The past few years have seen unprecedented coral bleaching and mortality on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) but the consequences of this on biodiversity are not yet known. This talk will explore if mass bleaching has resulted in a loss of symbiont diversity across three key coral species along the GBR and examine if surviving coral populations contain a higher prevalence of heat tolerant algal symbionts – depending on their availability in the environmental pool. Results have implications for developing a spatially explicit understanding of symbiosis after bleaching to identify key coral populations for protection, key reefs for resilience management, and potential breeding stock for use in reef restoration activities.
Kate is a Senior Research Scientist at Minderoo Foundation and Research Director of the Minderoo Exmouth Research Laboratory and holds adjunct research positions at the University of Western Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and James Cook University. As a molecular ecologist, her current research focusses on understanding adaptation and the genomic basis of stress tolerance and resilience of coral reef organisms across the Indo-Pacific and Indian Oceans. She uses ‘omics tools (population genomic, transcriptomic, metagenomic) and coral reproductive biology with field, experimental, and modelling methods to understand what makes some species resistant to stress while others are more vulnerable.