Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coral species may be extinct within 50 years, warn scientists as they reveal most endangered

By GRAHAM SMITH

Endangered: The crisp pillow coral is one of ten species at greatest risk of becoming extinct, scientist warned today


Scientists have identified the ten coral species at greatest risk of becoming extinct.

Led by experts at London Zoo, the Edge Coral Reefs project has prioritised the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species that conservationists fear will die out in the next 50 years.

Among those singled out as urgently in need of conservation are the crisp pillow coral, which resembles a brain, and the elegance coral, which has glowing tubular tentacles.


Elegance coral: Current worst case predictions suggest that tropical coral reefs will be functionally extinct within the next 30 to 50 years


Current worst case predictions suggest that tropical coral reefs, which have evolved over millions of years, will be functionally extinct within the next 30 to 50 years.

Saving these species could hold the key to the future adaptation of coral reefs to climate change, the scientists said at the project's launch today.

The other species prioritised include are the pearl bubble coral, which is a favoured food source of the hawksbill turtle, and the Mushroom coral, which supports at least 15 brightly coloured shrimp including the popcorn shrimp.

The species are found in some of the world’s most famous coral reefs, from the Great Barrier Reef to the waters surrounding the Chagos Archipelago.


These prehistoric ecosystems have been around for 400million years and support one third of all marine life, despite only inhabiting 0.2 per cent of the ocean floor.


Dr Heather Koldewey, of London Zoo, said: 'Corals are one of the most threatened groups of animals on our planet and iconic flagships of the marine environment.

The Edge conservation team will now train scientists to carry out vital conservation research on the ten focal species.

The plan is to develop a greater understanding of their status and determine the most effective methods for conserving them.


Mushroom coral: The Edge Coral Reefs conservation project has prioritised the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species

source: dailymail


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms