Further research needed on adaptation to climate change
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.