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Can coral reefs survive climate change?

PI: Marissa Baskett
Institution: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
Climate change threatens the persistence of coral reefs in the near future through the increase in mass coral bleaching events associated with the increased frequency and magnitude of temperature extremes. However, corals and their symbiotic algae may have the potential to respond to climate change through community shifts, physiological acclimation, and genetic adaptation. I am using models and simulations to explore the potential for coral communities to respond to a rapidly changing climate, potential indicators of coral communities most likely to survive future climate change, and the interaction between additional anthropogenic impacts and coral response to climate change. These models will further the understanding of the interaction between evolutionary and ecological processes, inform conservation management decisions, and create a theoretical framework for synthesizing coral bleaching data.
  • Baskett, M.L., Gaines, S.D., and Nisbet, R.M., 2009: Symbiont diversity may help coral reefs survive moderate climate change. Ecological Applications, 19, 3-17, doi:10.1890/08-0139.1. Abstract. Full Article. Edit.
  • Baskett, M.L., Nisbet, R.M., Kappel, C.V., Mumby, P.J., and Gaines, S.D., 2010: Conservation priorities for coral reefs in a changing climate. Global Change Biology, 16, 1229-1246, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02062.x. Abstract. Full Article. Edit.

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