【机器人LarvalBot:可以为大堡礁运送珊瑚虫宝宝】

【机器人LarvalBot:可以为大堡礁运送珊瑚虫宝宝】化石燃料造成的污染正在使地球升温,使得海水不适合珊瑚生存,即使乐观地预测,世界上的珊瑚也很有可能在本世纪中叶从地球消失。澳大利亚科学家Peter Harrison和Matthew Dunbabin最近联手进行了世界首次实地试验,他们设计的一款LarvalBot机器人,能够捕捉并运送珊瑚幼虫,在受损珊瑚礁区域重新释放和沉淀珊瑚幼虫从而能够发育为成熟的珊瑚。除此之外,它还可以执行拍照调查、水质监测、海洋害虫监控等职务,控制者使用iPad可以对任务进行编程并发送任务信号。

The climate is changing faster than many species can adapt, so scientists are trying to speed up evolution by fostering the spread of creatures who can take the heat. Think of it as natural selection with a little boost from humans—or, in some cases, robots.

To that end, Australian scientists Peter Harrison and Matthew Dunbabin recently teamed up for a world-first field experiment. A robot Dunbabin designed carried coral larvae that Harrison had gathered and dispersed them on part of the Great Barrier Reef. What makes these larvae unique and the groundbreaking experiment especially promising is that the they are heat-tolerant, meaning they not only can survive, but flourish, in warmer waters.

Harrison had collected the larvae from corals that had survived deadly marine heat waves in 2016, 2017 and 2018. "These surviving larvae are likely to have greater ability to withstand heat stress as they survive and grow," Harrison said, meaning they could thrive in a warmer world.

Pollution from fossil fuels is heating up the planet, rendering ocean waters inhospitable for coral. Even in the more optimistic scenarios, virtually all of the world's reefs could be eradicated by mid-century. Ensuring the survival of these natural treasures will depend on cultivating more heat-tolerant corals. That's where the robot, called "LarvalBot," comes in.

"I first thought about the larval restoration concept some decades ago when I was part of the team that discovered the mass coral spawning phenomenon on the Great Barrier Reef in the early 1980s," said Harrison, director of the Marine Ecology Research Centre at Southern Cross University. "Literally billions of coral larvae are produced during mass spawning events from healthy corals, but as coral cover and health have declined to the point where too few larvae are produced from remaining remnant coral populations, we now need to intervene to give nature a helping hand."

"We will be monitoring the survival and growth of juvenile corals as they appear on the reef," Harrison said. "We should start to see juvenile corals after about 9 months when they grow large enough to become visible on the reef."

Later this spring, the researchers plan to send the robot with more larvae to degraded reefs in the Philippines, then will aim for an even larger project on the Great Barrier Reef in late 2019.

One of the advantages of the robot is that it can also monitor the growth of coral reefs, which will help scientists understand how they respond to the larval delivery. This will be critical to scaling up the process. "We need to learn how to restore corals and reefs at larger scales very quickly," Harrison said. "During my lifetime I've witnessed continual degradation of reefs around the world, including parts of the Great Barrier Reef. This is incredibly sad and frustrating."

Dunbabin agreed. "Coral reefs are spectacular! Even now when I jump in the water and see all the fish and colors, I still am in awe of these eco-cities of connected life," he said. "I can't help but feel I need to do something to help restore them to what they were."

https://www.ecowatch.com/great-barrier-reef-larvalbot-2625750101.html


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