Corals that are better than average at survival, growth and resisting bleaching stress can pass these advantages on to their offspring. Photo: Andrew Baird.
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, September 9, 2021

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

New ARC-supported research suggests that corals may be able to cope with climate change in the coming decades better than previously thought – but will still struggle with ever-faster rates of climate change.

Researcher Kevin Bairos-Novak is a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU). He said the rate at which corals can adapt to climate change depends on what is passed down from their parents.

'We looked at all previous coral studies examining what is called ‘heritability’ and this allowed us to look at how parent corals’ survival under environmental stress is likely to be passed down, through genes, to their offspring,' Mr Bairos-Novak says.

'We found their ability to pass on adaptive traits is maintained despite increasing temperatures. In particular, corals that are better than average at survival, growth and resisting bleaching stress under future ocean conditions should be good at passing those advantages on to their offspring.'

However, while the study is good news, the researchers warn that making the most of this capacity for adaptation will require reducing the current rate of global warming.

Photo credit: 

Corals that are better than average at survival, growth and resisting bleaching stress can pass these advantages on to their offspring. Photo: Andrew Baird.