Tomás López-Londoño

Ecophysiology & Biodiversity

I am a passionate marine biologist committed to investigating the influence of sunlight energy on the physiology and ecology of marine organisms, with a particular focus on tropical symbiotic corals. These charismatic organisms rely on sunlight as an essential energy source given their obligate symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic zooxanthellae. However, this symbiosis is highly sensitive to anthropogenic disturbances, making coral reefs one of the most threatened ecosystems by global change. This attributes, among others, positions corals as an essential model for exploring a wide spectrum of questions spanning multiple levels of organization, from single organisms to the whole coral reef ecosystem.

Thank you for visiting my website, and I hope my work inspires you to appreciate the wonders of marine life.

Ph.D. in Biology

The Pennsylvania State University, United States. 2016-2022

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M.Sc. in Marine Sciences

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México. 2013-2015.

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B.Sc. in Marine Biology

Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Colombia. 2001-2007.

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Physiology of Coral Reef Organisms

Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. At the heart of these vibrant ecosystems, symbiotic corals play a central role as primary engineers. Over millions of years, diverse coral species have evolved distinctive symbiotic associations and photoacclimation capabilities, which enable them to thrive in specific environmental conditions in the marine environment and play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity. One of my research focus is exploring the physiological traits that allow symbiotic corals to optimize their performance along environmental gradients.

Functional Morphology

Functional morphology is a field of study that has captivated my scientific curiosity. Symbiotic corals display a great array of morphologies, each of which has unique effects on light interception and the photosynthetic performance of in hospite zooxanthellae. In this context, I am particularly interested in exploring the profound impacts of morphological features of coral colonies on their energetic performance. By exploring how these features change along environmental gradients, I seek to shed light on the intricate connections between functional morphology, energy dynamics, and ecological specialization in symbiotic corals.

Coral Community Ecology

One of my research goals is to explore the repercussions of the obligatory coral-algae symbiosis at the community level. The obligatory nature of the symbiosis between the photosynthetic zooxanthellae and the coral animal, make coral communities particularly interesting for exploring the relationships between environmental gradients, photosynthetic productivity and distribution of coral biodiversity. By unraveling these intricate relationships, I aim to contribute to our understanding of the factors that underlie biodiversity patterns and coral community structure.

Climate and Environmental Change Impacts

One of my primary research goals is to delve into the impacts of climate change and water pollution on corals and coral reef communities. Specifically, I focus on the degradation of water optical properties caused by sedimentation and anthropogenic pollution. Through collaboration with my colleagues, our studies have shown that the gradual decline in water optical quality has a significant impact on corals' physiology and compromises their ability to construct and sustain reefs. By shedding light on these impacts, my research aims to contribute to the conservation efforts of coral reefs in the face of climate and environmental challenges.

  • Symbiosis (BIOL 406). Lecturer. Spring 2023. In this course, we delved into the significance of symbiotic interactions in nature and explored the unifying concepts that transcend various forms of symbiosis and other species interactions.
  • Basic Concepts and Biodiversity (BIOL 110W). Laboratory Teaching Assistant. Spring 2022. The primary focus in this course was to provide the students with the opportunity for a hands-on experience in the scientific process and to explore the incredible biological diversity of life on Earth. 
  • Population and Communities (BIOL 220W). Laboratory Teaching Assistant. Spring 2017 / Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021. Throughout this course, we introduced students to the fundamental principles, concepts, patterns, and processes that underpin the dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems.
Impacts of Water Turbidity

Explore the negative effects of water turbidity on the physiology and ecology of corals.

