Scientists believe that evolution could save coral reefs, if we allow it

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Coral reefs could adapt to climate change if given the opportunity to evolve, according to a study led by the Coral Reef Alliance, Rutgers University, University of Washington and other institutions.

The latest study published in Nature’s environment and evolutionIt was found that corals can evolve and adapt to the effects of Climate change—But only if we protect enough coral diversity, especially when it comes to temperatures.

“Evolution occurs when corals that have already adapted to new environmental conditions reproduce with corals that have not yet adapted,” said Malin Pinsky, associate professor at Rutgers and co-author of the study. “As ocean temperatures rise, we need to keep reefs healthy and protected in hotter waters so they can reproduce and spread their heat tolerance to other reef areas.”

The study calls for a conservation approach that protects coral reefs at the local, regional and global scales, in a way that allows heat tolerance to spread.

The study authors said if humanity took rapid and effective action to preserve the health of coral reefs at local levels and address climate change and coral reefs. Coral reefs Ecosystems may recover over the next century and thrive in the future.

said Madhavi Colton, lead author of the study and former executive director of the Coral Reef Alliance. “This study provides guidance on how to design local protection solutions that will have real and lasting impacts in the future.”

Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, but they are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet. Home to about 25% of everyone Marine lifeCoral reefs support an estimated one billion people with food, income and coastal protection. But threats to coral reefs are increasing. Today, approximately 75% of all coral reefs are threatened by climate change and local human activities.

Scientists predict that 99% of coral reefs will be lost by the end of this century without a concerted effort to protect them.

“We simply cannot afford to lose reefs,” said Helen Fox, director of conservation sciences at the Coral Reef Alliance and co-author of the study. “It is imperative that we do what we can to save Coral reefs Now because we will be facing a common global economic, human and biodiversity crises if we do not face them.”

Super coral cultivation alone is unlikely to protect corals from climate change

more information:
Madhavi A. Colton et al, Coral conservation in a warming world must harness evolutionary adaptation, Nature’s environment and evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41559-022-01854-4

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