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Picture of the Day

Changing temperatures have different effects on different corals

New research shows that not all corals respond the same to changes in climate. The study looked at the sensitivity of two types of corals found in Florida and the Caribbean and found that one of them -- mountainous star coral -- possesses an adaptation that allows it to survive under high-temperature and high-acidity conditions. The researchers exposed two threatened Caribbean reef-building coral species, staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), to combinations of normal (26 degrees Celsius) and elevated (32 degrees Celsius) temperatures, and increased carbon dioxide levels (pH 7.8/800 ppm) for nine weeks. Genetic and physiological data such as skeletal growth were then collected on the corals to determine if stress events are recorded in a coral's skeletal history. The researchers found that the staghorn coral was more sensitive to heat stress; it experienced 100 percent mortality after 25 days at the elevated temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the historical maximum monthly mean temperature for the Florida Keys.

Visit Website | Image credit: Evan K. D'Alessandro, Ph.D./UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science