Current Research

Changing climates and ongoing anthropogenic habitat modifications threaten natural ecosystems worldwide. In response to these threats, a species has four choices: i) remain in the natal habitat but suffer reduced fitness, ii) acclimate to current conditions by modifying their physiologies, iii) adapt to the local environment through natural selection on standing genetic variation, or iv) disperse to new, more favorable environments. Research in the Davies lab studies the potential roles of acclimation, adaptation, and dispersal in an organism’s response to rapid climate change.

Predicting persistence becomes more challenging when a species’ fitness depends upon interactions between multiple partners. For corals, their fitness is tightly coupled with their symbiotic relationship with algae of the family Symbiodiniaceae, and this symbiosis is strongly influenced by increasing seawater temperatures. Research in the Davies lab integrates eco-evolutionary experiments with genomic and environmental data to determine how corals and their symbionts interact with each other and their environments to determine symbiosis outcomes under rapid climate change.


Selected Publications

  • Bove CB, Valadez Ingersoll M and SW Davies (2022) Help me symbionts, you’re my only hope: Approaches to accelerate our understanding of holobiont interactions. Integrative and Comparative Biology icac141.
  • Fifer J, Yasuda N, Yamakita T, Bove C and SW Davies (2022) Genetic divergence and range expansion in a western North Pacific coral. Science of the Total Environment 813: 152423.
  • Rivera HE and SW Davies (2021) Symbiosis maintenance in the facultative coral Oculina arbuscula relies on nitrogen cycling, cell cycle modulation, and immunity. Scientific Reports 11:21226.
  • Wuitchik DM, Reyes C, Benson BE, Almanzar A, Brennan S, Chavez D, Liesegang M, Reavis K, Schniedewind M, Trumble I and SW Davies*** (2021) Characterizing the environmental stress responses of aposymbiotic Astrangia poculata to divergent thermal challenges. Molecular Ecology 00:1-16.
  • Davies SW, Putnam HM, Ainsworth T, Baum JK, Bove CB, Crosby SC, Côté IM, Duplouy A, Fulweiler RW, Griffin AJ, Hanley TC, Hill T, Humanes A, Mangubhai S, Metaxas A, Parker LM, Rivera HE, Silbiger NJ, Smith NS, Spalding AK, Traylor-Knowles N, Weigel BL, Wright RM and AE Bates (2021) Shifting our value system beyond citations for a more equitable future. Plos Biology 19(6): e3001282.
  • Rivera HE, Aichelman HA, Fifer JE, Kriefall NG, Wuitchik DM, Wuitchik SJS and SW Davies (2021) A framework for understanding gene expression plasticity and its influence on stress tolerance. Molecular Ecology 30(6):1381-1397.
  • Davies SW, Moreland KN, Wham D, Kanke M and MV Matz (2020) Contrasting population genetic structure in Acropora coral hosts and their algal symbionts across multiple spatial scales. Molecular Ecology 29(23) 4559-4572. DOI:10.1111/mec.15658.  
  • Baums IB, Baker AC, Davies SW, Grottoli AG, Kenkel CD, Kitchen SA, Kuffner IB, Lajeunesse TC, Matz MV, Miller MW, Parkinson JE and AA Shanzt. (2019) Considerations for maximizing the adaptive potential of restored coral populations in the western Atlantic. Ecological Applications 28(8):e01978.

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