October 14, 2020
Hosted By Dr. Sally Koerner
Climate change is driving an increase in marine heat waves that are killing foundation species worldwide. On coral reefs, thermal anomalies associated with rising water temperatures cause coral bleaching, the breakdown of the mutualism between corals and their endosymbiotic algae, Symbiodiniaceae. Large heat stress events and the resulting coral bleaching can cause widespread coral mortality and alter coral community composition. Repeated bleaching events threaten the persistence of coral reefs and the ecosystem goods and services they provide. However, the relationship between heat stress and coral bleaching is often not straightforward, and it is key to understand the factors that both exacerbate and mitigate the coral bleaching response. I will present recent research from our lab examining the forces that impact coral bleaching across scales ranging from the globe down to individual corals. At the global scale, I will show how latitude, temperature variability, and time impact the worldwide distribution of bleaching. At the island scale, I will show how nutrient pollution and thermal stress interact to exacerbate coral bleaching. Finally, at the coral scale, I will show how the type of nutrient matters to determining the coral bleaching response and how associations with fishes can mitigate coral bleaching.