REEFLUX builds upon recent and independent research by the team members on the evolution of coral reef structure and functioning. Despite using different approaches, our research consistently suggests a potentially key role of crypto-benthic fish assemblages in supporting the productivity of coral reef ecosystem. Specifically, we posit that the ability of crypto-benthic fishes to efficiently utilize microscopic resources, along with their life-history characteristics, make these taxa a true catalyzer of the trophic dynamics on coral reefs. This would help explaining the high productivity of coral reef system despite their oligotrophic environment. However, crypto-benthic fish fauna strongly depends on the structural complexity of the coral habitat and this structural complexity is presently at risk. Climate-induced coral bleaching produced in 2016 the most distructive global event on record, and for the first time such event is repeating itself for the second year in a row (2017). Future coral reefs will likely be subjected to annual die-off of corals while the ecological consequences of this phenomenon are still largely unknown. If our hypothesis is correct, one of the main source of coral reef food-webs is severely at risk. This would imply that the energy flow reaching large commercial fish species that sustain coastal human population may be severely impacted. REEFLUX aims at building the most detailed food-web for a marine ecosystem using next-generation techniques (i.e. metabarcoding, stable isotopes and compound-specific stable isotopes). Then, we will collect ecological information on the metabolic needs of species and quantify how these needs relate to their food intake. Using field experiments and mesocosms we will study the relationship between crypto-benthic assemblages and climate-induced habitat destruction. Using modeling and simulations informed by field data and experiments we will then test and quantify changes in energy fluxes and productivity of coral reef system according to climate-induced habitat loss.
Monsieur Valeriano Parravicini (Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
UPF Université de la Polynesie Francaise
CRIOBE Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement
University of Townsville
Help of the ANR 299,536 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months