©2019 by Verena Schoepf

My Research

I am broadly interested in how global climate and environmental change affect tropical coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea”. Coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots of immense socio-economic importance; yet, warming and acidifying oceans as well as environmental degradation severely threaten coral reefs and the ecosystem services they provide for millions of people worldwide.

 

Coral reefs and climate change

My research explores how multiple climate change stressors impact reef-building corals, the ecosystem engineers responsible for creating habitat for millions of species. I am particularly interested in marine heatwaves, coral bleaching and ocean acidification, what traits make some coral species more resistant to these stressors than others, and how they may be able to acclimatize or adapt to global change over the coming decades. A special focus lies on understanding how combined and repeat stressors interact, how corals can survive in naturally extreme coral reef environments, and the role of environmental history in altering coral stress tolerance.

An interdisciplinary research approach

My educational background in both biological and earth sciences has resulted in a unique interdisciplinary research approach. By integrating eco-physiological, stable isotope, trace element and biogeochemical analyses, my research has provided insights into the mechanisms and traits that enable resistance to multiple climate change stressors and promote the adaptive capacity of corals in a changing ocean.

Specific research interests

  • Effects of multiple climate change stressors on reef-building corals

  • Ocean warming, marine heatwaves and coral bleaching

  • Ocean acidification and coral calcification mechanisms

  • Naturally extreme coral reef environments

  • Environmental variability, environmental history and stress tolerance

  • Coral skeletal geochemical proxies, especially boron-based proxies

 
Kimberley exposed staghorn corals - Vere

Invited talk on extreme-reef corals

Coral Reef Futures Symposium 2018

"Heat tolerance and recovery capacity of corals from the extreme Kimberley region in NW Australia"