Abstract


THERMAL TOLERANCE OF CORALS FROM THE NATURALLY EXTREME KIMBERLEY REGION IN NORTHWEST AUSTRALIA

Naturally extreme temperature environments such as the Kimberley region in northwest Australia provide ideal natural laboratories to understand what drives coral thermal tolerance. We will present findings from several lines of research assessing the capacity and limits of Kimberley corals to cope with future ocean warming. A heat stress experiment aimed at establishing bleaching thresholds for nearshore Kimberley corals showed that they were highly sensitive to temperatures exceeding their typical summer temperatures despite being adapted to a naturally extreme temperature environment. However, corals collected from the environmentally more extreme intertidal took longer to bleach and die than corals from the more moderate subtidal environment. Given that all corals harboured Symbiodinium clade C independent of treatment or origin, this highlights the importance of the thermal environment in shaping coral thermal tolerance. A reciprocal transplant experiment is currently in place to study over what time scales subtidal corals could acclimatize to the more extreme temperatures of the intertidal and preliminary results will be presented. Our findings have significant implications for the current global bleaching event as the Kimberley region is expected to experience significant bleaching over the next few months, which will be monitored. Overall, the evidence from the controlled tank and field experiments and bleaching surveys will significantly improve our understanding of how corals from naturally extreme environments may cope with continued climate change.

Authors

Schoepf, V., University of Western Australia, Australia, verena.schoepf@uwa.edu.au

Stat, M., Curtin University, Australia, michael.stat@curtin.edu.au

Falter, J. L., University of Western Australia, Australia, jim.falter@uwa.edu.au

McCulloch, M. T., University of Western Australia, Australia, malcolm.mcculloch@uwa.edu.au

Details

Oral presentation

Session #:05
Date: 06/23/2016
Time: 13:45
Location: 313 B

Presentation is given by student: No