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Corals, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Int'l - Even biodiverse coral reefs still vulnerable to climate change and invasive species

A new study reveals clear evidence highlighting the importance of fish biodiversity to the health of spectacular tropical coral reef ecosystems. However, the study's results show that even though strong relationships between diversity and a healthy ecosystem persist, human-driven pressures of warming oceans and invasive species still diminish ecosystems in various ways.

A new study reveals clear evidence highlighting the importance of fish biodiversity to the health of spectacular tropical coral reef ecosystems.

This is the case for reefs that are pristine and also those that have been affected by stresses, such as bleaching events caused by warming oceans.

However, the study's results show that even though strong relationships between diversity and a healthy ecosystem persist, human-driven pressures of warming oceans and invasive species still diminish ecosystems in various ways.

This highlights that protecting fish biodiversity is a key factor for improving the survival chances of coral reef ecosystems in the face of rapid environmental change. But the researchers caution that without removing human-driven stressors, protecting biodiversity alone might not be enough.

Dr Casey Benkwitt, of Lancaster Environment Centre and lead author of the study, said: "Our study, which is the first of its kind to look at relatively pristine coral, reveals the strong link between rich biodiversity and a thriving ecosystem. This relationship is still evident even when an ecosystem has been degraded and provides further clarity on just how crucial it is to maintain biodiversity to give tropical coral reefs a fighting chance to thrive in an uncertain future.

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