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Corals use epigenetic tricks to adapt to warmer and “more acidic” water

Coral Reef Photo.

After half a billion million years of climate change, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that life on Earth (and specifically corals) have so many ways to cope with the climate changing. After all, it’s natural (if you are trained by Greenpeace) to assume that corals can only survive in a world with one constant stable temperature just like they never had.

One more tool in the coral-reef-workshop

Corals don’t just have a tool-box, they have a Home Depot Warehouse. h/t to GWPF

We already knew corals chuck out the symbionts that don’t work so well and pick up better partners. Plus, evolution  left a stack of genes lying around that were honed  in a world that was warmer, and natural selection has a way of amplifying better combinations as conditions shift. Then there is the way corals can be reseeded from safe sites, far away. Now we find out that corals can use epigenetics too.

Epigenetics is that kind of spooky effect where people can inherit the exact same DNA code yet it works or doesn’t work depending on whether it was Dad’s copy, or Mum’s, or whether parents were starved, fearful or stressed. It’s weird, see more on that below.

It’s an extra layer of information above and beyond the DNA code which is strictly just A, C, G’s and T’s in a four letter alphabet. Each section of DNA can also be compressed, zipped, or tagged with a methyl group so it is “archived” but not readily available. For example, we’ve got a copy of every gene in every cell, but obviously a liver cell has a bunch of genes that are “switched on” that are different to the suite of ones turned on in, say, skin cells. So it is with corals. During a heat wave, they switch on some inactive genes, and when hit with another heatwave soon after, they cope much better in the second round. People wondered if corals could do the epigenetic tricks which animals and plants do, and surprise, evidently, they can. We still haven’t confirmed whether those changes are inherited (which is pretty important, since the definition of “epigenetics” has itself evolved to mean “heritable”, at least in the rest of the animal kingdom). Since baby corals can evidently learn from lessons that happened to mummy corals I presume that epigenetics in corals is inherited and finding evidence of that is just a matter of time.

Anyhow, bowl me over, after millions of years of evolution in a turbulent ocean where temperatures and pH can vary by degrees in a single day and in every season, corals can cope with a smaller change, spread over a century.

Coral tricks for adapting to ocean acidification

They [Liew et al] placed colonies of the smooth cauliflower coral, Stylophora pistillata, in seawater aquariums with varying acidity levels for two years. Ocean acidification is a consequence of climate change and hinders the ability of corals to produce the calcium carbonate skeleton they need to maintain their structures. The researchers hypothesized that DNA methylation might allow corals to mitigate these effects by changing the way they grow.

After two years, the team sequenced the genomes of the corals and determined changes in methylation patterns.

“We noticed that corals grown under more acidic conditions had higher levels of DNA methylation,” says geneticist Yi Jin Liew. “Genes with increased methylation were related to cell growth and stress response, but not to calcification as we initially proposed,” he says.

The team next plans to investigate whether these epigenetic changes can be passed down to future generations. “The idea is fairly revolutionary,” says Liew.

As many as 74 genes are activated or archived under hot conditions

Hidden in an old BBC story about a researcher who thinks corals that survived catastrophic asteroids now need to be micromanaged by homo sapiens (the hubris!) is this this tidbit about some of the mechanisms, and also a clue about how broad the genetic tool-kit is:

In the Samoan corals, for example, out of 16,728 genes investigated, the activity of 74 changed significantly when placed in elevated temperatures. Although many have unknown functions, some produce so-called heat shock proteins that stabilise vital chemical processes, binding to other proteins that have been misshapen by stress and bending them back into working order. “They’re like protein chiropractors,” says Palumbi.

Heat-shock proteins are good for us too. They are handy weapons I’ll be talking about more soon. They may help us live longer.

If the activity of 74 genes is changed under heat, that is a pretty complex response. That raises the question: if epigenetics controls the genes, what controls the epigenetics? How does a cell know to activate or archive the right 74 genes?

Here’s an interesting video if you want to know more about epigenetics:

 

The Spooky effects of Epigenetics, thanks to Wikipedia

There are some seriously weird things going on.

Hungry boys are more likely to go on to have grandchildren with less heart disease?

In the Överkalix study, paternal (but not maternal) grandsons of Swedish men who were exposed during preadolescence to famine in the 19th century were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. If food was plentiful, then diabetes mortality in the grandchildren increased, suggesting that this was a transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.The opposite effect was observed for females—the paternal (but not maternal) granddaughters of women who experienced famine while in the womb (and therefore while their eggs were being formed) lived shorter lives on average.

