Rebuilding Coral Reefs With Sound
Rapid ocean warming and other effects caused by climate change have stressed and degraded corals around the globe, and scientists have been studying ways to rebuild, manage and conserve these vital ecosystems. A new Australian study published in Journal of Applied Ecology tested whether playing certain sounds underwater at reef restoration sites could boost the recruitment of oysters and enhance their habitat-building efforts. Australia’s flat oyster is a key reef-building organism targeted for restoration efforts.
Previous studies had shown that the sound of healthy reefs differs from that of damaged reefs. Using inexpensive marine speakers, the researchers reproduced the sound of a healthy reef at four sites across two of the largest oyster reef restorations in Australia and compared the results to areas that did not receive this soundscape enrichment. The sonically enhanced areas resulted in the presence of more and larger oysters that formed more three-dimensional habitats atop the reef restorations. The scientists propose that the use of marine soundscapes during early stages of new reef restoration projects could reduce the cost of habitat recovery.