Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UMH)’s School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST) have found that the more flexible corals are, the less resistant they are to environmental stressors.
“This is exactly the opposite of what we expected,” said lead author Hollie Putnam, PhD candidate at UHM, “Our findings suggest more is not always better.”
Flexibility in corals refers mostly to the host’s ability to contain different clades of Symbiodinium–the single-celled algae found within the tissues. Previously, it was assumed that the more flexible corals are, the more resistant they are to environmental changes. However, the researchers found that corals that hosted many types of Symbiodinium were more environmentally sensitive than corals associated with only one or few types of Symbiodinium.
“This study gives us a new understanding of how corals are likely to respond to the stresses of environmental change,” explains David Garrison, program director of the National Science Foundation‘s Division of Ocean Sciences.
You can read the full press release here: Less is more for reef-building corals
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