 Freaky weird — can a phobia be inherited?

Fear conditioning

Studies on mice have shown that certain conditional fears can be inherited from either parent. In one example, mice were conditioned to fear a strong scent, acetophenone, by accompanying the smell with an electric shock. Consequently, the mice learned to fear the scent of acetophenone alone. It was discovered that this fear could be passed down to the mice offspring. Despite the offspring never experiencing the electric shock themselves the mice still display a fear of the acetophenone scent, because they inherited the fear epigenetically by site-specific DNA methylation. These epigenetic changes lasted up to two generations without reintroducing the shock.[143]

 Even twins can drift in epigenetics – archiving different genes as they age:

In this case, only healthy twin pairs were studied, but a wide range of ages was represented, between 3 and 74 years. One of the major conclusions from this study was that there is an age-dependent accumulation of epigenetic differences between the two siblings of twin pairs. This accumulation suggests the existence of epigenetic “drift”. Epigenetic drift is the term given to epigenetic modifications as they occur as a direct function with age.

REFERENCES

Liew, Y.J. Zoccola, D., Li, Y., Tambutté, E., Venn, A.A., Michell, C.T. Cui, G., Deutekom, E.S., Kaandorp, J.A., Voolstra, C.R., Forêt, S., Allemand, D., Tambutté, S. & Aranda, M. Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral. Science Advances 4, eaar8028 (2018).| http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar8028  Press release.

 Image: Wikimedia, author Wise Hok Wai Lum: Flynn Reef 2014.

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75 comments to Corals use epigenetic tricks to adapt to warmer and “more acidic” water

  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    Some of us just knew that corals were smarter than Al Gore and Bill Nye — now we have some proof.

    Thanks much for the summary.

    240

    • #
      PeterS

      A rock is smarter than those two.

      190

      • #
        King Geo

        As a long serving geo I would say that corals are “A LOT SMARTER!!!!” than the likes of Al Gore and Bill Nye.

        And also corals it seems are a lot smarter than our Federal Govt who during recent time have gifted JCU A$billions of our hard earned tax dollars to study the GBR because they fear that the corals are not very smart, ie unable to adapt to perceived AGW proposed by the IPCC – of course “our not so smart” Federal Pollies have not taken the time to consult the “smarter” #NIPCC. Think of all that money that could have been saved.

        # Nongovernment International Panel on Climate Change.

        110

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      C’mon now John, no one is smarter than Bill Nye. Just ask him and he’ll tell you so himself. He’s going on with saving the world whether we recognize his great talent and knowledge or not. Watch him on Netflix if you don’t believe me.

      About Gore — we already know he flopped or Bill Nye wouldn’t have needed to take over. Gore’s problem was the same as Nye’s will be in a few short years of course, so someone else will come along and start saving the world all over again. You can only cry wolf for so long without producing a wolf before your audience catches on. Then you need a new pitchman.

      Round and round it goes; and where it stops, nobody knows.

      It probably never stops. Nothing sticks around longer than a bad idea.

      Were I better poet I could maybe make all that rhyme but it wouldn’t matter.

      10

  • #
    Simon

    That still doesn’t make it acceptable to willfully change their environment. Not every coral will adapt and many can’t change quick enough. The Great Barrier reef is under multiple threats; acidification, warming water, sedimentation, and chemical run-off. It is in nobody’s interest to destroy it.

    229

    • #
      MudCrab

      Nobody’s?

      Well if that thing would finally get it’s act together and formally die, then all the money spent ‘Saving the Reef’ could be spent on ensuring funding for the ABC, an issue that many of the best in brightest in Australia agree is a very and important pressing issue.

      So what do you want? Some fish you will never visit in person? Or the ABC?

      /snark

      Snark aside, you raise the claim that ‘not every coral will adapt’.

      Well, to be brutal and pragmatic, so? Massive amounts of green tears are shed on how we can keep various species alive, while only rarely asking the supporting question about if these various species actually deserved to be supported in what very much may be an evolutionary dead end. If a coral can’t change quick enough than is this really a coral we want to waste time and effort keeping alive, possibly at the expense of ‘smarter’ more suitable coral? Are you really the moral authority that decides which coral has the right to survive and adapt? What else you going to argue? That back millions of years ago not all fish could adapt to live on land? Ergo we should lower the oxygen levels in the atmosphere and push those poor struggling ‘air breathers’ back into the water where they belong?

