Nav: Home

'Twilight Zone' could help preserve shallow water reefs

February 06, 2019

Corals lurking in deeper, darker waters could one day help to replenish shallow water reefs under threat from ocean warming and bleaching events, according to researchers.

The University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies examined corals from the ocean's 'twilight zone' at depths below 30 metres.

Dr Gal Eyal, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at UQ's Marine Palaeoecology Lab, said the mesophotic zone is deeper than recreational SCUBA diving limitations.

"Corals in this zone are often overlooked or ignored but occupy at least 50 per cent of unique coral habitats," Dr Eyal said.

"Light is limited when descending to these depths, so it's a major factor in the livelihood of the ecosystems there.

"We showed that strictly mesophotic coral can grow much faster when it is transplanted to a shallow reef light environment.

"In deeper waters the corals experience light limitations, so they allocate their energy accordingly."

Dr Eyal said the improved performance of the corals collected from 40 to 50m depth and placed in shallow water conditions was promising, but more research was needed to better understand the physiological processes controlling the phenomena.

"This study shows that while there are restrictions in nature currently preventing the persistence of these corals in shallow reefs, the potential is there."

"The 'twilight-zone' needs to be considered an important zone of coral reefs, instead of the marginal environment it is often viewed as today."

Dr Eyal said the deep could reveal many more secrets that could help researchers understand coral reefs.

"Coral reefs are diminishing worldwide due to global warming, so we strongly advocate for the protection and conservation of these deeper and unique environments in order to secure a future for coral reefs."
-end-
The research is published in Royal Society Open Science (DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180527).

Images and video are available via Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tmkekrccrbhf28n/AACFyxZ0bxqm7_-4fkR39IBoa?dl=0

University of Queensland

Related Coral Reefs Articles:

A brave new world for coral reefs
It is not too late to save coral reefs, but we must act now.
Regular coral larvae supply from neighboring reefs helps degraded reefs recover
For reefs facing huge challenges, more coral larvae doesn't necessarily translate to increased rates of coral recovery on degraded reefs, a new Queensland study has showed.
Potential for Saudi Arabian coral reefs to shine
Careful marine management and stricter fishing laws could enable Saudi Arabia's coral reefs to thrive.
New coral bleaching database to help predict fate of global reefs
A UBC-led research team has developed a new global coral bleaching database that could help scientists predict future bleaching events.
Fish social lives may be key to saving coral reefs
Fish provide a critical service for coral reefs by eating algae that can kill coral and dominate reefs if left unchecked.
Land-based microbes may be invading and harming coral reefs
A new study suggests that coral reefs -- already under existential threat from global warming -- may be undergoing further damage from invading bacteria and fungi coming from land-based sources, such as outfall from sewage treatment plants and coastal inlets.
Dead zones may threaten coral reefs worldwide
Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more according to a new study by Smithsonian scientists published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Deep reefs unlikely to save shallow coral reefs
Often highlighted as important ecological refuges, deep sections of coral reefs (30-60 m depth) can offer protection from the full force of climate change-related impacts, such as intensifying storms and warm-water bleaching.
Coral reefs grow faster and healthier when parrotfish are abundant
A new study by Smithsonian scientists and colleagues that reveals 3,000 years of change in reefs in the western Caribbean provides long-term, compelling evidence that parrotfish, which eat algae that can smother corals, are vital to coral-reef growth and health.
Rising CO2 threatens coral and people who use reefs
Damage to coral reefs from ocean acidification and sea surface temperature rise will be worst at just the spots where human dependence on reefs is highest, according to a new analysis appearing in PLOS ONE.

Related Coral Reefs Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...