‘Cryptic coral species’ respond differently to coral bleaching

Certain brightly colored coral species dotting the seafloor may appear indistinguishable to many divers and snorkelers, but Florida State University researchers have found that these genetically diverse marine invertebrates vary in their response to ocean warming, a finding that has implications for the long-term health of coral reefs.

The researchers used molecular genetics to differentiate among corals that look nearly identical and to understand which species best coped with thermal stress. Their research was published in the journal Ecology and was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.