My PhD research focuses on the acclimatization ability of corals to temperature stress and climate change. As the climate continues to change and the oceans continue to warm, it is important to understand how coral reef communities will react and change. Large scale reef decline and phase-shifts plague to Caribbean. My research is focused on examining how corals cope with temperature related environmental changes. The Castillo Lab has recently completed a field season in Belize during which we samples and surveyed 13 different reef locations that are located in one of three environmental types”
1.) High max temperature, high annual temperature variability, highest number of days above local bleaching threshold.
2.) Moderate max temperature, moderate annual temperature variability, moderate number of days above local bleaching threshold.
3.) Low max temperature, low annual temperature variability, low number of days above local bleaching threshold.
1 site in each category was surveyed at 5 different latitudes. Sites in group 1 only existed for 3/5 latitudes. Each site was surveyed via AGRRA diver surveys and video surveys. Seawater and small coral subsamples were collected for nutrient analysis and host genetics and symbiont typing, respectively.
A former undergraduate in the Castillo Lab, Joe Townsend, produced a short documentary about his experiences with this work.
UNC Research has highlighted my work as well
My research is funded by the Department of Defense NDSEG and the Rufford Foundation