SPCMSC researcher to participate in 2nd National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-RCN) workshop on coral bleaching

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Ilsa Kuffner, and 27 other experts in coral reef science, will participate in the National Science Foundation’s 2nd Research Coordination Network on Coral Bleaching. The workshop, originally planned for Bremen, Germany, will now be held virtually from 6/30 to 7/3/2020.

Image: Brain Coral Bleaching

No, that is not a mound of snow sitting on a coral reef – it is a colony of bleached "brain coral" on a reef off of Islamorada, Florida. Hard and soft corals are presently bleaching- losing their symbiotic algae – all over the coral reefs of the Florida Keys due to unusually warm ocean temperatures this summer. Months with waters warmer than 85 F have become more frequent in the last several decades compared to a century ago, stressing and in some cases killing corals when temperatures remain high for too long. (Credit: Kelsey Roberts, USGS. Public domain.)

Coral reefs are in crisis resulting from warmer oceans, diseases, and other disturbances. Coral bleaching–the loss of symbiont partners that feed the coral–is caused by elevated surface seawater temperature stress, but fundamental research on the variability in the stress response among different species and genetic lines continues to reveal complexities in the system that offer hope that some corals may adapt to warmer seawater temperatures. The purpose of this second workshop is to discuss and deliver guidance to the scientific community on the collection, preservation, and archiving of samples resulting from coral-bleaching experiments. Better coordination, communication, and collaboration among laboratories conducting coral-bleaching work can enhance our ability to leverage each other’s work and get the most of our results to help solve pressing issues related to global-climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems. A publication from the first workshop in May 2019 is presently in review.

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