Ocean warming is changing Australian reef fish population

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Shallow corals and the creatures that live in them are changing due to rising ocean temperatures, but these effects have been obscured by a lack of comprehensive local data. A team of researchers in Australia has been tracking changes in the country’s coral reefs for more than a decade, in research published September 22 in the journal. current biology They describe how they used accurate data to show how warming waters affect tropical and temperate reef fish communities differently.

says Rick Stewart Smith, lead author marine ecologist at the University of Tasmania. “We specifically studied the fish that live on coral reefs, because they are important for many of those aspects, and also help maintain the natural ecological function of coral reefs.”

The Reef Life Survey project, which Stuart Smith created with co-author Graham Edgar to help the world understand what’s happening to Australia’s coral reefs, is collecting data globally. In this study, Australian Coral Life Survey data were combined with those from two other major coral reef monitoring programmes. “The two other data sets we used are among the longest running of any coral reef biodiversity monitoring programs globally,” says Stuart Smith. “Combining these data sets has allowed a more comprehensive picture of what is happening on coral reefs than can be imagined on any other continent.”

The search teams looked at Habitat changecoral bleachingfor example – and temperature change It found that the effects differed according to the location of the reef. Fish in temperate and subtropical reefs appear to show signs of more temperature change, and tropical reef fish appear to be more affected by habitat change. After a 2011 marine heat wave warmed waters in southwestern Australia, temperate coral reefs experienced an influx of tropical fish that lingered for years after the event.

The team also studied how the loss of coral cover and kelp has reduced the unique fish population. Areas in northeastern Australia have shown evidence of habitat degradation that has led to the predominance of generalist fish species, rather than specialized species adapted to specific habitats.

Stuart Smith hopes that this research will encourage the spread of standardized, standardized and coordinated local research, which can then be better used to assess global trends. The team is also calling for more climate matters Coral reefs Research. “Clearly climate change is having an enormous impact on marine biodiversity, with changes we have observed around the Australian continent over short periods of time, indicating that much larger changes are likely over the next half century as ocean warming progresses,” the authors wrote.


Australian marine heatwave in northeastern Australia destabilizes coral reef animal populations


more information:
Rick D. Stewart Smith, tracking large-scale climate changes in temperate and tropical reefs, current biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2022.07.067. www.cell.com/current-biology/f… 0960-9822 (22) 01216-7

the quote: Warming oceans are altering Australian reef fish populations (2022, September 22) Retrieved on September 22, 2022 from

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