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)

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The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – investigating the cumulative effect of ocean acidification on early life history stages of Caribbean reef-building corals


12.00pm - 1.00pm Thursday, 29 July 2010

Sir George Fisher Building (DB 32) Conference Room 114 JCU
Rebecca Albright, University of Miami, USA

Rebecca Albright is a Ph.D. candidate at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University in 2003.  She is currently writing her dissertation, entitled ‘The impacts of ocean acidification on early life history stages of Caribbean corals.’


To determine whether ocean acidification (OA) threatens the successful sexual recruitment of reef-building corals, I conducted a series of experiments to investigate the effects of OA on sequential early life history stages that are pre-requisites of recruitment: fertilization, settlement, and post-settlement growth.  Experiments examined the responses of several species of Caribbean coral at a range of pCO2 increases that are expected to occur this century [380 µatm (present day), 560 µatm (mid-century), and 800 µatm (end of century)]. In all experiments, seawater chemistry was manipulated via direct bubbling with carbon dioxide-enriched air. Fertilization, settlement and growth were all negatively impacted by increasing pCO2; impairment of fertilization was exacerbated at lower sperm concentrations. These results indicate that OA has the potential to impact multiple, sequential early life history stages of reef-building coral species. The compounding nature of sequential declines suggests that OA may severely compromise sexual recruitment and the ability of coral reefs to recover from future disturbance.


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