Combination of light and temperature naturally regulate algal abundance

May 28, 2018, University of Queensland
Combination of light and temperature naturally regulate algal abundance
UQ PhD candidate Kristen Brown investigating coral-algal interactions. Credit: University of Queensland

A two-year study by University of Queensland researchers has found the amount of algae on a coral reef is influenced by interaction between light and temperature, as well as by human impacts.

Global studies have long linked human activities to an increase in and the decline in reef-building corals, but have not focused on the impact of natural changes in the environment.

A team of scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and UQ's Global Change Institute have tracked environmental conditions, reef composition and coral-algal competition across Heron Island, on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

They discovered interactions between light and temperature also influenced algal levels.

UQ Ph.D. candidate Kristen Brown said changes in algal biomass influenced the composition and frequency of coral-algal interactions.

Until now, how environmental factors interact to control the abundance of algae have mostly been inferred from seasonal peaks.

"Competition between coral and algae can lead to reductions in coral growth and survival, which can have implications on the structure and function of ," Ms Brown said.

"Algae and their interactions with corals are more relevant than ever, especially given the rapidly degrading coral reef ecosystem dynamics."

GCI's Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said a greater understanding of seasonal and spatial variation was important for interpreting the response of coral communities to any future disturbances.

The research, The dynamics of coral-algal interactions in space and time on the southern Great Barrier Reef', is published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Explore further: Degrading coral reefs bad news for commercial fishing

More information: Kristen T. Brown et al. The Dynamics of Coral-Algal Interactions in Space and Time on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Frontiers in Marine Science (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00181

Related Stories

Coral transplant raises Barrier Reef survival hopes

November 26, 2017

Coral bred in one part of the Great Barrier Reef was successfully transplanted into another area, Australian scientists said Sunday, in a project they hope could restore damaged ecosystems around the world.

Recommended for you

Research unlocks secrets of iron storage in algae

December 12, 2018

New research shows that phytoplankton iron storage strategies may determine which species thrive in changing oceans and impact marine food webs, according to a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

Coral larvae found to prefer a noisy environment

December 12, 2018

A team of researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has found that coral larvae prefer to set up a new home in a place noisy with other living organisms over a barren soundless site. In their paper published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.