Alumna Finds Connection Between Coral and El Niño

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Carly Randall has years of research experience under her belt.

Before graduating from Florida Tech with her Ph.D. in 2016 and accepting a prestigious 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian Institute of Marine Science—Randall worked with biology professor Robert van Woesik analyzing coral disease data.

Their findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, indicated that coral diseases cycle predictably and often correspond with El Niño.

“We found that three coral diseases—white-band disease, yellow-band disease and dark-spot syndrome—peak every 2-4 years, and that they share common periodicities with El Niño cycles,” Randall said.

Randall is now working with a team of researchers on coral restoration science on the coast along the central Great Barrier Reef, which has experienced unprecedented back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 that caused wide-spread loss of corals.

“One of the best experiences I’ve had so far is participating in a 6-day research cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef,” Randall said.

Randall collected coral samples and crown-of-thorns starfish for research and then evaluated the damage caused by the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events at the collection sites.

“I am already learning a tremendous amount about this reef system, which is different from those in the Caribbean and Atlantic,” Randall said.

Learn more about Randall’s research here: https://ecurrent.fit.edu/blog/research/coral-disease/.

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