REU Student to Represent BIOS at ASLO Meeting

Kelly Speare, a 2012 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student and 2013 BIOS summer intern, was chosen from a pool of qualified candidates to represent BIOS at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, HI. This bi-annual meeting is convened by the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), The Oceanography Society (TOS), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and brings together scientists from around the world to discuss current topics in marine science, technology, and education.

Kelly was selected as a REU intern in the fall of 2012 while studying at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She conducted her research at BIOS during the summer of 2013 under the mentorship of Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley (BIOS) and Dr. John Bruno (UNC Chapel Hill), culminating in a study entitled: Synergistic Effects of Increased Sedimentation and Water Temperature on the Survival of Juvenile Coral Spat. Kelly has since graduated with Highest Honors in Biology.

After careful consideration of applicants’ cover letters and abstracts, BIOS Education staff selected Kelly as the recipient of a $2000 grant (part NSF REU and part BIOS Education) to cover travel and expenses associated with attending the meeting and presenting a poster of her research. Following this, her abstract was formally accepted by the ASLO Multicultural Program, thereby securing her place at this highly attended international meeting. Kelly is understandably excited and said, “The opportunity to present my BIOS research at ASLO will allow me to meet and network with experts in the field…it will be highly beneficial to have strong contacts within the field at the start of my graduate career.”

Kelly’s winning abstract can be seen below:


Kelly E. Speare1, John F. Bruno1, Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley2
1 Department of Biology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3300 USA
2Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, 17 Biological Station, Ferry Reach, St. George’s GE01, Bermuda

Many stressors impact coral reef populations worldwide. The presence of multiple causal factors has led to speculation about whether the combined effects of multiple stressors are additive, synergistic or antagonistic. This study examined the independent and potentially interactive effects of two known coral stressors, sedimentation and increased water temperature, on juvenile coral spat. Spat from the brooding coral, Favia fragum, were exposed for eight weeks to four experimental treatments in a factorial experiment with two stresses (increased sedimentation and water temperature).  Response variables included lateral growth, zooxanthellae density, chlorophyll concentration, and survival. Increased sedimentation and temperature individually reduced growth, zooxanthellae density, and spat survival. The two stressors also had interactive non-additive effects on growth (antagonistic), chlorophyll concentration (antagonistic), and survival (synergistic). There was a striking reduction in survival for spat in the combined stress treatment (survival=54.4%) compared to those in all other treatments (survival ranged from 86.2-91.7%). The synergistic effect of increased water temperature and sedimentation on spat survival suggests that coral spat may be able to tolerate exposure to these stresses in isolation, but not in concert.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1156626.