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Clownfish Suffer When Sea Anemones Bleach

Source: Phys.org/CNRS - October 11, 2017 in Environment, Featured

Clownfish Suffer When Sea Anemones Bleach
Photo: Joe Mabel /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Coral bleaching is a well-known consequence of climate change. What is less widely known is that sea anemones suffer the same fate, and this reduces the fertility of clownfish living in these anemones, as researchers from the CRIOBE, a laboratory jointly managed by the CNRS, the EPHE and Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, have just demonstrated in French Polynesia. Following a 14-month study, they are publishing their results in Nature Communications on Oct. 10, 2017.

Like corals,  live in symbiosis with microscopic algae, which gives them their color. Symbiotic  protect themselves from predators by sheltering among the anemones’ tentacles, and each month, lay eggs at their base. The anemones are also protected by the clownfish that they host.

Every other day, from October 2015 to December 2016, researchers and students visited 13 pairs of clownfish and their host anemones in the coral reefs of Moorea Island (French Polynesia). This monitoring was conducted before, during and after the 2016 El Niño event that triggered a  of the Pacific Ocean (+2°C on Moorea Island compared to the 2007-2015 average—a combined effect of ongoing global warming and the El Niño episode) and a worldwide  episode.

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