Chemistry 2011.org
Chemistry2011.org
All About Chemistry... 2011 and beyond
Ocean, Ocean

Related Stories

Safety in numbers? Not so for corals

Nov. 15, 2013 — Traditionally, it was assumed that corals do not face a risk of extinction unless they become very rare or have a very restricted range. A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii -- Manoa (UHM), Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revealed that global changes in climate and ocean chemistry affect corals whether scare or abundant, and often it is the dominant, abundant corals with wide distributions that are affected the most.

The researchers evaluated both the geologic record of past extinctions and recent major events to assess the characteristics of dominant corals under various conditions. They determined that during periods advantageous to coral growth, natural selection favors corals with traits that make them more vulnerable to Climate-Change'>climate change.

The last 10 thousand years have been especially beneficial for corals. Acropora species, such as table coral, elkhorn coral and staghorn coral, were favored in competition due to their rapid growth. This advantageous rapid growth may have been attained in part by neglecting investment in few defenses against predation, hurricanes, or warm seawater. Acropora species have porous skeletons, extra thin tissue, and low concentrations of carbon and nitrogen in their tissues. The abundant corals have taken an easy road to living a rich and dominating life during the present interglacial period, but the payback comes when the climate becomes less hospitable.

Researchers from the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST); the National Marine Fisheries Service (Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center); NOAA National Ocean Service; and NOAA Coral Reef Watch propose that the conditions driven by excess carbon dioxide in the ocean cause mortality at rates that are independent of coral abundance. This density-independent mortality and physiological stress affects reproductive success and leads to the decline of corals. Some coral species are abundant across a broad geographic range, but the new findings show that this does not safeguard them against global threats, including changing ocean chemistry and rising temperatures.

Nearly all the assessments and evaluations of the risk of extinction for a species of coral are made on the basis of how scarce or restricted in range it is. However, the new findings highlight the vulnerability of abundant and widely dispersed corals as well as corals that are rare and/or have restricted ranges.

Moving forward, the authors hope to strengthen the case for directly addressing the global problems related to coral conservation. Though it is good to handle local problems, the authors stress, the handling of all the local problems will not be sufficient.

Share this story with your friends!

Social Networking

Please recommend us on Facebook, Twitter and more:

Other social media tools

Global Partners
Feedback

Tell us what you think of Chemistry 2011 -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?

About us

Chemistry2011 is an informational resource for students, educators and the self-taught in the field of chemistry. We offer resources such as course materials, chemistry department listings, activities, events, projects and more along with current news releases.

Events & Activities

Are you interested in listing an event or sharing an activity or idea? Perhaps you are coordinating an event and are in need of additional resources? Within our site you will find a variety of activities and projects your peers have previously submitted or which have been freely shared through creative commons licenses. Here are some highlights: Featured Idea 1, Featured Idea 2.

About you

Ready to get involved? The first step is to sign up by following the link: Join Here. Also don’t forget to fill out your profile including any professional designations.

Global Partners