Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change

Date:
March 30, 2012
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Scientists working in the central Pacific have discovered that coral which has survived heat stress in the past is more likely to survive it in the future. The study paves the way towards an important road map on the impacts of ocean warming, and will help scientists identify the habitats and locations where coral reefs are more likely to adapt to climate change.

Scientists working in the central Pacific have discovered that coral which has survived heat stress in the past is more likely to survive it in the future.
Credit: © Richard30d / Fotolia

A team of international scientists working in the central Pacific has discovered that coral which has survived heat stress in the past is more likely to survive it in the future.

Related Articles


The study, published March 30 in the journal PLoS ONE, paves the way towards an important road map on the impacts of ocean warming, and will help scientists identify the habitats and locations where coral reefs are more likely to adapt to climate change.

"We're starting to identify the types of reef environments where corals are more likely to persist in the future," says study co-author Simon Donner, an assistant professor in UBC's Department of Geography and organizer of the field expedition. "The new data is critical for predicting the future for coral reefs, and for planning how society will cope in that future."

When water temperatures get too hot, the tiny algae that provides coral with its colour and major food source is expelled. This phenomenon, called coral bleaching, can lead to the death of corals.

With sea temperatures in the tropics forecast to rise by 1-3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the researchers say coral reefs may be better able to withstand the expected rise in temperature in locations where heat stress is naturally more common. This will benefit the millions of people worldwide who rely on coral reefs for sustenance and livelihoods, they say.

"Until recently, it was widely assumed that coral would bleach and die off worldwide as the oceans warm due to climate change," says lead author Jessica Carilli, a post-doctoral fellow in Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's (ANSTO) Institute for Environmental Research. "This would have very serious consequences, as loss of live coral -- already observed in parts of the world -- directly reduces fish habitats and the shoreline protection reefs provide from storms."

Caralli and Donner conducted the study in May 2010 in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, near the equator. Kiribati's climate is useful for testing theories about past climate experience because its corals are pounded by El Niño-driven heat waves, while corals on the islands farther from the equator are less affected.

The researchers analyzed coral skeletal growth rates and tissue fat stores to compare how corals from different regions responded to two recent coral bleaching events in 2004 and 2009.

Donner has conducted field research in Kiribati since 2005 and will return this year to conduct follow-up research with the local government. He says the findings suggest that Marine Protected Areas -- conservation areas designed to protect marine life from stressors like fishing -- may be more effective in areas with naturally variable water temperatures.

The research delivers mixed news for Australia's Great Barrier Reef, because the reef stretches over such massive distances; some areas have stable temperatures and some do not. The findings support previous laboratory and observational studies from other regions, suggesting they can be widely applied.

Planning is now underway for potential future studies of coral in areas of the world that have not experienced significant historical changes in water temperatures.

"Even through the warming of our oceans is already occurring, these findings give hope that coral that has previously withstood anomalously warm water events may do so again," says Carilli. "While more research is needed, this appears to be good news for the future of coral reefs in a warming climate."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jessica Carilli, Simon D. Donner, Aaron C. Hartmann. Historical Temperature Variability Affects Coral Response to Heat Stress. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e34418 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034418

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330205924.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2012, March 30). Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330205924.htm
University of British Columbia. "Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330205924.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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