Climate Change & Coral Reefs
Climate change impacts on coral reefs are severe, widespread and dynamic. We are looking to understand the highly variable response of reef corals to climate change and are intending to find Malaysia's super corals, in order to optimize coral restoration techniques to future environmental conditions.
It is evidently clear that coral reefs are at the forefront of climate change: 50% of coral reefs have been lost until today, and even the most pristine coral reefs have suffered from the impacts of climate change. The science is clear, we either reduce emissions, or stand to lose the remaining 70-90% of the world's coral reefs. There is no way around it, but we will also need rapid scientific insights and inventions to preserve coral reefs at local scale.
In 2019 and 2020, we recorded the first back-to-back coral bleaching events in Peninsular Malaysia, as our scientists documented the impacts of these events (link to the publication preprint below). What we observed was a highly variable response of coral species to the occurring marine heatwaves. Some corals did much better than expected, and even individuals of the same species, in the same reef, sitting side-by-side, showed markedly contrasting responses. In other words, one bleached, the other did not.
This means that mother nature already implemented mechanisms that induce thermal tolerance (and possibly even resilience) in coral species and individuals of the same species. Our research places us in the pole position in Malaysia to continue studying the factors that may lead to such thermal tolerance and adjustments. Ultimately, our goal is to find the so-called 'Super Corals' in Malaysian waters, and to utilize these for reef restoration.
This is our biggest scientific venture and represents the most pressing issue revolving around coral reefs today. Please consider supporting our work by making a contribution. For more information, contact us.
Preprint of the study: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.16.468775v2