About one-third of the world’s coral is now threatened with extinction due to climate change, Curtin researchers have made an encouraging discovery of a “lost” species of coral that has been hidden for more than 50 years.
Lead author Dr. David Yushkevich of the Coral Conservation and Research Group at the Laboratory of Traces and DNA of the Environment (TrEnD) of the Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences said the researchers found the coral. Plesiastrea versiporawhich is widespread in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, actually hid a second, mysterious species.
“From Plesiastrea platforms was described about 200 years ago, however over time taxonomists combined it Plesiastrea versipora but now we have resurrected the former species, which has been hidden for more than half a century, ”Mr. Yushkevich said.
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“We’ve walked through 200 years of historical and contemporary literature to first understand the broader morphological characteristics Plesiastrea versiporawhich was first described as the only species in 1816.
“Nougat in various locations in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, we collected samples that were used to study the micromorphology and microstructure of the coral skeleton to further identify its unique complex features.
“After performing genetic sequencing, we found that this species of coral actually contains a second, mysterious species that we named Plesiastrea platforms – and it is located north of the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia and across the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
“The ability to accurately identify species is paramount to qualitative environmental research and conservation decision-making, so this research will allow coral ecologists and biologists to know which species Plesiastrea they are working on it. ”
Mr. Yushkevich said the discovery of the new species helped preserve biodiversity and helped prevent the loss of species diversity.
“Due to the growing impact of climate change on the marine environment, it has never been more important to understand coral species and their location,” said Mr Yushkevich.
“We can’t protect species if we don’t know about their existence or their current geographical range, so this study is a step towards that.
“Because many marine and terrestrial life are threatened by human-induced climate change, this study reinforces our understanding of the tree of life and emphasizes the importance of taxonomic projects that help us understand the organisms that exist on our planet as they are all linked between themselves and how best to protect them. “
IMAGE: Nicole Carey