KNOXVILLE—Living corals covering Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could decline to less than 10 percent if ocean warming continues, according to a new study that explores the short- and long-term consequences of environmental changes to the reef.
The study was done by an international team of ecologists at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, or NIMBioS, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It is available pre-print online in the journal Ecology at http://bit.ly/1JmaLk0.
Environmental change has caused the loss of more than half the world’s reef-building corals. Coral cover, a measure of the percentage of the seafloor covered by living coral, is now just 10-20 percent worldwide. The Great Barrier Reef, once considered one of the more pristine global reef systems, has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years. Overfishing, coastal pollution, and increased greenhouse gas emissions leading to increased temperatures and ocean acidification, as well as other human impacts, are all disrupting the delicate balance maintained in coral reef ecosystems. [Read more…]