This project will address the impact of climate change on the growth and reproduction of the critically endangered species of coral Acropora cervicornis and the relationship between the allocation of resources towards these life history traits and the innate immunological activity of the coral.
The main goals of our work are the following: 1) Determine the effect of sea surface temperature (SST) and solar radiation (SR) on the constitutive immunity i.e. Fluorescent proteins (FPs) and Melanin, of Acropora cervicornis, by monitoring their quantities in coral tissue. 2) Determine how the investment of resources on FPs and Melanin production, affects growth and 3) production of eggs of A. cervicornis. 4) Perform transplant field experiments of A. cervicornis colonies between zones with contrasting SST and SR regimes located in a single reef to document potential shifts in resource allocation between melanin and FPs production, growth and reproductive efforts. 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.