Future work will involve removing plots of seaweed from damaged reefs and studying how that impacts reef recovery.
A minimum amount of intervention at the right time and the right place could jump-start the recovery of overfished reefs, Hay said. That could bring fish back to the area so they settle and eat the seaweed around the corals. The corals would then get bigger because the seaweed is not overgrown. Bigger corals would then be more attractive to more fish.
“What this means is we probably need to manage these reefs in ways that help remove the most negative seaweeds and then help promote the most positive corals,” Hay said.
This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), under award number OCE-0929119, and the National Institutes of Health, under award number U01-TW007401.
Details of the Study:
Chemically Mediated Behaviour Of Recruiting Corals And Fishes: A Tipping Point That May Limit Reef Recovery
Danielle L. Dixson, David Abrego, and Mark E. Hay
Science 22 August 2014: 345 (6199), 892-897. [DOI:10.1126/science.1255057]
Source: Georgia Tech.