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David Kline

Coral Reef Ecologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

David Kline

Dr. David I. Kline is an Associate Project Scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is a coral reef ecologist who studies the fate of coral reefs in a high carbon dioxide future on molecular to ecosystem scales. In particular he collaborates with computer vision scientists, engineers, chemists and physiologists to develop new techniques for studying the impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems. He has led or co-authored over 45 high impact peer-reviewed publications with over 2000 citations. He studies the ecology of corals and reef communities, and how reefs will change under the plethora of stresses they face, both local (e.g. pollution and disease) and global (warming and ocean acidification). 

His current research projects include:

1) Mechanisms for Coral Calcification and Photosynthesis: A NSF funded project with Martin Tresguerres titled “Cellular physiological mechanisms for coral calcification and photosynthesis: extending lab-based models to the field” in which we are using immunological techniques to study coral responses to changing environmental conditions, and to test in nature the relevance of mechanistic models obtained from laboratory experiments. We are attempting to determine the mechanisms for corals responses to climate change by combining cellular physiology, coral reef ecology and reef biogeochemistry methods to understand corals from the molecular to ecosystem levels.

2) 10 Year Bocas Bleaching Time Series: A 10-year time series from Bocas del Toro, Panama in which I permanently tagged over 300 corals during the 2005 bleaching and we have returned to photograph and take samples for symbiont typing annually. This time series now includes three bleaching events (2005, 2010 and 2015) and we have segmented the photos for an analysis of growth, recovery or decline of 7 dominant Caribbean coral species and an analysis of the corals’ symbiont communities over this 10 year period.

3) Analyzing Coral Bleaching Events using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery: A project using high-resolution Digital Globe satellite imagery to attempt to determine the global extent of shallow coral bleaching and recovery/mortality. We are working on developing automated methods to determine the extent of coral bleaching and the rate of recovery on a global scale.

4) The Computer Vision Coral Ecology project which uses Cyber-Enabled Image Classification for Rapid, Large Scale, Automated Monitoring of Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs. The project aims to establish global baselines of coral reef health to rapidly document the changes to reefs associated with climate change. This project has developed methods based on computer vision and machine learning for automatically performing point-based annotation and analysis of benthic images of coral reefs and other benthic ecosystems which are currently being used by NOAA and the Catlin SeaView Survey.

5) Technology for Coral Reef Conservation: David has been developing new sensor networks to monitor climate change in marine ecosystems and to even simulate future levels of ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation and nutrification in situ or in the marine ecosystems themselves rather than in aquariums. He has been developing these Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment (FOCE) systems including developing the first ever coral reef FOCE.

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