Coral reefs are better at coping with rising sea temperatures than we thought

May 30, 2014 by Declan Perry report
Close up of polyps are arrayed on a coral, waving their tentacles. There can be thousands of polyps on a single coral branch. Credit: Wikipedia

(Phys.org) —Coral reefs are under threat from rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. But in a recent paper, published in Science, it was found that certain types of coral are able to adapt to tolerate higher sea temperatures by changing the genes they express. Scientists think this new discovery could be used to devise new ways of protecting coral reefs, as well as improving our predictions of how they will cope with climate change in the future.

Marine rainforests

Known as the "rainforests of the sea," form some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. Despite only covering 0.1 percent of the ocean's surface, they provide a home for 25 percent of all maritime species, including fish, mollusks, and sponges.

Coral reefs are actually deposits of calcium carbonate, the substance found in sea shells. The makeup of any reef is complex and consists of microscopic organisms called corals that live together in small colonies known as polyps. Polyps that contain "reef building" coral species are responsible for laying down the calcium carbonate that form the reefs. Corals live together with algae, and this relationship helps coral reefs survive.

But when coral reefs experience stress, such as an increase in sea , they sometimes expel the algae, which results in , a phenomenon in which the coral loses all its color, appearing completely white. This can result in the death of the reef. For example, in 2005, the US lost half of its coral reefs in the Caribbean to a massive bleaching event.

It is already known that some corals are better than others at coping with stress. So Professor Stephen Palumbi and his colleagues at Stanford University in California set out to assess whether coral species have the ability to acclimate to warmer temperatures by increasing their thermal tolerance levels.

Palumbi and his team completed their fieldwork on coral reefs in the U.S. National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island. They concentrated on an important reef-building . The corals were contained in two adjacent pools. In the first pool, water temperatures were more varied, reaching temperatures as high as 35°C. This was known as the highly variable pool. The second pool, known as the moderately variable pool, rarely experienced water temperatures of above 32°C.

Coral transplant

First, the researchers tested the photosynthesis rates of corals from both pools to compare how well they coped with high temperatures. They then transplanted coral colonies from the moderately variable pool to the highly variable pool to see if the coral would adapt to higher water temperatures. The transplanted corals were left to acclimate over the course of about two years, and were regularly tested for thermal tolerance over this time. The researchers conducted genetic analysis to see if there was any change in gene expression during this period that would result in higher thermal tolerance.

It was found that corals in the highly variable pool were more tolerant of higher temperatures when compared to the corals in the moderately variable pool. But the most interesting finding involved the ability of the coral to acclimate to higher . Dr Daniel Barshis, part of the team that completed the research, said: "The most important finding was that corals are capable of increasing their thermal tolerance limits substantially in just 12 to 18 months. This acclimation in upper tolerance limits correlates with changes in gene expression as well."

Real-world applications

Barshis went on to say that this new knowledge should be integrated into models that predict the effects of global warming on coral reefs to help us understand how they will respond to rising in the future, he said: "This research provides some glimmer of hope that corals may have the ability to survive more than we've given them credit for, but only if we reduce the amount of current and future stresses."

This research also has many real-world applications that could help protect coral reefs from future climate change. Palumbi said, "It should be possible to use climate-resistant corals in transplant/restoration efforts in order to replant reefs with greater future resilience. This is one of the things we are doing this summer in a set of pilot projects in Samoa."

Explore further: Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures, research says

More information: Mechanisms of reef coral resistance to future climate change, Science 23 May 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6186 pp. 895-898. DOI: 10.1126/science.1251336

ABSTRACT
Reef corals are highly sensitive to heat, yet populations resistant to climate change have recently been identified. To determine the mechanisms of temperature tolerance, we reciprocally transplanted corals between reef sites experiencing distinct temperature regimes and tested subsequent physiological and gene expression profiles. Local acclimatization and fixed effects, such as adaptation, contributed about equally to heat tolerance and are reflected in patterns of gene expression. In less than 2 years, acclimatization achieves the same heat tolerance that we would expect from strong natural selection over many generations for these long-lived organisms. Our results show both short-term acclimatory and longer-term adaptive acquisition of climate resistance. Adding these adaptive abilities to ecosystem models is likely to slow predictions of demise for coral reef ecosystems.

