Global climate change and, in particular, the warming of the oceans has caused the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves to increase every year, with serious consequences for the stability and resilience of coral populations.
Global climate change and, in particular, the warming of the oceans has caused the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves to increase every year, with serious consequences for the stability and resilience of coral populations. Researchers at the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona have analysed the impact of the sudden increase in temperatures on the early life stages of two key species in the Mediterranean: the red coral (Corallium rubrum) and the white gorgonian (Eunicella singularis).
The results of the study show that heat stress drastically reduced the survival of red coral larvae and also the dispersal ability of gorgonian larvae, which could have implications for the viability of adult populations in the Mediterranean, where they play an important role in supporting marine biodiversity.
"Although previous experimental studies found that adult colonies of the species studied are mostly resistant to heat stress, our results at early stages suggest that the persistence and connectivity of local populations may be severely compromised by an increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves like the ones we have experienced this year", explains Cristina Linares, professor at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology of the UB and researcher at IRBio, who led the study together with Núria Viladrich, Marie Curie researcher at the UB and the University of Washington (Seattle, USA).
Read more at: University of Barcelona
Colonies of red coral in a perfect state of conservation. (Photo Credit: Cristina Linares - UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA – IRBio)