Isolation of Australia's Great Barrier Reef could increase risk of local extinction of marine life, say experts.
"Isolated reefs receive relatively fewer 'immigrant' fish from adjacent reefs. If there is a disturbance to the population, such as a cyclone or coral bleaching, fish species on isolated reefs are much slower to recover.
These populations are not as resilient to changes and are not easily replenished, increasing their probability of extinction," said project leader Dr Camille Mellin, a Postdoctoral Fellow from AIMS and the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.
In populated reefs, increased competition between species, partly because of predators, keeps the population size in check.
As a result of the research, a map has been produced predicting the patterns of variability of coral reef fish species on the Great Barrier Reef.
With this research, if scientists can obtain data for other reefs around the world, they can assess threats to species in those parts of the world using the same techniques.
The results have been published in Ecology. (ANI)