Fur­ther re­search needed on adaptation to cli­mate change

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

SCI­EN­TISTS are call­ing for fur­ther re­search into the the­ory co­ral is adapt­ing to cli­mate change.

Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Marine Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and Ge­net­ics at the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Marine Sci­ence, Dr Madeleine van Op­pen, will ad­dress all 2000-plus del­e­gates this af­ter­noon on the topic of “Can old corals learn new tricks?”

Be­ing a rel­a­tively new field of re­search, Dr van Op­pen said her speech is about con­vinc­ing peo­ple to fo­cus their re­search on co­ral adaptation to utilise in the man­age­ment of reefs and to help the process.

“Corals haven’t adapted to cli­mate warm­ing ev­ery­where in co­ral reefs be­cause there has been a loss of co­ral reefs but there are a few lo­ca­tions where there are sug­ges­tions of adaptation,” she said.

“There has been bleach­ing on lo­ca­tions on the Great Bar­rier Reef, the last bleach­ing was in 2002 when there was less bleach­ing com­pared to the 1998 event though the stress was worse.

“A re­cent study over in Sin­ga­pore where se­vere bleach­ing oc­curred in 1998 showed the species bleached were the most sen­si­tive ones back then but are now the most tol­er­ant ones, so the sug­ges­tion is they may have evolved but it’s not proven.”

Dr van Op­pen is con­tin­u­ing her re­search through ex­tract­ing genes from co­ral DNA and study­ing them to un­lock the codes to un­der­stand co­ral adaptation and ex­plore what mech­a­nism co­ral has to adapt to cli­mate change.

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