Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline Biology
Postdoctoral Researcher, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

Research project

Self-fertilization as a mechanism for population maintenance in a changing environment


The capacity for self-fertilization is a recurring reproductive strategy for numerous invertebrate species despite potential drawbacks associated with inbreeding depression and reduced heterozygosity. Scleractinian corals are an ideal group in which to study life history strategies as they exhibit a great degree of variation in mating systems including hermaproditic broadcasting and brooding species. Using brooding species enables direct comparisons of parent and progeny, allowing for accurate estimations of selfing. This study aims to determine the extent of self-fertilization for population maintenance as well as the effects of population demography on rates of self-fertilization in the Mediterranean coral Balanophyllia europaea. Using microsatellites, baseline population diversity will be determined and rates of self-fertilization compared among reefs based on population density. It is hypothesized that as habitat destruction and deterioration increases and population density declines, rates of self-fertilization will increase as distances between individuals increases. Given the documented inverse correlation between temperature and population density, the effects of global climate change will likely result in decreased population density and thus increased rates of self-fertilization as sea-surface temperatures rise. Increased self-fertilization and local recruitment could potentially lead to closed populations allowing for the possibility of parapatric speciation. Additionally, the resulting locally homogenous populations could be more vulnerable to environmental change. Therefore, understanding how rates of self-fertilization vary with population demography and environmental parameters will assist in efforts to predict future changes to coral populations associated with global climate change.



Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley holds a Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. She is postdoctoral researcher an instructor in the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science.


Her main research interest are Invertebrate life histories and evolution, focusing primarily on scleractinian corals. Reproductive timing and its effects on larval life history; Settlement success and juvenile growth in response to various environmental and biological factors, including substrate composition, grazing pressure, and anthropogenic pollutants; Coral reef restoration; Local and regional genetic diversity; Gene flow and population connectivity of coral reefs in Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Selected publications


‘Evidence for a host role in thermotolerance divergence between populations of the mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) from different reef environments’, with C.D. Kenkel, D. Caillaud, S.W. Davies, E.  Bartels &  M.V. Matz, Molecular Ecology, vol. 22, 2013, pp. 4335-4348.


‘Toxicity of Deepwater Horizon source oil and the chemical dispersant, Corexit 9500, to coral larvae’, with D.l. Wetzel, D. Gillion, E. Pulster, A. Miller & K.B Ritchie, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013, e45574, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045574.


'Population structure and connectivity of the Atlantic scleractinian coral Montastraea cavernosa (Linnaeus, 1766)', with R.M. Woollacott, and G. Giribet, Marine Ecology, vol. 33, 2012, pp. 32-48.


'Diel planulation by the brooding coral Favia fragum (Esper)', Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, vol. 389, 2010, pp. 70-74.


'Limited gene flow in the brooding coral Favia fragum (Esper, 1797)', with S. Vollmer, R.M. Woollacott and G.Giribet, Marine Biology, vol. 157, 2010, pp. 2591-2602.


'Patterns of planulation by the brooding coral Favia fragum (Esper) in Bermuda', with S.J. de Putron, Coral Reefs, vol.28, 2009, pp. 959-963.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Philosophy
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Computer Science and Engineering
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Social Anthropology