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Not All Coral Are 'Losers' With Climate Change

Oct 10, 2014 03:21 PM EDT
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A team of researchers are now saying that despite the dangers of climate change across the globe, not every species of coral is doomed. A new study details how some coral species are actually moving into new territory as their vulnerable cousins continue to decline with rising ocean temperatures.

The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE and details how a team of 20 scientists from universities in California, Hawaii, and New Hampshire set out to asses who would be the "winners and losers" among coral populations as climate change and human stressors press in.

To determined this, the researchers analyzed contemporary and fossil coral reef ecosystem data sets from two Caribbean locations in the US Virgin Islands and Belize, and from five Indo-Pacific locations in Moorea, Taiwan, Hawaii, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Kenya.

These analyses were then combined to build a model that can predict how warming temperatures will impact various ecologies and coral species in the future.

"Although many corals are becoming less abundant, there remain a number of species that are holding their own or increasing in abundance and these corals will populate tropical reefs over the next few centuries," principal investigator and lead author Peter Edmunds, of California State University, explained in a recent release.

The study details that, compared to modern coral ecosystems, the "winning" subset of species is not nearly as diverse. However, this group remains prevalent in parts of the world where other corals are current becoming stressed and more vulnerable to disease and degradation in alarming bleaching events.

The subset also appears to be faster-growing and much smaller than most coral colonies, making them less susceptible to thermal stress.

However, ocean acidification still remains a problem, in which the structural integrity of coral colonies around the world is being literally dissolved, resulting in massive losses.

Nature World News also recently reported how some corals, despite being identified as "losers," are finding sanctuary from harm in the waters of mangrove habitats.

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