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Coral reefs, abundant with many living organisms, are unique and remarkable environment that fascinates us more and more as we study. However, this system is now teetering on the brink edge of extinction. Corals throughout the world now suffer from environmental pressures including sedimentation, eutrophication, harmful fishing practices (such as using dynamite) and mass coral bleaching (one occurred throughout the world in 1998). Those stresses are to some extent, caused by human activities. For example, the outflow of terrestrial sediments is caused by deforestation, especially that of mangrove stands in vicinity of coral reefs. On the other hand, eutrophication is caused by release of nutrient-rich runoff from farmlands. The environmental conditions of corals are deteriorating: more than 60% of coral reefs are said to be under crisis.

Here in Nadaoka Laboratory, we are working towards environmental preservation and recovery of coral ecosystem in all its aspects. Instead of dealing with every component separately, we consider coral ecosystem as a whole, including other variety of living things, both plants and animals, that are coexist with corals. Our aim is to analyze environmental stresses, which damage this ecosystem by remote sensing, field surveys and modeling. Also, we also determine the tolerance level of these stresses. When we think of a coral ecosystem, we cannot cut off its periphery. Many people live near the coral reefs and are dependent on coastal resources. When we regard this as “human-coral mutualism”, it is important for us to consider how humans should live in order to keep the environment in suitable levels.

Based on scientific grounds, we should quantify environmental stresses and how corals react or tolerate. We cannot start discussing preservation of coral ecosystem scientifically and concretely until we provide solutions to reconcile and harmonize “the sea (coral reefs)” and “land (human)” environments. Our research into coral ecosystem respond to this challenge. We believe that preservation and recovery of coral ecosystem is a great theme that cannot be dealt with by only one kind of specialist.

Therefore, as you can see in our HP, we conduct field survey in cooperation with other specialists like in CREO(Coral Reef Environments in Okinawa)project. Most of Nadaoka Lab members originally majored in ocean physics and fluid mechanics. Now we have Dr Harii, a marine biologist, for a research associate. The laboratory itself is becoming multi-field laboratory looking into various environmental issues. This approach is based on the belief that environmental research should essentially be multidiscplinary.

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Last Update : 2007.05.14