Coral adaptation in the face of climate change

Baird, Andrew, and Maynard, Jeffrey A. (2008) Coral adaptation in the face of climate change. Science, 320 (5874). pp. 315-316.

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[Extract] In their Review, "Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification" (14 December 2007, p. 1737), O. Hoegh-Guldberg et al. present future reef scenarios that range from coral-dominated communities to rapidly eroding rubble banks. Notably, none of their scenarios considers the capacity for corals to adapt. The authors dismiss adaptation because "[r]eef-building corals have relatively long generation times and low genetic diversity, making for slow rates of adaptation [relative to rates of change]." We think the possibility of adaptation deserves a second look.

Many features of coral life histories, such as extended life spans, delayed maturation, and colony fission, do result in long generation times (1) [some between 33 and 37 years (2)]. However, other corals, such as many species of Acropora and Pocillopora, mature early, grow rapidly, and suffer whole-colony mortality, as opposed to colony fission, after mechanical disturbances (3) and thermal stress (4). The life histories of these ecologically important and abundant species suggest an underappreciated capacity to adapt rapidly to changing environments.

Item ID: 18130
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 1095-9203
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2011 05:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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