Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
B.S. Biological Sciences with Marine Biology option, CSUN 2011
Climate change, Thermal Biology, Physiological Ecology, Maternal Effects, Coral Reef Ecology, Larval Biology
Impacts of temperature-induced maternal effects on larval phenotype and post-settlement growth of brooding scleractinian corals
Due to unprecedented elevations in atmospheric CO2 caused by anthropogenic activity, global temperatures are projected to increase 1.8°C by 2100 (IPCC 2013). The rate and magnitude of this thermal change will have negative impacts on tropical corals and significantly alter reef community structure. Typically, early life stages have a heightened sensitivity to environmental changes compared to their adult counterparts, and it remains unclear how early life stages of coral will be affected by increases in temperature. The goal of my thesis was to evaluate the role that maternal coral colonies play in modulating larval response to thermal stress. I conducted this research in collaboration with Dr. T-Y Fan in Taiwan and Dr. K Sakai in Okinawa, Japan through the support of grants from the National Science Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
For my experiments I typically collected colonies of brooding, reef-building corals such as Seriatopora caliendrum or Pocillpora damicornis, and incubated them in ambient and elevated temperatures during gametogenesis. Upon spawning of the adult colonies, I collected their larvae and allowed them to settle onto ceramic tiles. The resulting recruits were then distributed into ambient and high temperatures and their growth characteristics and survival was recorded over the following weeks. These experiments allowed me to evaluate how thermal stress of reproductive colonies during gametogenesis impacted the post-settlement performance of their offspring under temperature scenarios projected in climate change models.