Thesis: Potential impacts of higher ocean acidity and warmer water temperatures on Abrolhos Island corals
The broad aim of this study is to determine how high latitude corals in Western Australia (WA) will respond to climate change stressors such as warmer waters and ocean acidification. More specifically, this study looks at early life history development, such as larval duration and survival as well as early skeletal development, under projected changes in ocean temperature and pH. This study will investigate the vulnerability of high latitude corals and possible changes in coral distribution in response to climate change, as well as potential adaptive and acclimative abilities of WA corals at their latitudinal limits.
Why my research is important
In climate change and coral reef studies, research has mainly been focused on tropical coral reefs as these are the most diverse and threatened areas. However, recent evidence suggests that it is the marginal coral reefs that could provide the key to coral adaptive potential in the face of climate change. The Abrolhos islands exist in an area of biogeographic overlap, having a unique mix of both tropical and temperate species. The islands provide a natural laboratory for climate change studies on biota and could potentially shed some light on the future movements of WA corals.