Image: Bleaching coral
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in collaboration with The University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and other research bodies, have found that coral with high levels of fat or other energy reserves can withstand the impact of annual coral bleaching events, compared to coral with lower levels of fat reserves. Coral bleaching events occur when sea temperatures rise as the result of climate change. This results in the breakdown of the symbiosis between the coral and their zooxanthellae (which gives coral most of its colour) and threatens the survival of the coral. Dr Verena Schoepf said tropical coral is extremely sensitive to heat stress. “Three global bleaching events have already occurred since the 1980s and will likely occur annually later this century. Therefore, it has become more urgent than ever to know how tropical coral can survive annual bleaching—one of the major threats to coral reefs today,” she said. “When coral is bleached, it no longer gets enough food energy and so it starts slowing down in growth and loses its fat and other energy reserves—just like humans do during times of hardship,” she said.

Media issued by The University of Western Australia

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Image by think4photop, Freedigitalphotos.net