul Sikkel and Donna
Nemeth, along with
undergraduate researcher
Amber McCammon, are
examining the relationship
between habitat and infestation
by parasites in reef fishes.
Loads of the parasitic
monogenean Neobenedenia
melleni have been quantified
from two species of
surgeonfish collected at four
sites in the U.S. and British
Virgin Islands. Habitat-related
factors and species differences
in habitat use were observed,
along with differing rates of
parasite infection. The team is
currently examining habitat
use of the two species in
Brewer's and Lameshur Bays.
They are also conducting
laboratory studies to test
differences in susceptibility to
monogenean infection.

Kevin Brown, Research
Analyst in the Center for
Marine and Environmental
Studies, was awarded the UVI
Research and Public Service
"Outstanding Employee of the
Year for 2005" for the St.
Thomas campus. Brown does
an outstanding job of
supporting BCCR research,
providing expert technical
assistance and support for

faculty, staff and students.

In the past year Brown secured
a contract to assist the
Department of Planning and
Natural Resources's Division of
Environmental Protection
ambient water quality
monitoring program. He took
the lead in ordering and
scheduling training for faculty
in the use of the Acoustic
Doppler Current Profilers, as
well as downloading and
analyzing ADCP data. He has
also taken on the responsibility
of managing and coordinating
renovations at the MacLean
Marine Science Center.


eBird website launched

Jim Corven has partnered with
the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
and the University of the Virgin
Islands to develop the first
eBird website in the Caribbean,
with support from VI-EPSCoR.
Virgin Islands eBird officially
launched on Feb. 21 at:


Creators of this website hope
the US Virgin Islands eBird site
will lay the groundwork for a
more comprehensive bird
monitoring network across the
region. The site is a great tool
for public outreach and
education and for fostering
"citizen science." Birdwatchers
can use the site to keep
records of birding observations,
to participate in regional bird
monitoring activities, and to
accumulate valuable data for

The Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research is supported by National Science
Foundation Grant #0346483. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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