Bio


Elora López is a Ph.D. candidate in Biology at Stanford University. She uses genomics to address questions about the ecology, evolution, and conservation of marine life. Her research spans a wide range of topics, including coral bleaching recovery in American Samoa, somatic mutations in very long-lived organisms, and the effects of nuclear radiation on wildlife at Bikini Atoll, a former nuclear testing site in the Marshall Islands.

López's first research expedition to Bikini Atoll was featured on the PBS documentary series Big Pacific in June 2017. Her research projects have also been featured in USA Today, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Hakai Magazine.

López is a National Geographic Early Career Explorer, an Explorers Club Rolex Explorer, a Stanford Graduate Fellow in Science & Engineering, and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow.

Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • Transcriptomic resilience, symbiont shuffling, and vulnerability to recurrent bleaching in reef-building corals. Molecular ecology Thomas, L., Lopez, E. H., Morikawa, M. K., Palumbi, S. R. 2019

    Abstract

    As climate change progresses and extreme temperature events increase in frequency, rates of disturbance may soon outpace the capacity of certain species of reef-building coral to recover from bleaching. This may lead to dramatic shifts in community composition and ecosystem function. Understanding variation in rates of bleaching recovery among species and how that translates to resilience to recurrent bleaching is fundamental to predicting the impacts of increasing disturbances on coral reefs globally. We tracked the response of two heat sensitive species in the genus Acropora to repeated bleaching events during the austral summers of 2015 and 2017. Despite a similar bleaching response, the species Acropora gemmifera recovered faster based on transcriptome-wide gene expression patterns and had a more dynamic algal symbiont community than Acropora hyacinthus growing on the same reef. Moreover, A. gemmifera had higher survival to repeated heat extremes, with sixfold lower mortality than A. hyacinthus. These patterns suggest that speed of recovery from a first round of bleaching, based on multiple mechanisms, contributes strongly to sensitivity to a second round of bleaching. Furthermore, our data uncovered intra-genus variation in a group of corals thought generally to be heat-sensitive and therefore paint a more nuanced view of the future health of coral reef ecosystems against a backdrop of increasing thermal disturbances. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/mec.15143

    View details for PubMedID 31177587

  • Mechanisms of Thermal Tolerance in Reef-Building Corals across a Fine-Grained Environmental Mosaic: Lessons from Ofu, American Samoa Frontiers in Marine Science Thomas, L., Rose, N. H., Bay, R. A., López, E. H., Morikawa, M. K., Ruiz-Jones, L., Palumbi, S. R. 2018; 4 (434)

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fmars.2017.00434

  • Genetic connectivity among populations of lollyfish (Holothuria atra) Fiji’s Sea Cucumber Fishery: Advances in Science for Improved Management. López, E. H., Eastwood, E., Drew, J. edited by Mangubhai, S., Lalavanua , W., Purcell, S. Wildlife Conservation Society. 2017: 62–70
  • Population Connectivity Measures of Fishery-Targeted Coral Reef Species to Inform Marine Reserve Network Design in Fiji SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Eastwood, E. K., Lopez, E. H., Drew, J. A. 2016; 6

    Abstract

    Coral reef fish serve as food sources to coastal communities worldwide, yet are vulnerable to mounting anthropogenic pressures like overfishing and climate change. Marine reserve networks have become important tools for mitigating these pressures, and one of the most critical factors in determining their spatial design is the degree of connectivity among different populations of species prioritized for protection. To help inform the spatial design of an expanded reserve network in Fiji, we used rapidly evolving mitochondrial genes to investigate connectivity patterns of three coral reef species targeted by fisheries in Fiji: Epinephelus merra (Serranidae), Halichoeres trimaculatus (Labridae), and Holothuria atra (Holothuriidae). The two fish species, E. merra and Ha. trimaculatus, exhibited low genetic structuring and high amounts of gene flow, whereas the sea cucumber Ho. atra displayed high genetic partitioning and predominantly westward gene flow. The idiosyncratic patterns observed among these species indicate that patterns of connectivity in Fiji are likely determined by a combination of oceanographic and ecological characteristics. Our data indicate that in the cases of species with high connectivity, other factors such as representation or political availability may dictate where reserves are placed. In low connectivity species, ensuring upstream and downstream connections is critical.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep19318

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368815000001

    View details for PubMedID 26805954

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4726325

  • Collateral damage to marine and terrestrial ecosystems from Yankee whaling in the 19th century Ecology and Evolution Drew, J., López, E. H., Gill, L., McKeon, M., Miller, N., Steinberg, M., Shen, C., McClenachan, L. 2016; 06 (22): 8181–8192

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ece3.2542