Scientific model maps coral reefs status

Scientific model maps coral reefs status

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NEW YORK, April 21 (UPI) — U.S. and Dutch researchers have created a scientific model that can map where coral reefs are in the most trouble and where they can best be protected.

Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York and the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands said the model synthesizes several ocean conditions, including photosynthetic and ultraviolet light, and factors them into previous reports of coral stress or bleaching. The data are then used to map the distribution of inhospitable conditions.

The researchers found much of the northern Indian Ocean contains very stressful environments for corals, with areas of the Maldives and the Seychelles falling in the middle of the most severe conditions. The least stressed reefs have been found in an area east and just north of Madagascar.

“Despite the large areas in high and severe stress, the model suggests that there are some reefs with less stressful conditions and more reasons for hope,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Timothy McClanahan, one of the study’s authors.

The model was detailed in a recent issue of the journal Ecological Modeling.