Pacific Coral Reef Institute

Yashika Nand at the coral bedside (Fiji Islands – 2014 IRCP grant)

Yashika Nand, Master Student at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, did an internship in Mai 2015 at the CRIOBE station thanks to a IRCP grant.

The purpose of her study is to investigate difference in CSI of coral taxa to bleaching and disease present in different Pacific geographies. The degrading health of coral reef ecosystems is largely caused by increasing frequency and severity of coral bleaching events (Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2008) and coral disease episodes (Palmer et al. 2010). However, the rate of bleaching and prevalence of coral disease on a reef is dependent on the prevalence of different species with different susceptibilities to bleaching and disease. Some coral species have a naturally high tolerance to changes in environment while others are less robust, and hence become vulnerable to disturbance that triggers bleaching and disease. This means that to effectively compare different sites, or to assess changes in bleaching and disease frequency over time, the composition of the coral community and the relative susceptibility of the component taxa needs to be known.

She wants to develop a novel coral susceptibility index, taking into account differential susceptibility to bleaching and disease. At the same time, comparing coral taxa found in both Leleuvia and Moorea but subject to different environmental conditions. The key outcome will be to determine whether the relative susceptibility of different taxa remains constant or varies over large spatial scales. This will allow to assess whether global susceptibility measures are feasible, or whether susceptibility needs to be established locally. The study will investigate changes in CSI based on four major characteristics of a reef system; (a) type of reefs, (b) locality, (c) community structure and (d) management status.

Diseases on different coral species

Diseases on different coral species

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