ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Quantitative Biology



First Advisor

Laura Mydlarz


Increasing prevalence of anthropogenic stressors and climate change have resulted in rapid increases in the incidence and severity marine disease affecting a number of vulnerable taxa. Cnidarians, including both reef-building (scelaractinian) and other species of corals, have been among those taxa most affected by these increases. The rise of wildlife epizootic outbreaks, both in the oceans and in terrestrial ecosystems, has resulted in equal increases of studies of ecoimmunology. Research in these areas aims to understand how variation in disease susceptibility and immune response affect the ecology of vulnerable communities. Here I employ a variety of ecoimmunological approaches to study questions of cnidarian ecoimmunology. In the first half of my dissertation I describe cellular level pathways and patterns of expression that result in variation in disease susceptibility and immune dysfunction in a number of Caribbean corals. The second half of my dissertation shifts to studies of potential trade-offs associated with immunity. Here, I highlight key tradeoffs between growth and immunity that have significant implications for future community dynamics. Finally, the last chapter examines trade-offs between symbiosis and immune response and discussed the potential implications of this relationship under rapid change and increasing disease. Together the research presented here provides novel insight into cnidarian ecoimmunology and addresses several key knowledge gaps in current understanding of cnidarian immunity and disease ecology. The results presented here will improve our ability to predict coral reef communities under future climate change and disease scenarios.


Invertebrate immunity, Cnidarians, Coral reef, Ecology, Immunity, Ecoimmunology, Marine biology, Corals


Biology | Life Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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