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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Coral settlement plates that are used to systematically enumerate the number of baby corals arriving on a reef in Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo: Nichole Price

Price NN, Muko S, Legendre L, Steneck R, van Oppen MJH, Albright R, Ang P Jr, Carpenter RC, Chui APY, Fan TY, Gates RD, Harii S, Kitano H, Kurihara H, Mitarai S, Padilla-Gamiño JL, Sakai K, Suzuki G, Edmunds PJ


Global biogeography of coral recruitment: tropical decline and subtropical increase


Coral reefs are retreating from increasingly warmer waters at the equator and establishing new reefs in more temperate regions, according to new research. Price and her coauthors found that the number of young corals on tropical reefs has declined by 85% – and doubled on subtropical reefs – during the last four decades. The researchers examined latitudes up to 35°, and found that the expansion of coral reefs is perfectly mirrored north and south of the equator. The paper assesses where and when “refugee corals” will likely arrive in the future – in some places, bringing new resources and opportunities such as fishing and tourism and offering hope for reef ecosystems.


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