MELBOURNE, FLA.—Improving the quality of local water increases the resistance of coral reefs to global climate change, according to a study published in June in Marine Ecology Progress Series. Florida Institute of Technology coral reef ecologist Robert van Woesik and his student Dan Wagner led the study, which provides concrete evidence for a link between environmental health and the prospects for reefs in a rapidly changing world.
Van Woesik and his team showed that when waters in the Florida Keys warmed over the last few summers, corals living in cleaner water with fewer nutrients did well. On the other hand, corals in dirtier water became sick and bleached.
“Regulating wastewater discharge from the land will help coral reefs resist climate change,” said van Woesik. “In the face of climate change and ocean warming, this study gives managers hope that maintaining high water quality can spare corals.”