Coral Reefs, the Journal of the International Coral Reef Society, has awarded the “Best Paper Award 2018” to Ross Cunning, Andrew Baker, and our very own Executive Director & Waterkeeper, Rachel Silverstein!
From 22 nominated papers, “Symbiont shuffling linked to differential photochemical dynamics of Symbiodinium in three Caribbean reef corals” by Ross Cunning, Rachel N. Silverstein, and Andrew C. Baker, was chosen as a distinctive winner. The paper examines symbiont shuffling (when corals restructure symbiotic algae, Symbiodinium, communities that live in their tissues). This symbiont shuffling after a coral has experienced bleaching might allow coral reefs to become more bleaching resistant.
The authors performed bleaching and recovery experiments on three species of Caribbean corals. It was found that the degree of symbiont shuffling is closely related to the duration of stress exposure and the ‘photochemical advantage’ of one algae community over the other. Since the details of symbiont shuffling are still poorly known, this kind of research is crucial to advance coral reef conservation and to intensify coral resilience to environmental changes.
This collaborative research benefits Miami Waterkeeper’s current work with protecting Florida’s reefs against climate change and sedimentation. The world is experiencing many changes to its climate, many of which add stress to coral communities and can lead to die offs of these vital animals to Florida’s coastal ecosystems. Climatic changes, like increased ocean temperatures, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, coupled with human-caused negative impacts, like sedimentation caused by dredging, have resulted in many problems for Florida reef tracts here in Miami.
A big congratulations to Rachel and her collaborators for receiving this award and furthering the fight to save Florida’s coral!