Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some coral reefs less vulnerable to rising sea temperatures

Environment Research Web via GEF Coral: New research highlighting coastal locations where coral can better withstand rising sea temperatures, a leading cause of stress to coral reefs, may guide efforts to conserve the largest living structures on Earth.

The findings hold promise for an estimated 100 million people living along the coasts of tropical developing countries whose livelihoods and welfare depend directly on coral reefs, but are currently under threat from climate change.

In a report published in an online edition of Ecology Letters today, scientists from Australia, the UK, Mexico and the US, mapped coral stress across the Bahamas in the Caribbean and found that sea temperatures, which strongly influence coral health, caused less stress to reefs in certain areas.

This discovery was borne out in the second half of the study, during which the researchers designed marine reserves best suited to four possible scenarios of how coral would respond to further sea temperature rises. In each hypothetical scenario, 15% of the locations in the Bahamas were consistently selected...

Healthy Acropora prolifera coral, photographed near Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas

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