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Coral reefs are some of the most diverse marine communities on earth. While resident at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s West Indies Laboratory in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (1979-1982), Tom conducted research on coral reef ecology, evaluating competitive relationships between benthic reef species such as sponges, corals, corallimorphs and zoanthids. To accomplish this he led aquanaut teams on three extended missions utilizing saturation SCUBA operating out of the underwater research habitat HYDROLAB in St. Croix. 
Hurricanes are common in the Virgin Islands and can have a dramatic restructuring influence on benthic coral reef communities. In the late 1970s, working with several colleagues from the West Indies Laboratory Tom evaluated the impacts of Hurricanes David and Frederick on branching elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) colonies and developed a Caribbean coral identification guide. See Rogers et al. 1982 publication (#5) in Primary Literature List.
Bioturbation is another form of disturbance affecting soft-bottom communities. During the 1970s-1980s, Tom documented physical and biological processes associated with the routine activities of the ghost shrimp Callianassa and Glypturus in near-shore shallow sandy lagoon habitats, especially those associated with the modification and destruction of seagrass beds and the burial of radioactive fallout particles. These studies took place primarily in St. Croix, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea. See the Research Focus Area "BIOTURBATION" for further details.
Space occupiers on a deep St. Croix reef.
Surveying competition for space on a 150 ft depth coral reef along the coast of St. Croix, USVI.
The HYDROLAB habitat.
See coral reef system related Publications from Primary Literature
#s: 66, 40, 26, 25, 24, 23, 21, 19, 18, 17, 16, 13, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 1.
See coral reef system related Publications from Secondary Literature
#s: 5.
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