Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive – and could be part of strategies to save them

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Coral reefs are home to so many species that they often are called “the rainforests of the seas.” Today they face a daunting range of threats, including ocean warming and acidificationoverfishing and pollution. Worldwide, more than one-third of all coral species are at risk of extinction.

I am one of many scientists who are studying corals to find ways of helping them survive and recover. As a recent report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine shows, researchers are exploring many different strategies. Some, such as managed breeding to make corals more tolerant of stresses, are already being developed at small scales. Others, such as moving corals to colonize new areas, have not been tested yet.

My own work examines whether greater diversity of coral species on reefs can help corals survive and thrive. In a study published earlier this year, my colleague Mark Hay and I found evidence that the answer is yes. This finding could help to inform broader strategies for making coral reefs more resilient in altered oceans.

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