"I have no doubt their base conclusion is right," he said of the researchers. "The [amphistegina] will help to offset some of the loss of calcareous sediment from the potential demise of corals." Corals are likely to have more sensitivity than foraminifera to some climate-related challenges such as ocean acidification, because of the different consistency of their shells, according to Langer.
But that doesn't mean, Norris said, that foraminifera are an "ecological savior." While they might help protect coasts by creating offshore buffers, their sandy structures won't make up for the widespread degradation of reefs that could occur with climate change, he said.
Coral reefs consist of complex, three-dimensional frameworks that enhance biodiversity by providing a lot of space for animals to live, explained Norris. A sand flat created by foraminifera is "not going to make up for that."
Additionally, the migrating organisms could become an invasive species in some areas, creating havoc with ecosystems, said Bernhard. "We don't know how that would play out."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500