Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

Researchers are improving conditions of degraded coral reefs, here’s how

Tim Gordon deploys an underwater loudspeaker on a coral reef Tim Gordon deploys an underwater loudspeaker on a coral reef Credit Harry Harding /University of Bristol
Sandy Nunez | 03 December, 2019, 20:15

To make sure there was no bias in the acoustically enriched reefs, the research team from the University of Bristol studied dead coral areas with both dummy speakers and no speakers. Various parts of the reef have fallen victim to coral bleaching as a side effect of rising sea temperatures due to climate change.

In a six-week field experiment, researchers placed underwater loudspeakers in patches of dead coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef and played audio recordings taken from healthy reefs. The issue of global warming has caused a widespread damage to ecosystem of the coral reef. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found twice as many fish came to patches of dead coral, where the sounds of healthy reefs were played compared to patches which no sound is played.

Australian Institute of Marine Science fish biologist Dr. Mark Meekan added: "Of course, attracting fish to a dead reef won't bring it back to life automatically, but recovery is underpinned by fish that clean the reef and create space for corals to regrow".

According to the study, the number of species present in the patch reefs where healthy sounds were played increased by 50 percent in the other patches. The objective was to see whether or not they may lure again the varied communities of fish which might be important to counteracting reef degradation.

Tim Gordon, a PhD student at Exeter College, and the look for's lead writer said: 'Fish are wanted for coral reefs to operate as healthy ecosystems.

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Parrotfish, named because of their tightly packed teeth in a beak formation, use their teeth to scrape microorganisms off coral - and their presence in large numbers on damaged reefs very likely helps the process of fix, Taylor and his colleagues suggest.

Senior writer Professor Steve Simpson, also of Exeter College, defined: 'Healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy locations - the crackle of snapping exiguous and the whoops and grunts of fish mix to construct a elegant biological soundscape.

"Corals be quiet ghosts when they were relegated, as shrimp and fish disappear, but with using loudspeakers to restore this soundscape is missing, we can attract young fish back again". No pop-music of anything like this, said Professor Andy Radford, one of the co-authors of the study. "Juvenile fish home in on these sounds when they're looking for a place to settle". The brand new fish populations included species from all components of the meals net, akin to scavengers, herbivores and predatory fish. If mixed with habitat restoration and varied conservation measures, rebuilding fish communities in this form would perhaps well well drag ecosystem recovery.

Mr Gordon said although attracting fish to damaged reefs won't save them, using "acoustic enrichment" will give scientists the tools to help fight to save the damaged ecosystems.