PeerJ Award winner, Serguei Rico-Esenaro, aims to contribute to coral reef conservation
Congratulations to Serguei Rico-Esenaro, winner of the PeerJ Award for Best Contribution at the 10th Mexican Coral Reef Congress. Organized by University of Colima and Mexican Society of Coral Reefs (SOMAC), the Congress was held April 2-5, 2019 in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico.
Serguei presented research on hermatypic corals aimed at the conservation of coral reefs. The PeerJ Award, created to benefit students and early career researchers, includes a free publication in PeerJ upon submission and acceptance through our normal peer review system. We are very pleased to recognize Serguei for his excellence in research and conservation efforts.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?
I am a PhD candidate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. As a biologist, I am interested in understanding the life process of hermatypic corals and the ecological services they provide.
My research aims to examine coral physiology and the calcification process in response to environmental changes. I firmly believe that scientific knowledge, as well as helping in the understanding of how things work, must fulfill a social impact that contributes to solving the environmental crisis caused by the impact of human activity.
Hermatypic corals are those corals in the order Scleractinia which build reefs by depositing hard calcareous material for their skeletons, forming the stony framework of the reef.
Can you briefly explain the research you presented at XCMAC?
At the Congress, I gave a talk about the skeleton of hermatypic corals as environmental archives and how these organisms can incorporate temperature proxies during the calcification process. I presented a reconstruction of sea surface temperature variations of the Reef Lagoon of Puerto Morelos over 100 years of coral growth using Sr/Ca and Li/Mg thermometry. The central discussion was about how geochemical proxies are incorporated into the skeleton during the calcification process and the possible artifacts that can be generated in the interpretation of these records by biologic fractionation.
The reconstruction of past environmental changes and their implications in the calcification process of corals can be an important tool that brings information about how these organisms can respond against environmental variations. More research needs to be done based on the increasing knowledge of corals metabolism. This could contribute to the understanding of the life of these organisms in adverse conditions and suggest environmental policies oriented to the protection of coral reefs.
What are your next steps? How will you continue to build on this research?
My next steps will be to improve the calibration equations of Li/Mg for the specific site of study and the use of other proxies to reconstruct environmental changes in the past that could allow us to identify the anthropogenic impact in the recent history.
Caribbean corals are facing problems including diseases and marine pollution. The reconstruction of previous environmental conditions can be used as a baseline to understand these problems and guide environmental policies oriented for Carribean coral conservation.
I am looking to continue my academic training, research in corals as environmental archives, and coral conservation efforts.
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