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.