Resistance to Coral Bleaching
This activity analyzes a published scientific figure from a study that tested whether corals can become more resistant to bleaching.
In this study, coral colonies of the species Acropora hyacinthus were moved from their original environments to either a moderately variable heat pool (MV, in blue) or a highly variable heat pool (HV, in red). After the corals spent a period of time in their new environments, they were exposed to heat stress. The figure shows each coral colony’s degree of resistance to bleaching, which is measured as the fraction of chlorophyll that remained in the corals after heat stress, compared to non-heat stressed controls.
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Explain how climate change may affect reefs through coral bleaching, and how corals may cope with temperature changes.
acclimation, algae, bar graph, chlorophyll, error bar, global warming, heat stress, marine biology, oceanography, reef
Palumbi, Stephen R., Daniel J. Barshis, Nikki Traylor-Knowles, Rachael A. Bay. “Mechanisms of Reef Coral Resistance to Future Climate Change.” Science 344, 6186 (2014): 895–898. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1251336.
To access this article, set up a free AAAS account. An annotated version of the article is also available from Science in the Classroom.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-7, HS-ESS3-4; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
SYI-1.G, SYI-2.B, ENE-4.B; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 1.3, 8.2, 9.6, 2.6
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-1.C, STB-3.B, ERT-2.H, SP5, SP7
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP2, DP3