Wednesday July 3, 2024


A new study of coral reefs in Papua New Guinea shows ocean acidification simplifies coral structure, making crucial habitat less appealing to certain fish species.

While much media attention has focused on heat stress-induced coral bleaching, this finding, by a University of Adelaide research team led by Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, adds nuance to concerns about how global warming affects coral reefs.

Ocean acidification is caused by an increase in the level of carbon dioxide in oceanwater, leading to a reduction in pH. This makes calcium carbonate less available in the ocean, which corals use to build and repair their skeleton.

Professor Nagelkerken and his team show that, while ocean acidification in some instances does not reduce overall coral cover on a reef, the structures are less branched and therefore less appealing as habitat to some fish species. The study is published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

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