The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most iconic and unique marine environments.
It is home to some of the largest fish stocks in the world and, in a time of global warming, it has been affected by ocean acidification.
Its population has been slowly declining for decades, and in the past decade, the number of coral reefs on the reef has been falling by about 10 per cent a year.
The number of sea turtles nesting on the Australian mainland has also been decreasing over the past five years, and the number is set to drop even further.
It’s not just a matter of the Great Barrier Island becoming increasingly endangered: the reef is also at risk of losing its unique ecosystem, and losing its diversity.
For many people, the Reef is the most important environmental asset in their lives.
But it’s not always clear how the ecosystem is affected by pollution.
The Great Barre Strait, which runs along the coast of Western Australia and Queensland, is a very important marine habitat, with millions of migratory birds and sea turtles each year, as well as many species of fish and invertebrates.
The reef is a great example of what happens when we start thinking about how ecosystems function in a globalised world, writes Dan Leggett.
The ecosystem is a large system with many species, and each species has its own unique characteristics and needs.
For example, the large northern seabird, which has a long tail, is not a great predator, so it doesn’t need to be in the same area as other species to maintain the same amount of food and energy.
But if it did, it could end up competing for resources with other seabirds, and it might lose that food supply, says Dan Leegett.
This is because the seabed is a complex place with many different ecological processes and interactions, he says.
It can have a large influence on the way a species behaves, as the seagrass acts as a barrier between the ocean and the food chain, and as it provides nutrients and energy to other species.
“It’s a very complex system, with many interacting systems and interactions,” says Leggetti.
“The key thing is that we’re talking about a system with a number of diverse species, so you can’t just look at one individual as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fish.”
It’s important to understand that a large part of the population of seabies depends on food sources that are also dependent on other species, he adds.
“In the past, we didn’t understand the interaction of species and climate, but that’s all changed.”
This means that we can now predict the effects of changing climate on seabecy, and how these changes could affect the future health of the Reef, says Leegetti.
And if the impacts of climate change are being driven by the changes in the seahorse population, the effects on the Great Barriess Strait could be catastrophic.
For instance, there are many examples of the loss of seahorses during climate change.
It would be extremely difficult for them to adapt to climate change, and would result in a loss of habitat, and possibly a reduction in their genetic diversity, he notes.
But this is the main threat facing the reef.
“We’re already seeing a lot of the species that live in the Reef are at risk from climate change and that’s changing the landscape,” he says, adding that the Reef has “a lot of resilience”.
Legget says it’s important that we understand the role of ocean acidifying water and the impact it will have on the reefs, and that we also understand the impacts that climate change will have in the future.
He says it is important that the Great Reef is preserved, but we must be prepared for future climate change that could have an adverse impact on the ecosystem, particularly in the warmer part of Australia.
“If we do see an increase in the frequency of storms, it will mean that the seawater will become less acidic, so that the species living in the water will be affected more,” he explains.
“This means that there will be less nutrients available to them, which will cause them to go extinct.”
He warns that the reef will also be affected by the impacts climate change is having on coral reefs.
“You can’t have a coral reef without a coral reefs, but if we don’t do our job we will lose our reefs,” he warns.
“Coral reefs are a crucial habitat, it’s a really important part of our ecosystem.”