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Award Abstract #1331980

Collaborative Proposal: ARTS: Revisionary systematics of fossil and living Caribbean faviid and mussid reef corals (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Scleractinia)

Division Of Environmental Biology
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Initial Amendment Date: February 25, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: July 11, 2013
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Award Number: 1331980
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Simon Malcomber
DEB Division Of Environmental Biology
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: December 1, 2012
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End Date: July 31, 2016 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $110,781.00
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Investigator(s): Nathan Smith nsmith@nhm.org (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Howard University
2400 Sixth Street N W
Washington, DC 20059-9000 (202)806-4759
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NSF Program(s): Systematics & Biodiversity Sci
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Program Reference Code(s): 7375, 9169, EGCH
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Program Element Code(s): 7374


Coral reefs are among the most diverse marine ecosystems and are increasingly threatened by climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, and anthropogenic disturbance. They are constructed by 18 families and >800 species of reef-building coral. The traditional classification scheme of reef-building corals based on macromorphology indicate that few groups have distributions limited to the Caribbean. Recent molecular analyses, however, disagree with the traditional classification and have identified a previously unrecognized, exclusively Caribbean lineage. These findings indicate reef-building corals are in need of a complete re-evaluation. This collaborative project will assess the diversity and clarify the taxonomy and relationships between a group of Caribbean reef corals from related Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific species beginning ~55 million years ago. The project will analyze 79 living and ~380 fossil species. Molecular and morphological datasets will be integrated for the first time, and include novel microscopic features. The evolutionary history of Caribbean reefs will be reconstructed, and the effects of past biogeographic events on present-day biodiversity will be assessed.

A postdoctoral scholar, graduate student, and four undergraduates will be trained in coral systematics. Results will be publically disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and electronic sources via an online taxonomic database, Neogene Marine Biota of Tropical America (NMITA) (http://nmita.iowa.uiowa.edu/), and the Encyclopedia of Life (http://eol.org). Project results will influence conservation priorities that are based on species numbers without consideration of evolutionary distinctiveness.


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Budd, Ann F.; Fukami, Hironobu; Smith, Nathan D.; Knowlton, Nancy. "Taxonomic classification of the reef coral family Mussidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia)," ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY, v.166, 2012, p. 465-529.

Budd, A. F., H. Fukami, N. D. Smith, and N. Knowlton. "Taxonomic classification of the reef coral family Mussidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia)," Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, v.166, 2012, p. 465.

Huang, D., F. Benzoni, H. Fukami, N. Knowlton, N. D. Smith, and A. F. Budd.. "Taxonomic classification of the reef coral families Merulinidae, Montastraeidae and Diploastraeidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia).," Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, v.171, 2014, p. 277.

Huang, D., F. Benzoni, H. Fukami, N. Knowlton, N. D. Smith, and A. F. Budd. "Taxonomic classification of the reef coral families Merulinidae, Montastraeidae and Diploastraeidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia)," Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, v.171, 2015, p. 277. 


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