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Coral reefs are a fundamental part of the world's ecosystem; however, they are hidden in the ocean's depths, which makes it difficult to see how they are affected by climate change. When under certain pressures, such as warmer temperatures, coral undergoes a process called bleaching. This causes coral to expel their algae, resulting in the loss of their energy source and vibrant colors. As climate change continues to intensify, the frequency and severity of coral bleaching events threaten the recovery and adaptation of coral species. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system off the east coast of Australia, has undergone aerial surveys and underwater assessments to measure the corals' levels of heat stress and bleaching thresholds. Ultimately, the data reveals that increased heat stress leads to greater coral mortality. Similar to most species, some corals are more adaptive, while others are more vulnerable. Therefore, it is critical to understand the composition of each coral species and how they differ around regions of the world to determine what proactive measures should be taken to preserve the ocean's ecosystems.

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2021




Coral; Reefs; Bleaching; Australia; Great Barrier Reef

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577 KB


Faculty Mentor: Kimberly Nehls, Ph.D.


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Coral Bleaching