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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 406812, 13 pages
Research Article

Coral Bleaching Susceptibility Is Decreased following Short-Term (1–3 Year) Prior Temperature Exposure and Evolutionary History

1Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive-Unit 5869, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
2Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), 8124 Highway 56, Chauvin, LA 70344, USA

Received 16 March 2011; Accepted 4 June 2011

Academic Editor: Baruch Rinkevich

Copyright © 2011 Joshua A. Haslun et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Coral exposed to short periods of temperature stress (≥1.0°C above mean monthly maximum) and/or increased frequencies of high temperatures may bolster resilience to global warming associated with climate change. We compared Montastraea cavernosa (Linnaeus, 1767; Cnidaria, Scleractinia, Faviidae) from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). Thermal stress has been reported frequently within the FKNMS; however, corals in the FGBNMS experience nominal exposures to similar stressors. Corals were exposed to three temperatures (27°C, 31°C, and 35°C) for 72 h. Colonies from the FKNMS lost significantly fewer viable and necrotic zooxanthellae under conditions of acute stress (35°C) than the FGBNMS colonies. This indicates that the FKNMS corals are less temperature-sensitive than those in the FGBNMS. The observed differences point to greater prior temperature exposure and adaptation in the former versus the latter site when correlated to previous years of thermal exposure.