Coral trophic ecology in the Red SeaApply
Reef-building corals are mixotrophic organisms that can acquire autotrophic nutrition from their endosymbiotic algae and heterotrophic nutrition through predation on planktonic organisms. This trophic flexibility enables corals to thrive across a range of environmental conditions and may play a key role in their survival under climate change. However, our understanding of how different coral species modify their trophic strategy to survive stress or exploit variations in resource supply is limited. Determining the trophic plasticity of dominant coral taxa in the Red Sea is an important first step to understanding how these coral populations may change under future ocean conditions. We are seeking students interested in studying coral reef community structure and trophic ecology across the natural environmental gradients of the Red Sea. This research provides an opportunity to develop projects tailored to various interests of students. Examples of possible projects include, but are not limited to, quantifying the trophic ecology of hard and soft corals in the Red Sea, deploying instruments and analyzing oceanographic data to evaluate spatial and temporal variation in planktonic resource supply to coral communities, evaluating different biochemical techniques for quantifying coral nutrition (e.g., stable isotope analysis, fatty acid analyses, and metabolomics). This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to ongoing work and to develop new research projects around ocean-reef interactions in the Red Sea. KAUST is committed to building an inclusive community and research environment and encourages applicants from all walks of life.
Program - Marine Science
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Faculty Lab Link - https://www.kaust.edu.sa/en/study/faculty/michael-d-fox
Center Affiliation - Red Sea Research Center
Field of Study - Coral Reef Ecology, Oceanography, Marine Science, Biogeochemistry
Desired Project Deliverables
The student is expected to contribute to the research goals of the project, and to lead or participate as a co-author in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.