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Insights into deadly coral bleaching could help preserve reefs
Date:4/23/2013

his important mechanism occurs repeatedly in all major coral groups, regardless of relationship or evolutionary age."

Corals have evolved to scatter light efficiently. Corals whose skeletons scatter light the most efficiently have an advantage under normal conditions. They also tend to grow faster as this leads to a skeletal structure that is more conducive to scattering.

However, when some of the algae are lost due to stress, the limestone skeletons amplify the light so much that remaining algae have to deal with even more light, thus being at an even greater risk of damage. This creates a vicious cycle forcing more and more algae to leave the coral. Less scattering-efficient corals, on the other hand, do not create the vicious cycle.


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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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