Globally, coral reefs face increasing strain due to climate change. However, breeding super resistant corals may ensure coral survival, according to new research on the matter.
Coral reefs are in danger. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has already stressed in a recent report that large swaths of coral are bleaching and underwater ecosystems are disrupted. A number of other agencies, research institutes and environmental organizations are drawing the same alarm signal.
Climate change and global warming are the main drivers associated with the decay of global coral reefs. Ocean temperature is rising, leading to increasingly acidic waters. Overfishing and pollution have also taken their toll. Scientists are now working on ensuring that our favorite underwater feature remains in place in the future, stabilizing ecosystems.
Particularly, one team of researchers with the University of Hawaii at Manoa is looking into how breeding super resistant corals may ensure coral survival. The lead scientist on the project and director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii, Ruth Gates believes that corals, as many other organisms are not created equal. Some may withstand the bleak threats they are facing, while others may perish.
With this in mind, the team led by Ruth Gates is using selective breeding and building upon the strong resilience of some corals. Selective breeding will ensure that resilience is passed to the next coral generations.
The research is being conducted within a 28-acre space located on Coconut Island of Kaneohe Bay. Here, corals are being stressed with the same factors that they would hurry their demise in the ocean environment. Whichever show highly resilient strains are bred with each other and further promote the strong features.
This research is the first of its kind. Groundbreaking assisted evolution is tried with corals for the first time now. Ruth Gates drew attention to the possible confusion with genetically modified approaches. The corals are bred naturally. Only the most resilient strains are bred, which leads to an accelerated evolution rate.
At the end of the research the super resistant corals will reach Kaneohe Bay. Here, according to scientists almost 80 percent of corals suffered bleaching this year. The new, super resistant corals should be able to cope with the rising acidity of warmer waters and be resilient in the face of climate change.
Photo Credits: Flickr
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