Dr Troy Day is a theoretical evolutionary ecologist at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada (http://www.mast.queensu.ca/~tday/index.html). His primary research interests are in the evolution of interspecific interactions, particularly between pathogens and their hosts. Many of the modeling approaches we use in the evolution of host-pathogen interactions can be readily applied to symbiotic interactions, however, and that is what brought Troy to coral biology. Troy hopes to use this opportunity to obtain useful feedback and to stimulate interest and potential collaboration on related future projects.
We have been using mathematical models of evolutionary change to better understand the key factors involved in the evolution of bleaching resistance in corals. Our primary focus has been on coral bleaching that occurs as a result of temperature stress. We have been using the models to explore the expected pattern of resistance evolution in response to an increase in average sea temperature, and how this pattern is affected by the biological details of the coral-zooxanthellae interaction. I will present some qualitative results obtained from very simple models of the eco-evolutionary dynamics of this symbiosis.