Persistent temperature stress events are degrading coral reefs worldwide, but a new study from Florida Institute of Technology has found that corals in naturally turbid waters are less affected by thermal stress than corals in clearer water.
The findings from Florida Tech Ph.D. student Shannon Sully and professor Rob van Woesik were published Jan. 8 in the journal Global Change Biology.
“We hypothesized that reduced light on turbid reefs would reduce coral stress during thermal stress events, and our research verified that,” Sully said.
The authors examined coral bleaching severity on a global scale and found that bleaching was indeed reduced during temperature stress events when turbidity was naturally elevated, although excess turbidity also harmed the reef.
“We found that about 12 percent of the world’s reefs exist within this ‘moderating turbidity’ range,” Sully said.
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