A team of researchers, headed by Polish scientist Jaroslaw Stolarski from the Institute of Paleobiology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, published a breakthrough study October 5 on the effects of climate change on corals in the esteemed international “Science” magazine.
Stolarski’s team includes two other members from Polish institutions, Radoslaw Przenioslo at the Institute of Experimental Physics in Warsaw and Maciej Mazur from the University of Warsaw Chemistry Department, who with Anders Meibom at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris are all credited with the work titled “A Cretaceous Scleractinian Coral with a Calcitic Skeleton.”Their research found that a special group of corals has the ability to adapt to unfavorable environmental conditions.
The scientists have shown that a well-preserved fossil coral, Coelosmilia, which is about 70 mln years old, has retained skeletal structural features identical to those observed in present-day scleractinians.
Its skeleton is entirely calcitic.Until this study it had been generally thought that modern hard corals (scleractinians) form reefs from thousands of tiny skeletons made out of a calcium carbonate, called aragonite.Significantly, this result implies that corals as calcium carbonate-producing organisms can form skeletons of different carbonate polymorphs.
Essentially this means that in a radically different environment such as one brought on by global warming, they can adapt to the new conditions by changing their structure.The capacity for adaptation and survival for this species of coral through dramatic climatic change is not necessarily a herald to relax about the effects of climate change on the vast range of remaining species. On the contrary, although some species may ride the wave of change, Stolarski stressed that the research reinforced the need to maintain biodiversity for the majority of species to survive.