To predict the health of corals after species die-offs, researchers from Georgia Tech screwed corals onto tables, some of which only had one species and others with several kinds, and planted them in the Pacific Ocean. After 16 months in the shallows off of Fiji, the single-species plots generally fared more poorly.
One monoculture was wiped out and its plots were taken over by algae. In contrast, plots with several varieties appeared healthier at the study’s end, the scientists reported January 7 in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The researchers suggest that as different coral species in a reef die, the decrease in diversity might make survival more difficult for the remaining corals.
C.S. Clements, M.E. Hay, “Biodiversity enhances coral growth, tissue survivorship and suppression of macroalgae,” Nature Ecology and Evolution, doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0752-7, 2019.