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What can tropical rabbitfish teach us about seagrass?


Ocean temperatures are warming with climate change and that means tropical fish are moving away from the equator to cooler waters. ECU researchers are investigating how one species is affecting seagrass meadows near Perth.
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ECU researchers are investigating how tropical rabbitfish might be affecting WA's seagrass meadows.

Ocean temperatures are warming with climate change and that means tropical fish are moving away from the equator to cooler waters. ECU researchers are investigating how one species is affecting seagrass meadows near Perth.

ECU School of Science researchers Maria Samsonova and Casper Avenant are trying to find out what impact rabbitfish might have on the seagrass meadows off the coast of Perth and Western Australia's South West.

A process known as tropicalisation is forcing tropical species like rabbitfish to move their habitat ranges south along the Western Australian coast as waters warm with climate change.

The researchers are part of a team from ECU's Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research looking at the fish's diet and feeding patterns to figure out if these new arrivals will have an impact on the important marine ecosystems.

Seagrass are important breeding grounds and habitats for a range of recreational fish species including whiting and squid.

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