      (also Pandas. They have evolved to only eat low energy foods and have the sex drive of a corpse. Do these animals even want to thrive? Face it, if they weren’t covered in cute fur the environmental movement would have set fire to the entire remaining population and moved on with their lives.)

      As for all your ‘multiple threats’ you are wilfully attempting to guilt trip me over? No. This is a science blog, not JCU.

      252

      • #
        sophocles

        Corals aren’t silly. When sea levels fall (longer term) they head for what was deeper water and as sealevels rise they return. The ones’ exposed bleach and die off but all their offspring are still building the reef lower down at the depth they like best.

        It’s modern research students who are silly. Their idea of Literature Searches are risible.

        121

      • #
        Kinky Keith

        This is a Science Blog, not JCU.
        :-)

        41

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘…warming water’

      Coral bleaching is triggered by sea level fall during strong El Nino, not warming water caused by AGW.

      93

    • #
      el gordo

      The nitrogen runoff from sugar cane farms maybe upsetting the balance because it supposedly attracts larger numbers of Crown of Thorns.

      The sugar industry is momentarily on its knees and there is the possibility of replacing it with acceptable agriculture.

      20

    • #
      el gordo

      On the question of acidification on the GBR, this from the CSIRO in 2016.

      ‘So far the project has shown that:

      ‘Ocean chemistry across the Great Barrier Reef remains positive for the growth of coral, providing an environment in which it can recover from events such as bleaching and cyclones.

      ‘Ocean chemistry, and therefore the conditions for coral growth, differs greatly between seasons with the best growing conditions due to ocean chemistry in the summer.

      ‘Inflow from the Coral Sea is a much stronger influence on the chemistry of Reef waters than outflow from coastal rivers.’

      90

    • #
      Phoenix44

      Of course it does – I would happily sacrifice a portion of the Reef to save say 1 million children a year from malaria.

      Everything is a trade-off. Everything. Those who argue we can do stuff for free are liars, no matter what side of an argument they are on.

      100

    • #
      el gordo

      And you are right about the increase in sediment, the Burdekin River is a good example, since Europeans arrived in 1870 looking for gold.

      ‘We find that, in the early part of the record, suspended sediment from river floods reached the inner reef area only occasionally, whereas after about 1870—following the beginning of European settlement—a five- to tenfold increase in the delivery of sediments is recorded with the highest fluxes occurring during the drought-breaking floods.’

      McCulloch et al 2003

      10

    • #
      el gordo

      As we all know, correlation doesn’t prove causation, but something happened in 1870 of particular interest, the ‘freshening’.

      http://science.sciencemag.org/content/295/5559/1511

      00

      • #
        el gordo

        The key points of the abstract:

        ‘….temperature and salinity were higher in the 18th century than in the 20th century. An abrupt freshening after 1870 occurred simultaneously throughout the southwestern Pacific, coinciding with cooling tropical temperatures.’

        20

    • #
      Kinky Keith

      If only you knew what you were talking about.

      Many years ago I think that I was the first to introduce the connection between the Global Warming story and the Hans Christian Andersen fable of the Emporers New Clothes.

      Maybe you should check back with some of the people who told you the CAGW story.

      KK

      62

      • #
        Yonniestone

        Unfortunately Simon has inherited the epigenetics of a Paramecium that neglects the use of its Cilia.

        Thus hungry and rudderless in a sea of opportunity.

        51

        • #
          Kinky Keith

          Y

          You should write books; that sounded great.

          20

        • #
          Kinky Keith

          Maybe his thinking (Simon) is “epi”.

          Episodic.

          Epigramatic.

          Epidural.

          Epic.

          Epicurean.

          I’m sure they would know at the University of Skeptical Cook Science, his obvious Alma Mater.

          KK

          20

    • #
      Hivemind

      “…Great Barrier reef is under multiple threats…”

      Not least of them well-meaning self-serving ‘researchers’ interfering with everything. Ripping up parts of the reef and putting them in plastic tubs so they can torture them with extremely unrealistic environmental changes, to name just one.

      20

  • #
    Elgorza Phool

    Clearly corals are more than aesthetic,
    Showing JCU to be wholly pathetic,
    There’s no ruination,
    Just adaptation,
    Seems the GBR is epigenetic.

