The researchers analyzed coral skeletal growth rates and tissue fat stores to compare how corals from different regions responded to two recent coral bleaching events in 2004 and 2009.
Donner has conducted field research in Kiribati since 2005 and will return this year to conduct follow-up research with the local government. He says the findings suggest that Marine Protected Areas conservation areas designed to protect marine life from stressors like fishing may be more effective in areas with naturally variable water temperatures
The research delivers mixed news for Australia's Great Barrier Reef, because the reef stretches over such massive distances; some areas have stable temperatures and some do not. The findings support previous laboratory and observational studies from other regions, suggesting they can be widely applied.
Planning is now underway for potential future studies of coral in areas of the world that have not experienced significant historical changes in water temperatures.
"Even through the warming of our oceans is already occurring, these findings give hope that coral that has previously withstood anomalously warm water events may do so again," says Carilli. "While more research is needed, this appears to be good news for the future of coral reefs in a warming climate."
|Contact: Basil Waugh|
University of British Columbia