The internship targets coral larval dynamics and settlement within a broader project on the eco- stoichiometry of reef building corals across tropical and subtropical reefs. This opportunity suits students enrolled in SCI00211
Time required: 12 hours per week
Duration: 20 weeks
Requires face to face contact: Yes
Related unit codes: ENV00224
The internship targets coral larval dynamics and settlement within a broader project on the eco- stoichiometry of reef building corals across tropical and subtropical reefs. Most corals produce pelagic larvae that depend entirely on maternal provisioning for their energy. We investigate links between larval fitness and maternal provisioning as well as larval competency (ability to settle) following different pelagic durations and temperature regimes. Improved measures of larval competency and resource utilisation underlie the ability of corals to occupy current distribution ranges (cosmopolitan or tropical/ subtropical specialists) and enable more accurate predictions on potential species migrations in response to future seawater temperatures. The project goal is to assess whether nutrient composition differs between tropical and subtropical coral propagules and if it is linked to pelagic larval duration and, therefore, dispersal capacity and survival in the water column.
With coral reef communities being increasingly affected by warming ocean temperatures, predicting how coral communities at range margins will change is relevant for both conservation and management. The intended outcome of the project is to provide empirical knowledge that will enable accurate predictions of species migrations from tropical to subtropical waters.
These experiments will provide a first indication of whether larvae from different coral species is linked to metabolic traits or nutrient availability. This work will provide new data on which to model coral species migrations based on larval planktonic durations, recruitment success and provide a range of probabilities of survivorship under differing environmental conditions.
The student will be engaged in different activities related to various aspects of coral reproduction. He/She will participate in approximately three-month laboratory work at the National Marine Science Centre, Coffs Harbour, which will include maintaining reproductive corals, gamete collection, rearing of coral larvae and aquarium based thermal experiments.
The student will work closely with researchers and Postdoctoral students and gain experience in a range of basic and complex laboratory skills specific to coral larval rearing.
The use of aquarium and laboratory space, basic lab equipment (fume hood, centrifuges, pipettes, vortex, accurate scales)
Funding, supervisor and expertise, large sample collection