Crisis on coral reefs linked to climate change

Authors

  • Gerard M. Wellington,

    1. Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Tex.
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  • Peter W. Glynn,

  • Alan E. Strong,

  • Sergio A. Navarrete,

  • Evie Wieters,

  • Dennis Hubbard


Abstract

Since 1982, coral reefs worldwide have been subjected to an increased frequency of the phenomenon known as coral bleaching. Bleaching involves the dramatic loss of pigmented, single-celled endosymbiotic algae that live within the gastrodermal cells of a coral host that depends on this relationship for survival. Prior to the 1980s, and as early as the 1920s when coral reef research intensified, localized bleaching events were reported and attributed to factors such as extremely low tides, hurricane damage, torrential rainstorms, freshwater runoff near reefs, or toxic algal blooms [Glynn, 1993]. However, these early occurrences have recently been overshadowed by geographically larger and more frequent bleaching events whose impact has expanded to regional and global proportions.

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