Marine biologists have studied coral reefs for decades, and there is growing interest in their ecological significance.
The new research shows how they differ from coral plants and other living organisms, and how their diversity impacts coral reefs.
It is a major concern that coral reefs are declining due to climate change.
A major threat to coral reefs is overfishing, with a loss of species, said Mark Lomax, a coral reef ecologist at the University of Hawaii.
The damage to coral is often far more dramatic than that caused by overfarming, he said.
The researchers have studied over 200 coral reefs around the world, and they have concluded that coral reef ecosystems are highly dynamic.
For example, a typical coral reef is home to hundreds of different species, with different functions, including photosynthesis, reproduction, nutrient cycling, water quality, and food availability.
The study shows that coral can respond to these changes by changing its structure and composition.
“The idea of changing the way a coral responds to environmental changes is not new,” said Lomak.
“But our work shows that corals are able to respond differently to climate changes.”
This research has implications for the future of coral reef conservation, he added.
“Our research suggests that coralline algae, which are found in coral reefs, can be adapted to respond to climate shifts, and can be used to help stabilize reefs in a warming world,” Lomac said.
“Coral reefs are among the most important biological systems in the world.
We need to continue to be vigilant in protecting them and keeping them healthy.”
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