Researchers from UBCO have developed a way to find out the actual health of coral reefs. A group of researchers from the University of British Colombia Okanagan, Nova Blue Environment, and Flinders University made this possible. The team also discovered why some coral reefs are more resilient than others.
Coral Reefs are found by the continuous deposition of corals. Not only do they provide habitation to the “diverse” aquatic ecosystems, but they also impede the gravity of storms.
The UBCO Findings
The study elaborates on how to preserve coral reefs. It highlights how further damage can be prevented to reduce the future losses of coral reefs.
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They support the livelihoods of more than 500 million people. But coral reefs are also in peril. Currently, habitat loss, climate change, and human-caused disturbances are threatening about 75 per cent of the world’s coral reef
Many ecologists have been investigating the importance of diversity for the health and stability of ecosystems, he explains. While the consensus is that ecosystems with more variety are more strong and work better, the hypothesis has rarely been tested experimentally with corals.
Using a practical model to recreate the conditions found in real corals is demanding for several reasons. One being that the required size, time, and several different samples and replicates are just troublesome. That’s where computer simulation and mathematical modeling comes in.
Cartuan, a researcher, explains,
Technically called an ‘agent-based model’, it can be thought of as a virtual experimental arena that enables us to manipulate species and different types of disturbances, and then examine their different influences on resilience in ways that are just not feasible in real reefs
Furthermore, he also explains the variety of species, complex branches, and reef hosts.
This is crucial because these traits are the building blocks that give rise to ecosystem structure and function. For instance, corals come in a variety of forms—from simple spheres to complex branching—and this influences the variety of fish species these reefs host, and their susceptibility to disturbances such as cyclones and coral bleaching.
Main Threats to the Coral Reefs
According to WWF, there are some main menaces to the coral reef. These include sudden climate change, overfishing, unsustainable coastal development, sedimentation, water, and environmental pollution, careless tourism, and coral minings.
WWF started several initiatives to prevent damage control to the coral reefs. The Coral Reef Rescue Initiative is a major partnership with other leading coral reef conservation and development organizations. Its main objective is to look for the most strong coral reefs and their dependent communities.
Moreover, UBCO’s ultimate goal is to regenerate the same biodiversity that once existed.
The model provides a platform for virtual experiments to explore diversity-functioning relationships in coral reefs.