Ph.D., University of Miami, Miami, 2004
M.S., Universitaet Bremen, Bremen Germany, 2000
B.S., Eberhard-Karls-Universitaet, Tuebingen Germany, 1996
University of Miami, 2004 - 2005
University of Hawaii, 2005-2006
F.G. Walton Smith Prize for Best Dissertation, University of Miami, 2004
Molecular Ecology and Evolution of Reef Invertebrates
The Baums lab studies ecological and evolutionary processes that shape populations of reef-building corals. Corals are colonial organisms with a wide range of reproductive strategies, including asexual fragmentation. This makes genotypes potentially immortal with interesting consequences for the benefits of asexual versus sexual reproduction. By utilizing neutral genetic markers in combination with biophysical models, we have described the mating system, local population structure, and dispersal strategies of threatened corals and their symbionts in the Caribbean.
Recently, with global climate change impacting coral populations, we have focused our attention on adaptive variation in coral populations with the goal of predicting and/or preventing coral declines. There are particular challenges that coral researchers face, chiefly the presence of intra-cellular algal symbionts in coral tissues and the lack of model systems that would allow the use of quantitative genetic approaches. However, next-generation sequencing methods now allow us to study the molecular basis for adaptation in these non-model organisms.
Currently, we focus on adaptive trait variance related to temperature, association with endosymbiont strains, and oil exposure. Ultimately, we aim to estimate genome-wide adaptive trait variance in corals that can be incorporated into real-time dispersal models to predict changes in connectivity patterns as a result of environmental variability.