Many corals rely on their symbiotic algae for survival. Under stress (such as higher temperatures) these algae are expelled, resulting in coral bleaching. It has previously been reported that corals may recover from coral bleaching by changing the type of algae they host. However, a new research study shows that less than a quarter of coral species can do this.
The corals which have been seen to survive raised temperatures are those that host several types of algae. These are in the minority. A review of the published data, by Tamar L. Goulet of the University of Mississippi, shows that only 23% of corals fall into this category. She looked at 43 studies of 442 species of coral.
If global climate change continues, she concludes that many symbiotic coral species may not survive.
Source: Marine Ecology Progress Series, 321:1-7, 2006.
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