were only a few decades ago. Since the mid-1980s, the average minimum nightly temperature at the La Selva Biological Station, in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, has increased from about 20°C to 22°C. During the warmer nights, trees use more of their energy reserves. The result has been a reduction of about 20 percent in the average growth rates of trees of six different species.
In 1988, the highest sea surface temperatures ever recorded caused corals to lose their symbiotic dinoflagellates (a phenomenon called bleaching) and increased their mortality worldwide (Figure 57.8). If warming of the oceans continues as predicted, about 40 percent of coral reefs worldwide are likely to be killed by 2010. To identify possible ways to help preserve coral reefs, biologists are measuring conditions in places where corals have escaped bleaching. They have found that reefs adjacent to cool, upwelling waters and reefs with cloudy waters, both of which have relatively low temperatures, are generally healthy. These reefs are receiving special protection because corals are likely to continue to survive well there. Corals from those reefs could be sources of colonists for reestablishing reefs where the corals have died if cooler ocean temperatures return in the future.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.