Dr. Ross Cunning
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
46-007 Lilipuna Rd
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Phone: 808-236-7455
Fax: 808-236-7443
Research Interests
I am interested in the dynamics of algal symbiont communities in reef corals and how they are influenced by the environment and by host regulation. My research aims to broadly understand responses of microbial mutualisms to environmental change while evaluating the potential for reef corals to adapt to global climate stressors.
B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Science, Duke University, 2007
Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries, University of Miami RSMAS, 2013
Journal Articles:

17. Claar DC, NS Fabina, HM Putnam, R Cunning, E Sogin, JK Baum, RD Gates.  2017. Embracing complexity in coral-algal symbioses. Algal and cyanobacteria symbioses. 467-492. 
16. Okazaki RR, Towle EK, van Hooidonk R, Mor C, Winter RN, Piggot AM, Cunning R, Baker AC, Klaus JS, Swart PK, Langdon C (2016) Species-specific responses to climate change and community composition determine future calcification rates of Florida Keys reefs. Global Change Biol (in press) doi:10.1111/gcb.13481
15. McIlroy S, Gillette P, Cunning R, Klueter A, Capo T, Baker AC, Coffroth MA (2016) The effects of Symbiodinium (Pyrrhophyta) identity on growth, survivorship, and thermal tolerance of newly settled coral polyps. J Phycol (in press) doi:10.1111/jpy.12471
14. Cunning R, Ritson-Williams R, Gates RD (2016) Patterns of bleaching and recovery of Montipora capitata in Kāneʻohe Bay, Hawaiʻi, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 551:131-139. doi: 10.3354/meps11733
13. Cunning R, Yost DM, Guarinello ML, Putnam HM, Gates RD (2015) Variability of Symbiodinium communities in waters, sediments, and corals of thermally distinct reef pools in American Samoa. PLoS ONE e0145099. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145099.
12. Cunning R, Silverstein RN, Baker AC (2015) Investigating the causes and consequences of symbiont shuffling in a multi-partner reef coral symbiosis under environmental change. Proc R Soc B 282:20141725. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1725
11. Cunning R, Vaughan N, Gillette P, Capo T, Maté J, Baker AC (2015) Dynamic regulation of partner abundance mediates response of reef coral symbioses to environmental change. Ecology 96:1411-1420. doi: 10.1890/14-0449.1
10. Cunning R, Gillette P, Capo T, Galvez K, Baker AC (2015) Growth tradeoffs associated with thermotolerant symbionts in the coral Pocillopora damicornis are lost in warmer oceans. Coral Reefs 34:155-160. doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1216-4 *Awarded Best Paper published in Coral Reefs in 2015
9. Silverstein RN, Cunning R, Baker AC (2015) Change in algal symbiont communities after bleaching, not prior heat exposure, increases heat tolerance of reef corals. Global Change Biol 21:236-249. doi:10.1111/gcb.12706
8. Cunning R, Baker AC (2014) Not just who, but how many: the importance of partner abundance in reef coral symbioses. Front Microbiol 5:400 doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00400
7. Cunning R (2013) The role of algal symbiont community dynamics in reef coral responses to global climate change. Open Access Dissertations. Paper 1134. http://scholarlyrepository.miami.edu/oa_dissertations/1134
6. Cunning R, Glynn PW, Baker AC (2013) Flexible associations between Pocillopora corals and Symbiodinium limit utility of symbiosis ecology in defining species. Coral Reefs 32:795-801. doi: 10.1007/s00338-013-1036-y
5. Cunning R, Baker AC (2013) Excess algal symbionts increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching. Nature Clim Change 3:259-262. doi:10.1038/nclimate1711 *Awarded best student publication of 2013 at RSMAS
4. Meron D, Rodolfo-Metalpa R, Cunning R, Baker AC, Fine M, Banin E (2012) Changes in coral microbial communities in response to a natural pH gradient. ISME J 6:1775-1785. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.19
3. Kenkel CD, Aglyamova G, Alamaru A, Bhagooli R, Capper R, Cunning R, et al. (2011) Development of gene expression markers of acute heat-light stress in reef-building corals of the genus Porites. PloS ONE 6:e26914. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026914
2. Cunning R, Thurmond J, Smith GW, Weil E, Ritchie KB (2008) A survey of Vibrios associated with healthy and Yellow Band Diseased Montastraea faveolata. Proc 11th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:206-210.
1. Weil E, Ritchie KB, Croquer A, Cunning R, Smith GW (2008) Inoculation of Vibrio spp. onto Montastraea faveolata fragments to determine potential pathogenicity. Proc 11th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:202-205. 

