Sydney's research focused on coral genomic and algal symbiont analyses for the corals used in our collaborative Restoration Team Trials project. As part of Florida’s largest coral restoration experiment to date, Sydney used high-resolution 2bRAD and ITS2 sequencing to genotype the corals and characterize their in algal symbiont communities. She found that neither host genetic lineages nor algal symbiont types significantly affected coral outplants' susceptibility Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) or survival, negating the hypothesis of SCTLD-resistant “super coral” lineages. Coupled with the monitoring results of this project, we can now recommend that efforts to restore Montastraea cavernosa, Orbicella faveolata, and Pseudodiploria clivosa can move forward in south Florida with minimal risk of loss to SCTLD at this time. She recently was awarded a scholarship by the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) to advance her diving and photography skills. After continuing her research in the Voss lab for the first half of the summer, Sydney will be off to pursue her PhD in Dr. Kate Quigley's lab at James Cook University in Australia.
Haley's thesis research evaluated the hyposalinity tolerance thresholds of two prominent stony corals in Southeast Florida. In a series of experiments, she determined that Montastraea cavernosa have an LC50 of 19 PSU but can survive for at least 21 days at an intermediately stressful salinity of 25 PSU. Porites astreoides on the other hand demonstrated an LC50 of 19 PSU, but experienced mortality when exposed to 25 PSU for 17–18 days. Her results suggest that lower-volume, longer-duration releases of freshwater from reservoirs may help to preserve coral health in Southeast Florida. Haley received multiple awards for presenting her thesis research in FAU's 3 Minute Thesis competition. She was also awarded the Dritenbas Fellowship from Sunrise Rotary, an Indian River Lagoon Fellowship from the HBOI Foundation, and a WDHOF scholarship for advance dive training. She has accepted an exciting new research associate position with our collaborator Dr. Gretchen Goodbody at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute in Cayman.
Congratulations Haley and Sydney! We look forward to many years of collaboration and wish you much success in your futures!
Keep up to date with Haley @Addi_venture and Sydney @motherofcorals on Twitter