    30

  • #
    Greg in NZ

    My sincerest apologies for linking to the dubious site below –

    http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/forecasts/thredbo.shtml

    but it’s been almost a year (the previous ‘Blizzard of Oz’ way back in 2017) that I’ve seen six (6) days-in-a-row snow forecast for NSW and Victorian ski fields: from today, Tuesday, non-stop all the way through till Sunday, climaxing with the arrival of very cold Antarctic air by the weekend. At first I naturally believed it was my – and your – fault for this climactic change in fortune for the Australian ski industry, then I realised it just had to be those 97% dead-head Queensland corals using their ancient epigenetic survival ‘tricks’ to confuse everyone into thinking it was cold when – as we all know because – it’s the hottest year EVAH™.

    Besides, didn’t Obama have one of these ‘moments’ where (reading from his pre-prepared script) he said this is where it began to stop? Or the tide had turned? Or something…

    Rightio, if I can find the sarc/ switch I’ll turn it off… now.

    102

    • #
      sophocles

      </sarc>
      … there y’are …

      50

    • #
      Kinky Keith

      Hi Greg,

      I’m in Wellington for a few days, but still not sure of the pronunciation. Two nights ago I watched the news on TV for the first time in a couple of years and it needed all my attention to follow.

      KK

      00

  • #
    Mark M

    It seems corals are not the only ones deploying epigenetic tricks to survive carbon (sic) acidified & boiled sea water …

    America’s happiest seaside town: Ocean City, N.J.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2018/06/11/americas-happiest-seaside-town-ocean-city-nj/691495002/

    Perhaps they are not aware of 97% consensus doomsday global warming sea level rise in Ocean City, N.J., either.

    30

  • #
  • #

    So a mere twelve thousand years back there was a big freeze like none of us have experienced and a mere eight thousand years back there was a big swelter like none of us have experienced…and these snowflake corals today need their safe space? (I mention cold because cold water holds a lot of CO2. Do the Fanta test.)

    As for corals getting clobbered by tropical storms, no need to compare Yasi 2011 to the big blows of 1899 (possibly 880 hPa!) or 1918. This from an article a few years back in the American Geophysical Union:

    “The importance of extending records to century time scales is highlighted for northeast Australia, where a virtual absence of category 5 cyclones during the 20th century stands in contrast to an active period of severe cyclogenesis during the previous century. Several land crossing storms during the 19th century achieved central pressures lower than that ever recorded historically and close to the theoretical thermodynamic limit of storms for the region.”

    Who knows how accurate that is…but it has to make you think.

    50

    • #

      Historical context, whether
      human-history or see-saw weather-
      history, so inconvenient,the long
      view when you wish to keep the populace
      alarmed and malleable to diktat,
      be it political or climatic.
      Recall, ‘we have to dispose of the
      Medieval Warming Period,’ or likewise,
      benefits of the West’s Industrial
      Revolution positive stats, 1900,
      famine decreasing, life expectancy
      increasing,- short view better, like
      ‘four legs’ slogan,…nothing to
      compare to, myth replacing data.

      30

  • #
    sophocles

    grandsons of Swedish men who were exposed during preadolescence to famine in the 19th century were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. If food was plentiful, then diabetes mortality in the grandchildren increased, suggesting that this was a transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.

    Low consumption of carbohydrates (from grass grains,—oats, wheat, barley, rye etc which don’t do so well in droughts) by the parents would be the cause of that, whereas the children would have consumed much more to develop insulin resistance (cause of Diabetes 2).

    50

    • #
      Latus Dextro

      Epigenetic processes alter the expression of a gene without producing changes in the DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one of these epigenetic modifications, which regulates genome function through processes that add or remove a methyl group to a specific site in DNA, potentially affecting gene transcription.

      Trauma’s epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors
      The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders. However, according to researchers, there are very few opportunities to examine biologic alterations in the context of a watershed trauma in exposed people and their adult children born after the event.

      I understand a study is underway on the children of women pregnant in their first trimester and within the immediate sphere of catastrophe of the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre to explore the affect of the acute maternal stress on the response of in utero foetal epigenetics and phenotypically expressed later in the child.

      Epigenetics is an extraordinarily marvellous gift conferring a characteristic of almost immediate adaptive resilience on an organism. It makes biological sense and conveys resilience in the presence of the unexpected catastrophe. When I initially learned about Mendelian inheritance at a young age, doubtless like many I instinctively questioned the obvious inherent structural rigidity of the conventional explanation, one where adaptive change was explained in the context of random natural selection and specified mutation, both taking eons to implement change. The obvious inability to address change in short order was the elephant in the room, contravening all that we had been taught about the adaptive resilience of organisms.

