Being a coral nutritionist: How does the diet of a reef coral affect its health and ability to cope with rising temperatures?
Speaker: Sabrina Rosset –
Coral reefs have been hitting the headlines, yet sadly it has been with bad news of the rapid degradation of this valuable ecosystem. Climate change is a global stressor that poses a huge threat to the persistence of coral reefs. In light of this, it is important to understand how we can support the health of coral reefs by limiting local stress factors such as disturbances to the nutrient environment caused by various human activities.
Tropical waters contain very low levels of nutrients. Corals are adapted to this low nutrient environment by existing in a symbiosis with single celled algae that live within their tissue and provide the coral host with energy. We still don’t fully understand how the coral and the algae exchange nutrients and how changes in nutrient availability affect the stability of this relationship. Understanding this is critical in order to implement effective management strategies to combat nutrient pollution and to promote coral reef resilience. In this talk Sabrina will tell you about what we do know about coral nutrient biology and of the dangers of nutrient pollution. She will show you the results of the work conducted using the aquarium facilities at the University of Southampton which aimed to advance our knowledge on the importance of coral nutrition.
Sabrina Rosset did her BSc at the University of Southampton studying biomedical science. She then changed direction slightly by taking on a PhD at the National Oceanography Centre studying corals which she just finished in April of this year. During her PhD a large focus was on the effects of the nutrient environment on coral health. The state of the art aquarium facilities of the Coral Reef Laboratory allowed for controlled experimental conditions whereby corals were cultured with different concentrations of nutrients in the water in long term studies. Additionally, corals could be fed in a targeted manner by giving each polyp a little piece of prawn or brine shrimp each morning. Sabrina is now continuing to build on this work.
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Next Month’s Talk
6 October 2016
Marine Life Talks are held on the first Thursday of each month at 7.30pm in the Henry Charnock Lecture Theatre, National Oceanography Centre. Please sign in outside the lecture theatre on level four.
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