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Underwater Ecosystem at a Great Risk Due to Climate Change

Nov 17, 2016 10:52 AM EST

The internet has been flooded with stories of tropical coral reefs being devastated by a warming climate, which is something to ponder on since corals form the backbone of the undersea ecosystem. They support communities of broad ranges of fish and other organisms, eventually providing tremendous value to humans through their offering to fisheries. Once they are destroyed, the damage spreads across all nooks and corners and even affects humans.

Something similar has been taking place in kelp forests. Sadly, there has been some devastating news in the region. One forest was totally eradicated off the southwestern coast of Australia by extremely hot temperatures in 2011, with scientists labeling the incident as a rapid shift in the regime on account of changes in the climate. And just recently, another massive death of giant kelp in the Tasmanian region occurred.

The latest study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlight the fact that there is still another way to destroy kelp through climate change. Adriana Vergés from Sydney-based University of New South Wales and her teammates at institutions in Singapore, Spain, and Australia took the help of underwater cameras to analyze kelp forests spread around the Solitary Islands. To their astonishment, they found that the entire kelp spread across the 25-kilometer range had perished between 2002 and 2011. The temperature had risen by just 0.6 degree Celsius, but that was enough for them to become victims of several types of fish like the tropical rabbitfish.

Verges stated that the biggest impact of climate change is not the direct effect of the temperature on a particular species but the way species respond to each other. A rise in temperature does not lead to the death of the coral, but it disturbs the harmony and accord between the symbiotic algae and coral.

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