Kevin Bairos-Novak - AIMS@JCU

Kevin Bairos-Novak

College of Science and Engineering

Kevin Bairos-Novak

College of Science and Engineering
Understanding reef thermal evolution in the context of climate change

Kevin is a PhD student from Winnipeg, Canada, interested in evolution, population ecology, modelling, R programming, statistics, and social behaviour.

Understanding reef thermal evolution in the context of climate change

2018 to 2022

Project Description

Understanding how corals evolve and how traits are likely to be passed down to subsequent generations in response to climate change is crucial in forecasting reef resilience. This project aims to understand: 1) the heritability of traits in corals; 2) the rate of evolution and heritability of Symbiodiniaceae; and 3) develop a model of projected population evolution in the context of climate change.

Project Importance

This project is important, given the current state of coral reefs, the future projected increases in sea surface temperatures and increasing frequency/intensity of bleaching events, and how few population models current take into account evolutionary processes that are likely to affect coral populations.

Project Methods

This project will manipulate symbiont cultures in different temperature regimes to understand their rate of evolution and the heritability associated with thermal tolerance. These estimates will then be used to inform a model of coral population evolution in response to increasing temperatures associated with anthropogenic climate change.

Project Results

Certain corals and their associated symbionts likely have some capacity to adapt to increasing temperatures. However, this project will hope to uncover what the upper threshold of temperature regime change is for corals and understand what factors are most likely to have an impact on reef sensitivities to climate change.


Climate change,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Marine planning,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean warming,
Quantitative marine science,
Temporal change