Global warming accelerates its occurrence. Corals lose color due to rising water temperatures. They lose algae and microorganisms. This already affects many other species. What is the danger of white corals?
It happens with reef fish. Apparently, their behavioral changes affect their survival. Scientists from the United Kingdom and the United States studied reefs in five regions of the Indo-Pacific. They found that butterflyfish have difficulty identifying competing species and responding appropriately. Thus, they make poorer decisions that prevent them from avoiding unnecessary fights. The study is in Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences.
The authors elaborate. “By recognizing a competitor, fish can decide whether to intensify the fight or withdraw from it. They save valuable energy and avoid injury. These rules of engagement evolved for a particular playing field. But that terrain is changing –they continue in a statement. The bleaching alters the abundance and identity of corals, a food source for butterfly fish”.
More than 3,700 observations were made of 38 species of butterflyfish on reefs. It was done before and after coral bleaching. Thus and compared their behaviors. And it was possible to measure the danger of white corals.
Environmental disturbances affect fish recognition and responses. Bleaching episodes cause many corals to die. This forces fish species to change and diversify their diets and territories. Large-scale environmental changes are disrupting long-standing co-evolved relationships.
According to the authors, “We look at how behavior responds to real changes in the environment. And we see that those changes are the same regardless of location. We can begin to predict how ecological communities might change in the future. In the long term, they could seriously harm the species,” they conclude.