Climate Change Drives Collapse Of Baby Corals In Great Barrier Reef

The deadly back-to-back bleaching events that hammered Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 led to a collapse in the recruitment of new corals, severely affecting the ecosystem’s ability to recover from the devastation.

That’s according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, which found that the number of juvenile corals that settled across the entire Great Barrier Reef in 2018 was 89 percent lower than historical averages before major bleaching events. The loss of so many mature adults during the climate-change-driven ocean heat waves left the ecosystem ― the largest living structure on the planet ― largely unable to replenish itself.

The report highlights the plight of corals in a warming world.

Along with an overall shortage of offspring, the study documents an alarming shift in the makeup of coral larvae. Dominant branching staghorn corals and table corals, the species that provide most of the habitat on the reef, produced fewer offspring than less-common stony corals. It’s a change that is likely to reduce the diversity of the reef, leaving it less resilient to future warming.

Read the entire article at Huffingtonpost.com