I am looking at the effects of thermal and salinity stress on a species of temperate coral known as Astrangia poculata. Corals have symbiotic algae that inhabit the coral host and provide nutrients and the bright colors that we typically associate with coral reefs. However, when stressed, these algal cells are expelled, and the corals lose their color and source of nutrition. This process is known as coral bleaching and threatens the health of corals and leads to increased risk of death. Trends in global climate change are causing the average sea surface temperature to increase. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in the strength and frequency of storms. Elevated temperatures and lower salinity levels may be harmful to corals, so the goal of our research is to study their responses to these stressors and observe any local adaptations between our corals collected from Massachusetts and from Florida.
Environmental Studies and Marine Science