Dr. Yvonne Sawall


Yvonne is a marine benthic ecologist with a focus on coral reefs and seagrass meadows.  Her interests lie at the intersection of physiology, ecology and oceanography, addressing questions about the interaction of organisms and communities with their environment. Here, she mainly focuses on key metabolic processes, such as photosynthesis, respiration and calcification. These processes are (i) fundamental for organism functioning (carbon and energy budgets) and (ii) – on a community level - key drivers of carbon cycling within their ecosystem. More recently, Yvonne also started to explore the utility of novel geo-engineering technologies to mitigate coral bleaching.

Yvonne received her PhD from the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology/University of Bremen, Germany, where she studied the resilience of coral communities to natural and anthropogenic disturbances (2007-2011). Following this, she joined GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research (Kiel, Germany) where she accepted a postdoc position (2011-2013), followed by a role as a research scientist (2014-2016). At GEOMAR, Yvonne investigated coral adaptive mechanisms to strong latitudinal temperature and nutrient gradients in the Red Sea and seagrass thermal tolerance in the Baltic Sea. Sawall joined BIOS in June 2016 as a postdoc as part of the NASA project COral Reef Airborne Laboratory, followed by a research fellow position (2019) and an assistant scientist position (since 2020). Most recently, she also assumed an assistant professor position at Arizona State University (since 2022).

Research Interests:
Coral physiology along environmental gradients including environmental extremes; effect of global climate-driven changes on corals and seagrass; coral and coral reef metabolism and carbon & energy budgets; seagrass ecophysiology; novel experimental in-situ instrumentation and approaches; coral bleaching mitigation strategies

Educational Background:
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology/University of Bremen, Germany
-PhD Marine Ecology (2011)
University of Bremen, Germany
-MSc Aquatic Tropical Ecology (2006)

Download Dr. Yvonne Sawall's CV

Further Information:
Sawall Lab - MABEE (Marine Benthic Ecology & Ecophysiology)

Selected Publications:
Sawall Y, Nicosia AM, McLaughlin K, Ito M (2022) Physiological responses and adjustments of corals to strong seasonal temperature variations (20–28°C). Journal of Experimental Biology 225:jeb244196

Sawall Y, Ito M, Pansch C (2021) Chronically elevated sea surface temperatures revealed high susceptibility of the eelgrass Zostera marina to winter and spring warming. Limnology and Oceanography 66:4112-4124

Johnson MJ, Hennigs LM, Sawall Y, Pansch C, Wall M (2021) Growth response of calcifying marine epibionts to biogenic pH fluctuations and global ocean acidification scenarios. Limnology and Oceanography 66:1125-1138

Sawall Y, Feng EY, Harris M, Lebrato M, Wall M (2020) Discrete pulses of cooler deep water can decelerate coral bleaching during thermal stress: Implications for artificial upwelling during heat stress events. Frontiers in Marine Science DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00720

Saha M, Barboza FR, Somerfield PJ, Al-Janabi B, Beck M, Brakel M, Ito M, Pansch C, Nascimento-Schulze J, Jakobsson-Thor S, Weinberger F, Sawall Y (2019) Response of foundation macrophytes to near-natural simulated marine heatwaves. Global Change Biology doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14801

Banguera-Hinestroza E, Sawall Y, Al-Sofyani A, Mardulyn P, Fuertes-Aguilar J, Cárdenas-Henao H, Jimenez-Infante F, Voolstra CR, Flot J-F (2018) mtDNA recombination indicative of hybridization suggests a role of the mitogenome in the adaptation of reef building corals to extreme environments. bioRxiv 462069; doi.org/10.1101/462069

Wahl M, Saderne V, Sawall Y (2016) How good are we at assessing ocean acidification impact in coastal systems? Limitations, omissions and strengths of commonly used experimental approaches with a special emphasis on the neglected role of fluctuationsMarine and Freshwater Research, doi.org/10.1071/MF14154 (review article)

Sawall Y, Al-Sofyani A (2015) Biology of Red Sea corals: Metabolism, reproduction, acclimatization, and adaptation. In: Rasul NMA, Stewart ICF (eds) The Red Sea. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Germany, pp 487-509 (book chapter)

Sawall Y, Al-Sofyani A, Hohn S, Banguera-Hinestroza E, Voolstra C, Wahl M (2015) Extensive phenotypic plasticity of a Red Sea coral over a strong latitudinal temperature gradient suggests limited acclimatization potential to warmingScientific Reports 5:8940

Sawall Y, Al-Sofyani A, Banguera-Hinestroza E, Voolstra C (2014) Spatio-temporal analyses of zooxanthellae physiology of the coral Pocillopora verrucosa along large-scale nutrient and temperature gradients in the Red SeaPLoS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0103179

Contact Info

Dr. Yvonne Sawall
Assistant Scientist


Tel: 441-297-1880 x137