Heat waves are burning coral reefs, but some corals may be resilient

Heat waves are burning coral reefs, but some corals may be resilient

The warm waters have destroyed many of the world’s coral reefs. For example, a study published in the journal Nature on April 18, 2016 showed that ocean heat waves caused 30 percent of coral deaths in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016. But some coral species may be able to adapt and survive in warm waters for a century or two, the second team reported on April 19 in PLOS genetics. This provides a glimmer of hope for future Marine biodiversity.
“What we’ve just experienced in [the Great Barrier Reef] is a natural selection experiment,” said terry hughes, a coral reef expert at James cook university in tangsville, Australia. Overall, he says, about 50 percent of the reefs have died since 2016. A bright side, perhaps: “the rest are tougher.”
Mikhail, a biologist at the university of Texas at Austin Matz and colleagues in PLOS genetics report pointed out that although the ocean heat particularly impaired staghorn corals (Acropora millepora), but the species may ultimately prove to be one of the species have tenacity. Branch, a new analysis shows, the rapid growth of coral reefs in the coral – a key builder – with sufficient genetic diversity, can survive from 100 to 250, depending on the speed of the planet is warming. Other studies suggest that coral reefs may not last this century.
What happens to a coral reef can affect a huge underwater ecosystem, and hundreds of millions of people depend on these ecosystems for fishing, tourism, and so on. So scientists want to know how coral will develop as climate change brings longer, stronger ocean heat waves (SN: 4/10/18, p. 5).
These heat waves may result in coral bleaching (SN: 02/03/18, p. 16) – the corals emit symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae, which provide nutrients and color for corals. If the algae do not return, the coral will eventually become white and die.

In extreme cases, ocean heat waves directly kill the corals directly by baking the corals alive. This is one of the things that hughes and his colleagues have discovered about the Great Barrier Reef. Using satellite imagery and ocean surveys, the team found that it reduced heat pressure – water heat and water heat – to kill coral faster than expected.
Staghorn coral is proving particularly vulnerable to these ocean waves. However, marts’s research shows that, in addition to extreme events, corals show a fast enough pace to keep up with the warming waters – at least for now.
Starhorn coral is found throughout the Great Barrier Reef, although the waters in the north are more than five degrees warmer than the water in the south. This means “there is a genetic variant that makes corals adapt locally,” he said. Because a region is too hot to survive, these heat-adapted corals may migrate, send out larvae, and settle in slightly cooler places. This breeding strategy allows the corals to spread quickly to more suitable habitats without waiting for genetic mutations to make them stronger in the face of change.
At the university of British Columbia in vancouver, Canada, a Marine biologist William Cheung said that if the coral need adaptation measures, so human beings should focus on the connection of coral reefs, so are more likely to happen. This is easier said than done, and Hughes’s team documented extensive damage on the Great Barrier Reef.
Even in recent damage, marts says his team’s research shows that everyone has not lost it. “We still have time to take action before the coral actually starts to go extinct.”


Photo by QUI NGUYEN on Unsplash


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