Delicate balance of regenerating Australia's Great Barrier Reef: study

SYDNEY, May 17 (Xinhua) -- As Australia's Great Barrier Reef attempts to repair itself from damage caused by recent bleaching events, a new study revealed Wednesday that finding the sweet spot when it comes to population density for baby coral can be very difficult.

For new corals to form and recolonise, larvae first need to settle on the reef.

But data from the Commonwealth Scientific and industrial Research Institute and the University of Queensland have found that more larvae doesn't always result in more survival.

"We looked at this thing called density dependent regulation during three major life history phases of coral recruitment," author of the study Christopher Doropoulos told Xinhua Wednesday.

"These three life phases are larval survival, larval settlement and post settlement survival."

"At each of those life phases we examined how density influences coral survival."

To achieve this, Doropoulos and his team conducted laboratory experiments.

"We collected corals just before they spawned during a March full moon last year, then we fertilised them and grew the larvae," Doropoulos said.

"We then settle thousands of larvae onto experimental tiles, mapping and documenting the results."

The findings concluded that when the larvae transition from being in the water and swimming, to landing on the reef, there needs to be a certain density of larvae in order for them to survive.

But surprisingly, according to Doropoulos, "Once they've settled, higher density doesn't actually make recovery more successful, but actually cause a bottlenecking effect".

[ Editor: Xueying ]
 

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