Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study reveals coral reefs may support much more biodiversity than previously thought

03.11.2011
Smithsonian scientists and colleagues conducted the first DNA barcoding survey of crustaceans living on samples of dead coral taken from the Indian, Pacific and Caribbean oceans. The results suggest that the diversity of organisms living on the world's coral reefs is seriously underestimated. The team's research "The Diversity of Coral Reefs: What Are We Missing?" was published in October in the journal PLoS ONE.

At depths of 26 to 39 feet, the scientists collected dead coral from five different locations. At two sites where removing coral is prohibited, the scientists collected man-made sampling devices that had been left in the water for one year. Combined, the coral and devices had a surface area of just 6.3 square meters (20.6 square feet), yet 525 different species of crustaceans were found living on them.

"So much diversity in such a small, limited sample area shows that the diversity of crustaceans in the world's coral reefs -- and by implication the diversity of reefs overall -- is seriously under-detected and underestimated," said Nancy Knowlton, the Sant Chair for Ocean Science at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and co-author of the survey. "We found almost as many crabs in 6.3-square meters of coral as can be found in all of the seas of Europe. Compared to the results of much longer and labor-intensive surveys, we found a surprisingly large percentage of species with a fraction of the effort."

The world's coral reefs are some of the most endangered habitats on Earth. Given coral's rapid decline and global range, DNA barcoding offered the scientists a quick and efficient method for their survey. "DNA barcoding provides a standardized, cost-effective method of coming to grips with the staggering diversity of the world's oceans," Knowlton said. "It has enormous potential for use in broad global surveys, allowing us to find out what is living in the ocean now, and to keep track of it in the future."

Crustaceans collected for the survey were only those the scientists could see, and ranged from 0.2 to 1.9 inches long. All animals from which DNA was sequenced were preserved so they could be examined later by taxonomists.

"We collected dead corals because live corals defend themselves from being inhabited by other invertebrates," said Laetitia Plaisance of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and lead author of the survey.

Once a coral dies its structure becomes covered with algae, sponges, crustaceans, worms, mollusks and other creatures.

"Given the complexity and extent of the world's coral reefs, the survey covered only a very limited depth and habitat range," said Plaisance. "And yet we have so many more species than we ever expected."

Present estimates of species diversity in reefs are 600,000 to more than 9 million species worldwide. "We cannot give a new estimate today, but we may be able to in a few years," Plaisance said. Using man-made sampling structures at some 50 sites around the world, Plaisance is now working with the Smithsonian and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration on another survey that will include all of the many organisms that live on coral reefs.

John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.si.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>