Water contamination reduces the tolerance of coral larvae to thermal stress
Negri, Andrew P., and Hoogenboom, Mia O. (2011) Water contamination reduces the tolerance of coral larvae to thermal stress. PLoS ONE, 6 (5). pp. 19703-19712.
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Coral reefs are highly susceptible to climate change, with elevated sea surface temperatures (SST) posing one of the main threats to coral survival. Successful recruitment of new colonies is important for the recovery of degraded reefs following mortality events. Coral larvae require relatively uncontaminated substratum on which to metamorphose into sessile polyps, and the increasing pollution of coastal waters therefore constitutes an additional threat to reef resilience. Here we develop and analyse a model of larval metamorphosis success for two common coral species to quantify the interactive effects of water pollution (copper contamination) and SST. We identify thresholds of temperature and pollution that prevent larval metamorphosis, and evaluate synergistic interactions between these stressors. Our analyses show that halving the concentration of Cu can protect corals from the negative effects of a 2–3uC increase in SST. These results demonstrate that effective mitigation of local impacts can reduce negative effects of global stressors.