Tag Archives: coral reef

Mapping species and coral bleaching by drone

Advanced, miniature cameras on drones are capturing details of landscapes that have previously been invisible. QUT researchers are using them to fly low over reefs, capturing almost 100 times the colours captured by standard cameras.

“High-altitude surveys of reefs may lack the resolution necessary to identify individual corals or bleaching effects,” says Associate Professor Felipe Gonzalez, who is leading a team of researchers and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) engineers from QUT in a partnership project between QUT and the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS).

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Robo reef protector

A fleet of autonomous robots is being developed by Queensland scientists to kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub of QUT are working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create the RangerBot, following successful field trials of QUT’s COTSBot in 2016.

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Does coral help create rain?

Researchers have found that coral reefs may play a key role in cloud formation. Now they’re working to make climate modelling more accurate.

Australian and international scientists, led by QUT’s Professor Zoran Ristovski, spent a month in late 2016 collecting data on airborne particles emitted from the Great Barrier Reef, which they are now analysing.

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Technology to save the reefs—Queensland University of Technology

Mapping reefs with drones; robots destroying crown-of-thorns starfish; coral as a rain-maker; and more—researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating new technologies to protect Australia’s reefs.

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The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

A hidden reef exists behind the Great Barrier Reef—but it’s three times bigger than previously thought, constructed by algae, and made up of doughnut-shaped mounds.

Uncovering the true scale of the 6,000 km2 structure was made possible by airborne laser mapping technology LiDAR, provided by the Royal Australian Navy.

It has implications for the Great Barrier Reef’s habitat mapping and conservation zoning, as well as providing possible insights into past climates.

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Land clearing harms Reef water quality

Coastal land clearing has led to poor water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and threats to reef animals, according to the first data providing evidence of the damage.

Land clearing and acidification threaten the Great Barrier Reef.

The Water Quality and Ecosystem Health research team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science has collected 20 years of data, which shows the connection between high rates of land clearing and reduced reef water quality in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Our analyses show that water quality in the lagoon dropped significantly during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period that coincided with very high rates of vegetation clearing on land adjacent to rivers,” says research team leader, Britta Schaffelke.

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No place like home as reef critters face extinction

Coral reef organisms that help build homes for thousands of other species face extinction by 2100, thanks to increased CO2 levels and ocean acidification.

Bubbles of CO2 rise from a natural seep in PNG. Credit: K.Fabricius © AIMS

Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science have discovered that ocean acidification around naturally occurring CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea offer a glimpse of a future high-CO2 world and its impact on coral reef ecosystems, including the possible complete loss of creatures called Foraminifera, or forams.

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The complex life of coral

Dr Tracy Ainsworth’s research is changing our understanding of the tiny coral animals that built Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef. Tracy and her colleagues at James Cook University in Townsville have found that the process of coral bleaching is a far more complex than previously thought, and begins at temperatures lower than previously considered. And she’s done so by applying skills in modern cell biology which she picked up working in neuroscience laboratories.

Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au
Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au

Her achievements won her a $20,000 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship in 2011, which she is using to study the low light, deep water reefs that underlie tropical surface reefs at depths of 100 metres or more.
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The complex life of coral

Tracy Ainsworth

James Cook University
Coral interactions more complex than ever suspected.

Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University (credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au)
Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University (credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au)

Dr Tracy Ainsworth’s research is changing our understanding of the life of the tiny coral animals that built Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef.

Her work comes at a critical time for the future of coral reefs—threatened by a warming ocean and by coral bleaching. Continue reading The complex life of coral