Effects of sex steroids on coral reproduction and growth

Grant Winners

  • Nicole D. Fogarty Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Joshua Stocker – Oceanographic Center

Dean

  • Richard Dodge, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center

Abstract

Award Winners

This research project will examine the potential impacts of steroidal hormone contamination on important corals pecies in Broward County and the lower Florida Key's. Separate dose-response experiments will be conducted on Acropora cervicornis and Porites astreoides fragments in moderate and high concentrations of 17 B-estradiol and testosterone to elucidate the impacts these compounds may have in the absence of other contaminants. These experiments will take place at Nova Southeastern University's Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research new Central Experimental Pollution Facility (CEPF), this facility will allow for unique research in a controlled setting that could not be done in the marine environment. In addition, water samples will be collected from each region to establish background steroid hormone concentrations in the local marine environment. This research will provide a greater understanding to the many coral restoration and conservation projects ongoing in Florida, the Florida Key's and the Caribbean. Many research projects have examined the effects of contaminants on coral reproduction and growth, but the potential impacts of steroidal hormones have been largely neglected despite being known endocrine disruptors among cnidarians. There are numerous sources for contamination, most notably wastewater treatment plant effluent; however, their prevalence and background concentrations are relatively unknown. The rise in prescription pharmaceuticals for birth control and hormone replacement therapies has increased the prevalence of estrogenic and androgenic compounds in aquatic environments, which are regularly excreted by humans. Understanding the prevalence and impacts these compounds may have on coral species is important for future management strategies concerning the restoration and conservation of these vital ecosystems.