Researchers from UC Santa Barbara studied the reefs surrounding the South Pacific Island of Moorea. The reefs have experience live coral losses in the past from cyclones and predators, but have recovered each time.
Researchers found that the number of herbivorous fish and animals increased following the loss of live coral. Following the loss of live coral, reefs can become overrun with algae, which make it difficult for new coral to grow.
With an oversupply of algae, the reef becomes a breeding ground for herbivorous fish, like parrotfish and surgeonfish. With more herbivorous fish near the reef, algae is kept at low levels, helping new coral to grow.