The Great Barrier Reef Has Lost Half Its Corals

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The Great Barrier Reef, one of the earth’s most precious habitats, lost half of its coral populations in the last quarter-century, a decline that researchers in Australia said would continue unless drastic action is taken to mitigate the effects of climate change.Researchers studied coral colonies along the length of the reef between 1995 and 2017 and found that almost every coral species had declined.Colony sizes were smaller; there were fewer “big mamas,” or older large corals that produce baby corals; and there were fewer of those babies, which are vital to the reef’s future ability to breed.“Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover — its resilience — is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults,” Dr. Andy Dietzel, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.The study was published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.Dr. Dietzel and other researchers from the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, Australia, measured changes in colony sizes as a way of understanding the capacity of corals to breed.Bleaching — a process in which corals expel algae and turn …

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