Image of the Day: Coral Tables
Image of the Day: Coral Tables

Image of the Day: Coral Tables

Diverse plots of corals appeared healthier than monocultures at the end of a 16-month study.

Jan 29, 2019
Carolyn Wilke

ABOVE: Coral tables in the Pacific
GEORGIA TECH / CODY CLEMENTS

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.

Seaweed has conquered this plot of single-species corals, which are dead or sickly.
GEORGIA TECH / CODY CLEMENTS

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.