Title: “Investigating threats to coral reef resilience in Indo-Pacific corals ”
Dr. Amanda Shore-Maggio, UMBC/NIST
Coral reefs are among the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. Scleractinian, or reef building corals, are ecosystem engineers, providing the reef structure that protects coastal land, provides beach sand, and drives industries such as tourism and fisheries. However, coral reef ecosystems are declining at an alarming rate from threats including disease and anthropogenic climate change (increased sea temperatures and ocean acidification). Coral diseases are caused by a variety of microorganisms, are associated with specific environmental triggers (increased temperatures or terrestrial run-off), and can have complicated ecologies. White syndromes are a type of coral disease responsible for high mortality on reefs across the Indo-Pacific. My PhD research on Montipora White Syndrome (MWS) in Hawaii showed that differential susceptibility to MWS was linked to differences in bacterial communities, that there are multiple reservoirs of a bacterial pathogen of MWS, and that reduced salinity dampens coral resistance to MWS infection. The information gained from this research will help us understand how corals resist or succumb to disease and will help us determine how this Hawaiian coral disease can be managed in the future. Disease has been a major threat to coral reef ecosystems for decades, but another threat, ocean acidification, is becoming more relevant as atmospheric pCO2 continues to increase. Ocean acidification threatens the ability of corals to build calcium carbonate skeletons, and thus their function as ecosystem engineers. However, little is known about how ocean acidification specifically impacts coral physiology and the functions of the coral’s symbionts (algal Symbiodinium and associated microbial communities). Through IMET’s partnership with NIST/Hollings Marine Lab, we have the opportunity to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification on Indo-Pacific corals using multi-“omic” and biogeochemistry approaches.
Host: Dr. Colleen Burge