Science Coral Reefs And Climate Change Protections

Published on April 11th, 2012 | by James Johnson


Coral Reefs Might Adapt To Climate Change Says Researchers

Coral Reefs And Climate Change Protections

Researchers at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science believe coral reefs may be able to survive climate change by adapting to warming waters thanks in large part to algae.

According to their research because coral reefs tend to host a large variety of algae types that offer different sensitivities to environments stress they could provide a much-needed lifeline as waters warm around coral reefs.

Ph.D. student Rachel Silverstein analyzed 39 coral species from DNA collected in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean using a highly sensitive genetic technique. The sample were collected over a 15 year period. In most cases the species examined were believed to only be capable of hosting one type of a single-celled symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae however Silverstein found that at least one colony from each of the 39 species carried at least two varieties of algae, at least one coral sample even included a “heat tolerant” variety of algae.

Andrew Baker, associate professor at UM’s Rosenstiel School and co-author of the study tells ScienceDaily:

“This study shows that more coral species are able to host multiple algal symbionts than we previously thought … The fact that they all seem to be capable of hosting symbionts that might help them survive warmer temperatures suggests they have hidden potential that was once thought to be confined to just a few special species.”

The study is a bit of vindication for Baker who proposed multiple algae conditions 10 years ago.

Silverstein says of the research:

“Although our study shows that different coral species do tend to have preferences in their algal partners, the fact that these preferences are not absolutely rigid means that we cannot ignore the possibility that most corals might change partners in response to environmental changes in the future.”

Determining the feasibility of coral reefs to survive is important as more than 70 percent of such corals have been destroyed over the years because of pollution, overfishing, climate change and other variables.

You can read the study online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.




Tags: , , ,

About the Author

James is a new media professional with more than half a decade worth of experience in the online writing space. He currently serves as the Associate Editor of and the Editor-in-Chief of He also serves as a resident writer for Splash Press Media. In his spare time James consults businesses regarding SEO and Content Development.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