An elemental hypothesis for sub-tropical refugia in reef corals (2016–2019)
This proposal aims to discover the underlying traits that permit Australian reef corals to live near the edges of their ranges in relatively cool water. As ocean temperatures warm, novel communities are expected to develop in high latitude ecosystems, which might become important as thermal refugia for low latitude coral reefs. The project aims to test the role of elemental composition (C, N and P) in coral host and symbiont response to changing water temperature along a latitudinal gradient. The intended outcome of the project is to provide knowledge to support predictions of likely species migrations from tropical to subtropical waters, enabling managers to anticipate future response of coral communities to seawater warming.