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

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.

Contact: John Gibbons

Related biology news :

1. Animal study suggests that newborn period may be crucial time to prevent later diabetes
2. Drying intensifying wildfires, carbon release ninefold, study finds
3. Vitamin D study suggests no mortality benefit for older women
4. IADR/AADR publish study on obesity link to periodontitis
5. Its a dogs life: $800,000 study launched into mans best friend
6. Texas Biomed develops new approach to study depression; finding may lead to new marker for risk
7. More power to the cranberry: Study shows juice better than extracts at fighting infections
8. Prehistoric greenhouse data from ocean floor could predict earths future, MU study finds
9. An online global map of coral and zooxanthellae data for climate change study is released
10. Scripps Research scientist awarded $500,000 grant to study Parkinsons disease
11. New study finds fetal heart rate not a good indicator of a babys health
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New study reveals coral reefs may support much more biodiversity than previously thought
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) of ... project, for the , Supply and Delivery of ... Infrastructure , to Decatur , ... Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated in the tendering ... selected for the most compliant and innovative solution. The contract ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled With ... Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through 2021  ... report, " Global Biometrics Market By Type, By ... 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics market is projected ... of growing security concerns across various end use sectors ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... , May 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , ... announced the opening of an IoT Center of Excellence ... and expand the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... level of convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, ... identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, ... of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design ... of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today ... a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an ... paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a ... discoveries to the medical community, has closed its Series ... Matthew Nunez . "We have received a ... the capital we need to meet our current goals," ... provide us the runway to complete validation on the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 On ... session at 4,833.32, down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average ... 500 closed at 2,085.45, down 0.17%. has initiated coverage ... INFI ), Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez ... Inc. (NASDAQ: BIND ). Learn more about these ...
Breaking Biology Technology: