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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 Jul 30;72(2):323-32. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Thermal tolerances of reef corals in the Gulf: a review of the potential for increasing coral survival and adaptation to climate change through assisted translocation.

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Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St. Honolulu, HI 96817, USA.


Corals in the Gulf withstand summer temperatures up to 10 °C higher than corals elsewhere and have recovered from extreme temperature events in 10 years or less. This heat-tolerance of Gulf corals has positive implications for the world's coral populations to adapt to increasing water temperatures. However, survival of Gulf corals has been severely tested by 35-37 °C temperatures five times in the last 15 years, each time causing extensive coral bleaching and mortality. Anticipated future temperature increases may therefore challenge survival of already highly stressed Gulf corals. Previously proposed translocation of Gulf corals to introduce temperature-adapted corals outside of the Gulf is assessed and determined to be problematical, and to be considered a tool of last resort. Coral culture and transplantation within the Gulf is feasible for helping maintain coral species populations and preserving genomes and adaptive capacities of Gulf corals that are endangered by future thermal stress events.


Acclimatization/adaptation; Coral bleaching; Coral mortality; Coral translocation; Gulf thermal history; Temperature stress thresholds

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