The relationship between corals and Symbiodinium dinoflagellates is sensitive to elevated sea-surface temperatures, which are projected to increase 2.6 to 4.8°C by 2100. One mechanism that may allow corals to persist through ocean warming is an association with thermally-tolerant symbionts. During early life stages, many coral larvae or juveniles will uptake multiple phylotypes of Symbiodinium through horizontal transmission. This diversity is maintained for months or years, but over time the juvenile coral will select a dominant Symbiodinium phylotype reflective of the local environment. It is unknown at what age or size selection occurs, and whether environmental factors drive this selection. To determine this, field and laboratory studies will be conducted using the massive starlet coral, Siderastrea siderea
Sarah is a native Rhode Islander and earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southern Connecticut State University in 2015. While studying temperate corals as an undergrad, she was also a collegiate athlete, playing DII softball for the Owls. In 2016, she moved to Florida to start her M.S. in Marine Biology at Nova Southeastern University. When not working under the guidance of Dr. Joana Figueiredo in the Marine Larval Ecology lab, Sarah can be found teaching in the Department of Biological Science or working at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.