[Aqualist] Honours project on coral bleaching
j.zhao at uq.edu.au
Fri Oct 28 16:22:21 EST 2005
HONOURS PROJECT- Inferring past bleaching events in mid-Holocene corals and
their role in community persistence
Location: University of Queensland
Start-date: 1st Semester, 2006
Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. John Pandolfi (J.Pandolfi at cms.uq.edu.au) and
Assoc. Prof. Jian-xin Zhao (j.zhao at uq.edu.au)
Commonwealth funding has just been secured for research during the 2006
calendar year. An honours student is being sought.
Mass bleaching and mortality of reef corals in tropical oceans have become a
dooming global environmental issue. Worldwide, an estimated 30% of corals
are already severely damaged and close to 60% could be lost by 2030.
However, only in recent years did the issue catch global attention and
little is known about bleaching events and rates of recovery beyond the past
decade. For instance, how many coral bleaching events occurred over the past
century? Were they correlated in timing with El Niño events? What impacts on
the ecosystem have such events had? Had coral bleaching occurred during the
even warmer mid-Holocene?
This project aims to investigate the long-term history of coral bleaching,
mortality and recovery. We will (1) use modern corals in South China Sea to
establish microstructural and geochemical proxies for bleaching, and (2)
apply the proxies to assess whether bleaching occurred in the past,
particularly during the mid-Holocene. During Mid-Holocene, great
accumulations of coral reefs characterized the world's tropical oceans, in
spite of warmer sea surface temperatures and greater climatic instability.
Either coral bleaching was not associated with seasonal variations in
temperature, or bleaching did not result in substantial coral mortality, or
coral growth recovered rapidly after bleaching/mortality events. Our study
will differentiate among these scenarios, and document effects of past
bleaching on species diversity and taxonomic composition.
Ø Establish microstructural and geochemical signatures for bleaching in
Ø Assess if bleaching occurred during the warmer mid-Holocene, and if so,
determine the timing, duration and mechanism of bleaching and recovery.
Ø Determine the ecological response to coral bleaching using
palaeoecological surveys of fossil reefs.
The prospective student will spend 4 weeks in the scenic South China Sea and
China (probably March 2006) doing surveys and collections of fossil reefs,
and laboratory preparatory work for later geochemical and paleoecological
analyses the student will do at UQ.
SPECIAL NOTE: With this project and its locations, everyday is a holiday!
APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR HONOURS AT UQ IS 8 NOVEMBER 2005. Information
about the honours program at the Biological and Chemical Sciences Faculty
can be found at: http://www.bacs.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=22496 and
information and application form for the Honours Program in the School of
Integrative Biology (SIB) is found at
PLEASE CONTACT DR. JIAN-XIN ZHAO IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS
HONOURS PROJECT AT UQ IN 2006.
Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Qld 4072
Ph. (07) 3346 9754 (W), (07) 3411 4369 (H)
Fax (07) 3365 8530 (W)
Email: j.zhao at uq.edu.au
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