      Challenging the conventional wisdom at the time was akin to questioning the immutability of mortal sin and its relationship to eternal damnation in perpetuity for missing mass on Sunday. Not unlike “climate change” really. That clinched it for me. It also helped the development of a BS antennae that has served me very well.

      The Chernobyl melt-down did much to compel epigenetics to the forefront. Much to the surprise of the medical authorities, humans did not die in the predicted droves (other than the unfortunate men on the scene fighting the fires and the immediate disaster who received an acute fatal exposure of ionising radiation). In fact, local animals adapted epigenetically to the higher levels of radiation and nature thrived in the absence of Human Beings who deserted the region. It also helped further illuminate the understanding surrounding the dose – response to radiation, one that does not appear to be a linear relationship whereby, at low doses it may in fact be beneficial. After all, we live on an uncritical nuclear pile – to the Greens, another one of those inconvenient truths.

      The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.
      — The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere and downwind – some 5200 PBq (I-131 eq).
      — Two Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning.
      — UNSCEAR says that apart from increased thyroid cancers, “there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident.”
      — Resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing. In 2011 Chernobyl was officially declared a tourist attraction.

      20

    • #
      Kinky Keith

      Sophocles,

      Sounds like you are describing the effect noted after WW11 when a major cause of Diabetes Type 2 was identified.

      As I understood it almost 20 years ago, the main point was that the mother was able to prepare the phoetus for some events, such as giving an insulin response that matched her experience during pregnancy.

      If that was the case I’m not sure how much effect grandparents would have.

      KK

      00

  • #
    William

    Don’t forget that the coral reefs at Bikini Atoll are flourishing. Somehow they recovered after being slapped with a fifteen megaton hyrdogen bomb.

    “The massive explosion vaporized everything on three islands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees and left a crater that was 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and 240 feet (73 meters) deep.

    A team of scientists recently led a diving expedition into Bravo Crater and found an unexpectedly thriving coral community. “I didn’t know what to expect — some kind of moonscape perhaps. But it was incredible, huge matrices of branching Porites coral (up to 8 meters [25 feet] high) had established, creating a thriving coral reef habitat,” said study team member Zoe Richards of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. “Throughout other parts of the lagoon it was awesome to see coral cover as high as 80 percent and large tree-like branching coral formations with trunks 30 centimeters [12 inches] thick.”

    121

    • #
      sophocles

      Maybe that’s what the GBR needs: a big bomb.

      111

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      Cook University; No wonder they were clueless. Hell I knew 20 years ago that the place was thriving underwater.

      71

      • #
        Kinky Keith

        Now I’m confused.

        Is Cook university the one that Cook once belonged to, or is that James Cook university, or are they the same.

        KK

        00

        • #
          Greg Cavanagh

          KK, interesting question; Did Cook go to a university?

          The school that James attended had been set up by a local yeoman, Michael Postgate, in 1704. It is possible that Thomas Scottowe, James’s father’s employer, financially supported James’s schooling there. James, along with the other twenty to thirty other children, would have been taught writing and arithmetic and received religious instruction, probably until the age of twelve.

          In early 1745 Cook went to work for William Sanderson, merchant, haberdasher and grocer of Staithes. There Cook would have experienced for the first time life in a small but busy fishing village. He soon decided to move to Whitby to embark on a seafaring life and left Staithes mid-1746.

          In 1746 James became apprentice to John Walker, a Whitby ship owner whose collier cats or barks transported coal between Newcastle and London, a round trip of about four weeks.

          During these periods Cook appears to have studied hard and by 1755 he had the chance to become Master of the “Friendship”, deciding instead to join the Royal Navy.

          He had a successful Navy career identified here:
          https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/james-cook-3865.php

          It doesn’t identify what the schooling was that he passed is exams for. Navy or college or other, no idea.

          20

          • #
            Kinky Keith

            Interesting, he was a real goer.

            How about “John” Cook?

            Whatever university he went to would probably try to disown him when the scam eventually dies.

            KK

            10

      • #
        Allen Ford

        Cook University should be renamed Crook University!

