Scientists have developed a stress test for corals: it will help save the oceans

The death of corals affects the oceans around the world. This is a consequence of climate change. The problem is that corals cannot keep up with the pace of ocean warming. In particular, because a temperature increase of just one degree Celsius can make healthy coral reefs – dying. Some corals, however, are more resistant to temperature increase. To effectively protect their habitats, determine which coral and reef sites are more resilient to climate change and therefore are more likely to survive. A group of scientists has developed a special test system, reports the journal Global Change Biology.

In order to identify and protect “hardy” coral reefs, a research team led by Konstanz Universität biologist Professor Christian Wolstra has developed an express stress test to evaluate the coral’s heat resistance.

The CBASS Automated Stress Bleaching System (CBASS) allows us to evaluate the thermal stability of corals on-site and for one day. This is much faster than modern experimental procedures, which usually take from several weeks to months in the laboratory.

The test system has high mobility, it can be deployed on boats, and is easy to use. Corals are placed in test boxes in the place where they were collected, and then they are subjected to thermal exposure at various temperatures. Researchers can then record the results and compare how different corals react to the same set of temperature effects.

The advantage of this test method is its standardization: by comparing the results of one experiment with data collected from many corals around the world, you can get an accurate assessment of the thermal tolerance of the studied corals.

The basic principle is a stress test of an electrocardiogram. By measuring the ability of the heart to respond to external stresses in a controlled environment and comparing the results with the results of millions of other people, you can make detailed predictions of the health status of an individual patient without the need for detailed analyzes. This is how stress tests for corals work.

Christian Volstra, professor at Konstanz Universität

Because this test system is very affordable, it can support the creation of a global state map of coral reefs.

Getting a global overview of coral reef resistance can be an important basis for deciding whether to save coral reefs. Unfortunately, scientists cannot save all corals, so they want to focus on corals and ecosystems with the highest probability of survival amid climate change. This will help save the oceans.