Coral researcher recognized with prestigious award

December 11, 2012

Research into a process that is threatening to wipe out coral reefs, by a scientist at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, has been recognised with a prestigious award worth 1.29 million euros.

Dr Jörg Wiedenmann, head of the centre's Coral Reef Laboratory, has been selected by the European Research Council to receive funding through the prestigious 'Starting Grant' competition.

Through this scheme, Dr Wiedenmann from University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science, which is based at the centre, has been awarded the funding for his project INCORALS, which will investigate how nutrient starvation influences susceptibility of reef corals to a process known as 'coral bleaching'.

Coral bleaching is promoted by global warming, and is threatening to wipe out coral reefs. Corals are animals that have a mutually beneficial, or 'symbiotic', relationship with algae that live in their tissue. Studies have shown that when water temperatures rise beyond a certain threshold, the corals expel the algae, which can increase mortality of the host and turns the corals white.

Research by Wiedenmann and colleagues, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that increased levels of nutrients in the water column can increase the susceptibility of corals to fall victim to bleaching. The INCORALS project will build on these findings and use a range of cutting edge techniques to investigate the detailed mechanisms that underlie the responses of corals and their symbiotic algae to nutrient stress.

"The increasing influx of nutrients in coastal waters due to human activities represents a pressing problem for coral reefs," said Dr Wiedenmann. "A better understanding of the links between disturbed nutrient levels and coral bleaching is vital to develop marine and coastal management strategies that help to ensure future health of coral reefs."

The 'Starting Grant' scheme is a highly competitive programme aimed at early-career researchers, supporting a new generation of top scientists in Europe. Funding is provided to set up research teams and to develop the best ideas at the frontiers of knowledge. This year the competition attracted 4,741 applications, of which just over 11 per cent were successful in securing a share of the 800 million euro budget.
-end-
Notes to Editors

The reference referred to is: Wiedenmann J. et al. (2012) Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching. Nature Climate Change doi:10.1038/nclimate1661: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1661.html

Further information on the Coral Reef Laboratory can be found at: http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/corals/

ERC Starting Grant results: €800 million for over 530 early-career top researchers

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is the UK's leading institution for integrated coastal and deep ocean research. NOC operates the Royal Research Ships James Cook and Discovery and develops technology for coastal and deep ocean research. Working with its partners NOC provides long-term marine science capability including: sustained ocean observing, mapping and surveying; data management and scientific advice.

The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, is the collaborative partnership between University of Southampton and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) scientists and engineers at the Southampton Waterfront Campus.

Media contacts:

Kim Marshall, Media & Communications Officer, National Oceanography Centre, email: kim.marsall@noc.ac.uk - +44 (0) 23 8059 6170

Catherine Beswick, Media & Communications Officer, National Oceanography Centre, email: catherine.beswick@noc.ac.uk - +44 (0) 23 8059 8490

Broadcast: The National Oceanography Centre now has an ISDN-enabled radio broadcast studio.

National Oceanography Centre, UK

Related Coral Reefs Articles from Brightsurf:

The cement for coral reefs
Coral reefs are hotspots of biodiversity. As they can withstand heavy storms, they offer many species a safe home.

Palau's coral reefs: a jewel of the ocean
The latest report from the Living Oceans Foundation finds Palau's reefs had the highest coral cover observed on the Global Reef Expedition--the largest coral reef survey and mapping expedition in history.

Shedding light on coral reefs
New research published in the journal Coral Reefs generates the largest characterization of coral reef spectral data to date.

Uncovering the hidden life of 'dead' coral reefs
'Dead' coral rubble can support more animals than live coral, according to University of Queensland researchers trialling a high-tech sampling method.

Collaboration is key to rebuilding coral reefs
The most successful and cost-effective ways to restore coral reefs have been identified by an international group of scientists, after analyzing restoration projects in Latin America.

Coral reefs show resilience to rising temperatures
Rising ocean temperatures have devastated coral reefs all over the world, but a recent study in Global Change Biology has found that reefs in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region may prove to be an exception.

Genetics could help protect coral reefs from global warming
The research provides more evidence that genetic-sequencing can reveal evolutionary differences in reef-building corals that one day could help scientists identify which strains could adapt to warmer seas.

Tackling coral reefs' thorny problem
Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have revealed the evolutionary history of the crown-of-thorns starfish -- a predator of coral that can devastate coral reefs.

The state of coral reefs in the Solomon Islands
The ''Global Reef Expedition: Solomon Islands Final Report'' summarizes the foundation's findings from a monumental research mission to study corals and reef fish in the Solomon Islands and provides recommendations on how to preserve these precious ecosystems into the future.

Mysterious glowing coral reefs are fighting to recover
A new study by the University of Southampton has revealed why some corals exhibit a dazzling colorful display, instead of turning white, when they suffer 'coral bleaching' -- a condition which can devastate reefs and is caused by ocean warming.

Read More: Coral Reefs News and Coral Reefs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.