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Maggnus
3.5 / 5 (11) May 30, 2014
It's too bad there are so many more species that will have a tough time adapting, assuming they can at all. This is some experiment our species is performing with this planet.
antigoracle
1.9 / 5 (18) May 30, 2014
The only one that can't adapt to this AGW LIE, are the small brained Chicken Littles of the Cult.
Maggnus
4.2 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
Someone gave againstseeing a 5 for that childish drivel!?! Oh, full-diaper, of course lol!
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (15) May 30, 2014
It's too bad there are so many more species that will have a tough time adapting, assuming they can at all. This is some experiment our species is performing with this planet.

Nature, adapt or die.
Why do 'liberals' think they are above Nature and surprised when Nature adapts? They are the ones who worship Gaia and have the hubris to think they know better than Nature.
Maggnus
4 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
Nature, adapt or die.
Why do 'liberals' think they are above Nature and surprised when Nature adapts? They are the ones who worship Gaia and have the hubris to think they know better than Nature.
I don't know, loon, if I run across one, I'll ask. Of course, with your definition of "liberal" my running across one is pretty slim.

And what does Greek mythology have to do with this anyway? Oh, hold on, maybe I'm beginning to understand! You are the blubbering lunatic you are because you still believe in the multiple deities and your statues of Zeus and Athena were torn down and destroyed and you feel you need to extract some petty revenge on the religious zealots responsible for that?

Wow no wonder you're such a loon! Get over it, centuries have passed!
supamark23
4.1 / 5 (8) May 30, 2014
The only one that can't adapt to this AGW LIE, are the small brained Chicken Littles of the Cult.


Were you born that stupid, or did you work at it?
thermodynamics
4.3 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
Nature, adapt or die.
Why do 'liberals' think they are above Nature and surprised when Nature adapts? They are the ones who worship Gaia and have the hubris to think they know better than Nature.
I don't know, loon, if I run across one, I'll ask. Of course, with your definition of "liberal" my running across one is pretty slim.


Maggy: I was thinking that his definition of a "liberal" seems to be anyone who disagrees with him. That would make his chances of running across one as 100%.
ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
No, 'liberals' are those here who have demonstrated their support for govt control of private property to 'save humanity' or 'save the planet' or....just about any excuse will do.
thermodynamics
4.4 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
No, 'liberals' are those here who have demonstrated their support for govt control of private property to 'save humanity' or 'save the planet' or....just about any excuse will do.


Rygg2: So, you are saying that there is no reason to save humanity if it conflicts with your right to personal property?
antigoracle
1.6 / 5 (11) May 30, 2014
The only one that can't adapt to this AGW LIE, are the small brained Chicken Littles of the Cult.


Were you born that stupid, or did you work at it?

My apologies, that should have read NO BRAINED Chicken Littles....
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (12) May 30, 2014
no reason to save humanity

The premise is flawed.
What is 'humanity'?
Why don't you say, "save human beings"?
'save humanity' is from the same socialist tripe from the French Revolution, called the 'Rights of Man'. Why weren't they called the 'Rights of Men'?
I suspect most human individuals want to survive, and maybe even have an opportunity to thrive. If most humans have this self interest there would be little risk of human extinction.
But the socialists use 'saving humanity' as an excuse to force individuals to submit to the interest of the socialists, not their own self interest. 'For the sake of humanity', of course.
How do socialists justify acting without humanity, plundering, murdering, etc. to 'save humanity'?
Vietvet
3.9 / 5 (11) May 30, 2014
We have to give rggy some slack. When I was young and dumb, I,like rggy worshiped at the alter of Ayn Rand. I was 13 at the time and managed to grow up. Rggy never did and never will.
antigoracle
2.2 / 5 (12) May 31, 2014
We have to give rggy some slack. When I was young and dumb, I,like rggy worshiped at the alter of Ayn Rand. I was 13 at the time and managed to grow up. Rggy never did and never will.

Now that you're old and dumber, you worship at the alter of the AGW Cult.
To bad you did not stay young.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
In Atlas Shrugged, when socialists took over, the economy and society collapsed.
Had socialists not taken over, John Galt's engine and Rearden' metal would have revolutionized the world and brought prosperity to all, based on self interest.
In the real world, when socialist take over, the economies and societies collapse.
Maggnus
4.4 / 5 (13) May 31, 2014
In Atlas Shrugged, when socialists took over, the economy and society collapsed.
Had socialists not taken over, John Galt's engine and Rearden' metal would have revolutionized the world and brought prosperity to all, based on self interest.
In the real world, when socialist take over, the economies and societies collapse.
Off-topic, antisocialist blather.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
In Atlas Shrugged, when socialists took over, the economy and society collapsed.
Had socialists not taken over, John Galt's engine and Rearden' metal would have revolutionized the world and brought prosperity to all, based on self interest.
In the real world, when socialist take over, the economies and societies collapse.
Off-topic, antisocialist blather.

