Ancient Corals Hold New Hope for Reefs
February 28, 2010
Fossil corals, up to half a million years old, are providing fresh hope that coral reefs may be able to withstand the huge stresses imposed on them by today's human activity.
Reef ecosystems were able to persist through massive environmental changes imposed by sharply falling sea levels during previous ice ages, an international scientific team has found. This provides new hope for their capacity to endure the increasing human impacts forecast for the 21st century.
In the world's first study of what happened to coral reefs when ocean levels sank to their lowest recorded level - over 120 metres below today's levels - a study carried out on eight fossil reefs in Papua New Guinea's Huon Gulf region has concluded that a rich diversity of corals managed to survive, although they were different in composition to the corals under more benign conditions.
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