Florida Tech Professor of Biological Sciences Robert van Woesik has received a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) grant of $62,000 to support a doctoral student's climate change research. The student, Dan Wagner, will be funded for two years on the Climate Change LEADS (Linking Environmental Analysis to Decision Support) project supported by WWF.
The basis of the project is to conduct analyses of the relationships between water quality and benthic (sea floor) environmental conditions in the Florida Keys and South Florida. Focusing primarily on coral bleaching and disease prevalence, the research will explore the relationship between water quality and coral resilience to climate change stressors.
"Our goal is to establish a critically important information flow process between scientists researching climate change, coral bleaching and water quality in the reefs of South Florida; the stakeholders who depend on the reef ecosystem for their livelihoods and quality of life; and the managers responsible for ensuring the long-term health of the environment," said van Woesik.
The researchers also plan to synthesize existing scientific data to identify and reduce the vulnerability of the South Florida coral reefs to climate variability and change. They hope to achieve this by creating a tool that managers and stakeholders can use for decision-making and to enhance adaptive management options.