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Marine study shows how climate change accelerates ecosystem collapse

By Caleb Radford

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A marine life study has demonstrated how climate change can speed up the destruction of entire aquatic ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide in South Australia have constructed a three-level food web to show how ocean acidification combined with warmer sea temperatures could destroy marine biodiversity over the next century.

Published today in Global Change Biology, the researchers found that high CO2 expected by the end of the century which causes ocean acidification will boost production at different levels of the food web.

However, ocean warming cancelled this benefit by causing stress to marine animals, preventing them using the increased resources efficiently for their own growth and development, leading to a food web collapse.

It is the most comprehensive study of its kind that looks at how global warming affects multiple layers of an ecosystem instead of individual species only.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system that stretches out for about 2300km along Australia’s east coast.

Last year, increasing ocean temperatures caused a bleaching phenomenon where sections of the reef began to rapidly deteriorate, sparking global environmental concern.

Project leader Ivan Nagelkerken said the protection of natural habitats, such as the Great Barrier Reef...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.