But a team of researchers has found that the opposite is the case on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Using 15 years of long-term monitoring data collected from 43 reefs by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the researchers from AIMS and the University of Adelaide have found that fish living on small, isolated reefs face a greater risk of local extinction.
The results have been published in Ecology, the journal of the Ecological Society of America.
"Our results support the idea that small and isolated reefs are more susceptible to local species extinctions because of the tendency for their fish populations to be more variable," says project leader Dr Camille Mellin, a Postdoctoral Fellow from AIMS and the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.
"Isolated reefs receive relatively fewer ‘immigrant’ fish from adjacent reefs. If there is a disturbance to the population, such as a cyclone or coral bleaching, fish species on isolated reefs are much slower to recover. These populations are not as resilient to changes and are not easily replenished, increasing their probability of extinction."
By contrast, larger, more populated reefs see fewer large fluctuations in the fish population. This is partly due to the increased competition between species, and partly because of predators, which keep the population size in check.
"Our research suggests that conservation resources might be better allocated to the protection of large, connected habitats," Dr Mellin says.
As a result of the research, a map has been produced predicting the patterns of variability of coral reef fish species on the Great Barrier Reef.
"This new map is a potential new tool for the managers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but it’s important to emphasize that it is just one tool. When making management decisions for the Reef, a whole range of issues needs to be taken into account," Dr Mellin says.
Professor Corey Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modeling at the University of Adelaide, says the research is "an essential piece in the marine planning puzzle". "If data for other reefs around the world become available, it would be possible to assess threats to species in those parts of the world using the same techniques," he says.
"Our research also demonstrates the need for long-term data sets," says Dr Julian Caley, Principal Research Scientist at AIMS. "This work would not have been possible without AIMS' commitment to the long-term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. This dataset is unique in the world and the only one that would have made this study possible."
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system, composed of more than 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for more than 2600 kilometers (1600 miles).
Dr Camille Mellin | Newswise Science News
Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF
Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences