Ecological Processes Can
     Also Be Domesticated

During the 1970ís Walter Adey and his team of student researchers studied high solar energy capture on Caribbean coral reefs. They found that most of the primary productivity occurred in the algal turfs growing on dead coral. This theory was tested by growing algal turfs on plastic screens and mimicking the grazing of parrot fish, snails and urchins by removing and scraping the algal biomass from the screens once per week. A field aquaculture process for herbivorous crabs was developed from this procedure.

When these screens were taken into the laboratory, and wave surge and current applied in a well-lighted trough, it was possible to reproduce the high levels of light capture and production seen in the wild and eventually use the device in a self-seeding process to control water quality in coral reef aquaria.

Thus was born the algal turf scrubber, a mimicry of an ecological process in an engineered environment. Most aquatic environments have similar algal turf species, adapted to localized high energy situations, that can become dominant given the engineered ATS environment.

Algal turfs growing on test screens in tropical waters at 3-6 ppb Nitrogen.

Harvesting algal turf test screen from very low nutrient waters in a tropical reef lagoon.