Some corals are adapting to climate change

With an increase fires az floods unprecedented, devastating impacts climate change they have an alarming effect on ecosystems and threaten species worldwide. Among the most vulnerable ecosystems are Coral reefs face a growing threat, but a recent study revealed complex and diverse strategy through which the corals strive adaptor trying to in the rapidly changing ocean environment. The results of the study were published on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For nearly a decade, Katie Barott, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania, has led a team of researchers working together to study two types of coral in Hawaii, with the aim of deepening their adaptability to the impacts of climate change. “We monitored over 40 large coral colonies in ten years and we found some species to be remarkable ability to resist and recover from the subsequent sea heats after surviving one of these events,” Barott points out. “We could compare it to exercise: the more often you exercise, the easier it is to deal with the same stress from physical exertion.”

The two species examined in this study are Montipora became AND Compression pores, the dominant coral in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, Hawaii. During the ten years in which the study was conducted, these corals were exposed to significant marine heat waves in 2014, 2015 and 2019. These provided a unique opportunity to identify resistant individuals whitening and those who are sensitive to this phenomenon in each species and then observe their responses to repeated heat stress. The bleaching phenomenon actually occurs after severe environmental stress, which points to the corals themselves expel symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae, which provide them with energy through photosynthesis and contribute to their characteristic colors. Without these algae, corals become pale or bleached, threatening their health and the survival of the coral ecosystem.

In this way, the scientists were able to examine the resilience of some corals while highlighting their vulnerability and defining recovery models contrast between individuals susceptible to bleaching of each of the two species after heat waves. When Montipora becamedespite some obvious signs of acclimatization, one appeared whitening repeated and significant mortality rate lasting up to three years after the last heat wave. On the other hand, initially sensitive individuals from Compression pores have proven remarkable ability to recover and adaptwith no observable bleaching or mortality during the third heat wave and most physiological parameters returned to normal within one year.

These results suggest that reaction of corals to climate change are heterogeneous and complexinfluenced by a number of factors, including species-specific characteristics and prior exposure to environmental stressors. As a next step, the team plans to continue observing and investigating crucial aspects such as grow corals, calcification they impacts resulting from repeated sea heats to see how these animals respond to environmental stress from different perspectives.

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