Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Reasearch on Coral Deaths

A new mathematical tool has been created to help biologist determine how disease and bleaching can kill corals. The researches from Cornell University are now using this model to better understand the causes of coral disease and bleaching. It has been proven that warmer waters are the cause of the bleaching and disease in areas such as the Caribbean. Mucus layers on the surface of the coral protect it from disease by preventing bacteria from invading the coral. Under warmer waters the corals become stressed and that protective technique declines which allows invasion of the bacteria. The new models were used to stimulate the bacterial community within the surface of the coral mucus under normal water conditions and warmer water conditions. The researchers have also found out that once the bacteria establishes in the coral they continue to destroy the coral even if the water cools down. At that point the corals are to damaged to recovery too. Reducing poor water quality was one idea the researchers suggested to allow coral to be less invaded by pathogens.

Reading the full article will give more information on the new model and how the researchers at Cornell University are continuing their research.

  • Coral Deaths
  • Picture: Partially bleached coral at Looe Key Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Credit to Eric Bartels


  1. If they are using Causal Mapping (CMAP) to do the simulations, that is basically what I'm working on right now with Dr. Cao. It's really useful for predicting what will happen in an ecosystem when something changes.
    As to how to help the reefs recover, hopefully we can come up with a way. It would be a shame to lose even more of them.

  2. Very cool, most of this was in my presentation and it is good to see that they are diligently working on better understanding these events. Hopefully we can still save the corals. It would be very cool if the CMAP mode that Pat is working on is the same model they are using in this study.