Don't like having your strawmen burned?
Maggnus
4.3 / 5 (13) May 31, 2014
Don't like having your strawmen burned?
No loon, I don't like that you try to turn every single article into some stupid anti-societal rant. I don't like that you constantly post out of context and often contradictory quote mines in some stupid attempt to foster conspiracy. I don't like that you are stupid. And I don't like that your mother keeps letting you out of her basement without ensuring you have first taken your meds.
Maggnus
4.6 / 5 (9) May 31, 2014
Maggy: I was thinking that his definition of a "liberal" seems to be anyone who disagrees with him. That would make his chances of running across one as 100%.
Part one is certainly true, however given that no one can meet all of the criteria of "liberal" as he defines it, it is also true that no one can be a "liberal". It sounds contradictory I know, but that is the World According to Loon.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (11) May 31, 2014
Mangy, your stawman"
"This is some experiment our species is performing with this planet. "

If you don't like have your strawmen burned, stop creating them.

How is being against the state's use of force, socialism, anti-society?

Caliban
4.6 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
Nature, adapt or die.
Why do 'liberals' think they are above Nature and surprised when Nature adapts? They are the ones who worship Gaia and have the hubris to think they know better than Nature.


So many internal contradictions in this idiotic statement as to render it entirely devoid of meaning, if not meanness.

Natch.

All in a day's spotty-bottomed trolling for rygsuckn'...but wait -there's more:

In Atlas Shrugged, when socialists took over, the economy and society collapsed.
Had socialists not taken over, John Galt's engine and Rearden' metal would have revolutionized the world and brought prosperity to all, based on self interest.
In the real world, when socialist take over, the economies and societies collapse.


Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction committed to paper by a person who was a delusional, sociopathic, logorrheac moron(aka troll) --just like you, rygsuckn'.

Was she the mother-thing that repeatedly dropped you on your tiny, misshapen troll head?

ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (11) May 31, 2014
Here we have EMPIRICAL DATA challenging the consensus and it's attacked by the AGWites

As long the EMPIRICAL DATA supports the AGWite agenda, is will be promoted, but if, for some reason, someone screws up and allows data to be published that doesn't support he AGWite agenda, it must be attacked and ridiculed.

This is precisely what an EU science official stated. EU politicians request data to support their pet cause, and get it regardless of its validity.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (11) May 31, 2014
And, of course, more examples of socialists unable to defend their socialism.
Rand was right, socialism destroys economies and societies.
Caliban
4.6 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
And, of course, more examples of socialists unable to defend their socialism.
Rand was right, socialism destroys economies and societies.


No, Ayn Rand was a delusional, fiction-scribbling, logorrhaeac troll polemicist that couldn't even live by her own creed, who died while on the Socialist gubmint dole -aka Social Security- reduced by her own extravagance to penury and dependent upon hangers' on to pay for her end-stage lung cancer treatment made necessary by her lifelong chainsmoking habit of "harmless, and definitively do not cause cancer" freimarket cigarettes.

No, rygsuckn' -your evil, trollhag mother-thing was wrong.

Dead wrong.

But at least she had the decency to relieve us all of her burdensome existence. Unlike you.

Moron.

ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (12) May 31, 2014
Another opportunity to defend socialism missed.
Caliban
4.1 / 5 (9) May 31, 2014
Another opportunity to defend socialism missed.


Nah -you, rygsuckn', just wasted an entire comment - when you could have been shouting

Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!

Which would have had just as negligible effect as the rest of your idiotic, hysterical posturing.

Back to yer hole, you spotty-bottomed troll .
IamVal
4.6 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
In Atlas Shrugged, when socialists took over, the economy and society collapsed.
Had socialists not taken over, John Galt's engine and Rearden' metal would have revolutionized the world and brought prosperity to all, based on self interest.
In the real world, when socialist take over, the economies and societies collapse.

and in star wars when the empire took over....

and in the bible when the sun orbited the earth...

testimony by authority is the opposite of evidence.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (11) May 31, 2014
One by one real science reveals the AGW doom and gloom prophecies for the lies they are. Yet the Chicken Littles gulp their Kool Aid and remain in their interminable ignorance.
ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (12) May 31, 2014
estimony by authority is the opposite of evidence.

