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The spineless shall inherent the seas

By Leonard Ho - Posted Mar 25, 2013 09:00 AM
According to a new research published today by the University of Tokyo, soft corals may out-compete stony corals as the ocean grows increasingly acidific. Acidification can inhibit the calcification process of many sea organisms, including stony (scleractinian) corals.
The spineless shall inherent the seas

Stony corals currently dominate soft corals in phototrophic zones, but that may change in the next century. Photo by Ed Bierman.

The scientists wrote in Monday's edition of the journal Nature Climate Change: "Reef communities may shift from reef-building hard corals to non-reef-building soft corals under (carbon dioxide levels) predicted by the end of this century. When combined with their ability for rapid colonisation, soft corals may out compete hard corals in coral reef environments subject to ocean acidification." [via Reuters]

What's the big deal?  Corals are corals, right?  No.  Stony corals are responsible for the bulk of reef-building (think: live rock), so coral reefs favoring soft corals will gradually erode and decline.

Although some stony corals can cope with ocean acidification by switching from carbonate to bicarbonate ions (a natural buffering mechanism), countless studies have proven the negative effects of acidification on corals - from reducing calcification to changing the behavior of coral larvae to even altering their genes!

And regarding the title: I realize that all corals are spineless, so please no angry comments.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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