Herman H. Wirshing

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—Despite their abundance and ecological importance, octocorals have received relatively little taxonomic attention compared to scleractinian (stony) corals. Identification of octocoral species is often difficult and ambiguous, and requires thorough microscopic examination of skeletal components (sclerites). Here, we provide a key for field identification—no(More)
Saba Bank is a large submerged platform (approximately 2200 km(2)), average depth 30 m, located 4 km southwest of Saba Island in Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean Sea. Ships traveling to and from oil terminals on nearby St. Eustatius routinely anchor on the Bank, damaging benthic megafauna. Gorgonian octocorals are vulnerable to anchor damage, and they are(More)
Most gorgonian octocoral species are described using diagnostic characteristics of their sclerites (microscopic skeletal components). Species in the genus Pterogorgia, however, are separated primarily by differences in their calyx and branch morphology. Specimens of a morphologically unusual Pterogorgia collected from Saba Bank in the NE Caribbean Sea were(More)
The ability of coral reefs to recover from natural and anthropogenic disturbance is difficult to predict, in part due to uncertainty regarding the dispersal capabilities and connectivity of their reef inhabitants. We developed microsatellite markers for the broadcast spawning gorgonian octocoral Eunicea (Plexaura) flexuosa (four markers) and its(More)
The systematic relationships and phylogeography of Cerion incanum, the only species of Cerion native to the Florida Keys, are reviewed based on partial sequences of the mitochondrial COI and 16S genes derived from 18 populations spanning the range of this species and including the type localities of all four described subspecies. Our samples included(More)
Molecular phylogenies of scleractinian corals often fail to agree with traditional phylogenies derived from morphological characters. These discrepancies are generally attributed to non-homologous or morphologically plastic characters used in taxonomic descriptions. Consequently, morphological convergence of coral skeletons among phylogenetically unrelated(More)
The adaptative bleaching hypothesis (ABH) states that, depending on the symbiotic flexibility of coral hosts (i.e., the ability of corals to "switch" or "shuffle" their algal symbionts), coral bleaching can lead to a change in the composition of their associated Symbiodinium community and, thus, contribute to the coral's overall survival. In order to(More)
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