Flexibility in Corals Not Always a Good Thing

Written by on August 30, 2012 in Marine Life

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.

Healthy coral reef. photo credit: PMC 1stPix via photo pin cc

Healthy coral reef. photo credit: PMC 1stPix via photo pin cc

“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


Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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