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Seaweed-Munching Crabs Could Help Save Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are facing a steep decline today for many reasons, including climate change, overfishing, pollution, disease, and more. What’s taking their place is lots and lots of seaweed. But researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology now have some encouraging news: native crabs can help to combat the seaweed and restore the reef.

“Experimentally increasing the abundance of large native, herbivorous crabs on coral reefs in the Florida Keys led to rapid declines in seaweed cover and, over the course of a year or so, resulted in the return of small corals and fishes to those reefs,” says Mark Butler of Florida International University. “This opens up a whole new avenue for coral reef restoration.”

Butler and colleagues, including study first author Angelo “Jason” Sp...

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