Coral reefs flourish with high fish urine concentration: Study

Coral reefs flourish with high fish urine concentration: Study

Scientists have discovered that coral reefs flourish in regions with higher fish urine concentration.Fish pee includes high concentration ofphosphorus, which helps corals. As per recent studies, this along with nitrogen released from their gills holds lot of significance for the survival and growth of coral reefs.

Now, latest research has demonstrated how much crucial the ‘fishy waste’ really is. When scientists analyzed regions with heavy fishing, they discovered that nearly 50%of the main nutrients required to maintain a healthy reef ecosystem were lacking.

In a statement, study main author Jacob Allgeier, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said huge, predator fish are actually required to haze the reefs with their pee.

Allgeier said, “Fish hold a large proportion, if not most, of the nutrients in a coral reef in their tissue, and they're also in charge of recycling them. If you take the big fish out, you're removing all of those nutrients from the ecosystem”.

Researchers decided to analyze the impact of such nutrients, and for the same they surveyed 143 fish species at 110 places throughout 43 Caribbean coral reefs. They noted that some sites possessed a few fish due to commercial fishing whereas others were marine preserves with fishing bans.

The researchers noted that reefs with numerous huge, predator fish possessed the healthiest levels of nutrients whereas some big fish had nearly 50%lesser nutrients, including phosphorous and nitrogen, crucial for their survival.

Allgeier said that the study is important to understandsubstitute ways in which fishing is impacting coral reef ecosystems.

The researchers mentioned that when fishers target large fish, including snapper, grouper, and barracuda, both the fish, and their pee, fade away.

According to a report in Live Science by Laura Geggel, "Getting peed on is a good thing, at least for coral reefs, scientists have found. When fish let loose, they release phosphorus into the water. This, combined with nitrogen excreted from their gills, is crucial for coral reef survival and growth, according to recent studies."

"Fish hold a large proportion, if not most, of the nutrients in a coral reef in their tissue, and they're also in charge of recycling them," Allgeier said. "If you take the big fish out, you're removing all of those nutrients from the ecosystem."

To study the impact of these nutrients, researchers surveyed 143 fish species at 110 sites across 43 Caribbean coral reefs. Some reefs had few fish because of commercial fishing, whereas others were marine preserves with fishing bans.

A report published in CS Monitor informed, "It’s no secret that overfishing can diminish biodiversity in marine ecosystems. But in a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers found a second consequence: as fish populations dwindle, coral loses an essential nutrient – fish urine."

“Part of the reason coral reefs work is because animals play a big role in moving nutrients around,” Jacob Allgeier, an ecologist at the University of Washington, said in a statement. “Fish hold a large proportion, if not most of the nutrients in a coral reef in their tissue, and they’re also in charge of recycling them. If you take the big fish out, you’re removing all of those nutrients from the ecosystem.”

Coral reefs are an important resource for large-bodied fish in the Caribbean. They use the reef for shelter during the day, and as a hunting ground by night. Recent studies have shown that coral reefs rely on fish, too. Fish excrete ammonium, an essential nutrient for coral growth, through their gills. And fish urine contains phosphorus, another key nutrient.


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