Acidic oceans endangering baby corals

April 19th, 2012 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 19 (IANS) Acidic oceans are dramatically altering the ability of baby corals to sense their surroundings, says a study.

A team from the School of Biological Sciences and Global Change Institute of The University of Queensland found that oceans’ acidic conditions are threatening baby corals’ ability to survive.

Christopher Doropoulos from Queensland, who led the study, said acidification caused the coral to settle in less suitable places, threatening their ability to survive, the journal Ecology Letters reported.

“Baby corals are initially found as swimming larvae before they choose their place to attach to the reef and settle for life, a critical step to their survival and the maintenance of coral reefs,” he said, according to a university statement.

“The coral larvae normally have this amazing ability to settle on one particular type of rock-like seaweed called Titanoderma. This stony seaweed is a safe haven for young corals, yet we found that, as levels of ocean acidification increased, the coral larvae avoided this seaweed and started to settle absolutely anywhere,” said Doropoulos.

Working at a remote island on the Great Barrier Reef, the team made the discovery of the disrupted ancient relationship between coral larvae and their favourite nursery habitat.

Doropolous said human development had increased the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing the oceans to become more acidic.

“Ocean acidification also changed the types of seaweeds available to the corals and had a damaging effect on their preferred species of Titanoderma,” added Doropoulos.

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