frisky coral

Australian scientists have discovered some rare corals with promiscuous habits that could be helping them to breed their way out of extinction.

Faced with a shortage of mates of their own kind, these rare corals have cast a wider net and started cross-breeding with other coral species, producing hybrids.

It pushes the boundaries of our traditional understanding of species, said a researcher, Zoe Richards. “They are being a little promiscuous.”

By cross-breeding with other species, rare corals can increase their ability to adapt to the pressures of climate change and other human threats.

This is a mechanism enabling rare species to continue to reproduce and to continue to evolve as a species rather than die out, said Ms Richards, a marine scientist at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

With such tricks up their sleeves, it is even possible that the rare corals of today could become the common corals of the future.

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Oct 2008