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New insights into helping marine species cope with climate change
Date:2/22/2010

Move, adapt or die. Those are the options marine plants and animals have in the face of climate change, said Stanford biologist Steve Palumbi, who has been exploring how to help them go with the first two options, rather than the third. He's come up with some surprising answers.

Palumbi will be discussing the results of his research in two talks at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

How to design marine protected areas to best benefit a wide variety of plant and animal species is the focus of a talk he'll give on Saturday, Feb. 20. The most practical kind of natural reserve is one that benefits species and local human populations, but Palumbi said striking that balance isn't always easy. Many people have argued that bigger is better when it comes to marine reserves, but Palumbi has data suggesting that is not always the case.

In a separate Topical Lecture he'll give on Sunday, Feb. 21, Palumbi will present his findings on how marine species are reacting to climate change, including new work on coral species in the Pacific that have poor powers of dispersal but a surprising ability to cope with higher temperatures.

Palumbi is director of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station and a senior fellow at the university's Woods Institute for the Environment.

If you can't move, then you'd better adjust

Many species, such as those along the west coast of California, can simply migrate north to colder waters. But other animals, such as the coral that Palumbi's team has studied in Fiji and American Samoa, won't be moving anytime soon.

"Each coral population is trapped on its own island, and as global climate changes around them, the populations are essentially stuck where they are. They have to go to the second stage, which is to adapt," Palumbi said.

Marine scientists have predicted that coral reefs will be at risk of extinction due to high oc
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Contact: Louis Bergeron
louisb3@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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