Yvonne Sawall is the principle investigator of the Marine Benthic Ecology and Ecophysiology (MABEE) Laboratory at BIOS. Her research focuses on shallow water coral reefs and temperate and tropical seagrass meadows integrating aspects of physiology, ecology, and oceanography. The overarching question of her research is how organisms and communities interact with their environment, while focusing primarily on key metabolic processes (photosynthesis, respiration and calcification) of foundation species (corals and seagrass). Understanding responses of corals and seagrass to persisting and changing environmental conditions is of paramount importance, as they form the basis of ecologically and economically important ecosystems that are exposed to increasing threat of local and global stressors. Hence, the mission of the MABEE lab is to elucidate potential impacts of global change on important coastal ecosystems by understanding the strategies and limitations of keystone organisms and benthic communities to respond to different environmental conditions.
Currently, the MABEE lab pursues three lines of research, which include
(i) organismal and community metabolism and their drivers in coral reefs,
(ii) coral thermal tolerance and thermal stress mitigation, and
(iii) seagrass functional processes and restoration.
The MABEE lab applies a number of state-of-the-art and cutting-edge approaches and is particularly invested in developing and applying in-situ technologies, such as the gradient flux technique, to measure reef productivity, and a novel fully automated in-situ incubation set up (BIO-RESORT) that allows for field-based metabolic rate and flux measurements. Furthermore, multi-scale approaches are envisioned (i) to investigate how lab-derived knowledge about the effects of single or multiple environmental conditions translate into the ‘real world’ where multiple environmental parameters act on different spatial and temporal scales, and (ii) to assess what role species interactions may play in modulating the response of individuals. The MABEE lab utilizes a combination of in-situ, mesocosm, and laboratory-based approaches to investigate organismal and community processes. A recent NSF award allows for major upgrades of the BIOS mesocosm facility, making it a start-of-the art, easy-to-use facility supporting novel climate change research and more.
Funded projects since coming to BIOS (2016)
2021 – 2024 NSF (National Science Foundation) Program: Chemical Oceanography. Collaborative Research: In Situ Investigations and Historical Analysis of Eddy Impacts on coastal carbon chemistry and coral calcification. Grant no.: #2123697, PI: Y Sawall, co-PIs: D Grundle (BIOS), N Goodkin (AMNH). Value: US$ 721,000
2021 – 2023 NSF (National Science Foundation) Program: Infrastructure Capacity for Biological Research. Major improvements of the outdoor mesocosm facility at the Bermuda institute of Ocean Sciences. Grant no.: 2129274, PI: Y Sawall, co-PI: S de Putron (BIOS). Value: US$343,000.
2020 - 2021 BIOS Cawthorn Research Innovation Fund. Advancements in understanding in-situ organism metabolic rates via innovative incubation chambers and an oxygen isotope tracer approach. PI: Y Sawall; co-PI: T Noyes (BIOS); in collaboration with Prof. (Emeritus) M Bender (Princeton). Value: US$ 150,000.
2017 – 2019 DFG (German Research Foundation) funded Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence. Is artificial upwelling a solution to coral bleaching threat? PI: Y Feng (GEOMAR); Collaborators: Y Sawall, M Lebrato. Value: € 140,000 (no overhead included)
2017 - 2019 BIOS Cawthorn Research Innovation Fund. Improving reef calcification measurements and exploring dynamics of reef functioning. PIs: Y Sawall, EJ Hochberg, N Bates. Value: US$ 150,000.
2016 – 2019 NASA Earth Venture Suborbital-2 (EVS-2) Project. Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL). PI: Eric Hochberg. Value: US$ 15,000,000 – Sawall was postdoc of the project