Food quality and reef fish diversification

The big disparities in species richness among evolutionary lineages have been fascinating and challenging scientists since Darwin’s time. Although geographical factors have been traditionally thought to promote speciation, the importance of ecological interactions as one of the drivers of diversification has been underscored. For example, is it possible to wonder that food quality might influence patterns of diversification in coral reefs?

new study conducted in Brazil and Australia shows that this is an important aspect to account for when looking at the evolution of coral reef fishes.

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Global change pushing reef fishes towards their energetic limits

_MG_7563 24x16A new study suggests that reef fish species may be hitting a ‘glass ceiling’ as water temperatures raise while reef predators receive substantial energy subsides from sources outside the reefs.

An international team of researchers led by scientists at Macquarie University offers a fresh perspective on threats to the health and biodiversity of reef ecosystems by synthesising energy expenditure data for individual fish with abundance and biomass data collected from reef fish communities all over the world.

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Daily grind shapes coral death

outer_reef_2bThe corals that build spectacular structures, like the Great Barrier Reef, can be killed in many different ways. Over the past few decades, the focus has been on extreme and rare events, such as tropical cyclones, thermal bleaching and outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. However, a new study published in Ecology Letters raises important implications for policymakers to not ignore day-to-day reef death in environmental planning.

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Like worms. Time-lapse footage from Tom Hata’s [link] larval settlement work at Lizard Island last coral spawning (November 2013).

Coral Trait Database beta two released

beta copyThe Coral Trait Database is a growing compilation of scleractinian coral life history trait, phylogenetic and biogeographic data. As of this post, there are 87,314 coral observations with 95,828 trait entries for 1,555 coral species in the database. Most of these entries are for shallow-water, reef-building species. The second beta has has a number of improvements including a new database structure for better capturing multiple traits of the same colonies living in different habitats and/or environmental conditions.