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Coral and ocean acidification

Are They What They Eat?

A three-week-old coral polyp (left), and its delicate skeleton (right) help MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Liz Drenkard study the way corals respond to increasing ocean acidification, which can impede their ability to build their calcium carbonate skeletons. Drenkard recently reported that, under both normal and high carbon dioxide levels, baby corals that she fed well built larger skeletons and thus calcified more rapidly than unfed corals, which obtained nutrition primarily from their photosynthesizing symbiotic algae. Drenkard's results suggest that corals living where there is ample food may withstand the effects ocean acidification better than corals living where food is scarce. (Photo by Liz Drenkard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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