If a community of marine animals, existing in a pristine habitat with corals and clean water, was to be suddenly exposed to human activities, such as sewage outflow, fish farming, or sedimentation due to development, what might happen to the biodiversity of that community?
SWIMS staff and students are answering this question with a multi-year transplantation experiment using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS). ARMS are small biodiversity samplers attached to the seabed for one or more years so that a representative marine community can establish itself on a collectable structure for scientists to study. This experiment, funded through a CRF, will allow SWIMS scientists to transplant established communities on ARMS from pristine habitats to ones affected by human activities and vice versa.
In June last month in SWIMS, research staff, students, and volunteers collected and processed 16 transplanted ARMS. While it will be some time before any results are published from the experiment, there are many fascinating organisms to highlight which were observed from the ARMS during this collection.