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


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

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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)

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Local adaptation in a Caribbean coral is associated with gene expression plasticity


Monday 9th of December 2013; 12:00 to 13:00 hrs.

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building), Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville; video-linked to the University of Queensland (GCI Boardroom, Level 7, Gehrmann Building 60).
Carly Kenkel, Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, US.
Carly Kenkel, Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, US.

Abstract: Understanding the mechanisms used by reef-building corals adapt to local conditions that vary in space can help refine predictions about how they will adapt in time to the effects of global climate change. In the Florida Keys, inshore patch reefs that are subject to high nutrient loads and thermal extremes host diverse coral communities, often with better cover than the more benign offshore reef tract. A reciprocal transplant of the mustard hill coral,Porites astreoides, between inshore and offshore reefs resulted in elevated energetic stores (total protein and lipid) and growth rates in corals at their home reef site, consistent with local adaptation. Global gene expression profiling revealed that inshore-origin corals also exhibited higher gene expression plasticity when transplanted to a novel environment than offshore corals, which may signify an elevated capacity for acclimatization induced by the environmental variability they experience at their native reef site.

Biography: Carly is currently a Harrington Dissertation Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.  She’s interested in understanding the physiological and genetic basis of adaptation, particularly in marine systems. Her research utilizes next-generation sequencing technologies to explore population level variation in thermal tolerance of corals in the Florida Keys, USA. She has also developed a suite of gene expression biomarkers that can be used as a tool for reef managers to rapidly assess stress in natural coral populations. She will obtain her PhD in integrative biology in August 2014.


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