French and Australian scientists are working together to understand how climate change is affecting reef sharks in French Polynesia, why corals in New Caledonia can survive extremes of temperature and acidity, and what fish markets mean for reef health.
On Mo’orea in French Polynesia, Dr Jodie Rummer leads a project studying baby sharks to see how they will cope with climate change.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coral reef organisms that help build homes for thousands of other species face extinction by 2100, thanks to increased CO2 levels and ocean acidification.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading The complex life of coral→