Melissa Naugle - AIMS@JCU

Melissa Naugle

Southern Cross University School of Environment, Science, and Management

Melissa Naugle

Southern Cross University School of Environment, Science, and Management
PhD in Environment, Science, and Management

Melissa has a BS in environmental science and policy from University of Maryland, and a MS in marine science from California State University, Monterey Bay. Her MS thesis was entitled 'Effects of land-based sources of pollution on coral thermotolerance' and examined how pollution affects Acropora hyacinthus heat tolerance in American Samoa. She also examined how both pollution and heat stress affected the algal symbiont community, and coral host gene expression.

PhD in Environment, Science, and Management

2022 to 2025

Project Description

This project aims to classify variation in heat tolerance of Acropora hyacinthus along the GBR and identify genetic markers for key coral traits using whole genome sequencing

Project Importance

This PhD project is important to monitor existing variation in heat tolerance, which is useful to reef managers who are interested in which reefs may be most resilient to climate change. Additionally, genetic markers associated with heat tolerance may be useful to coral breeding and propagation programs.

Project Methods

The project examines variation in heat tolerance using imaging-PAM data as well as hyperspectral data. Coral genomes will be sequenced and a genome wide association analysis (GWAS) will be performed to search for genetic markers of heat tolerance.

Project Results

As the project is still in early stages, preliminary results can only be applied to the imaging PAM data. This data shows a decrease in photosynthetic efficiency with increasing temperature (as expected) as well as a strong trend between photosynthetic efficiency and latitude.


Climate change,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Field based,
Human use,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Marine planning,
Molecular techniques,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean warming,
Quantitative marine science,
Remote Sensing,
Temporal change

Supervised By:

Line Bay (AIMS)

Elizabeth Evans-Illidge (AIMS)

Emily Howells (Southern Cross University )