Dr Verena Schoepf

Dr Verena Schoepf

The University of Western Australia
Research Field: Marine Science

Dr Schoepf’s research explores how reef-building corals are affected by climate and environmental change, with a special interest in Indian Ocean coral reefs. Coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet and of immense socio- economic importance; yet, warming and acidifying oceans severely threaten corals reefs and the ecosystem services they provide. By integrating eco-physiological and novel geochemical analyses, my multidisciplinary research has provided insights into the environmental and biological drivers that enable resistance to ocean change and promote the adaptive capacity of coral, while also advancing the development of coral- based paleo-climate proxies. Her research therefore provides critical information for climate change research, coral reef management and marine conservation.

One of her main research interests lies in understanding how corals may cope with intensifying climate change stressors such as recurrent bleaching events, one of the biggest threats to coral reefs. She is particularly interested in so-called “super corals” that are already adapted to naturally extreme environmental conditions expected under future climate change.

Dr Schoepf has discovered naturally heat-resistant coral populations in WA’s Kimberley region and use them as model organisms to understand if, how and over what time scales corals can acclimatize or adapt to climate change.