Future seas that are too warm for corals may have half the fish species

Researchers have found that fish tend to be more diverse in areas where coral is more diverse. This suggests that coral diversity gives rise to fish diversity. Credit: Davide Seveso

Predicting the potential impact of coral loss on fish communities around the world is a fundamental task, especially given that coral reef fish provide protein to millions of people. A new study led by the University of Helsinki predicts how fish diversity responds to reduced coral diversity, and future coral loss could reduce global coral reef fish diversity by more than 40%. Indicates that there is sex.

Corals become more and more bleached and often die when the water warms.What happens fish What if I don’t have an alternative reef to swim in?Few Fish species Feeding coral is inevitably starving, but the rest may find alternative rocky habitats to sustain. So far, it has been difficult to do large-scale studies that can predict which fish will remain in a coral-free world. A new study led by Giovanni Strona of the University of Helsinki found that global predictions of coral-free fish diversity are as low as small experiments suggest.

An international team of marine biologists started with mapping tropical fish Coral diversity across the oceans around the world for all latitude and longitude square degrees. These unprecedented maps show that marine biologists have long known. The diversity of fish and coral varies greatly, with more species in the Indo-Pacific “coral triangle” than in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific. Marine diversity hotspots have long been described by how latitude, habitat, temperature, and geography affect coral and fish speciation and extinction rates as well. After controlling the factors that generally drive diversity, the authors found that areas with diverse corals still tend to have more diverse fish, and that coral diversity increases fish diversity. It suggests that it will be born.

“This is not particularly surprising given that coral provides a unique food source for some species and many species provide a three-dimensional habitat for shelter. Coral dependence. Fish can be prey to independent fish, “says Giovanni Strona, lead author at the University of Helsinki.

After aligning the boundaries between coral diversity and fish diversity, the author conducted a simple thought experiment. They predicted global coral extinction by extrapolating the association between fish and coral until there were no coral species left.Its extrapolation is about 40% of the world’s tropics Coral reef fish It may disappear when the coral disappears. As shown in small experiments, this is a much greater loss than species known to depend directly or indirectly on coral, and if the coral becomes extinct, the reef food web will It suggests that it will begin to unravel. This unraveling is expected to be more intense in some places than in others. In the Central Pacific, more than 60% of coral reef fish are expected to be lost, compared to only 10% in the Western Atlantic.

“We are the first Statistical model Unravel the environmental, biogeographic, and historical impacts on fish and coral diversity, and accurately identify regional fish diversity in response to several environmental variables such as water temperature, pH, salt, and coral diversity. I predict, “Strona explains.

“In addition to providing a way to predict fish diversity under the novel Environmental condition, This approach provided a tool for investigating how fish diversity changes in response to coral changes. Diversity“Valleriano Paravicini, co-leader of research at the University of Perpignan, continues.

“For those who enjoyed snorkeling on coral reefs, or for the millions of people who depend on them Leaf Edible fish, this thought experiment is alarming, but it also stimulates greater efforts for preservation and recovery Coral Coral reef. The benefits of doing so will extend far beyond coral to fish and other organisms that depend directly or indirectly on coral, “said a senior scientist at the US Geological Survey of the University of California, Santa Barbara. One Kevin Rafati said.

Large coral reef vegetarians drive fish evolution

For more information:
Giovanni Strona et al, if coral is lost, the abundance of tropical fish in the world can be reduced by about half. Bulletin of the Royal Society B: Biological Science (2021). DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2021.0274

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Future seas that are too warm for corals may have half the fish species

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