People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image

Beneficial acclimation and stress-hardening of corals to climate change conditions


Friday 18th September 8:45 to 9:45 hrs (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/96442442892 Password: 996713
Jose Montalvo
Jose Montalvo


Ocean warming and acidification are challenging the tolerance limits of scleractinian corals. However, beneficial acclimation and stress-hardening via phenotypic plasticity may be pathways to buffer some negative phenotypic effects and improve thermal tolerance. In my thesis, I explored and experimentally tested the response of different life stages of the coral Acropora loripes to two different levels of combined temperature and pCO2 predicted for this century. The assessment included a range of phenotypic traits evaluated on the coral host and associated symbionts (Symbiodiniaceae and bacteria). I found strong evidence for beneficial acclimation and hardening of photosynthetic efficiency, but not in coral growth rate. Photosynthetic efficiency declined in climate change conditions, but was restored in juvenile and adult fragments that had previously experienced climate change conditions. Furthermore, prior exposure to climate change conditions induced thermal hardening that enhanced tolerance to extreme temperatures in both juveniles and adult fragments.. Coral host, rather than experimental treatment, explained the majority of variation in the community structure of symbionts. My thesis highlights both the potential and limitations of the acclimatory response of corals facing climate change conditions under laboratory conditions, and provides insights for its potential applicability to enhance future reef model projections and restoration strategies.


Jose was born in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil but grew up in Quito – Ecuador. He finished his B.Sc. in Biotechnology Engineering (Hns) in Ecuador in 2013 in collaboration with the University of Florida (i.e., hybridization occurring in endemic trees in the Andes region). He then decided to take a new challenge in Marine Science, which brought him to Townsville. For his M.Sc. (2014-2016) Jose worked on a molecular protocol to target ssRNA viruses infecting Symbiodiniaceae), under the supervision of Prof. Madeleine van Oppen, Dr. Karen Weynberg and Prof. Bette Willis. He started his Ph.D. with AIMS and the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef studies in 2016, working under the supervision of Dr. Line Bay, Prof. Madeleine van Open, Prof. Philip Munday and Dr. Nicole Webster.


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies