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Marine biologists unmask species diversity in coral reefs
Date:12/13/2013

exual reproduction -- the coral fragments cloning themselves. Conversely, the other coral lineage, Porites lobata, has fewer mussels and reproduces sexually through its larvae."

The benefit of asexual reproduction, Baums explains, is that corals living in a harsh environment such as the Eastern Pacific might have a hard time finding partners for sexual reproduction. "It takes two to tango so you need a partner," she said. "In areas of the Eastern Pacific that are so harsh that only a few individuals can survive, it might be easier for the coral to clone itself, ensuring that the offspring can survive as well."

As for the difference in bleaching, there are two possible explanations. One possibility is that the types of algae living in the coral species are different, and one of them can withstand a hotter temperature. "Just like in your garden -- the tomatoes like the heat more than the cauliflower does," said Baums.

Another possibility is that the difference is not in the algae but in the corals themselves. "In the literature there's been a lot of attention paid to how different algal species react to increases in temperature and whether, if a coral species could switch to a hardier alga, it could survive hotter temperatures," Baums said. But what the researchers found suggested a different scenario. Even though the two coral species have the same algal species, bleaching still differs. That suggests it's the coral host that contributes to bleaching.

"The good news in all of this is that some of these corals are true survivors, especially in the Eastern Pacific," Baums said. "It's a rough place for coral to live but they are still hanging around. So if we can figure out how to slow down climate change and keep identifying some hardy corals, we can do something about preserving coral reefs."


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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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