Hannah Barkley, 2011, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer I worked in the de Putron Lab at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences studying the impacts of global warming, specifically ocean acidification and increased ocean temperature, on coral reproduction and recruitment. Previous studies have documented the repercussions on adult coral, namely decreased skeletal calcification and increased bleaching, but little research has been conducted on the effects on young coral. I also looked at whether the addition of nutrients could potentially offset the stress on the coral caused by these conditions.

To do this, I collected adult corals from the reef and gathered the larvae they released. I then raised the young coral recruits under combinations of decreased pH, increased temperature, and elevated nutrient levels to determine what effect predicted climate change and nutrient supplementation might have on the viability of young coral.Although thorough analysis of coral growth and health under each condition is pending completion, this study has already shown that impending climate change will likely seriously endanger the success of coral recruits, which in turn threatens the long term survival of coral reefs.