Half of the world’s coral reefs have died-off in the last 30 years, and scientists expect 90% to disappear by 2050. Researching how fish diversity will be impacted by coral loss is significant because of the inevitable rippling effects it has on the greater marine ecosystem and food webs that depend directly or indirectly on corals. Additionally, many developing countries and coastal communities rely on fish as their main source of protein.
An international team of marine biologists from the University of Helsinki researched the impact of reef fish diversity with the increasing loss of corals. Coral reefs provide a unique food source, habitat and shelter for many fish species. Not surprisingly, the research shows that the more diverse the coral reefs are the more diverse the fish species. Conversely, if all the coral reefs were to disappear over 40% of the world’ tropical reef fish would go extinct.
The impacts are expected to be disproportionate across the world and unfortunately the more highly diverse Indo-Pacific “coral triangle” is likely to be impacted. The Central Pacific could lose more than 60 percent of its reef fish, while the Western Atlantic could lose just 10 percent.
Global tropical reef fish richness could decline by around half if corals are lost Giovanni Strona, Kevin D. Lafferty, Simone Fattorini, Pieter S. A. Beck, François Guilhaumon, Roberto Arrigoni, Simone Montano, Davide Seveso, Paolo Galli, Serge Planes and Valeriano Parravicini 2021, Proc. R. Soc. B.2882021027420210274 http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0274
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