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Researchers with the State of Hawai'i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa found a management approach that combining manual removal and outplanting native urchin was effective at reducing invasive, reef smothering macroalgae by 85% on a coral reef off O'ahu, Hawai'i.
Globally, the health of coral reefs is threatened due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. However, local factors such as invasive macroalgae also pose a serious risk to coral reefs—monopolizing reef habitats, and overgrowing and smothering native species, such as corals.
Brian - J - Neilson - Acting - Administrator
Brian J. Neilson, Acting Administrator at DAR, and Chris Wall, doctoral candidate at HIMB in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and others tested a novel approach to curbing the abundance of invasive macroalgae on the coral reefs of Kāne'ohe Bay, O'ahu. First, divers manually removed invasive macroalgae with the assistance of an underwater vacuum system, "The Super Sucker." Then, hatchery-raised juvenile sea urchins (the Hawaiian native collector urchin, Tripneustes gratilla) were outplanted to graze on invasive algae to control regrowth.
In total, the team removed over 40,000 pounds of invasive macroalgae, outplanted 99,000 sea urchins, and treated nearly six acres of reef area over two years. During this period, invasive macroalgae declined in response to treatments, and importantly, there were no observed negative effects to important reef calcifiers such as corals and crustose coralline algae.
Options - Macroalgae - Damage - Study - Scientists
Unfortunately, there are often limited options for reducing invasive macroalgae without causing further environmental damage. Prior to this study, scientists at DAR, UH Mānoa and the Nature Conservancy...
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