Mark Little, a microbial ecologist working on the ARMS restore project, returns from his first season in the field in Madagascar and gives a brief update on the project.
This summer we collected water samples on the reefs of Ranobe Bay and the artificial reef sites to have baseline data on the microbiology of the reefs that make up this system. Ultimately, these data will inform the deployment and trajectory of artificial reefs for ARMS seeding. This process consists of employing metagenomics, or sampling and analyzing the total DNA of seawater to understand the abundance and function of microbes and viruses that exist in an ecosystem. In addition, we surveyed the biomass and abundance of microbes and viruses using microscopic methods. Together, these microbiological data from the ecosystems and artificial reef sites will be essential to understand the fisheries dynamics, catch biomass, and artificial reef success, as viruses and microbes have been shown to be some of the main determinants or indicators of higher order trophic structuring and coral reef stability.