1

People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.

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Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution

3

Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Combination of light and temperature naturally regulate algal abundance

28
May 2018

A two-year study 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 algae 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 (CoralCoE) and Global Change Institute (GCI) based at The University of Queensland (UQ) 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.

Lead author and CoralCoE PhD 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 coral reef ecosystems,” Ms Brown said.

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

CoralCoE’s Deputy Director, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said a greater understanding of seasonal and spatial variation was important for interpreting the response of coral reef 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 (doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00181).

Citation: Kristen T. Brown, Dorothea Bender-Champ, Andreas Kubicek, Rene van der Zande, Michelle Achlatis, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Sophie G. Dove (2018). The Dynamics of Coral-Algal Interactions in Space and Time on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Front. Mar. Sci., doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00181

Media: Kristen Brown, @imkristenbrown, +61 7 3346 7330; 0438 285 283

CoralCoE PhD candidate, Kristen Brown, investigating coral-algal interactions at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef. Credit: UQ
CoralCoE PhD candidate, Kristen Brown, investigating coral-algal interactions at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef. Credit: UQ

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au