        20

  • #
    PeterS

    It’s a real shame governments don’t put as much effort into saving indigenous children from serious harm as they do into saving the reef. Of course the left in particular always had a different and obnoxious view of human life versus other forms of life.

    91

  • #
    Phoenix44

    We should be wary of many of the grandiose claims made for epigenetics. The studies have very small samples and the results are often data dredged, which is why we get the strange claims about inheritance.

    This is a good discussion:

    http://www.wiringthebrain.com/2018/05/grandmas-trauma-critical-appraisal-of.html?spref=tw&m=1

    60

    • #
      Jeff

      Yes, there has been a lot of pseudo science using the term epigenetics.
      Actually I am not surprised it is being used by coral reef scientists to explain heat tolerance.

      40

    • #
      Kinky Keith

      The original studies from the Dutch Winter Hunger suggested that it was only the female parent involved. This how it was discovered that drinking alcohol during pregnancy was not a good idea.
      Transgender issue also can be made to occur if the transition to male body is halted or the transition to male brain is interrupted.
      KK

      20

  • #
    Kinky Keith

    Had a look at the included link on Epigenetic but found that the detail hid the real point of the coral adaptation mechanism.

    Most of us are familiar with ordinary genetics where the features of our parents contribute to our final make-up.
    There are even some features which are known to be dominant in deciding which parent’s gene to use.
    Hair colour is an example. When the parents have black hair and blonde hair, the black usually wins out. That’s genetics.

    All that is being said about coral and epigenetics is that through epigenetics there is the capacity for the coral to create a newborn baby coral which has the ability to deal with the environment that was present when conceived by it’s parents.

    Remarkably, this capacity for offspring to be better prepared for the current environment was a product of World War 11.
    If you want an intro just Google “Dutch winter hunger”.
    The discovery of this genetic capacity helped explain the diabetics type 11 epidemic that afflicted many Dutch people long after their insulin settings had been created in the womb during gestation. It was found that the same thing happened in Britain. Later this understanding would be used to explain high diabetes rates in Australian aborigines who suddenly came into contact with high caloric European diets.

    Coral, that’s just a tiny part of a fascinating story.

    That’s science.

    KK

    30

  • #
    Geoffrey Williams

    A message to Ruth Gates . . .
    SILLY WOMAN LEAVE OUR CORALS ALONE.
    GeoffW

    41

    • #
      glen Michel

      Related: Benefactors to give a million to eradicate feral puddytat.What will I eat next time i’m outback!! One million to study wild felines – to find out how they breed and how the kitties disperse.I’ll put it to them that a .22 Magnum is quite the item in this case. Put a bounty on these destroyers of endemic fauna and we can have the job done.

      30

      • #
        Another Ian

        Message at a conference around 1985 re eradication of ferals – from New Zealand experience with off-shore islands:-

        Eradicating the last 1 percent will take about as long and cost about as much as eradicating the first 99 percent

        30

  • #
    Lionell Griffith

    Shakespeare had something to say about this: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

    The minds of the green blob are very ill adapted to cope with what is to come. A small mind cannot conceive of what reality has in store for life to be able to survive into the future.

    50

    • #
      Peter C

      Perhaps that is why Ian Plimer titled his epic book; “Heaven and Earth”

      60

      • #
        Kinky Keith

        A great book. At the time I read it I was amazed that so much good info had been put together in one place.

        It was an effort to get through it even though I was familiar with most of the topics from earlier university studies.

        I recall reading of the many who were against Ian Plimer who claimed to have read the whole book and then pronounced judgement on it.

        They gave me the impression that they hadn’t or couldn’t read it but were going to denounce it regardless, because they BELIEVED!!

        So much for inquiring minds and their notion of the Truth.

        As Lionell says “a small mind”. That’s what’s often at work telling us what’s good for us.

        KK

        30

  • #
    neil

    Seasonal water temperatures across the reef vary for 24~30C at the equator it’s 26~27C. If max water temps increase beyond coral tolerance, say 32C which is just ludicrous, worst case is the least adaptable species may suffer in the hottest zone around Townsville but will be unaffected to the north and south of the hot spot.

    41

    • #
      el gordo

      Coral adapts to natural forcing like the IPO, which seems to influence ENSO.

      ‘The anti-correlation between reconstructed SST and salinity observed at Flinders Reef, however, matches the climatic effects expected from variations in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), a recurrent pattern of SST variability over the Pacific Ocean which is known to modulate Australia’s climate, in particular the impact of ENSO events on decadal time scales.

