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How corals fight back
Date:8/18/2010

ral immunity will enable scientists to better pre-empt the effects of different stresses on corals. This is important, as by the time physical symptoms become apparent, strategies to mitigate stress effects will be far less valuable.

"Our increased understanding of coral immune systems may therefore be used to address the causes rather than the symptoms of coral declines", says Caroline Palmer. Bette Willis adds: "This approach is necessary particularly given that coral bleaching is similar to having a fever it's a common sign for many different stresses so it's often difficult to point to any one cause in particular".

Two of the main factors that cause corals to bleach are attacks by disease-causing microbes and temperature stress. It is currently estimated that between three and six per cent of corals in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are affected by coral diseases, and up to a third of corals at a given location can be affected by temperature stress in a warm year. Temperature stress is a growing concern due to global warming.

Researchers and reef managers are currently working on strategies to protect vulnerable coral sites. The preventive measures envisioned involve minimising human impacts which might further injure the coral, such as dredging, building construction, pollution, land runoff or damaging corals by boat activity or fishing.


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Contact: Bette Willis
Bette.Willis@jcu.edu.au
61-747-815-349
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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