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Bleaching may lead to tougher coral --

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corals that survive one bleaching event may better endure a second, new research suggests.

Coral bleaching occurs when ocean acidity or temperature puts such stress on the corals that they expel their symbiotic algae. In time, if conditions do not improve, this causes the corals to starve to death.

Record ocean temperatures have caused mass events twice in the past 15 years: once in 1998, in which nearly 16 percent of the world's reefs perished, and a second slightly less severe event in 2010.

A recent study published in the journal PLoS One found evidence that coral colonies that were most severely affected by the first event fared better during the second.

Researchers found that in Singapore and Malaysia, fast-growing varieties of coral fared significantly better in 2010 than their counterparts in Indonesia, where nearly 87 percent of such colonies died off.

Researchers surmised that this discrepancy could be attributable to previous bleaching, since Singapore and Malaysia were affected by the 1998 event, while Indonesia was not.

Although still only a hypothesis, the findings do raise hope that coral reefs, often cited as one of the first casualties of climate change, might fare better in the future than has long been feared (Joanna Foster, New York Times, March 12). -- NM

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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