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zooxanthellae Definitions

noun

zooxanthella

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  • coral bleaching has become a major threat to coral reef ecosystems worldwide [1]. bleaching occurs when stress to the coral-algal symbiosis causes corals to expel their endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) and, if prolonged or particularly severe, may result in partial or complete coral mortality [2]. while many sources of stress have caused corals to bleach, “mass” coral bleaching (at scales of 100 km or more) has only occurred when anomalously warm ocean temperatures, typically coupled with high subsurface light levels, exceeded corals' physiological tolerances. this was observed during recent major el niño-southern oscillation events (e.g., 1982–83 [3], 1997–98 [4], and 2002 [5]) and verified by laboratory experiments [6], [7]. these bleaching events caused coral death at numerous sites around the world, with impacts on reef habitats, structures, and biodiversity that lasted a decade or more [8], [9]. nih.gov