Around a third of all reef-building coral species are now threatened with extinction (8), with an estimated 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs already having been destroyed (9). The main threat to corals is global climate change, with an expected rise in ocean temperatures increasing the risk of coral bleaching, in which the stressed coral expels its zooxanthellae, often resulting in death. Climate change is also expected to lead to more severe, frequent storms, which can damage reefs, and rising carbon dioxide levels may lead to ocean acidification, which can reduce the ability of coral to create its hard skeleton. Such stresses can also make corals more vulnerable to disease (1) (6) (8) (9).
These global threats are compounded by more localised human impacts, such as coral harvesting, disturbance by fisheries, development, irresponsible tourism, invasive species, and pollution (1) (6) (8) (9). Plesiastrea versipora has been found to be relatively susceptible to bleaching, potentially putting it at greater risk (10), although it is currently still widespread and fairly common throughout its range (1).