Ocean warming is considered the most severe threat to coral reefs. Increasing duration and frequency of marine heat waves over the last few decades have led to large-scale coral bleaching and death, and hence the loss of diverse and productive coral reefs around the world. However, not all corals are equally susceptible to heat stress and it is of high interest to understand what mechanisms corals have (or may be able to develop) to resist high ocean temperatures. In this seminar, Yvonne will talk about her work on coral thermal tolerance in the Red Sea that is characterized by exceptionally high summer temperatures in the South (up to 33°C) and on coral physiological adjustments to strong seasonal temperature fluctuations in Bermuda. Furthermore, Yvonne will present ongoing work in her lab related to coral thermal stress mitigation, a line of research that has gained substantial attention over the last few years. Here, her focus is on artificial upwelling – a geoengineering technology that brings cool deep water to warm surface waters – which may (based on some preliminary tests) prevent heat stress during heat waves events and potentially also train corals to adjust to ocean warming by exposing corals to significant temperature fluctuations.
Yvonne is the PI of the Marine Benthic Ecology and Ecophysiology (MABEE) lab at BIOS. Her team addresses organism-based as well as ecosystem-scale research questions of which many center around the key metabolic processes photosynthesis, respiration and calcification. The MABEE lab utilizes several in-situ and ex-situ experimental approaches, combined with advanced sensor technology and physiological (tissue-based) measurements.