Coral responses to temperature, irradiance and acidification stress: linking physiology to satellite remote sensing

The success of the symbiosis of scleractinian corals with dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium is highly dependent on the availability of sufficient, but not excess, light for photosynthesis. After decades of fundamental research into the effect of light on the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis, an important practical application is emerging in remote monitoring of bleaching at coral reefs. Coral bleaching that originates with the dysfunction of photosynthesis can be either photoacclimatory, a controlled adjustment in response to environmental change, or it can be associated with photodamage, an uncontrolled response to environmental change. It is the latter that tends to lead to severe bleaching events that decrease the rate of carbon fixation, generate excessive oxygen radicals and may ultimately lead to coral death if unfavourable conditions persist. Current best practice methods for the prediction of coral bleaching use water temperature as detected via satellite, and predict the onset of coral bleaching accurately, but not the percent of corals bleached at a reef or the extent of the ensuing mortality.

Mason R. A. B., 2018. Coral responses to temperature, irradiance and acidification stress: linking physiology to satellite remote sensing. PhD thesis, University of Queensland, 188p. Thesis.

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