WHO IS THE FUTURE KING OF THE CORALS?
How climate change may influence coral competition
Graduate Student: Nick Evensen
Coral reefs represent one of the most diverse
and densely populated ecosystems on the planet. The high degree of competitive
interactions is one of the processes responsible for some of the high levels of
diversity in these communities. However coral reefs have recently come under threat
due to an increase in CO2 being absorbed by the oceans, causing the ocean to become
more acidic, a process known as ocean acidification. This has been shown to affect
the ability of corals to grow, however little research has been done to assess how
it affects the ability of corals to compete for space on the reef.
Nicolas' research focuses on how ocean acidification
affects the competitive interactions between corals. Experiments were
carried out in Moorea and Japan to see if certain corals were more
heavily affected by ocean acidification than others. Corals were
paired up with each other and placed in normal or more acidic
conditions, with the linear extension (how far a coral grows
outwards) measured from photographs. These experiments showed
that some of the faster growing corals were more harmed by ocean
acidification, suggesting that coral reefs of the future could look
different to the ones of today with some corals less able to deal
with changing conditions than others.
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