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Coral Reefs: Shallow Reefs Have A Holding Hope On Surviving Coral Bleaching; Connection Is Being Investigated

First Posted: Feb 17, 2017 03:04 AM EST
The Last Reef - Documentary
Though there is a possibility that the shallow reef has a holding hope on the deep reefs, researchers said that there is no reason to stop fighting climate change.
(Photo : FILM/YouTube screenshot)

A new study has found that the deep reefs contribute to the shallow reefs coral species. The researchers might just have unlocked the idea that the deep reefs can help reseed the shallow reefs.

A research Fellow at the University of Queensland, Global Change Institute and ARC Center of Excellence for the Coral Reef Studies, who is also the research lead author, Dr. Pim Bongaerts, said that "We argue that this concept of deep coral populations 'reseeding' their shallow-water counterparts may be relevant to some species but is ultimately unlikely to aid more broadly in the recovery of shallow reefs," according to The University of Queensland.

Phys.org reported that tracking the movements of the individual coral larvae on the reef is quite impossible. Understanding the connection between the deep and shallow coral population awaits on methods that determine the similarity between these coral populations.

The research team investigated the connectivity by focusing first on the isolated reef system of Bermuda in the Western Atlantic where they screened the genomes of more than 200 individual colonies of corals from the shallow part to the deep water. It belongs to the two coral species with the similar distribution of depth on the reef.

The research shows that the extent of the connection between the deep and shallow populations can greatly differ between the reefs' species. Also, it can be strongly affected by the natural selection processes that vary across the shallow and deep environments of the reefs.

The study co-author and the Director of the GCI, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, shared that the deep coral reefs had been highlighted as a holding hope for the shallow reefs that are badly hit and damaged by the events of coral bleaching.

He added that, "Our results, however, contribute to a growing body of evidence, that the role of deep reefs in shallow reef recovery is likely to be very limited."

Dr. Bongaerts also added that their study has once again given emphasis that under the increasing disturbances faced by the coral reefs, it would be unlikely for them to just "sort themselves out."

He also mentioned that, "Instead, the responsibility for their future lies with us. If we want to have any chance of preserving these unique and diverse ecosystems, it is crucial that we start curbing our emissions and divest from fossil fuels."

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