Luke Morris - AIMS@JCU

Luke Morris

l.morris@aims.gov.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering

Luke Morris

l.morris@aims.gov.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering
The impact of nutrient availability on coral thermal tolerance

Luke grew up near Brighton (UK) and always took a keen interest in nature and biology but was swayed towards aquatic environments through the home aquarium industry. This led to him studying for an MSci in Marine Biology at the University of Southampton, where he developed a passion for coral biology. At the university’s Coral Reef Laboratory, he researched the impacts of nutrient availability on coral physiology under the supervision of Prof. Jörg Wiedenmann, Dr. Sabrina Rosset and Dr. Cecilia D’Angelo.

The impact of nutrient availability on coral thermal tolerance

2017 to 2021

Project Description

To understand how nutrient availability affects the health and associated Symbiodinium communities of Great Barrier Reef corals, before, during and after thermal bleaching. The project will use a combination of field samples and laboratory experiments to tackle outstanding questions in coral nutrient and thermal stress physiology.

Project Importance

Mechanistic links between environmental nutrient availability and coral bleaching susceptibility have been drawn from laboratory studies. However, the impact of nutrients on coral thermal tolerance in the field remain unclear. Improving our knowledge of this relationship is vital to understand how water quality management may be used to improve coral thermal tolerance and therefore mitigate against climate change.

Project Methods

The project will integrate measures of coral physiology, carbon metabolism and ITS2 amplicon sequencing of Symbiodinium to understand how nutrient availability impacts coral thermal tolerance. These approaches will be applied to 1) field coral samples taking during and after the 2017 Great Barrier Reef bleaching event, 2) Symbiodinium cultures under nutrient and thermal stress and 3) corals under nutrient and thermal stress in the laboratory.

Project Results

How nutrient and thermal stress affects coral physiology, carbon metabolism and Symbiodinium communities to impact the bleaching susceptibility and recovery potential of Great Barrier Reef corals. These results will help to inform the water quality management of coral reefs.

Keywords

Algae,
Biochemistry,
Biostatistics,
Climate change,
Coastal development,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Corals,
Distribution,
Ecology,
Field based,
Genetics,
Interaction,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Microbiology,
Molecular techniques,
Monitoring,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean warming,
Physiology,
Pollution,
Quantitative marine science