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Microbial communities on coralline algae shift under future climate change reducing their facilitation of sea urchin larval settlement

Marine invertebrate larval settlement is a key life history stage, impacting reef structure and dynamics. Microbial communities associated with coralline algae are important cues for facilitating settlement of larvae of a range of organisms including corals, sea urchins and abalone. Despite this, there are few studies that address the impact predicted future environmental conditions will have on interactions between larvae of marine invertebrates and reef microbes, especially in temperate ecosystems. CMER members Dr Megan Huggett, Dr Kathryn McMahon and postgraduate student Ms Rachele Bernasconi are investigating the reaction of temperate coralline alga Amphiroa gracilis to future climate change scenarios to ascertain the effects on the microbial community assemblage. Treatment on the algae will emulate climate conditions predicted to occur in the future with a focus on influencing their photosynthetic capabilities. These experiments are designed to calculate what impact (if any) future environmental conditions will have on the ability of temperate reef microbes to facilitate settlement of invertebrate larvae and any direct effect on algal physiology.

Funding agency

ECU Faculty of Science Collaboration grant

Project duration



Dr Megan Huggett
Dr Kathryn McMahon
Rachelle Bernasconi

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