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Research aimed at understanding microbial and environmental drivers of stony coral settlement

Jordan Sims, PhD student of Jennifer Salerno, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy,is performing a field study on the environmental and microbial drivers of coral settlement on reefs in Roatán, Honduras.  

There are four objectives for this research. 

First, she aims to produce detailed characterizations of bacterial biofilm community composition and functional potential through time during the six months when coral reproduction is occurring. 

Second, she aims to measure environmental conditions (light intensity, temperature, pH, and salinity) at a high resolution through time at each sample site. 

Third, she intends to quantify coral settlement, including number and taxonomic identity of settlers. 

Finally, she aims to analyze relationships between biofilm community composition and functional potential, environmental conditions, and coral settlement. 

Salerno hypothesizes that biofilm community composition and functional potential will be highly correlated with environmental conditions, and coral settlement will show species-specific trends.  

Sims received $6,500 from the Ruth D. Turner Foundation for this study. Funding began in September 2022 and will end in late August 2023.