Site: Moorea Coral Reef LTER

Credit: Russell Schmitt

The powerhouse mutualism between the coral animal and its symbiotic dinoflagellate algae is the backbone of coral reef ecosystems. Moorea Coral Reef LTER research has produced counter-intuitive results, specifically that flexibility with respect to symbionts does not automatically make corals resilient – a finding that has had profound implications for understanding the susceptibility of coral colonies to stress. Similarly, MCR LTER researchers have shown that major feedbacks involving other microbes affect coral health, particularly bacteria key to the dynamic nutrient cycling on reefs.