      ‘On longer timescales, salinity seems to have remained almost constant for the last two centuries after a progressive freshening of surface waters that culminated around 1800 A.D. Conversely, SSTs show a warming trend towards the late 20th century.’

      © 2006 Elsevier B.V.

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    Peter C

    The Spooky effects of Epigenetics, thanks to Wikipedia
    There are some seriously weird things going on.

    Hungry boys are more likely to go on to have grandchildren with less heart disease?

    Shock, Horror!
    Is Lamarkian theory being resurrected from a zombie grave?

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      Graeme No.3

      PeterC:

      With apologies to Bob Hope.

      When a weird theory dies and is buried by ridicule, it seems a certain voodoo cult has the power to bring it back to life, and infect people so they never question it.
      That’s horrible.
      Worse than horrible, the infected believers have no will of their own, you see them sometimes, walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do.
      You mean, like a JCU staff member?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a6YdNmK77k

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        PeterS

        “You mean like Democrats?”
        Loved that bit because it’s so true even today, not just for Democrats but also for all left leaning parties of today, including the LNP. Come to think of it Turnbull sometimes looks and talks like a zombie.

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      Kinky Keith

      Hi Peter

      Just looked up Lamark and it seems that he was a man ahead of his time.

      Didn’t read much but it describes the new “epigenetics” to a T.

      KK

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          Kinky Keith

          No.

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              Kinky Keith

              A long response was made but became lost in the hotel’s internet system. Dad.

              But nevertheless, Lamarque’s name will be restored.

              He apparently predicted that the Dutch Winter Hunger would lead to the origins of Type 2 Diabetes, diabetes in Australia’s aborigines and background the possibilities for phoetal alcohol syndrome and first occurrence of trans sexuality previously known as homosexuality.

              Enough for now.

              KK

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              Kinky Keith

              The first comment of this series was lost in the hotel’s internet system. The second, briefer, attempt was lost because it contained a PC word, and this on may go through.

              KK

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    There are probably many periodic threats to the status quo of the GBR but is ocean acidification actually one of them?
    It doesn’t seem immediately obvious that the ocean is acidifying. After all, we are talking a couple of tenths of a pH difference. You would not even notice a decrease of pH 1 or 2 in your glass of tap water. That is at least 10 times the approach towards neutrality that we are discussing here.
    How do we determine the average acidity of the oceans? The answer is that we don’t and we can’t. No more than we can determine the average temperature of the atmosphere.
    Ocean acidification is inferred from an assumed increase in average atmospheric CO2. Almost all the data for this assumption is from one site with the assumption that CO2 is evenly mixed throughout the atmosphere. An assumption almost as implausible as the assumption that ocean acidity is consistent throughout.
    The measurement differences are so tiny that any error margins could combine to make one big lie.
    There is a very large chance that many of the assumed results of our existence are actually not happening at all.

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    Betapug

    Coral’s “Nature trick”??

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    Mark M

    Who knew carbon (sic) causes some mammals not to use epigenetics, going extinct, while others need poisoning …

    > The humble Bramble Cay melomys has disappeared from its island in the Great Barrier Reef.

    First Mammal Species Goes Extinct Due to Climate Change!

    http://joannenova.com.au/2016/06/only-one-mammal-on-tiny-island-supposedly-wiped-out-by-climate-that-has-always-changed/

    > The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will begin a three-week aerial baiting program targeting black rats on the Frankland Islands and Northern Barnard Islands, south of Cairns.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-28/rats-force-closure-islands-far-north-queensland/9805014

    Like the crown of thorns starfish, some species seem immune to the ravages of carbon (sic) induced boiled, acidic oceans.

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    Dave in the States

    I’m sure glad you put “more acidic” in quotation marks. Sea water has long way to go to get to neutral, much less acidic.

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    Roy Hogue

    Epigenetics — what a big important sounding word. I had to go to the extent of looking it up. It turns out to be something I’ve known about for quite a while but I never knew there was such a big important sounding word I could use to say it with.

    A lot of things are that way, diabetes for one. A certain gene’s behavior gets modified by some stressor (another important sounding word) and suddenly you become diabetic. I have enough experience with that one to last several lifetimes.

    Another thing that seems to work that way is political foolishness where normally sound individuals suddenly espouse grandiose ideas that never work once they get themselves elected to public office. I wonder if they’re related to corals. But nah, the corals do a much better job than the politicians. ;-)

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