Unless, of course, it is by an AGWite.

It's interesting how people one would expect to be educated can't understand literature.

John Galt was right in Atlas Shrugged because it is based upon real world observations of how socialists act.
Socialists destroy economies and societies. The process is underway all around the world, now.
The US govt is killing its own citizens at the VA while allowing illegal immigrant criminals with a variety of diseases into the country killing even more citizens and destroying societies.
Socialist regulation destroy jobs and its welfare destroy incentives for work, further destroying society.
This was described quite clearly in Atlas Shrugged.
Even the corruption of science was predicted by Rand in Atlas Shrugged.
Where is Galt's Gulch?
Caliban
4.2 / 5 (10) May 31, 2014
estimony by authority is the opposite of evidence.

John Galt was right in Atlas Shrugged [...]Socialists destroy economies and societies. The process is underway all around the world, now.
The US govt is killing its own citizens at the VA while allowing illegal immigrant criminals with a variety of diseases into [...]more citizens and destroying societies.
Socialist regulation destroy jobs and its welfare destroy incentives for work, further destroying society.
This was described quite clearly in Atlas Shrugged.
Even the corruption of science was predicted by Rand in Atlas Shrugged.
Where is Galt's Gulch?


Yep,

There goes rygsuckn' -again- appealing to the supposed authority of Ayn Rand, his delusional, megalomaniac,logorrheaic, fiction-scribbling, Social-Security-collecting, troll mother-thing, whose greatest failure was in failing to leave her trollchild for the wolves shortly after its birth. Still, she at least tried dropping it on its head.

Repeatedly.

Troll.
JamesWebbsSpaceScope
4.9 / 5 (8) May 31, 2014
So back on topic, this means we have found a way to replant more resilient coral, resulting in hardier than expected stocks of the worlds coral?

If so.. this is great news. Anything that extends the reach of the worlds coral is an essential area of research.
JamesWebbsSpaceScope
4.5 / 5 (4) May 31, 2014
I'm also reminded of the excellent kurzweil.ai poster named Gordon Russell who commented something like "When self replicating nanobots are perfected, we will be able to reduce some mountain ranges for the granite, and introduce in to the ocean for reduced acidification"

Anyone else heard of this idea? It sounds great!
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) May 31, 2014
Corals are more like oases in a desert rather than a rainforest. Waters in where corals live are typically nutrient poor which is why so many corals need to raise their own food.
Coral structures and the algae attract many other critters.
The rainforest analogy would apply better to places off the coast of Cabo San Lucas and the Grand Banks.
geokstr
1 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2014
No, 'liberals' are those here who have demonstrated their support for govt control of private property to 'save humanity' or 'save the planet' or....just about any excuse will do.


Rygg2: So, you are saying that there is no reason to save humanity if it conflicts with your right to personal property?

So, thermo, when the thought police come to you and say, "Give us all your stuff so we can save humanity", you will of course willingly and eagerly give it all up, right? And when they say "no matter how hard you work, or how brilliant or talented you are, you may earn no more than the laziest streetsweeper in order to save Gaia" you will acquiesce as well?

Haven't been coming here much lately, but it looks like Vendy has departed at last, but his mean-spirited, name-calling, ad hominem-spewing spirit seems to have infected Caliban now.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2014
So, thermo, when the thought police come to you and say, "Give us all your stuff so we can save humanity", you will of course willingly and eagerly give it all up, right? And when they say "no matter how hard you work, or how brilliant or talented you are, you may earn no more than the laziest streetsweeper in order to save Gaia" you will acquiesce as well?
The thought police? I can't speak for Thermo, but my answer to this would be "it depends". Certainly I would fight them if they came to me using the logic displayed by the bulk of those who deny the science supporting the premise of global warming.

But really, it's such a ridiculous analogy that it is unanswerable. A strawman.

