Ocean warming is expected to impinge detrimentally on marine ecosystems worldwide up to impose extreme environmental conditions capable to potentially jeopardize the good ecological status of scleractinian coral reefs at shallow and bathyal depths.
This study integrated literature records with newly acquired remotely operated vehicle (ROV) data to provide an overview of the geographic distribution of the temperate coral Dendrophyllia cornigera spanning the eastern Atlantic Ocean to the whole Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, temperature values were extracted at each occurrence site to define the natural range of this coral, known to maintain its physiological processes at 16ºC.
The results of the study show a living temperature range for D. cornigera between 7ºC and 17ºC. The authors state that this range suggests that the natural thermal tolerance of this eurybathic coral may represent an advantage for its survival in a progressively warming ocean. In relation to this, the authors anticipate that D. cornigera could experiment an increase of its horizontal and vertical distribution range, perhaps even taking advantage in the long-term of a concomitant decline of more thermal-sensitive reef-forming calcareous organisms.
Castellan et al. (2019) The yellow coral Dendrophyllia cornigera in a Warming Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:692.