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International Conference on Climate Change Global Warming

Berlin, Germany
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The role of zooxanthellae in the thermal tolerance of corals: a ‘nugget of hope’for coral reefs in an era of climate change

Author(s): Berkelmans R, Van Oppen MJ

Abstract

The ability of coral reefs to survive the projected increases in temperature due to global warming will depend largely on the ability of corals to adapt or acclimatize to increased temperature extremes over the next few decades. Many coral species are highly sensitive to temperature stress and the number of stress (bleaching) episodes has increased in recent decades. We investigated the acclimatization potential of Acropora millepora, a common and widespread Indo-Pacific hard coral species, through transplantation and experimental manipulation. We show that adult corals, at least in some circumstances, are capable of acquiring increased thermal tolerance and that the increased tolerance is a direct result of a change in the symbiont type dominating their tissues from Symbiodinium type C to D.

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