February 10 2010

12:00 LSB 2320

Jennifer E. Smith
Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Scripps Institution of Oceanography

"The impacts of some local and global stressors on coral reef communities with implications for conservation"


Coral reefs are among the most diverse, highly productive and severely threatened ecosystems on the planet. A number of both natural and anthropogenic stressors occurring at both local and global scales contribute to the loss of live coral. Regardless of the cause, coral reef degradation is most often characterized by large scale shifts in community structure where reef building corals are replaced by fleshy macroalgae. These so called phase shifts are often considered to be irreversible and the end result is a macroalgal dominated community that lacks the diversity, complexity and structure necessary to support a typical reef assemblage. Currently my research focuses on examining the effects of local stressors such as overfishing, pollution and invasive species and global stressors such as warming and ocean acidification on coral reef community structure. Specifically I am interested in understanding a) how these factors the affect community structure and the performance of key species to ultimately shift the competitive edge away from corals and towards algae, b) what the ecosystem consequences are of these phase shifts and, c) whether we can develop effective conservation and management strategies for these unique systems. Finally through a number of collaborations my lab is also investigating the details of coral algal competition in an effort to understand the potential role that microbes may play in mediating the competitive interactions that we observe on reefs. My seminar will focus largely on the effects of some local and global stressors on coral reefs with some conservation and management outcomes as well as discussing coral-algal-microbe interactions highlighting the complexities of these unique systems.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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