The Marine Biology lab at NYUAD uses the Arabian Gulf as a natural laboratory to study coral reef ecology in extreme environments and to understand how these may serve as a model for the possible impacts of future climate change on reefs elsewhere.
Noura Al Mansoori, who is taking part in NYUAD’s unique national capacity-building research fellowship program, is researching the inhabitants of one of the warmest and saltiest bodies of water in the world to produce time-sensitive data on how to conserve fauna and flora under immense stress today. Her research investigates the ecology of the seagrass beds, observes their cellular behavior during the seasons, and monitors their health. Al Mansoori’s work is beginning to prove the importance of the habitat as a nursery for species, a prime food source for endangered animals, a measure of marine health, and a source of carbon sequestering equal to mangroves.
Her work will not only lay the groundwork for research on aquatic seagrass, but it will also afford government stakeholders, and environmental groups in the region with information that could prime better policy-making. In particular, she is hoping to inform dredging decisions by government entities. Al Mansoori has shown that surveys of potential dredging spots need to be monitored year round — spots without seagrass in a given season could actually be harboring seeds in dormancy that would flourish in another season.