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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 361:307-310 (2008)  -  DOI:

Acclimatization in tropical reef corals

Peter J. Edmunds1,*, Ruth D. Gates2

1Department of Biology, California State University, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, California 91330-8303, USA
2University of Hawaii, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, PO Box 1346, Hawaii 96744, USA

ABSTRACT: Global climate change (GCC) is the most widespread environmental peril facing tropical coral reefs, yet the capacity of scleractinian corals to survive the challenge is not well understood. Acclimatization is a primary mechanism by which organisms match their physiology in a timely and beneficial way to a rapidly changing environment, and so it is not surprising that the question ‘can corals acclimatize to GCC effects?’ is a central theme in coral reef science today. Here, we argue that acclimatization in corals, as in all organisms, is axiomatic—i.e. evident without proof or argument—and that the emphasis on whether corals can acclimatize to GCC is distracting. The key to understanding how corals will respond to future environmental challenges lies in understanding the extent to which acclimatization is important. This is a subject that has received great attention in other systems, and we think that coral biologists can benefit from a deeper understanding of the classical physiological expression of acclimatization, and a broader appreciation of the experimental designs that are required for elucidating the complex relationships among physiology, physical conditions, and recent history. 

KEY WORDS: Coral · Scleractinia · Acclimatization · Climate change

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Cite this article as: Edmunds PJ, Gates RD (2008) Acclimatization in tropical reef corals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 361:307-310.

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