According to new research, corals,forming reefs are dying out due to global warming and human activities. Professor John Pandolfi of the Center for Advanced Coral Reef Research at the University of Queensland (Australia) reports that it is the deer-horned coral (Acropora cervicornis) that provides the growth for most modern reefs. These organisms have existed in nature for more than 50 million years, but recently their numbers have been steadily declining.
“Acropora corals became the main builders of reefs about 1.8 million years ago. The main advantage of the species was its ability to grow rapidly, ”says Pandolfi.
New study compares level dataocean and coral abundance over the past 60 million years. Scientists have found that, despite changes in sea level, the deer-horned coral flourished for millions of years. However, from a certain point coinciding in time with the European colonization of Australia, the number of corals near the continent began to decline. Similar patterns were found for other regions of the Earth, in particular for the Caribbean.
Olenoergy corals currently dominateamong other reef-building organisms. This species is found on level, raised, and submerged reefs around the world. Acropora cervicornis owes its success to its high growth rate and ability to regenerate in case of local injuries. Due to this feature of corals, the height of the reefs formed by them does not lag behind the rising sea level.
“These are the very corals that make reefsthrived as sea level rose. Today, there are serious suspicions that Acropora cervicornis will no longer be able to fulfill this mission, ”admits Dr. Ken Johnson of the London Museum of Natural History.
Coral reefs are a habitatmany species of animals. The diversity of fauna here is wider than anywhere else in the oceans and seas. In addition, corals play an important role in protecting the coastline - reefs scatter up to 97% of wave energy. To scientists' concerns, over the past 20 years, the prevalence of corals has decreased in the Caribbean and some other areas by 95%. Researchers attribute this to climate change and human pollution.
What happens if coral extinction continues?
“Just look at the overgrown with algaeCaribbean reefs to understand what oceans without corals will turn into, says Pandolfi. “However, not everything is lost.” If we eliminate the adverse factors affecting coral’s oleorogy, for example, by improving the quality of water, we can increase the resistance of these organisms to global climate change, ”Pandolfi said.