Media Coverage

Climate change and the future of coral reefs

The impact of climate change on Earth's dwindling coral reefs will be brought to light at an upcoming lecture at Victoria University of Wellington.

Professor Simon Davy collecting samples of coral underwater
Professor Simon Davy collects samples of coral.

Professor Simon Davy from Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences is a world-leading researcher in the area of coral reef biology.

As part of his inaugural lecture next week to mark his professorial promotion, Professor Davy will describe the current plight of coral reefs.

“Coral reefs are in serious decline, with more than 20 percent of the world’s reefs so degraded that they can no longer support fisheries and tourism. This is, in large part, because of climate change.”

Professor Davy’s research focuses on the symbiosis between reef corals and the microalgae that live in their cells.

“This symbiosis is essential for the growth and survival of reef corals—yet we still know relatively little about it. It’s essential that we better understand this symbiosis so that we can more accurately predict how coral reefs may respond to climate change, and potentially facilitate their survival.

“Coral reefs have immense ecological and socio-economic benefits, being home to millions of species, and a source of food, income and coastal protection for numerous nations around the world, including New Zealand’s neighbours in the South Pacific.”

In his lecture, Professor Davy will describe the coral-algal symbiosis that underpins the ecological success of reefs, as well as the phenomenon of coral bleaching, where corals lose their symbiotic algae in response to rising sea temperatures.

He will also outline how some corals are more thermally resistant than others, and discuss whether corals might have the capacity to adapt to our changing climate.

For more information on Professor Davy’s research on corals and climate, see YouTube.

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2015 | Marine biologist nets senior scientist award, Victoria University, June

2015 | Crossbreeding could create stronger future for coral reefs, Victoria University, April

2015 | A grim future for coral reefs—why it matters for New Zealand, Victoria University, January

2014 | The Marsden Flag visits Hawaii, Victoria University, December