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Evolutionary process in Corals

Study the importance of niche specialization on the origin and maintenance of corals diversity

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Bio-optical models to describe energy fluxes and budgets

Bio-optical models as an approach to describe the energy balance in corals at different levels of biological organization

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Science & Rock Fest

Scenario where scientists and artists meet to teach, inspire and motivate future visionaries

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Publications image
  1. Porras MF, Raygoza-Garay JA, Brought M, Chauta A, López-Londoño T, Crone M, Peter
    K, Biddinger D, Rajotte E.G. 2024. Ingestion of fungicides reduces net energy gain and
    microbiome diversity of the solitary mason bee. Scientific Reports. [In Press]
  2. López-Londoño T, Enríquez S, Iglesias-Prieto R. 2024. Effects of surface geometry on light exposure, photoacclimation and photosynthetic energy acquisition in zooxanthellate corals.  PLoS ONE. 19(1): e0295283. Link
  3. López-Londoño T, Galindo-Martínez CT, Gómez-Campo K, González-Guerrero LA, Roitman S, Pollock FJ, Pizarro V, López-Victoria M, Medina M, Iglesias-Prieto R. 2023. Survival and physiological responses of  corals exposed to anthropogenic turbidity in the Varadero Reef, Colombian Caribbean. Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras. 52(1): 135-158. Link
  4. Shantz, AA, López-Londoño T, Gómez-Campo K, Iglesias-Prieto R, Medina M. 2023. Reassessing the role of herbivores on urban coral reefs: A case study from a heavily impacted reef near Cartagena Bay, Colombia. Urban Ecosystems. Link
  5. López-Londoño T, Gómez-Campo K, Hernández-Pech X, Enríquez S, Iglesias-Prieto R. 2022. Photosynthetic usable energy explains vertical patterns of biodiversity in zooxanthellate corals. Scientific Reports. 12: 20821. Link
  6. Porras MF, López-Londoño T, Duque J, Navas CA, Camargo E, Cuervo J, Gamba D, Castañeda L, Pardo J, Sandoval A, Rajotte E. 2022. Science & Rock Fest: connecting people and science through music and the arts. American Entomologist. 68(3): 64. Link
  7. Prada C*, López-Londoño T*, Pollock JF, Roitman S, Ritchie KB, Levitan D, Knowlton N, Woodley C, Iglesias-Prieto R, Medina M. 2022. Linking photoacclimation responses and microbiome shifts between depth-segregated sibling species of reef corals. Royal Society Open Science. 9(3): 211591. Link
  8. López-Londoño T, Galindo-Martínez CT, Gómez-Campo K, González-Guerrero LA, Roitman S, Pollock FJ, Pizarro V, López-Victoria M, Medina M, Iglesias-Prieto R. 2021. Physiological and ecological consequences of the water optical properties degradation on reef corals. Coral Reefs 40:1243–1256. Link
  9. González-Guerrero LA, Vásquez-Elizondo R, López-Londoño T, Hernán G, Iglesias-Prieto R, Enríquez S. 2021. Validation of parameters and protocols derived from chlorophyll a fluorescence commonly utilized in marine ecophysiological studies. Functional Plant Biology. 49(6):517-532. Link
  10. Roitman S, López-Londoño T, Pollock FJ, Ritchie KB, Galindo-Martínez CT, Gómez-Campo K, González-Guerrero LA, Pizarro V, López-Victoria M, Iglesias-Prieto R, Medina M. 2020. Surviving marginalized reefs: assessing implications of the microbiome on coral physiology and survivorship. Coral Reefs 39: 795–807. Link
  11. Porras MF, López-Londoño T, Rosh J, Biddinger D, Calvin D, Rajotte EG. 2020. A method for a long-term marking of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) using a stable isotope of nitrogen. Environmental Entomology. 49(4): 993-997. Link
  12. Vega-Sequeda J, Díaz-Sánchez CM, Gómez-Campo K, López-Londoño T, Díaz-Ruiz M, Gómez-López DI. 2015. Marine biodiversity in remote areas of the Colombian Caribbean: New Shoal, Alice Shoal and Serranilla Bank. Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras. 44(1): 199-224. Link
  13. López-Londoño T, Navas-Camacho R, Gil-Agudelo DL. 2011. Juvenile scleractinian coral mortality at Nuestra Señora del Rosario Archipelago, Colombian Caribbean. Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras. 40(2): 419-424
  14. Gómez-Campo K, López-Londoño T, Gil-Agudelo DL, Navas-Camacho R, Rojas JA, Garzón-Ferreira J. 2011. Coral bleaching: a threat to the permanence of coral reefs in the Nuestra Señora del Rosario and San Bernardo archipelago. 319-328. In: Zarza-González, E. (Ed.) Environmental conservation in the Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo Natural Park.
  15. Navas-Camacho R, Rodríguez-Ramírez A, Vega-Sequeda J, Gómez-Campo K, López-Londoño T, Gil-Agudelo DL, Reyes-Nivia C, Muñoz-Escobar L, Rojas JA, Duque DL, Garzón-Ferreira J. 2011. The National Monitoring System of Coral Reefs in Colombia in the Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo Natural Park: 1998-2009. 330-350. In: Zarza-González, E. (Ed.). Environmental conservation in the Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo Natural Park.
  16. Vega-Sequeda J, Navas-Camacho R, Gómez-Campo K, López-Londoño T. 2011. Installation and assessment of two new coral reef monitoring sites in the Colombian Caribbean. Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras. 40 (1): 203-211. Link
  17. Rodríguez-Ramírez A, Garzón-Ferreira J, Batista-Morales A, Gil-Agudelo DL, Gómez-López DI, Gómez-Campo K, López-Londoño T, Navas-Camacho R, Reyes-Nivia MC, Vega-Sequeda J. 2010. Temporal patterns in coral reef, seagrass and mangrove communities from Chengue Bay, CARICOMP site (Colombia): 1993-2008. Revista de Biología Tropical. 58(3): 45-62. Link
  18. López-Londoño T, Santodomingo N, Reyes J. 2008. Presence of calcareous biogenic tubes on the coral Madracis myriaster (Scleractinia: Pocilloporidae) from deep-water in the Colombian Caribbean. Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras. 37(2): 227-233. Link
  19. López-Londoño T, González-Maya J, Zárrate D, Balaguera-Reina S. 2008. Biodiversity and Cultural Conservation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Mountain Forum Bulletin 8(2): 43-44. Link
  20. López-Londoño T, Navas-Camacho R, Gil-Agudelo DL. 2007. Scleractinian coral recruitment as evidence of reef maintenance and renovation in the Rosario Archipelago. 73-77. In: INVEMAR. Report of the status of the marine environment and natural resources in Colombia: year 2006.

