The vulnerability and conservation value of sub-tropical reefs south of the Great Barrier Reef — regarded as climate change refuges — has been highlighted in a new study.
“We sought to investigate the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape coral biodiversity patterns at their southern range limits,” she said.
“We also examined the evolution of coral species’ traits to determine whether these characteristics were stable over time.”
Dr Sommer said it was important to conduct such studies to understand the stability of the species’ environmental tolerances and the ecological drivers of biodiversity patterns so scientists could more accurately predict species’ range shifts and ecological responses to climate change.
“For example, if characteristics such as environmental tolerances are stable over time and don’t change, then corals will likely only expand their ranges to areas where environmental conditions are similar to where corals currently occur,” Dr Sommer said.
“And corals will probably have less capacity to adapt to novel environmental conditions.”
Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170823090949.htm