Biodiversity helps fish survive climate change

Written by on May 19, 2016 in Fish, Other News

New research shows that biodiversity protects fish from the effects of climate change.

Indo-Pacific coral reef. Photo credit: Deb Gochfeld, NOAA-OE.

Indo-Pacific coral reef. Photo credit: Deb Gochfeld, NOAA-OE.

A collaborative study from the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and other international institutions revealed that communities with more fish species are more productive and more resilient to changing ocean temperatures.

High biodiversity involves having a lot of species in a given area that play many different roles in the ecosystem.

“Preserving biodiversity is not just an aesthetic or spiritual issue — it’s critical to the healthy functioning of ecosystems and the important services they provide to humans, like seafood,” lead lead author Emmett Duffy, director of the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network, explained in a news release.

The findings were based on more than 4,000 underwater surveys that were conducted as part of the Reef Life Survey.

“It was only possible with the enthusiastic contributions of highly trained volunteer divers in the Reef Life Survey program, which allowed us to achieve this comprehensive coverage of the world’s reefs, from tropical to polar waters,” said co-author Rick Stuart-Smith of the University of Tasmania.

The researchers tracked the influence that 11 different environmental factors had on fish biomass on coral and rocky reefs around the world. They found that biodiversity was one of the strongest influencers. Increased biodiversity led to increased fish biomass, which made the communities more resilient to climate change.

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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