The University of Hawaii has led a study on how different types of algae living within coral affect their growth and ability to withstand warmer water. They found that corals with algae that can tolerate warmer water may grow more slowly, which can impact their survival and competition for space on the reef. The researchers measured the growth of corals with heat-tolerant or heat-sensitive algae over a two-month period, and found that corals with heat-sensitive algae grew faster in cooler water. However, as ocean temperatures continue to rise, corals with heat-tolerant algae may have an advantage. The study shows that the type of algae corals associate with can affect their competitive advantage, especially in the face of ocean warming. The researchers hope that understanding how symbionts and environmental factors affect coral growth will help predict the future of reefs and inform conservation efforts.
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