Project Title:Assessing the Risk of Ocean Acidification for Scleractinian Corals on the Great Barrier Reef
Supervisors: Professor Peter Ralph (UTS), Professor Tony Larkum (UTS), Associate Professor Sophie Dove (UQ)
PhD conferred: 2014
Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are predicted to decrease oceanic pH by 0.3-0.4 units and increase sea surface temperatures by 2-5˚C by the end of the century which poses a threat to coral reefs. Despite numerous studies dealing with the effect of temperature on the coral symbiosis and the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on calcification, the effect of OA on the coral symbiosis is not well understood. The thermal tolerance of corals appears to be narrowed by OA which may be due to acidosis, reduced capacity of carbon concentrating mechanisms and/or a decline in photoprotection of the symbiont.
Mechanistic knowledge is required at the molecular level in order to define the tolerance of corals to increased H+ and CO2. This research will determine the molecular and physiological changes in corals from ecologically distinct sites across the Great Barrier Reef for future management purposes.
Crawley A, Kline DI, Dunn S, Anthony K, Dove S (2010) The effect of ocean acidification on symbiont photorespiration and productivity in Acropora formosa. Global Change Biology. 16: 851-863.