Research Overview

How will coral reefs be impacted by future predicted levels of carbon dioxide?

We use a range of of experimental approaches including manipulative aquarium and mesocosm experiments and controlled in situ studies using an underwater time machine (FOCE) that uses sensor arrays and computer controlled dosing pumps to produce future predicted ocean conditions (pH, temperature and pollution) on the reef and determine how corals and coral reef communities will be impacted.

How can we rapidly monitor coral reefs globally for adaptive management?

In our Computer Vision Coral Ecology project, we help lead an effort to develop a machine learning system that uses facial recognition technologies to automate the analysis of coral reef survey photographs and videos (, so that data can be obtained from surveying imagery up to 10,000x faster. We also collaborate with marine robotics engineers to use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to make large scale 3D reef surveys.

What are the cellular physiological mechanisms for coral calcification and photosynthesis?

In this NSF funded project with co-PI Martin Tresguerres, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD we are using immunological techniques to study coral responses to changing environmental conditions, in combination with controlled aquarium studies, field transplant experiments and reef biochemistry studies. In this research we are developing a mechanistic understanding of corals response to stress from the cellular to the ecosystem level and hope to provide new solutions for coral reef conservation and management.

What are the links between local and global human impacts on coral disease transmission and coral reef health?

Coral diseases have led to a dramatic decline in coral coverage in the Caribbean and globally. We study Caribbean coral diseases, in particular White Band Disease (WBD), and the newly emerging stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD). We are attempting to determine the links between local and global stress and disease outbreaks, study coral resistance to disease, and attempt to determine the pathogens and their vectors on the reef.

What are the mechanisms underlying coral bleaching and the susceptibility and recovery potential of different coral species?

Mass coral bleaching events are increasing in severity and frequency and are likely the predominant cause of global coral reef decline. In collaboration with Martin Tresguerres at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD we are studying the cellular mechanisms for coral bleaching in order to better understand coral resilience to bleaching and to maximize the chances that corals can recover from a bleaching event. This research involves doing controlled bleaching experiments in aquariums, mesocosms and in our in situ FOCE experimental system while using immunohistochemical cellular physiology techniques, micro sensor measurements and PAM fluorometry to study coral cellular physiological and photo-physiological responses.


B. A. Carleton College, 1996.

Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, 2005.

Selected Publications

Kline, D.I., Teneva, L., et al. 2019. Living coral tissue slows skeletal dissolution related to ocean acidification. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 1438-1444 doi 10.1038/s41559-019-0988-x

Kline, D.I., Teneva, L., et al. 2015. Six month in situ high-resolution carbonate chemistry and temperature study on a coral reef flat reveals that anomalous pH and temperature conditions are unsynchronized. PLoS ONE 10: e0127648. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0127648

Kline, D.I., Teneva, L., et al. 2012. A short-term in situ CO2 enrichment experiment on Heron Island (GBR). NATURE: Scientific Reports 2: 1-9. DOI: 10.1038/srep00413

Dove, S.G., Kline, D.I., et al. 2013. Reef calcification versus decalcification: the difference between "reduced" and "business-as-usual" CO2 emission scenarios. PNAS 110: 15342-15347

Anthony, K., R. N., Kline, D. I., et al. 2008. Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity losses in coral reef builders. PNAS 105: 17442 – 17446.

Georgiou, L., Falter, J., Trotter, J., Kline, D.I., et al. 2015. pH homeostasis during coral calcification in a Free Ocean CO2 Enrichment (FOCE) experiment, Heron Island reef flat, Great Barrier Reef. PNAS 112(43), 13219-13224. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1505586112

Kline, D.I. and S.V. Vollmer. 2011. White band disease (type I) of endangered Caribbean acroporid corals is caused by pathogenic bacteria. NATURE Scientific Reports 1: 7.

Kline, D. I., Kuntz, N. M., et al. 2006. Role of Elevated Organic Carbon and Microbial Activity in Coral Mortality. Marine Ecology Progress Series 314: 119-125.

Kline, D., J., Bryant, G., et al. 2006. The Aquatic Automated Dosing and Maintenance System (AADAMS). Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 4: 184-190.

Andersson*, A., Kline*, D. I. (*co - first author), et al. 2015. Understanding ocean acidification impacts on organismal to ecological scales. Oceanography 28: 16-27. DOI:10.5670/oceanog.2015.27.  

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