Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Research

Predicting the resilience of coral reefs to increased sea surface temperature, as an outcome of global climate change, is an important focus of coral reef research and conservation. Our understanding of the adaptive capacity of corals with respect to environmental change is lacking, and as a result, models that predict impacts under various scenarios of climate change are hindered by a lack of understanding dynamic aspects of coral biology. Reef building corals form intimate associations with endosymbiotic dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium and the physiological scope afforded by these unions underpins the economic and ecological success of the group. An objective of our research in the NWHI in conjunction with the Papahanāumokuākea Marine National Monument is to determine the environmental flexibility and the capacity of corals to optimize thermal tolerance by modifying the composition of their endosymbiotic dinoflagellate communities.  We are currently investigating this question by characterizing the endosymbiotic communities in Montipora capitata and Porites lobata sampled in areas of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.


CURRENT RESEARCHER INVOLVEMENT

Dr. Ruth Gates

Dr. Michael Stat



PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH


Stat M, Bird CE, Pochon X, Chasqui L, Chauka LJ, Concepcion GT, Logan D, Takabayashi M, Toonen RJ, and Gates RD (2011) Variation in Symbiodinium ITS2 sequence assemblages among coral colonies. Plos One, 6:e15854.


Stat M, and Gates RD (2011) Clade D Symbiodinium in scleractinian corals: a “nugget” of hope, a selfish opportunist, an ominous sign, or all of the above? Journal of Marine Biology, 730715. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jmb/aip.730715.html.


Stat, M, Pochon, X, Cowie, ROM, and Gates, RD (2009) Specificity in communities of Symbiodinium in corals from Johnston Atoll. MEPS, 386:83-96. 


Stat M, Morris E, Gates RD (2008) Functional diversity in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 105(27): 9256-9261.


Stat M and Gates RD  (2008) Vectored introductions of marine endosymbiotic dinoflagellates into Hawaii. Biological Invasions, 10(4): 579-583.


FUNDING AGENCY OR AGENCIES

NOAA, Papahanāumokuākea Marine National Monument

NWHI