Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Ecosystems

Reef corals bleach to survive change

Abstract

The bleaching of coral reefs, in which symbiotic algae are lost from reef-building invertebrates, is usually considered to be a drastic and damaging response to adverse environmental conditions1,2. Here I report results from transplant experiments involving different combinations of coral host and algal symbiont that support an alternative view, in which bleaching offers a high-risk ecological opportunity for reef corals to rid themselves rapidly of suboptimal algae and to acquire new partners. This strategy could be an advantage to coral reefs that face increasingly frequent and severe episodes of mass bleaching as a result of projected climate change2,3.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Symbiont diversity and mortality responses to bleaching in transplanted corals.

References

  1. Brown, B. E. Coral Reefs 16, S129–S138 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Glynn, P. W. Coral Reefs 12, 1–17 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Hoegh-Guldberg, O. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 50, 839–866 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Rowan, R. & Powers, D. A. Science 251, 1348–1351 (1991).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Glynn, P. W. & Colgan, M. W. Am. Zool. 32, 707–718 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Rowan, R. & Knowlton, N. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 92, 2850–2853 (1995).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Rowan, R., Knowlton, N., Baker, A. & Jara, J. Nature 388, 265–269 (1997).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Baker, A. C. The Symbiosis Ecology of Reef-Building Corals. Thesis, Univ. Miami (1999).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Toller, W. W., Rowan, R. G. & Knowlton, N. Biol. Bull. Mar. Biol. Lab. Woods Hole (in the press).

  10. Buddemeier, R. W. & Fautin, D. G. Bioscience 43, 320–326 (1993).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Rowan, R. J. Phycol. 34, 407–417 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kinzie, R. A., Takayama, M., Santos, S. R. & Coffroth, M. A. Biol. Bull. Mar. Biol. Lab. Woods Hole 200, 51–58 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Buddemeier, R. W. & Smith, S. V. Am. Zool. 39, 1–9 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Wilkinson, C. et al. Ambio 28, 188–196 (1999).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Baker, A. Reef corals bleach to survive change. Nature 411, 765–766 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/35081151

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/35081151

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing