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The coral scientist buying time against climate change

September 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Emma Camp, Project area: Australia. Reef recovery: pioneering new hope for the world's fast-vanishing corals

Marine biologist Emma Camp studies the planet's most resilient corals, hoping they can one day be used to replenish reefs degraded by climate change.

One of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, coral reefs support a quarter of the world's marine life.

But scientists fear climate change could wipe out all of Earth's coral reefs by 2100.

While approximately half the world's coral has been lost, Camp believes we can still save what is left.

Camp's work involves searching the globe to find the world's toughest and most resilient corals -- the species with the best chance of surviving the climate crisis.

She has studied corals growing in mangrove lagoons across the world, including the Caribbean, Seychelles and Indonesia.

In 2019, for the first time, they documented similar mangrove corals in their own backyard . . .

On reefs, coral is dying as climate change makes ocean conditions similar, with warmer, more acidic water, and reduced oxygen levels -- but in mangrove lagoons, corals thrive.

Camp's aim is to identify the special qualities that allow mangrove corals to survive in a hostile environment.

Camp and her team collect coral samples from mangrove lagoons, bring them back to her lab in Sydney and conduct DNA analysis to learn more about their genetic make up and how they differ from reef corals.

In Australia, Camp swaps fragments of coral between the mangrove lagoons and the main body of the reef.

Mangrove corals are transplanted onto the reef to test which species can flourish there, she says, while reef corals are moved to the mangrove habitats to assess how they react to a more challenging environment.

Camp's aim is to work out if scientists will one day be able to use these resilient corals to replenish areas on the reef degraded by climate change.

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