Extreme mangrove corals ‘Super Corals’

Mangrove corals

During my PhD I discovered corals living in some of the most extreme conditions reported for extant coral reefs. Surprisingly these corals were living in mangrove lagoons where the water was warmer, more acidic and deoxygenated compared to the neighbouring reefs less than 0.5 km away.

At these mangrove sites, temperatures are often 1-2°C higher than the reef, pH falls regularly below pH 7.5 and oxygen regularly falls below 1 mg/L. Consequently resident corals are effectively being pre-conditioned to future climate conditions.

My discovery of these highly tolerant coral populations, also known as Super Corals, has challenged our understanding of what conditions some coral populations can survive under. I have dedicated my research career to study these extreme corals, to try and uncover what allows these corals to survive when reefs globally are degrading and dying due to climate change.

Through my research I hope to:

  1. Uncover the mechanisms that support the extreme corals superior stress tolerance
Extracting coral DNA in the lab

2. Identify more ‘Super Coral’ populations to establish a network of hot-spots of reef resilience

Extreme mangrove coral populations identified to-date

3. Identify elemental stress-tolerant signatures of extreme corals

Elemental mapping

4. Understand how these extreme corals can be used in adaptive reef management

Transplanted coral

Related publications

Camp EF, Schoepf V, Mumby PJ, Suggett DJ (2019) E_Book: The future of coral reefs subject to rapid climate change: Lessons from natural extreme environments. Frontiers in Marine Science.

Camp EF, Schoepf V, Mumby PJ, Suggett DJ (2018) Editorial: The future of coral reefs subject to rapid climate change: Lessons from natural extreme environments. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5,433. (doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00433)

Camp EF, Schoepf V, Suggett DJ (2018) How can “Super Corals” facilitate global coral reef survival under rapid environmental and climatic change? Global Change Biology. 4,24. (doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14153)

Camp EF, Schoepf V, Mumby PJ, Hardtke LA, Rodolfo-Metalpa R, Smith DJ, Suggett DJ (2018) The future of coral reefs subject to rapid climate change: Lessons from natural extreme environments. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5,4.

Camp EF, Smith DJ, Evenhuis C, Enochs I, Manzello D, Woodcock S, Suggett DJ (2016)     Acclimatization to high-variance habitats does not enhance physiological tolerance of two key Caribbean corals to future temperature and pH. Royal Society of London Proceedings B. 283. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0442)*

Camp EF, Suggett DJ, Gendron G, Jompa J, Manfrino CM, Smith DJ (2016) Mangrove and Seagrass Beds Provide Different Biogeochemical Services for Corals Threatened by Climate Change. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, 52. (doi:10.3389/fmars.2016.00052)**