Roberto Iglesias-Prieto

Professor of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University

Susana Enríquez

Full Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Todd LaJeunesse

Professor of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University

Mónica Medina

Professor of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University

Jonathan Lynch

Distinguished Professor, The Pennsylvania State University

Mitzy Porras

Postdoctoral Associate, The Pennsylvania State University

Cheryl Woodley

Coral Health and Disease Program, NOAA

Carlos Prada

Assistant Professor, University of Rhode Island

Carla Hass

Teaching Professor, The Pennsylvania State University

Tyler Smith

Associate Research Professor, University of the Virgin Islands

Sofia Roitman

Postdoctoral Researcher at New England Biolabs

F. Joseph Pollock

Senior Coral Reef Resilience Scientist, TNC

Gabriel Navas

Head of Department, Universidad de Cartagena

Mateo López-Victoria

Associate Professor, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Valeria Pizarro

Senior Researcher, Perry Institute for Marine Science

Diego Zarrate-Charry

Research Coordinator, ProCAT Colombia

Kelly Gómez Campo

Postdoctoral Researcher, Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity

Claudia T. Galindo-Martínez

Postdoctoral Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Johanna C. Vega-Sequeda

PhD student, Université du Québec à Rimouski

Raul Navas Camacho

Coordinador Monitoreo de Arrecifes Coralinos, INVEMAR

  • State College, Pennsylvania, United States