Navigation Links
Will coral reefs disappear?

This is the title of an upcoming symposium at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual conference in San Diego, California. And it's a topic that should not be taken lightly.

NSERC-funded researcher Dr. Simon Donner, an assistant professor in the department of geography at the University of British Columbia, will be talking about the vulnerability of coral reefs to climate change due to higher ocean temperatures.

Dr. Donner studies coral bleaching. Corals get most of their energy from microscopic algae that live in their tissue. These algae are colourful and are what gives corals their vivid hue. When environmental factors go out of the range that corals are used to (such as warming water), the symbiosis between the coral and the algae breaks down and corals effectively expel the algae and turn white. The coral is then deprived of its source of energy, and dies.

Dr. Donner studies the frequency of coral bleaching events, their consequences and the link to unusually warm oceans. He says that mass coral bleaching events were thought to be extremely rare as far back as 30 years ago.

At the AAAS conference he will be talking about the predicted occurrence of bleaching events under different climate scenarios and, according to

Dr. Donner, it doesn't look good.

"Even if we froze emissions today, the planet still has some warming left in it. That's enough to make bleaching dangerously frequent in reefs worldwide," he says.

Given the hundreds of millions of people living in the tropics who depend on coral reefs for food, income, tourism and shoreline protection, the loss of reefs is a serious issue.

"Obviously, there's an aesthetic concern because people see Finding Nemo and they're worried about what's going to happen to the world's coral reefs, but the key thing is that there are hundreds of millions of people who depend on them for their livelihood," says Dr. Donner.

However, the outlook isn't completely bleak. Dr. Donner says that no one is predicting that coral reefs will go extinct; they will continue to survive, but only in certain habitats, such as shaded areas. The reality is a general loss of coral cover and a breakdown of the physical structure of reefs.

In order to see what the future of reefs might be, Dr. Donner is pursuing fieldwork in the central equatorial Pacific, because the islands and reefs in that area are affected by repeated El Nino events. Because of this, they've experienced higher year-to-year temperature variability than other areas on the planet. Dr. Donner is studying the corals in these areas to understand how the reefs are biologically different, and how that has allowed them to persist through warm water events that would kill coral in other areas of the planet.

"It's a natural model for the future," he says.


Contact: Simon Donner
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Related biology news :

1. Coral can recover from climate change damage
2. Discovery of the Jekyll-and-Hyde factors in coral bleaching
3. Sponges recycle carbon to give life to coral reefs
4. The white stuff: Marine lab team seeks to understand coral bleaching
5. What are coral reef services worth? $130,000 to $1.2 million per hectare, per year: experts
6. What are coral reef services worth? $130,000 to $1.2 million / ht / yr: Experts
7. Coral bleaching increases chances of coral disease
8. Scripps-led study shows ocean health plays vital role in coral reef recovery
9. Coralline algae in the Mediterranean lost their tropical element between 5 and 7 million years ago
10. Nursery programs for corals receive TLC from NOAA this Independence Day
11. Corals stay close to home
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... BERLIN, Germany , October 27, 2015 ... 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically ... SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses , so that ... Suite BeGaze. --> Munich, Germany ... technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... adds Biometrics Market Shares, Strategies ... well as Emerging Biometrics Technologies: Global ... its collection of IT and Telecommunications ... --> . ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID ... biometric authentication to mobile and PC devices, announced its ... smartphone, the arrows NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, ... NX F-02H is the second smartphone to include iris ... technology in ARROWS NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... A long-standing partnership between the Academy of ... formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. , AMA Executive Director ... Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at AMA Headquarters in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today ... Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an ... turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... event of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical ... ran from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive ... Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing ... this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community ...
Breaking Biology Technology: