Balanced Diet Aids in Bleaching Recovery

by | Nov 19, 2015 | Conservation, Corals, Reef, Sustainability | 0 comments

The University of Miami Rosenstiel School research team published a recent study showing the importance of a balanced diet while corals are recovering from thermal stress. The UM Rosenstiel School research team published a study back in 2015 that highlighted the critically endangered Staghorn coral and how it benefits from supplemental nutrition to withstand thermal stress, the first and only study to study a three-way interaction between the two types of nutrient enrichment and thermal stress on coral health. This study has expanded on those findings and provides more data for thermal stress models. “We found that the coral’s resilience to thermal stress totally depends on the kind of inorganic enrichment – if it’s ‘balanced’ or not,” said Erica Towle, an alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School. Researchers tested two nutrient rich and thermally induced scenarios with Turbinaria reniformis, a calcium-based coral. 151001153933_1_900x600Collected from the Red Sea, specimens were placed into separate tanks and were subjected to either a nitrogen rich environment, or a nitrogen and phosphorus based environment, both of which are common scenarios for reefs with close proximity to industrial and residential runoff. While a nitrogen rich environment coupled with zooplankton feeding made heat-related bleaching events worse, an environment right in nitrogen while in combination with extra phosphorus and zooplankton provided the coral with nutrient-based resilience to bleaching. “Excess nutrients from land sources and thermal stress will likely occur in concert in the future so it’s important to assess them together. Incorporating nutrient levels in thermal bleaching models will likely be very important for coral reef managers in the future as ocean waters warm.” concludes Erica Towle, an alumna of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School.


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