Project Summary

Increases in seawater temperature (ST) and light intensity (LI) are having a profound and devastating effect on coral reef ecosystems. ST and LI, acting independently or in concert, are known to cause physiological stress such as coral bleaching. This impact might worsen as the global climate continues to change, potentially jeopardizing the vital functions of colonies, such as growth, reproduction, and the capacity to fight diseases, thereby threatening the survival of coral reef populations. We propose to document how temporal and depth-related variability in ST and LI modulate the allocation of resources into immune constituents in the Caribbean staghorn coral A. cervicornis. In particular, we are interested in understanding how the investment of resources into immune constituents is traded-off against growth and reproduction.

Project Goal

This study combines biochemical, histological and population ecology analyses, in addition to field experiments to understand how environmental changes govern the investments of resources into the adaptive capabilities of corals.