Full Project Title: 
Effect of changes in the abundance of tolerant endosymbionts on the decline of Caribbean reefs.
Project Summary: 

The detrimental effect of climate change induced bleaching on Caribbean coral reefs has been widely documented in recent decades. Several studies have suggested that increases in the abundance of thermally tolerant endosymbionts may ameliorate the effect of climate change on reefs. Symbionts that confer tolerance to temperature also reduce the growth rate of their coral host. In this project we explore, using a spatially realistic ecosystem model, what are the consequences of an increment in the abundance of a thermally tolerant endosymbiont (clade D) for the future of Caribbean reefs, We are also exploring the potential effect of different idealized new symbionts that could evolve in the future with a reduced trade off (higher thermal tolerance with lower reduction in growth). We aim to be able to calculate how soon these idealized symbionts would have to become dominant in the Caribbean to counteract the detrimental effect of climate change.

Funding Sources: 

This project is funded through an ARC Laureate Fellowship to PM.