AsianScientist (Jul. 18, 2019) – A research group in Singapore has found that corals at two reef sites in Singapore are unlikely to be adversely affected by rising sea levels, provided that other stress factors such as sedimentation do not increase. Their findings are published in the journal Marine Environmental Research.
Global sea levels are expected to rise by at least half a meter by the year 2100 due to climate change. The projected rise can affect important environmental factors such as habitat suitability and availability of light, threatening the health and survival of marine ecosystems.
For the corals dwelling in the sedimented, turbid waters around Singapore, rising sea levels can imperil species, as those living among the deepest waters could starve due to insufficient light for them to make food.
In the present study, a team led by Assistant Professor Huang Danwei at the National University of Singapore (NUS) examined nearly 3,000 corals from 124 species at two reef sites in Singapore, namely Pulau Hantu and Raffles Lighthouse. The researchers discovered that the corals in Singapore waters typically do not extend deeper than eight meters, as light levels beyond this depth are not sufficient to support coral growth.
They also concluded that species present in deeper areas are able to tolerate a wider range of conditions, and therefore are unlikely to be threatened by a rise in sea level. However, this is under the assumption that sedimentation levels at the two reef sites remain constant as sea levels increase.
The authors note that their findings highlight the resilience of coral reefs in Singapore. Their results serve to support reef management and inform conservation efforts—especially in the selection of sites and depths for coral restoration.
The article can be found at: Chow et al. (2019) Light Limitation Selects for Depth Generalists in Urbanized Reef Coral Communities.
Source: National University of Singapore; Photo: Huang Danwei.
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