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Great Barrier Reef island coral fall

Great Barrier Reef island coral fall

Regular monitoring is crucial to understand how coral reefs are changing and whether our management and conservation measures are working. Credits: David Wachenfeld, Triggerfish Pictures

A long-term study of corals on island groups in the Great Barrier Reef has seen decreases in 40 to 50 percent of living, hard corals in coastal island groups over the last few decades.

Scientists from the Coral Reef Research Science Center at the James Cook University ARC Center of Excellence (Coral CoE at JCU) said they were concerned about the data being checked and rechecked.

The lead author of the study Daniela Ceccarelli and a research team reviewed the coral cover over the rocky reefs of the Palm, Magnetic, Whitsunday and Keppel Island groups along the Central and Southern Great Barrier Reef and compared them with historical records.

"Normal cycles of deterioration and recovery are natural and the reef has historically good recovery potential," Ceccarelli said.

“However, human effects increase the frequency of diseases such as coral bleaching, leaving very little time to ensure complete recovery between events,” he said.

"We were shocked when we calculated the changes."

Since the late 1990s, JCU researchers have monitored the status and trends of coastal shores at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP).

Co-author of Coral CoE at JCU. Williams The effects of individual discomfort had to be patched, David said David Williamson. Some reefs avoided the worst impacts;

Ceccarelli said that their latest voyage identified several factors affecting coral cover on corals in each island group, but the two reefs consistently stand out for all reefs: heat stress and wave exposure from sea heat waves.

Ünde There was a clear threshold of heat stress on which the coral cover was constantly decreasing. We were surprised to see that these coastal corals have a lower thermal stress threshold than previously reported. ”

Williamson said the effect of wave exposure is more complex.

Açık The corals on the outside of the island, open, had an advantage, ”he said. “This was because they were well flushed by currents.”

Despite the dramatic decline in corals, the authors stress that it is not too late to act. Some of the reefs remain alive and productive; There is still potential for the regeneration and adaptation of the ecosystem.

Im Our findings show the value of long-term data sets to help us understand what is important in these reefs, Williams said Williamson.

“This knowledge can test management actions aimed at preserving natural biodiversity and ecological processes.”

Sek If we can deal with local water quality and global climate change, then there is hope, Cec said Ceccarelli.

No silver bullet to help Great Barrier Reef

More information:
Daniela M. Ceccarelli et al., Long-term dynamics and drivers of coral and macroalgal covers along the coastline of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Ecological Applications (2019). DOI: 10.1002 / eap.2008

Presented by
ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Coral fall on the Great Barrier Reef (2019, 28 October)
Retrieved on October 28, 2019

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