Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Even thermally tolerant corals are in hot water when it comes to bleaching

02.12.2015

Scientists have discovered that corals adapted to naturally high temperatures, such as those off the north west coast of Australia, are nonetheless highly susceptible to heat stress and bleaching.

Coral bleaching happens when sea temperatures rise, causing the breakdown of the symbiosis between coral and their zooxanthellae (the microscopic plants which gives coral most of its colour), which can be fatal for the coral.


Intertidal acropora corals exposed to air at low tide.

Credit: Verena Schoepf

Study lead author, Dr Verena Schoepf from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute says the researchers were surprised to find that corals around the Kimberley region in north Western Australia are just as sensitive to heat stress and bleaching as their counterparts from less extreme environments elsewhere.

"We found that exceeding their maximum monthly summer temperatures by 1 degree Centigrade for only a few days is enough to induce coral bleaching," Dr Schoepf says.

"We were surprised because under normal conditions, Kimberley corals can tolerate short-term temperature extremes and regular exposure to air without obvious signs of stress."

With up to 10m tides, the Kimberley region has the largest tropical tides in the world, creating naturally extreme and highly dynamic coastal habitats that corals from more typical reefs could not survive.

"Unfortunately the fact that Kimberley corals are not immune to bleaching suggests that corals living in naturally extreme temperature environments are just as threatened by climate change as corals elsewhere," says Dr Schoepf.

"We found that both branching and massive corals exposed at low tide coped better with heat stress than s corals from deeper water," says co-author Professor Malcolm McCulloch from the Coral CoE.

"However this doesn't mean that they are immune to bleaching," Professor McCulloch says.

The research, which was carried out in partnership with the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, also found that massive corals had a better chance of surviving and recovering from bleaching than branching corals.

The current strong El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific puts many coral reefs at risk of severe bleaching, and recent weather predictions show that the Kimberley region might be particularly affected in 2016.

"With the third global bleaching event underway, it has never been more urgent to understand the limits of coral thermal tolerance in corals," says Professor McCulloch.

Co-authors on the study also included Dr Michael Stat from the Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) Laboratory at Curtin University and Dr James Falter from the Coral CoE at the University of Western Australia.

###

Paper:

Limits to the thermal tolerance of corals adapted to a highly fluctuating, naturally extreme temperature environment, by Verena Schoepf, Michael Stat, James L. Falter and Malcolm T. McCulloch is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports

Images:

Link to Dropbox -- Please use image credits supplied in dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r2o49v8hqkawcih/AAAkLGyV99dml2D45iqVQyHDa?dl=0

Contacts:

Dr Verena Schoepf
61-(0)-8-6488-3644,
mobile: 61-(0)-416-540-415,
verena.schoepf@uwa.edu.au

Professor Malcolm McCulloch
61-(0)-457-939-937
malcolm.mcculloch@uwa.edu.au

Eleanor Gregory, Communications Manager
61-(0)-428-785-895
eleanor.gregory@jcu.edu.au

http://www.coralcoe.org.au/ 

Eleanor Gregory | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Innovative Infrared heat reduces energy consumption in coating packaging for food

12.12.2018 | Trade Fair News

New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

12.12.2018 | Information Technology

Obtaining polyester from plant oil

12.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>