Public Release: 

Florida Tech study finds climate refuges where corals survive, grow

Amid warming oceans and unprecedented coral declines, a positive discovery

Florida Institute of Technology

MELBOURNE, FLA. -- Reef-building corals, already thought to be living near their upper thermal limits, are experiencing unprecedented declines as the world's oceans continue to warm. New evidence from scientists at Florida Institute of Technology shows there may be some climate refuges where corals will survive in the future.

The study appears in the March issue of Global Change Biology.

Ph.D. student Chris Cacciapaglia and his advisor, Robert van Woesik, hypothesized that not all regions of the oceans are warming at the same rate.

"The idea was to identify regions that will experience little temperature change by the year 2100 --refuges where coral survival is most likely," Cacciapaglia said.

Although their models show significant loss of corals as the oceans warm, they also highlight 12 areas - five in the Indian Ocean and seven in the Pacific - where corals are likely to survive at least until 2100.

"These refuges should be essential for coral survival into the future, and these locations deserve protection," said van Woesik.

Van Woesik emphasized that local marine protected areas are not the only viable management option. The new study points to global sanctuaries as a more comprehensive management strategy.

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Learn more about the study at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12851/abstract.

About Florida Institute of Technology

Founded at the dawn of the Space Race in 1958, Florida Tech is the only independent, technological university in the Southeast. PayScale.com ranks graduates' mid-career median salaries in first place among Florida's universities, and lists Florida Tech among the top 20 universities in the South--both public and private. Featured among the top 200 universities in the world according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the university has been named a Barron's Guide "Best Buy" in College Education, designated a Tier One Best National University in U.S. News & World Report, and is one of just nine schools in Florida lauded by the Fiske Guide to Colleges. The university offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs. Fields of study include science, engineering, aeronautics, business, humanities, mathematics, psychology, communication and education. Additional information is available online at http://www.fit.edu.

About Global Change Biology

Global Change Biology exists to promote understanding of the interface between all aspects of current environmental change that affects a substantial part of the globe and biological systems. The journal publishes primary research articles, technical advances, research reviews, commentaries and letters. Global Change Biology defines global change as any consistent trend in the environment - past, present or projected - that affects a substantial part of the globe.

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