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Iliana B. Baums

Iliana B. Baums

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Professor of Biology

215A Mueller
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814)867-0491
Lab Address: 213 Mueller
Lab Phone: (814) 867-0492

Graduate Programs

Biology (BIOL)

Ecology (ECLGY)



  1. Ph.D., University of Miami, Miami, 2004
  2. M.S., Universitaet Bremen, Bremen Germany, 2000
  3. B.S., Eberhard-Karls-Universitaet, Tuebingen Germany, 1996

Postdoc Training

  1. University of Miami, 2004 - 2005
  2. University of Hawaii, 2005-2006

Honors and Awards

  1. F.G. Walton Smith Prize for Best Dissertation, University of Miami, 2004

Research Interests

Molecular Ecology and Evolution of Reef Invertebrates

The Baums lab studies ecological and evolutionary processes that shape populations of reef-building corals. Corals are colonial organisms with a wide range of reproductive strategies, including asexual fragmentation. This makes genotypes potentially immortal with interesting consequences for the benefits of asexual versus sexual reproduction. By utilizing neutral genetic markers in combination with biophysical models, we have described the mating system, local population structure, and dispersal strategies of threatened corals and their symbionts in the Caribbean.

Recently, with global climate change impacting coral populations, we have focused our attention on adaptive variation in coral populations with the goal of predicting and/or preventing coral declines. There are particular challenges that coral researchers face, chiefly the presence of intra-cellular algal symbionts in coral tissues and the lack of model systems that would allow the use of quantitative genetic approaches. However, next-generation sequencing methods now allow us to study the molecular basis for adaptation in these non-model organisms.

Currently, we focus on adaptive trait variance related to temperature, association with endosymbiont strains, and oil exposure. Ultimately, we aim to estimate genome-wide adaptive trait variance in corals that can be incorporated into real-time dispersal models to predict changes in connectivity patterns as a result of environmental variability.

Selected Publications

Toonen, R. J., K. R. Andrews, I. B. Baums, C. E. Bird, G. T. Concepcion, T. S. Daly-Engel, J. A. Eble, A. Faucci, M. R. Gaither, M. Iacchei, J. B. Puritz, J. K. Schultz, D. J. Skillings, M. Timmers, and B. W. Bowen. 2011. Defining boundaries for ecosystem-based management: A multispecies case study of marine connectivity across the Hawaiian Archipelago. Journal of Molecular Biology Article ID 460173.

Pinzón, J., M. Devlin-Durante, M. Weber, I. Baums, and T. LaJeunesse. 2011. Microsatellite loci for Symbiodinium A3; (S. fitti) a common algal symbiont among Caribbean Acropora; (stony corals) and Indo-Pacific giant clams (Tridacna). Conservation Genetics Resources 3: 45-47.

Polato, N. R., C. R. Voolstra, J. Schnetzer, M. K. DeSalvo, C. J. Randall, A. M. Szmant, M. Medina, and I. B. Baums. 2010. Location-specific responses to thermal stress in larvae of the reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata. PLoS ONE 5(6): e11221.

Polato, N. R., G. T. Concepcion, R. J. Toonen, and I. B. Baums. 2010. Isolation by distance across the Hawaiian Archipelago in the reef-building coral Porites lobata. Molecular Ecology 19: 4661-4677.

Baums, I. B., M. E. Johnson, M. K. Devlin-Durante, and M. W. Miller. 2010. Host population genetic structure and zooxanthellae diversity of two reef-building coral species along the Florida Reef Tract and wider Caribbean. Coral Reefs 29: 835-842.

Concepcion, G. T., N. R. Polato, I. B. Baums, and R. J. Toonen. 2010. Development of microsatellite markers from four Hawaiian corals: Acropora cytherea, Fungia scutaria, Montipora capitata and Porites lobata. Conservation Genetics Resources 2: 11-15.

Glynn, P. W., B. Riegl, A. M. S. Correa, and I. B. Baums. 2009. Rapid recovery of a coral reef at Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands. Galapagos Research 66: 6-13.

Baums, I. B., M. K. Devlin-Durante, L. Brown, and J. H. Pinzón. 2009. Nine novel, polymorphic microsatellite markers for the study of threatened Caribbean acroporid corals. Molecular Ecology Resources 9: 1155-1158.

Baums, I. B. 2008. A restoration genetics guide for coral reef conservation. Molecular Ecology 17: 2796-2811.

Foster, N. L., I. B. Baums, and P. J. Mumby. 2007. Sexual vs. asexual reproduction in an ecosystem engineer: the massive coral Montastraea annularis. Journal of Animal Ecology 76: 384-391.