Climate Resistant Corals May Save Affected Reefs

Researchers explained that in 2015, nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs were affected by

strong discoloration to date.Coral bleaching occurs when warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures cause corals to expel algae, which usually live inside them and which corals rely on for food.

Discoloration is alarming, but sometimescorals can recover, while others do not bleach at all. In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists led by Katie Barott of the University of Pennsylvania found that these resilient corals can grow even when transplanted into a different environment and subjected to additional heat stress. The findings give hope that hardy corals can serve as a population base for reef restoration in the future.

“The main thing that really interested us was -This is an attempt to experimentally test whether a coral that appears to be resistant to climate change can be taken and used as a seedbed to propagate and plant on another reef that may be degrading, the researchers noted. "The most interesting thing is that we did not see any difference in the response of corals to bleaching after transplant."

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Massive cases of coral bleachingoccurring with increasing frequency, raising fears that corals will become victims of climate change in the near future. However, Barott and colleagues are studying corals that resist bleaching in order to buy corals more time to withstand warming and acidic ocean waters.

One strategy suggested by them and others iswhich has already been tested in areas such as the Great Barrier Reef is coral transplantation. Researchers could transplant corals on reefs damaged by climate change or other anthropogenic influences, such as sedimentation or grounded ships, that have proven their strength and ability to survive in harsh environments.

However, for this to work, you needso that corals continue to show their resilience after moving to a new environment. In their experiment, the corals spent six months in a new location, biologists put coral samples from each site into aquariums in the laboratory and simulated another bleaching event, raising the water temperature by several days.

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