Haven't been coming here much lately, but it looks like Vendy has departed at last, but his mean-spirited, name-calling, ad hominem-spewing spirit seems to have infected Caliban now.
Ya, and its been kinda nice without you. Sort of miss Vendi, although he could be caustic at times.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2014
Corals are more like oases in a desert rather than a rainforest. Waters in where corals live are typically nutrient poor which is why so many corals need to raise their own food.
Coral structures and the algae attract many other critters..
I'm actually intrigued. According to UCSB Science: "Coral reefs form where there is (1) enough sunlight, (2) warm temperatures, and (3) favorable chemical conditions." And according to the NOAA, "The unique mutualism between hermatypic corals and their photosynthetic zooxanthellae is the driving force behind the settlement, growth and productivity of coral reefs" (Levington 1995). So this part is true. It is the change in temperature that this being discussed here though.
The rainforest analogy would apply better to places off the coast of Cabo San Lucas and the Grand Banks.
Why those places in particular? What is your point?

I wonder, can we have a discussion sans politics?

ryggesogn2
2.5 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2014
Why those places in particular? What is your point?

They are very productive fishing grounds.

The only analogy to rainforests is the diversity of species. Rainforests are quite fragile and not very productive.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2014
We have to give rggy some slack. When I was young and dumb, I,like rggy worshiped at the alter of Ayn Rand. I was 13 at the time and managed to grow up. Rggy never did and never will.

I did not initially refer to Rand, but I will take the opportunity to continue the chain.
Here is a minor example of a business shrugging, just as Rand predicted.

"Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, has decided to stop making wedding cakes, because it's the only way he can avoid being forced to participate in gay marriage. "
http://www.breitb...o-bakery

A fine example of Fascism, the state controlling a supposedly 'private' business.

I hope more people will have the courage to shrug.
How many believe the state should now force the baker to make wedding cakes?
barakn
4.5 / 5 (8) Jun 02, 2014
Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, has decided to stop making wedding cakes, because it's the only way he can avoid being forced to participate in gay marriage. "
http://www.breitb...o-bakery

I know, isn't it awful? And I hear it's no longer ok to prevent colored people from eating at your lunch counter. What is this world coming to when you are a miserable old bigot named soggyring2 and nobody welcomes the vehement hate speech that spews from your mouth along with so much spittle?
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2014


Rygg2: So, you are saying that there is no reason to save humanity if it conflicts with your right to personal property?

So, thermo, when the thought police come to you and say, "Give us all your stuff so we can save humanity", you will of course willingly and eagerly give it all up, right? And when they say "no matter how hard you work, or how brilliant or talented you are, you may earn no more than the laziest streetsweeper in order to save Gaia" you will acquiesce as well?


Your example is as stupid as postulating my welcoming jack-booted skin-heads breaking in my door.

If there is a legal need for my possessions to help save humanity I would proudly offer them.

As an example, I have risked my life for my country in multiple war zones and would do it again. That is making the ultimate offer of our only real possession. Can you say the same?

I would like to know if you would/have ever volunteered for the military? Or is that not libertarian?
Caliban
5 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2014


Rygg2: So, you are saying that there is no reason to save humanity if it conflicts with your right to personal property?

So, thermo, when the thought police come to you and say, "Give us all your stuff so we can save humanity", you will of course willingly and eagerly give it all up, right?,[...] more than the laziest streetsweeper in order to save Gaia" you will acquiesce as well?


Your example is as stupid as postulating my welcoming jack-booted skin-heads breaking in my door.

If there is a legal need for my possessions to help save humanity I would proudly offer them.

As an example, I have risked my life for my country in multiple war zones and would do it again. That is making the ultimate offer of our only real possession. Can you say the same?

I would like to know if you would/have ever volunteered for the military? Or is that not libertarian?


thermo-- after that perspective, 'tis unlikely geokstrap will be chiming in again. Well done!
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2014
Cali:
thermo-- after that perspective, 'tis unlikely geokstrap will be chiming in again. Well done!


Thanks, I just get sick and tired of hearing from the posturing whacko idealists that think the libertarian world is for them. They, probably, do that from their mother's basement while collecting social security.
Mike_Massen
5 / 5 (3) Jul 19, 2014
There has never been one AGW denier that has ever been able to explain why adding CO2, a greenhouse gas with known thermal re-radiation properties, won't increase thermal resistivity and thus increase heat in the system..!

Its as if AGW deniers won't and CANNOT face basic summation, why is that ? Is their religious belief humans cannot change climate so obstinately entrenched, have any followed up on the basic physics experiments re CO2 - ever ?

To any and all AGW deniers:-

"What property of CO2 when added to the atmosphere makes it work the opposite way it does in a laboratory ie Instead of retaining heat it acts as an improved conductor ?"