In Revision/In Review:

Silverstein RN, Cunning R, Baker AC. Tenacious D: Symbiodinium in clade D remain in reef corals at both high and low temperature extremes despite impairment. J Exp Biol (in revision).

Book Chapters:

3. Claar DC, Fabina NS, Putnam HM, Cunning R, Sogin E, Baum JK, Gates RD (2016) Embracing complexity in coral-algal symbioses. In: Grube M, Seckbach J, Muggia L (eds) Algal and Cyanobacteria Symbioses. World Scientific Pub. Co. Inc.
2. Baker AC, Correa AMS, Cunning R (2016) Diversity, distribution, and stability of Symbiodinium in reef corals of the eastern tropical Pacific. In: Glynn PW, Manzello D, Enochs IC (eds) Coral Reefs of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, Coral Reefs of the World 8. Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-7499-4_13
1. Baker AC, Cunning R (2015) Coral ‘bleaching’ as a generalized stress response to environmental disturbance. In: Woodley CM, Downs CA, Bruckner AW, Porter JW, Galloway SB (eds) Diseases of Coral. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi: 10.1002/9781118828502.ch30
*= Presentation speaker,  † = Invited speaker, § = Poster presentation
§ Cunning R, Baker AC (2014) Not just who, but how many: the importance of symbiont abundance in reef coral symbioses. ASLO Ocean Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Cunning R*, Vaughan N, Gillette P, Capo T, Maté J, Baker AC (2013) Dynamic regulation of endosymbionts in reef corals to maximize interaction benefit in a changing environment. 1st Panamerican Coral Reef Congress, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.
Cunning R*, Vaughan N, Gillette P, Capo T, Maté J, Baker AC (2013) Dynamic regulation of endosymbionts in reef corals to maximize interaction benefit in a changing environment. 3rd Yosemite Symbiosis Workshop, Wawona, CA, USA.
Cunning R* (2012) Dynamics of mixed Symbiodinium communities during coral bleaching and recovery. UM RSMAS Graduate Seminar Series, Miami, FL, USA.
Cunning R*, Silverstein RN, Baker AC (2012) Dynamics of mixed Symbiodinium communities in corals recovering from bleaching. 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, Cairns, Australia.
Silverstein R*, Cunning R, Baker AC (2012) Post-bleaching Symbiodinium clade, not prior stress exposure, determines coral thermotolerance. 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, Cairns, Australia.
Cunning R* (2011) The implications of areal versus cell-specific symbiont density metrics in the study of coral-algal symbioses. UM RSMAS Graduate Seminar Series, Miami, FL, USA.
Fahsbender EM*, Daniels C, Cunning R, Baker AC, Breitbart M (2011) Bacterial profiling of the scleractinian coral Pocillopora damicornis. Florida Branch for the American Society for Microbiology Annual Meeting, Islamorada, FL, USA.
Cunning R* (2011) Symbiodinium community dynamics during a natural warming and bleaching event. UM RSMAS Graduate Seminar Series, Miami, FL, USA.
Cunning R*, Baker AC (2010) Symbiodinium community dynamics during a natural warming and bleaching event. International Society for Reef Studies European Meeting, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Cunning R* (2010) Exploring Symbiodinium community dynamics within a coral host. UM RSMAS Graduate Seminar Series, Miami, FL, USA.
Cunning R* (2009) The use of the actin gene in quantifying densities of multiple Symbiodinium types during a bleaching event. National Center for Coral Reef Research Annual Forum, Miami, FL, USA.
Cunning R* (2009) Coral microbial ecology: from pathogens to symbionts. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
§ Cunning R, Thurmond JE, Smith GW, Weil E, Ritchie KB (2008) A survey of Vibrios associated with healthy and Yellow Band Diseased Montastraea faveolata. 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA.
§ Cunning R (2007) Ecology of the cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus at an inshore fringing reef at Florence Bay, Magnetic Island, Australia. Duke University Visible Thinking Undergraduate Research Symposium, Durham, NC, USA.
Funding Sources
Hawaii EPSCoR
NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology