Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Says Bleaching Could Be A Hidden Strength For Corals

Date:
June 27, 2001
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
The global phenomenon of bleaching, in which reef-building corals lose their colorful algae and become white during times of stress, may actually allow some corals to adapt to global warming and other environmental change. The study, conducted by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), will be published in the June 14th issue of the journal Nature.

The global phenomenon of bleaching, in which reef-building corals lose their colorful algae and become white during times of stress, may actually allow some corals to adapt to global warming and other environmental change. The study, conducted by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), will be published in the June 14th issue of the journal Nature.

The study counters conventional wisdom that bleaching is universally detrimental, instead suggesting that it represents a high-risk ecological strategy that allows corals to rid themselves of sub-optimal algae. By doing so, corals can become hosts to more suitable algal types that increase their chances of survival during times of stress.

Reef-building corals use different types of symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae for nutrients, which in turn live in the tissue of the coral polyps. Baker transplanted corals found off the coast of Panama from shallow water to deep water, and visa versa. He discovered that corals transplanted upwards generally bleached but ultimately survived by recovering with new algae.

In contrast, corals transplanted downwards did not bleach, and did not change their type of algae, though it was poorly adapted to the deeper environment. As a result, a significant number of these corals died.

"These findings indicate that bleaching can sometimes help corals respond quickly to environmental change," said the study's author, Dr. Andrew Baker of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences. "The same bleaching that makes corals so fragile may also, during times of extreme environmental stress, help some of them survive."

Baker was quick to point out that bleaching, particularly as a result of warmer sea temperatures in recent years, is still a major cause for concern, and will continue to cause high mortality among reef ecosystems in the foreseeable future.

"These findings do provide a glimmer of hope for the ability of coral reefs to survive the severe warming and environmental change projected over the next half century." Baker said. "However, Coral reefs are still under assault from global warming, poor water quality, and overfishing. Much more needs to be done to protect and understand these fragile ecosystems before we lose the ones we have left."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Study Says Bleaching Could Be A Hidden Strength For Corals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010614064239.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2001, June 27). Study Says Bleaching Could Be A Hidden Strength For Corals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010614064239.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Study Says Bleaching Could Be A Hidden Strength For Corals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010614064239.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins