WorldWideScience

Sample records for barrier reef corals

  1. Coral Reef Community Composition in the Context of Disturbance History on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    OpenAIRE

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, an...

  2. Coral Reef Community Composition in the Context of Disturbance History on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  3. Coral reef community composition in the context of disturbance history on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Chong-Seng, Karen M; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A; Nash, Kirsty L

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  4. Coral reef community composition in the context of disturbance history on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas A J Graham

    Full Text Available Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed and reef zone (slope, crest and flat into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral

  5. Fluorescence color diversity of great barrier reef corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Grigory Lapshin

    2015-07-01

    Full Text Available A group of variously colored proteins belonging to the green fluorescent protein (GFP family are responsible for coloring coral tissues. Corals of the Great Barrier Reef were studied with the custom-built fiber laser fluorescence spectrometers. Spectral analysis showed that most of the examined corals contained multiple fluorescent peaks ranging from 470 to 620 nm. This observation was attributed to the presence of multiple genes of GFP-like proteins in a single coral, as well as by the photo-induced post-translational modifications of certain GFP-like proteins. We isolated a novel photo-convertible fluorescent protein (FP from one of the tested corals. We propose that two processes may explain the observed diversity of the fluorescent spectra in corals: (1 dark post-translational modification (maturation, and (2 color photo-conversion of certain maturated proteins in response to sunlight.

  6. Coral reefs on the edge? Carbon chemistry on inshore reefs of the great barrier reef.

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    Sven Uthicke

    Full Text Available While increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 concentration alters global water chemistry (Ocean Acidification; OA, the degree of changes vary on local and regional spatial scales. Inshore fringing coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR are subjected to a variety of local pressures, and some sites may already be marginal habitats for corals. The spatial and temporal variation in directly measured parameters: Total Alkalinity (TA and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC concentration, and derived parameters: partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2; pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar were measured at 14 inshore reefs over a two year period in the GBR region. Total Alkalinity varied between 2069 and 2364 µmol kg-1 and DIC concentrations ranged from 1846 to 2099 µmol kg-1. This resulted in pCO2 concentrations from 340 to 554 µatm, with higher values during the wet seasons and pCO2 on inshore reefs distinctly above atmospheric values. However, due to temperature effects, Ωar was not further reduced in the wet season. Aragonite saturation on inshore reefs was consistently lower and pCO2 higher than on GBR reefs further offshore. Thermodynamic effects contribute to this, and anthropogenic runoff may also contribute by altering productivity (P, respiration (R and P/R ratios. Compared to surveys 18 and 30 years ago, pCO2 on GBR mid- and outer-shelf reefs has risen at the same rate as atmospheric values (∼1.7 µatm yr-1 over 30 years. By contrast, values on inshore reefs have increased at 2.5 to 3 times higher rates. Thus, pCO2 levels on inshore reefs have disproportionately increased compared to atmospheric levels. Our study suggests that inshore GBR reefs are more vulnerable to OA and have less buffering capacity compared to offshore reefs. This may be caused by anthropogenically induced trophic changes in the water column and benthos of inshore reefs subjected to land runoff.

  7. Patterns of biophonic periodicity on coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McWilliam, Jamie N; McCauley, Robert D; Erbe, Christine; Parsons, Miles J G

    2017-12-12

    The coral reefs surrounding Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef have a diverse soundscape that contains an array of bioacoustic phenomena, notably choruses produced by fishes. Six fish choruses identified around Lizard Island exhibited distinctive spatial and temporal patterns from 2014 to 2016. Several choruses displayed site fidelity, indicating that particular sites may represent important habitat for fish species, such as fish spawning aggregations sites. The choruses displayed a broad range of periodicities, from diel to annual, which provides new insights into the ecology of vocalising reef fish species and the surrounding ecosystem. All choruses were affected by one or more environmental variables including temperature and moonlight, the latter of which had a significant influence on the timing and received sound levels. These findings highlight the utility of passive acoustic tools for long-term monitoring and management of coral reefs, which is highly relevant in light of recent global disturbance events, particularly coral bleaching.

  8. Coral reef aerosol emissions in response to irradiance stress in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cropp, Roger; Gabric, Albert; van Tran, Dien; Jones, Graham; Swan, Hilton; Butler, Harry

    2018-02-03

    We investigate the correlation between stress-related compounds produced by corals of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and local atmospheric properties-an issue that goes to the core of the coral ecosystem's ability to survive climate change. We relate the variability in a satellite decadal time series of fine-mode aerosol optical depth (AOD) to a coral stress metric, formulated as a function of irradiance, water clarity, and tide, at Heron Island in the southern GBR. We found that AOD was correlated with the coral stress metric, and the correlation increased at low wind speeds, when horizontal advection of air masses was low and the production of non-biogenic aerosols was minimal. We posit that coral reefs may be able to protect themselves from irradiance stress during calm weather by affecting the optical properties of the atmosphere and local incident solar radiation.

  9. Coral reef origins of atmospheric dimethylsulfide at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swan, Hilton B.; Jones, Graham B.; Deschaseaux, Elisabeth S. M.; Eyre, Bradley D.

    2017-01-01

    Atmospheric dimethylsulfide (DMSa), continually derived from the world's oceans, is a feed gas for the tropospheric production of new sulfate particles, leading to cloud condensation nuclei that influence the formation and properties of marine clouds and ultimately the Earth's radiation budget. Previous studies on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, have indicated coral reefs are significant sessile sources of DMSa capable of enhancing the tropospheric DMSa burden mainly derived from phytoplankton in the surface ocean; however, specific environmental evidence of coral reef DMS emissions and their characteristics is lacking. By using on-site automated continuous analysis of DMSa and meteorological parameters at Heron Island in the southern GBR, we show that the coral reef was the source of occasional spikes of DMSa identified above the oceanic DMSa background signal. In most instances, these DMSa spikes were detected at low tide under low wind speeds, indicating they originated from the lagoonal platform reef surrounding the island, although evidence of longer-range transport of DMSa from a 70 km stretch of coral reefs in the southern GBR was also observed. The most intense DMSa spike occurred in the winter dry season at low tide when convective precipitation fell onto the aerially exposed platform reef. This co-occurrence of events appeared to biologically shock the coral resulting in a seasonally aberrant extreme DMSa spike concentration of 45.9 nmol m-3 (1122 ppt). Seasonal DMS emission fluxes for the 2012 wet season and 2013 dry season campaigns at Heron Island were 5.0 and 1.4 µmol m-2 day-1, respectively, of which the coral reef was estimated to contribute 4 % during the wet season and 14 % during the dry season to the dominant oceanic flux.

  10. Coral bleaching: one disturbance too many for near-shore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef

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    Thompson, A. A.; Dolman, A. M.

    2010-09-01

    The dynamic nature of coral communities can make it difficult to judge whether a reef system is resilient to the current disturbance regime. To address this question of resilience for near-shore coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) a data set consisting of 350 annual observations of benthic community change was compiled from existing monitoring data. These data spanned the period 1985-2007 and were derived from coral reefs within 20 km of the coast. During years without major disturbance events, cover increase of the Acroporidae was much faster than it was for other coral families; a median of 11% per annum compared to medians of less than 4% for other coral families. Conversely, Acroporidae were more severely affected by cyclones and bleaching events than most other families. A simulation model parameterised with these observations indicated that while recovery rates of hard corals were sufficient to compensate for impacts associated with cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish, the advent of mass bleaching has lead to a significant change in the composition of the community and a rapid decline in hard coral cover. Furthermore, if bleaching events continue to occur with the same frequency and severity as in the recent past, the model predicts that the cover of Acroporidae will continue to decline. Although significant cover of live coral remains on near-shore reefs, and recovery is observed during inter-disturbance periods, it appears that this system will not be resilient to the recent disturbance regime over the long term. Conservation strategies for coral reefs should focus on both mitigating local factors that act synergistically to increase the susceptibility of Acroporidae to climate change while promoting initiatives that maximise the recovery potential from inevitable disturbances.

  11. An observational heat budget analysis of a coral reef, Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    MacKellar, Mellissa C.; McGowan, Hamish A.; Phinn, Stuart R.

    2013-03-01

    Measurements of the surface energy balance, the structure and evolution of the convective atmospheric reef layer (CARL), and local meteorology and hydrodynamics were made during June 2009 and February 2010 at Heron Reef, Australia, to establish the relative partitioning of heating within the water and atmosphere. Horizontal advection was shown to moderate temperature in the CARL and the water, having a cooling influence on the atmosphere, and providing an additional source or sink of energy to the water overlying the reef, depending on tide. The key driver of atmospheric heating was surface sensible heat flux, while heating of the reef water was primarily due to solar radiation, and thermal conduction and convection from the reef substrate. Heating and cooling processes were more defined during winter due to higher sensible and latent heat fluxes and strong diurnal evolution of the CARL. Sudden increases in water temperature were associated with inundation of warmer oceanic water during the flood tide, particularly in winter due to enhanced nocturnal cooling of water overlying the reef. Similarly, cooling of the water over the reef occurred during the ebb tide as heat was transported off the reef to the surrounding ocean. While these results are the first to shed light on the heat budget of a coral reef and overlying CARL, longer-term, systematic measurements of reef thermal budgets are needed under a range of meteorological and hydrodynamic conditions, and across various reef types to elucidate the influence on larger-scale oceanic and atmospheric processes. This is essential for understanding the role of coral reefs in tropical and sub-tropical meteorology; the physical processes that take place during coral bleaching events, and coral and algal community dynamics on coral reefs.

  12. Predicting the location and spatial extent of submerged coral reef habitat in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bridge, Tom; Beaman, Robin; Done, Terry; Webster, Jody

    2012-01-01

    Coral reef communities occurring in deeper waters have received little research effort compared to their shallow-water counterparts, and even such basic information as their location and extent are currently unknown throughout most of the world. Using the Great Barrier Reef as a case study, habitat suitability modelling is used to predict the distribution of deep-water coral reef communities on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We test the effectiveness of a range of geophysical and environmental variables for predicting the location of deep-water coral reef communities on the Great Barrier Reef. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Maximum entropy modelling is used to identify the spatial extent of two broad communities of habitat-forming megabenthos phototrophs and heterotrophs. Models were generated using combinations of geophysical substrate properties derived from multibeam bathymetry and environmental data derived from Bio-ORACLE, combined with georeferenced occurrence records of mesophotic coral communities from autonomous underwater vehicle, remotely operated vehicle and SCUBA surveys. Model results are used to estimate the total amount of mesophotic coral reef habitat on the GBR. Our models predict extensive but previously undocumented coral communities occurring both along the continental shelf-edge of the Great Barrier Reef and also on submerged reefs inside the lagoon. Habitat suitability for phototrophs is highest on submerged reefs along the outer-shelf and the deeper flanks of emergent reefs inside the GBR lagoon, while suitability for heterotrophs is highest in the deep waters along the shelf-edge. Models using only geophysical variables consistently outperformed models incorporating environmental data for both phototrophs and heterotrophs. Extensive submerged coral reef communities that are currently undocumented are likely to occur throughout the Great Barrier Reef. High-quality bathymetry data can be used to identify these reefs, which may play an

  13. Recruitment Variability of Coral Reef Sessile Communities of the Far North Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Luter, Heidi M; Duckworth, Alan R; Wolff, Carsten W; Evans-Illidge, Elizabeth; Whalan, Steve

    2016-01-01

    One of the key components in assessing marine sessile organism demography is determining recruitment patterns to benthic habitats. An analysis of serially deployed recruitment tiles across depth (6 and 12 m), seasons (summer and winter) and space (meters to kilometres) was used to quantify recruitment assemblage structure (abundance and percent cover) of corals, sponges, ascidians, algae and other sessile organisms from the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Polychaetes were most abundant on recruitment titles, reaching almost 50% of total recruitment, yet covered reefs.

  14. Lower Mesophotic Coral Communities (60-125 m Depth of the Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Norbert Englebert

    Full Text Available Mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific remain relatively unexplored, particularly at lower mesophotic depths (≥60 m, despite their potentially large spatial extent. Here, we used a remotely operated vehicle to conduct a qualitative assessment of the zooxanthellate coral community at lower mesophotic depths (60-125 m at 10 different locations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Lower mesophotic coral communities were present at all 10 locations, with zooxanthellate scleractinian corals extending down to ~100 metres on walls and ~125 m on steep slopes. Lower mesophotic coral communities were most diverse in the 60-80 m zone, while at depths of ≥100 m the coral community consisted almost exclusively of the genus Leptoseris. Collections of coral specimens (n = 213 between 60 and 125 m depth confirmed the presence of at least 29 different species belonging to 18 genera, including several potential new species and geographic/depth range extensions. Overall, this study highlights that lower mesophotic coral ecosystems are likely to be ubiquitous features on the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and atolls of the Coral Sea, and harbour a generic and species richness of corals that is much higher than thus far reported. Further research efforts are urgently required to better understand and manage these ecosystems as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

  15. Lower Mesophotic Coral Communities (60-125 m Depth) of the Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Englebert, Norbert; Bongaerts, Pim; Muir, Paul R; Hay, Kyra B; Pichon, Michel; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2017-01-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific remain relatively unexplored, particularly at lower mesophotic depths (≥60 m), despite their potentially large spatial extent. Here, we used a remotely operated vehicle to conduct a qualitative assessment of the zooxanthellate coral community at lower mesophotic depths (60-125 m) at 10 different locations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Lower mesophotic coral communities were present at all 10 locations, with zooxanthellate scleractinian corals extending down to ~100 metres on walls and ~125 m on steep slopes. Lower mesophotic coral communities were most diverse in the 60-80 m zone, while at depths of ≥100 m the coral community consisted almost exclusively of the genus Leptoseris. Collections of coral specimens (n = 213) between 60 and 125 m depth confirmed the presence of at least 29 different species belonging to 18 genera, including several potential new species and geographic/depth range extensions. Overall, this study highlights that lower mesophotic coral ecosystems are likely to be ubiquitous features on the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and atolls of the Coral Sea, and harbour a generic and species richness of corals that is much higher than thus far reported. Further research efforts are urgently required to better understand and manage these ecosystems as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

  16. The 27-year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes.

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    De'ath, Glenn; Fabricius, Katharina E; Sweatman, Hugh; Puotinen, Marji

    2012-10-30

    The world's coral reefs are being degraded, and the need to reduce local pressures to offset the effects of increasing global pressures is now widely recognized. This study investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of coral cover, identifies the main drivers of coral mortality, and quantifies the rates of potential recovery of the Great Barrier Reef. Based on the world's most extensive time series data on reef condition (2,258 surveys of 214 reefs over 1985-2012), we show a major decline in coral cover from 28.0% to 13.8% (0.53% y(-1)), a loss of 50.7% of initial coral cover. Tropical cyclones, coral predation by crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and coral bleaching accounted for 48%, 42%, and 10% of the respective estimated losses, amounting to 3.38% y(-1) mortality rate. Importantly, the relatively pristine northern region showed no overall decline. The estimated rate of increase in coral cover in the absence of cyclones, COTS, and bleaching was 2.85% y(-1), demonstrating substantial capacity for recovery of reefs. In the absence of COTS, coral cover would increase at 0.89% y(-1), despite ongoing losses due to cyclones and bleaching. Thus, reducing COTS populations, by improving water quality and developing alternative control measures, could prevent further coral decline and improve the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef. Such strategies can, however, only be successful if climatic conditions are stabilized, as losses due to bleaching and cyclones will otherwise increase.

  17. Seasonal Dynamical Prediction of Coral Bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Spillman, C. M.; Alves, O.

    2009-05-01

    Sea surface temperature (SST) is now recognised as the primary cause of mass coral bleaching events. Coral bleaching occurs during times of stress, particularly when SSTs exceed the coral colony's tolerance level. Global warming is potentially a serious threat to the future of the world's reef systems with predictions by the international community that bleaching will increase in both frequency and severity. Advance warning of anomalous sea surface temperatures, and thus potential bleaching events, would allow for the implementation of management strategies to minimise reef damage. Seasonal SST forecasts from the coupled ocean-atmosphere model POAMA (Bureau of Meteorology) have skill in the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) several months into the future. We will present model forecasts and probabilistic products for use in reef management, and assess model skill in the region. These products will revolutionise the way in which coral bleaching events are monitored and assessed in the Great Barrier Reef and Australian region.

  18. Impact Of Coral Structures On Wave Directional Spreading Across A Shallow Reef Flat - Lizard Island, Northern Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leon, J. X.; Baldock, T.; Callaghan, D. P.; Hoegh-guldberg, O.; Mumby, P.; Phinn, S. R.; Roelfsema, C. M.; Saunders, M. I.

    2013-12-01

    Coral reef hydrodynamics operate at several and overlapping spatial-temporal scales. Waves have the most important forcing function on shallow (stress, directly mixing water (temperature and nutrients) and transporting sediments, nutrients and plankton. Reef flats are very effective at dissipating wave energy and providing an important ecosystem service by protecting highly valued shorelines. The effectiveness of reef flats to dissipate wave energy is related to the extreme hydraulic roughness of the benthos and substrate composition. Hydraulic roughness is usually obtained empirically from frictional-dissipation calculations, as detailed field measurements of bottom roughness (e.g. chain-method or profile gauges) is a very labour and time-consuming task. In this study we measured the impact of coral structures on wave directional spreading. Field data was collected during October 2012 across a reef flat on Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Wave surface levels were measured using an array of self-logging pressure sensors. A rapid in situ close-range photogrammetric method was used to create a high-resolution (0.5 cm) image mosaic and digital elevation model. Individual coral heads were extracted from these datasets using geo-morphometric and object-based image analysis techniques. Wave propagation was modelled using a modified version of the SWAN model which includes the measured coral structures in 2m by 1m cells across the reef. The approach followed a cylinder drag approach, neglecting skin friction and inertial components. Testing against field data included bed skin friction. Our results show, for the first time, how the variability of the reef benthos structures affects wave dissipation across a shallow reef flat. This has important implications globally for coral reefs, due to the large extent of their area occupied by reef flats, particularly, as global-scale degradation in coral reef health is causing a lowering of reef carbonate production that

  19. Water quality and coral bleaching thresholds: formalising the linkage for the inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wooldridge, Scott A

    2009-05-01

    The threats of wide-scale coral bleaching and reef demise associated with anthropogenic climate change are widely known. Here, the additional role of poor water quality in lowering the thermal tolerance (i.e. bleaching 'resistance') of symbiotic reef corals is considered. In particular, a quantitative linkage is established between terrestrially-sourced dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) loading and the upper thermal bleaching thresholds of inshore reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Significantly, this biophysical linkage provides concrete evidence for the oft-expressed belief that improved coral reef management will increase the regional-scale survival prospects of corals reefs to global climate change. Indeed, for inshore reef areas with a high runoff exposure risk, it is shown that the potential benefit of this 'local' management imperative is equivalent to approximately 2.0-2.5 degrees C in relation to the upper thermal bleaching limit; though in this case, a potentially cost-prohibitive reduction in end-of-river DIN of >50-80% would be required. An integrated socio-economic modelling framework is outlined that will assist future efforts to understand (optimise) the alternate tradeoffs that the water quality/coral bleaching linkage presents.

  20. Disturbance and the dynamics of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995-2009).

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    Osborne, Kate; Dolman, Andrew M; Burgess, Scott C; Johns, Kerryn A

    2011-03-10

    Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from chronic and acute stressors that threaten their continued existence. Most obvious among changes to reefs is loss of hard coral cover, but a precise multi-scale estimate of coral cover dynamics for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently lacking. Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009. Subregional trends (10-100 km) in hard coral were diverse with some being very dynamic and others changing little. Coral cover increased in six subregions and decreased in seven subregions. Persistent decline of corals occurred in one subregion for hard coral and Acroporidae and in four subregions in non-Acroporidae families. Change in Acroporidae accounted for 68% of change in hard coral. Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10-100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery.

  1. Disturbance and the dynamics of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995-2009.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kate Osborne

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from chronic and acute stressors that threaten their continued existence. Most obvious among changes to reefs is loss of hard coral cover, but a precise multi-scale estimate of coral cover dynamics for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR is currently lacking. Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years with no net decline between 1995 and 2009. Subregional trends (10-100 km in hard coral were diverse with some being very dynamic and others changing little. Coral cover increased in six subregions and decreased in seven subregions. Persistent decline of corals occurred in one subregion for hard coral and Acroporidae and in four subregions in non-Acroporidae families. Change in Acroporidae accounted for 68% of change in hard coral. Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10-100 km, driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery.

  2. Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

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    Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi; Riginos, Cynthia; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2016-07-01

    Connectivity underpins the persistence and recovery of marine ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and managed by an extensive network of no-take zones; however, information about connectivity was not available to optimize the network's configuration. We use multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering algorithms and assignment tests of the largest population genetic data set for any organism on the GBR to date (Acropora tenuis, >2500 colonies; >50 reefs, genotyped for ten microsatellite loci) to demonstrate highly congruent patterns of connectivity between this common broadcast spawning reef-building coral and its congener Acropora millepora (~950 colonies; 20 reefs, genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci). For both species, there is a genetic divide at around 19°S latitude, most probably reflecting allopatric differentiation during the Pleistocene. GBR reefs north of 19°S are essentially panmictic whereas southern reefs are genetically distinct with higher levels of genetic diversity and population structure, most notably genetic subdivision between inshore and offshore reefs south of 19°S. These broadly congruent patterns of higher genetic diversities found on southern GBR reefs most likely represent the accumulation of alleles via the southward flowing East Australia Current. In addition, signatures of genetic admixture between the Coral Sea and outer-shelf reefs in the northern, central and southern GBR provide evidence of recent gene flow. Our connectivity results are consistent with predictions from recently published larval dispersal models for broadcast spawning corals on the GBR, thereby providing robust connectivity information about the dominant reef-building genus Acropora for coral reef managers. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  3. Disease outbreaks, bleaching and a cyclone drive changes in coral assemblages on an inshore reef of the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haapkylä, J.; Melbourne-Thomas, J.; Flavell, M.; Willis, B. L.

    2013-09-01

    Coral disease is a major threat to the resilience of coral reefs; thus, understanding linkages between disease outbreaks and disturbances predicted to increase with climate change is becoming increasingly important. Coral disease surveys conducted twice yearly between 2008 and 2011 at a turbid inshore reef in the central Great Barrier Reef spanned two disturbance events, a coral bleaching event in 2009 and a severe cyclone (cyclone `Yasi') in 2011. Surveys of coral cover, community structure and disease prevalence throughout this 4-yr study provide a unique opportunity to explore cumulative impacts of disturbance events and disease for inshore coral assemblages. The principal coral disease at the study site was atramentous necrosis (AtN), and it primarily affected the key inshore, reef-building coral Montipora aequituberculata. Other diseases detected were growth anomalies, white syndrome and brown band syndrome. Diseases affected eight coral genera, although Montipora was, by far, the genus mostly affected. The prevalence of AtN followed a clear seasonal pattern, with disease outbreaks occurring only in wet seasons. Mean prevalence of AtN on Montipora spp. (63.8 % ± 3.03) was three- to tenfold greater in the wet season of 2009, which coincided with the 2009 bleaching event, than in other years. Persistent wet season outbreaks of AtN combined with the impacts of bleaching and cyclone events resulted in a 50-80 % proportional decline in total coral cover. The greatest losses of branching and tabular acroporids occurred following the low-salinity-induced bleaching event of 2009, and the greatest losses of laminar montiporids occurred following AtN outbreaks in 2009 and in 2011 following cyclone Yasi. The shift to a less diverse coral assemblage and the concomitant loss of structural complexity are likely to have long-term consequences for associated vertebrate and invertebrate communities on Magnetic Island reefs.

  4. Coral skeletons provide historical evidence of phosphorus runoff on the great barrier reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jennie Mallela

    Full Text Available Recently, the inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef have declined rapidly because of deteriorating water quality. Increased catchment runoff is one potential culprit. The impacts of land-use on coral growth and reef health however are largely circumstantial due to limited long-term data on water quality and reef health. Here we use a 60 year coral core record to show that phosphorus contained in the skeletons (P/Ca of long-lived, near-shore Porites corals on the Great Barrier Reef correlates with annual records of fertiliser application and particulate phosphorus loads in the adjacent catchment. Skeletal P/Ca also correlates with Ba/Ca, a proxy for fluvial sediment loading, again linking near-shore phosphorus records with river runoff. Coral core records suggest that phosphorus levels increased 8 fold between 1949 and 2008 with the greatest levels coinciding with periods of high fertiliser-phosphorus use. Periods of high P/Ca correspond with intense agricultural activity and increased fertiliser application in the river catchment following agricultural expansion and replanting after cyclone damage. Our results demonstrate how coral P/Ca records can be used to assess terrestrial nutrient loading of vulnerable near-shore reefs.

  5. Coral skeletons provide historical evidence of phosphorus runoff on the great barrier reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mallela, Jennie; Lewis, Stephen E; Croke, Barry

    2013-01-01

    Recently, the inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef have declined rapidly because of deteriorating water quality. Increased catchment runoff is one potential culprit. The impacts of land-use on coral growth and reef health however are largely circumstantial due to limited long-term data on water quality and reef health. Here we use a 60 year coral core record to show that phosphorus contained in the skeletons (P/Ca) of long-lived, near-shore Porites corals on the Great Barrier Reef correlates with annual records of fertiliser application and particulate phosphorus loads in the adjacent catchment. Skeletal P/Ca also correlates with Ba/Ca, a proxy for fluvial sediment loading, again linking near-shore phosphorus records with river runoff. Coral core records suggest that phosphorus levels increased 8 fold between 1949 and 2008 with the greatest levels coinciding with periods of high fertiliser-phosphorus use. Periods of high P/Ca correspond with intense agricultural activity and increased fertiliser application in the river catchment following agricultural expansion and replanting after cyclone damage. Our results demonstrate how coral P/Ca records can be used to assess terrestrial nutrient loading of vulnerable near-shore reefs.

  6. Spatial variation in background mortality among dominant coral taxa on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, Chiara; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2014-01-01

    Even in the absence of major disturbances (e.g., cyclones, bleaching), corals are consistently subject to high levels of background mortality, which undermines individual fitness and resilience of coral colonies. Partial mortality may impact coral response to climate change by reducing colony ability to recover between major acute stressors. This study quantified proportion of injured versus uninjured colonies (the prevalence of injuries) and instantaneous measures of areal extent of injuries across individual colonies (the severity of injuries), in four common coral species along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia: massive Porites, encrusting Montipora, Acropora hyacinthus and Pocillopora damicornis. A total of 2,276 adult colonies were surveyed three latitudinal sectors, nine reefs and 27 sites along 1000 km2 on the Great Barrier Reef. The prevalence of injuries was very high, especially for Porites spp (91%) and Montipora encrusting (85%) and varied significantly, but most lay at small spatial scales (e.g., among colonies positioned greatly among colonies within the same site and habitat. This study suggests that intraspecific variation in partial mortality between adjacent colonies may be more important than variation between colonies in different latitudinal sectors or reefs. Differences in the prevalence and severity of background partial mortality have significant ramifications for coral capacity to cope with increasing acute disturbances, such as climate-induced coral bleaching. These data are important for understanding coral responses to increasing stressors, and in particular for predicting their capacity to recover between subsequent disturbances.

  7. Effectiveness of benthic foraminiferal and coral assemblages as water quality indicators on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Uthicke, S.; Thompson, A.; Schaffelke, B.

    2010-03-01

    Although the debate about coral reef decline focuses on global disturbances (e.g., increasing temperatures and acidification), local stressors (nutrient runoff and overfishing) continue to affect reef health and resilience. The effectiveness of foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages as indicators of changes in water quality was assessed on 27 inshore reefs along the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental variables (i.e., several water quality and sediment parameters) and the composition of both benthic foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages differed significantly between four regions (Whitsunday, Burdekin, Fitzroy, and the Wet Tropics). Grain size and organic carbon and nitrogen content of sediments, and a composite water column parameter (based on turbidity and concentrations of particulate matter) explained a significant amount of variation in the data (tested by redundancy analyses) in both assemblages. Heterotrophic species of foraminifera were dominant in sediments with high organic content and in localities with low light availability, whereas symbiont-bearing mixotrophic species were dominant elsewhere. A similar suite of parameters explained 89% of the variation in the FORAM index (a Caribbean coral reef health indicator) and 61% in foraminiferal species richness. Coral richness was not related to environmental setting. Coral assemblages varied in response to environmental variables, but were strongly shaped by acute disturbances (e.g., cyclones, Acanthaster planci outbreaks, and bleaching), thus different coral assemblages may be found at sites with the same environmental conditions. Disturbances also affect foraminiferal assemblages, but they appeared to recover more rapidly than corals. Foraminiferal assemblages are effective bioindicators of turbidity/light regimes and organic enrichment of sediments on coral reefs.

  8. Environmental Records from Great Barrier Reef Corals: inshore versus offshore drivers.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walther, Benjamin D; Kingsford, Michael J; McCulloch, Malcolm T

    2013-01-01

    The biogenic structures of stationary organisms can be effective recorders of environmental fluctuations. These proxy records of environmental change are preserved as geochemical signals in the carbonate skeletons of scleractinian corals and are useful for reconstructions of temporal and spatial fluctuations in the physical and chemical environments of coral reef ecosystems, including The Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We compared multi-year monitoring of water temperature and dissolved elements with analyses of chemical proxies recorded in Porites coral skeletons to identify the divergent mechanisms driving environmental variation at inshore versus offshore reefs. At inshore reefs, water Ba/Ca increased with the onset of monsoonal rains each year, indicating a dominant control of flooding on inshore ambient chemistry. Inshore multi-decadal records of coral Ba/Ca were also highly periodic in response to flood-driven pulses of terrigenous material. In contrast, an offshore reef at the edge of the continental shelf was subject to annual upwelling of waters that were presumed to be richer in Ba during summer months. Regular pulses of deep cold water were delivered to the reef as indicated by in situ temperature loggers and coral Ba/Ca. Our results indicate that although much of the GBR is subject to periodic environmental fluctuations, the mechanisms driving variation depend on proximity to the coast. Inshore reefs are primarily influenced by variable freshwater delivery and terrigenous erosion of catchments, while offshore reefs are dominated by seasonal and inter-annual variations in oceanographic conditions that influence the propensity for upwelling. The careful choice of sites can help distinguish between the various factors that promote Ba uptake in corals and therefore increase the utility of corals as monitors of spatial and temporal variation in environmental conditions.

  9. Remote sensing of sea surface temperatures during 2002 Barrier Reef coral bleaching

    Science.gov (United States)

    Liu, Gang; Strong, Alan E.; Skirving, William

    Early in 2002, satellites of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected anomalously high sea surface temperatures (SST) developing in the western Coral Sea, midway along Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR). This was the beginning of what was to become the most significant GBR coral bleaching event on record [Wilkinson, 2002]. During this time, NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) provided satellite data as part of ongoing collaborative work on coral reef health with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). These data proved invaluable to AIMS and GBRMPA as they monitored and assessed the development and evolution of SSTs throughout the austral summer, enabling them to keep stakeholders, government, and the general public informed and up to date.

  10. Nearshore Turbid-Zone Corals Exhibit High Bleaching Tolerance on the Great Barrier Reef Following the 2016 Ocean Warming Event

    OpenAIRE

    Morgan, Kyle M.; Perry, Chris T.; Johnson, Jamie A.; Smithers, Scott G.

    2017-01-01

    High sea surface temperatures (SSTs) on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) during summer 2015/2016 caused extensive coral bleaching, with aerial and in-water surveys confirming high (but variable) bleaching-related coral mortality. In contrast, bleaching impacts on nearshore turbid-zone reefs, traditionally considered more “marginal” coral habitats, remain poorly documented. This is because rapid ecological surveys are difficult in these turbid water settings, and baseline coral community data from...

  11. Variation in growth rates of branching corals along Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anderson, Kristen D; Cantin, Neal E; Heron, Scott F; Pisapia, Chiara; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2017-06-07

    Coral growth is an important component of reef health and resilience. However, few studies have investigated temporal and/or spatial variation in growth of branching corals, which are important contributors to the structure and function of reef habitats. This study assessed growth (linear extension, density, and calcification) of three branching coral species (Acropora muricata, Pocillopora damicornis and Isopora palifera) at three distinct locations (Lizard Island, Davies/Trunk Reef, and Heron Island) along Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Annual growth rates of all species were highest at Lizard Island and declined with increasing latitude, corresponding with differences in temperature. Within locations, however, seasonal variation in growth did not directly correlate with temperature. Between October 2012 and October 2014, the highest growth of A. muricata was in the 2013-14 summer at Lizard Island, which was unusually cool and ~0.5 °C less than the long-term summer average temperature. At locations where temperatures reached or exceeded the long-term summer maxima, coral growth during summer periods was equal to, if not lower than, winter periods. This study shows that temperature has a significant influence on spatiotemporal patterns of branching coral growth, and high summer temperatures in the northern GBR may already be constraining coral growth and reef resilience.

  12. SPATIAL HETEROGENEITY OF PHOTOSYNTHETIC ACTIVITY WITHIN DISEASED CORALS FROM THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Roff, George; Ulstrup, Karin Elizabeth; Fine, Maoz

    2008-01-01

    Morphological diagnosis and descriptions of seven disease-like syndromes affecting scleractinian corals were characterized from the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Chl a fluorescence of PSII was measured using an Imaging-PAM (pulse amplitude modulated) fluorometer, enabling visualization of th...

  13. Large-scale bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, T P; Kerry, J T; Simpson, T

    2018-02-01

    In 2015-2016, record temperatures triggered a pan-tropical episode of coral bleaching. In the southern hemisphere summer of March-April 2016, we used aerial surveys to measure the level of bleaching on 1,156 individual reefs throughout the 2,300 km length of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system. The accuracy of the aerial scores was ground-truthed with detailed underwater surveys of bleaching at 260 sites (104 reefs), allowing us to compare aerial and underwater bleaching data with satellite-derived temperatures and with associated model predictions of bleaching. The severity of bleaching on individual reefs in 2016 was tightly correlated with the level of local heat exposure: the southernmost region of the Great Barrier Reef escaped with only minor bleaching because summer temperatures there were close to average. Gradients in nutrients and turbidity from inshore to offshore across the Great Barrier Reef had minimal effect on the severity of bleaching. Similarly, bleaching was equally severe on reefs that are open or closed to fishing, once the level of satellite-derived heat exposure was accounted for. The level of post-bleaching mortality, measured underwater after 7-8 months, was tightly correlated with the aerial scores measured at the peak of bleaching. Similarly, reefs with a high aerial bleaching score also experienced major shifts in species composition due to extensive mortality of heat-sensitive species. Reefs with low bleaching scores did not change in composition, and some showed minor increases in coral cover. Two earlier mass bleaching events occurred on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 and 2002, that were less severe than 2016. In 2016, reefs had no bleaching, compared to 42% in 2002 and 44% in 1998. Conversely, the proportion of reefs that were severely bleached (>60% of corals affected) was four times higher in 2016. The geographic footprint of each of the three events is distinctive, and matches satellite-derived sea

  14. Climate change disables coral bleaching protection on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ainsworth, Tracy D; Heron, Scott F; Ortiz, Juan Carlos; Mumby, Peter J; Grech, Alana; Ogawa, Daisie; Eakin, C Mark; Leggat, William

    2016-04-15

    Coral bleaching events threaten the sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Here we show that bleaching events of the past three decades have been mitigated by induced thermal tolerance of reef-building corals, and this protective mechanism is likely to be lost under near-future climate change scenarios. We show that 75% of past thermal stress events have been characterized by a temperature trajectory that subjects corals to a protective, sub-bleaching stress, before reaching temperatures that cause bleaching. Such conditions confer thermal tolerance, decreasing coral cell mortality and symbiont loss during bleaching by over 50%. We find that near-future increases in local temperature of as little as 0.5°C result in this protective mechanism being lost, which may increase the rate of degradation of the GBR. Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  15. The 27–year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes

    OpenAIRE

    De’ath, Glenn; Fabricius, Katharina E.; Sweatman, Hugh; Puotinen, Marji

    2012-01-01

    The world’s coral reefs are being degraded, and the need to reduce local pressures to offset the effects of increasing global pressures is now widely recognized. This study investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of coral cover, identifies the main drivers of coral mortality, and quantifies the rates of potential recovery of the Great Barrier Reef. Based on the world’s most extensive time series data on reef condition (2,258 surveys of 214 reefs over 1985–2012), we show a major decline...

  16. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    1990-01-01

    This detailed view of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia (19.5S, 149.5E) shows several small patch reefs within the overall reef system. The Great Barrier Reef, largest in the world, comprises thousands of individual reefs of great variety and are closely monitored by marine ecologists. These reefs are about 6000 years old and sit on top of much older reefs. The most rapid coral growth occurs on the landward side of the reefs.

  17. Spatial and temporal genetic structure of Symbiodinium populations within a common reef-building coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Howells, Emily J; Willis, Bette L; Bay, Line K; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2013-07-01

    The dinoflagellate photosymbiont Symbiodinium plays a fundamental role in defining the physiological tolerances of coral holobionts, but little is known about the dynamics of these endosymbiotic populations on coral reefs. Sparse data indicate that Symbiodinium populations show limited spatial connectivity; however, no studies have investigated temporal dynamics for in hospite Symbiodinium populations following significant mortality and recruitment events in coral populations. We investigated the combined influences of spatial isolation and disturbance on the population dynamics of the generalist Symbiodinium type C2 (ITS1 rDNA) hosted by the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora in the central Great Barrier Reef. Using eight microsatellite markers, we genotyped Symbiodinium in a total of 401 coral colonies, which were sampled from seven sites across a 12-year period including during flood plume-induced coral bleaching. Genetic differentiation of Symbiodinium was greatest within sites, explaining 70-86% of the total genetic variation. An additional 9-27% of variation was explained by significant differentiation of populations among sites separated by 0.4-13 km, which is consistent with low levels of dispersal via water movement and historical disturbance regimes. Sampling year accounted for 6-7% of total genetic variation and was related to significant coral mortality following severe bleaching in 1998 and a cyclone in 2006. Only 3% of the total genetic variation was related to coral bleaching status, reflecting generally small (8%) reductions in allelic diversity within bleached corals. This reduction probably reflected a loss of genotypes in hospite during bleaching, although no site-wide changes in genetic diversity were observed. Combined, our results indicate the importance of disturbance regimes acting together with limited oceanographic transport to determine the genetic composition of Symbiodinium types within reefs. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  18. Spatial variation in background mortality among dominant coral taxa on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Chiara Pisapia

    Full Text Available Even in the absence of major disturbances (e.g., cyclones, bleaching, corals are consistently subject to high levels of background mortality, which undermines individual fitness and resilience of coral colonies. Partial mortality may impact coral response to climate change by reducing colony ability to recover between major acute stressors. This study quantified proportion of injured versus uninjured colonies (the prevalence of injuries and instantaneous measures of areal extent of injuries across individual colonies (the severity of injuries, in four common coral species along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia: massive Porites, encrusting Montipora, Acropora hyacinthus and Pocillopora damicornis. A total of 2,276 adult colonies were surveyed three latitudinal sectors, nine reefs and 27 sites along 1000 km2 on the Great Barrier Reef. The prevalence of injuries was very high, especially for Porites spp (91% and Montipora encrusting (85% and varied significantly, but most lay at small spatial scales (e.g., among colonies positioned <10-m apart. Similarly, severity of background partial mortality was surprisingly high (between 5% and 21% but varied greatly among colonies within the same site and habitat. This study suggests that intraspecific variation in partial mortality between adjacent colonies may be more important than variation between colonies in different latitudinal sectors or reefs. Differences in the prevalence and severity of background partial mortality have significant ramifications for coral capacity to cope with increasing acute disturbances, such as climate-induced coral bleaching. These data are important for understanding coral responses to increasing stressors, and in particular for predicting their capacity to recover between subsequent disturbances.

  19. Great Barrier Reef coral luminescence reveals rainfall variability over northeastern Australia since the 17th century

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lough, Janice M.

    2011-06-01

    Northeast tropical Queensland rainfall is concentrated in the summer half year and characterized by high interannual variability, partly related to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. This results in highly variable river flows affecting nearshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Freshwater flood events are recorded in long-lived, annually banded massive coral skeletons as luminescent lines. Quantitative measurements of luminescence intensity were made for 20 Porites coral cores from nearshore reef sites between 11°S and 23°S. Seventeen of the coral luminescence series were significantly correlated with an instrumental record of northeast Queensland summer rainfall and were used to develop seven significantly calibrated and verified rainfall reconstructions based on between 17 (starting 1891) and 1 (starting 1639) coral series. The longest reconstruction, based on more than one coral, provides insights into northeast Queensland rainfall variability from the late 17th century. Comparisons with various independent climate proxies are equivocal: the magnitude and significance of relationships with, for example, a proxy ENSO index vary through time. An extended drier period reconstructed from approximately the 1760s to the 1850s is associated with lower interannual rainfall variability. Since the late 19th century average rainfall and its variability have significantly increased, with wet and dry extremes becoming more frequent than in earlier centuries. This suggests that a warming global climate maybe associated with more variable tropical Queensland rainfall.

  20. DMSP in Corals and Benthic Algae from the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Broadbent, A. D.; Jones, G. B.; Jones, R. J.

    2002-10-01

    In this study the first measurements of DMSP in six species of corals and ten species of benthic algae collected from four coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef are reported, together with DMSP measurements made on cultured zooxanthellae. Concentrations ranged from 21 to 3831 (mean=743) fmol DMSP zooxanthellae -1 in corals, 0·16 to 2·96 nmol DMSP cm -2 (mean=90) for benthic macroalgae, and 48-285 fmol DMSP zooxanthellae -1 (mean=153) for cultured zooxanthellae. The highest concentrations of DMSP in corals occurred in Acropora formosa (mean=371 fmol DMSP zooxanthellae -1) and Acropora palifera (mean=3341 fmol DMSP zooxanthellae -1) with concentrations in A. palifera the highest DMSP concentrations reported in corals examined to date. As well as inter-specific differences in DMSP, intra-specific variation was also observed. Adjacent colonies of A. formosa that are known to have different thermal bleaching thresholds and morphologically distinct zooxanthellae, were also observed to have different DMSP concentrations, with the zooxanthellae in the colony that bleached containing DMSP at an average concentration of 436 fmol zooxanthellae -1, whilst the non-bleaching colony contained DMSP at an average concentration of 171 fmol zooxanthellae -1. The results of the present study have been used to calculate the area normalized DMSP concentrations in benthic algae (mean=0·015 mmol m -2) and corals (mean=2·22 mmol m -2) from the GBR. This data indicates that benthic algae and corals are a significant reservoir of DMSP in GBR waters.

  1. Summer hot snaps and winter conditions: modelling white syndrome outbreaks on Great Barrier Reef corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Scott F Heron

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are under increasing pressure in a changing climate, one such threat being more frequent and destructive outbreaks of coral diseases. Thermal stress from rising temperatures has been implicated as a causal factor in disease outbreaks observed on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and elsewhere in the world. Here, we examine seasonal effects of satellite-derived temperature on the abundance of coral diseases known as white syndromes on the Great Barrier Reef, considering both warm stress during summer and deviations from mean temperatures during the preceding winter. We found a high correlation (r(2 = 0.953 between summer warm thermal anomalies (Hot Snap and disease abundance during outbreak events. Inclusion of thermal conditions during the preceding winter revealed that a significant reduction in disease outbreaks occurred following especially cold winters (Cold Snap, potentially related to a reduction in pathogen loading. Furthermore, mild winters (i.e., neither excessively cool nor warm frequently preceded disease outbreaks. In contrast, disease outbreaks did not typically occur following warm winters, potentially because of increased disease resistance of the coral host. Understanding the balance between the effects of warm and cold winters on disease outbreak will be important in a warming climate. Combining the influence of winter and summer thermal effects resulted in an algorithm that yields both a Seasonal Outlook of disease risk at the conclusion of winter and near real-time monitoring of Outbreak Risk during summer. This satellite-derived system can provide coral reef managers with an assessment of risk three-to-six months in advance of the summer season that can then be refined using near-real-time summer observations. This system can enhance the capacity of managers to prepare for and respond to possible disease outbreaks and focus research efforts to increase understanding of environmental impacts on coral disease in

  2. Carbon budget of coral reef systems: an overview of observations in fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atolls in the Indo-Pacific regions

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Suzuki, Atsushi; Kawahata, Hodaka

    2003-01-01

    The seawater CO 2 system and carbon budget were examined in coral reefs of wide variety with respect to topographic types and oceanographic settings in the Indo-Pacific oceans. A system-level net organic-to-inorganic carbon production ratio (ROI) is a master parameter for controlling the carbon cycle in coral reef systems, including their sink/source behavior for atmospheric CO 2 . A reef system with ROI less than approximately 0.6 has a potential for releasing CO 2 . The production ratio, however, is not easy to estimate on a particular reef. Instead, observations planned to detect the offshore-lagoon difference in partial pressure of CO 2 (pCO 2 ) and a graphic approach based on a total alkalinity-dissolved inorganic carbon diagram can reveal system-level performance of the carbon cycle in coral reefs. Surface pCO 2 values in the lagoons of atolls and barrier reefs were consistently higher than those in their offshore waters, showing differences between 6 and 46 atm, together with a depletion in total alkalinity up to 100 mol/kg, indicating predominant carbonate production relative to net organic carbon production. Reef topography, especially residence time of lagoon water, has a secondary effect on the magnitude of the offshore-lagoon pCO 2 difference. Terrestrial influence was recognized in coastal reefs, including the GBR lagoon and a fringing reef of the Ryukyu Islands. High carbon input appears to enhance CO 2 efflux to the atmosphere because of their high dissolved C:P ratios. Coral reefs, in general, act as an alkalinity sink and a potentially CO 2 -releasing site due to carbonate precipitation and land-derived carbon

  3. Coral reefs - Specialized ecosystems

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    This paper discusses briefly some aspects that characterize and differentiate coral reef ecosystems from other tropical marine ecosystems. A brief account on the resources that are extractable from coral reefs, their susceptibility to natural...

  4. Diel coral reef acidification driven by porewater advection in permeable sands, Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Santos, Isaac R.; Glud, Ronnie N.; Maher, Damien

    2011-01-01

    Little is known about how biogeochemical processes in permeable sediments affect the pH of coastal waters. We demonstrate that seawater recirculation in permeable sands can play a major role in proton (H+) cycling in a coral reef lagoon. The diel pH range (up to 0.75 units) in the Heron Island la...... that the metabolism of advection‐dominated carbonate sands may provide a currently unknown feedback to ocean acidification....

  5. The ecology of 'Acroporid white syndrome', a coral disease from the southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    George Roff

    Full Text Available Outbreaks of coral disease have increased worldwide over the last few decades. Despite this, remarkably little is known about the ecology of disease in the Indo-Pacific Region. Here we report the spatiotemporal dynamics of a coral disease termed 'Acroporid white syndrome' observed to affect tabular corals of the genus Acropora on the southern Great Barrier Reef. The syndrome is characterised by rapid tissue loss initiating in the basal margins of colonies, and manifests as a distinct lesion boundary between apparently healthy tissue and exposed white skeleton. Surveys of eight sites around Heron Reef in 2004 revealed a mean prevalence of 8.1±0.9%, affecting the three common species (Acropora cytherea, A. hyacinthus, A. clathrata and nine other tabular Acropora spp. While all sizes of colonies were affected, white syndrome disproportionately affected larger colonies of tabular Acroporids (>80 cm. The prevalence of white syndrome was strongly related to the abundance of tabular Acroporids within transects, yet the incidence of the syndrome appears unaffected by proximity to other colonies, suggesting that while white syndrome is density dependant, it does not exhibit a strongly aggregated spatial pattern consistent with previous coral disease outbreaks. Acroporid white syndrome was not transmitted by either direct contact in the field or by mucus in aquaria experiments. Monitoring of affected colonies revealed highly variable rates of tissue loss ranging from 0 to 1146 cm(-2 week(-1, amongst the highest documented for a coral disease. Contrary to previous links between temperature and coral disease, rates of tissue loss in affected colonies increased threefold during the winter months. Given the lack of spatial pattern and non-infectious nature of Acroporid white syndrome, further studies are needed to determine causal factors and longer-term implications of disease outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef.

  6. Temporal consistency in background mortality of four dominant coral taxa along Australia's Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, C.; Anderson, K. D.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2016-09-01

    Studies on the population and community dynamics of scleractinian corals typically focus on catastrophic mortality associated with acute disturbances (e.g., coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish), though corals are subject to high levels of background mortality and injuries caused by routine and chronic processes. This study quantified prevalence (proportion of colonies with injuries) and severity (areal extent of injuries on individual colonies) of background mortality and injuries for four common coral taxa (massive Porites, encrusting Montipora, Acropora hyacinthus and branching Pocillopora) on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Sampling was conducted over three consecutive years during which there were no major acute disturbances. A total of 2276 adult colonies were surveyed across 27 sites, within nine reefs and three distinct latitudinal sectors. The prevalence of injuries was very high (>83%) across all four taxa, but highest for Porites (91%) and Montipora (85%). For these taxa ( Montipora and Pocillopora), there was also significant temporal and spatial variation in prevalence of partial mortality. The severity of injuries ranged from 3% to more than 80% and varied among coral taxa, but was fairly constant spatially and temporally. This shows that some injuries have considerable longevity and that corals may invest relatively little in regenerating tissue over sites of previous injuries. Inter-colony variation in the severity of injury also had no apparent effect on the realized growth of individual colonies, suggesting that energy diverted to regeneration has a limited bearing on overall energetic allocation, or impacts on other life-history processes (e.g., reproduction) rather than growth. Establishing background levels of injury and regeneration is important for understanding energy investment and life-history consequences for reef-building corals as well as for predicting susceptibility to, and capacity to recover from, acute

  7. ENSO Weather and Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    McGowan, Hamish; Theobald, Alison

    2017-10-01

    The most devastating mass coral bleaching has occurred during El Niño events, with bleaching reported to be a direct result of increased sea surface temperatures (SSTs). However, El Niño itself does not cause SSTs to rise in all regions that experience bleaching. Nor is the upper ocean warming trend of 0.11°C per decade since 1971, attributed to global warming, sufficient alone to exceed the thermal tolerance of corals. Here we show that weather patterns during El Niño that result in reduced cloud cover, higher than average air temperatures and higher than average atmospheric pressures, play a crucial role in determining the extent and location of coral bleaching on the world's largest coral reef system, the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Accordingly, synoptic-scale weather patterns and local atmosphere-ocean feedbacks related to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and not large-scale SST warming due to El Niño alone and/or global warming are often the cause of coral bleaching on the GBR.

  8. Assessing the value of Earth Observation for managing coral reefs: an example from the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bouma, Jetske A; Kuik, Onno; Dekker, Arnold G

    2011-10-01

    The Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS, 2003) argues that further investments in Earth Observation information are required to improve coral reef protection worldwide. The IGOS Strategy does not specify what levels of investments are needed nor does it quantify the benefits associated with better-protected reefs. Evaluating costs and benefits is important for determining optimal investment levels and for convincing policy-makers that investments are required indeed. Few studies have quantitatively assessed the economic benefits of Earth Observation information or evaluated the economic value of information for environmental management. This paper uses an expert elicitation approach based on Bayesian Decision Theory to estimate the possible contribution of global Earth Observation to the management of the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef including its lagoon is a World Heritage Area affected by anthropogenic changes in land-use as well as climate change resulting in increased flows of sediments, nutrients and carbon to the GBR lagoon. Since European settlement, nutrient and sediment loads having increased 5-10 times and the change in water quality is causing damages to the reef. Earth Observation information from ocean and coastal color satellite sensors can provide spatially and temporally dense information on sediment flows. We hypothesize that Earth Observation improves decision-making by enabling better-targeted run-off reduction measures and we assess the benefits (cost savings) of this improved targeting by optimizing run-off reductions under different states of the world. The analysis suggests that the benefits of Earth Observation can indeed be substantial, depending on the perceived accuracy of the information and on the prior beliefs of decision-makers. The results indicate that increasing informational accuracy is the most effective way for developers of Earth Observation information to increase the added value of Earth Observation for

  9. Metagenomic analysis of the coral holobiont during a natural bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Littman, Raechel; Willis, Bette L; Bourne, David G

    2011-12-01

    Understanding the effects of elevated seawater temperatures on each member of the coral holobiont (the complex comprised of coral polyps and associated symbiotic microorganisms, including Bacteria, viruses, Fungi, Archaea and endolithic algae) is becoming increasingly important as evidence accumulates that microbial members contribute to overall coral health, particularly during thermal stress. Here we use a metagenomic approach to identify metabolic and taxonomic shifts in microbial communities associated with the hard coral Acropora millepora throughout a natural thermal bleaching event at Magnetic Island (Great Barrier Reef). A direct comparison of metagenomic data sets from healthy versus bleached corals indicated major shifts in microbial associates during heat stress, including Bacteria, Archaea, viruses, Fungi and micro-algae. Overall, metabolism of the microbial community shifted from autotrophy to heterotrophy, including increases in genes associated with the metabolism of fatty acids, proteins, simple carbohydrates, phosphorus and sulfur. In addition, the proportion of virulence genes was higher in the bleached library, indicating an increase in microorganisms capable of pathogenesis following bleaching. These results demonstrate that thermal stress results in shifts in coral-associated microbial communities that may lead to deteriorating coral health. © 2011 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  10. Surviving coral bleaching events: porites growth anomalies on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cantin, Neal E; Lough, Janice M

    2014-01-01

    Mass coral bleaching affected large parts of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in 1998 and 2002. In this study, we assessed if signatures of these major thermal stress events were recorded in the growth characteristics of massive Porites colonies. In 2005 a suite of short (reefs in the central GBR (18-19°S) that have documented observations of widespread bleaching. Sites included inshore (Nelly Bay, Pandora Reef), annually affected by freshwater flood events, midshelf (Rib Reef), only occasionally affected by freshwater floods and offshore (Myrmidon Reef) locations primarily exposed to open ocean conditions. Annual growth characteristics (extension, density and calcification) were measured in 144 cores from 79 coral colonies and analysed over the common 24-year period, 1980-2003. Visual examination of the annual density bands revealed growth hiatuses associated with the bleaching years in the form of abrupt decreases in annual linear extension rates, high density stress bands and partial mortality. The 1998 mass-bleaching event reduced Porites calcification by 13 and 18% on the two inshore locations for 4 years, followed by recovery to baseline calcification rates in 2002. Evidence of partial mortality was apparent in 10% of the offshore colonies in 2002; however no significant effects of the bleaching events were evident in the calcification rates at the mid shelf and offshore sites. These results highlight the spatial variation of mass bleaching events and that all reef locations within the GBR were not equally stressed by the 1998 and 2002 mass bleaching events, as some models tend to suggest, which enabled recovery of calcification on the GBR within 4 years. The dynamics in annual calcification rates and recovery displayed here should be used to improve model outputs that project how coral calcification will respond to ongoing warming of the tropical oceans.

  11. Surviving coral bleaching events: porites growth anomalies on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Neal E Cantin

    Full Text Available Mass coral bleaching affected large parts of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR in 1998 and 2002. In this study, we assessed if signatures of these major thermal stress events were recorded in the growth characteristics of massive Porites colonies. In 2005 a suite of short (<50 cm cores were collected from apparently healthy, surviving Porites colonies, from reefs in the central GBR (18-19°S that have documented observations of widespread bleaching. Sites included inshore (Nelly Bay, Pandora Reef, annually affected by freshwater flood events, midshelf (Rib Reef, only occasionally affected by freshwater floods and offshore (Myrmidon Reef locations primarily exposed to open ocean conditions. Annual growth characteristics (extension, density and calcification were measured in 144 cores from 79 coral colonies and analysed over the common 24-year period, 1980-2003. Visual examination of the annual density bands revealed growth hiatuses associated with the bleaching years in the form of abrupt decreases in annual linear extension rates, high density stress bands and partial mortality. The 1998 mass-bleaching event reduced Porites calcification by 13 and 18% on the two inshore locations for 4 years, followed by recovery to baseline calcification rates in 2002. Evidence of partial mortality was apparent in 10% of the offshore colonies in 2002; however no significant effects of the bleaching events were evident in the calcification rates at the mid shelf and offshore sites. These results highlight the spatial variation of mass bleaching events and that all reef locations within the GBR were not equally stressed by the 1998 and 2002 mass bleaching events, as some models tend to suggest, which enabled recovery of calcification on the GBR within 4 years. The dynamics in annual calcification rates and recovery displayed here should be used to improve model outputs that project how coral calcification will respond to ongoing warming of the tropical oceans.

  12. Biology of corals and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Rajkumar, R.; Parulekar, A

    This chapter deals with biology of corals, coral reefs (in general) and coral reefs of the Indian Ocean. Biology of corals is lucidly dealt with, beginning from the clarification on hermatypic and ahermatypic forms. A complete account...

  13. An assessment of an environmental gradient using coral geochemical records, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Lewis, S.E.; Brodie, J.E.; McCulloch, M.T.; Mallela, J.; Jupiter, S.D.; Stuart Williams, H.; Lough, J.M.; Matson, E.G.

    2012-01-01

    Coral cores were collected along an environmental and water quality gradient through the Whitsunday Island group, Great Barrier Reef (Australia), for trace element and stable isotope analysis. The primary aim of the study was to examine if this gradient could be detected in coral records and, if so, whether the gradient has changed over time with changing land use in the adjacent river catchments. Y/Ca was the trace element ratio which varied spatially across the gradient, with concentrations progressively decreasing away from the river mouths. The Ba/Ca and Y/Ca ratios were the only indicators of change in the gradient through time, increasing shortly after European settlement. The Mn/Ca ratio responded to local disturbance related to the construction of tourism infrastructure. Nitrogen isotope ratios showed no apparent trend over time. This study highlights the importance of site selection when using coral records to record regional environmental signals.

  14. Dynamics of seawater carbonate chemistry, production, and calcification of a coral reef flat, central Great Barrier Reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    R. Albright

    2013-10-01

    Full Text Available Ocean acidification is projected to shift coral reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution this century. Presently, our ability to predict global-scale changes to coral reef calcification is limited by insufficient data relating seawater carbonate chemistry parameters to in situ rates of reef calcification. Here, we investigate diel and seasonal trends in carbonate chemistry of the Davies Reef flat in the central Great Barrier Reef and relate these trends to benthic carbon fluxes by quantifying net ecosystem calcification (nec and net community production (ncp. Results show that seawater carbonate chemistry of the Davies Reef flat is highly variable over both diel and seasonal cycles. pH (total scale ranged from 7.92 to 8.17, pCO2 ranged from 272 to 542 μatm, and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag ranged from 2.9 to 4.1. Diel cycles in carbonate chemistry were primarily driven by ncp, and warming explained 35% and 47% of the seasonal shifts in pCO2 and pH, respectively. Daytime ncp averaged 37 ± 19 mmol C m−2 h−1 in summer and 33 ± 13 mmol C m−2 h−1 in winter; nighttime ncp averaged −30 ± 25 and −7 ± 6 mmol C m−2 h−1 in summer and winter, respectively. Daytime nec averaged 11 ± 4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 in summer and 8 ± 3 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 in winter, whereas nighttime nec averaged 2 ± 4 mmol and −1 ± 3 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 in summer and winter, respectively. Net ecosystem calcification was highly sensitive to changes in Ωarag for both seasons, indicating that relatively small shifts in Ωarag may drive measurable shifts in calcification rates, and hence carbon budgets, of coral reefs throughout the year.

  15. Coral-macroalgal phase shifts or reef resilience: links with diversity and functional roles of herbivorous fishes on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cheal, A. J.; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Cripps, E.; Emslie, M. J.; Jonker, M.; Schaffelke, B.; Sweatman, H.

    2010-12-01

    Changes from coral to macroalgal dominance following disturbances to corals symbolize the global degradation of coral reefs. The development of effective conservation measures depends on understanding the causes of such phase shifts. The prevailing view that coral-macroalgal phase shifts commonly occur due to insufficient grazing by fishes is based on correlation with overfishing and inferences from models and small-scale experiments rather than on long-term quantitative field studies of fish communities at affected and resilient sites. Consequently, the specific characteristics of herbivorous fish communities that most promote reef resilience under natural conditions are not known, though this information is critical for identifying vulnerable ecosystems. In this study, 11 years of field surveys recorded the development of the most persistent coral-macroalgal phase shift (>7 years) yet observed on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). This shift followed extensive coral mortality caused by thermal stress (coral bleaching) and damaging storms. Comparisons with two similar reefs that suffered similar disturbances but recovered relatively rapidly demonstrated that the phase shift occurred despite high abundances of one herbivore functional group (scraping/excavating parrotfishes: Labridae). However, the shift was strongly associated with low fish herbivore diversity and low abundances of algal browsers (predominantly Siganidae) and grazers/detritivores (Acanthuridae), suggesting that one or more of these factors underpin reef resilience and so deserve particular protection. Herbivorous fishes are not harvested on the GBR, and the phase shift was not enhanced by unusually high nutrient levels. This shows that unexploited populations of herbivorous fishes cannot ensure reef resilience even under benign conditions and suggests that reefs could lose resilience under relatively low fishing pressure. Predictions of more severe and widespread coral mortality due to global

  16. Large-scale, multidirectional larval connectivity among coral reef fish populations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williamson, David H; Harrison, Hugo B; Almany, Glenn R; Berumen, Michael L; Bode, Michael; Bonin, Mary C; Choukroun, Severine; Doherty, Peter J; Frisch, Ashley J; Saenz-Agudelo, Pablo; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2016-12-01

    Larval dispersal is the key process by which populations of most marine fishes and invertebrates are connected and replenished. Advances in larval tagging and genetics have enhanced our capacity to track larval dispersal, assess scales of population connectivity, and quantify larval exchange among no-take marine reserves and fished areas. Recent studies have found that reserves can be a significant source of recruits for populations up to 40 km away, but the scale and direction of larval connectivity across larger seascapes remain unknown. Here, we apply genetic parentage analysis to investigate larval dispersal patterns for two exploited coral reef groupers (Plectropomus maculatus and Plectropomus leopardus) within and among three clusters of reefs separated by 60-220 km within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. A total of 69 juvenile P. maculatus and 17 juvenile P. leopardus (representing 6% and 9% of the total juveniles sampled, respectively) were genetically assigned to parent individuals on reefs within the study area. We identified both short-distance larval dispersal within regions (200 m to 50 km) and long-distance, multidirectional dispersal of up to ~250 km among regions. Dispersal strength declined significantly with distance, with best-fit dispersal kernels estimating median dispersal distances of ~110 km for P. maculatus and ~190 km for P. leopardus. Larval exchange among reefs demonstrates that established reserves form a highly connected network and contribute larvae for the replenishment of fished reefs at multiple spatial scales. Our findings highlight the potential for long-distance dispersal in an important group of reef fishes, and provide further evidence that effectively protected reserves can yield recruitment and sustainability benefits for exploited fish populations. © 2016 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  17. Large-scale, multidirectional larval connectivity among coral reef fish populations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

    KAUST Repository

    Williamson, David H.

    2016-11-15

    Larval dispersal is the key process by which populations of most marine fishes and invertebrates are connected and replenished. Advances in larval tagging and genetics have enhanced our capacity to track larval dispersal, assess scales of population connectivity, and quantify larval exchange among no-take marine reserves and fished areas. Recent studies have found that reserves can be a significant source of recruits for populations up to 40 km away, but the scale and direction of larval connectivity across larger seascapes remain unknown. Here, we apply genetic parentage analysis to investigate larval dispersal patterns for two exploited coral reef groupers (Plectropomus maculatus and Plectropomus leopardus) within and among three clusters of reefs separated by 60–220 km within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. A total of 69 juvenile P. maculatus and 17 juvenile P. leopardus (representing 6% and 9% of the total juveniles sampled, respectively) were genetically assigned to parent individuals on reefs within the study area. We identified both short-distance larval dispersal within regions (200 m to 50 km) and long-distance, multidirectional dispersal of up to ~250 km among regions. Dispersal strength declined significantly with distance, with best-fit dispersal kernels estimating median dispersal distances of ~110 km for P. maculatus and ~190 km for P. leopardus. Larval exchange among reefs demonstrates that established reserves form a highly connected network and contribute larvae for the replenishment of fished reefs at multiple spatial scales. Our findings highlight the potential for long-distance dispersal in an important group of reef fishes, and provide further evidence that effectively protected reserves can yield recruitment and sustainability benefits for exploited fish populations.

  18. Assessing loss of coral cover on Australia's Great Barrier Reef over two decades, with implications for longer-term trends

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sweatman, H.; Delean, S.; Syms, C.

    2011-06-01

    While coral reefs in many parts of the world are in decline as a direct consequence of human pressures, Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is unusual in that direct human pressures are low and the entire system of ~2,900 reefs has been managed as a marine park since the 1980s. In spite of these advantages, standard annual surveys of a large number of reefs showed that from 1986 to 2004, average live coral cover across the GBR declined from 28 to 22%. This overall decline was mainly due to large losses in six (21%) of 29 subregions. Declines in live coral cover on reefs in two inshore subregions coincided with thermal bleaching in 1998, while declines in four mid-self subregions were due to outbreaks of predatory starfish. Otherwise, living coral cover increased in one subregion (3%) and 22 subregions (76%) showed no substantial change. Reefs in the great majority of subregions showed cycles of decline and recovery over the survey period, but with little synchrony among subregions. Two previous studies examined long-term changes in live coral cover on GBR reefs using meta-analyses including historical data from before the mid-1980s. Both found greater rates of loss of coral and recorded a marked decrease in living coral cover on the GBR in 1986, coinciding exactly with the start of large-scale monitoring. We argue that much of the apparent long-term decrease results from combining data from selective, sparse, small-scale studies before 1986 with data from both small-scale studies and large-scale monitoring surveys after that date. The GBR has clearly been changed by human activities and live coral cover has declined overall, but losses of coral in the past 40-50 years have probably been overestimated.

  19. Nearshore Turbid-Zone Corals Exhibit High Bleaching Tolerance on the Great Barrier Reef Following the 2016 Ocean Warming Event

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kyle M. Morgan

    2017-07-01

    Full Text Available High sea surface temperatures (SSTs on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR during summer 2015/2016 caused extensive coral bleaching, with aerial and in-water surveys confirming high (but variable bleaching-related coral mortality. In contrast, bleaching impacts on nearshore turbid-zone reefs, traditionally considered more “marginal” coral habitats, remain poorly documented. This is because rapid ecological surveys are difficult in these turbid water settings, and baseline coral community data from which to quantify disturbance are rare. However, models suggest that the extreme environmental conditions characteristic of nearshore settings (e.g., fluctuating turbidity, light, and temperature may acclimate corals to the thermal anomalies associated with bleaching on offshore reefs, although validation by field evidence has to-date been sparse. Here we present a novel pre- (June 2013/2014 and post-warming (August 2016 assessment of turbid-zone coral communities and examine the response of corals to prolonged and acute heat stress within the Paluma Shoals reef complex, located on the central GBR. Our analysis of 2,288 still video frames (~1,200 m2 which include 11,374 coral colonies (24 coral genera suggest a high tolerance of turbid-zone corals to bleaching, with no significant changes in coral cover (pre: 48 ± 20%; post: 55 ± 26% or coral community structure (e.g., Acropora, Montipora, Turbinaria, Porites following the warming event. Indeed, only one coral colony (Lobophyllia sp. exhibited full colony bleaching, and just 1.5% of colonies displayed partial pigmentation loss (<20% colony surface. Taxa-specific responses to this thermal stress event contrast with clear-water assessments, as Acropora corals which are normally reported as highly susceptible to bleaching on clear-water reefs were least impacted at Paluma Shoals, a phenomena that has been observed within other turbid settings. Importantly, field surveys confirm regional SSTs were

  20. New tool to manage coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Showstack, Randy

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is making available a new tool for coral reef managers to monitor the cumulative thermal stress of several coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, and reefs by the Galapagos Islands, the agency announced on 25 February.The agency's "Degree Heating Weeks" product uses satellite-derived information to allow continuous monitoring of the extent and acuteness of thermal stress, which are key predictors of coral bleaching, and which contribute to coral reef degradation.

  1. Stability of coral-endosymbiont associations during and after a thermal stress event in the southern Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stat, M.; Loh, W. K. W.; Lajeunesse, T. C.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Carter, D. A.

    2009-09-01

    Shifts in the community of symbiotic dinoflagellates to those that are better suited to the prevailing environmental condition may provide reef-building corals with a rapid mechanism by which to adapt to changes in the environment. In this study, the dominant Symbiodinium in 10 coral species in the southern Great Barrier Reef was monitored over a 1-year period in 2002 that coincided with a thermal stress event. Molecular genetic profiling of Symbiodinium communities using single strand conformational polymorphism of the large subunit rDNA and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of the internal transcribed spacer 2 region did not detect any changes in the communities during and after this thermal-stress event. Coral colonies of seven species bleached but recovered with their original symbionts. This study suggests that the shuffling or switching of symbionts in response to thermal stress may be restricted to certain coral species and is probably not a universal feature of the coral-symbiont relationship.

  2. Utility of Photochemical Traits as Diagnostics of Thermal Tolerance amongst Great Barrier Reef Corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Matthew R. Nitschke

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available Light availability is considered a key factor regulating the thermal sensitivity of reef building corals, where excessive excitation of photosystem II (PSII further exacerbates pressure on photochemical pathways already compromised by heat stress. Coral symbionts acclimate to changes in light availability (photoacclimation by continually fine-tuning the photochemical operating efficiency of PSII. However, how this process adjusts throughout the warmest months in naturally heat-tolerant or sensitive species is unknown, and whether this influences the capacity to tolerate transient heat stress is untested. We therefore examined the PSII photophysiology of 10 coral species (with known thermal tolerances from shallow reef environments at Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia, in spring (October-November, 2015 vs. summer (February-March, 2016. Corals were maintained in flow-through aquaria and rapid light curve (RLC protocols using pulse amplitude modulated (PAM fluorometry captured changes in the PSII photoacclimation strategy, characterized as the minimum saturating irradiance (Ek, and the extent of photochemical ([1 – C], operating efficiency vs. non-photochemical ([1 – Q] energy dissipation. Values of Ek across species were >2-fold higher in all coral species in spring, consistent with a climate of higher overall light exposure (i.e., higher PAR from lower cloud cover, rainfall and wind speed compared with summer. Summer decreases in Ek were combined with a shift toward preferential photochemical quenching in all species. All coral species were subsequently subjected to thermal stress assays. An equivalent temperature-ramping profile of 1°C increase per day and then maintenance at 32°C was applied in each season. Despite the significant seasonal photoacclimation, the species hierarchy of thermal tolerance [maximum quantum yields of PSII (Fv/Fm, monitored at dawn and dusk] did not shift between seasons, except for Pocillopora

  3. Diazotroph diversity and nitrogen fixation in the coral Stylophora pistillata from the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lesser, Michael P; Morrow, Kathleen M; Pankey, Sabrina M; Noonan, Sam H C

    2018-03-01

    Diazotrophs, both Bacteria and Archaea, capable of fixing nitrogen (N 2 ), are present in the tissues and mucous, of corals and can supplement the coral holobiont nitrogen budget with fixed nitrogen (N) in the form of ammonia (NH 3 ). Stylophora pistillata from Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef collected at 5 and 15 m, and experimentally manipulated in the laboratory, showed that the rates of net photosynthesis, steady state quantum yields of photosystem II (PSII) fluorescence (∆F v /F m ') and calcification varied based on irradiance as expected. Rates of N 2 fixation were, however, invariant across treatments while the amount of fixed N contributing to Symbiodinium spp. N demand is irradiance dependent. Additionally, both the Symbiodinium and diazotrophic communities are significantly different based on depth, and novel Cluster V nifH gene phylotypes, which are not known to fix nitrogen, were recovered. A functional analysis using PICRUSt also showed that shallow corals were enriched in genes involved in nitrogen metabolism, and N 2 fixation specifically. Corals have evolved a number of strategies to derive nitrogen from organic (e.g., heterotrophic feeding) and inorganic sources (e.g., N 2 fixation) to maintain critical pathways such as protein synthesis to succeed ecologically in nitrogen-limited habitats.

  4. The Gulf of Carpentaria heated Torres Strait and the Northern Great Barrier Reef during the 2016 mass coral bleaching event

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Wolanski, E.; Andutta, Fernando P.; Deleersnijder, E.L.C.; Li, Y.; Thomas, C.J.

    The 2015/16 ENSO event increased the temperature of waters surrounding northeast Australia to above 30 °C, with large patches of water reaching 32 °C, for over two months, which led to severe bleaching of corals of the Northern Great Barrier Reef (NGBR). This study provides evidence gained from

  5. The Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System Mooring array: Monitoring the Western Boundary Currents of the Coral Sea and Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Steinberg, C. R.; McAllister, F.; Brinkman, B. W.; Pitcher, C.; Luetchford, J.; Rigby, P.

    2009-05-01

    Since 1987 Great Barrier Reef weather and water temperature observations have been transmitted in near real time using HF radio from pontoons or towers on coral reefs by AIMS. In contrast oceanographic measurements have however been restricted to loggers serviced at quarterly to half yearly downloads. The Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (GBROOS) is a regional node of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). IMOS is an Australian Government initiative established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and has been supported by Queensland Government since 2006. GBROOS comprises real time observations from weather stations, oceanographic moorings, underway ship observations, ocean surface radar, satellite image reception and reef based sensor networks. This paper focuses on an array of in-line moorings that have been deployed along the outer Great Barrier Reef in order to monitor the Western Boundary currents of the Coral Sea. The Westward flowing Southern Equatorial Current bifurcates into the poleward flowing East Australian Current and the equatorward North Queensland Current. The 4 mooring pairs consist of a continental slope mooring, nominally in 200m of water and one on the outer continental shelf within the GBR matrix in depths of 30 to 70m. The array is designed to detect any changes in circulation, temperature response, mixed layer depth and ocean-shelf interactions. A review of likely impacts of climate change on the physical oceanography of the GBR is providing a basis upon which to explore what processes may be affected by climate change. Sample data and results from the initial year of observations will be presented.

  6. Coral reefs of the turbid inner-shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: An environmental and geomorphic perspective on their occurrence, composition and growth

    Science.gov (United States)

    Browne, N. K.; Smithers, S. G.; Perry, C. T.

    2012-10-01

    Investigations of the geomorphic and sedimentary context in which turbid zone reefs exist, both in the modern and fossil reef record, can inform key ecological debates regarding species tolerances and adaptability to elevated turbidity and sedimentation. Furthermore, these investigations can address critical geological and palaeoecological questions surrounding longer-term coral-sediment interactions and reef growth histories. Here we review current knowledge about turbid zone reefs from the inner-shelf regions of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia to consider these issues and to evaluate reef growth in the period prior to and post European settlement. We also consider the future prospects of these reefs under reported changing water quality regimes. Turbid zone reefs on the GBR are relatively well known compared to those in other reef regions. They occur within 20 km of the mainland coast where reef development may be influenced by continual or episodic terrigenous sediment inputs, fluctuating salinities (24-36 ppt), and reduced water quality through increased nutrient and pollutant delivery from urban and agricultural runoff. Individually, and in synergy, these environmental conditions are widely viewed as unfavourable for sustained and vigorous coral reef growth, and thus these reefs are widely perceived as marginal compared to clear water reef systems. However, recent research has revealed that this view is misleading, and that in fact many turbid zone reefs in this region are resilient, exhibit relatively high live coral cover (> 30%) and have distinctive community assemblages dominated by fast growing (Acropora, Montipora) and/or sediment tolerant species (Turbinaria, Goniopora, Galaxea, Porites). Palaeoecological reconstructions based on the analysis of reef cores show that community assemblages are relatively stable at millennial timescales, and that many reefs are actively accreting (average 2-7 mm/year) where accommodation space is available

  7. An assessment of an environmental gradient using coral geochemical records, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lewis, S E; Brodie, J E; McCulloch, M T; Mallela, J; Jupiter, S D; Williams, H Stuart; Lough, J M; Matson, E G

    2012-01-01

    Coral cores were collected along an environmental and water quality gradient through the Whitsunday Island group, Great Barrier Reef (Australia), for trace element and stable isotope analysis. The primary aim of the study was to examine if this gradient could be detected in coral records and, if so, whether the gradient has changed over time with changing land use in the adjacent river catchments. Y/Ca was the trace element ratio which varied spatially across the gradient, with concentrations progressively decreasing away from the river mouths. The Ba/Ca and Y/Ca ratios were the only indicators of change in the gradient through time, increasing shortly after European settlement. The Mn/Ca ratio responded to local disturbance related to the construction of tourism infrastructure. Nitrogen isotope ratios showed no apparent trend over time. This study highlights the importance of site selection when using coral records to record regional environmental signals. Crown Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  8. Predicting outbreaks of a climate-driven coral disease in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Maynard, J. A.; Anthony, K. R. N.; Harvell, C. D.; Burgman, M. A.; Beeden, R.; Sweatman, H.; Heron, S. F.; Lamb, J. B.; Willis, B. L.

    2011-06-01

    Links between anomalously high sea temperatures and outbreaks of coral diseases known as White Syndromes (WS) represent a threat to Indo-Pacific reefs that is expected to escalate in a changing climate. Further advances in understanding disease aetiologies, determining the relative importance of potential risk factors for outbreaks and in trialing management actions are hampered by not knowing where or when outbreaks will occur. Here, we develop a tool to target research and monitoring of WS outbreaks in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The tool is based on an empirical regression model and takes the form of user-friendly interactive ~1.5-km resolution maps. The maps denote locations where long-term monitoring suggests that coral cover exceeds 26% and summer temperature stress (measured by a temperature metric termed the mean positive summer anomaly) is equal to or exceeds that experienced at sites in 2002 where the only severe WS outbreaks documented on the GBR to date were observed. No WS outbreaks were subsequently documented at 45 routinely surveyed sites from 2003 to 2008, and model hindcasts for this period indicate that outbreak likelihood was never high. In 2009, the model indicated that outbreak likelihood was high at north-central GBR sites. The results of the regression model and targeted surveys in 2009 revealed that the threshold host density for an outbreak decreases as thermal stress increases, suggesting that bleaching could be a more important precursor to WS outbreaks than previously anticipated, given that bleaching was severe at outbreak sites in 2002 but not at any of the surveyed sites in 2009. The iterative approach used here has led to an improved understanding of disease causation, will facilitate management responses and can be applied to other coral diseases and/or other regions.

  9. The relative abundance of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) among other zwitterions in branching coral at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swan, Hilton B; Deschaseaux, Elisabeth S M; Jones, Graham B; Eyre, Bradley D

    2017-07-01

    Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and eleven other target zwitterions were quantified in the branch tips of six Acropora species and Stylophora pistillata hard coral growing on the reef flat surrounding Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS) was used for sample analysis with isotope dilution MS applied to quantify DMSP. The concentration of DMSP was ten times greater in A. aspera than A. valida, with this difference being maintained throughout the spring, summer and winter seasons. In contrast, glycine betaine was present in significantly higher concentrations in these species during the summer than the winter. Exposure of branch tips of A. aspera to air and hypo-saline seawater for up to 1 h did not alter the concentrations of DMSP present in the coral when compared with control samples. DMSP was the most abundant target zwitterion in the six Acropora species examined, ranging from 44-78% of all target zwitterions in A. millepora and A. aspera, respectively. In contrast, DMSP only accounted for 7% in S. pistillata, with glycine betaine and stachydrine collectively accounting for 88% of all target zwitterions in this species. The abundance of DMSP in the six Acropora species examined points to Acropora coral being an important source for the biogeochemical cycling of sulfur throughout the GBR, since this reef-building branching coral dominates the coral cover of the GBR. Graphical Abstract HILIC-MS extracted ion chromatogram showing zwitterionic metabolites from the branching coral Acropora isopora.

  10. Coral Reef Guidance

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guidance prepared by EPA and Army Corps of Engineers concerning coral reef protection under the Clean Water Act, Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, and Federal Project Authorities.

  11. Relative impact of parrotfish grazing scars on massive Porites corals at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef

    OpenAIRE

    Bonaldo, RM; Krajewski, JP; Bellwood, DR

    2011-01-01

    Scraping and excavating parrotfishes are well known for their marked differences in jaw morphology and feeding behaviour. Despite the importance of parrotfishes to reef systems and the well-known differences within the group, few studies have compared the functional importance of scraping versus excavating parrotfishes in shaping coral reef benthic communities. We compared the abundance, depth and dynamics of scraping and excavating parrotfish grazing scars on massive Porites spp. colonies al...

  12. Assessing the value of Earth Observation for managing coral reefs: An example from the Great Barrier Reef

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bouma, J.A.; Kuik, O.J.; Dekker, A.G.

    2011-01-01

    The Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS, 2003) argues that further investments in Earth Observation information are required to improve coral reef protection worldwide. The IGOS Strategy does not specify what levels of investments are needed nor does it quantify the benefits associated with

  13. Coral Reefs: Damage Indicators

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Pascal Saffache

    2008-02-01

    Full Text Available IntroductionCovering approximately 1.2 million km2 or 0.25% of the world maritime domain, coral reefs represent the greatest structures formed on the earth’s surface by living creatures.  Although coral has existed for the past billion years, those which cover the seabed in the present day appeared in the Jurassic period (secondary era and develop in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans (SCORE, 1998. Coral reefs support a broad range of marine biodiversity (one quarter of all fish caught...

  14. Effect of colony size and surrounding substrate on corals experiencing a mild bleaching event on Heron Island reef flat (southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ortiz, J. C.; Gomez-Cabrera, M. Del C.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

    2009-12-01

    In January-May 2006, Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef experienced a mild bleaching event. The effect of colony size, morphology and surrounding substrate on the extent of bleaching was explored. In contrast with previous studies, colony size did not influence bleaching sensitivity, suggesting that there may be a threshold of light and temperature stress beyond which size plays a role. Also contrasting with previous studies, massive corals were more affected by bleaching than branching corals. Massive corals surrounded by sand were more affected than the ones surrounded by rubble or dead coral. It is hypothesized that light reflectance from sand increases stress levels experienced by the colonies. This effect is maximized in massive corals as opposed to branching corals that form dense thickets on Heron Island. These results emphasize the importance of the ecological dynamics of coral communities experiencing low, moderate and high levels of bleaching for the understanding of how coral communities may change under the stress of climate change.

  15. Environmental Factors Controlling the Distribution of Symbiodinium Harboured by the Coral Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cooper, Timothy F.; Berkelmans, Ray; Ulstrup, Karin E.; Weeks, Scarla; Radford, Ben; Jones, Alison M.; Doyle, Jason; Canto, Marites; O'Leary, Rebecca A.; van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.

    2011-01-01

    Background The Symbiodinium community associated with scleractinian corals is widely considered to be shaped by seawater temperature, as the coral's upper temperature tolerance is largely contingent on the Symbiodinium types harboured. Few studies have challenged this paradigm as knowledge of other environmental drivers on the distribution of Symbiodinium is limited. Here, we examine the influence of a range of environmental variables on the distribution of Symbiodinium associated with Acropora millepora collected from 47 coral reefs spanning 1,400 km on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Methodology/Principal Findings The environmental data included Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data at 1 km spatial resolution from which a number of sea surface temperature (SST) and water quality metrics were derived. In addition, the carbonate and mud composition of sediments were incorporated into the analysis along with in situ water quality samples for a subset of locations. Analyses were conducted at three spatio-temporal scales [GBR (regional-scale), Whitsunday Islands (local-scale) and Keppel Islands/Trunk Reef (temporal)] to examine the effects of scale on the distribution patterns. While SST metrics were important drivers of the distribution of Symbiodinium types at regional and temporal scales, our results demonstrate that spatial variability in water quality correlates significantly with Symbiodinium distribution at local scales. Background levels of Symbiodinium types were greatest at turbid inshore locations of the Whitsunday Islands where SST predictors were not as important. This was not the case at regional scales where combinations of mud and carbonate sediment content coupled with SST anomalies and mean summer SST explained 51.3% of the variation in dominant Symbiodinium communities. Conclusions/Significance Reef corals may respond to global-scale stressors such as climate change through changes in their resident symbiont

  16. A preliminary distributional study of fish larvae near a ribbon coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leis, J. M.; Goldman, B.

    1984-04-01

    Fish larvae from horizontal plankton tows along a single transect near outer ribbon reefs of the Great Barrier Reef in spring 1979 and summer 1980 had persistent distributional patterns. Larvae were identified to family and divided into young (preflexion) and old (postflexion) larvae, thus giving 28 taxa abundant enough for analysis. Non-uniform larval distributions were found for 81% of the 16 reef fish taxa with non-pelagic eggs, but for only 17% of the six reef fish taxa with pelagic eggs. Most differences in larval concentration were between the lagoonal and seaward sides of the reef. Only tripterygiid larvae had highest concentration just seaward of the reef, while larvae of 12 reef and three oceanic fish taxa occurred in highest concentrations on the lagoonal side of the reef. In five taxa of reef fishes, higher larval concentrations were found in the lagoonal backreef compared with the mid-lagoon habitat; but the reverse was not found in any taxon. Eleven taxa had indeterminate distributions, (i.e. no difference in concentration between stations). Mechanisms responsible for the distribution remain unknown, but we suggest that the view which considers fish larvae to be passively-drifting particles is unjustified without more information on larval behaviour.

  17. Coral reef ecosystem

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.; Wafar, S.

    3 Coral Reef Ecosystem M. V M. Wafar 1 and Sayeeda Wafar Among the various inland and coastal wetlands, it is probably the coral reef ecosystem that has generated the greatest sc-ientific and economic interest and received in the recent years a world... they play in global biogeochemical cycles as sinks for atmo spheric carbon dioxide. The economic potential includes c-aleium car bonate, food and ornamental fishes, bio-molecules, tourism, molluscan shells, macro-algae, a range of other minor products...

  18. Nitrification in reef corals

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.; Wafar, S.; David, J.J.

    . An estimate of the density of nitrifying bacteria on living corals can be made by comparing the nitrifying rates of bacterial cells and the rate of production of NO,-. Kaplan (1983) summarized the growth con- stants of marine nitrifying bacteria... Reef Con=. 3: 395-399. -, C. R. WILKINSON, V. p. VICENTE, J. M. MORELL, AND E. OTERO. 1988. Nitrate release by Carib- bean reef sponges. Limnol. Oceanogr. 33: 114- 120. CROSSLAND, C. J., AND D. J. BARNES. 1983. Dissolved nutrients and organic...

  19. Terrestrial Runoff Into the Great Barrier Reef: Direct Evidence From the Coral Record for Major Increases in Anthropogenic Fluxes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fallon, S. J.; McCulloch, M. T.

    2001-12-01

    Inshore regions of the central and northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are regularly impacted by runoff from large rivers. The river flows are highly episodic, being associated with cyclones or occasionally intense monsoonal depressions. During these high intensity rainfall events, there can be massive discharges of freshwater and suspended sediments into the GBR lagoon. It is shown here how long-lived (300-400 year old) corals from the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia provide a unique long-term quantitative record of suspended sediment loads delivered to the GBR by river flood plumes. Porites corals from the inshore Pandora and Havannah Reefs, experience episodic discharge of freshwater flood plumes from the Burdekin River. Barium acts as a monitor for suspended sediment as it is desorbed from suspended particles as the freshwater flood plumes enter the marine environment. Ba/Ca ratios in coral cores therefore provide a proxy of long-term changes in suspended sediment loads, which are entering inshore coral reefs prior to and following European settlement. The Ba/Ca systematics in the coral core analyzed in this study reveal two distinctive patterns. For the period prior to European settlement, there is only limited evidence for flood-plume related suspended sediment fluxes entering the inner GBR, although this period is mainly dominated by droughts. From 1800 to 1860, which includes major flood events in the years, 1801, 1811, 1817, 1819 and 1831, the coral fluorescent flood-bands still do not exhibit any Ba peaks. Immediately following European settlement, in the 1860's, there is a dramatic change in the Ba/Ca ratios of the coral core. For example in the 1870 flood-band there is a large Ba/Ca spike, indicative of a significant increase in suspended load being delivered to the inner GBR. This is coincident with the first grazing activities by European settlers in the Burdekin catchment. It is hypothesized that the initial spike in Ba/Ca is a

  20. Chimerism in wild adult populations of the broadcast spawning coral Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Eneour Puill-Stephan

    2009-11-01

    Full Text Available Chimeras are organisms containing tissues or cells of two or more genetically distinct individuals, and are known to exist in at least nine phyla of protists, plants, and animals. Although widespread and common in marine invertebrates, the extent of chimerism in wild populations of reef corals is unknown.The extent of chimerism was explored within two populations of a common coral, Acropora millepora, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, by using up to 12 polymorphic DNA microsatellite loci. At least 2% and 5% of Magnetic Island and Pelorus Island populations of A. millepora, respectively, were found to be chimeras (3% overall, based on conservative estimates. A slightly less conservative estimate indicated that 5% of colonies in each population were chimeras. These values are likely to be vast underestimates of the true extent of chimerism, as our sampling protocol was restricted to a maximum of eight branches per colony, while most colonies consist of hundreds of branches. Genotypes within chimeric corals showed high relatedness, indicating that genetic similarity is a prerequisite for long-term acceptance of non-self genotypes within coral colonies.While some brooding corals have been shown to form genetic chimeras in their early life history stages under experimental conditions, this study provides the first genetic evidence of the occurrence of coral chimeras in the wild and of chimerism in a broadcast spawning species. We hypothesize that chimerism is more widespread in corals than previously thought, and suggest that this has important implications for their resilience, potentially enhancing their capacity to compete for space and respond to stressors such as pathogen infection.

  1. A novel reef coral symbiosis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pantos, O.; Bythell, J. C.

    2010-09-01

    Reef building corals form close associations with unicellular microalgae, fungi, bacteria and archaea, some of which are symbiotic and which together form the coral holobiont. Associations with multicellular eukaryotes such as polychaete worms, bivalves and sponges are not generally considered to be symbiotic as the host responds to their presence by forming physical barriers with an active growth edge in the exoskeleton isolating the invader and, at a subcellular level, activating innate immune responses such as melanin deposition. This study describes a novel symbiosis between a newly described hydrozoan ( Zanclea margaritae sp. nov.) and the reef building coral Acropora muricata (= A. formosa), with the hydrozoan hydrorhiza ramifying throughout the coral tissues with no evidence of isolation or activation of the immune systems of the host. The hydrorhiza lacks a perisarc, which is typical of symbiotic species of this and related genera, including species that associate with other cnidarians such as octocorals. The symbiosis was observed at all sites investigated from two distant locations on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and appears to be host species specific, being found only in A. muricata and in none of 30 other species investigated at these sites. Not all colonies of A. muricata host the hydrozoans and both the prevalence within the coral population (mean = 66%) and density of emergent hydrozoan hydranths on the surface of the coral (mean = 4.3 cm-2, but up to 52 cm-2) vary between sites. The form of the symbiosis in terms of the mutualism-parasitism continuum is not known, although the hydrozoan possesses large stenotele nematocysts, which may be important for defence from predators and protozoan pathogens. This finding expands the known A. muricata holobiont and the association must be taken into account in future when determining the corals’ abilities to defend against predators and withstand stress.

  2. Historical photographs revisited: A case study for dating and characterizing recent loss of coral cover on the inshore Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clark, Tara R; Leonard, Nicole D; Zhao, Jian-Xin; Brodie, Jon; McCook, Laurence J; Wachenfeld, David R; Duc Nguyen, Ai; Markham, Hannah L; Pandolfi, John M

    2016-01-27

    Long-term data with high-precision chronology are essential to elucidate past ecological changes on coral reefs beyond the period of modern-day monitoring programs. In 2012 we revisited two inshore reefs within the central Great Barrier Reef, where a series of historical photographs document a loss of hard coral cover between c.1890-1994 AD. Here we use an integrated approach that includes high-precision U-Th dating specifically tailored for determining the age of extremely young corals to provide a robust, objective characterisation of ecological transition. The timing of mortality for most of the dead in situ corals sampled from the historical photograph locations was found to coincide with major flood events in 1990-1991 at Bramston Reef and 1970 and 2008 at Stone Island. Evidence of some recovery was found at Bramston Reef with living coral genera similar to what was described in c.1890 present in 2012. In contrast, very little sign of coral re-establishment was found at Stone Island suggesting delayed recovery. These results provide a valuable reference point for managers to continue monitoring the recovery (or lack thereof) of coral communities at these reefs.

  3. Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals at Pelorus Island, inshore Great Barrier Reef, following European settlement

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roff, George; Clark, Tara R.; Reymond, Claire E.; Zhao, Jian-xin; Feng, Yuexing; McCook, Laurence J.; Done, Terence J.; Pandolfi, John M.

    2013-01-01

    The inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have undergone significant declines in water quality following European settlement (approx. 1870 AD). However, direct evidence of impacts on coral assemblages is limited by a lack of historical baselines prior to the onset of modern monitoring programmes in the early 1980s. Through palaeoecological reconstructions, we report a previously undocumented historical collapse of Acropora assemblages at Pelorus Island (central GBR). High-precision U-series dating of dead Acropora fragments indicates that this collapse occurred between 1920 and 1955, with few dates obtained after 1980. Prior to this event, our results indicate remarkable long-term stability in coral community structure over centennial scales. We suggest that chronic increases in sediment flux and nutrient loading following European settlement acted as the ultimate cause for the lack of recovery of Acropora assemblages following a series of acute disturbance events (SST anomalies, cyclones and flood events). Evidence for major degradation in reef condition owing to human impacts prior to modern ecological surveys indicates that current monitoring of inshore reefs on the GBR may be predicated on a significantly shifted baseline. PMID:23135672

  4. The Gulf of Carpentaria heated Torres Strait and the Northern Great Barrier Reef during the 2016 mass coral bleaching event

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wolanski, E.; Andutta, F.; Deleersnijder, E.; Li, Y.; Thomas, C. J.

    2017-07-01

    The 2015/16 ENSO event increased the temperature of waters surrounding northeast Australia to above 30 °C, with large patches of water reaching 32 °C, for over two months, which led to severe bleaching of corals of the Northern Great Barrier Reef (NGBR). This study provides evidence gained from remote-sensing data, oceanographic data and oceanographic modeling, that three factors caused this excessive heating, namely: 1) the shutdown of the North Queensland Coastal Current, which would otherwise have flushed and cooled the Northern Coral Sea and the NGBR through tidal mixing 2) the advection of warm (>30 °C) water from the Gulf of Carpentaria eastward through Torres Strait and then southward over the NGBR continental shelf, and 3) presumably local solar heating. The eastward flux of this warm water through Torres Strait was driven by a mean sea level difference on either side of the strait that in turn was controlled by the wind, which also generated the southward advection of this warm water onto the NGBR shelf. On the NGBR shelf, the residence time of this warm water was longer inshore than offshore, and this may explain the observed cross-shelf gradient of coral bleaching intensity. The fate of the Great Barrier Reef is thus controlled by the oceanography of surrounding seas.

  5. pH homeostasis during coral calcification in a free ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiment, Heron Island reef flat, Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Georgiou, Lucy; Falter, James; Trotter, Julie; Kline, David I.; Holcomb, Michael; Dove, Sophie G.; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; McCulloch, Malcolm

    2015-01-01

    Geochemical analyses (δ11B and Sr/Ca) are reported for the coral Porites cylindrica grown within a free ocean carbon enrichment (FOCE) experiment, conducted on the Heron Island reef flat (Great Barrier Reef) for a 6-mo period from June to early December 2010. The FOCE experiment was designed to simulate the effects of CO2-driven acidification predicted to occur by the end of this century (scenario RCP4.5) while simultaneously maintaining the exposure of corals to natural variations in their environment under in situ conditions. Analyses of skeletal growth (measured from extension rates and skeletal density) showed no systematic differences between low-pH FOCE treatments (ΔpH = ∼−0.05 to −0.25 units below ambient) and present day controls (ΔpH = 0) for calcification rates or the pH of the calcifying fluid (pHcf); the latter was derived from boron isotopic compositions (δ11B) of the coral skeleton. Furthermore, individual nubbins exhibited near constant δ11B compositions along their primary apical growth axes (±0.02 pHcf units) regardless of the season or treatment. Thus, under the highly dynamic conditions of the Heron Island reef flat, P. cylindrica up-regulated the pH of its calcifying fluid (pHcf ∼8.4–8.6), with each nubbin having near-constant pHcf values independent of the large natural seasonal fluctuations of the reef flat waters (pH ∼7.7 to ∼8.3) or the superimposed FOCE treatments. This newly discovered phenomenon of pH homeostasis during calcification indicates that coral living in highly dynamic environments exert strong physiological controls on the carbonate chemistry of their calcifying fluid, implying a high degree of resilience to ocean acidification within the investigated ranges. PMID:26438833

  6. pH homeostasis during coral calcification in a free ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiment, Heron Island reef flat, Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Georgiou, Lucy; Falter, James; Trotter, Julie; Kline, David I; Holcomb, Michael; Dove, Sophie G; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; McCulloch, Malcolm

    2015-10-27

    Geochemical analyses (δ(11)B and Sr/Ca) are reported for the coral Porites cylindrica grown within a free ocean carbon enrichment (FOCE) experiment, conducted on the Heron Island reef flat (Great Barrier Reef) for a 6-mo period from June to early December 2010. The FOCE experiment was designed to simulate the effects of CO2-driven acidification predicted to occur by the end of this century (scenario RCP4.5) while simultaneously maintaining the exposure of corals to natural variations in their environment under in situ conditions. Analyses of skeletal growth (measured from extension rates and skeletal density) showed no systematic differences between low-pH FOCE treatments (ΔpH = ∼-0.05 to -0.25 units below ambient) and present day controls (ΔpH = 0) for calcification rates or the pH of the calcifying fluid (pHcf); the latter was derived from boron isotopic compositions (δ(11)B) of the coral skeleton. Furthermore, individual nubbins exhibited near constant δ(11)B compositions along their primary apical growth axes (±0.02 pHcf units) regardless of the season or treatment. Thus, under the highly dynamic conditions of the Heron Island reef flat, P. cylindrica up-regulated the pH of its calcifying fluid (pHcf ∼8.4-8.6), with each nubbin having near-constant pHcf values independent of the large natural seasonal fluctuations of the reef flat waters (pH ∼7.7 to ∼8.3) or the superimposed FOCE treatments. This newly discovered phenomenon of pH homeostasis during calcification indicates that coral living in highly dynamic environments exert strong physiological controls on the carbonate chemistry of their calcifying fluid, implying a high degree of resilience to ocean acidification within the investigated ranges.

  7. U-Th dating reveals regional-scale decline of branching Acropora corals on the Great Barrier Reef over the past century

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clark, Tara R.; Roff, George; Zhao, Jian-xin; Feng, Yue-xing; Done, Terence J.; McCook, Laurence J.; Pandolfi, John M.

    2017-09-01

    Hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is on a trajectory of decline. However, little is known about past coral mortality before the advent of long-term monitoring (circa 1980s). Using paleoecological analysis and high-precision uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating, we reveal an extensive loss of branching Acropora corals and changes in coral community structure in the Palm Islands region of the central GBR over the past century. In 2008, dead coral assemblages were dominated by large, branching Acropora and living coral assemblages by genera typically found in turbid inshore environments. The timing of Acropora mortality was found to be occasionally synchronous among reefs and frequently linked to discrete disturbance events, occurring in the 1920s to 1960s and again in the 1980s to 1990s. Surveys conducted in 2014 revealed low Acropora cover (shifted baseline.

  8. The Status of Coral Reefs in the Remote Region of Andavadoaka ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Three reef systems (fringing, barrier and patch reefs) were surveyed in the region of Andavadoaka, southwest Madagascar. Patch reefs had the highest coral cover and highest density of coral recruits (~45% and 1.8 m-2 recruits), followed by barrier reefs (~12% and 1.3 m-2 recruits) and fringing reefs (~8% and 0.8 m-2 ...

  9. Variation in the health and biochemical condition of the coral Acropora tenuis along two water quality gradients on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rocker, Melissa M; Francis, David S; Fabricius, Katharina E; Willis, Bette L; Bay, Line K

    2017-06-30

    This study explores how plasticity in biochemical attributes, used as indicators of health and condition, enables the coral Acropora tenuis to respond to differing water quality regimes in inshore regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Health attributes were monitored along a strong and weak water quality gradient, each with three reefs at increasing distances from a major river source. Attributes differed significantly only along the strong gradient; corals grew fastest, had the least dense skeletons, highest symbiont densities and highest lipid concentrations closest to the river mouth, where water quality was poorest. High nutrient and particulate loads were only detrimental to skeletal density, which decreased as linear extension increased, highlighting a trade-off. Our study underscores the importance of assessing multiple health attributes in coral reef monitoring. For example, autotrophic indices are poor indicators of coral health and condition, but improve when combined with attributes like lipid content and biomass. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  10. Tolerance of endolithic algae to elevated temperature and light in the coral Montipora monasteriata from the southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fine, Maoz; Meroz-Fine, Efrat; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2005-01-01

    Photosynthetic endolithic algae and cyanobacteria live within the skeletons of many scleractinians. Under normal conditions, less than 5% of the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reaches the green endolithic algae because of the absorbance of light by the endosymbiotic dinoflagellates and the carbonate skeleton. When corals bleach (loose dinoflagellate symbionts), however, the tissue of the corals become highly transparent and photosynthetic microendoliths may be exposed to high levels of both thermal and solar stress. This study explores the consequence of these combined stresses on the phototrophic endoliths inhabiting the skeleton of Montipora monasteriata, growing at Heron Island, on the southern Great Barrier Reef. Endoliths that were exposed to sun after tissue removal were by far more susceptible to thermal photoinhibition and photo-damage than endoliths under coral tissue that contained high concentrations of brown dinoflagellate symbionts. While temperature or light alone did not result in decreased photosynthetic efficiency of the endoliths, combined thermal and solar stress caused a major decrease and delayed recovery. Endoliths protected under intact tissue recovered rapidly and photoacclimated soon after exposure to elevated sea temperatures. Endoliths under naturally occurring bleached tissue of M. monasteriata colonies (bleaching event in March 2004 at Heron Island) acclimated to increased irradiance as the brown symbionts disappeared. We suggest that two major factors determine the outcome of thermal bleaching to the endolith community. The first is the microhabitat and light levels under which a coral grows, and the second is the susceptibility of the coral-dinoflagellates symbiosis to thermal stress. More resistant corals may take longer to bleach allowing endoliths time to acclimate to a new light environment. This in turn may have implications for coral survival.

  11. A population genetic assessment of coral recovery on highly disturbed reefs of the Keppel Island archipelago in the southern Great Barrier Reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Madeleine J.H. van Oppen

    2015-07-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs surrounding the islands lying close to the coast are unique to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR in that they are frequently exposed to disturbance events including floods caused by cyclonic rainfall, strong winds and occasional periods of prolonged above-average temperatures during summer. In one such group of islands in the southern GBR, the Keppel Island archipelago, climate-driven disturbances frequently result in major coral mortality. Whilst these island reefs have clearly survived such dramatic disturbances in the past, the consequences of extreme mortality events may include the loss of genetic diversity, and hence adaptive potential, and a reduction in fitness due to inbreeding, especially if new recruitment from external sources is limited. Here we examined the level of isolation of the Keppel Island group as well as patterns of gene flow within the Keppel Islands using 10 microsatellite markers in nine populations of the coral, Acropora millepora. Bayesian cluster analysis and assignment tests indicated gene flow is restricted, but not absent, between the outer and inner Keppel Island groups, and that extensive gene flow exists within each of these island groups. Comparison of the Keppel Island data with results from a previous GBR-wide study that included a single Keppel Island population, confirmed that A. millepora in the Keppel Islands is genetically distinct from populations elsewhere on the GBR, with exception of the nearby inshore High Peak Reef just north of the Keppel Islands. We compared patterns of genetic diversity in the Keppel Island populations with those from other GBR populations and found them to be slightly, but significantly lower, consistent with the archipelago being geographically isolated, but there was no evidence for recent bottlenecks or deviation from mutation-drift equilibrium. A high incidence of private alleles in the Keppel Islands, particularly in the outer islands, supports their relative

  12. A population genetic assessment of coral recovery on highly disturbed reefs of the Keppel Island archipelago in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi; Berkelmans, Ray; Peplow, Lesa M; Jones, Alison M

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs surrounding the islands lying close to the coast are unique to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in that they are frequently exposed to disturbance events including floods caused by cyclonic rainfall, strong winds and occasional periods of prolonged above-average temperatures during summer. In one such group of islands in the southern GBR, the Keppel Island archipelago, climate-driven disturbances frequently result in major coral mortality. Whilst these island reefs have clearly survived such dramatic disturbances in the past, the consequences of extreme mortality events may include the loss of genetic diversity, and hence adaptive potential, and a reduction in fitness due to inbreeding, especially if new recruitment from external sources is limited. Here we examined the level of isolation of the Keppel Island group as well as patterns of gene flow within the Keppel Islands using 10 microsatellite markers in nine populations of the coral, Acropora millepora. Bayesian cluster analysis and assignment tests indicated gene flow is restricted, but not absent, between the outer and inner Keppel Island groups, and that extensive gene flow exists within each of these island groups. Comparison of the Keppel Island data with results from a previous GBR-wide study that included a single Keppel Island population, confirmed that A. millepora in the Keppel Islands is genetically distinct from populations elsewhere on the GBR, with exception of the nearby inshore High Peak Reef just north of the Keppel Islands. We compared patterns of genetic diversity in the Keppel Island populations with those from other GBR populations and found them to be slightly, but significantly lower, consistent with the archipelago being geographically isolated, but there was no evidence for recent bottlenecks or deviation from mutation-drift equilibrium. A high incidence of private alleles in the Keppel Islands, particularly in the outer islands, supports their relative isolation and contributes

  13. Coral reef resilience through biodiversity

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2013-01-01

    Irrefutable evidence of coral reef degradation worldwide and increasing pressure from rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification associated with climate change have led to a focus on reef resilience and a call to “manage” coral reefs for resilience. Ideally, global action to reduce emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be accompanied by local action. Effective management requires reduction of local stressors, identification of the characteristics of resilient reefs, and design of marine protected area networks that include potentially resilient reefs. Future research is needed on how stressors interact, on how climate change will affect corals, fish, and other reef organisms as well as overall biodiversity, and on basic ecological processes such as connectivity. Not all reef species and reefs will respond similarly to local and global stressors. Because reef-building corals and other organisms have some potential to adapt to environmental changes, coral reefs will likely persist in spite of the unprecedented combination of stressors currently affecting them. The biodiversity of coral reefs is the basis for their remarkable beauty and for the benefits they provide to society. The extraordinary complexity of these ecosystems makes it both more difficult to predict their future and more likely they will have a future.

  14. Quantifying water flow within aquatic ecosystems using load cell sensors: a profile of currents experienced by coral reef organisms around Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johansen, Jacob L

    2014-01-01

    Current velocity in aquatic environments has major implications for the diversity, abundance and ecology of aquatic organisms, but quantifying these currents has proven difficult. This study utilises a simple and inexpensive instrument (reef system around Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) at a spatial and temporal scale relevant to the ecology of individual benthos and fish. The instrument uses load-cell sensors to provide a correlation between sensor output and ambient current velocity of 99%. Each instrument is able to continuously record current velocities to >500 cms⁻¹ and wave frequency to >100 Hz over several weeks. Sensor data are registered and processed at 16 MHz and 10 bit resolution, with a measuring precision of 0.06±0.04%, and accuracy of 0.51±0.65% (mean ±S.D.). Each instrument is also pressure rated to 120 m and shear stresses ≤20 kNm⁻² allowing deployment in harsh environments. The instrument was deployed across 27 coral reef sites covering the crest (3 m), mid-slope (6 m) and deep-slope (9 m depth) of habitats directly exposed, oblique or sheltered from prevailing winds. Measurements demonstrate that currents over the reef slope and crest varies immensely depending on depth and exposure: currents differ up to 9-fold within habitats only separated by 3 m depth and 15-fold between exposed, oblique and sheltered habitats. Comparisons to ambient weather conditions reveal that currents around Lizard Island are largely wind driven. Zero to 22.5 knot winds correspond directly to currents of 0 to >82 cms⁻¹, while tidal currents rarely exceed 5.5 cms⁻¹. Rather, current velocity increases exponentially as a function of wave height (0 to 1.6 m) and frequency (0.54 to 0.20 Hz), emphasizing the enormous effect of wind and waves on organisms in these shallow coral reef habitats.

  15. Trematodes of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: emerging patterns of diversity and richness in coral reef fishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cribb, Thomas H; Bott, Nathan J; Bray, Rodney A; McNamara, Marissa K A; Miller, Terrence L; Nolan, Mathew J; Cutmore, Scott C

    2014-10-15

    The Great Barrier Reef holds the richest array of marine life found anywhere in Australia, including a diverse and fascinating parasite fauna. Members of one group, the trematodes, occur as sexually mature adult worms in almost all Great Barrier Reef bony fish species. Although the first reports of these parasites were made 100 years ago, the fauna has been studied systematically for only the last 25 years. When the fauna was last reviewed in 1994 there were 94 species known from the Great Barrier Reef and it was predicted that there might be 2,270 in total. There are now 326 species reported for the region, suggesting that we are in a much improved position to make an accurate prediction of true trematode richness. Here we review the current state of knowledge of the fauna and the ways in which our understanding of this fascinating group is changing. Our best estimate of the true richness is now a range, 1,100-1,800 species. However there remains considerable scope for even these figures to be incorrect given that fewer than one-third of the fish species of the region have been examined for trematodes. Our goal is a comprehensive characterisation of this fauna, and we outline what work needs to be done to achieve this and discuss whether this goal is practically achievable or philosophically justifiable. Copyright © 2014 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  16. Comparing bleaching and mortality responses of hard corals between southern Kenya and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McClanahan, T R; Baird, A H; Marshall, P A; Toscano, M A

    2004-02-01

    We compared the bleaching and mortality response (BMI) of 19 common scleractinian corals to an anomalous warm-water event in 1998 to determine the degree of variation between depths, sites, and regions. Mombasa corals experienced a greater temperature anomaly than those on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) sites and this was reflected in the greater BMI response of most taxa. Comparing coral taxa in different sites at the same depth produced high correlation coefficients in the bleaching response in Kenya at 2 m (r=0.86) and GBR at 6 m depth sites (r=0.80) but less in the GBR for shallow 2 m sites (r=0.49). The pattern of taxa susceptibility was remarkably consistent between the regions. Coral taxa explained 52% of the variation in the response of colonies to bleaching between these two regions (Kenya BMI=0.90 GBR BMI+26; F(1,19) - 18.3; p bleaching is phylogenetically constrained, emphasizing the importance of features of the host's physiology or morphology in determining the response to thermal stress.

  17. The use of otolith morphology to indicate the stock structure of common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus) on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    OpenAIRE

    Bergenius, Mikaela A. J.; Begg, Gavin A.; Mapstone, Bruce D.

    2006-01-01

    We investigated the use of otolith morphology to indicate the stock structure of an exploited serranid coral reef fish, Plectropomus leopardus, on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Otoliths were measured by traditional one-and two-dimensional measures (otolith length, width, area, perimeter, circularity, and rectangularity), as well as by Fourier analysis to capture the finer details of otolith shape. Variables were compared among four regions of the GBR separated by hundreds of kilome...

  18. Maintenance of fish diversity on disturbed coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wilson, S. K.; Dolman, A. M.; Cheal, A. J.; Emslie, M. J.; Pratchett, M. S.; Sweatman, H. P. A.

    2009-03-01

    Habitat perturbations play a major role in shaping community structure; however, the elements of disturbance-related habitat change that affect diversity are not always apparent. This study examined the effects of habitat disturbances on species richness of coral reef fish assemblages using annual surveys of habitat and 210 fish species from 10 reefs on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Over a period of 11 years, major disturbances, including localised outbreaks of crown-of-thorns sea star ( Acanthaster planci), severe storms or coral bleaching, resulted in coral decline of 46-96% in all the 10 reefs. Despite declines in coral cover, structural complexity of the reef framework was retained on five and species richness of coral reef fishes maintained on nine of the disturbed reefs. Extensive loss of coral resulted in localised declines of highly specialised coral-dependent species, but this loss of diversity was more than compensated for by increases in the number of species that feed on the epilithic algal matrix (EAM). A unimodal relationship between areal coral cover and species richness indicated species richness was greatest at approximately 20% coral cover declining by 3-4 species (6-8% of average richness) at higher and lower coral cover. Results revealed that declines in coral cover on reefs may have limited short-term impact on the diversity of coral reef fishes, though there may be fundamental changes in the community structure of fishes.

  19. Human activities threaten coral reefs

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Tveitdal, Svein; Bjoerke, Aake

    2002-01-01

    Research indicates that 58 per cent of the coral reefs of the world are threatened by human activities. Pollution and global heating represent some of the threats. Coral reefs just beneath the surface of the sea are very sensitive to temperature changes. Since 1979, mass death of coral reefs has been reported increasingly often. More than 1000 marine species live in the coral reefs, among these are one fourth of all marine species of fish. It is imperative that the coral reefs be preserved, as coastal communities all over the world depend on them as sources of food and as they are the raw materials for important medicines. The article discusses the threats to the coral reefs in general and does not single out any particular energy-related activity as the principal threat. For instance, the El-Nino phenomenon of the Pacific Ocean is probably involved in mass death of coral reefs and in the North Sea large parts of deep-water reefs have been crushed by heavy beam trawlers fishing for bottom fish

  20. Coral reef research in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    monitoring is done routinely (but not in all reefs), targeted research (and funding for that) is still weak. An example is the impacts of global change on coral reefs. Another is assisted recovery of reefs and their biodiversity. Yet another is in situ...

  1. Soft coral abundance on the central Great Barrier Reef: effects of Acanthaster planci, space availability, and aspects of the physical environment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fabricius, K. E.

    1997-07-01

    The distribution and abundance of soft coral genera on reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef was investigated in relation to reef position, recent history of disturbance, wave exposure, substratum slope and depth. Eighty-five 25 m long transects were surveyed at 10 m depth on windward sides of 14 mid- and outer-shelf reefs. A further 75 transects in different zones on one mid-shelf reef (Davies Reef) between 5 and 30 m depth were investigated. The crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci had caused large-scale mortality of scleractinians on eight of these reefs five to ten years prior to the study, and as a result, scleractinian cover was only 35-55% of that on the six unimpacted reefs. On the impacted reefs, stony corals with massive and encrusting growths form had smaller average colony diameters but similar or slightly lower numerical abundance. In contrast, mean colony size, cover and abundance of branching stony corals showed no difference between impacted and unimpacted reefs. Twenty-four genera of soft corals (in eight families) were recorded, and none showed different abundance or cover in areas of former A. planci impact, compared to unaffected sites. Similarly, no difference was detected among locations in the numbers or area cover of sponges, tunicates, zoanthids, Halimeda or other macro-algae. Mean soft coral cover was 2 to 5% at 10 m on sheltered mid-shelf reefs, and 12 to 17% on more current-exposed reefs. Highest cover and abundances generally occurred on platforms of outer-shelf reefs exposed to relatively strong currents but low wave energy. On Davies Reef, cover and colony numbers of the families Nephtheidae and Xeniidae were low within the zone of wave impact, in flow-protected bays and lagoons, on shaded steep slopes, and at depths above 10 and below 25 m. In contrast, distributions of genera of the family Alcyoniidae were not related to these physical parameters. The physical conditions of a large proportion of habitats appear "sub

  2. Biology and ecology of the vulnerable holothuroid, Stichopus herrmanni, on a high-latitude coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wolfe, Kennedy; Byrne, Maria

    2017-12-01

    Tropical aspidochirotid holothuroids are among the largest coral reef invertebrates, but gaps remain in our understanding of their ecological roles in lagoon sediment habitats, a vast component of coral-reef ecosystems. Stichopus herrmanni, listed as vulnerable (IUCN), is currently a major fishery species on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is critical to characterise how this species interacts with its environment to understand how its removal may impact ecosystem functionality. We investigated seasonal variation in movement, bioturbation, feeding and gonad development of S. herrmanni over 3 yr at One Tree Reef, which has been a no-take area for decades. We determined the direct influence of the deposit-feeding activity of S. herrmanni on sediment turnover and granulometry, and on the abundance of infauna and benthic productivity in a comprehensive in situ analysis of tropical holothuroid feeding ecology. This species is highly mobile with identifiable individuals exhibiting site fidelity over 3 yr. With the potential to turn over an estimated 64-250 kg individual-1 yr-1, S. herrmanni is a major bioturbator. Stichopus herrmanni is a generalist feeder and influences trophic interactions by altering the abundance of infauna and microalgae. Stichopus herrmanni exhibited decreased feeding activity and gonad development in winter, the first documentation of a seasonal disparity in the bioturbation activity of a tropical holothuroid. Sediment digestion and dissolution by S. herrmanni has the potential to influence seawater chemistry, a particularly important feature in a changing ocean. Our results provide essential baseline data on the functional roles of this ecologically important species to inform development of ecosystem-based bêche-de-mer fisheries management on the GBR.

  3. Disease of coral and coral reef fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Panek, Frank

    2008-01-01

    The Department of the Interior protects sensitive habitats amounting to about 3,600,000 acres of coral reefs and other submerged lands. These reefs are important ecosystems in 13 National Wildlife Refuges, 10 National Parks and in certain territorial waters such as the Wake Atoll.

  4. Coral reef bleaching: ecological perspectives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glynn, P. W.

    1993-03-01

    Coral reef bleaching, the whitening of diverse invertebrate taxa, results from the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae and/or a reduction in photosynthetic pigment concentrations in zooxanthellae residing within the gastrodermal tissues of host animals. Of particular concern are the consequences of bleaching of large numbers of reef-building scleractinian corals and hydrocorals. Published records of coral reef bleaching events from 1870 to the present suggest that the frequency (60 major events from 1979 to 1990), scale (co-occurrence in many coral reef regions and often over the bathymetric depth range of corals) and severity (>95% mortality in some areas) of recent bleaching disturbances are unprecedented in the scientific literature. The causes of small scale, isolated bleaching events can often be explained by particular stressors (e.g., temperature, salinity, light, sedimentation, aerial exposure and pollutants), but attempts to explain large scale bleaching events in terms of possible global change (e.g., greenhouse warming, increased UV radiation flux, deteriorating ecosystem health, or some combination of the above) have not been convincing. Attempts to relate the severity and extent of large scale coral reef bleaching events to particular causes have been hampered by a lack of (a) standardized methods to assess bleaching and (b) continuous, long-term data bases of environmental conditions over the periods of interest. An effort must be made to understand the impact of bleaching on the remainder of the reef community and the long-term effects on competition, predation, symbioses, bioerosion and substrate condition, all factors that can influence coral recruitment and reef recovery. If projected rates of sea warming are realized by mid to late AD 2000, i.e. a 2°C increase in high latitude coral seas, the upper thermal tolerance limits of many reef-building corals could be exceeded. Present evidence suggests that many corals would be unable to adapt

  5. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 24 2010-07-01 2010-07-01 false Coral reefs. 230.44 Section 230.44... Aquatic Sites § 230.44 Coral reefs. (a) Coral reefs consist of the skeletal deposit, usually of calcareous... organisms present in growing portions of the reef. (b) Possible loss of values: The discharge of dredged or...

  6. Coral Reef Protection Implementation Plan

    National Research Council Canada - National Science Library

    Lobel, Lisa

    2000-01-01

    This document identify policies and actions to implement the Department of Defense's responsibilities under Executive Order 13089 on Coral Reef Protection, and are a requirement of the interim Task...

  7. Effects of High Dissolved Inorganic and Organic Carbon Availability on the Physiology of the Hard Coral Acropora millepora from the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Friedrich W Meyer

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are facing major global and local threats due to climate change-induced increases in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC and because of land-derived increases in organic and inorganic nutrients. Recent research revealed that high availability of labile dissolved organic carbon (DOC negatively affects scleractinian corals. Studies on the interplay of these factors, however, are lacking, but urgently needed to understand coral reef functioning under present and near future conditions. This experimental study investigated the individual and combined effects of ambient and high DIC (pCO2 403 μatm/ pHTotal 8.2 and 996 μatm/pHTotal 7.8 and DOC (added as Glucose 0 and 294 μmol L-1, background DOC concentration of 83 μmol L-1 availability on the physiology (net and gross photosynthesis, respiration, dark and light calcification, and growth of the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg, 1834 from the Great Barrier Reef over a 16 day interval. High DIC availability did not affect photosynthesis, respiration and light calcification, but significantly reduced dark calcification and growth by 50 and 23%, respectively. High DOC availability reduced net and gross photosynthesis by 51% and 39%, respectively, but did not affect respiration. DOC addition did not influence calcification, but significantly increased growth by 42%. Combination of high DIC and high DOC availability did not affect photosynthesis, light calcification, respiration or growth, but significantly decreased dark calcification when compared to both controls and DIC treatments. On the ecosystem level, high DIC concentrations may lead to reduced accretion and growth of reefs dominated by Acropora that under elevated DOC concentrations will likely exhibit reduced primary production rates, ultimately leading to loss of hard substrate and reef erosion. It is therefore important to consider the potential impacts of elevated DOC and DIC simultaneously to assess real world

  8. Effects of High Dissolved Inorganic and Organic Carbon Availability on the Physiology of the Hard Coral Acropora millepora from the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, Friedrich W; Vogel, Nikolas; Diele, Karen; Kunzmann, Andreas; Uthicke, Sven; Wild, Christian

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are facing major global and local threats due to climate change-induced increases in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and because of land-derived increases in organic and inorganic nutrients. Recent research revealed that high availability of labile dissolved organic carbon (DOC) negatively affects scleractinian corals. Studies on the interplay of these factors, however, are lacking, but urgently needed to understand coral reef functioning under present and near future conditions. This experimental study investigated the individual and combined effects of ambient and high DIC (pCO2 403 μatm/ pHTotal 8.2 and 996 μatm/pHTotal 7.8) and DOC (added as Glucose 0 and 294 μmol L-1, background DOC concentration of 83 μmol L-1) availability on the physiology (net and gross photosynthesis, respiration, dark and light calcification, and growth) of the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg, 1834) from the Great Barrier Reef over a 16 day interval. High DIC availability did not affect photosynthesis, respiration and light calcification, but significantly reduced dark calcification and growth by 50 and 23%, respectively. High DOC availability reduced net and gross photosynthesis by 51% and 39%, respectively, but did not affect respiration. DOC addition did not influence calcification, but significantly increased growth by 42%. Combination of high DIC and high DOC availability did not affect photosynthesis, light calcification, respiration or growth, but significantly decreased dark calcification when compared to both controls and DIC treatments. On the ecosystem level, high DIC concentrations may lead to reduced accretion and growth of reefs dominated by Acropora that under elevated DOC concentrations will likely exhibit reduced primary production rates, ultimately leading to loss of hard substrate and reef erosion. It is therefore important to consider the potential impacts of elevated DOC and DIC simultaneously to assess real world scenarios, as

  9. Coral Reef Ecosystems Monitoring Feature Service

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring GIS data service provides access to data collected in the Mariana Archipelago by the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program of the Pacific...

  10. Status of coral reefs of India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Muley, E.V.; Venkataraman, K.; Alfred, J.R.B.; Wafar, M.V.M.

    and economic significance of coral reefs and the threat perceptions, Government of India has initiated measures for their intensive conservation and management. Present paper deals with ecological status of coral reefs in the country and various national...

  11. Air-sea energy exchanges measured by eddy covariance during a localised coral bleaching event, Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    MacKellar, Mellissa C.; McGowan, Hamish A.

    2010-12-01

    Despite the widely claimed association between climate change and coral bleaching, a paucity of data exists relating to exchanges of heat, moisture and momentum between the atmosphere and the reef-water surface. We present in situ measurements of reef-water-air energy exchanges made using the eddy covariance method during a summer coral bleaching event at Heron Reef, Australia. Under settled, cloud-free conditions and light winds, daily net radiation exceeded 800 W m-2, with up to 95% of the net radiation during the morning partitioned into heating the water column, substrate and benthic cover including corals. Heating was exacerbated by a mid-afternoon low tide when shallow reef flat water reached 34°C and near-bottom temperatures 33°C, exceeding the thermal tolerance of corals, causing bleaching. Results suggest that local to synoptic scale meteorology, particularly clear skies, solar heating, light winds and the timing of low tide were the primary controls on coral bleaching.

  12. Strange bedfellows - A deep-water hermatypic coral reef superimposed on a drowned barrier island; Southern Pulley Ridge, SW Florida platform margin

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jarrett, B.D.; Hine, A.C.; Halley, R.B.; Naar, D.F.; Locker, S.D.; Neumann, A.C.; Twichell, D.; Hu, C.; Donahue, B.T.; Jaap, W.C.; Palandro, D.; Ciembronowicz, K.

    2005-01-01

    The southeastern component of a subtle ridge feature extending over 200 km along the western ramped margin of the south Florida platform, known as Pulley Ridge, is composed largely of a non-reefal, coastal marine deposit. Modern biostromal reef growth caps southern Pulley Ridge (SPR), making it the deepest hermatypic reef known in American waters. Subsurface ridge strata are layered, lithified, and display a barrier island geomorphology. The deep-water reef community is dominated by platy scleractinian corals, leafy green algae, and coralline algae. Up to 60% live coral cover is observed in 60-75 m of water, although only 1-2% of surface light is available to the reef community. Vertical reef accumulation is thin and did not accompany initial ridge submergence during the most recent sea-level rise. The delayed onset of reef growth likely resulted from several factors influencing Gulf waters during early stages of the last deglaciation (???14 kyr B.P.) including; cold, low-salinity waters derived from discrete meltwater pulses, high-frequency sea-level fluctuations, and the absence of modern oceanic circulation patterns. Currently, reef growth is supported by the Loop Current, the prevailing western boundary current that impinges upon the southwest Florida platform, providing warm, clear, low-nutrient waters to SPR. The rare discovery of a preserved non-reefal lowstand shoreline capped by rich hermatypic deep-reef growth on a tectonically stable continental shelf is significant for both accurate identification of late Quaternary sea-level position and in better constraining controls on the depth limits of hermatypic reefs and their capacity for adaptation to extremely low light levels. ?? 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  13. Using an isolated population boom to explore barriers to recovery in the keystone Caribbean coral reef herbivore Diadema antillarum

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bodmer, Max D. V.; Rogers, Alex D.; Speight, Martin R.; Lubbock, Natalie; Exton, Dan A.

    2015-12-01

    Recovery of the keystone herbivore Diadema antillarum after the 1983-1984 mass mortality event poses one of the greatest challenges to Caribbean coral reef conservation, yet our understanding of the problem remains severely limited. Whilst some recovery has been observed, this has been restricted to the shallows (≤5 m). We report a newly discovered, isolated population recovery on Banco Capiro, Honduras, representing the largest recorded post-mortality densities beyond the shallowest environments (0.74-2.27 individuals m-2 at depths ≥10 m) alongside an unusually high mean percentage scleractinian coral cover of 49-62 %, likely no coincidence. On the nearby island of Utila, we report D. antillarum densities of 0.003-0.012 individuals m-2 and scleractinian coral cover of 12 % at depths ≥10 m, "typical" for a contemporary Caribbean coral reef. The three order of magnitude disparity in population density between sites separated by account for population differences. Instead, we highlight a lack of structural complexity on contemporary Caribbean reefs as the most likely explanation for the limited recovery through a lack of provision of juvenile predation refugia, representing a further consequence of the recent ubiquitous phase shifts throughout the region. Using these findings, we propose future management strategies to stimulate recovery and, consequently, reef health throughout the Caribbean.

  14. Functionally diverse reef-fish communities ameliorate coral disease.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Raymundo, Laurie J; Halford, Andrew R; Maypa, Aileen P; Kerr, Alexander M

    2009-10-06

    Coral reefs, the most diverse of marine ecosystems, currently experience unprecedented levels of degradation. Diseases are now recognized as a major cause of mortality in reef-forming corals and are complicit in phase shifts of reef ecosystems to algal-dominated states worldwide. Even so, factors contributing to disease occurrence, spread, and impact remain poorly understood. Ecosystem resilience has been linked to the conservation of functional diversity, whereas overfishing reduces functional diversity through cascading, top-down effects. Hence, we tested the hypothesis that reefs with trophically diverse reef fish communities have less coral disease than overfished reefs. We surveyed reefs across the central Philippines, including well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs), and found that disease prevalence was significantly negatively correlated with fish taxonomic diversity. Further, MPAs had significantly higher fish diversity and less disease than unprotected areas. We subsequently investigated potential links between coral disease and the trophic components of fish diversity, finding that only the density of coral-feeding chaetodontid butterflyfishes, seldom targeted by fishers, was positively associated with disease prevalence. These previously uncharacterized results are supported by a second large-scale dataset from the Great Barrier Reef. We hypothesize that members of the charismatic reef-fish family Chaetodontidae are major vectors of coral disease by virtue of their trophic specialization on hard corals and their ecological release in overfished areas, particularly outside MPAs.

  15. Mesopredator trophodynamics on thermally stressed coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hempson, Tessa N.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Hoey, Andrew S.; Almany, Glenn R.

    2018-03-01

    Ecosystems are becoming vastly modified through disturbance. In coral reef ecosystems, the differential susceptibility of coral taxa to climate-driven bleaching is predicted to shift coral assemblages towards reefs with an increased relative abundance of taxa with high thermal tolerance. Many thermally tolerant coral species are characterised by low structural complexity, with reduced habitat niche space for the small-bodied coral reef fishes on which piscivorous mesopredators feed. This study used a patch reef array to investigate the potential impacts of climate-driven shifts in coral assemblages on the trophodynamics of reef mesopredators and their prey communities. The `tolerant' reef treatment consisted only of coral taxa of low susceptibility to bleaching, while `vulnerable' reefs included species of moderate to high thermal vulnerability. `Vulnerable' reefs had higher structural complexity, and the fish assemblages that established on these reefs over 18 months had higher species diversity, abundance and biomass than those on `tolerant' reefs. Fish assemblages on `tolerant' reefs were also more strongly influenced by the introduction of a mesopredator ( Cephalopholis boenak). Mesopredators on `tolerant' reefs had lower lipid content in their muscle tissue by the end of the 6-week experiment. Such sublethal energetic costs can compromise growth, fecundity, and survivorship, resulting in unexpected population declines in long-lived mesopredators. This study provides valuable insight into the altered trophodynamics of future coral reef ecosystems, highlighting the potentially increased vulnerability of reef fish assemblages to predation as reef structure declines, and the cost of changing prey availability on mesopredator condition.

  16. Long-term records of coral calcification across the central Great Barrier Reef: assessing the impacts of river runoff and climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    D'Olivo, J. P.; McCulloch, M. T.; Judd, K.

    2013-12-01

    Calcification rates are reported for 41 long-lived Porites corals from 7 reefs, in an inshore to offshore transect across the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Over multi-decadal timescales, corals in the mid-shelf (1947-2008) and outer reef (1952-2004) regions of the GBR exhibit a significant increase in calcification of 10.9 ± 1.1 % (1.4 ± 0.2 % per decade; ±1 SE) and 11.1 ± 3.9 % (2.1 ± 0.8 % per decade), respectively, while inner-shelf (1930-2008), reefs show a decline of 4.6 ± 1.3 % (0.6 ± 0.2 % per decade). This long-term decline in calcification for the inner GBR is attributed to the persistent ongoing effects of high sediment/nutrients loads from wet season river discharges, compounded by the effects of thermal stress, especially during the 1998 bleaching event. For the recent period (1990-2008), our data show recovery from the 1998 bleaching event, with no significant trend in the rates of calcification (1.1 ± 2.0 %) for the inner reefs, while corals from the mid-shelf central GBR show a decline of 3.3 ± 0.9 %. These results are in marked contrast to the extreme reef-wide declines of 14.2 % reported by De'ath et al. (2009) for the period of 1990-2005. The De'ath et al. (2009) results are, however, found to be compromised by the inclusion of incomplete final years, duplicated records, together with a bias toward inshore reefs strongly affected by the 1998 bleaching. Our new findings nevertheless continue to raise concerns, with the inner-shelf reefs continuing to show long-term declines in calcification consistent with increased disturbance from land-based effects. In contrast, the more `pristine' mid- and outer-shelf reefs appear to be undergoing a transition from increasing to decreasing rates of calcification, possibly reflecting the effects of CO2-driven climate change. Our study highlights the importance of properly undertaken, regular assessments of coral calcification that are representative of the distinctive cross-shelf environments and

  17. Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages

    Science.gov (United States)

    Darling, Emily S.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Wilson, Shaun K.

    2017-06-01

    With the ongoing loss of coral cover and the associated flattening of reef architecture, understanding the links between coral habitat and reef fishes is of critical importance. Here, we investigate whether considering coral traits and functional diversity provides new insights into the relationship between structural complexity and reef fish communities, and whether coral traits and community composition can predict structural complexity. Across 157 sites in Seychelles, Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we find that structural complexity and reef zone are the strongest and most consistent predictors of reef fish abundance, biomass, species richness, and trophic structure. However, coral traits, diversity, and life histories provided additional predictive power for models of reef fish assemblages, and were key drivers of structural complexity. Our findings highlight that reef complexity relies on living corals—with different traits and life histories—continuing to build carbonate skeletons, and that these nuanced relationships between coral assemblages and habitat complexity can affect the structure of reef fish assemblages. Seascape-level estimates of structural complexity are rapid and cost effective with important implications for the structure and function of fish assemblages, and should be incorporated into monitoring programs.

  18. Nitrogen isotopic composition of organic matter from a 168 year-old coral skeleton: Implications for coastal nutrient cycling in the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon

    Science.gov (United States)

    Erler, Dirk V.; Wang, Xingchen T.; Sigman, Daniel M.; Scheffers, Sander R.; Martínez-García, Alfredo; Haug, Gerald H.

    2016-01-01

    Ongoing human activities are known to affect nitrogen cycling on coral reefs, but the full history of anthropogenic impact is unclear due to a lack of continuous records. We have used the nitrogen isotopic composition of skeleton-bound organic matter (CS-δ15N) in a coastal Porites coral from Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef as a proxy for N cycle changes over a 168 yr period (1820-1987 AD). The Magnetic Island inshore reef environment is considered to be relatively degraded by terrestrial runoff; given prior CS-δ15N studies from other regions, there was an expectation of both secular change and oscillations in CS-δ15N since European settlement of the mainland in the mid 1800s. Surprisingly, CS-δ15N varied by less than 1.5‰ despite significant land use change on the adjacent mainland over the 168-yr measurement period. After 1930, CS-δ15N may have responded to changes in local river runoff, but the effect was weak. We propose that natural buffering against riverine nitrogen load in this region between 1820 and 1987 is responsible for the observed stability in CS-δ15N. In addition to coral derived skeletal δ15N, we also report, for the first time, δ15N measurements of non-coral derived organic N occluded within the coral skeleton, which appear to record significant changes in the nature of terrestrial N inputs. In the context of previous CS-δ15N records, most of which yield CS-δ15N changes of at least 5‰, the Magnetic Island coral suggests that the inherent down-core variability of the CS-δ15N proxy is less than 2‰ for Porites.

  19. Lichen Monitoring Delineates Biodiversity on a Great Barrier Reef Coral Cay

    OpenAIRE

    Rogers, Paul C.; Rogers, Roderick W.; Hedrich, Anne E.; Moss, Patrick T.

    2015-01-01

    Coral islands around the world are threatened by changing climates. Rising seas, drought, and increased tropical storms are already impacting island ecosystems. We aim to better understand lichen community ecology of coral island forests. We used an epiphytic lichen community survey to gauge Pisonia (Pisonia grandis R.BR.), which dominates forest conditions on Heron Island, Australia. Nine survey plots were sampled for lichen species presence and abundance, all tree diameters and species, GPS...

  20. Impact of Global Warming on Coral Reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Sirilak CHUMKIEW; Mullica JAROENSUTASINEE; Krisanadej JAROENSUTASINEE

    2011-01-01

    In this paper, we review coral reef responses to climate variability and discuss the possible mechanisms by which climate impacts the coral reef ecosystem. Effects of oceanographic variables such as sea temperature, turbulence, salinity, and nutrients on the coral reef are discussed in terms of their influence on coral growth, reproduction, mortality, acclimation and adaptation. Organisms tend to be limited to specific thermal ranges with experimental findings showing that sufficient oxygen s...

  1. Global warming and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    clear ocean waters nearly as well as visible light (Jerlov quoted in Jokiel, 1980). This is of critical importance in coral reef waters which are well known for their high transpa rency. In these ecosystems, therefore, UV-induced damages to producers...

  2. Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    2002-01-01

    A better than average view of the Great Barrier Reef was captured by SeaWiFS on a recent overpass. There is sunglint northeast of the reef and there appears to be some sort of filamentous bloom in the Capricorn Channel.

  3. Doom and boom on a resilient reef: climate change, algal overgrowth and coral recovery.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; McCook, Laurence J; Dove, Sophie; Berkelmans, Ray; Roff, George; Kline, David I; Weeks, Scarla; Evans, Richard D; Williamson, David H; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2009-01-01

    Coral reefs around the world are experiencing large-scale degradation, largely due to global climate change, overfishing, diseases and eutrophication. Climate change models suggest increasing frequency and severity of warming-induced coral bleaching events, with consequent increases in coral mortality and algal overgrowth. Critically, the recovery of damaged reefs will depend on the reversibility of seaweed blooms, generally considered to depend on grazing of the seaweed, and replenishment of corals by larvae that successfully recruit to damaged reefs. These processes usually take years to decades to bring a reef back to coral dominance. In 2006, mass bleaching of corals on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef caused high coral mortality. Here we show that this coral mortality was followed by an unprecedented bloom of a single species of unpalatable seaweed (Lobophora variegata), colonizing dead coral skeletons, but that corals on these reefs recovered dramatically, in less than a year. Unexpectedly, this rapid reversal did not involve reestablishment of corals by recruitment of coral larvae, as often assumed, but depended on several ecological mechanisms previously underestimated. These mechanisms of ecological recovery included rapid regeneration rates of remnant coral tissue, very high competitive ability of the corals allowing them to out-compete the seaweed, a natural seasonal decline in the particular species of dominant seaweed, and an effective marine protected area system. Our study provides a key example of the doom and boom of a highly resilient reef, and new insights into the variability and mechanisms of reef resilience under rapid climate change.

  4. Coral Reef Watch, Hotspots, 50 km

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — NOAA Coral Reef Watch provides Coral Bleaching hotspot maps derived from NOAA's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). This data provides global area...

  5. Lichen Monitoring Delineates Biodiversity on a Great Barrier Reef Coral Cay

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Paul C. Rogers

    2015-05-01

    Full Text Available Coral islands around the world are threatened by changing climates. Rising seas, drought, and increased tropical storms are already impacting island ecosystems. We aim to better understand lichen community ecology of coral island forests. We used an epiphytic lichen community survey to gauge Pisonia (Pisonia grandis R.BR., which dominates forest conditions on Heron Island, Australia. Nine survey plots were sampled for lichen species presence and abundance, all tree diameters and species, GPS location, distance to forest-beach edge, and dominant forest type. Results found only six unique lichens and two lichen associates. A Multi-Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP test found statistically distinct lichen communities among forest types. The greatest group differences were between interior Pisonia and perimeter forest types. Ordinations were performed to further understand causes for distinctions in lichen communities. Significant explanatory gradients were distance to forest edge, tree density (shading, and Pisonia basal area. Each of these variables was negatively correlated with lichen diversity and abundance, suggesting that interior, successionally advanced, Pisonia forests support fewer lichens. Island edge and presumably younger forests—often those with greater tree diversity and sunlight penetration—supported the highest lichen diversity. Heron Island’s Pisonia-dominated forests support low lichen diversity which mirrors overall biodiversity patterns. Lichen biomonitoring may provide a valuable indicator for assessing island ecosystems for conservation purposes regionally.

  6. Cyanobacteria in Coral Reef Ecosystems: A Review

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    L. Charpy

    2012-01-01

    Full Text Available Cyanobacteria have dominated marine environments and have been reef builders on Earth for more than three million years (myr. Cyanobacteria still play an essential role in modern coral reef ecosystems by forming a major component of epiphytic, epilithic, and endolithic communities as well as of microbial mats. Cyanobacteria are grazed by reef organisms and also provide nitrogen to the coral reef ecosystems through nitrogen fixation. Recently, new unicellular cyanobacteria that express nitrogenase were found in the open ocean and in coral reef lagoons. Furthermore, cyanobacteria are important in calcification and decalcification. All limestone surfaces have a layer of boring algae in which cyanobacteria often play a dominant role. Cyanobacterial symbioses are abundant in coral reefs; the most common hosts are sponges and ascidians. Cyanobacteria use tactics beyond space occupation to inhibit coral recruitment. Cyanobacteria can also form pathogenic microbial consortia in association with other microbes on living coral tissues, causing coral tissue lysis and death, and considerable declines in coral reefs. In deep lagoons, coccoid cyanobacteria are abundant and are grazed by ciliates, heteroflagellates, and the benthic coral reef community. Cyanobacteria produce metabolites that act as attractants for some species and deterrents for some grazers of the reef communities.

  7. Coral Reef Protection Implementation Plan

    Science.gov (United States)

    2000-10-19

    reef herbivores, such as the long-spined sea urchin , con- ecosystems until about 10 years ago, when government sume algae that might otherwise smother...are able to photosynthesize, which greatly in- -0- Johnston Atoll creases a coral’s ability to secrete calcium ’ carbonate -,A Kwajelein Atoll and...JOHNSTON ATOLL fects is correlated with the level of environmental con- tamination. The method of examining fish embryos forA biomonitoring program

  8. Improving the accuracy and precision of TIMS U-series ages of modern corals from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clark, Tara; Zhao, Jian-Xin; Feng, Yuexing; Done, Terry; Jupiter, Stacy; Lough, Janice; Matson, Eric; Pandolfi, John; Roff, George

    2010-05-01

    The main limiting factor in obtaining precise and accurate Uranium-series ages of modern corals (e.g. since European settlement of northern Australia around 1850 AD), is the ability to constrain and correct for initial or non-radiogenic 230Th. This is becoming particularly important in paleoecological research where accurate chronologies are required to pinpoint changes in community structure and the timing of mortality events in order to identify possible drivers. In this study, thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) Uranium-series dating of 61 samples collected from living and non-living Porites spp. from the near shore region of the GBR was performed to spatially constrain initial 230Th/232Th (230Th/232Th0) variability. In the living Porites corals, the majority of 230Th/232Th0 values were higher than the bulk-Earth value (~4.4×10-6) generally assumed for non-radiogenic 230Th corrections where the primary source of initial thorium is terrestrially derived. Despite samples being taken from regions adjacent to contrasting levels of land modification, no apparent difference was found in 230Th/232Th0 between regions exposed to varying levels of sedimentation during runoff events. However, 230Th/232Th0 variability is evident between reefs within each region. Overall, most samples across the entire region give 230Th/232Th0 values in the range of 6±1×10-6. An examination of 232Th/238U versus 230Th/238U from living and non-living corals revealed mainly two components contributing to initial 230Th in the non-living coral samples. High 232Th concentrations found in the majority of non-living coral samples suggest that a significant amount of Th may have been incorporated into the coral skeleton through post-mortem non-carbonate sediment infiltration. The results of this study demonstrate that accurate U-series ages cannot be achieved where single non-radiogenic thorium correction values are used interchangeably for samples taken from different hydrological

  9. Project Overview: A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching ...

    Science.gov (United States)

    The purpose of this report is to provide the latest scientific knowledge and discuss available management options to assist local and regional managers in responding effectively to mass coral bleaching events. Background A Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching is the result of a collaborative effort by over 50 scientists and managers to: (1) share the best available scientific information on climate-related coral bleaching; and (2) compile a tool kit of currently available strategies for adaptive management of coral reefs in a changing climate. The result is a compendium of current information, tools, and practical suggestions to aid managers in their efforts to protect reefs in a way that maximizes reef resilience in the face of continuing climate change. The Guide is a joint publication of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and The World Conservation Union, with author contributions from a variety of international partners from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. EPA’s Office of Research and Development was a major contributor to the Guide through authorship and participation in the final review and editing process for the entire report. A Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching is the result of a collaborative effort by over 50 scientists and managers to: (1) share the best available scientific information on climate-related coral blea

  10. A Modern Sr/Ca-δ18O-Sea Surface Temperature Calibration for Isopora Corals in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brenner, L. D.; Linsley, B. K.; Potts, D. C.

    2014-12-01

    Most coral-based paleoceanographic studies have used massive colonies of Porites or Faviidae, due to their long, continuously accreted skeletal records and sub-annual resolution, but other sub-massive corals provide an untapped resource. The genus Isopora is a dominant reef builder in some high-energy environments in the tropical western Pacific, and was a major component of cores recovered on IODP Leg 325 off the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Despite its abundance, Isopora remains largely unexplored and hence underutilized in paleoceanographic studies. We present a modern Sr/Ca-δ18O-Sea Surface Temperature (SST) calibration of modern Isopora corals (n=3) collected from inner and outer reef locations ranging from 1-13m depth by Heron Island in the southern GBR in 2012. Pairing the Isopora Sr/Ca record with monthly SST yielded an average relationship of SST=-11.48×(Sr/Ca)+131.1 (r2 = 0.42-0.78). The Sr/Ca sensitivity of -0.087 mmol/mol/°C is similar to the sensitivity for Porites that was corrected for tissue layer smoothing effects determined by Gagan et al. (2012). The similarity between our Sr/Ca-SST sensitivity and the corrected sensitivity for Porites suggests tissue layer effects are minimal in Isopora. The mean annual SST amplitude recorded by the corals from 2008-2011 (full annual cycles) was 5.3°C and the average δ18O annual cycle of 1.1‰ approximates that expected if salinity had little effect on coral δ18O, assuming a previously established conversion of -0.23‰ (δ18O)/°C for biogenic aragonite. The average annual salinity amplitude of 0.3 in gridded data from around Heron Island supports our conclusion that δ18O variability is forced almost completely by SST. This modern Sr/Ca-SST calibration will expand the paleoceanographic utility of Isopora and, by assisting interpretation of Sr/Ca data from fossil corals collected during IODP 325, will better constrain the timing and magnitude of sea level changes and surface conditions since the Last

  11. Linking coral reef health and human welfare

    OpenAIRE

    Walsh, Sheila Marie

    2009-01-01

    Globally, 7̃00 million people depend on coral reef goods and services. However, over half of coral reefs are threatened due to global warming, fishing, and nutrient pollution. Using ecological and economic methods, I evaluated 1) the ecosystem-scale effects of fishing and nutrients, 2) the effects of fishing on condition and reproduction in a reef fish community, and 3) an integrated conservation and development program (ICDP). The Republic of Kiribati, Central Pacific, provided two natural e...

  12. Photography of Coral Reefs from ISS

    Science.gov (United States)

    Robinson, Julie A.

    2009-01-01

    This viewgraph presentation reviews the uses of photography from the International Space Station (ISS) in studying Earth's coral reefs. The photographs include reefs in various oceans . The photographs have uses for science in assisting NASA mapping initiatives, distribution worldwide through ReefBase, and by biologist in the field.

  13. CORAL REEF BIOLOGICAL CRITERIA: USING THE CLEAN ...

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are declining at unprecedented rates worldwide due to multiple interactive stressors including climate change and land-based sources of pollution. The Clean Water Act (CWA) can be a powerful legal instrument for protecting water resources, including the biological inhabitants of coral reefs. The objective of the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of water resources. Coral reef protection and restoration under the Clean Water Act begins with water quality standards - provisions of state or Federal law that consist of a designated use(s) for the waters of the United States and water quality criteria sufficient to protect the uses. Aquatic life use is the designated use that is measured by biological criteria (biocriteria). Biocriteria are expectations set by a jurisdiction for the quality and quantity of living aquatic resources in a defined waterbody. Biocriteria are an important addition to existing management tools for coral reef ecosystems. The Technical Support Document “Coral Reef Biological Criteria: Using the Clean Water Act to Protect a National Treasure” will provide a framework to aid States and Territories in their development, adoption, and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in their respective water quality standards. The Technical Support Document “Coral Reef Biological Criteria: Using the Clean Water Act to Protect a National Treasure” will provide a framework for coral re

  14. Quantifying water flow within aquatic ecosystems using load cell sensors: a profile of currents experienced by coral reef organisms around Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jacob L Johansen

    Full Text Available Current velocity in aquatic environments has major implications for the diversity, abundance and ecology of aquatic organisms, but quantifying these currents has proven difficult. This study utilises a simple and inexpensive instrument (500 cms⁻¹ and wave frequency to >100 Hz over several weeks. Sensor data are registered and processed at 16 MHz and 10 bit resolution, with a measuring precision of 0.06±0.04%, and accuracy of 0.51±0.65% (mean ±S.D.. Each instrument is also pressure rated to 120 m and shear stresses ≤20 kNm⁻² allowing deployment in harsh environments. The instrument was deployed across 27 coral reef sites covering the crest (3 m, mid-slope (6 m and deep-slope (9 m depth of habitats directly exposed, oblique or sheltered from prevailing winds. Measurements demonstrate that currents over the reef slope and crest varies immensely depending on depth and exposure: currents differ up to 9-fold within habitats only separated by 3 m depth and 15-fold between exposed, oblique and sheltered habitats. Comparisons to ambient weather conditions reveal that currents around Lizard Island are largely wind driven. Zero to 22.5 knot winds correspond directly to currents of 0 to >82 cms⁻¹, while tidal currents rarely exceed 5.5 cms⁻¹. Rather, current velocity increases exponentially as a function of wave height (0 to 1.6 m and frequency (0.54 to 0.20 Hz, emphasizing the enormous effect of wind and waves on organisms in these shallow coral reef habitats.

  15. New interventions are needed to save coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anthony, Ken; Bay, Line K.; Costanza, Robert; Firn, Jennifer; Gunn, John; Harrison, Peter; Heyward, Andrew; Lundgren, Petra; Mead, David; Moore, Tom; Mumby, Peter J.; van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.; Robertson, John; Runge, Michael C.; Suggett, David J.; Schaffelke, Britta; Wachenfeld, David; Walshe, Terry

    2017-01-01

    Since 2014, coral reefs worldwide have been subjected to the most extensive, prolonged and damaging heat wave in recorded history1. Large sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) bleached in response to heat stress in 2016 and 2017 — the first back-to-back event on record. Such severe coral bleaching results in widespread loss of reef habitat and biodiversity. Globally, we are facing catastrophic decline of these ecosystems, which sustain services valued at around $US 10 trillion per year2, are home to over a million species3, and feed and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people4. Model predictions indicate that mass coral bleaching could become the new norm by 2050 (ref. 5). Critically, even if global warming can be kept within 1.5⁰C above preindustrial levels, shallow tropical seas would warm at least 0.4°C in coming decades, triggering frequent bleaching of the most sensitive habitat-forming coral species6. This outlook poses a time-critical decision challenge for management and conservation. Existing conservation approaches, despite innovative governance arrangements7, could simply become insufficient to protect coral reefs under any expected climate future. Thus, for coral reefs to remain resilient and their services sustained, we argue that new and potentially riskier interventions must be implemented alongside conventional management efforts and strong action to curb global warming. We build the case for this strategy below.

  16. Black reefs: iron-induced phase shifts on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kelly, Linda Wegley; Barott, Katie L; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Friedlander, Alan M; Nosrat, Bahador; Obura, David; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A; Smith, Jennifer E; Vermeij, Mark J A; Williams, Gareth J; Willner, Dana; Rohwer, Forest

    2012-03-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to 0.75 km(2)). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions.

  17. Assessing community values for reducing agricultural emissions to improve water quality and protect coral health in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rolfe, John; Windle, Jill

    2011-12-01

    Policymakers wanting to increase protection of the Great Barrier Reef from pollutants generated by agriculture need to identify when measures to improve water quality generate benefits to society that outweigh the costs involved. The research reported in this paper makes a contribution in several ways. First, it uses the improved science understanding about the links between management changes and reef health to bring together the analysis of costs and benefits of marginal changes, helping to demonstrate the appropriate way of addressing policy questions relating to reef protection. Second, it uses the scientific relationships to frame a choice experiment to value the benefits of improved reef health, with the results of mixed logit (random parameter) models linking improvements explicitly to changes in "water quality units." Third, the research demonstrates how protection values are consistent across a broader population, with some limited evidence of distance effects. Fourth, the information on marginal costs and benefits that are reported provide policymakers with information to help improve management decisions. The results indicate that while there is potential for water quality improvements to generate net benefits, high cost water quality improvements are generally uneconomic. A major policy implication is that cost thresholds for key pollutants should be set to avoid more expensive water quality proposals being selected.

  18. Coral mucus functions as an energy carrier and particle trap in the reef ecosystem

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Wild, C.; Huettel, M.; Klueter, A.

    2004-01-01

    Zooxanthellae, endosymbiotic algae of reef-building corals, substantially contribute to the high gross primary production of coral reefs(1), but corals exude up to half of the carbon assimilated by their zooxanthellae as mucus(2,3). Here we show that released coral mucus efficiently traps organic...... matter from the water column and rapidly carries energy and nutrients to the reef lagoon sediment, which acts as a biocatalytic mineralizing filter. In the Great Barrier Reef, the dominant genus of hard corals, Acropora, exudes up to 4.8 litres of mucus per square metre of reef area per day. Between 56......% and 80% of this mucus dissolves in the reef water, which is filtered through the lagoon sands. Here, coral mucus is degraded at a turnover rate of at least 7% per hour. Detached undissolved mucus traps suspended particles, increasing its initial organic carbon and nitrogen content by three orders...

  19. Asexual reproduction does not produce clonal populations of the brooding coral Pocillopora damicornis on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sherman, C. D. H.; Ayre, D. J.; Miller, K. J.

    2006-03-01

    We have investigated the relationship between genotypic diversity, the mode of production of brooded larvae and disturbance in a range of reef habitats, in order to resolve the disparity between the reproductive mode and population structure reported for the brooding coral Pocillopora damicornis. Within 14 sites across six habitats, the ratio of the observed ( G o) to the expected ( G e) genotypic diversity ranged from 69 to 100% of that expected for random mating. At three other sites in two habitats the G o /G e ranged from 35 to 53%. Two of these sites were recently bleached, suggesting that asexual recruitment may be favoured after disturbance. Nevertheless, our data suggest that brooded larvae, from each of five habitats surveyed, were asexually produced. While clonal recruitment may be important in disturbed habitats, the lack of clonality detected, both in this and earlier surveys of 40 other sites, implies that a disturbance is normally insufficient to explain this species’ continued investment in clonal reproduction.

  20. Development and Application of Sr/Ca-δ18O-Sea Surface Temperature calibrations for Last Glacial Maximum-Aged Isopora corals in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brenner, L. D.; Linsley, B. K.; Potts, D. C.; Felis, T.; Mcgregor, H. V.; Gagan, M. K.; Inoue, M.; Tudhope, A. W.; Esat, T. M.; Thompson, W. G.; Tiwari, M.; Fallon, S.; Humblet, M.; Yokoyama, Y.; Webster, J.

    2016-12-01

    Isopora (Acroporidae) are sub-massive to massive corals found on most modern and fossil Indo-Pacific reefs. Despite their abundance, they are largely absent from the paleoceanographic literature but have the potential to provide proxy data where other commonly used corals, such as Porites, are sparse. The retrieval of Isopora fossils during International Ocean Discovery Program Leg 325 in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) signaled the need to evaluate their possible paleoceanographic utility. We developed modern skeletal Sr/Ca- and δ18O-sea surface temperature (SST) calibrations for six modern Isopora colonies collected at Heron Island in the southern GBR. Pairing the coral Sr/Ca record with monthly SST data yielded Reduced Major Axis Sr/Ca- and δ18O-SST sensitivities of -0.054 mmol/mol/°C and -0.152 ‰/°C, respectively, falling within the range of published Porites values. We applied our Isopora-based regressions and previously published sensitivities from other species to a suite (n=37) of fossil samples collected from IODP 32. The calibrations produced a range of 3-7°C of warming, averaging 5°C, in the GBR from 22 ka to modern climate. This SST change is similar or slightly larger than other coral studies and larger than planktonic foraminifera Mg/Ca records. The planktonic Mg/Ca records from the Indonesian and Western Pacific Warm Pools indicate a warming of 3-3.5°C since 23ka (Linsley et al., 2010) while a fossil coral record from Tahiti indicates a warming of 3.2°C from 9.5ka to present (DeLong et al., 2010) and western Pacific coral records suggest a cooling of 5-6°C (Gagan et al., 2010; Guilderson et al., 1994: Beck et al., 1997), although these value might require rescaling (Gagan et al., 2012) resulting in slightly warmer temperature calculations. Our Isopora fossils from the GBR speak to the spatial heterogeneity of warming since the LGM and the continued need to develop more records for a more comprehensive understanding of the deglaciation.

  1. Real-time PCR reveals a high incidence of Symbiodinium clade D at low levels in four scleractinian corals across the Great Barrier Reef : implications for symbiont shuffling

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Mieog, J. C.; van Oppen, M. J. H.; Cantin, N. E.; Stam, W. T.; Olsen, J. L.

    Reef corals form associations with an array of genetically and physiologically distinct endosymbionts from the genus Symbiodinium. Some corals harbor different clades of symbionts simultaneously, and over time the relative abundances of these clades may change through a process called symbiont

  2. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program: 2016 projects to address coral reef conservation issues

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — In 2016 the following projects will take place to address aspects of coral reef conservation: Enhancing Management of Pacific ESA-listed Corals with Improved Utility...

  3. Digital reef rugosity estimates coral reef habitat complexity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dustan, Phillip; Doherty, Orla; Pardede, Shinta

    2013-01-01

    Ecological habitats with greater structural complexity contain more species due to increased niche diversity. This is especially apparent on coral reefs where individual coral colonies aggregate to give a reef its morphology, species zonation, and three dimensionality. Structural complexity is classically measured with a reef rugosity index, which is the ratio of a straight line transect to the distance a flexible chain of equal length travels when draped over the reef substrate; yet, other techniques from visual categories to remote sensing have been used to characterize structural complexity at scales from microhabitats to reefscapes. Reef-scale methods either lack quantitative precision or are too time consuming to be routinely practical, while remotely sensed indices are mismatched to the finer scale morphology of coral colonies and reef habitats. In this communication a new digital technique, Digital Reef Rugosity (DRR) is described which utilizes a self-contained water level gauge enabling a diver to quickly and accurately characterize rugosity with non-invasive millimeter scale measurements of coral reef surface height at decimeter intervals along meter scale transects. The precise measurements require very little post-processing and are easily imported into a spreadsheet for statistical analyses and modeling. To assess its applicability we investigated the relationship between DRR and fish community structure at four coral reef sites on Menjangan Island off the northwest corner of Bali, Indonesia and one on mainland Bali to the west of Menjangan Island; our findings show a positive relationship between DRR and fish diversity. Since structural complexity drives key ecological processes on coral reefs, we consider that DRR may become a useful quantitative community-level descriptor to characterize reef complexity.

  4. Coral zonation and diagenesis of an emergent Pleistocene patch reef, Belize, Central America

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Lighty, R.G.; Russell, K.L.

    1985-01-01

    Transect mapping and petrologic studies reveal a new depositional model and limited diagenesis of a well-exposed Pleistocene reef outcrop at Ambergris Cay, northern Belize. This emergent shelf-edge reef forms a rocky wave-washed headland at the northern terminus of the present-day 250 km long flourishing Belize Barrier Reef. Previously, the Belize reef outcrop was thought to extend southward in the subsurface beneath the modern barrier reef as a Pleistocene equivalent. The authors study indicate that this outcrop is a large, coral patch reef and not part of a barrier reef trend. Sixteen transects 12.5 m apart described in continuous cm increments from fore reef to back reef identified: extensive deposits of broken Acropora cervicornis; small thickets of A. palmata with small, oriented branches; and muddy skeletal sediments with few corals or reef rubble. Thin section and SEM studies show three phases of early submarine cementation: syntaxial and rosette aragonite; Mg-calcite rim cement and peloids; and colloidal Mg-calcite geopetal fill. Subaerial exposure in semi-arid northern Belize caused only minor skeletal dissolution, some precipitation of vadose whisker calcite, and no meteoric phreatic diagenesis. Facies geometry, coral assemblages, lack of rubble deposits, coralline algal encrustations and Millepora framework, and recognition of common but discrete submarine cements, all indicate that this Pleistocene reef was an isolated, coral-fringed sediment buildup similar to may large patch reefs existing today in moderate-energy shelf environments behind the modern barrier reef in central and southern Belize.

  5. Predicting Heat Stress to Inform Reef Management: NOAA Coral Reef Watch's 4-Month Coral Bleaching Outlook

    OpenAIRE

    Gang Liu; Gang Liu; C. Mark Eakin; Mingyue Chen; Arun Kumar; Jacqueline L. De La Cour; Jacqueline L. De La Cour; Scott F. Heron; Scott F. Heron; Scott F. Heron; Erick F. Geiger; Erick F. Geiger; William J. Skirving; William J. Skirving; Kyle V. Tirak

    2018-01-01

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch (CRW) operates a global 4-Month Coral Bleaching Outlook system for shallow-water coral reefs in collaboration with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The Outlooks are generated by applying the algorithm used in CRW's operational satellite coral bleaching heat stress monitoring, with slight modifications, to the sea surface temperature (SST) predictions from NCEP's operational Climate F...

  6. Proactive Ecological Reef Rehabilitation for Caribbean Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dustan, P.; Wheeler, L.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reef formation is a function of deposition and erosion modulated by biological and physical forcing functions. In 1982-4, the Caribbean-wide mass mortality of Diadema antillarum, the long-spine sea urchin phase-shifted coral reefs into algal gardens. With few exceptions, Diadema's ecological role has not been replaced and coral cover and recruitment have dropped precipitously. Additional local to global stressors have accelerated the decline and Caribbean reefs are losing their three-dimensionality and ecological integrity. Most are mere ghosts of their luxuriant past as bioerosion is overtaking accretion melting them into carbonate sand. In some shallow reef habitats Diadema populations have regenerated and their herbivory cleans the reef substrate of micro and macro algae. These reefs have high rates of recruitment and are showing signs of regeneration. The deeper reefs, without D. antillarum are mired in algae and show no potential for recovery without increased herbivory. We transplanted shallow water D. antillarum to the deeper fore reef slopes of Jamaican and Belizean reefs in an attempt to understand why the species is restricted to the shallows. The urchins were initially caged at densities of 5-20/m2 for three days to protect them while acclimating to their new habitat and to track their algal consumption. Upon cage removal, we found that the Diadema had efficiently removed the complex algal community from the substratum and the edges of live corals. Over the next week, the urchins remained together and continued foraging out from their previously caged area. Algal overgrowth is widespread throughout the Caribbean and Western Atlantic and is generally agreed upon to be one of the major drivers of Caribbean coral reef collapse. While D. antillarum may eventually extend its range deeper, the current rates of degradation highlight the need for proactive reef restoration efforts to prevent collapse of the deeper reefs.

  7. Marine protected areas increase resilience among coral reef communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mellin, Camille; Aaron MacNeil, M; Cheal, Alistair J; Emslie, Michael J; Julian Caley, M

    2016-06-01

    With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conserving non-target species and wider ecosystem functions remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of coral reef communities to natural disturbances, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, Acanthaster planci outbreaks and storms. Using a 20-year time series from Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we show that within MPAs, (1) reef community composition was 21-38% more stable; (2) the magnitude of disturbance impacts was 30% lower and (3) subsequent recovery was 20% faster that in adjacent unprotected habitats. Our results demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of marine communities to natural disturbance possibly through herbivory, trophic cascades and portfolio effects. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.

  8. The effect of sub-lethal increases in temperature on the growth and population trajectories of three scleractinian corals on the southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Edmunds, Peter J

    2005-12-01

    To date, coral death has been the most conspicuous outcome of warming tropical seas, but as temperatures stabilize at higher values, the consequences for the corals remaining will be mediated by their demographic responses to the sub-lethal effects of temperature. To gain insight into the nature of these responses, here I develop a model to test the effect of increased temperature on populations of three pocilloporid corals at One Tree Island, near the southern extreme of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Using Seriatopora hystrix, S. caliendrum and Pocillopora damicornis as study species, the effects of temperature on growth were determined empirically, and the dynamics of their populations determined under natural temperatures over a 6-month period between 1999 and 2000 [defined as the study year (SY)]. The two data sets were combined in a demographic test of the possibility that the thermal regime projected for the southern GBR in the next 55-83 years--warmer by 3 degrees C than the study year (the SY+3 regime), which is equivalent to 1.4 degrees C warmer than the recent warm year of 1998--would alter coral population trajectories through the effects on coral growth alone; the analyses first were completed by species, then by family after pooling among species. Laboratory experiments showed that growth rates (i.e., calcification) varied significantly among species and temperatures, and displayed curvilinear thermal responses with growth maxima at approximately 27.1 degrees C. Based on these temperature-growth responses, the SY+3 regime is projected to: (1) increase annualized growth rates of all taxa by 24-39%, and defer the timing of peak growth from the summer to the autumn and spring, (2) alter the intrinsic rate of population growth (lambda) for S. hystrix (lambda decreases 26%) and S. caliendrum (lambda increases 5%), but not for P. damicornis, and (3) have a minor effect on lambda (a 0.3% increase) for the Pocilloporidae, largely because lambda varies more

  9. Diversity and stability of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thibaut, Loic M; Connolly, Sean R; Sweatman, Hugh P A

    2012-04-01

    Biodiversity may provide insurance against ecosystem collapse by stabilizing assemblages that perform particular ecological functions (the "portfolio effect"). However, the extent to which this occurs in nature and the importance of different mechanisms that generate portfolio effects remain controversial. On coral reefs, herbivory helps maintain coral dominated states, so volatility in levels of herbivory has important implications for reef ecosystems. Here, we used an extensive time series of abundances on 35 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia to quantify the strength of the portfolio effect for herbivorous fishes. Then, we disentangled the contributions of two mechanisms that underlie it (compensatory interactions and differential responses to environmental fluctuations ["response diversity"]) by fitting a community-dynamic model that explicitly includes terms for both mechanisms. We found that portfolio effects operate strongly in herbivorous fishes, as shown by nearly independent fluctuations in abundances over time. Moreover, we found strong evidence for high response diversity, with nearly independent responses to environmental fluctuations. In contrast, we found little evidence that the portfolio effect in this system was enhanced by compensatory ecological interactions. Our results show that portfolio effects are driven principally by response diversity for herbivorous fishes on coral reefs. We conclude that portfolio effects can be very strong in nature and that, for coral reefs in particular, response diversity may help maintain herbivory above the threshold levels that trigger regime shifts.

  10. MANGROVE-DERIVED NUTRIENTS AND CORAL REEFS

    Science.gov (United States)

    Understanding the consequences of the declining global cover of mangroves due to anthropogenic disturbance necessitates consideration of how mangrove-derived nutrients contribute to threatened coral reef systems. We sampled potential sources of organic matter and a suite of sessi...

  11. EPA Field Manual for Coral Reef Assessments

    Science.gov (United States)

    The Water Quality Research Program (WQRP) supports development of coral reef biological criteria. Research is focused on developing methods and tools to support implementation of legally defensible biological standards for maintaining biological integrity, which is protected by ...

  12. Associations among coral reef macroalgae influence feeding by herbivorous fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Loffler, Z.; Bellwood, D. R.; Hoey, A. S.

    2015-03-01

    Benthic macroalgae often occur in close association with other macroalgae, yet the implications of such associations on coral reefs are unclear. We selected three pairs of commonly associated macroalgae on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and exposed them, either independently or paired, to herbivore assemblages. Pairing the palatable alga Acanthophora with the calcified and chemically defended Galaxaura resulted in a 69 % reduction in the consumption of Acanthophora, but had no effect on the consumption of Galaxaura. The reduced consumption of Acanthophora was related to 53-85 % reductions in the feeding rates of two herbivorous fish species, Kyphosus vaigiensis and Siganus doliatus. Neither Acanthophora nor Sargassum were afforded protection when paired with the brown macroalga Turbinaria. Although limited to one of the three species pairings, such associations between algae may allow the ecological persistence of palatable species in the face of intense herbivory, enhancing macroalgal diversity on coral reefs.

  13. Black reefs: iron-induced phase shifts on coral reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Wegley Kelly, L.; Barott, K.L.; Dinsdale, E.; Friedlander, A.M.; Nosrat, B.; Obura, D.; Sala, E.; Sandin, S.A.; Smith, J.E.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Williams, G.J.; Willner, D.; Rohwer, F.

    2012-01-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the

  14. Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christian Wild

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12–70 km: Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore, Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore, and Lighthouse Reef (offshore. In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26–29% when compared to the other sites (4–19%. The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia, particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs.

  15. Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wild, Christian; Jantzen, Carin; Kremb, Stephan Georg

    2014-01-01

    Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12-70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26-29%) when compared to the other sites (4-19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs.

  16. Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America

    KAUST Repository

    Wild, Christian

    2014-09-16

    Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12–70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26–29%) when compared to the other sites (4–19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs.

  17. Fungi and their role in corals and coral reef ecosystems

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.; Ravindran, J.

    which are exclusive as endoliths (endemic) in corals or ubiquitous forms seem to play a role in coral reef system. Fungi associated with sponges and their role in production or induction of secondary metabolites in their host is of primary interest...

  18. U-Th age distribution of coral fragments from multiple rubble ridges within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef: Implications for past storminess history

    Science.gov (United States)

    Liu, Entao; Zhao, Jian-xin; Feng, Yue-xing; Leonard, Nicole D.; Clark, Tara R.; Roff, George

    2016-07-01

    Prograded coral rubble ridges have been widely used as archives for reconstructing long-term storm or storminess history. Chronologies of ridge systems in previous studies are often based on a limited number of low-resolution radiocarbon or optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages per ridge (usually only one age per ridge), which carry intrinsic age uncertainties and make interpretation of storm histories problematic. To test the fidelity of storm ridges as palaeo-storm archives, we used high-precision U-Th dating to examine whether different samples from a single ridge are temporally constrained. We surveyed three transects of ridge systems from two continental islands (Normanby Island and High Island) within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and obtained 96 U-Th dates from coral rubble samples collected from within and between different ridges. Our results revealed significant differences in age ranges between the two islands. The steeper and more defined rubble ridges present on Normanby Island revealed that the majority of U-Th ages (over 60%) from a single ridge clustered within a narrow age range (∼100 years). By contrast, the lower and less defined ridges on High Island, which were more likely formed during both storm and non-storm high-energy events, revealed significant scatter in age distribution (>>200 years) with no notable clustering. The narrower age ranges obtained from the steeper and more defined rubble ridges suggest that previous approaches of using either limited samples from a single ridge or low-precision dating methods to establish chronologies are generally valid at centennial to millennial timescales, although caution must be taken to use such approaches for storm history reconstruction on shorter timescales (e.g. decadal). The correlation between U-Th mortality ages of coral rubble and historical stormy periods highlights the possibility of using coral rubble age distribution from rubble ridges to reconstruct the long

  19. Doom and boom on a resilient reef: climate change, algal overgrowth and coral recovery.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Guillermo Diaz-Pulido

    Full Text Available Coral reefs around the world are experiencing large-scale degradation, largely due to global climate change, overfishing, diseases and eutrophication. Climate change models suggest increasing frequency and severity of warming-induced coral bleaching events, with consequent increases in coral mortality and algal overgrowth. Critically, the recovery of damaged reefs will depend on the reversibility of seaweed blooms, generally considered to depend on grazing of the seaweed, and replenishment of corals by larvae that successfully recruit to damaged reefs. These processes usually take years to decades to bring a reef back to coral dominance.In 2006, mass bleaching of corals on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef caused high coral mortality. Here we show that this coral mortality was followed by an unprecedented bloom of a single species of unpalatable seaweed (Lobophora variegata, colonizing dead coral skeletons, but that corals on these reefs recovered dramatically, in less than a year. Unexpectedly, this rapid reversal did not involve reestablishment of corals by recruitment of coral larvae, as often assumed, but depended on several ecological mechanisms previously underestimated.These mechanisms of ecological recovery included rapid regeneration rates of remnant coral tissue, very high competitive ability of the corals allowing them to out-compete the seaweed, a natural seasonal decline in the particular species of dominant seaweed, and an effective marine protected area system. Our study provides a key example of the doom and boom of a highly resilient reef, and new insights into the variability and mechanisms of reef resilience under rapid climate change.

  20. The reality, use and potential for cryopreservation of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hagedorn, Mary; Spindler, Rebecca

    2014-01-01

    Throughout the world coral reefs are being degraded at unprecedented rates. Locally, reefs are damaged by pollution, nutrient overload and sedimentation from out-dated land-use, fishing and mining practices. Globally, increased greenhouse gases are warming and acidifying oceans, making corals more susceptible to stress, bleaching and newly emerging diseases. The coupling of climate change impacts and local anthropogenic stressors has caused a widespread and well-recognized reef crisis. Although in situ conservation practices, such as the establishment and enforcement of marine protected areas, reduce these stressors and may help slow the loss of genetic diversity on reefs, the global effects of climate change will continue to cause population declines. Gamete cryopreservation has already acted as an effective insurance policy to maintain the genetic diversity of many wildlife species, but has only just begun to be explored for coral. Already we have had a great deal of success with cryopreserving sperm and larval cells from a variety of coral species. Building on this success, we have now begun to establish genetic banks using frozen samples, to help offset these threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other areas.

  1. Reef size and isolation determine the temporal stability of coral reef fish populations.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mellin, Camille; Huchery, Cindy; Caley, M Julian; Meekan, Mark G; Bradshaw, Corey J A

    2010-11-01

    Temporal variance in species abundance, a potential driver of extinction, is linked to mean abundance through Taylor's power law, the empirical observation of a linear log-log relationship with a slope between 1 and 2 for most species. Here we test the idea that the slope of Taylor's power law can vary both among species and spatially as a function of habitat area and isolation. We used the world's most extensive database of coral reef fish communities comprising a 15-year series of fish abundances on 43 reefs of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Greater temporal variances were observed at small and isolated reefs, and lower variances at large and connected ones. The combination of reef area and isolation was associated with an even greater effect on temporal variances, indicating strong empirical support for the idea that populations on small and isolated reefs will succumb more frequently to local extinction via higher temporal variability, resulting in lower resilience at the community level. Based on these relationships, we constructed a regional predictive map of the dynamic fragility of coral reef fish assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef.

  2. 75 FR 48934 - Coral Reef Conservation Program Implementation Guidelines

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-08-12

    ... institutions with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of coral reefs. Each category of funding under... of implementing cooperative coral reef conservation, protection, restoration, or education projects...; conflict resolution initiatives; community outreach and education; and that promote safe and ecologically...

  3. Can we measure beauty? Computational evaluation of coral reef aesthetics

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Haas, A.F.; Guibert, M.; Foerschner, A.; Co, T.; Calhoun, S.; George, E.; Hatay, M.; Dinsdale, E.; Sandin, S.A.; Smith, J.E.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Felts, B.; Dustan, P.; Salamon, P.; Rohwer, F.

    2015-01-01

    The natural beauty of coral reefs attracts millions of tourists worldwide resulting in substantial revenues for the adjoining economies. Although their visual appearance is a pivotal factor attracting humans to coral reefs current monitoring protocols exclusively target biogeochemical parameters,

  4. Zonation of uplifted pleistocene coral reefs on barbados, west indies.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mesolella, K J

    1967-05-05

    The coral species composition of uplifted Pleistocene reefs on Barbados is very similar to Recent West Indian reefs. Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, and Montastrea annularis are qtuantitatively the most important of the coral species.

  5. Modern coral reefs of western Atlantic: new geological perspective

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    MacIntyre, I.G.

    1988-11-01

    Contrary to popular belief of the late 1960s, western Atlantic Holocene reefs have a long history and are not feeble novice nearshore veneers that barely survived postglacial temperatures. Rather, the growth of these reefs kept pace with the rising seas of the Holocene transgression and their development was, for the most part, controlled by offshore wave-energy conditions and the relationship between changing sea levels and local shelf topography. Thus, the outer shelves of the eastern Caribbean in areas of high energy have relict reefs consisting predominantly of Acropora palmata, a robust shallow-water coral. The flooding of adjacent shelves during the postglacial transgression introduced stress conditions that terminated the growth of these reefs. When, about 7000 yr ago, shelf-water conditions improved, scattered deeper water coral communities reestablished themselves on these stranded shelf-edge reefs, and fringing and bank-barrier reefs began to flourish in shallow coastal areas. At the same time, the fragile and rapidly growing Acropora cervicornis and other corals flourished at greater depths on the more protected shelves of the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, late Holocene buildups more than 30 m thick developed in those areas. 7 figures.

  6. A species pair of Bivesicula Yamaguti, 1934 (Trematoda: Bivesiculidae) in unrelated Great Barrier Reef fishes: implications for the basis of speciation in coral reef fish trematodes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Trieu, Nancy; Cutmore, Scott C; Miller, Terrence L; Cribb, Thomas H

    2015-07-01

    Combined morphological and molecular analysis shows that a species of Bivesicula Yamaguti, 1934 from four species of Apogonidae Günther [Nectamia fusca (Quoy & Gaimard), Ostorhinchus angustatus (Smith & Radcliffe), O. cookii (Macleay) and Taeniamia fucata (Cantor)] on the Great Barrier Reef is morphologically similar to, but clearly distinct from B. unexpecta Cribb, Bray & Barker, 1994 which infects a sympatric pomacentrid, Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Bleeker). Bivesicula neglecta n. sp. is proposed for the form from apogonids. Novel ITS2 rDNA sequences generated for the two species differ at just one consistent base position, implying that the two species are closely related. The combination of their close relationship, high but distinct specificity and co-occurrence suggests that speciation was driven by a recent host switching event enabled by similar dietary ecomorphology.

  7. Diverse coral communities in naturally acidified waters of a Western Pacific reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shamberger, Kathryn E. F.; Cohen, Anne L.; Golbuu, Yimnang; McCorkle, Daniel C.; Lentz, Steven J.; Barkley, Hannah C.

    2014-01-01

    Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are acidifying the oceans, reducing the concentration of carbonate ions ([CO32-]) that calcifying organisms need to build and cement coral reefs. To date, studies of a handful of naturally acidified reef systems reveal depauperate communities, sometimes with reduced coral cover and calcification rates, consistent with results of laboratory-based studies. Here we report the existence of highly diverse, coral-dominated reef communities under chronically low pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar). Biological and hydrographic processes change the chemistry of the seawater moving across the barrier reefs and into Palau's Rock Island bays, where levels of acidification approach those projected for the western tropical Pacific open ocean by 2100. Nevertheless, coral diversity, cover, and calcification rates are maintained across this natural acidification gradient. Identifying the combination of biological and environmental factors that enable these communities to persist could provide important insights into the future of coral reefs under anthropogenic acidification.

  8. Coral Reefs: A Gallery Program, Grades 7-12.

    Science.gov (United States)

    National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. Dept. of Education.

    Gallery classes at the National Aquarium in Baltimore give the opportunity to study specific aquarium exhibits which demonstrate entire natural habitats. The coral reef gallery class features the gigantic western Atlantic coral reef (325,000 gallons) with over 1,000 fish. The exhibit simulates a typical Caribbean coral reef and nearby sandy…

  9. Developing a multi-stressor gradient for coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are often found near coastal waters where multiple anthropogenic stressors co-occur at areas of human disturbance. Developing coral reef biocriteria under the U.S. Clean Water Act requires relationships between anthropogenic stressors and coral reef condition to be es...

  10. Bacterial communities of two ubiquitous Great Barrier Reef corals reveals both site- and species-specificity of common bacterial associates.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    E Charlotte E Kvennefors

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Coral-associated bacteria are increasingly considered to be important in coral health, and altered bacterial community structures have been linked to both coral disease and bleaching. Despite this, assessments of bacterial communities on corals rarely apply sufficient replication to adequately describe the natural variability. Replicated data such as these are crucial in determining potential roles of bacteria on coral. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE of the V3 region of the 16S ribosomal DNA was used in a highly replicated approach to analyse bacterial communities on both healthy and diseased corals. Although site-specific variations in the bacterial communities of healthy corals were present, host species-specific bacterial associates within a distinct cluster of gamma-proteobacteria could be identified, which are potentially linked to coral health. Corals affected by "White Syndrome" (WS underwent pronounced changes in their bacterial communities in comparison to healthy colonies. However, the community structure and bacterial ribotypes identified in diseased corals did not support the previously suggested theory of a bacterial pathogen as the causative agent of the syndrome. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This is the first study to employ large numbers of replicated samples to assess the bacterial communities of healthy and diseased corals, and the first culture-independent assessment of bacterial communities on WS affected Acroporid corals on the GBR. Results indicate that a minimum of 6 replicate samples are required in order to draw inferences on species, spatial or health-related changes in community composition, as a set of clearly distinct bacterial community profiles exist in healthy corals. Coral bacterial communities may be both site and species specific. Furthermore, a cluster of gamma-proteobacterial ribotypes may represent a group of specific common coral and marine

  11. Bacterial communities of two ubiquitous Great Barrier Reef corals reveals both site- and species-specificity of common bacterial associates.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kvennefors, E Charlotte E; Sampayo, Eugenia; Ridgway, Tyrone; Barnes, Andrew C; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2010-04-29

    Coral-associated bacteria are increasingly considered to be important in coral health, and altered bacterial community structures have been linked to both coral disease and bleaching. Despite this, assessments of bacterial communities on corals rarely apply sufficient replication to adequately describe the natural variability. Replicated data such as these are crucial in determining potential roles of bacteria on coral. Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) of the V3 region of the 16S ribosomal DNA was used in a highly replicated approach to analyse bacterial communities on both healthy and diseased corals. Although site-specific variations in the bacterial communities of healthy corals were present, host species-specific bacterial associates within a distinct cluster of gamma-proteobacteria could be identified, which are potentially linked to coral health. Corals affected by "White Syndrome" (WS) underwent pronounced changes in their bacterial communities in comparison to healthy colonies. However, the community structure and bacterial ribotypes identified in diseased corals did not support the previously suggested theory of a bacterial pathogen as the causative agent of the syndrome. This is the first study to employ large numbers of replicated samples to assess the bacterial communities of healthy and diseased corals, and the first culture-independent assessment of bacterial communities on WS affected Acroporid corals on the GBR. Results indicate that a minimum of 6 replicate samples are required in order to draw inferences on species, spatial or health-related changes in community composition, as a set of clearly distinct bacterial community profiles exist in healthy corals. Coral bacterial communities may be both site and species specific. Furthermore, a cluster of gamma-proteobacterial ribotypes may represent a group of specific common coral and marine invertebrate associates. Finally, the results did not support the contention that a single

  12. Ecological Processes and Contemporary Coral Reef Management

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Angela Dikou

    2010-05-01

    Full Text Available Top-down controls of complex foodwebs maintain the balance among the critical groups of corals, algae, and herbivores, thus allowing the persistence of corals reefs as three-dimensional, biogenic structures with high biodiversity, heterogeneity, resistance, resilience and connectivity, and the delivery of essential goods and services to societies. On contemporary reefs world-wide, however, top-down controls have been weakened due to reduction in herbivory levels (overfishing or disease outbreak while bottom-up controls have increased due to water quality degradation (increase in sediment and nutrient load and climate forcing (seawater warming and acidification leading to algal-dominated alternate benthic states of coral reefs, which are indicative of a trajectory towards ecological extinction. Management to reverse common trajectories of degradation for coral reefs necessitates a shift from optimization in marine resource use and conservation towards building socio-economic resilience into coral reef systems while attending to the most manageable human impacts (fishing and water quality and the global-scale causes (climate change.

  13. Spatial and temporal variations in coral growth on an inshore turbid reef subjected to multiple disturbances.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Browne, N K

    2012-06-01

    Coral growth rates (linear extension, density, calcification rates) of three fast-growing corals (Acropora, Montipora, Turbinaria) were studied in situ on Middle Reef, an inshore reef located on the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), to assess the influence of changing environmental conditions on coral condition and reef growth. Middle Reef is subjected to both local (e.g. high sediment loads) and global (e.g. coral bleaching) disturbance events, usually associated with reduced coral growth. Results indicated, however, that Acropora growth rates (mean linear extension = 6.3 cm/year) were comparable to those measured at similar depths on offshore reefs on the GBR. Montipora linear extension (2.9 cm/year) was greater than estimates available from both clear-water and turbid reefs, and Turbinaria's dense skeleton (1.3 g/cm(3)) may be more resilient to physical damage as ocean pH falls. Coral growth was found to vary between reef habitats due to spatial differences in water motion and sediment dynamics, and temporally with lower calcification rates during the summer months when SSTs (monthly average 29 °C) and rainfall (monthly total >500 mm) were high. In summary, corals on Middle Reef are robust and resilient to their marginal environmental conditions, but are susceptible to anthropogenic disturbances during the summer months. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  14. The status of coral reefs in Rodrigues: 2002 - 2006 | Hardman ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Coral reef monitoring has been carried out at sites around Rodrigues twice a year since 2002. Initially, 8 sites were monitored, however this has now increased to 13 permanent sites, with 7 sites on the reef flat and 6 on the reef slope. Surveys were undertaken using the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network methodology to ...

  15. A trait-based approach to advance coral reef science

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Madin, Joshua S.; Hoogenboom, Mia O.; Connolly, Sean R.

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are biologically diverse and ecologically complex ecosystems constructed by stony corals. Despite decades of research, basic coral population biology and community ecology questions remain. Quantifying trait variation among species can help resolve these questions, but progress has been...

  16. Coral reef evolution on rapidly subsiding margins

    Science.gov (United States)

    Webster, J.M.; Braga, J.C.; Clague, D.A.; Gallup, C.; Hein, J.R.; Potts, D.C.; Renema, W.; Riding, R.; Riker-Coleman, K.; Silver, E.; Wallace, L.M.

    2009-01-01

    A series of well-developed submerged coral reefs are preserved in the Huon Gulf (Papua New Guinea) and around Hawaii. Despite different tectonics settings, both regions have experienced rapid subsidence (2-6??m/ka) over the last 500??ka. Rapid subsidence, combined with eustatic sea-level changes, is responsible for repeated drowning and backstepping of coral reefs over this period. Because we can place quantitative constraints on these systems (i.e., reef drowning age, eustatic sea-level changes, subsidence rates, accretion rates, basement substrates, and paleobathymetry), these areas represent unique natural laboratories for exploring the roles of tectonics, reef accretion, and eustatic sea-level changes in controlling the evolution of individual reefs, as well as backstepping of the entire system. A review of new and existing bathymetric, radiometric, sedimentary facies and numerical modeling data indicate that these reefs have had long, complex growth histories and that they are highly sensitive, recording drowning not only during major deglaciations, but also during high-frequency, small-amplitude interstadial and deglacial meltwater pulse events. Analysis of five generalized sedimentary facies shows that reef drowning is characterized by a distinct biological and sedimentary sequence. Observational and numerical modeling data indicate that on precessional (20??ka) and sub-orbital timescales, the rate and amplitude of eustatic sea-level changes are critical in controlling initiation, growth, drowning or sub-aerial exposure, subsequent re-initiation, and final drowning. However, over longer timescales (> 100-500??ka) continued tectonic subsidence and basement substrate morphology influence broad scale reef morphology and backstepping geometries. Drilling of these reefs will yield greatly expanded stratigraphic sections compared with similar reefs on slowly subsiding, stable and uplifting margins, and thus they represent a unique archive of sea-level and climate

  17. A magnetic compass that might help coral reef fish larvae return to their natal reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bottesch, Michael; Gerlach, Gabriele; Halbach, Maurits; Bally, Andreas; Kingsford, Michael J; Mouritsen, Henrik

    2016-12-19

    Many coral reef fish larvae spend days to months in the open ocean before settlement on coral reefs [1]. Early in development, larvae have limited swimming capabilities and will therefore be greatly affected by currents. This can potentially result in dispersal distances of tens of kilometers [2]. Nevertheless, up to 60 % of surviving larvae have been shown to return to their natal reefs [2]. To home, the larvae must develop strong swimming capabilities and appropriate orientation mechanisms. Most late-stage larval reef fish can, after being passively drifted for days to weeks, swim strongly [3], and Ostorhinchus doederleini larvae have been shown to use chemotaxis to identify their natal reef once in its vicinity [2] and a sun compass for longer distance orientation [4] during the day. But how do they orient at night? Here, we show that newly settled fish caught at One Tree Island (OTI) at the Capricorn Bunker Reef Group (Great Barrier Reef) can use geomagnetic compass information to keep a south-east heading. This behavior might help them return to their natal reef in the absence of any celestial cues at night. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  18. Coral larvae move toward reef sounds.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mark J A Vermeij

    Full Text Available Free-swimming larvae of tropical corals go through a critical life-phase when they return from the open ocean to select a suitable settlement substrate. During the planktonic phase of their life cycle, the behaviours of small coral larvae (<1 mm that influence settlement success are difficult to observe in situ and are therefore largely unknown. Here, we show that coral larvae respond to acoustic cues that may facilitate detection of habitat from large distances and from upcurrent of preferred settlement locations. Using in situ choice chambers, we found that settling coral larvae were attracted to reef sounds, produced mainly by fish and crustaceans, which we broadcast underwater using loudspeakers. Our discovery that coral larvae can detect and respond to sound is the first description of an auditory response in the invertebrate phylum Cnidaria, which includes jellyfish, anemones, and hydroids as well as corals. If, like settlement-stage reef fish and crustaceans, coral larvae use reef noise as a cue for orientation, the alleviation of noise pollution in the marine environment may gain further urgency.

  19. Determining the extent and characterizing coral reef habitats of the northern latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Brian K Walker

    Full Text Available Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT, the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25-27° N latitude is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km(2 seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future

  20. Determining the extent and characterizing coral reef habitats of the northern latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walker, Brian K; Gilliam, David S

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25-27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km(2) seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and

  1. Chemotaxis by natural populations of coral reef bacteria.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tout, Jessica; Jeffries, Thomas C; Petrou, Katherina; Tyson, Gene W; Webster, Nicole S; Garren, Melissa; Stocker, Roman; Ralph, Peter J; Seymour, Justin R

    2015-08-01

    Corals experience intimate associations with distinct populations of marine microorganisms, but the microbial behaviours underpinning these relationships are poorly understood. There is evidence that chemotaxis is pivotal to the infection process of corals by pathogenic bacteria, but this evidence is limited to experiments using cultured isolates under laboratory conditions. We measured the chemotactic capabilities of natural populations of coral-associated bacteria towards chemicals released by corals and their symbionts, including amino acids, carbohydrates, ammonium and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Laboratory experiments, using a modified capillary assay, and in situ measurements, using a novel microfabricated in situ chemotaxis assay, were employed to quantify the chemotactic responses of natural microbial assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef. Both approaches showed that bacteria associated with the surface of the coral species Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora aspera exhibited significant levels of chemotaxis, particularly towards DMSP and amino acids, and that these levels of chemotaxis were significantly higher than that of bacteria inhabiting nearby, non-coral-associated waters. This pattern was supported by a significantly higher abundance of chemotaxis and motility genes in metagenomes within coral-associated water types. The phylogenetic composition of the coral-associated chemotactic microorganisms, determined using 16S rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing, differed from the community in the seawater surrounding the coral and comprised known coral associates, including potentially pathogenic Vibrio species. These findings indicate that motility and chemotaxis are prevalent phenotypes among coral-associated bacteria, and we propose that chemotaxis has an important role in the establishment and maintenance of specific coral-microbe associations, which may ultimately influence the health and stability of the coral holobiont.

  2. Estimating the Exposure of Coral Reefs and Seagrass Meadows to Land-Sourced Contaminants in River Flood Plumes of the Great Barrier Reef: Validating a Simple Satellite Risk Framework with Environmental Data

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Caroline Petus

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available River runoff and associated flood plumes (hereafter river plumes are a major source of land-sourced contaminants to the marine environment, and are a significant threat to coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide. Remote sensing monitoring products have been developed to map the spatial extent, composition and frequency of occurrence of river plumes in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR, Australia. There is, however, a need to incorporate these monitoring products into Risk Assessment Frameworks as management decision tools. A simple Satellite Risk Framework has been recently proposed to generate maps of potential risk to seagrass and coral reef ecosystems in the GBR focusing on the Austral tropical wet season. This framework was based on a “magnitude × likelihood” risk management approach and GBR plume water types mapped from satellite imagery. The GBR plume water types (so called “Primary” for the inshore plume waters, “Secondary” for the midshelf-plume waters and “Tertiary” for the offshore plume waters represent distinct concentrations and combinations of land-sourced and marine contaminants. The current study aimed to test and refine the methods of the Satellite Risk Framework. It compared predicted pollutant concentrations in plume water types (multi-annual average from 2005–2014 to published ecological thresholds, and combined this information with similarly long-term measures of seagrass and coral ecosystem health. The Satellite Risk Framework and newly-introduced multi-annual risk scores were successful in demonstrating where water conditions were, on average, correlated to adverse biological responses. Seagrass meadow abundance (multi-annual change in % cover was negatively correlated to the multi-annual risk score at the site level (R2 = 0.47, p < 0.05. Relationships between multi-annual risk scores and multi-annual changes in proportional macroalgae cover (as an index for coral reef health were more complex (R2 = 0.04, p

  3. Movement patterns of silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus) on coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Espinoza, Mario; Heupel, Michelle. R.; Tobin, Andrew J.; Simpfendorfer, Colin A.

    2015-09-01

    Understanding how sharks use coral reefs is essential for assessing risk of exposure to fisheries, habitat loss, and climate change. Despite a wide Indo-Pacific distribution, little is known about the spatial ecology of silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus), compromising the ability to effectively manage their populations. We examined the residency and movements of silvertip sharks in the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). An array of 56 VR2W acoustic receivers was used to monitor shark movements on 17 semi-isolated reefs. Twenty-seven individuals tagged with acoustic transmitters were monitored from 70 to 731 d. Residency index to the study site ranged from 0.05 to 0.97, with a mean residency (±SD) of 0.57 ± 0.26, but most individuals were detected at or near their tagging reef. Clear seasonal patterns were apparent, with fewer individuals detected between September and February. A large proportion of the tagged population (>71 %) moved regularly between reefs. Silvertip sharks were detected less during daytime and exhibited a strong diel pattern in depth use, which may be a strategy for optimizing energetic budgets and foraging opportunities. This study provides the first detailed examination of the spatial ecology and behavior of silvertip sharks on coral reefs. Silvertip sharks remained resident at coral reef habitats over long periods, but our results also suggest this species may have more complex movement patterns and use larger areas of the GBR than common reef shark species. Our findings highlight the need to further understand the movement ecology of silvertip sharks at different spatial and temporal scales, which is critical for developing effective management approaches.

  4. Processes Driving Natural Acidification of Western Pacific Coral Reef Waters

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shamberger, K. E.; Cohen, A. L.; Golbuu, Y.; McCorkle, D. C.; Lentz, S. J.; Barkley, H. C.

    2013-12-01

    Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are acidifying the oceans, reducing seawater pH, aragonite saturation state (Ωar) and the availability of carbonate ions (CO32-) that calcifying organisms use to build coral reefs. Today's most extensive reef ecosystems are located where open ocean CO32- concentration ([CO32-]) and Ωar exceed 200 μmol kg-1 and 3.3, respectively. However, high rates of biogeochemical cycling and long residence times of water can result in carbonate chemistry conditions within coral reef systems that differ greatly from those of nearby open ocean waters. In the Palauan archipelago, water moving across the reef platform is altered by both biological and hydrographic processes that combine to produce seawater pH, Ωar, [CO32-] significantly lower than that of open ocean source water. Just inshore of the barrier reefs, average Ωar values are 0.2 to 0.3 and pH values are 0.02 to 0.03 lower than they are offshore, declining further as water moves across the back reef, lagoon and into the meandering bays and inlets that characterize the Rock Islands. In the Rock Island bays, coral communities inhabit seawater with average Ωar values of 2.7 or less, and as low as 1.9. Levels of Ωar as low as these are not predicted to occur in the western tropical Pacific open ocean until near the end of the century. Calcification by coral reef organisms is the principal biological process responsible for lowering Ωar and pH, accounting for 68 - 99 % of the difference in Ωar between offshore source water and reef water at our sites. However, in the Rock Island bays where Ωar is lowest, CO2 production by net respiration contributes between 17 - 30 % of the difference in Ωar between offshore source water and reef water. Furthermore, the residence time of seawater in the Rock Island bays is much longer than at the well flushed exposed sites, enabling calcification and respiration to drive Ωar to very low levels despite lower net ecosystem

  5. Connectivity and systemic resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Karlo Hock

    2017-11-01

    Full Text Available Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR continues to suffer from repeated impacts of cyclones, coral bleaching, and outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS, losing much of its coral cover in the process. This raises the question of the ecosystem's systemic resilience and its ability to rebound after large-scale population loss. Here, we reveal that around 100 reefs of the GBR, or around 3%, have the ideal properties to facilitate recovery of disturbed areas, thereby imparting a level of systemic resilience and aiding its continued recovery. These reefs (1 are highly connected by ocean currents to the wider reef network, (2 have a relatively low risk of exposure to disturbances so that they are likely to provide replenishment when other reefs are depleted, and (3 have an ability to promote recovery of desirable species but are unlikely to either experience or spread COTS outbreaks. The great replenishment potential of these 'robust source reefs', which may supply 47% of the ecosystem in a single dispersal event, emerges from the interaction between oceanographic conditions and geographic location, a process that is likely to be repeated in other reef systems. Such natural resilience of reef systems will become increasingly important as the frequency of disturbances accelerates under climate change.

  6. Connectivity and systemic resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hock, Karlo; Wolff, Nicholas H; Ortiz, Juan C; Condie, Scott A; Anthony, Kenneth R N; Blackwell, Paul G; Mumby, Peter J

    2017-11-01

    Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) continues to suffer from repeated impacts of cyclones, coral bleaching, and outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), losing much of its coral cover in the process. This raises the question of the ecosystem's systemic resilience and its ability to rebound after large-scale population loss. Here, we reveal that around 100 reefs of the GBR, or around 3%, have the ideal properties to facilitate recovery of disturbed areas, thereby imparting a level of systemic resilience and aiding its continued recovery. These reefs (1) are highly connected by ocean currents to the wider reef network, (2) have a relatively low risk of exposure to disturbances so that they are likely to provide replenishment when other reefs are depleted, and (3) have an ability to promote recovery of desirable species but are unlikely to either experience or spread COTS outbreaks. The great replenishment potential of these 'robust source reefs', which may supply 47% of the ecosystem in a single dispersal event, emerges from the interaction between oceanographic conditions and geographic location, a process that is likely to be repeated in other reef systems. Such natural resilience of reef systems will become increasingly important as the frequency of disturbances accelerates under climate change.

  7. Hybridization and the evolution of reef coral diversity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vollmer, Steven V; Palumbi, Stephen R

    2002-06-14

    Hundreds of coral species coexist sympatrically on reefs, reproducing in mass-spawning events where hybridization appears common. In the Caribbean, DNA sequence data from all three sympatric Acropora corals show that mass spawning does not erode species barriers. Species A. cervicornis and A. palmata are distinct at two nuclear loci or share ancestral alleles. Morphotypes historically given the name Acropora prolifera are entirely F(1) hybrids of these two species, showing morphologies that depend on which species provides the egg for hybridization. Although selection limits the evolutionary potential of hybrids, F(1) individuals can reproduce asexually and form long-lived, potentially immortal hybrids with unique morphologies.

  8. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program: Coral Reef Habitat Mapping Projects in 2016

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Maps are a critical cornerstone of coral reef management, research and planning, with direct links to management needs in a number of forms. To accurately...

  9. Coral reef surveys in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    with those practiced elsewhere. With these objectives, diversification of observations to include various reef responses both at community level and at organism level have just begun and may eventually be continued to integrate with global reef monitoring...

  10. Coral Reefs: An English Compilation of Activities for Middle School Students.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walker, Sharon H.; Newton, R. Amanda; Ortiz, Alida

    This activity book on coral reefs for middle school students is divided into 10 sections. Section 1 contains the introduction. Section 2 describes what coral reefs are while section 3 describes how coral reefs reproduce and grow. Section 4 discusses where coral reefs are found and section 5 describes life on a coral reef. Section 6 discusses the…

  11. A modern Sr/Ca-δ18O-sea surface temperature calibration for Isopora corals on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brenner, Logan D.; Linsley, Braddock K.; Potts, Donald C.

    2017-02-01

    Isopora (Acroporidae) is a genus of often encrusting, branching to submassive corals that are common in many shallow habitats on modern and fossil Indo-West Pacific reefs. Although abundant, Isopora is largely absent from paleoceanographic literature. The scarcity of large Porites and the abundance of Isopora retrieved from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) on Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 325 focused paleoceanographic attention on Isopora. Here we provide the first independent high-resolution calibration of both Sr/Ca and δ18O for temperature analyses based on Isopora and demonstrate its consistency with Porites records. We developed modern skeletal Sr/Ca- and δ18O-sea surface temperature (SST) calibrations based on five modern Isopora colonies from Heron Island in the southern GBR. Pairing the coral Sr/Ca record with monthly SST data yielded Sr/Ca-SST sensitivities from -0.061 ± 0.004 (centered) to -0.083 ± 0.007 (raw) mmol/mol °C-1 based on reduced major axis regressions. These sensitivities are in the middle of the range of published Porites values and overlap most published values for Isopora, -0.075 ± 0.011 to -0.065 ± 0.011 mmol/mol °C-1. The δ18O-SST sensitivities range from -0.184 ± 0.014 (centered) to -0.185 ± 0.014 (raw) ‰ °C-1, assuming that all seasonal variation in δ18O was due to SST. These δ18O-SST sensitivities are smaller than the widely accepted value of -0.23‰ °C-1 for biogenic aragonite but are at the upper end of high-resolution Porites-defined sensitivities that are consistently less than the aforementioned established value. Our results validate the use of Isopora as an alternative source of paleoceanographic records in habitats where large massive Porites are scarce or absent.

  12. Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages

    OpenAIRE

    Darling, Emily S.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Wilson, Shaun K.

    2017-01-01

    With the ongoing loss of coral cover and the associated flattening of reef architecture, understanding the links between coral habitat and reef fishes is of critical importance. Here, we investigate whether considering coral traits and functional diversity provides new insights into the relationship between structural complexity and reef fish communities, and whether coral traits and community composition can predict structural complexity. Across 157 sites in Seychelles, Maldives, the Chagos ...

  13. Coral diseases and bleaching on Colombian Caribbean coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Raúl Navas-Camacho

    2010-05-01

    Full Text Available Since 1998 the National Monitoring System for the Coral Reefs of Colombia (SIMAC has monitored the occurrence of coral bleaching and diseases in some Colombian coral reefs (permanent stations at San Andres Island, Rosario Islands, Tayrona, San Bernardo Islands and Urabá. The main purpose is to evaluate their health status and to understand the factors that have been contributing to their decline. To estimate these occurrences, annual surveys in 126 permanent belt transects (10x2m with different depth intervals (3-6 meters, 9-12 meters and 15-18 meters are performed at all reef sites. Data from the 1998-2004 period, revealed that San Andrés Island had many colonies with diseases (38.9 colonies/m2, and Urabá had high numbers with bleaching (54.4 colonies/m2. Of the seven reported coral diseases studied, Dark Spots Disease (DSD, and White Plague Disease (WPD were noteworthy because they occurred in all Caribbean monitored sites, and because of their high interannual infection incidence. Thirty five species of scleractinian corals were affected by at least one disease and a high incidence of coral diseases on the main reef builders is documented. Bleaching was present in 34 species. During the whole monitoring period, Agaricia agaricites and Siderastrea siderea were the species most severely affected by DSD and bleaching, respectively. Diseases on species such as Agaricia fragilis, A.grahamae, A. humilis, Diploria clivosa, Eusmilia fastigiata, Millepora complanata, and Mycetophyllia aliciae are recorded for first time in Colombia. We present bleaching and disease incidences, kinds of diseases, coral species affected, reef localities studied, depth intervals of surveys, and temporal (years variation for each geographic area. This variation makes difficult to clearly determine defined patterns or general trends for monitored reefs. This is the first long-term study of coral diseases and bleaching in the Southwestern Caribbean, and one of the few

  14. Changes in Biodiversity and Functioning of Reef Fish Assemblages following Coral Bleaching and Coral Loss

    OpenAIRE

    Nicholas A.J. Graham; Vanessa Messmer; Morgan S. Pratchett; Andrew S. Hoey; Shaun K. Wilson

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are increasingly subject to severe, large-scale disturbances caused by climate change (e.g., coral bleaching) and other more direct anthropogenic impacts. Many of these disturbances cause coral loss and corresponding changes in habitat structure, which has further important effects on abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes. Declines in the abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes are of considerable concern, given the potential loss of ecosystem function. This ...

  15. The Global Coral Reef Crisis: Trends and Solutions (Coral Reefs: Values, Threats, and the Marine Aquarium Trade)

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Shuman, Craig S. (Reef Check, UCLA)

    2003-02-05

    Second only to tropical rainforests, coral reefs support one of the world's most diverse natural habitats. Over 350 million individuals depend on coral reef resources for food and income. Unfortunately, the Earth is in the midst of a coral reef crisis. Anthropogenic impacts including overfishing, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation and pollution, as well as global climate change, have served to disrupt the natural processes that maintain the health of these ecosystems. Until recently, however, the global extent of the coral reef crisis was unknown. Reef Check was developed in 1996 as a volunteer, community-based monitoring protocol designed to measure the health of coral reefs on a global scale. With goals of education, monitoring, and management, Reef Check has activities in over 60 countries and territories. They have not only provided scientific evidence of the global extent of the coral reef crisis, but have provided the first community based steps to alleviate this urgent situation.

  16. Coral mucus fuels the sponge loop in warm- and cold-water coral reef ecosystems

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Rix, L.; de Goeij, J.M.; Mueller, C.E.; Struck, U.; Middelburg, J.J.; van Duyl, F.C.; Al-Horani, F.A.; Wild, C.; Naumann, M.S.; van Oevelen, D.

    2016-01-01

    Shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water corals engineer the coral reef framework and fertilize reef communities by releasing coral mucus, a source of reef dissolved organic matter (DOM). By transforming DOM into particulate detritus, sponges play a key role in transferring the energy and

  17. Reefs for the future: Resilience of coral reefs in the main Hawaiian Islands

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Declining health of coral reef ecosystems led scientists to search for factors that support reef resilience: the ability of reefs to resist and recover from...

  18. A Global Estimate of the Number of Coral Reef Fishers.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Louise S L Teh

    Full Text Available Overfishing threatens coral reefs worldwide, yet there is no reliable estimate on the number of reef fishers globally. We address this data gap by quantifying the number of reef fishers on a global scale, using two approaches - the first estimates reef fishers as a proportion of the total number of marine fishers in a country, based on the ratio of reef-related to total marine fish landed values. The second estimates reef fishers as a function of coral reef area, rural coastal population, and fishing pressure. In total, we find that there are 6 million reef fishers in 99 reef countries and territories worldwide, of which at least 25% are reef gleaners. Our estimates are an improvement over most existing fisher population statistics, which tend to omit accounting for gleaners and reef fishers. Our results suggest that slightly over a quarter of the world's small-scale fishers fish on coral reefs, and half of all coral reef fishers are in Southeast Asia. Coral reefs evidently support the socio-economic well-being of numerous coastal communities. By quantifying the number of people who are employed as reef fishers, we provide decision-makers with an important input into planning for sustainable coral reef fisheries at the appropriate scale.

  19. Accretion history and stratigraphy of mid-Holocene coral reefs from Southeast Florida, USA

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stathakopoulos, A.; Riegl, B. M.; Swart, P. K.

    2013-05-01

    The southeast Florida shelf is a well-studied coral reef region previously used in studies of late Quaternary sea-level, reef geomorphology, and paleoecology in the sub-tropical Atlantic. Situated on the shelf is the southeast Florida continental reef tract; a ~125 km long Holocene fringing/barrier coral reef complex, composed of three shore-parallel linear reefs ('outer', 'middle', and 'inner' reefs) of varying age. Since few detailed stratigraphic descriptions exist, drill cores were extracted to further understand the composition, character, and radiometric ages of reef material in order to reconstruct the accretion history. Sixteen reef cores from the shallow inner reef were collected along and across the reef axes and were combined with lidar bathymetric data for stratigraphic and geomorphologic analyses. Macroscopic and microscopic (petrographic thin sections) examinations of reef clasts were performed to identify coral and reef infauna species compositions, diagenetic facies, and taphonomic features for interpretation of former reef environments/zonation. The southeast Florida continental reef tract was characterized by dynamic reef terminations, backstepping, and re-initiation in response to post-glacial sea-level rise and flooding of topography suitable for reef initiation and growth. Results suggest that the outer reef accreted from ~10.6-8.0 ka cal BP, the middle reef from at least ~5.8-3.7 ka cal BP, and the inner reef from ~7.8-5.5 ka cal BP. The outer reef is the best-developed reef, followed by the inner reef, while the middle reef apparently has relatively little framework buildup. New data from this study and a lack of significant age overlaps confirm that reef backstepping from the outer to the inner reef occurred within a few hundred years after outer reef termination. This is consistent with temporal and spatial scales reported from backstepped reefs in St. Croix and Puerto Rico. The cause of the backstep is still unknown however some studies

  20. Linking Wave Forcing to Coral Cover and Structural Complexity Across Coral Reef Flats

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harris, D. L.; Rovere, A.; Parravicini, V.; Casella, E.

    2015-12-01

    The hydrodynamic regime is a significant component in the geomorphic and ecological development of coral reefs. The energy gradients and flow conditions generated by the breaking and transformation of waves across coral reef crests and flats drive changes in geomorphic structure, and coral growth form and distribution. One of the key aspects in regulating the wave energy propagating across reef flats is the rugosity or roughness of the benthic substrate. Rugosity and structural complexity of coral reefs is also a key indicator of species diversity, ecological functioning, and reef health. However, the links between reef rugosity, coral species distribution and abundance, and hydrodynamic forcing are poorly understood. In this study we examine this relationship by using high resolution measurement of waves in the surf zone and coral reef benthic structure.Pressure transducers (logging at 4 Hz) were deployed in cross reef transects at two sites (Tiahura and Ha'apiti reef systems) in Moorea, French Polynesia with wave characteristics determined on a wave by wave basis. A one dimensional hydrodynamic model (XBeach) was calibrated from this data to determine wave processes on the reef flats under average conditions. Transects of the reef benthic structure were conducted using photographic analysis and the three dimensional reef surface was constructed using structure from motion procedures. From this analysis reef rugosity, changes in coral genus and growth form, and across reef shifts in benthic community were determined. The results show clear changes in benthic assemblages along wave energy gradients with some indication of threshold values of wave induced bed shear stress above which live coral cover was reduced. Reef rugosity was shown to be significantly along the cross-reef transect which has important implications for accurate assessment of wave dissipation across coral reef flats. Links between reef rugosity and coral genus were also observed and may indicate

  1. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allgeier, Jacob E.; Valdivia, Abel; Cox, Courtney; Layman, Craig A.

    2016-08-01

    Fishing is widely considered a leading cause of biodiversity loss in marine environments, but the potential effect on ecosystem processes, such as nutrient fluxes, is less explored. Here, we test how fishing on Caribbean coral reefs influences biodiversity and ecosystem functions provided by the fish community, that is, fish-mediated nutrient capacity. Specifically, we modelled five processes of nutrient storage (in biomass) and supply (via excretion) of nutrients, as well as a measure of their multifunctionality, onto 143 species of coral reef fishes across 110 coral reef fish communities. These communities span a gradient from extreme fishing pressure to protected areas with little to no fishing. We find that in fished sites fish-mediated nutrient capacity is reduced almost 50%, despite no substantial changes in the number of species. Instead, changes in community size and trophic structure were the primary cause of shifts in ecosystem function. These findings suggest that a broader perspective that incorporates predictable impacts of fishing pressure on ecosystem function is imperative for effective coral reef conservation and management.

  2. Coral Reefs and Their Management in Tanzania

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    extensive, mangrove stands (IUCN Conservation. Monitoring Center ... CORAL REEFS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT IN TANZANIA 229. 23. 06 00. N. A. Avinternational Boundary. /\\!/ River. /\\/Main Road of 00 A-Z Railway. Land. Mangrove. Ocean. G 20 40 60 80 .... centers, deforestation and poor agricultural practices lead to ...

  3. The status of coral reef ecology research in the Red Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Berumen, M. L.; Hoey, A. S.; Bass, W. H.; Bouwmeester, J.; Catania, D.; Cochran, J. E. M.; Khalil, M. T.; Miyake, S.; Mughal, M. R.; Spaet, J. L. Y.; Saenz-Agudelo, P.

    2013-09-01

    The Red Sea has long been recognized as a region of high biodiversity and endemism. Despite this diversity and early history of scientific work, our understanding of the ecology of coral reefs in the Red Sea has lagged behind that of other large coral reef systems. We carried out a quantitative assessment of ISI-listed research published from the Red Sea in eight specific topics (apex predators, connectivity, coral bleaching, coral reproductive biology, herbivory, marine protected areas, non-coral invertebrates and reef-associated bacteria) and compared the amount of research conducted in the Red Sea to that from Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the Caribbean. On average, for these eight topics, the Red Sea had 1/6th the amount of research compared to the GBR and about 1/8th the amount of the Caribbean. Further, more than 50 % of the published research from the Red Sea originated from the Gulf of Aqaba, a small area (reef systems and organisms to adapt to global climate change. As one of the world's most biodiverse coral reef regions, the Red Sea may yet have a significant role to play in our understanding of coral reef ecology at a global scale.

  4. Coral Reef Coverage Percentage on Binor Paiton-Probolinggo Seashore

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Budi Wiyanto

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available The coral reef damage in Probolinggo region was expected to be caused by several factors. The first one comes from its society that exploits fishery by using cyanide toxin and bomb. The second one goes to the extraction of coral reef, which is used as decoration or construction materials. The other factor is likely caused by the existence of large industry on the seashore, such as Electric Steam Power Plant (PLTU Paiton and others alike. Related to the development of coral reef ecosystem, availability of an accurate data is crucially needed to support the manner of future policy, so the research of coral reef coverage percentage needs to be conducted continuously. The aim of this research is to collect biological data of coral reef and to identify coral reef coverage percentage in the effort of constructing coral reef condition basic data on Binor, Paiton, and Probolinggo regency seashore. The method used in this research is Line Intercept Transect (LIT method. LIT method is a method that used to decide benthic community on coral reef based on percentage growth, and to take note of benthic quantity along transect line. Percentage of living coral coverage in 3 meters depth on this Binor Paiton seashore that may be categorized in a good condition is 57,65%. While the rest are dead coral that is only 1,45%, other life form in 23,2%, and non-life form in 17,7%. A good condition of coral reef is caused by coral reef transplantation on the seashore, so this coral reef is dominated by Acropora Branching. On the other hand, Mortality Index (IM of coral reef resulted in 24,5%. The result from observation and calculation of coral reef is dominated by Hard Coral in Acropora Branching (ACB with coral reef coverage percentage of 39%, Coral Massive (CM with coral reef coverage percentage of 2,85%, Coral Foliose (CF with coral reef coverage percentage of 1,6%, and Coral Mushroom (CRM with coral reef coverage percentage of 8,5%. Observation in 10 meters depth

  5. Coral identity underpins architectural complexity on Caribbean reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Dulvy, Nicholas K; Côte, Isabelle M; Watkinson, Andrew R; Gill, Jennifer A

    2011-09-01

    The architectural complexity of ecosystems can greatly influence their capacity to support biodiversity and deliver ecosystem services. Understanding the components underlying this complexity can aid the development of effective strategies for ecosystem conservation. Caribbean coral reefs support and protect millions of livelihoods, but recent anthropogenic change is shifting communities toward reefs dominated by stress-resistant coral species, which are often less architecturally complex. With the regionwide decline in reef fish abundance, it is becoming increasingly important to understand changes in coral reef community structure and function. We quantify the influence of coral composition, diversity, and morpho-functional traits on the architectural complexity of reefs across 91 sites at Cozumel, Mexico. Although reef architectural complexity increases with coral cover and species richness, it is highest on sites that are low in taxonomic evenness and dominated by morpho-functionally important, reef-building coral genera, particularly Montastraea. Sites with similar coral community composition also tend to occur on reefs with very similar architectural complexity, suggesting that reef structure tends to be determined by the same key species across sites. Our findings provide support for prioritizing and protecting particular reef types, especially those dominated by key reef-building corals, in order to enhance reef complexity.

  6. The coral reefs of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique, with ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Coral collections and qualitative observations were made on the Bazaruto coral reefs in the Parque Nacional do Bazaruto. A checklist of species found on the reefs is presented with descriptions of their nature. Both the Alcyonacea and Scleractinia are well-represented on the reefs and their biodiversity is discussed in a ...

  7. Application of Landscape Mosaic Technology to Complement Coral Reef Resource Mapping and Monitoring

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-10-01

    Vehicles on the Great Barrier Reef . EOS Trans. AGU Ocean Sci. Meet. Suppl., Abstract OS15I-08 87(36). Precht W.F. and M. Robbart. (2006) Coral...97  Figure A64. Landscape mosaic of a Fore- Reef habitat showing the location of bleached colonies of Siderastrea siderea...for monitoring disease, bleaching , and partial mortality--all important indicators of reef health. A1. Methods The basic algorithm used in

  8. 76 FR 59377 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-09-26

    ...-BA62 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and... within the Reef Fish FMP and the Coral and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates FMP, revise the... alternatives to redefine the management of aquarium trade species within the Reef Fish FMP and within the Coral...

  9. Sensing coral reef connectivity pathways from space

    KAUST Repository

    Raitsos, Dionysios E.

    2017-08-18

    Coral reefs rely on inter-habitat connectivity to maintain gene flow, biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Coral reef communities of the Red Sea exhibit remarkable genetic homogeneity across most of the Arabian Peninsula coastline, with a genetic break towards the southern part of the basin. While previous studies have attributed these patterns to environmental heterogeneity, we hypothesize that they may also emerge as a result of dynamic circulation flow; yet, such linkages remain undemonstrated. Here, we integrate satellite-derived biophysical observations, particle dispersion model simulations, genetic population data and ship-borne in situ profiles to assess reef connectivity in the Red Sea. We simulated long-term (>20 yrs.) connectivity patterns driven by remotely-sensed sea surface height and evaluated results against estimates of genetic distance among populations of anemonefish, Amphiprion bicinctus, along the eastern Red Sea coastline. Predicted connectivity was remarkably consistent with genetic population data, demonstrating that circulation features (eddies, surface currents) formulate physical pathways for gene flow. The southern basin has lower physical connectivity than elsewhere, agreeing with known genetic structure of coral reef organisms. The central Red Sea provides key source regions, meriting conservation priority. Our analysis demonstrates a cost-effective tool to estimate biophysical connectivity remotely, supporting coastal management in data-limited regions.

  10. 76 FR 63904 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Administration

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-10-14

    ..., extension 150, or [email protected] SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract The Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 (Act) was enacted to provide a framework for conserving coral reefs. The Coral Reef... reef conservation to conduct activities to protect and conserve coral reef ecosystems. The information...

  11. The Decline of Coral Reefs: a Political Economy Approach

    OpenAIRE

    Samuel, Asumadu-Sarkodie

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs provide economic services like job, food and tourism. Yet, within the past decades, there has been an overwhelming decline in the vitality of coral reefs and their ecosystem. Scientist have not be able to set the record straight regarding their scientific argument on biodiversity and ecological wealth of natural environment. Therefore, actions to recover coral reefs from destruction have proved futile. This paper will analyze the economical values, economic valuation, socioeconomi...

  12. Evaluation of Stony Coral Indicators for Coral Reef ...

    Science.gov (United States)

    Colonies of reef-building stony corals at 57 stations around St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were characterized by species, size and percentage of living tissue. Taxonomic, biological and physical indicators of coral condition were derived from these measurements and assessed for their response to gradients of human disturbance. The purpose of the study was to identify indicators that could be used for regulatory assessments under authority of the Clean Water Act--this requires that indicators distinguish anthropogenic disturbances from natural variation. Stony coral indicators were tested for correlation with human disturbance across gradients located on three different sides of the island. At the most intensely disturbed location, five of eight primary indicators were highly correlated with distance from the source of disturbance: Coral taxa richness, average colony size, the coefficient of variation of colony size (an indicator of colony size heterogeneity), total topographic coral surface area, and live coral surface area. An additional set of exploratory indicators related to rarity, reproductive and spawning mode, and taxonomic identity were also screened for association with disturbance at the same location. For the other two locations, there were no significant changes in indicator values and therefore no discernible effects of human activity. Coral indicators demonstrated sufficient precision to detect levels of change that would be applicable in a regio

  13. Evolution of Coral Rubble Deposits on a Reef Platform as Detected by Remote Sensing

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ana Vila-Concejo

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available An investigation into the evolution of coral rubble deposits on a coral reef platform is assessed using high-resolution remote sensing data and geospatial analysis. Digital change detection analysis techniques are applied to One Tree Reef in the southern Great Barrier Reef by analysing aerial photographs and satellite images captured between 1964 and 2009. Two main types of rubble deposits were identified: (1 rubble flats that are featureless mass accumulations of coral rubble; and, (2 rubble spits that are shore-normal linear features. While both deposits prograde in a lagoon-ward direction, rubble spits move faster (~2 m/yr than rubble flats (~0.5 m/yr. The volume of rubble, the underlying substrate, the energy regime, and storm frequency control the rate of progradation. Rubble flat occurrence is restricted to the high-energy (windward margin of the coral reef platform, while rubble spits are distributed reef wide, both in modal high energy and modal low energy regions of the reef. Rubble spit deposition is considered to be a result of enlarged spur and groove morphology of the forereef, whereby wave energy is focused through the enlarged groove formations causing the preferential deposition of coral rubble in particular zones of the adjacent reef flat. One last control is thought to be the elevation of the reef crest whereby lower areas are more prone to rubble flat development. A vertical and ocean-ward accumulation of rubble is occurring on the windward margin of the reef leading to a build-up and build-out of the reef, governing the expansion of the reef footprint. This study shows for the first time the evolution of a coral reef rubble flat and rubble spits over decadal time scales as detected through remotely sensed images spanning 45 years.

  14. Community structure and coral status across reef fishing intensity gradients in Palk Bay reef, southeast coast of India.

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Manikandan, B.; Ravindran, J.; Shrinivaasu, S.; Marimuthu, N.; Paramasivam, K.

    Coral reef fishes are exploited without the knowledge of their sustainability and their possible effect in altering the community structure of a coral reef ecosystem. Alteration of the community structure could cause a decline in the health of coral...

  15. Management and conservation options for Indian coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    Coral reefs are the most specialized, diverse and productive of all tropical marine ecosystems. In the recent years, they are being increasingly subjected to exploitation and human interference. These have resulted in degradation of many reefs...

  16. 75 FR 39917 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-07-13

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit... for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of the South Atlantic Region. The applicant has... Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF, http://www.coralreefresearchfoundation.org/ ). Samples would be...

  17. Carrying capacity of coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    The sustainable yield of a commercially exploited fishery is assessed by the biological and environmental factors (including fishing effort). These parameters with a reef are vastly diverse-size, location, species diversity, productivity type...

  18. Spatiotemporal variations of live coral cover in the northern Mesoamerican Reef System, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Linda M. Barranco

    2016-06-01

    Full Text Available Evaluating the response of coral assemblages to different disturbances is important because variations in species composition may have consequences for ecosystem functioning due to their different functional roles in coral reefs. This study evaluates changes in diversity, structure and composition of coral assemblages of the coral reefs of two national parks in the northern sector of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System spanning the period from 2006 to 2012, just after the impact of two hurricanes in the area. Coral assemblages in the Cancún National Park included fewer species and lower live coral coverage ( < 15% than those recorded in Cozumel. In the Cancún National Park, the species with the highest coral cover was Porites astreoides (more than 40% relative cover, and no significant temporal changes were observed in live coral cover and species composition. On the other hand, in the Cozumel National Park the dominant species were Agaricia agaricites, Siderastrea siderea and Porites astreoides, and the coral reefs showed an increase in live coral cover from 16% in 2006 to 29% in 2012. The dynamics of coral assemblages differed between the two parks: while there is an apparent stability in the current composition of the Cancún reefs, the Cozumel reefs show an increase in the abundance of the aforementioned dominant species. However, it is possible that the population characteristics of the species that dominate the coral assemblages in both national parks, such as those of fast population growth and of small colony size, do not entirely fulfill the main function of accretion and habitat heterogeneity, and more research is therefore needed to test this hypothesis.

  19. Nitrogen enrichment and speciation in a coral reef lagoon driven by groundwater inputs of bird guano

    Science.gov (United States)

    McMahon, Ashly; Santos, Isaac R.

    2017-09-01

    While the influence of river inputs on coral reef biogeochemistry has been investigated, there is limited information on nutrient fluxes related to submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). Here, we investigate whether significant saline groundwater-derived nutrient inputs from bird guano drive coral reef photosynthesis and calcification off Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). We used multiple experimental approaches including groundwater sampling, beach face transects, and detailed time series observations to assess the dynamics and speciation of groundwater nutrients as they travel across the island and discharge into the coral reef lagoon. Nitrogen speciation shifted from nitrate-dominated groundwater (>90% of total dissolved nitrogen) to a coral reef lagoon dominated by dissolved organic nitrogen (DON; ˜86%). There was a minimum input of nitrate of 2.1 mmol m-2 d-1 into the lagoon from tidally driven submarine groundwater discharge estimated from a radon mass balance model. An independent approach based on the enrichment of dissolved nutrients during isolation at low tide implied nitrate fluxes of 5.4 mmol m-2 d-1. A correlation was observed between nitrate and daytime net ecosystem production and calcification. We suggest that groundwater nutrients derived from bird guano may offer a significant addition to oligotrophic coral reef lagoons and fuel ecosystem productivity and the coastal carbon cycle near Heron Island. The large input of groundwater nutrients in Heron Island may serve as a natural ecological analogue to other coral reefs subject to large nutrient inputs from anthropogenic sources.

  20. The Microbial Signature Provides Insight into the Mechanistic Basis of Coral Success across Reef Habitats

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alejandra Hernandez-Agreda

    2016-07-01

    Full Text Available For ecosystems vulnerable to environmental change, understanding the spatiotemporal stability of functionally crucial symbioses is fundamental to determining the mechanisms by which these ecosystems may persist. The coral Pachyseris speciosa is a successful environmental generalist that succeeds in diverse reef habitats. The generalist nature of this coral suggests it may have the capacity to form functionally significant microbial partnerships to facilitate access to a range of nutritional sources within different habitats. Here, we propose that coral is a metaorganism hosting three functionally distinct microbial interactions: a ubiquitous core microbiome of very few symbiotic host-selected bacteria, a microbiome of spatially and/or regionally explicit core microbes filling functional niches (100,000 phylotypes. We find that this coral hosts upwards of 170,000 distinct phylotypes and provide evidence for the persistence of a select group of bacteria in corals across environmental habitats of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. We further show that a higher number of bacteria are consistently associated with corals on mesophotic reefs than on shallow reefs. An increase in microbial diversity with depth suggests reliance by this coral on bacteria for nutrient acquisition on reefs exposed to nutrient upwelling. Understanding the complex microbial communities of host organisms across broad biotic and abiotic environments as functionally distinct microbiomes can provide insight into those interactions that are ubiquitous niche symbioses and those that provide competitive advantage within the hosts’ environment.

  1. Mass spawning of corals on a high latitude coral reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Babcock, R. C.; Wills, B. L.; Simpson, C. J.

    1994-07-01

    Evidence is presented that at least 60% of the 184 species of scleractinian corals found on reefs surrounding the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (Western Australia) participate in a late summer mass spawning. These populations are thus reproductively active, despite most species being at the extreme southern limit of their latitudinal range (28° 29°S). In the present study, coral mass spawning occurred in the same month on both temperate (Houtman-Abrolhos) and tropical (Ningaloo) reefs of Western Australia, despite more than two months difference in the timing of seasonal temperture minima between the two regions. This concurrence in the month of spawning suggests that temperature does not operate as a simple direct proximate cue for seasonal spawning synchrony in these populations. Seasonal variation in photoperiod may provide a similar and more reliable signal in the two regions, and thus might be more likely to synchronize the seasonal reproductive rhythms of these corals. Also there is overlap in the nights of mass spawning on the Houtman Abrolhos and tropical reefs of Western Australia, despite significant differences in tidal phase and amplitude between the two regions. This indicates that tidal cycle does not synchronize with the night(s) of spawning on these reefs. Spawning is more likely to be synchronised by lunar cycles. The co-occurrence of the mass spawning with spring tides in Houtman Abrolhos coral populations may be evidence of a genetic legacy inherited from northern, tropical ancestors. Micro-tidal regimes in the Houtman Abrolhos region may have exerted insufficient selective pressure to counteract this legacy.

  2. Publisher correction: Oil exposure disrupts early life-history stages of coral reef fishes via behavioural impairments.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johansen, Jacob L; Allan, Bridie J M; Rummer, Jodie L; Esbaugh, Andrew J

    2017-09-01

    In the version of this Article originally published, a statistic relating to the northern Great Barrier Reef was attributed to the Great Barrier Reef as a whole. The sentence should have read 'In 2016 alone, more than 35% of corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef are estimated to have died following the worst bleaching event ever recorded'. This has been corrected in all versions of the Article.

  3. Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hempson, Tessa N; Graham, Nicholas A J; MacNeil, M Aaron; Williamson, David H; Jones, Geoffrey P; Almany, Glenn R

    2017-04-01

    Diet specificity is likely to be the key predictor of a predator's vulnerability to changing habitat and prey conditions. Understanding the degree to which predatory coral reef fishes adjust or maintain prey choice, in response to declines in coral cover and changes in prey availability, is critical for predicting how they may respond to reef habitat degradation. Here, we use stable isotope analyses to characterize the trophic structure of predator-prey interactions on coral reefs of the Keppel Island Group on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. These reefs, previously typified by exceptionally high coral cover, have recently lost much of their coral cover due to coral bleaching and frequent inundation by sediment-laden, freshwater flood plumes associated with increased rainfall patterns. Long-term monitoring of these reefs demonstrates that, as coral cover declined, there has been a decrease in prey biomass, and a shift in dominant prey species from pelagic plankton-feeding damselfishes to territorial benthic algal-feeding damselfishes, resulting in differences in the principal carbon pathways in the food web. Using isotopes, we tested whether this changing prey availability could be detected in the diet of a mesopredator (coral grouper, Plectropomus maculatus ). The δ 13 C signature in grouper tissue in the Keppel Islands shifted from a more pelagic to a more benthic signal, demonstrating a change in carbon sources aligning with the change in prey availability due to habitat degradation. Grouper with a more benthic carbon signature were also feeding at a lower trophic level, indicating a shortening in food chains. Further, we found a decline in the coral grouper population accompanying a decrease in total available prey biomass. Thus, while the ability to adapt diets could ameliorate the short-term impacts of habitat degradation on mesopredators, long-term effects may negatively impact mesopredator populations and alter the trophic structure of coral

  4. Levels of immunity parameters underpin bleaching and disease susceptibility of reef corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Palmer, Caroline V; Bythell, John C; Willis, Bette L

    2010-06-01

    Immunity is a key life history trait that may explain hierarchies in the susceptibility of corals to disease and thermal bleaching, two of the greatest current threats to coral health and the persistence of tropical reefs. Despite their ongoing and rapid global decline, there have been few investigations into the immunity mechanisms of reef-building corals. Variables commonly associated with invertebrate immunity, including the presence of melanin, size of melanin-containing granular cells, and phenoloxidase (PO) activity, as well as concentrations of fluorescent proteins (FPs), were investigated in hard (Scleractinia) and soft (Alcyonacea) corals spanning 10 families from the Great Barrier Reef. Detectable levels of these indicators were present in all corals investigated, although relative investment differed among coral taxa. Overall levels of investment were inversely correlated to thermal bleaching and disease susceptibility. In addition, PO activity, melanin-containing granular cell size, and FP concentration were each found to be significant predictors of susceptibility and thus may play key roles in coral immunity. Correlative evidence that taxonomic (family-level) variation in the levels of these constituent immunity parameters underpins susceptibility to both thermal bleaching and disease indicates that baseline immunity underlies the vulnerability of corals to these two threats. This reinforces the necessity of a holistic approach to understanding bleaching and disease in order to accurately determine the resilience of coral reefs.

  5. Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Oliver, James K; Putnam, Hollie M; Gates, Ruth D

    2015-02-24

    The genetic enhancement of wild animals and plants for characteristics that benefit human populations has been practiced for thousands of years, resulting in impressive improvements in commercially valuable species. Despite these benefits, genetic manipulations are rarely considered for noncommercial purposes, such as conservation and restoration initiatives. Over the last century, humans have driven global climate change through industrialization and the release of increasing amounts of CO2, resulting in shifts in ocean temperature, ocean chemistry, and sea level, as well as increasing frequency of storms, all of which can profoundly impact marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems that have suffered massive declines in health and abundance as a result of these and other direct anthropogenic disturbances. There is great concern that the high rates, magnitudes, and complexity of environmental change are overwhelming the intrinsic capacity of corals to adapt and survive. Although it is important to address the root causes of changing climate, it is also prudent to explore the potential to augment the capacity of reef organisms to tolerate stress and to facilitate recovery after disturbances. Here, we review the risks and benefits of the improvement of natural and commercial stocks in noncoral reef systems and advocate a series of experiments to determine the feasibility of developing coral stocks with enhanced stress tolerance through the acceleration of naturally occurring processes, an approach known as (human)-assisted evolution, while at the same time initiating a public dialogue on the risks and benefits of this approach.

  6. Diffusive boundary layers and photosynthesis of the epilithic algal community of coral reefs

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Larkum, Anthony W.D.; Koch, Eva-Maria W.; Kühl, Michael

    2003-01-01

    : the Gulf of Aqaba, Eilat (Israel), and One Tree Reef on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). Microsensors were used to measure O2 and pH at the EAC surface and above. Oxygen profiles in the light and dark indicated a diffusive boundary layer (DBL) thickness of 180–590 µm under moderate flow (~0.08 m s-1......The effects of mass transfer resistance due to the presence of a diffusive boundary layer on the photosynthesis of the epilithic algal community (EAC) of a coral reef were studied. Photosynthesis and respiration of the EAC of dead coral surfaces were investigated for samples from two locations...

  7. Coral Luminescence Identifies the Pacific Decadal Oscillation as a Primary Driver of River Runoff Variability Impacting the Southern Great Barrier Reef

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Rodriguez-Ramirez, A.; Grove, C.A.; Zinke, J.; Pandolfi, J.M.; Zhao, J.-X.

    2014-01-01

    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a large-scale climatic phenomenon modulating ocean-atmosphere variability on decadal time scales. While precipitation and river flow variability in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments are sensitive to PDO phases, the extent to which the PDO influences

  8. The Ecological Role of Sharks on Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roff, George; Doropoulos, Christopher; Rogers, Alice; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Krueck, Nils C; Aurellado, Eleanor; Priest, Mark; Birrell, Chico; Mumby, Peter J

    2016-05-01

    Sharks are considered the apex predator of coral reefs, but the consequences of their global depletion are uncertain. Here we explore the ecological roles of sharks on coral reefs and, conversely, the importance of reefs for sharks. We find that most reef-associated shark species do not act as apex predators but instead function as mesopredators along with a diverse group of reef fish. While sharks perform important direct and indirect ecological roles, the evidence to support hypothesised shark-driven trophic cascades that benefit corals is weak and equivocal. Coral reefs provide some functional benefits to sharks, but sharks do not appear to favour healthier reef environments. Restoring populations of sharks is important and can yet deliver ecological surprise. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  9. The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores

    KAUST Repository

    Goatley, Christopher H. R.

    2012-06-29

    Herbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood. © 2012 Goatley et al.

  10. Nutrient supply from fishes facilitates macroalgae and suppresses corals in a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burkepile, Deron E; Allgeier, Jacob E; Shantz, Andrew A; Pritchard, Catharine E; Lemoine, Nathan P; Bhatti, Laura H; Layman, Craig A

    2013-01-01

    On coral reefs, fishes can facilitate coral growth via nutrient excretion; however, as coral abundance declines, these nutrients may help facilitate increases in macroalgae. By combining surveys of reef communities with bioenergetics modeling, we showed that fish excretion supplied 25 times more nitrogen to forereefs in the Florida Keys, USA, than all other biotic and abiotic sources combined. One apparent result was a positive relationship between fish excretion and macroalgal cover on these reefs. Herbivore biomass also showed a negative relationship with macroalgal cover, suggesting strong interactions of top-down and bottom-up forcing. Nutrient supply by fishes also showed a negative correlation with juvenile coral density, likely mediated by competition between macroalgae and corals, suggesting that fish excretion may hinder coral recovery following large-scale coral loss. Thus, the impact of nutrient supply by fishes may be context-dependent and reinforce either coral-dominant or coral-depauperate reef communities depending on initial community states.

  11. The impacts of tourism on coral reef conservation awareness and support in coastal communities in Belize

    Science.gov (United States)

    Diedrich, A.

    2007-12-01

    Marine recreational tourism is one of a number of threats to the Belize Barrier Reef but, conversely, represents both a motivation and source of resources for its conservation. The growth of tourism in Belize has resulted in the fact that many coastal communities are in varying stages of a socio-economic shift from dependence on fishing to dependence on tourism. In a nation becoming increasingly dependent on the health of its coral reef ecosystems for economic prosperity, a shift from extractive uses to their preservation is both necessary and logical. Through examining local perception data in five coastal communities in Belize, each attracting different levels of coral reef related tourism, this analysis is intended to explore the relationship between tourism development and local coral reef conservation awareness and support. The results of the analysis show a positive correlation between tourism development and coral reef conservation awareness and support in the study communities. The results also show a positive correlation between tourism development and local perceptions of quality of life, a trend that is most likely the source of the observed relationship between tourism and conservation. The study concludes that, because the observed relationship may be dependent on continued benefits from tourism as opposed to a perceived crisis in coral reef health, Belize must pay close attention to tourism impacts in the future. Failure to do this could result in a destructive feedback loop that would contribute to the degradation of the reef and, ultimately, Belize’s diminished competitiveness in the ecotourism market.

  12. Will Coral Islands maintain their growth over the next century? A deterministic model of sediment availability at Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hamylton, Sarah

    2014-01-01

    A geomorphic assessment of reef system calcification is conducted for past (3200 Ka to present), present and future (2010-2100) time periods. Reef platform sediment production is estimated at 569 m3 yr-1 using rate laws that express gross community carbonate production as a function of seawater aragonite saturation, community composition and rugosity and incorporating estimates of carbonate removal from the reef system. Key carbonate producers including hard coral, crustose coralline algae and Halimeda are mapped accurately (mean R2 = 0.81). Community net production estimates correspond closely to independent census-based estimates made in-situ (R2 = 0.86). Reef-scale outputs are compared with historic rates of production generated from (i) radiocarbon evidence of island deposition initiation around 3200 years ago, and (ii) island volume calculated from a high resolution island digital elevation model. Contemporary carbonate production rates appear to be remarkably similar to historical values of 573 m3 yr-1. Anticipated future seawater chemistry parameters associated with an RCP8.5 emissions scenario are employed to model rates of net community calcification for the period 2000-2100 on the basis of an inorganic aragonite precipitation law, under the assumption of constant benthic community character. Simulations indicate that carbonate production will decrease linearly to a level of 118 m3 yr-1 by 2100 and that by 2150 aragonite saturation levels may no longer support the positive budgetary status necessary to sustain island accretion. Novel aspects of this assessment include the development of rate law parameters to realistically represent the variable composition of coral reef benthic carbonate producers, incorporation of three dimensional rugosity of the entire reef platform and the coupling of model outputs with both historical radiocarbon dating evidence and forward hydrochemical projections to conduct an assessment of island evolution through time

  13. Coral growth on three reefs: development of recovery benchmarks using a space for time approach

    Science.gov (United States)

    Done, T. J.; Devantier, L. M.; Turak, E.; Fisk, D. A.; Wakeford, M.; van Woesik, R.

    2010-12-01

    This 14-year study (1989-2003) develops recovery benchmarks based on a period of very strong coral recovery in Acropora-dominated assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) following major setbacks from the predatory sea-star Acanthaster planci in the early 1980s. A space for time approach was used in developing the benchmarks, made possible by the choice of three study reefs (Green Island, Feather Reef and Rib Reef), spread along 3 degrees of latitude (300 km) of the GBR. The sea-star outbreaks progressed north to south, causing death of corals that reached maximum levels in the years 1980 (Green), 1982 (Feather) and 1984 (Rib). The reefs were initially surveyed in 1989, 1990, 1993 and 1994, which represent recovery years 5-14 in the space for time protocol. Benchmark trajectories for coral abundance, colony sizes, coral cover and diversity were plotted against nominal recovery time (years 5-14) and defined as non-linear functions. A single survey of the same three reefs was conducted in 2003, when the reefs were nominally 1, 3 and 5 years into a second recovery period, following further Acanthaster impacts and coincident coral bleaching events around the turn of the century. The 2003 coral cover was marginally above the benchmark trajectory, but colony density (colonies.m-2) was an order of magnitude lower than the benchmark, and size structure was biased toward larger colonies that survived the turn of the century disturbances. The under-representation of small size classes in 2003 suggests that mass recruitment of corals had been suppressed, reflecting low regional coral abundance and depression of coral fecundity by recent bleaching events. The marginally higher cover and large colonies of 2003 were thus indicative of a depleted and aging assemblage not yet rejuvenated by a strong cohort of recruits.

  14. Coral Reef and Hardbottom from Unified Florida Reef Tract Map (NODC Accession 0123059)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This dataset is a subset of the Unified Map representing Coral reef and Hardbottom areas. Version 1.1 - December 2013. The Unified Florida Reef Tract Map (Unified...

  15. Calibration of Community-based Coral Reef Monitoring Protocols ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Coral reef monitoring (CRM) has been recognised as an important management tool and has consequently been incorporated in Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) programmes in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). Community-based coral reef monitoring (CB-CRM), which uses simplified procedures suitable for ...

  16. Coral biodiversity and bioconstruction in the northern sector of the Mesoamerican Reef system

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fabian Alejandro Rodriguez-Zaragoza

    2015-03-01

    Full Text Available As the impact of anthropogenic activity and climate change continue to accelerate rates of degradation on Caribbean coral reefs, conservation and restoration faces greater challenges. At at this stage, of particular importance in coral reefs, is to recognize and to understand the structural spatial patterns of benthic assemblages. We developed a field-based framework of a Caribbean reefscape benthic structure by using hermatypic corals as an indicator group of global biodiversity and bio-construction patterns in eleven reefs of the northern sector of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (nsMBRS. Four hundred and seventy four video-transects (50 m long by 0.4 m wide were performed throughout a gradient of reef complexity from north to south (∼400 km to identify coral species, families and ensembles of corals. Composition and abundance of species, families and ensembles showed differences among reefs. In the northern zone, the reefs had shallow, partial reef developments with low diversities, dominated by Acropora palmata, Siderastrea spp., Pseudodiploria strigosa and Agaricia tenuifolia. In the central and southern zones, reefs presented extensive developments, high habitat heterogeneity, and the greatest diversity and dominance of Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata. These two species determined the structure and diversity of corals in the central and southern zones of the nsMBRS and their bio-construction in these zones is unique in the Caribbean. Their abundance and distribution depended on the reef habitat area, topographic complexity and species richness. Orbicella species complex were crucial for maintaining the biodiversity and bio-construction of the central and southern zones while A. palmata in the northern zones of the nsMBRS.

  17. Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (South Florida). Reef-Building Corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    1987-08-01

    Stoddart, D.R. 1969. Ecology and Sammarco, P.W. 1985. The Great morphology of recent coral reefs . Barrier Reef vs. the Caribbean: Biol. Rev. Camb. Philos...Sambo Reef , Florida, involving cervicornis and M. annularis tolerated bleaching and loss of symbiotic oxygen tensions as low as 1.0 ppm for zooxanthellae...Montastraea (1.0-2.0 cm/yr), but both species of Montastraea are also important in reef development due to their massive form and great longevity

  18. Temporary refugia for coral reefs in a warming world

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Hooidonk, R.; Maynard, J. A.; Planes, S.

    2013-05-01

    Climate-change impacts on coral reefs are expected to include temperature-induced spatially extensive bleaching events. Bleaching causes mortality when temperature stress persists but exposure to bleaching conditions is not expected to be spatially uniform at the regional or global scale. Here we show the first maps of global projections of bleaching conditions based on ensembles of IPCC AR5 (ref. ) models forced with the new Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). For the three RCPs with larger CO2 emissions (RCP 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5) the onset of annual bleaching conditions is associated with ~ 510ppm CO2 equivalent; the median year of all locations is 2040 for the fossil-fuel aggressive RCP 8.5. Spatial patterns in the onset of annual bleaching conditions are similar for each of the RCPs. For RCP 8.5, 26% of reef cells are projected to experience annual bleaching conditions more than 5 years later than the median. Some of these temporary refugia include the western Indian Ocean, Thailand, the southern Great Barrier Reef and central French Polynesia. A reduction in the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions corresponding to the difference between RCP 8.5 and 6.0 delays annual bleaching in ~ 23% of reef cells more than two decades, which might conceivably increase the potential for these reefs to cope with these changes.

  19. Arrecifes de Coral: Una Coleccion de Actividades en Espanol para Estudiantes de Escuela Intermedia (Coral Reefs: A Spanish Compilation of Activities for Middle School Students).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walker, Sharon H.; Newton, R. Amanda; Ortiz, Alida

    This activity book for middle school students on coral reefs is divided into 10 sections. Section 1 is the introduction. Section 2 describes what coral reefs are while section 3 describes how coral reefs reproduce and grow. Section 4 describes where coral reefs are found, and section 5 describes life on a coral reef. Section 6 describes the…

  20. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-11-06

    ... the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries... special coral reef ecosystem fishing permit. SUMMARY: NMFS issued a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that authorizes Kampachi Farms, LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem management unit...

  1. 76 FR 38618 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Survey

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-07-01

    ... United States (U.S.) jurisdictions containing coral reefs. Specifically, NOAA is seeking information on... collection of social and economic data related to the communities affected by coral reef conservation programs. The Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), developed under the authority of the Coral Reef...

  2. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    OpenAIRE

    Rael Horwitz; Mia O. Hoogenboom; Maoz Fine

    2017-01-01

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (...

  3. Trophodynamics as a Tool for Understanding Coral Reef Ecosystems

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Stacy L. Bierwagen

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available The increased frequency of publications concerning trophic ecology of coral reefs suggests a degree of interest in the role species and functional groups play in energy flow within these systems. Coral reef ecosystems are particularly complex, however, and assignment of trophic positions requires precise knowledge of mechanisms driving food webs and population dynamics. Competent analytical tools and empirical analysis are integral to defining ecosystem processes and avoiding misinterpretation of results. Here we examine the contribution of trophodynamics to informing ecological roles and understanding of coral reef ecology. Applied trophic studies of coral reefs were used to identify recent trends in methodology and analysis. Although research is increasing, clear definitions and scaling of studies is lacking. Trophodynamic studies will require more precise spatial and temporal data collection and analysis using multiple methods to fully explore the complex interactions within coral reef ecosystems.

  4. Benthic buffers and boosters of ocean acidification on coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    K. R. N. Anthony

    2013-07-01

    Full Text Available Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems globally. In shallow-water systems, however, ocean acidification can be masked by benthic carbon fluxes, depending on community composition, seawater residence time, and the magnitude and balance of net community production (NCP and calcification (NCC. Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia contribute to changes in the seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa. Results of flume studies using intact reef habitats (1.2 m by 0.4 m, showed a hierarchy of responses across groups, depending on CO2 level, time of day and water flow. At low CO2 (350–450 μatm, macroalgae (Chnoospora implexa, turfs and sand elevated Ωa of the flume water by around 0.10 to 1.20 h−1 – normalised to contributions from 1 m2 of benthos to a 1 m deep water column. The rate of Ωa increase in these groups was doubled under acidification (560–700 μatm and high flow (35 compared to 8 cm s−1. In contrast, branching corals (Acropora aspera increased Ωa by 0.25 h−1 at ambient CO2 (350–450 μatm during the day, but reduced Ωa under acidification and high flow. Nighttime changes in Ωa by corals were highly negative (0.6–0.8 h−1 and exacerbated by acidification. Calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda spp. raised Ωa by day (by around 0.13 h−1, but lowered Ωa by a similar or higher amount at night. Analyses of carbon flux contributions from benthic communities with four different compositions to the reef water carbon chemistry across Heron Reef flat and lagoon indicated that the net lowering of Ωa by coral-dominated areas can to some extent be countered by long water-residence times in neighbouring areas dominated by turfs, macroalgae and carbonate sand.

  5. 76 FR 66273 - Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-10-26

    ...-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the South Atlantic... Aquariums to collect, with certain conditions, various species of reef fish and live rock in Federal waters... the South Atlantic Region and the FMP for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the...

  6. The role of coral reef rugosity in dissipating wave energy and coastal protection

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harris, Daniel; Rovere, Alessio; Parravicini, Valeriano; Casella, Elisa

    2016-04-01

    Coral reefs are the most effective natural barrier in dissipating wave energy through breaking and bed friction. The attenuation of wave energy by coral reef flats is essential in the protection and stability of coral reef aligned coasts and reef islands. However, the effectiveness of wave energy dissipation by coral reefs may be diminished under future climate change scenarios with a potential reduction of coral reef rugosity due to increased stress environmental stress on corals. The physical roughness or rugosity of coral reefs is directly related to ecological diversity, reef health, and hydrodynamic roughness. However, the relationship between physical roughness and hydrodynamic roughness is not well understood despite the crucial role of bed friction in dissipating wave energy in coral reef aligned coasts. We examine the relationship between wave energy dissipation across a fringing reef in relation to the cross-reef ecological zonation and the benthic hydrodynamic roughness. Waves were measured by pressure transducers in a cross-reef transect on the reefs flats and post processed on a wave by wave basis to determine wave statistics such as significant wave height and wave period. Results from direct wave measurement were then used to calibrate a 1D wave dissipation model that incorporates dissipation functions due to bed friction and wave breaking. This model was used to assess the bed roughness required to produce the observed wave height dissipation during propagation from deep water and across the coral reef flats. Changes in wave dissipation was also examined under future scenarios of sea level rise and reduced bed roughness. Three dimensional models of the benthic reef structure were produced through structure-from-motion photogrammetry surveys. Reef rugosity was then determined from these surveys and related to the roughness results from the calibrated model. The results indicate that applying varying roughness coefficients as the benthic ecological

  7. Habitat dynamics, marine reserve status, and the decline and recovery of coral reef fish communities

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Evans, Richard D; Jones, Geoffrey P; Russ, Garry R

    2014-01-01

    Severe climatic disturbance events often have major impacts on coral reef communities, generating cycles of decline and recovery, and in some extreme cases, community-level phase shifts from coral-to algal-dominated states. Benthic habitat changes directly affect reef fish communities, with low coral cover usually associated with low fish diversity and abundance. No-take marine reserves (NTRs) are widely advocated for conserving biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of exploited fish populations. Numerous studies have documented positive ecological and socio-economic benefits of NTRs; however, the ability of NTRs to ameliorate the effects of acute disturbances on coral reefs has seldom been investigated. Here, we test these factors by tracking the dynamics of benthic and fish communities, including the important fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp.), over 8 years in both NTRs and fished areas in the Keppel Island group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Two major disturbances impacted the reefs during the monitoring period, a coral bleaching event in 2006 and a freshwater flood plume in 2011. Both disturbances generated significant declines in coral cover and habitat complexity, with subsequent declines in fish abundance and diversity, and pronounced shifts in fish assemblage structure. Coral trout density also declined in response to the loss of live coral, however, the approximately 2:1 density ratio between NTRs and fished zones was maintained over time. The only post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks were within the NTRs that escaped the worst effects of the disturbances. Although NTRs had little discernible effect on the temporal dynamics of benthic or fish communities, it was evident that the post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks within some NTRs may be critically important to regional-scale population persistence and recovery. PMID:24634720

  8. Habitat dynamics, marine reserve status, and the decline and recovery of coral reef fish communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Evans, Richard D; Jones, Geoffrey P; Russ, Garry R

    2014-02-01

    Severe climatic disturbance events often have major impacts on coral reef communities, generating cycles of decline and recovery, and in some extreme cases, community-level phase shifts from coral-to algal-dominated states. Benthic habitat changes directly affect reef fish communities, with low coral cover usually associated with low fish diversity and abundance. No-take marine reserves (NTRs) are widely advocated for conserving biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of exploited fish populations. Numerous studies have documented positive ecological and socio-economic benefits of NTRs; however, the ability of NTRs to ameliorate the effects of acute disturbances on coral reefs has seldom been investigated. Here, we test these factors by tracking the dynamics of benthic and fish communities, including the important fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp.), over 8 years in both NTRs and fished areas in the Keppel Island group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Two major disturbances impacted the reefs during the monitoring period, a coral bleaching event in 2006 and a freshwater flood plume in 2011. Both disturbances generated significant declines in coral cover and habitat complexity, with subsequent declines in fish abundance and diversity, and pronounced shifts in fish assemblage structure. Coral trout density also declined in response to the loss of live coral, however, the approximately 2:1 density ratio between NTRs and fished zones was maintained over time. The only post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks were within the NTRs that escaped the worst effects of the disturbances. Although NTRs had little discernible effect on the temporal dynamics of benthic or fish communities, it was evident that the post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks within some NTRs may be critically important to regional-scale population persistence and recovery.

  9. Predicting Heat Stress to Inform Reef Management: NOAA Coral Reef Watch's 4-Month Coral Bleaching Outlook

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Gang Liu

    2018-03-01

    Full Text Available The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW operates a global 4-Month Coral Bleaching Outlook system for shallow-water coral reefs in collaboration with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP. The Outlooks are generated by applying the algorithm used in CRW's operational satellite coral bleaching heat stress monitoring, with slight modifications, to the sea surface temperature (SST predictions from NCEP's operational Climate Forecast System Version 2 (CFSv2. Once a week, the probability of heat stress capable of causing mass coral bleaching is predicted for 4-months in advance. Each day, CFSv2 generates an ensemble of 16 forecasts, with nine runs out to 45-days, three runs out to 3-months, and four runs out to 9-months. This results in 28–112 ensemble members produced each week. A composite for each predicted week is derived from daily predictions within each ensemble member. The probability of each of four heat stress ranges (Watch and higher, Warning and higher, Alert Level 1 and higher, and Alert Level 2 is determined from all the available ensemble members for the week to form the weekly probabilistic Outlook. The probabilistic 4-Month Outlook is the highest weekly probability predicted among all the weekly Outlooks during a 4-month period for each of the stress ranges. An initial qualitative skill analysis of the Outlooks for 2011–2015, compared with CRW's satellite-based coral bleaching heat stress products, indicated the Outlook has performed well with high hit rates and low miss rates for most coral reef areas. Regions identified with high false alarm rates will guide future improvements. This Outlook system, as the first and only freely available global coral bleaching prediction system, has been providing critical early warning to marine resource managers, scientists, and decision makers around the world to guide management, protection, and monitoring of coral reefs

  10. Impact of an experimental eutrophication on the processes of bioerosion on the reef: One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chazottes, Veronique; Hutchings, Pat; Osorno, Alicia

    2017-05-15

    The components of bioerosion were investigated during ENCORE (The Effect of Nutrient Enrichment on Coral Reefs) over 2years of controlled additions of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus. The study was carried out at One Tree Island, southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Rates of microbioerosion and external erosion by grazing were significantly higher at the enriched sites than at the control sites. Rates of accretion by coralline algae were also significantly higher at enriched sites. In contrast, rates of macroboring were not significantly different between enriched and control sites. This study highlights the importance of improving water quality on the reef to reduce rates of bioerosion given that quantities of dead coral substrates have recently substantially increased as a result of coral bleaching (Hughes et al., 2015) and several Crown of Thorns plagues (Fabricius et al., 2010; De'ath et al., 2012), on the Great Barrier Reef. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  11. Herbivore space use influences coral reef recovery.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Eynaud, Yoan; McNamara, Dylan E; Sandin, Stuart A

    2016-06-01

    Herbivores play an important role in marine communities. On coral reefs, the diversity and unique feeding behaviours found within this functional group can have a comparably diverse set of impacts in structuring the benthic community. Here, using a spatially explicit model of herbivore foraging, we explore how the spatial pattern of grazing behaviours impacts the recovery of a reef ecosystem, considering movements at two temporal scales-short term (e.g. daily foraging patterns) and longer term (e.g. monthly movements across the landscape). Model simulations suggest that more spatially constrained herbivores are more effective at conferring recovery capability by providing a favourable environment to coral recruitment and growth. Results also show that the composition of food available to the herbivore community is linked directly to the pattern of space use by herbivores. To date, most studies of variability among the impacts of herbivore species have considered the diversity of feeding modes and mouthparts. Our work provides a complementary view of spatial patterns of foraging, revealing that variation in movement behaviours alone can affect patterns of benthic change, and thus broadens our view of realized links between herbivore diversity and reef recovery.

  12. Simulated NASA Satellite Data Products for the NOAA Integrated Coral Reef Observation Network/Coral Reef Early Warning System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Estep, Leland; Spruce, Joseph P.

    2007-01-01

    This RPC (Rapid Prototyping Capability) experiment will demonstrate the use of VIIRS (Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite) and LDCM (Landsat Data Continuity Mission) sensor data as significant input to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) ICON/ CREWS (Integrated Coral Reef Observation System/Coral Reef Early Warning System). The project affects the Coastal Management Program Element of the Applied Sciences Program.

  13. Natural bounds on herbivorous coral reef fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoey, Andrew S.; Williams, Gareth J.; Williams, Ivor D.

    2016-01-01

    Humans are an increasingly dominant driver of Earth's biological communities, but differentiating human impacts from natural drivers of ecosystem state is crucial. Herbivorous fish play a key role in maintaining coral dominance on coral reefs, and are widely affected by human activities, principally fishing. We assess the relative importance of human and biophysical (habitat and oceanographic) drivers on the biomass of five herbivorous functional groups among 33 islands in the central and western Pacific Ocean. Human impacts were clear for some, but not all, herbivore groups. Biomass of browsers, large excavators, and of all herbivores combined declined rapidly with increasing human population density, whereas grazers, scrapers, and detritivores displayed no relationship. Sea-surface temperature had significant but opposing effects on the biomass of detritivores (positive) and browsers (negative). Similarly, the biomass of scrapers, grazers, and detritivores correlated with habitat structural complexity; however, relationships were group specific. Finally, the biomass of browsers and large excavators was related to island geomorphology, both peaking on low-lying islands and atolls. The substantial variability in herbivore populations explained by natural biophysical drivers highlights the need for locally appropriate management targets on coral reefs. PMID:27881745

  14. Functionally diverse reef-fish communities ameliorate coral disease

    OpenAIRE

    Raymundo, Laurie J.; Halford, Andrew R.; Maypa, Aileen P.; Kerr, Alexander M.

    2009-01-01

    Coral reefs, the most diverse of marine ecosystems, currently experience unprecedented levels of degradation. Diseases are now recognized as a major cause of mortality in reef-forming corals and are complicit in phase shifts of reef ecosystems to algal-dominated states worldwide. Even so, factors contributing to disease occurrence, spread, and impact remain poorly understood. Ecosystem resilience has been linked to the conservation of functional diversity, whereas overfishing reduces function...

  15. Drivers and predictions of coral reef carbonate budget trajectories.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A; Graham, Nicholas A J; Wilson, Shaun K; Jennings, Simon; Perry, Chris T

    2017-01-25

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the long-term maintenance of coral-dominated tropical ecosystems, and has received considerable attention over the past two decades. Coral bleaching and associated mortality events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense, can alter the balance of different elements that are responsible for coral reef growth and maintenance. The geomorphic impacts of coral mass mortality have received relatively little attention, particularly questions concerning temporal recovery of reef carbonate production and the factors that promote resilience of reef growth potential. Here, we track the biological carbonate budgets of inner Seychelles reefs from 1994 to 2014, spanning the 1998 global bleaching event when these reefs lost more than 90% of coral cover. All 21 reefs had positive budgets in 1994, but in 2005 budgets were predominantly negative. By 2014, carbonate budgets on seven reefs were comparable with 1994, but on all reefs where an ecological regime shift to macroalgal dominance occurred, budgets remained negative through 2014. Reefs with higher massive coral cover, lower macroalgae cover and lower excavating parrotfish biomass in 1994 were more likely to have positive budgets post-bleaching. If mortality of corals from the 2016 bleaching event is as severe as that of 1998, our predictions based on past trends would suggest that six of eight reefs with positive budgets in 2014 would still have positive budgets by 2030. Our results highlight that reef accretion and framework maintenance cannot be assumed from the ecological state alone, and that managers should focus on conserving aspects of coral reefs that support resilient carbonate budgets. © 2017 The Authors.

  16. Widespread hybridization and bidirectional introgression in sympatric species of coral reef fish.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harrison, Hugo B; Berumen, Michael L; Saenz-Agudelo, Pablo; Salas, Eva; Williamson, David H; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2017-10-01

    Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems, where numerous closely related species often coexist. How new species arise and are maintained in these high geneflow environments have been long-standing conundrums. Hybridization and patterns of introgression between sympatric species provide a unique insight into the mechanisms of speciation and the maintenance of species boundaries. In this study, we investigate the extent of hybridization between two closely related species of coral reef fish: the common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus) and the bar-cheek coral trout (Plectropomus maculatus). Using a complementary set of 25 microsatellite loci, we distinguish pure genotype classes from first- and later-generation hybrids, identifying 124 interspecific hybrids from a collection of 2,991 coral trout sampled in inshore and mid-shelf reefs of the southern Great Barrier Reef. Hybrids were ubiquitous among reefs, fertile and spanned multiple generations suggesting both ecological and evolutionary processes are acting to maintain species barriers. We elaborate on these finding to investigate the extent of genomic introgression and admixture from 2,271 SNP loci recovered from a ddRAD library of pure and hybrid individuals. An analysis of genomic clines on recovered loci indicates that 261 SNP loci deviate from a model of neutral introgression, of which 132 indicate a pattern of introgression consistent with selection favouring both hybrid and parental genotypes. Our findings indicate genome-wide, bidirectional introgression between two sympatric species of coral reef fishes and provide further support to a growing body of evidence for the role of hybridization in the evolution of coral reef fishes. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  17. Widespread hybridization and bidirectional introgression in sympatric species of coral reef fish

    KAUST Repository

    Harrison, Hugo B.

    2017-10-28

    Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems, where numerous closely related species often coexist. How new species arise and are maintained in these high geneflow environments have been long-standing conundrums. Hybridization and patterns of introgression between sympatric species provide a unique insight into the mechanisms of speciation and the maintenance of species boundaries. In this study, we investigate the extent of hybridization between two closely related species of coral reef fish: the common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus) and the bar-cheek coral trout (Plectropomus maculatus). Using a complementary set of 25 microsatellite loci, we distinguish pure genotype classes from first- and later-generation hybrids, identifying 124 interspecific hybrids from a collection of 2,991 coral trout sampled in inshore and mid-shelf reefs of the southern Great Barrier Reef. Hybrids were ubiquitous among reefs, fertile and spanned multiple generations suggesting both ecological and evolutionary processes are acting to maintain species barriers. We elaborate on these finding to investigate the extent of genomic introgression and admixture from 2,271 SNP loci recovered from a ddRAD library of pure and hybrid individuals. An analysis of genomic clines on recovered loci indicates that 261 SNP loci deviate from a model of neutral introgression, of which 132 indicate a pattern of introgression consistent with selection favouring both hybrid and parental genotypes. Our findings indicate genome-wide, bidirectional introgression between two sympatric species of coral reef fishes and provide further support to a growing body of evidence for the role of hybridization in the evolution of coral reef fishes.

  18. 76 FR 68711 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-11-07

    .... 101217620-1654-02] RIN 0648-BA62 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef... fisheries are managed under the FMP for Reef Fish and the FMP for Coral and Reef Associated Plants and... Amendment 6 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S...

  19. Biomass and Abundance of Herbivorous Fishes on Coral Reefs off ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    growth and recruitment (Hughes 1989; Tanner. 1995; Knowlton 2001). Macroalgae also affect coral health .... The regression model considers Reef. Type 1(fringing reef) as baseline, with the coefficient of Reef Type ... types 3 and 1. The samples size for the regression models was. 60. MinitabTM v.15 was used to perform all.

  20. The influence of sea level and cyclones on Holocene reef flat development: Middle Island, central Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ryan, E. J.; Smithers, S. G.; Lewis, S. E.; Clark, T. R.; Zhao, J. X.

    2016-09-01

    The geomorphology and chronostratigraphy of the reef flat (including microatoll ages and elevations) were investigated to better understand the long-term development of the reef at Middle Island, inshore central Great Barrier Reef. Eleven cores across the fringing reef captured reef initiation, framework accretion and matrix sediments, allowing a comprehensive appreciation of reef development. Precise uranium-thorium ages obtained from coral skeletons revealed that the reef initiated ~7873 ± 17 years before present (yBP), and most of the reef was emplaced in the following 1000 yr. Average rates of vertical reef accretion ranged between 3.5 and 7.6 mm yr-1. Reef framework was dominated by branching corals ( Acropora and Montipora). An age hiatus of ~5000 yr between 6439 ± 19 and 1617 ± 10 yBP was observed in the core data and attributed to stripping of the reef structure by intense cyclones during the mid- to late-Holocene. Large shingle ridges deposited onshore and basset edges preserved on the reef flat document the influence of cyclones at Middle Island and represent potential sinks for much of the stripped material. Stripping of the upper reef structure around the outer margin of the reef flat by cyclones created accommodation space for a thin (reef growth after 1617 ± 10 yBP that grew over the eroded mid-Holocene reef structure. Although limited fetch and open-water exposure might suggest the reef flat at Middle Island is quite protected, our results show that high-energy waves presumably generated by cyclones have significantly influenced both Holocene reef growth and contemporary reef flat geomorphology.

  1. Coral recovery may not herald the return of fishes on damaged coral reefs

    KAUST Repository

    Bellwood, David R.

    2012-03-25

    The dynamic nature of coral reefs offers a rare opportunity to examine the response of ecosystems to disruption due to climate change. In 1998, the Great Barrier Reef experienced widespread coral bleaching and mortality. As a result, cryptobenthic fish assemblages underwent a dramatic phase-shift. Thirteen years, and up to 96 fish generations later, the cryptobenthic fish assemblage has not returned to its pre-bleach configuration. This is despite coral abundances returning to, or exceeding, pre-bleach values. The post-bleach fish assemblage exhibits no evidence of recovery. If these short-lived fish species are a model for their longer-lived counterparts, they suggest that (1) the full effects of the 1998 bleaching event on long-lived fish populations have yet to be seen, (2) it may take decades, or more, before recovery or regeneration of these long-lived species will begin, and (3) fish assemblages may not recover to their previous composition despite the return of corals. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

  2. Coral recovery may not herald the return of fishes on damaged coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bellwood, David R; Baird, Andrew H; Depczynski, Martial; González-Cabello, Alonso; Hoey, Andrew S; Lefèvre, Carine D; Tanner, Jennifer K

    2012-10-01

    The dynamic nature of coral reefs offers a rare opportunity to examine the response of ecosystems to disruption due to climate change. In 1998, the Great Barrier Reef experienced widespread coral bleaching and mortality. As a result, cryptobenthic fish assemblages underwent a dramatic phase-shift. Thirteen years, and up to 96 fish generations later, the cryptobenthic fish assemblage has not returned to its pre-bleach configuration. This is despite coral abundances returning to, or exceeding, pre-bleach values. The post-bleach fish assemblage exhibits no evidence of recovery. If these short-lived fish species are a model for their longer-lived counterparts, they suggest that (1) the full effects of the 1998 bleaching event on long-lived fish populations have yet to be seen, (2) it may take decades, or more, before recovery or regeneration of these long-lived species will begin, and (3) fish assemblages may not recover to their previous composition despite the return of corals.

  3. Coral mucus fuels the sponge loop in warm- and cold-water coral reef ecosystems.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rix, Laura; de Goeij, Jasper M; Mueller, Christina E; Struck, Ulrich; Middelburg, Jack J; van Duyl, Fleur C; Al-Horani, Fuad A; Wild, Christian; Naumann, Malik S; van Oevelen, Dick

    2016-01-07

    Shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water corals engineer the coral reef framework and fertilize reef communities by releasing coral mucus, a source of reef dissolved organic matter (DOM). By transforming DOM into particulate detritus, sponges play a key role in transferring the energy and nutrients in DOM to higher trophic levels on Caribbean reefs via the so-called sponge loop. Coral mucus may be a major DOM source for the sponge loop, but mucus uptake by sponges has not been demonstrated. Here we used laboratory stable isotope tracer experiments to show the transfer of coral mucus into the bulk tissue and phospholipid fatty acids of the warm-water sponge Mycale fistulifera and cold-water sponge Hymedesmia coriacea, demonstrating a direct trophic link between corals and reef sponges. Furthermore, 21-40% of the mucus carbon and 32-39% of the nitrogen assimilated by the sponges was subsequently released as detritus, confirming a sponge loop on Red Sea warm-water and north Atlantic cold-water coral reefs. The presence of a sponge loop in two vastly different reef environments suggests it is a ubiquitous feature of reef ecosystems contributing to the high biogeochemical cycling that may enable coral reefs to thrive in nutrient-limited (warm-water) and energy-limited (cold-water) environments.

  4. Relative importance of coral cover, habitat complexity and diversity in determining the structure of reef fish communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Komyakova, Valeriya; Munday, Philip L; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2013-01-01

    The structure of coral reef habitat has a pronounced influence on the diversity, composition and abundance of reef-associated fishes. However, the particular features of the habitat that are most critical are not always known. Coral habitats can vary in many characteristics, notably live coral cover, topographic complexity and coral diversity, but the relative effects of these habitat characteristics are often not distinguished. Here, we investigate the strength of the relationships between these habitat features and local fish diversity, abundance and community structure in the lagoon of Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. In a spatial comparison using sixty-six 2m(2) quadrats, fish species richness, total abundance and community structure were examined in relation to a wide range of habitat variables, including topographic complexity, habitat diversity, coral diversity, coral species richness, hard coral cover, branching coral cover and the cover of corymbose corals. Fish species richness and total abundance were strongly associated with coral species richness and cover, but only weakly associated with topographic complexity. Regression tree analysis showed that coral species richness accounted for most of the variation in fish species richness (63.6%), while hard coral cover explained more variation in total fish abundance (17.4%), than any other variable. In contrast, topographic complexity accounted for little spatial variation in reef fish assemblages. In degrading coral reef environments, the potential effects of loss of coral cover and topographic complexity are often emphasized, but these findings suggest that reduced coral biodiversity may ultimately have an equal, or greater, impact on reef-associated fish communities.

  5. Relative Importance of Coral Cover, Habitat Complexity and Diversity in Determining the Structure of Reef Fish Communities

    Science.gov (United States)

    Komyakova, Valeriya; Munday, Philip L.; Jones, Geoffrey P.

    2013-01-01

    The structure of coral reef habitat has a pronounced influence on the diversity, composition and abundance of reef-associated fishes. However, the particular features of the habitat that are most critical are not always known. Coral habitats can vary in many characteristics, notably live coral cover, topographic complexity and coral diversity, but the relative effects of these habitat characteristics are often not distinguished. Here, we investigate the strength of the relationships between these habitat features and local fish diversity, abundance and community structure in the lagoon of Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. In a spatial comparison using sixty-six 2m2 quadrats, fish species richness, total abundance and community structure were examined in relation to a wide range of habitat variables, including topographic complexity, habitat diversity, coral diversity, coral species richness, hard coral cover, branching coral cover and the cover of corymbose corals. Fish species richness and total abundance were strongly associated with coral species richness and cover, but only weakly associated with topographic complexity. Regression tree analysis showed that coral species richness accounted for most of the variation in fish species richness (63.6%), while hard coral cover explained more variation in total fish abundance (17.4%), than any other variable. In contrast, topographic complexity accounted for little spatial variation in reef fish assemblages. In degrading coral reef environments, the potential effects of loss of coral cover and topographic complexity are often emphasized, but these findings suggest that reduced coral biodiversity may ultimately have an equal, or greater, impact on reef-associated fish communities. PMID:24349455

  6. Environmental quality and preservation; reefs, corals, and carbonate sands; guides to reef-ecosystem health and environment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lidz, Barbara H.

    2001-01-01

    Introduction In recent years, the health of the entire coral reef ecosystem that lines the outer shelf off the Florida Keys has declined markedly. In particular, loss of those coral species that are the building blocks of solid reef framework has significant negative implications for economic vitality of the region. What are the reasons for this decline? Is it due to natural change, or are human activities (recreational diving, ship groundings, farmland runoff, nutrient influx, air-borne contaminants, groundwater pollutants) a contributing factor and if so, to what extent? At risk of loss are biologic resources of the reefs, including habitats for endangered species in shoreline mangroves, productive marine and wetland nurseries, and economic fisheries. A healthy reef ecosystem builds a protective offshore barrier to catastrophic wave action and storm surges generated by tropical storms and hurricanes. In turn, a healthy reef protects the homes, marinas, and infrastructure on the Florida Keys that have been designed to capture a lucrative tourism industry. A healthy reef ecosystem also protects inland agricultural and livestock areas of South Florida whose produce and meat feed much of the United States and other parts of the world. In cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Program, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) continues longterm investigations of factors that may affect Florida's reefs. One of the first steps in distinguishing between natural change and the effects of human activities, however, is to determine how coral reefs have responded to past environmental change, before the advent of man. By so doing, accurate scientific information becomes available for Marine Sanctuary management to understand natural change and thus to assess and regulate potential human impact better. The USGS studies described here evaluate the distribution (location) and historic vitality (thickness) of Holocene

  7. Coral Reef Monitoring: From Cytological Parameters to Community Indices

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ofer Ben-Tzvi

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Sound-ecosystem-based management of coral reefs is largely based on indicators of reef health state. Currently there are various ecological parameters that serve as reef state indices; however, their practical implications are under debate. In the present study we examine an alternative parameter, the deterioration index (DI, which does not purport to replace the traditional indices but can provide a reliable, stand-alone indication of reef state. Patterns of cytological indices, which are considered as reliable indicators of environmental stressors, have been compared to ten selected reef community indices. The DI showed the highest correlations among community indices to the cytological indices in artificial reefs and high correlation in natural reefs as well. Our results suggest that in cases of lacking adequate monitoring abilities where a full set of community indices cannot be obtained, the DI can serve in many cases as the preferred, stand-alone indicator of coral reef state.

  8. Impacts and recovery from severe tropical cyclone Yasi on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beeden, Roger; Maynard, Jeffrey; Puotinen, Marjetta; Marshall, Paul; Dryden, Jen; Goldberg, Jeremy; Williams, Gareth

    2015-01-01

    Full recovery of coral reefs from tropical cyclone (TC) damage can take decades, making cyclones a major driver of habitat condition where they occur regularly. Since 1985, 44 TCs generated gale force winds (≥17 metres/second) within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). Of the hurricane strength TCs (≥H1-Saffir Simpson scale; ≥ category 3 Australian scale), TC Yasi (February, 2011) was the largest. In the weeks after TC Yasi crossed the GBRMP, participating researchers, managers and rangers assessed the extent and severity of reef damage via 841 Reef Health and Impact Surveys at 70 reefs. Records were scaled into five damage levels representing increasingly widespread colony-level damage (1, 2, 3) and reef structural damage (4, 5). Average damage severity was significantly affected by direction (north vs south of the cyclone track), reef shelf position (mid-shelf vs outer-shelf) and habitat type. More outer-shelf reefs suffered structural damage than mid-shelf reefs within 150 km of the track. Structural damage spanned a greater latitudinal range for mid-shelf reefs than outer-shelf reefs (400 vs 300 km). Structural damage was patchily distributed at all distances, but more so as distance from the track increased. Damage extended much further from the track than during other recent intense cyclones that had smaller circulation sizes. Just over 15% (3,834 km2) of the total reef area of the GBRMP is estimated to have sustained some level of coral damage, with ~4% (949 km2) sustaining a degree of structural damage. TC Yasi likely caused the greatest loss of coral cover on the GBR in a 24-hour period since 1985. Severely impacted reefs have started to recover; coral cover increased an average of 4% between 2011 and 2013 at re-surveyed reefs. The in situ assessment of impacts described here is the largest in scale ever conducted on the Great Barrier Reef following a reef health disturbance.

  9. The status of coral reef ecology research in the Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Berumen, Michael L.

    2013-06-21

    The Red Sea has long been recognized as a region of high biodiversity and endemism. Despite this diversity and early history of scientific work, our understanding of the ecology of coral reefs in the Red Sea has lagged behind that of other large coral reef systems. We carried out a quantitative assessment of ISI-listed research published from the Red Sea in eight specific topics (apex predators, connectivity, coral bleaching, coral reproductive biology, herbivory, marine protected areas, non-coral invertebrates and reef-associated bacteria) and compared the amount of research conducted in the Red Sea to that from Australia\\'s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the Caribbean. On average, for these eight topics, the Red Sea had 1/6th the amount of research compared to the GBR and about 1/8th the amount of the Caribbean. Further, more than 50 % of the published research from the Red Sea originated from the Gulf of Aqaba, a small area (<2 % of the area of the Red Sea) in the far northern Red Sea. We summarize the general state of knowledge in these eight topics and highlight the areas of future research priorities for the Red Sea region. Notably, data that could inform science-based management approaches are badly lacking in most Red Sea countries. The Red Sea, as a geologically "young" sea located in one of the warmest regions of the world, has the potential to provide insight into pressing topics such as speciation processes as well as the capacity of reef systems and organisms to adapt to global climate change. As one of the world\\'s most biodiverse coral reef regions, the Red Sea may yet have a significant role to play in our understanding of coral reef ecology at a global scale. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

  10. Divergence of seafloor elevation and sea level rise in coral reef ecosystems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Tiling-Range, Ginger

    2017-04-01

    Coral reefs serve as natural barriers that protect adjacent shorelines from coastal hazards such as storms, waves, and erosion. Projections indicate global degradation of coral reefs due to anthropogenic impacts and climate change will cause a transition to net erosion by mid-century. Here, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the combined effect of all of the processes affecting seafloor accretion and erosion by measuring changes in seafloor elevation and volume for five coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean over the last several decades. Regional-scale mean elevation and volume losses were observed at all five study sites and in 77 % of the 60 individual habitats that we examined across all study sites. Mean seafloor elevation losses for whole coral reef ecosystems in our study ranged from -0.09 to -0.8 m, corresponding to net volume losses ranging from 3.4 × 106 to 80.5 × 106 m3 for all study sites. Erosion of both coral-dominated substrate and non-coral substrate suggests that the current rate of carbonate production is no longer sufficient to support net accretion of coral reefs or adjacent habitats. We show that regional-scale loss of seafloor elevation and volume has accelerated the rate of relative sea level rise in these regions. Current water depths have increased to levels not predicted until near the year 2100, placing these ecosystems and nearby communities at elevated and accelerating risk to coastal hazards. Our results set a new baseline for projecting future impacts to coastal communities resulting from degradation of coral reef systems and associated losses of natural and socioeconomic resources.

  11. Divergence of seafloor elevation and sea level rise in coral reef ecosystems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Tiling-Range, Ginger

    2017-01-01

    Coral reefs serve as natural barriers that protect adjacent shorelines from coastal hazards such as storms, waves, and erosion. Projections indicate global degradation of coral reefs due to anthropogenic impacts and climate change will cause a transition to net erosion by mid-century. Here, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the combined effect of all of the processes affecting seafloor accretion and erosion by measuring changes in seafloor elevation and volume for five coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean over the last several decades. Regional-scale mean elevation and volume losses were observed at all five study sites and in 77 % of the 60 individual habitats that we examined across all study sites. Mean seafloor elevation losses for whole coral reef ecosystems in our study ranged from −0.09 to −0.8 m, corresponding to net volume losses ranging from 3.4  ×  106 to 80.5  ×  106 m3 for all study sites. Erosion of both coral-dominated substrate and non-coral substrate suggests that the current rate of carbonate production is no longer sufficient to support net accretion of coral reefs or adjacent habitats. We show that regional-scale loss of seafloor elevation and volume has accelerated the rate of relative sea level rise in these regions. Current water depths have increased to levels not predicted until near the year 2100, placing these ecosystems and nearby communities at elevated and accelerating risk to coastal hazards. Our results set a new baseline for projecting future impacts to coastal communities resulting from degradation of coral reef systems and associated losses of natural and socioeconomic resources.

  12. Coral Reef Ecosystems under Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

    2017-05-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are found in a wide range of environments, where they provide food and habitat to a large range of organisms as well as providing many other ecological goods and services. Warm-water coral reefs, for example, occupy shallow sunlit, warm, and alkaline waters in order to grow and calcify at the high rates necessary to build and maintain their calcium carbonate structures. At deeper locations (40–150 m, “mesophotic” (low light coral reefs accumulate calcium carbonate at much lower rates (if at all in some cases yet remain important as habitat for a wide range of organisms, including those important for fisheries. Finally, even deeper, down to 2,000 m or more, the so-called “cold-water” coral reefs are found in the dark depths. Despite their importance, coral reefs are facing significant challenges from human activities including pollution, over-harvesting, physical destruction, and climate change. In the latter case, even lower greenhouse gas emission scenarios (such as Representative Concentration Pathway RCP 4.5 are likely drive the elimination of most warm-water coral reefs by 2040–2050. Cold-water corals are also threatened by warming temperatures and ocean acidification although evidence of the direct effect of climate change is less clear. Evidence that coral reefs can adapt at rates which are sufficient for them to keep up with rapid ocean warming and acidification is minimal, especially given that corals are long-lived and hence have slow rates of evolution. Conclusions that coral reefs will migrate to higher latitudes as they warm are equally unfounded, with the observations of tropical species appearing at high latitudes “necessary but not sufficient” evidence that entire coral reef ecosystems are shifting. On the contrary, coral reefs are likely to degrade rapidly over the next 20 years, presenting fundamental challenges for the 500 million people who derive food, income, coastal protection, and a range of

  13. 77 FR 32572 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-06-01

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit... South Carolina Aquarium to collect, with certain conditions, various species of reef fish, crabs, and...

  14. Quantifying climatological ranges and anomalies for Pacific coral reef ecosystems.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jamison M Gove

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental forcings that vary on daily to decadal time scales and across spatial scales spanning from reefs to archipelagos. Environmental variability is a major determinant of reef ecosystem structure and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates, and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms. Proper characterization of environmental forcings on coral reef ecosystems is critical if we are to understand the dynamics and implications of abiotic-biotic interactions on reef ecosystems. This study combines high-resolution bathymetric information with remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a and irradiance data, and modeled wave data to quantify environmental forcings on coral reefs. We present a methodological approach to develop spatially constrained, island- and atoll-scale metrics that quantify climatological range limits and anomalous environmental forcings across U.S. Pacific coral reef ecosystems. Our results indicate considerable spatial heterogeneity in climatological ranges and anomalies across 41 islands and atolls, with emergent spatial patterns specific to each environmental forcing. For example, wave energy was greatest at northern latitudes and generally decreased with latitude. In contrast, chlorophyll-a was greatest at reef ecosystems proximate to the equator and northern-most locations, showing little synchrony with latitude. In addition, we find that the reef ecosystems with the highest chlorophyll-a concentrations; Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman are each uninhabited and are characterized by high hard coral cover and large numbers of predatory fishes. Finally, we find that scaling environmental data to the spatial footprint of individual islands and atolls is more likely to capture local environmental forcings, as chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased at relatively short distances (>7 km from 85% of our study locations

  15. Quantifying climatological ranges and anomalies for Pacific coral reef ecosystems.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gove, Jamison M; Williams, Gareth J; McManus, Margaret A; Heron, Scott F; Sandin, Stuart A; Vetter, Oliver J; Foley, David G

    2013-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental forcings that vary on daily to decadal time scales and across spatial scales spanning from reefs to archipelagos. Environmental variability is a major determinant of reef ecosystem structure and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates, and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms. Proper characterization of environmental forcings on coral reef ecosystems is critical if we are to understand the dynamics and implications of abiotic-biotic interactions on reef ecosystems. This study combines high-resolution bathymetric information with remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a and irradiance data, and modeled wave data to quantify environmental forcings on coral reefs. We present a methodological approach to develop spatially constrained, island- and atoll-scale metrics that quantify climatological range limits and anomalous environmental forcings across U.S. Pacific coral reef ecosystems. Our results indicate considerable spatial heterogeneity in climatological ranges and anomalies across 41 islands and atolls, with emergent spatial patterns specific to each environmental forcing. For example, wave energy was greatest at northern latitudes and generally decreased with latitude. In contrast, chlorophyll-a was greatest at reef ecosystems proximate to the equator and northern-most locations, showing little synchrony with latitude. In addition, we find that the reef ecosystems with the highest chlorophyll-a concentrations; Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman are each uninhabited and are characterized by high hard coral cover and large numbers of predatory fishes. Finally, we find that scaling environmental data to the spatial footprint of individual islands and atolls is more likely to capture local environmental forcings, as chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased at relatively short distances (>7 km) from 85% of our study locations. These metrics will help

  16. Palaeoecological records of coral community development on a turbid, nearshore reef complex: baselines for assessing ecological change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnson, J. A.; Perry, C. T.; Smithers, S. G.; Morgan, K. M.; Santodomingo, N.; Johnson, K. G.

    2017-09-01

    Understanding past coral community development and reef growth is crucial for placing contemporary ecological and environmental change within appropriate reef-building timescales. On Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR), coral reefs situated within coastal inner-shelf zones are a particular priority. This is due to their close proximity to river point sources, and therefore susceptibility to reduced water quality discharged from coastal catchments, many of which have been modified following European settlement (ca. 1850 AD). However, the extent of water-quality decline and its impacts on the GBR's inner-shelf reefs remain contentious. In this study, palaeoecological coral assemblage records were developed for five proximal coral reefs situated within a nearshore turbid-zone reef complex on the central GBR. A total of 29 genera of Scleractinia were identified from the palaeoecological inventory of the reef complex, with key contributions to reef-building made by Acropora, Montipora, and Turbinaria. Discrete intervals pre- and post-dating European settlement, but associated with equivalent water depths, were identified using Bayesian age-depth modelling, enabling investigation of competing ideas of the main drivers of nearshore coral assemblage change. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that changes in the composition of nearshore coral assemblages are: (1) intrinsically driven and linked to vertical reef development towards sea level, and (2) the result of changes in water quality associated with coastal river catchment modification. Our records found no discernible evidence of change in the generic composition of coral assemblages relative to European settlement. Instead, two distinctive depth-stratified assemblages were identified. This study demonstrates the robust nature of nearshore coral communities under reported water-quality decline and provides a useful context for the monitoring and assessment of ecological change on reefs located within the most

  17. Community structure and coral status across reef fishing intensity gradients in Palk Bay reef, southeast coast of India.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Manikandan, B; Ravindran, J; Shrinivaasu, S; Marimuthu, N; Paramasivam, K

    2014-10-01

    Coral reef fishes are exploited without the knowledge of their sustainability and their possible effect in altering the community structure of a coral reef ecosystem. Alteration of the community structure could cause a decline in the health of coral reefs and its services. We documented the coral community structure, status of live corals and reef fish assemblages in Palk Bay at the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby reef area with minimum fishing pressure and compared it with a control reef area where reef fishing was banned for more than two decades. The comparison was based on the percent cover of different forms of live corals, their diversity and the density and diversity of reef fishes. The reef fish stock in the reef fishing hotspots and its neighbouring reef was lower by 61 and 38%, respectively compared to the control reef. The herbivore fish Scarus ghobban and Siganus javus were exploited at a rate of 250 and 105 kg month(-1) fishermen(-1), respectively, relatively high comparing the small reef area. Live and dead corals colonized by turf algae were predominant in both the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby coral ecosystems. The percent cover of healthy live corals and live corals colonized by turf algae was 80%, respectively, in the intensively fished coral ecosystems. The corals were less diverse and the massive Porites and Favia colonies were abundant in the intensive reef fishing sites. Results of this study suggest that the impact of reef fish exploitation was not solely restricted to the intensively fished reefs, but also to the nearby reefs which play a critical role in the resilience of degraded reef ecosystems.

  18. DIVERSITY OF REEF FISH FUNGSIONAL GROUPS IN TERMS OF CORAL REEF RESILIENCES

    OpenAIRE

    Isa Nagib edrus; Muhammad Abrar Abrar

    2017-01-01

    Infrastructure development in the particular sites of  Seribu Islands as well as those in main land of Jakarta City increased with coastal population this phenomenon is likely to increase the effects to the adjacent coral waters of Seribu Islands.  Chemical pollutants, sedimentation, and domestic wastes are the common impact and threatening, the survival of coral reef ecosystem. Coral reef resiliences naturaly remained on their processes under many influences of supporting factors. One of the...

  19. Research Spotlight: New method to assess coral reef health

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tretkoff, Ernie

    2011-03-01

    Coral reefs around the world are becoming stressed due to rising temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing, and other factors. Measuring community level rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and biogenic calcification is essential to assessing the health of coral reef ecosystems because the balance between these processes determines the potential for reef growth and the export of carbon. Measurements of biological productivity have typically been made by tracing changes in dissolved oxygen in seawater as it passes over a reef. However, this is a labor-intensive and difficult method, requiring repeated measurements. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046179, 2011)

  20. Coral Reef and Coastal Ecosystems Decision Support Workshop April 27-29, 2010 Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, La Parguera, Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) hosted a Coral Reef and Coastal Ecosystems Decision Support Workshop on April 27-28, 2010 at the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Forty-three participants, includin...

  1. ESR dosimetric properties of modern coral reef

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Sharaf, M.A. E-mail: mokhtar_sharaf@yahoo.com; Hassan, Gamal M

    2004-06-01

    Modern coral reef samples from Egypt were irradiated with {sup 60}Co{gamma}-rays to study radicals for dosimetric materials with electron spin resonance (ESR). The ESR spectrum for the radical species in unirradiated coral is characterized by four signals with spectroscopic splitting factors of g=2.0056, 2.0030, 2.0006 and 1.997. The signal at g=2.0006{+-}0.0005 is ascribed to free rotation CO{sub 2}{sup -} radicals and used as a dosimetric one. The response to {gamma}-ray doses ranging from 5 to 10{sup 3} Gy and the thermal stability has been studied. The number of free radicals per 100 eV (G-value) was found to be 0.45 {+-} 0.1 and 0.9 {+-} 0.18 for coral and alanine, respectively. The lifetime of radicals and the activation energy were estimated from Arrhenius plots to be approximately 8 x 10{sup 5} {+-} 1.6 x 10{sup 5} years, and 1.12 eV, respectively.

  2. Diverse staghorn coral fauna on the mesophotic reefs of north-east Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muir, Paul; Wallace, Carden; Bridge, Tom C L; Bongaerts, Pim

    2015-01-01

    Concern for the future of reef-building corals in conditions of rising sea temperatures combined with recent technological advances has led to a renewed interest in documenting the biodiversity of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) and their potential to provide lineage continuation for coral taxa. Here, we examine species diversity of staghorn corals (genera Acropora and Isopora) in the mesophotic zone (below 30 m depth) of the Great Barrier Reef and western Coral Sea. Using specimen-based records we found 38 staghorn species in the mesophotic zone, including three species newly recorded for Australia and five species that only occurred below 30 m. Staghorn corals became scarce at depths below 50 m but were found growing in-situ to 73 m depth. Of the 76 staghorn coral species recorded for shallow waters (depth ≤ 30 m) in north-east Australia, 21% extended to mesophotic depths with a further 22% recorded only rarely to 40 m depth. Extending into the mesophotic zone provided shallow water species no significant advantage in terms of their estimated global range-size relative to species restricted to shallow waters (means 86.2 X 10(6) km2 and 85.7 X 10(6) km2 respectively, p = 0.98). We found four staghorn coral species at mesophotic depths on the Great Barrier Reef that were previously considered rare and endangered on the basis of their limited distribution in central Indonesia and the far western Pacific. Colonies below 40 m depth showed laterally flattened branches, light and fragile skeletal structure and increased spacing between branches and corallites. The morphological changes are discussed in relation to decreased light, water movement and down-welling coarse sediments. Staghorn corals have long been regarded as typical shallow-water genera, but here we demonstrate the significant contribution of this group to the region's mesophotic fauna and the importance of considering MCEs in reef biodiversity estimates and management.

  3. Accretion history of mid-Holocene coral reefs from the southeast Florida continental reef tract, USA

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stathakopoulos, A.; Riegl, B. M.

    2015-03-01

    Sixteen new coral reef cores were collected to better understand the accretion history and composition of submerged relict reefs offshore of continental southeast (SE) Florida. Coral radiometric ages from three sites on the shallow inner reef indicate accretion initiated by 8,050 Cal BP and terminated by 5,640 Cal BP. The reef accreted up to 3.75 m of vertical framework with accretion rates that averaged 2.53 m kyr-1. The reef was composed of a nearly even mixture of Acropora palmata and massive corals. In many cases, cores show an upward transition from massives to A. palmata and may indicate local dominance by this species prior to reef demise. Quantitative macroscopic analyses of reef clasts for various taphonomic and diagenetic features did not correlate well with depth/environmental-related trends established in other studies. The mixed coral framestone reef lacks a classical Caribbean reef zonation and is best described as an immature reef and/or a series of fused patch reefs; a pattern that is evident in both cores and reef morphology. This is in stark contrast to the older and deeper outer reef of the SE Florida continental reef tract. Accretion of the outer reef lasted from 10,695-8,000 Cal BP and resulted in a larger and better developed structure that achieved a distinct reef zonation. The discrepancies in overall reef morphology and size as well as the causes of reef terminations remain elusive without further study, yet they likely point to different climatic/environmental conditions during their respective accretion histories.

  4. An early Hettangian Coral Reef In Southern France: Implications For The End-Triassic Reef Crisis

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Kiessling, W.; Roniewicz, E.; Villier, L; Leonide, P.S.; Struck, U.

    2009-01-01

    The oldest known Jurassic coral reef is exposed in the Ardche region of southern France. This reef site, consisting of at least three reefal bodies, is of early Hettangian age and thus immediately postdates the end-Triassic mass extinction, which is well known for its catastrophic effect on reef

  5. Ecological limitations to the resilience of coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mora, Camilo; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Nyström, Magnus

    2016-12-01

    The decline of coral reefs has been broadly attributed to human stressors being too strong and pervasive, whereas biological processes that may render coral reefs fragile have been sparsely considered. Here we review several ecological factors that can limit the ability of coral reefs to withstand disturbance. These include: (1) Many species lack the adaptive capacity to cope with the unprecedented disturbances they currently face; (2) human disturbances impact vulnerable life history stages, reducing reproductive output and the supply of recruits essential for recovery; (3) reefs can be vulnerable to the loss of few species, as niche specialization or temporal and spatial segregation makes each species unique (i.e., narrow ecological redundancy); in addition, many foundation species have similar sensitivity to disturbances, suggesting that entire functions can be lost to single disturbances; and (4) feedback loops and extinction vortices may stabilize degraded states or accelerate collapses even if stressors are removed. This review suggests that the degradation of coral reefs is due to not only the severity of human stressors but also the "fragility" of coral reefs. As such, appropriate governance is essential to manage stressors while being inclusive of ecological process and human uses across transnational scales. This is a considerable but necessary upgrade in current management if the integrity, and delivery of goods and services, of coral reefs is to be preserved.

  6. Ability to home in small site-attached coral reef fishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Booth, D J

    2016-08-01

    The ability of two common, site-attached coral-reef fishes to return to their home corals after displacement was investigated in a series of field experiments at One Tree Island, southern Great Barrier Reef. The humbug Dascyllus aruanus was displaced up to 250 m, with 42% of individuals returning home, irrespective of body size, displacement, direction (up or across currents) and route complexity, while for the lemon damselfish Pomacentrus moluccensis 35% of individuals returned overall, with 33% from the greatest displacement, 100 m along a reef edge. Given that the home range of both species is fishes are displaced by storm events, allowing rapid return to home corals. © 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

  7. Coral diseases and their research in Colombian reefs

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Gil A, Diego L; Navas C, Raul; RodrIguez, Alberto; Reyes, Maria C

    2009-01-01

    Coral reefs are one of the most beautiful and important ecosystems in the planet. These ecosystems have existed for over 200 million years and have survived extreme episodes such as glaciation and mass extinctions during their history. Nonetheless, during the last three decades, these ecosystems have registered sudden and dramatic changes that, according to some researchers, endanger their survival and persistence. One of the major problems coral reefs are facing nowadays is the outbreak of diseases that affect corals, which constitute the basic unit of this ecosystem. There is no consensus regarding whether these disease outbreaks are recent episodes; but what seems to be true is that some of these diseases have favored unprecedented changes in coral reefs. Coral reefs in Colombia have also been affected by disease events, and since the 1980, several coral diseases have been observed and studied, and even one of them was first described in Colombian reefs. This work presents a compendium of the main coral diseases registered around the world and is meant to serve as a guide for new studies in this topic. Similarly, a summary of coral disease research carried out in Colombia is presented as well as a discussion on current perspectives for the study of this field in the country.

  8. Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, Terence P; Rodrigues, Maria J; Bellwood, David R; Ceccarelli, Daniela; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; McCook, Laurence; Moltschaniwskyj, Natalie; Pratchett, Morgan S; Steneck, Robert S; Willis, Bette

    2007-02-20

    Many coral reefs worldwide have undergone phase shifts to alternate, degraded assemblages because of the combined effects of over-fishing, declining water quality, and the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. Here, we experimentally manipulated the density of large herbivorous fishes to test their influence on the resilience of coral assemblages in the aftermath of regional-scale bleaching in 1998, the largest coral mortality event recorded to date. The experiment was undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef, within a no-fishing reserve where coral abundances and diversity had been sharply reduced by bleaching. In control areas, where fishes were abundant, algal abundance remained low, whereas coral cover almost doubled (to 20%) over a 3 year period, primarily because of recruitment of species that had been locally extirpated by bleaching. In contrast, exclusion of large herbivorous fishes caused a dramatic explosion of macroalgae, which suppressed the fecundity, recruitment, and survival of corals. Consequently, management of fish stocks is a key component in preventing phase shifts and managing reef resilience. Importantly, local stewardship of fishing effort is a tractable goal for conservation of reefs, and this local action can also provide some insurance against larger-scale disturbances such as mass bleaching, which are impractical to manage directly.

  9. Dynamic stability of coral reefs on the west Australian coast.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Conrad W Speed

    Full Text Available Monitoring changes in coral cover and composition through space and time can provide insights to reef health and assist the focus of management and conservation efforts. We used a meta-analytical approach to assess coral cover data across latitudes 10-35°S along the west Australian coast, including 25 years of data from the Ningaloo region. Current estimates of coral cover ranged between 3 and 44% in coral habitats. Coral communities in the northern regions were dominated by corals from the families Acroporidae and Poritidae, which became less common at higher latitudes. At Ningaloo Reef coral cover has remained relatively stable through time (∼28%, although north-eastern and southern areas have experienced significant declines in overall cover. These declines are likely related to periodic disturbances such as cyclones and thermal anomalies, which were particularly noticeable around 1998/1999 and 2010/2011. Linear mixed effects models (LME suggest latitude explains 10% of the deviance in coral cover through time at Ningaloo. Acroporidae has decreased in abundance relative to other common families at Ningaloo in the south, which might be related to persistence of more thermally and mechanically tolerant families. We identify regions where quantitative time-series data on coral cover and composition are lacking, particularly in north-western Australia. Standardising routine monitoring methods used by management and research agencies at these, and other locations, would allow a more robust assessment of coral condition and a better basis for conservation of coral reefs.

  10. Coral settlement on a highly disturbed equatorial reef system.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bauman, Andrew G; Guest, James R; Dunshea, Glenn; Low, Jeffery; Todd, Peter A; Steinberg, Peter D

    2015-01-01

    Processes occurring early in the life stages of corals can greatly influence the demography of coral populations, and successful settlement of coral larvae that leads to recruitment is a critical life history stage for coral reef ecosystems. Although corals in Singapore persist in one the world's most anthropogenically impacted reef systems, our understanding of the role of coral settlement in the persistence of coral communities in Singapore remains limited. Spatial and temporal patterns of coral settlement were examined at 7 sites in the southern islands of Singapore, using settlement tiles deployed and collected every 3 months from 2011 to 2013. Settlement occurred year round, but varied significantly across time and space. Annual coral settlement was low (~54.72 spat m(-2) yr(-1)) relative to other equatorial regions, but there was evidence of temporal variation in settlement rates. Peak settlement occurred between March-May and September-November, coinciding with annual coral spawning periods (March-April and October), while the lowest settlement occurred from December-February during the northeast monsoon. A period of high settlement was also observed between June and August in the first year (2011/12), possibly due to some species spawning outside predicted spawning periods, larvae settling from other locations or extended larval settlement competency periods. Settlement rates varied significantly among sites, but spatial variation was relatively consistent between years, suggesting the strong effects of local coral assemblages or environmental conditions. Pocilloporidae were the most abundant coral spat (83.6%), while Poritidae comprised only 6% of the spat, and Acroporidae coral spat. These results indicate that current settlement patterns are reinforcing the local adult assemblage structure ('others'; i.e. sediment-tolerant coral taxa) in Singapore, but that the replenishment capacity of Singapore's reefs appears relatively constrained, which could lead

  11. Recovery potential of the world's coral reef fishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; Cinner, Joshua E; Wilson, Shaun K; Williams, Ivor D; Maina, Joseph; Newman, Steven; Friedlander, Alan M; Jupiter, Stacy; Polunin, Nicholas V C; McClanahan, Tim R

    2015-04-16

    Continuing degradation of coral reef ecosystems has generated substantial interest in how management can support reef resilience. Fishing is the primary source of diminished reef function globally, leading to widespread calls for additional marine reserves to recover fish biomass and restore key ecosystem functions. Yet there are no established baselines for determining when these conservation objectives have been met or whether alternative management strategies provide similar ecosystem benefits. Here we establish empirical conservation benchmarks and fish biomass recovery timelines against which coral reefs can be assessed and managed by studying the recovery potential of more than 800 coral reefs along an exploitation gradient. We show that resident reef fish biomass in the absence of fishing (B0) averages ∼1,000 kg ha(-1), and that the vast majority (83%) of fished reefs are missing more than half their expected biomass, with severe consequences for key ecosystem functions such as predation. Given protection from fishing, reef fish biomass has the potential to recover within 35 years on average and less than 60 years when heavily depleted. Notably, alternative fisheries restrictions are largely (64%) successful at maintaining biomass above 50% of B0, sustaining key functions such as herbivory. Our results demonstrate that crucial ecosystem functions can be maintained through a range of fisheries restrictions, allowing coral reef managers to develop recovery plans that meet conservation and livelihood objectives in areas where marine reserves are not socially or politically feasible solutions.

  12. Coral Recruit-Algae Interactions in Coral Reef Lagoons Are Mediated by Riverine Influences

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    S. A. Mwachireya

    2017-01-01

    Full Text Available Coral recruit and algae abundance and diversity were studied in Kenyan reefs to determine the influence of terrestrial discharge (nutrients and sediments and the recovery potential of coral reefs after disturbances. Reefs affected by sediments and nutrients were found to have high total, turf, and macroalgae but reduced coralline algae abundance and coral recruit density. Interestingly, this response was found to be the greatest in reefs close to nutrient sources relative to “pristine” reefs and those affected simultaneously by sediments and nutrients. Further, enhanced levels of brown algae and pocilloporid recruits were observed in reefs affected by terrestrial run-off whereas acroporid recruit, coralline, and calcareous algae abundance was high in reefs under low terrestrial input. Our results show that whereas increased sediment levels negatively affect coral recruit density individually, their interaction with nutrients improves recruit density in reefs simultaneously affected by sediment and nutrients. These findings suggest that the assessment of local factors that enhance inhibitory and those that suppress promotional processes involved in coral settlement and recruitment is an important aspect to consider in the conservation and management of coral reefs in the face of local anthropogenic stress as well as future climate disturbance dynamics and their interaction.

  13. Coral Reef Watch, Degree Heating Weeks, 50 km

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — NOAA Coral Reef Watch distributes Degree Heating Week products using a combination of the POES AVHRR Global Area Coverage data, and data from a climatological...

  14. 443 ANTHROPOGENIC IMPACTS ON CORAL REEFS AND THEIR ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Osondu

    impacts of coral reef fishery decline on rural livelihoods with an emphasis on food insecurity, alternative capabilities and activities on coastal communities of Kilwa district, Tanzania. Data collection methodology included household questionnaire survey, key informant interviews, participant observation and photographing.

  15. 78 FR 67128 - Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-11-08

    ... Islands at The Buccaneer Hotel, 5007 Estates Shoys, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands 00820. The meeting... USCRTF, or general coral reef conservation issues. Before including your address, phone number, email...

  16. NOAA's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) Data Collection

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Coral reefs provide nearly $30 billion in net benefits in goods and services to world economies each year, including tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection, and...

  17. Coral reef fish assemblages at Clipperton Atoll (Eastern Tropical Pacific and their relationship with coral cover

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aurora M. Ricart

    2016-11-01

    Full Text Available Clipperton Atoll, one of the most isolated coral reefs worldwide, is of great scientific interest due to its geomorphology and high levels of endemism. This study explored the reef fish assemblage structure of Clipperton Atoll and its relationship with live coral cover. Nine stations were sampled at three sites and three depths (6, 12 and 20 m around the reef, measuring fish species richness and biomass and hermatypic coral cover (at genus level. We evaluated variation in species richness, biomass and diversity of fish assemblages among sites and depths, as well as the relationship between the entire fish assemblage composition and live coral cover. The results showed that species richness and biomass were similar among sites, but differed across depths, increasing with depth. In contrast, diversity differed among sites but not among depths. Multivariate analyses indicated that fish assemblage composition differed among sites and depths in relation to changes in cover of coral of the genera Pocillopora, Porites, Pavona and Leptoseris, which dominate at different depths. The results showed that fish species richness and diversity were low at Clipperton Atoll and that, in isolated coral reefs with a low habitat heterogeneity and low human disturbance, live coral cover has a significant influence on the spatial variation of the reef fish assemblages. This study highlights the importance of coral habitat structure in shaping coral reef fish assemblages.

  18. Coral Reef Color: Remote and In-Situ Imaging Spectroscopy of Reef Structure and Function

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hochberg, E. J.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs are threatened at local to global scales by a litany of anthropogenic impacts, including overfishing, coastal development, marine and watershed pollution, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification. However, available data for the primary indicator of coral reef condition — proportional cover of living coral — are surprisingly sparse and show patterns that contradict the prevailing understanding of how environment impacts reef condition. Remote sensing is the only available tool for acquiring synoptic, uniform data on reef condition at regional to global scales. Discrimination between coral and other reef benthos relies on narrow wavebands afforded by imaging spectroscopy. The same spectral information allows non-invasive quantification of photosynthetic pigment composition, which shows unexpected phenological trends. There is also potential to link biodiversity with optical diversity, though there has been no effort in that direction. Imaging spectroscopy underlies the light-use efficiency model for reef primary production by quantifying light capture, which in turn indicates biochemical capacity for CO2 assimilation. Reef calcification is strongly correlated with primary production, suggesting the possibility for an optics-based model of that aspect of reef function, as well. By scaling these spectral models for use with remote sensing, we can vastly improve our understanding of reef structure, function, and overall condition across regional to global scales. By analyzing those remote sensing products against ancillary environmental data, we can construct secondary models to predict reef futures in the era of global change. This final point is the objective of CORAL (COral Reef Airborne Laboratory), a three-year project funded under NASA's Earth Venture Suborbital-2 program to investigate the relationship between coral reef condition at the ecosystem scale and various nominal biogeophysical forcing parameters.

  19. Reef-Scale Thermal Stress Monitoring of Coral Ecosystems: New 5-km Global Products from NOAA Coral Reef Watch

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Gang Liu

    2014-11-01

    Full Text Available The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW program has developed a daily global 5-km product suite based on satellite observations to monitor thermal stress on coral reefs. These products fulfill requests from coral reef managers and researchers for higher resolution products by taking advantage of new satellites, sensors and algorithms. Improvements of the 5-km products over CRW’s heritage global 50-km products are derived from: (1 the higher resolution and greater data density of NOAA’s next-generation operational daily global 5-km geo-polar blended sea surface temperature (SST analysis; and (2 implementation of a new SST climatology derived from the Pathfinder SST climate data record. The new products increase near-shore coverage and now allow direct monitoring of 95% of coral reefs and significantly reduce data gaps caused by cloud cover. The 5-km product suite includes SST Anomaly, Coral Bleaching HotSpots, Degree Heating Weeks and Bleaching Alert Area, matching existing CRW products. When compared with the 50-km products and in situ bleaching observations for 2013–2014, the 5-km products identified known thermal stress events and matched bleaching observations. These near reef-scale products significantly advance the ability of coral reef researchers and managers to monitor coral thermal stress in near-real-time.

  20. The effects of trophic interactions and spatial competition on algal community composition on Hawaiian coral reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Vermeij, M.J.A.; Dailer, M.L.; Walsh, S.M.; Donovan, M.K.; Smith, C.M.

    2010-01-01

    Much of coral reef ecology has focused on how human impacts change coral reefs to macroalgal reefs. However, macroalgae may not always be a good indicator of reef decline, especially on reefs with significant sea urchin populations, as found in Kenya and Hawaii. This study tests the effects of

  1. Reef-fidelity and migration of tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, across the Coral Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Werry, Jonathan M; Planes, Serge; Berumen, Michael L; Lee, Kate A; Braun, Camrin D; Clua, Eric

    2014-01-01

    Knowledge of the habitat use and migration patterns of large sharks is important for assessing the effectiveness of large predator Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), vulnerability to fisheries and environmental influences, and management of shark-human interactions. Here we compare movement, reef-fidelity, and ocean migration for tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, across the Coral Sea, with an emphasis on New Caledonia. Thirty-three tiger sharks (1.54 to 3.9 m total length) were tagged with passive acoustic transmitters and their localised movements monitored on receiver arrays in New Caledonia, the Chesterfield and Lord Howe Islands in the Coral Sea, and the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Satellite tags were also used to determine habitat use and movements among habitats across the Coral Sea. Sub-adults and one male adult tiger shark displayed year-round residency in the Chesterfields with two females tagged in the Chesterfields and detected on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, after 591 and 842 days respectively. In coastal barrier reefs, tiger sharks were transient at acoustic arrays and each individual demonstrated a unique pattern of occurrence. From 2009 to 2013, fourteen sharks with satellite and acoustic tags undertook wide-ranging movements up to 1114 km across the Coral Sea with eight detected back on acoustic arrays up to 405 days after being tagged. Tiger sharks dove 1136 m and utilised three-dimensional activity spaces averaged at 2360 km³. The Chesterfield Islands appear to be important habitat for sub-adults and adult male tiger sharks. Management strategies need to consider the wide-ranging movements of large (sub-adult and adult) male and female tiger sharks at the individual level, whereas fidelity to specific coastal reefs may be consistent across groups of individuals. Coastal barrier reef MPAs, however, only afford brief protection for large tiger sharks, therefore determining the importance of other oceanic Coral Sea reefs should be a

  2. Reef-fidelity and migration of tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, across the coral sea

    KAUST Repository

    Werry, Jonathan M.

    2014-01-08

    Knowledge of the habitat use and migration patterns of large sharks is important for assessing the effectiveness of large predator Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), vulnerability to fisheries and environmental influences, and management of shark-human interactions. Here we compare movement, reef-fidelity, and ocean migration for tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, across the Coral Sea, with an emphasis on New Caledonia. Thirty-three tiger sharks (1.54 to 3.9 m total length) were tagged with passive acoustic transmitters and their localised movements monitored on receiver arrays in New Caledonia, the Chesterfield and Lord Howe Islands in the Coral Sea, and the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Satellite tags were also used to determine habitat use and movements among habitats across the Coral Sea. Sub-adults and one male adult tiger shark displayed year-round residency in the Chesterfields with two females tagged in the Chesterfields and detected on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, after 591 and 842 days respectively. In coastal barrier reefs, tiger sharks were transient at acoustic arrays and each individual demonstrated a unique pattern of occurrence. From 2009 to 2013, fourteen sharks with satellite and acoustic tags undertook wide-ranging movements up to 1114 km across the Coral Sea with eight detected back on acoustic arrays up to 405 days after being tagged. Tiger sharks dove 1136 m and utilised three-dimensional activity spaces averaged at 2360 km3. The Chesterfield Islands appear to be important habitat for sub-adults and adult male tiger sharks. Management strategies need to consider the wide-ranging movements of large (sub-adult and adult) male and female tiger sharks at the individual level, whereas fidelity to specific coastal reefs may be consistent across groups of individuals. Coastal barrier reef MPAs, however, only afford brief protection for large tiger sharks, therefore determining the importance of other oceanic Coral Sea reefs should be a

  3. The Microbial Signature Provides Insight into the Mechanistic Basis of Coral Success across Reef Habitats.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hernandez-Agreda, Alejandra; Leggat, William; Bongaerts, Pim; Ainsworth, Tracy D

    2016-07-26

    For ecosystems vulnerable to environmental change, understanding the spatiotemporal stability of functionally crucial symbioses is fundamental to determining the mechanisms by which these ecosystems may persist. The coral Pachyseris speciosa is a successful environmental generalist that succeeds in diverse reef habitats. The generalist nature of this coral suggests it may have the capacity to form functionally significant microbial partnerships to facilitate access to a range of nutritional sources within different habitats. Here, we propose that coral is a metaorganism hosting three functionally distinct microbial interactions: a ubiquitous core microbiome of very few symbiotic host-selected bacteria, a microbiome of spatially and/or regionally explicit core microbes filling functional niches (100,000 phylotypes). We find that this coral hosts upwards of 170,000 distinct phylotypes and provide evidence for the persistence of a select group of bacteria in corals across environmental habitats of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. We further show that a higher number of bacteria are consistently associated with corals on mesophotic reefs than on shallow reefs. An increase in microbial diversity with depth suggests reliance by this coral on bacteria for nutrient acquisition on reefs exposed to nutrient upwelling. Understanding the complex microbial communities of host organisms across broad biotic and abiotic environments as functionally distinct microbiomes can provide insight into those interactions that are ubiquitous niche symbioses and those that provide competitive advantage within the hosts' environment. Corals have been proposed as the most diverse microbial biosphere. The high variability of microbial communities has hampered the identification of bacteria playing key functional roles that contribute to coral survival. Exploring the bacterial community in a coral with a broad environmental distribution, we found a group of bacteria present across all

  4. Facilitation in Caribbean coral reefs: high densities of staghorn coral foster greater coral condition and reef fish composition.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Huntington, Brittany E; Miller, Margaret W; Pausch, Rachel; Richter, Lee

    2017-05-01

    Recovery of the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) is posited to play a key role in Caribbean reef resilience. At four Caribbean locations (including one restored and three extant populations), we quantified characteristics of contemporary staghorn coral across increasing conspecific densities, and investigated a hypothesis of facilitation between staghorn coral and reef fishes. High staghorn densities in the Dry Tortugas exhibited significantly less partial mortality, higher branch growth, and supported greater fish abundances compared to lower densities within the same population. In contrast, partial mortality, branch growth, and fish community composition did not vary with staghorn density at the three other study locations where staghorn densities were lower overall. This suggests that density-dependent effects between the coral and fish community may only manifest at high staghorn densities. We then evaluated one facilitative mechanism for such density-dependence, whereby abundant fishes sheltering in dense staghorn aggregations deliver nutrients back to the coral, fueling faster coral growth, thereby creating more fish habitat. Indeed, dense staghorn aggregations within the Dry Tortugas exhibited significantly higher growth rates, tissue nitrogen, and zooxanthellae densities than sparse aggregations. Similarly, higher tissue nitrogen was induced in a macroalgae bioassay outplanted into the same dense and sparse aggregations, confirming greater bioavailability of nutrients at high staghorn densities. Our findings inform staghorn restoration efforts, suggesting that the most effective targets may be higher coral densities than previously thought. These coral-dense aggregations may reap the benefits of positive facilitation between the staghorn and fish community, favoring the growth and survivorship of this threatened species.

  5. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Water Chemistry of the Coral Reefs in American Samoa from Water Samples collected since 2015

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Water samples are collected and analyzed to assess spatial and temporal variation in the seawater carbonate systems of coral reef ecosystems in the Hawaiian and...

  6. Dynamical seasonal prediction of summer sea surface temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Spillman, C. M.; Alves, O.

    2009-03-01

    Coral bleaching is a serious problem threatening the world coral reef systems, triggered by high sea surface temperatures (SST) which are becoming more prevalent as a result of global warming. Seasonal forecasts from coupled ocean-atmosphere models can be used to predict anomalous SST months in advance. In this study, we assess the ability of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology seasonal forecast model (POAMA) to forecast SST anomalies in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with particular focus on the major 1998 and 2002 bleaching events. Advance warning of potential bleaching events allows for the implementation of management strategies to minimise reef damage. This study represents the first attempt to apply a dynamical seasonal model to the problem of coral bleaching and predict SST over a reef system for up to 6 months lead-time, a potentially invaluable tool for reef managers.

  7. The distribution and abundance of reef-associated predatory fishes on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Emslie, Michael J.; Cheal, Alistair J.; Logan, Murray

    2017-09-01

    Predatory fishes are important components of coral-reef ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) through both the ecological functions they perform and their high value to recreational and commercial fisheries, estimated at 30 million in 2014. However, management of GBR predatory fish populations is hampered by a lack of knowledge of their distribution and abundance, aside from that of the highly targeted coral trout ( Plectropomus spp. and Variola spp.). Furthermore, there is little information on how these fishes respond to environmental stressors such as coral bleaching, outbreaks of coral-feeding starfishes ( Acanthaster planci) and storms, which limits adaptive management of their populations as the frequency or severity of such natural disturbances increases under climate change. Here, we document the distribution and abundance of 48 species of reef-associated predatory fishes and assess their vulnerability to a range of natural disturbances. There were clear differences in predatory fish assemblages across the continental shelf, but many species were widespread, with few species restricted to either inshore or offshore waters. There was weak latitudinal structure with only a few species restricted to either the northern or southern GBR. On the whole, predatory fishes were surprisingly resistant to the effects of disturbance, with few clear changes in abundance or species richness following 66 documented disturbances of varying magnitudes.

  8. Coral Reefs and Their Management in Tanzania | Wagner | Western ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    communities in reef monitoring, restoration and ecotourism. This paper examines the management approaches and strategies implemented by various ICM programs, conservation areas and marine parks in Tanzania. It also provides recommendations for further research and coral reef management strategies. Keywords: ...

  9. Temperature Regimes Impact Coral Assemblages along Environmental Gradients on Lagoonal Reefs in Belize.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Justin H Baumann

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are increasingly threatened by global and local anthropogenic stressors such as rising seawater temperature, nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, and overfishing. Although many studies have investigated the impacts of local and global stressors on coral reefs, we still do not fully understand how these stressors influence coral community structure, particularly across environmental gradients on a reef system. Here, we investigate coral community composition across three different temperature and productivity regimes along a nearshore-offshore gradient on lagoonal reefs of the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS. A novel metric was developed using ultra-high-resolution satellite-derived estimates of sea surface temperatures (SST to classify reefs as exposed to low (lowTP, moderate (modTP, or high (highTP temperature parameters over 10 years (2003 to 2012. Coral species richness, abundance, diversity, density, and percent cover were lower at highTP sites relative to lowTP and modTP sites, but these coral community traits did not differ significantly between lowTP and modTP sites. Analysis of coral life history strategies revealed that highTP sites were dominated by hardy stress-tolerant and fast-growing weedy coral species, while lowTP and modTP sites consisted of competitive, generalist, weedy, and stress-tolerant coral species. Satellite-derived estimates of Chlorophyll-a (chl-a were obtained for 13-years (2003-2015 as a proxy for primary production. Chl-a concentrations were highest at highTP sites, medial at modTP sites, and lowest at lowTP sites. Notably, thermal parameters correlated better with coral community traits between site types than productivity, suggesting that temperature (specifically number of days above the thermal bleaching threshold played a greater role in defining coral community structure than productivity on the MBRS. Dominance of weedy and stress-tolerant genera at highTP sites suggests that corals

  10. Trans-Atlantic rafting by the brooding reef coral

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Hoeksema, B.W.; Roos, P.J.; Cadée, G.C.

    2012-01-01

    including corrigendumSpecimens of the brooding reef coral Favia fragum were found on man-made flotsam stranded on the North Sea shore of the Netherlands. Based on the associated epifauna originating from the southeast USA, we estimate that the corals must have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, transported

  11. Biomass and Abundance of Herbivorous Fishes on Coral Reefs off ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Benthic cover and fishing intensity appear to influence the biomass of herbivorous fish communities more on the reefs of Andavadoaka, highlighting the importance of Marine Protected Areas to protect both corals and fish. Keywords: Herbivorous fish, biomass, coral cover, algal turf, fishing, Marine Protected Areas.

  12. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McLean, Matthew; Cuetos-Bueno, Javier; Nedlic, Osamu; Luckymiss, Marston; Houk, Peter

    2016-01-01

    Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution.

  13. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Matthew McLean

    Full Text Available Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution.

  14. The importance of spatial fishing behavior for coral reef resilience

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rassweiler, A.; Lauer, M.; Holbrook, S. J.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs are dynamic systems in which disturbances periodically reduce coral cover but are normally followed by recovery of the coral community. However, human activity may have reduced this resilience to disturbance in many coral reef systems, as an increasing number of reefs have undergone persistent transitions from coral-dominated to macroalgal-dominated community states. Fishing on herbivores may be one cause of reduced reef resilience, as lower herbivory can make it easier for macroalgae to become established after a disturbance. Despite the acknowledged importance of fishing, relatively little attention has been paid to the potential for feedbacks between ecosystem state and fisher behavior. Here we couple methods from environmental anthropology and ecology to explore these feedbacks between small-scale fisheries and coral reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia. We document how aspects of ecological state such as the abundance of macroalgae affect people's preference for fishing in particular lagoon habitats. We then incorporate biases towards fishing in certain ecological states into a spatially explicit bio-economic model of ecological dynamics and fishing in Moorea's lagoons. We find that feedbacks between spatial fishing behavior and ecological state can have critical effects on coral reefs. Presence of these spatial behaviors consistently leads to more coherence across the reef-scape. However, whether this coherence manifests as increased resilience or increased fragility depends on the spatial scales of fisher movement and the magnitudes of disturbance. These results emphasize the potential importance of spatially-explicit fishing behavior for reef resilience, but also the complexity of the feedbacks involved.

  15. Coral reefs as indicators of marine environmental health

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Kumaraguru, A.K.

    2007-01-01

    Coral reefs are one of the most productive and diverse of all ecosystems on the Earth. Although they occupy less than 0.25 percent of the marine environment, the reefs support more than a quarter of all known fish species. They serve as critical habitats for numerous tropical species including reef fishes of ornamental nature and edible fishes. They protect the shores from storms and wave actions

  16. 78 FR 12703 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendment to the Corals and Reef...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-02-25

    ..., Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendment to the Corals and Reef Associated Plants and...) has submitted Amendment 4 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Corals and Reef Associated Plants... coral reef resources fishery management unit (FMU) of the Coral FMP. The Coral FMP defined the coral...

  17. Habitat choice, recruitment and the response of coral reef fishes to coral degradation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Feary, David A; Almany, Glenn R; McCormick, Mark I; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2007-09-01

    The global degradation of coral reefs is having profound effects on the structure and species richness of associated reef fish assemblages. Historically, variation in the composition of fish communities has largely been attributed to factors affecting settlement of reef fish larvae. However, the mechanisms that determine how fish settlers respond to different stages of coral stress and the extent of coral loss on fish settlement are poorly understood. Here, we examined the effects of habitat degradation on fish settlement using a two-stage experimental approach. First, we employed laboratory choice experiments to test how settlers responded to early and terminal stages of coral degradation. We then quantified the settlement response of the whole reef fish assemblage in a field perturbation experiment. The laboratory choice experiments tested how juveniles from nine common Indo-Pacific fishes chose among live colonies, partially degraded colonies, and dead colonies with recent algal growth. Many species did not distinguish between live and partially degraded colonies, suggesting settlement patterns are resilient to the early stages of declining coral health. Several species preferred live or degraded corals, and none preferred to associate with dead, algal-covered colonies. In the field experiment, fish recruitment to coral colonies was monitored before and after the introduction of a coral predator (the crown-of-thorns starfish) and compared with undisturbed control colonies. Starfish reduced live coral cover by 95-100%, causing persistent negative effects on the recruitment of coral-associated fishes. Rapid reductions in new recruit abundance, greater numbers of unoccupied colonies and a shift in the recruit community structure from one dominated by coral-associated fishes before degradation to one predominantly composed of algal-associated fish species were observed. Our results suggest that while resistant to coral stress, coral death alters the process of

  18. Coral reef fish smell leaves to find island homes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dixson, Danielle L; Jones, Geoffrey P; Munday, Philip L; Planes, Serge; Pratchett, Morgan S; Srinivasan, Maya; Syms, Craig; Thorrold, Simon R

    2008-01-01

    Recent studies have shown that some coral reef fish larvae return to natal reefs, while others disperse to distant reefs. However, the sensory mechanisms used to find settlement sites are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that larvae use olfactory cues to navigate home or find other suitable reef habitats. Here we show a strong association between the clownfish Amphiprion percula and coral reefs surrounding offshore islands in Papua New Guinea. Host anemones and A. percula are particularly abundant in shallow water beneath overhanging rainforest vegetation. A series of experiments were carried out using paired-choice flumes to evaluate the potential role of water-borne olfactory cues in finding islands. Recently settled A. percula exhibited strong preferences for: (i) water from reefs with islands over water from reefs without islands; (ii) water collected near islands over water collected offshore; and (iii) water treated with either anemones or leaves from rainforest vegetation. Laboratory reared-juveniles exhibited the same positive response to anemones and rainforest vegetation, suggesting that olfactory preferences are innate rather than learned. We hypothesize that A. percula use a suite of olfactory stimuli to locate vegetated islands, which may explain the high levels of self-recruitment on island reefs. This previously unrecognized link between coral reefs and island vegetation argues for the integrated management of these pristine tropical habitats. PMID:18755672

  19. Coral reef connectivity within the Western Gulf of Mexico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Salas-Monreal, David; Marin-Hernandez, Mark; Salas-Perez, Jose de Jesus; Salas-de-Leon, David Alberto; Monreal-Gomez, Maria Adela; Perez-España, Horacio

    2018-03-01

    The yearlong monthly mean satellite data of the geostrophic velocities, the sea surface temperature and the chlorophyll-a values were used to elucidate any possible pathway among the different coral reef systems of the Western Gulf of Mexico (WGM). The geostrophic current velocities suggested different pathways connecting the coral reef areas. The typical coastal alongshore pathway constricted to the continental shelf, and two open ocean pathway, the first connecting the Campeche Reef System (CRS) with the Veracruz (VRS) and Tuxpan-Lobos Reef Systems (TLRS), and the second pathway connecting the Tuxpan-Lobos Reef System with the Flower Garden Reef System (FGRS). According to the pathways there should be more larvae transport from the southern Gulf of Mexico reef systems toward the FGRS than the other way. The connection from the southern Gulf of Mexico toward the FGRS took place during January, May, July, August and September (2015), while the connection from the FGRS toward the southern Gulf of Mexico reef system took place during January and February (2015), this was also suggested via model outputs. The density radio (R) was used as a first approximation to elucidate the influence of the freshwater continental discharges within the continental shelf. All coral reef areas were located where the Chlorophyll-a monthly mean values had values bellow 1 mg m- 2 with a density radio between 0 and 1, i.e. under the influence of continental discharges.

  20. Fifty million years of herbivory on coral reefs: fossils, fish and functional innovations.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bellwood, D R; Goatley, C H R; Brandl, S J; Bellwood, O

    2014-04-22

    The evolution of ecological processes on coral reefs was examined based on Eocene fossil fishes from Monte Bolca, Italy and extant species from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Using ecologically relevant morphological metrics, we investigated the evolution of herbivory in surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) and rabbitfishes (Siganidae). Eocene and Recent surgeonfishes showed remarkable similarities, with grazers, browsers and even specialized, long-snouted forms having Eocene analogues. These long-snouted Eocene species were probably pair-forming, crevice-feeding forms like their Recent counterparts. Although Eocene surgeonfishes likely played a critical role as herbivores during the origins of modern coral reefs, they lacked the novel morphologies seen in modern Acanthurus and Siganus (including eyes positioned high above their low-set mouths). Today, these forms dominate coral reefs in both abundance and species richness and are associated with feeding on shallow, exposed algal turfs. The radiation of these new forms, and their expansion into new habitats in the Oligocene-Miocene, reflects the second phase in the development of fish herbivory on coral reefs that is closely associated with the exploitation of highly productive short algal turfs.

  1. U.S. coral reefs; imperiled national treasures

    Science.gov (United States)

    Field, M.E.; Cochran, S.A.; Evans, K.R.

    2002-01-01

    Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine species. However, the tiny colonial animals that build these intricate limestone masses are dying at alarming rates. If this trend continues, in 20 years the living corals on many of the world's reefs will be dead and the ecosystems that depend on them severely damaged. As part of the effort to protect our Nation's extensive reefs, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are working to better understand the processes that affect the health of these ecologically and economically important ecosystems.

  2. Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection | Science ...

    Science.gov (United States)

    The U.S. Clean Water Act provides a legal framework to protect coastal biological resources such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows from the damaging effects of human activities. Even though many resources are protected under this authority, water quality standards have not been effectively applied to coral reefs. The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting biocriteria and other water quality standards through collaborative development of bioassessment procedures, indicators and monitoring strategies. To support regulatory action, bioassessment indicators must be biologically meaningful, relevant to management, responsive to human disturbance, and relatively immune to natural variability. A rapid bioassessment protocol for reef-building stony corals was developed and tested for regulatory applicability. Preliminary testing in the Florida Keys found indicators had sufficient precision and provided information relevant to coral reef management. Sensitivity to human disturbance was demonstrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands for five of eight indicators tested. Once established, monitoring programs using these indicators can provide valuable, long-term records of coral condition and regulatory compliance. Development of a rapid bioassement protocol for reef-building stony corals was tested for regulatory applicability.

  3. Monitoring of Coral Reef Ecosystems on Maui, Hawaii during 1989-1998 (NODC Accession 9900242)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — In an effort to detect spatial and temporal changes in the structure of the coral reef community, coral coverage and reef fish density and diversity were documented...

  4. Hypoxia tolerance in coral-reef triggerfishes (Balistidae)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wong, Corrie C.; Drazen, Jeffrey C.; Callan, Chatham K.; Korsmeyer, Keith E.

    2018-03-01

    Despite high rates of photosynthetic oxygen production during the day, the warm waters of coral reefs are susceptible to hypoxia at night due to elevated respiration rates at higher temperatures that also reduce the solubility of oxygen. Hypoxia may be a challenge for coral-reef fish that hide in the reef to avoid predators at night. Triggerfishes (Balistidae) are found in a variety of reef habitats, but they also are known to find refuge in reef crevices and holes at night, which may expose them to hypoxic conditions. The critical oxygen tension ( P crit) was determined as the point below which oxygen uptake could not be maintained to support standard metabolic rate (SMR) for five species of triggerfish. The triggerfishes exhibited similar levels of hypoxia tolerance as other coral-reef and coastal marine fishes that encounter low oxygen levels in their environment. Two species, Rhinecanthus rectangulus and R. aculeatus, had the lowest P crit ( 3.0 kPa O2), comparable to the most hypoxia-tolerant obligate coral-dwelling gobies, while Odonus niger and Sufflamen bursa were moderately tolerant to hypoxia ( P crit 4.5 kPa), and Xanthichthys auromarginatus was intermediate ( P crit 3.7 kPa). These differences in P crit were not due to differences in oxygen demand, as all the species had a similar SMR once mass differences were taken into account. The results suggest that triggerfish species are adapted for different levels of hypoxia exposure during nocturnal sheltering within the reef.

  5. Remote Sensing Tropical Coral Reefs: The View from Above

    Science.gov (United States)

    Purkis, Sam J.

    2018-01-01

    Carbonate precipitation has been a common life strategy for marine organisms for 3.7 billion years, as, therefore, has their construction of reefs. As favored by modern corals, reef-forming organisms have typically adopted a niche in warm, shallow, well-lit, tropical marine waters, where they are capable of building vast carbonate edifices. Because fossil reefs form water aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs, considerable effort has been dedicated to understanding their anatomy and morphology. Remote sensing has a particular role to play here. Interpretation of satellite images has done much to reveal the grand spatial and temporal tapestry of tropical reefs. Comparative sedimentology, whereby modern environments are contrasted with the rock record to improve interpretation, has been particularly transformed by observations made from orbit. Satellite mapping has also become a keystone technology to quantify the coral reef crisis—it can be deployed not only directly to quantify the distribution of coral communities, but also indirectly to establish a climatology for their physical environment. This article reviews the application of remote sensing to tropical coralgal reefs in order to communicate how this fast-growing technology might be central to addressing the coral reef crisis and to look ahead at future developments in the science.

  6. Avoiding coral reef functional collapse requires local and global action.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kennedy, Emma V; Perry, Chris T; Halloran, Paul R; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Schönberg, Christine H L; Wisshak, Max; Form, Armin U; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P; Fine, Maoz; Eakin, C Mark; Mumby, Peter J

    2013-05-20

    Coral reefs face multiple anthropogenic threats, from pollution and overfishing to the dual effects of greenhouse gas emissions: rising sea temperature and ocean acidification. While the abundance of coral has declined in recent decades, the implications for humanity are difficult to quantify because they depend on ecosystem function rather than the corals themselves. Most reef functions and ecosystem services are founded on the ability of reefs to maintain their three-dimensional structure through net carbonate accumulation. Coral growth only constitutes part of a reef's carbonate budget; bioerosion processes are influential in determining the balance between net structural growth and disintegration. Here, we combine ecological models with carbonate budgets and drive the dynamics of Caribbean reefs with the latest generation of climate models. Budget reconstructions using documented ecological perturbations drive shallow (6-10 m) Caribbean forereefs toward an increasingly fragile carbonate balance. We then projected carbonate budgets toward 2080 and contrasted the benefits of local conservation and global action on climate change. Local management of fisheries (specifically, no-take marine reserves) and the watershed can delay reef loss by at least a decade under "business-as-usual" rises in greenhouse gas emissions. However, local action must be combined with a low-carbon economy to prevent degradation of reef structures and associated ecosystem services. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  7. Remote Sensing Tropical Coral Reefs: The View from Above.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Purkis, Sam J

    2018-01-03

    Carbonate precipitation has been a common life strategy for marine organisms for 3.7 billion years, as, therefore, has their construction of reefs. As favored by modern corals, reef-forming organisms have typically adopted a niche in warm, shallow, well-lit, tropical marine waters, where they are capable of building vast carbonate edifices. Because fossil reefs form water aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs, considerable effort has been dedicated to understanding their anatomy and morphology. Remote sensing has a particular role to play here. Interpretation of satellite images has done much to reveal the grand spatial and temporal tapestry of tropical reefs. Comparative sedimentology, whereby modern environments are contrasted with the rock record to improve interpretation, has been particularly transformed by observations made from orbit. Satellite mapping has also become a keystone technology to quantify the coral reef crisis-it can be deployed not only directly to quantify the distribution of coral communities, but also indirectly to establish a climatology for their physical environment. This article reviews the application of remote sensing to tropical coralgal reefs in order to communicate how this fast-growing technology might be central to addressing the coral reef crisis and to look ahead at future developments in the science.

  8. Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program Reef Fish Surveys since 2010

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Government of Guam's Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program, coordinated by the Guam Coastal Management Program until October 2013 and now coordinated by the...

  9. Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program Reef Fish Surveys FY2014

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Government of Guam's Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program, coordinated by the University of Guam Marine Lab, involves the collection of data for a suite of...

  10. Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P.; Horta-Puga, Guillermo; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2013-12-01

    Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

  11. Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P; Horta-Puga, Guillermo; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2013-12-12

    Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

  12. Herbicides: A new threat to the Great Barrier Reef

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Lewis, Stephen E.; Brodie, Jon E.; Bainbridge, Zoe T.; Rohde, Ken W.; Davis, Aaron M.; Masters, Bronwyn L.; Maughan, Mirjam; Devlin, Michelle J.; Mueller, Jochen F.; Schaffelke, Britta

    2009-01-01

    The runoff of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) from agricultural lands is a key concern for the health of the iconic Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Relatively low levels of herbicide residues can reduce the productivity of marine plants and corals. However, the risk of these residues to Great Barrier Reef ecosystems has been poorly quantified due to a lack of large-scale datasets. Here we present results of a study tracing pesticide residues from rivers and creeks in three catchment regions to the adjacent marine environment. Several pesticides (mainly herbicides) were detected in both freshwater and coastal marine waters and were attributed to specific land uses in the catchment. Elevated herbicide concentrations were particularly associated with sugar cane cultivation in the adjacent catchment. We demonstrate that herbicides reach the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and may disturb sensitive marine ecosystems already affected by other pressures such as climate change. - Herbicide residues have been detected in Great Barrier Reef catchment waterways and river water plumes which may affect marine ecosystems.

  13. Prioritizing land and sea conservation investments to protect coral reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Carissa J Klein

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Coral reefs have exceptional biodiversity, support the livelihoods of millions of people, and are threatened by multiple human activities on land (e.g. farming and in the sea (e.g. overfishing. Most conservation efforts occur at local scales and, when effective, can increase the resilience of coral reefs to global threats such as climate change (e.g. warming water and ocean acidification. Limited resources for conservation require that we efficiently prioritize where and how to best sustain coral reef ecosystems. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we develop the first prioritization approach that can guide regional-scale conservation investments in land- and sea-based conservation actions that cost-effectively mitigate threats to coral reefs, and apply it to the Coral Triangle, an area of significant global attention and funding. Using information on threats to marine ecosystems, effectiveness of management actions at abating threats, and the management and opportunity costs of actions, we calculate the rate of return on investment in two conservation actions in sixteen ecoregions. We discover that marine conservation almost always trumps terrestrial conservation within any ecoregion, but terrestrial conservation in one ecoregion can be a better investment than marine conservation in another. We show how these results could be used to allocate a limited budget for conservation and compare them to priorities based on individual criteria. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Previous prioritization approaches do not consider both land and sea-based threats or the socioeconomic costs of conserving coral reefs. A simple and transparent approach like ours is essential to support effective coral reef conservation decisions in a large and diverse region like the Coral Triangle, but can be applied at any scale and to other marine ecosystems.

  14. Reef fishes in biodiversity hotspots are at greatest risk from loss of coral species.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Messmer, Vanessa; Brooks, Andrew J; Srinivasan, Maya; Munday, Philip L; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2015-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are under a variety of threats from global change and anthropogenic disturbances that are reducing the number and type of coral species on reefs. Coral reefs support upwards of one third of all marine species of fish, so the loss of coral habitat may have substantial consequences to local fish diversity. We posit that the effects of habitat degradation will be most severe in coral regions with highest biodiversity of fishes due to greater specialization by fishes for particular coral habitats. Our novel approach to this important but untested hypothesis was to conduct the same field experiment at three geographic locations across the Indo-Pacific biodiversity gradient (Papua New Guinea; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; French Polynesia). Specifically, we experimentally explored whether the response of local fish communities to identical changes in diversity of habitat-providing corals was independent of the size of the regional species pool of fishes. We found that the proportional reduction (sensitivity) in fish biodiversity to loss of coral diversity was greater for regions with larger background species pools, reflecting variation in the degree of habitat specialization of fishes across the Indo-Pacific diversity gradient. This result implies that habitat-associated fish in diversity hotspots are at greater risk of local extinction to a given loss of habitat diversity compared to regions with lower species richness. This mechanism, related to the positive relationship between habitat specialization and regional biodiversity, and the elevated extinction risk this poses for biodiversity hotspots, may apply to species in other types of ecosystems.

  15. Reef fishes in biodiversity hotspots are at greatest risk from loss of coral species.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sally J Holbrook

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems are under a variety of threats from global change and anthropogenic disturbances that are reducing the number and type of coral species on reefs. Coral reefs support upwards of one third of all marine species of fish, so the loss of coral habitat may have substantial consequences to local fish diversity. We posit that the effects of habitat degradation will be most severe in coral regions with highest biodiversity of fishes due to greater specialization by fishes for particular coral habitats. Our novel approach to this important but untested hypothesis was to conduct the same field experiment at three geographic locations across the Indo-Pacific biodiversity gradient (Papua New Guinea; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; French Polynesia. Specifically, we experimentally explored whether the response of local fish communities to identical changes in diversity of habitat-providing corals was independent of the size of the regional species pool of fishes. We found that the proportional reduction (sensitivity in fish biodiversity to loss of coral diversity was greater for regions with larger background species pools, reflecting variation in the degree of habitat specialization of fishes across the Indo-Pacific diversity gradient. This result implies that habitat-associated fish in diversity hotspots are at greater risk of local extinction to a given loss of habitat diversity compared to regions with lower species richness. This mechanism, related to the positive relationship between habitat specialization and regional biodiversity, and the elevated extinction risk this poses for biodiversity hotspots, may apply to species in other types of ecosystems.

  16. Modeling the effects of climate change and acidification on global coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Logan, C. A.; Donner, S. D.; Eakin, C.; Dunne, J. P.

    2010-12-01

    Climate warming threatens to increase the frequency of mass coral bleaching events. Meanwhile, ocean acidification may increase susceptibility to these events and slow the recovery of corals following bleaching. Using future sea surface warming scenarios from global coupled climate models, previous studies have estimated that corals will experience biannual bleaching events by mid-century unless they are able to acclimatize or adapt at a rate of ~0.2-1.0°C per decade. Empirical studies also show that certain coral ecotypes may be more resistant to bleaching than others (e.g. massive vs. branching). Likewise, more variable thermal history may play a significant role in increasing resistance to bleaching. Better quantifying the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on coral reefs under different future scenarios is critical to making proactive decisions about both mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change. Proposed here is a model that uses two of the ESM2 GFDL models and combines several previous attempts at modeling climate change effects. This model incorporates thermal history and adaptability into a modified Degree Heating Week bleaching threshold. The model is designed to examine the effects of rising SSTs alone as well as in combination with ocean acidification and other factors to predict future global coral reef bleaching frequency and response by coral ecotype. The ESM2 GFDL models are validated for use in coral reef areas by comparing model results against historical SST satellite data for the years 1985-2006 at 4km and 50km spatial resolutions to assess the models’ reproducibility of mean annual temperature, range, and variability. The modified bleaching threshold is tested against observational bleaching records in well-documented areas (e.g., Great Barrier Reef).

  17. Shelters and Their Use by Fishes on Fringing Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ménard, Alexandre; Turgeon, Katrine; Roche, Dominique G.; Binning, Sandra A.; Kramer, Donald L.

    2012-01-01

    Coral reef fish density and species richness are often higher at sites with more structural complexity. This association may be due to greater availability of shelters, but surprisingly little is known about the size and density of shelters and their use by coral reef fishes. We quantified shelter availability and use by fishes for the first time on a Caribbean coral reef by counting all holes and overhangs with a minimum entrance diameter ≥3 cm in 30 quadrats (25 m2) on two fringing reefs in Barbados. Shelter size was highly variable, ranging from 42 cm3 to over 4,000,000 cm3, with many more small than large shelters. On average, there were 3.8 shelters m−2, with a median volume of 1,200 cm3 and a total volume of 52,000 cm3m−2. The number of fish per occupied shelter ranged from 1 to 35 individual fishes belonging to 66 species, with a median of 1. The proportion of shelters occupied and the number of occupants increased strongly with shelter size. Shelter density and total volume increased with substrate complexity, and this relationship varied among reef zones. The density of shelter-using fish was much more strongly predicted by shelter density and median size than by substrate complexity and increased linearly with shelter density, indicating that shelter availability is a limiting resource for some coral reef fishes. The results demonstrate the importance of large shelters for fish density and support the hypothesis that structural complexity is associated with fish abundance, at least in part, due to its association with shelter availability. This information can help identify critical habitat for coral reef fishes, predict the effects of reductions in structural complexity of natural reefs and improve the design of artificial reefs. PMID:22745664

  18. Coral reef recovery dynamics in a changing world

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, N. A. J.; Nash, K. L.; Kool, J. T.

    2011-06-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are degrading through multiple disturbances that are becoming more frequent and severe. The complexities of this degradation have been studied in detail, but little work has assessed characteristics that allow reefs to bounce back and recover between pulse disturbance events. We quantitatively review recovery rates of coral cover from pulse disturbance events among 48 different reef locations, testing the relative roles of disturbance characteristics, reef characteristics, connectivity and anthropogenic influences. Reefs in the western Pacific Ocean had the fastest recovery, whereas reefs in the geographically isolated eastern Pacific Ocean were slowest to recover, reflecting regional differences in coral composition, fish functional diversity and geographic isolation. Disturbances that opened up large areas of benthic space recovered quickly, potentially because of nonlinear recovery where recruitment rates were high. The type of disturbance had a limited effect on subsequent rates of reef recovery, although recovery was faster following crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. This inconsequential role of disturbance type may be in part due to the role of unaltered structural complexity in maintaining key reef processes, such as recruitment and herbivory. Few studies explicitly recorded potential ecological determinants of recovery, such as recruitment rates, structural complexity of habitat and the functional composition of reef-associated fish. There was some evidence of slower recovery rates within protected areas compared with other management systems and fished areas, which may reflect the higher initial coral cover in protected areas rather than reflecting a management effect. A better understanding of the driving role of processes, structural complexity and diversity on recovery may enable more appropriate management actions that support coral-dominated ecosystems in our changing climate.

  19. Acoustic and biological trends on coral reefs off Maui, Hawaii

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kaplan, Maxwell B.; Lammers, Marc O.; Zang, Eden; Aran Mooney, T.

    2018-03-01

    Coral reefs are characterized by high biodiversity, and evidence suggests that reef soundscapes reflect local species assemblages. To investigate how sounds produced on a given reef relate to abiotic and biotic parameters and how that relationship may change over time, an observational study was conducted between September 2014 and January 2016 at seven Hawaiian reefs that varied in coral cover, rugosity, and fish assemblages. The reefs were equipped with temperature loggers and acoustic recording devices that recorded on a 10% duty cycle. Benthic and fish visual survey data were collected four times over the course of the study. On average, reefs ranged from 0 to 80% live coral cover, although changes between surveys were noted, in particular during the major El Niño-related bleaching event of October 2015. Acoustic analyses focused on two frequency bands (50-1200 and 1.8-20.5 kHz) that corresponded to the dominant spectral features of the major sound-producing taxa on these reefs, fish, and snapping shrimp, respectively. In the low-frequency band, the presence of humpback whales (December-May) was a major contributor to sound level, whereas in the high-frequency band sound level closely tracked water temperature. On shorter timescales, the magnitude of the diel trend in sound production was greater than that of the lunar trend, but both varied in strength among reefs, which may reflect differences in the species assemblages present. Results indicated that the magnitude of the diel trend was related to fish densities at low frequencies and coral cover at high frequencies; however, the strength of these relationships varied by season. Thus, long-term acoustic recordings capture the substantial acoustic variability present in coral-reef ecosystems and provide insight into the presence and relative abundance of sound-producing organisms.

  20. The Influence of Coral Reef Benthic Condition on Associated Fish Assemblages

    OpenAIRE

    Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Mannering, Thomas D.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Bellwood, David R.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.

    2012-01-01

    Accumulative disturbances can erode a coral reef's resilience, often leading to replacement of scleractinian corals by macroalgae or other non-coral organisms. These degraded reef systems have been mostly described based on changes in the composition of the reef benthos, and there is little understanding of how such changes are influenced by, and in turn influence, other components of the reef ecosystem. This study investigated the spatial variation in benthic communities on fringing reefs ar...

  1. Evidence of reduced mid-Holocene ENSO variance on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leonard, N. D.; Welsh, K. J.; Lough, J. M.; Feng, Y.-x.; Pandolfi, J. M.; Clark, T. R.; Zhao, J.-x.

    2016-09-01

    Globally, coral reefs are under increasing pressure both through direct anthropogenic influence and increases in climate extremes. Understanding past climate dynamics that negatively affected coral reef growth is imperative for both improving management strategies and for modeling coral reef responses to a changing climate. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the primary source of climate variability at interannual timescales on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), northeastern Australia. Applying continuous wavelet transforms to visually assessed coral luminescence intensity in massive Porites corals from the central GBR we demonstrate that these records reliably reproduce ENSO variance patterns for the period 1880-1985. We then applied this method to three subfossil corals from the same reef to reconstruct ENSO variance from ~5200 to 4300 years before present (yBP). We show that ENSO events were less extreme and less frequent after ~5200 yBP on the GBR compared to modern records. Growth characteristics of the corals are consistent with cooler sea surface temperatures (SSTs) between 5200 and 4300 yBP compared to both the millennia prior (~6000 yBP) and modern records. Understanding ENSO dynamics in response to SST variability at geological timescales will be important for improving predictions of future ENSO response to a rapidly warming climate.

  2. ASSIMILATION OF PHOTOSYNTHETIC PRODUCTS OF ZOOXANTHELLAE BY A REEF CORAL.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muscatine, Leonard; Cernichiari, Elsa

    1969-12-01

    1. The hermatypic coral, Pocillopora damicornis was incubated in the laboratory and in its reef habitat with Na 2 14 CO 3 for 1-24 hours. Controls were incubated in darkness. 14 C fixation in light exceeded that in darkness. 2. Fractionation of corals labeled on the reef for 24 hours revealed that 35-50% of the total 14 C fixed appeared in the animal tissue lipid (as 14 C-glycerol) and protein. From a comparison with dark controls it is concluded that photosynthetic products of zooxanthellae are translocated to host coral tissue. The skeletal organic matrix also acquires 14 C. 3. Zooxanthehellae isolated from corals and incubated in a homogenate of host coral tissue selectively release glycerol and traces of other organic material including glucose, alanine, and glycolic acid confirming previous observations.

  3. Coral community response to bleaching on a highly disturbed reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guest, J R; Low, J; Tun, K; Wilson, B; Ng, C; Raingeard, D; Ulstrup, K E; Tanzil, J T I; Todd, P A; Toh, T C; McDougald, D; Chou, L M; Steinberg, P D

    2016-02-15

    While many studies of coral bleaching report on broad, regional scale responses, fewer examine variation in susceptibility among coral taxa and changes in community structure, before, during and after bleaching on individual reefs. Here we report in detail on the response to bleaching by a coral community on a highly disturbed reef site south of mainland Singapore before, during and after a major thermal anomaly in 2010. To estimate the capacity for resistance to thermal stress, we report on: a) overall bleaching severity during and after the event, b) differences in bleaching susceptibility among taxa during the event, and c) changes in coral community structure one year before and after bleaching. Approximately two thirds of colonies bleached, however, post-bleaching recovery was quite rapid and, importantly, coral taxa that are usually highly susceptible were relatively unaffected. Although total coral cover declined, there was no significant change in coral taxonomic community structure before and after bleaching. Several factors may have contributed to the overall high resistance of corals at this site including Symbiodinium affiliation, turbidity and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that, despite experiencing chronic anthropogenic disturbances, turbid shallow reef communities may be remarkably resilient to acute thermal stress.

  4. Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program Coral Colony Size and Condition Surveys since 2010

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Government of Guam's Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program, coordinated by the Guam Coastal Management Program until October 2013 and now coordinated by the...

  5. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program: 2016 Projects Monitoring the Effects of Thermal Stress on Coral Bleaching

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Climate change impacts have been identified as one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. As temperature rise, mass bleaching, and infectious...

  6. Changes in Biodiversity and Functioning of Reef Fish Assemblages following Coral Bleaching and Coral Loss

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas A.J. Graham

    2011-08-01

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems are increasingly subject to severe, large-scale disturbances caused by climate change (e.g., coral bleaching and other more direct anthropogenic impacts. Many of these disturbances cause coral loss and corresponding changes in habitat structure, which has further important effects on abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes. Declines in the abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes are of considerable concern, given the potential loss of ecosystem function. This study explored the effects of coral loss, recorded in studies conducted throughout the world, on the diversity of fishes and also on individual responses of fishes within different functional groups. Extensive (>60% coral loss almost invariably led to declines in fish diversity. Moreover, most fishes declined in abundance following acute disturbances that caused >10% declines in local coral cover. Response diversity, which is considered critical in maintaining ecosystem function and promoting resilience, was very low for corallivores, but was much higher for herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. Sustained and ongoing climate change thus poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems and diversity hotspots are no less susceptible to projected changes in diversity and function.

  7. Changes in biodiversity and functioning of reef fish assemblages following coral bleaching and coral loss

    KAUST Repository

    Pratchett, M.S.

    2011-08-12

    Coral reef ecosystems are increasingly subject to severe, large-scale disturbances caused by climate change (e.g., coral bleaching) and other more direct anthropogenic impacts. Many of these disturbances cause coral loss and corresponding changes in habitat structure, which has further important effects on abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes. Declines in the abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes are of considerable concern, given the potential loss of ecosystem function. This study explored the effects of coral loss, recorded in studies conducted throughout the world, on the diversity of fishes and also on individual responses of fishes within different functional groups. Extensive (>60%) coral loss almost invariably led to declines in fish diversity. Moreover, most fishes declined in abundance following acute disturbances that caused >10% declines in local coral cover. Response diversity, which is considered critical in maintaining ecosystem function and promoting resilience, was very low for corallivores, but was much higher for herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. Sustained and ongoing climate change thus poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems and diversity hotspots are no less susceptible to projected changes in diversity and function.

  8. 76 FR 7579 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-02-10

    .... Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior... Service (Service), announce a public business meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) [email protected] ); or Liza Johnson, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Department of the Interior Liaison, U.S...

  9. Are non-estuarine mangroves connected to coral reefs through fish migration? A mini-review

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Nagelkerken, I.

    2007-01-01

    Mangroves are an important fish habitat, but little is known of their nursery function and connectivity to other habitats such as coral reefs. Here, the present status of knowledge on connectivity between non-estuarine mangroves and coral reefs by postlarval coral reef fishes is reviewed. Only since

  10. The Status of Coral Reefs in the Remote Region of Andavadoaka ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ecosystems - encompassing coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds - have been relatively ignored ... deforestation, has caused considerable damage to coral reefs located near large river mouths, such as ..... Roberts, C. (1995) Effects of fishing on the ecosystem structure of coral reefs. Conserv. Biol. 9: 988-. 995.

  11. 77 FR 39724 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-07-05

    ...-123D0102DM-DS61200000] U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife.... Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force... better preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The Departments of Commerce and the Interior co-chair...

  12. 75 FR 47624 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-08-06

    ... Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and... U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task...: [email protected] ); or Liza Johnson, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Department of the Interior Liaison, U...

  13. Assessing the sensitivity of coral reef condition indicators to local and global stressors with Bayesian networks

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are highly valued ecosystems that are currently imperiled. Although the value of coral reefs to human societies is only just being investigated and better understood, for many local and global economies coral reefs are important providers of ecosystem services that su...

  14. 77 FR 6786 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-02-09

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public..., Notice of public comment. SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given of a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task.... Coral Reef Task Force, provides a forum for coordinated planning and action among federal agencies...

  15. 76 FR 24050 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-04-29

    ... National Park Service Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement... Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Biscayne National... Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan (Plan/FEIS) for Biscayne National Park, Florida. The...

  16. 75 FR 21650 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-04-26

    ... DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic... Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Biscayne National Park. SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental... availability of a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan...

  17. The coral reef of South Moloka'i, Hawai'i - Portrait of a sediment-threatened fringing reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Field, Michael E.; Cochran, Susan A.; Logan, Joshua; Storlazzi, Curt D.

    2008-01-01

    Moloka‘i, with the most extensive coral reef in the main Hawaiian Islands, is especially sacred to Hina, the Goddess of the Moon. As Hinaalo, she is the Mother of the Hawaiian people; as Hinapuku‘a, she is the Goddess of Fishermen; and in the form Hina‘opuhalako‘a, she is the Goddess who gave birth to coral, coral reefs, and all spiny marine organisms. Interdependence between the reef’s living resources, the people, and their cosmology was the basis for management of Moloka‘i’s coastal waters for over a thousand years.The ancient residents of Moloka‘i built the greatest concentration of fishponds known anywhere, but their mastery of mariculture, something needed now more than ever, was lost after near genocide from exotic Western diseases. Subsequent destruction of the native vegetation for exotic cattle, goats, pigs, sugar cane, and pineapple caused soil erosion and sedimentation on the reef flat. This masterful volume clearly documents that soil washing into the sea is the major threat to the reef today. Abandoned fishponds, choked with sediment, now act as barriers and mud traps, making damage to corals less than it would otherwise would have been.The role of mud and freshwater from land in preventing coral reef growth, clearly articulated in Charles Darwin’s first book, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, is the major theme of this book. All around the tropics, coral reefs have died from huge increases in terrestrial sedimentation that resulted from destruction of hillside forests for cash-crop agriculture and pastures in the colonial era, especially in Latin America, Asia, and the islands of the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific. It is obvious that one cannot manage the coastal zone as a unit separate from the watersheds that drain into it. Yet there has been surprisingly little comprehensive scientific study of these impacts.In this landmark volume, U.S. Geological Survey researchers and their colleagues have developed and applied a

  18. Climate change and the Great Barrier Reef

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Johnson, Johanna; Marshall, Paul

    2007-01-01

    Full text: Full text: Climate change is now recognised as the greatest long-term threat to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Managers face a future in which the impacts of climate change on tropical marine ecosystems are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. Further degradation is inevitable as the climate continues to change but the extent of the decline will depend on the rate and magnitude of climate change and the resilience of the ecosystem. Changes to the ecosystem have implications for the industries and regional communities that depend on the GBR. Climate projections for the GBR region include increasing air and sea temperatures, ocean acidification, nutrient enrichment (via changes in rainfall), altered light levels, more extreme weather events, changes to ocean circulation and sea level rise. Impacts have already been observed, with severe coral bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, and mass mortalities of seabirds linked to anomalously warm summer conditions. Climate change also poses significant threats to the industries and communities that depend on the GBR ecosystem, both directly and indirectly through loss of natural resources; industries such as recreational and commercial fishing, and tourism, which contributes to a regional tourism industry worth $6.1 billion (Access Economics 2005). A vulnerability assessment undertaken by leading experts in climate and marine science identified climate sensitivities for GBR species, habitats, key processes, GBR industries and communities (Johnson and Marshall 2007). This information has been used to develop a Climate Change Action Plan for the GBR. The Action Plan is a five-year program aimed at facilitating targeted science, building a resilient ecosystem, assisting adaptation of industries and communities, and reducing climate footprints. The Action Plan identifies strategies to review current management arrangements and raise awareness of the issue in order to work towards a resilient ecosystem. Integral to

  19. Effects of Great Barrier Reef degradation on recreational reef-trip demand: a contingent behaviour approach

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Kragt, M.E.; Roebeling, P.C.; Ruijs, A.J.W.

    2009-01-01

    There is a growing concern that increased nutrient and sediment runoff from river catchments are a potential source of coral reef degradation. Degradation of reefs may affect the number of tourists visiting the reef and, consequently, the economic sectors that rely on healthy reefs for their income

  20. Reef core insights into mid-Holocene water temperatures of the southern Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sadler, James; Webb, Gregory E.; Leonard, Nicole D.; Nothdurft, Luke D.; Clark, Tara R.

    2016-10-01

    The tropical and subtropical oceans of the Southern Hemisphere are poorly represented in present-day climate models, necessitating an increased number of paleoclimate records from this key region to both understand the Earth's climate system and help constrain model simulations. Here we present a site-specific calibration of live collected massive Porites Sr/Ca records against concomitant in situ instrumental water temperature data from the fore-reef slope of Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The resultant calibration, and a previously published Acropora calibration from the same site, was applied to subfossil coral material to investigate Holocene water temperatures at Heron Reef. U-Th-dated samples of massive Porites suggest cooler water temperatures with reduced seasonal amplitude at 5.2 ka (2.76-1.31°C cooler than present) and 7 ka (1.26°C cooler than present) at Heron Reef. These results contrast the previous suggestion of a mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum in the central GBR around 5.35 ka and 4.48 ka, yet may be explained by differences in temperature of the shallow ponded reef flat (central GBR) and the deeper reef slope waters (this study) and potential large reservoir correction errors associated with early radiocarbon dates. Combining coral-based water temperature anomaly reconstructions from the tropical and subtropical western Pacific indicates a coherent temperature response across the meridional gradient from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea down to the southern GBR. This similarity in reconstructed temperature anomalies suggests a high probability of an earlier expression of a mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum on the GBR between 6.8 and 6.0 ka.

  1. Challenges for Managing Fisheries on Diverse Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Douglas Fenner

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available Widespread coral reef decline has included the decline of reef fish populations, and the subsistence and artisanal fisheries that depend on them. Overfishing and destructive fishing have been identified as the greatest local threats to coral reefs, but the greatest future threats are acidification and increases in mass coral bleaching caused by global warming. Some reefs have shifted from dominance by corals to macroalgae, in what are called “phase shifts”. Depletion of herbivores including fishes has been identified as a contributor to such phase shifts, though nutrients are also involved in complex interactions with herbivory and competition. The depletion of herbivorous fishes implies a reduction of the resilience of coral reefs to the looming threat of mass coral mortality from bleaching, since mass coral deaths are likely to be followed by mass macroalgal blooms on the newly exposed dead substrates. Conventional stock assessment of each fish species would be the preferred option for understanding the status of the reef fishes, but this is far too expensive to be practical because of the high diversity of the fishery and poverty where most reefs are located. In addition, stock assessment models and fisheries in general assume density dependent populations, but a key prediction that stocks recover from fishing is not always confirmed. Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE has far too many weaknesses to be a useful method. The ratio of catch to stock and the proportion of catch that is mature depend on fish catch data, and are heavily biased toward stocks that are in good condition and incapable of finding species that are in the worst condition. Near-pristine reefs give us a reality check about just how much we have lost. Common fisheries management tools that control effort or catch are often prohibitively difficult to enforce for most coral reefs except in developed countries. Ecosystem-based management requires management of impacts of fishing

  2. 76 FR 82413 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-12-30

    ... Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral... Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 101217620-1788-03] RIN 0648-BA62 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of...

  3. Sewage pollution: mitigation is key for coral reef stewardship.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wear, Stephanie L; Thurber, Rebecca Vega

    2015-10-01

    Coral reefs are in decline worldwide, and land-derived sources of pollution, including sewage, are a major force driving that deterioration. This review presents evidence that sewage discharge occurs in waters surrounding at least 104 of 112 reef geographies. Studies often refer to sewage as a single stressor. However, we show that it is more accurately characterized as a multiple stressor. Many of the individual agents found within sewage, specifically freshwater, inorganic nutrients, pathogens, endocrine disrupters, suspended solids, sediments, and heavy metals, can severely impair coral growth and/or reproduction. These components of sewage may interact with each other to create as-yet poorly understood synergisms (e.g., nutrients facilitate pathogen growth), and escalate impacts of other, non-sewage-based stressors. Surprisingly few published studies have examined impacts of sewage in the field, but those that have suggest negative effects on coral reefs. Because sewage discharge proximal to sensitive coral reefs is widespread across the tropics, it is imperative for coral reef-focused institutions to increase investment in threat-abatement strategies for mitigating sewage pollution. © 2015 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals Inc. on behalf of The New York Academy of Sciences.

  4. Energetic differences between bacterioplankton trophic groups and coral reef resistance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McDole Somera, Tracey; Bailey, Barbara; Barott, Katie; Grasis, Juris; Hatay, Mark; Hilton, Brett J; Hisakawa, Nao; Nosrat, Bahador; Nulton, James; Silveira, Cynthia B; Sullivan, Chris; Brainard, Russell E; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-04-27

    Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems on the Earth. They are also particularly sensitive to changing energetic requirements by different trophic levels. Microbialization specifically refers to the increase in the energetic metabolic demands of microbes relative to macrobes and is significantly correlated with increasing human influence on coral reefs. In this study, metabolic theory of ecology is used to quantify the relative contributions of two broad bacterioplankton groups, autotrophs and heterotrophs, to energy flux on 27 Pacific coral reef ecosystems experiencing human impact to varying degrees. The effective activation energy required for photosynthesis is lower than the average energy of activation for the biochemical reactions of the Krebs cycle, and changes in the proportional abundance of these two groups can greatly affect rates of energy and materials cycling. We show that reef-water communities with a higher proportional abundance of microbial autotrophs expend more metabolic energy per gram of microbial biomass. Increased energy and materials flux through fast energy channels (i.e. water-column associated microbial autotrophs) may dampen the detrimental effects of increased heterotrophic loads (e.g. coral disease) on coral reef systems experiencing anthropogenic disturbance. © 2016 The Author(s).

  5. The exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to ocean acidification

    KAUST Repository

    Mongin, Mathieu

    2016-02-23

    The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is founded on reef-building corals. Corals build their exoskeleton with aragonite, but ocean acidification is lowering the aragonite saturation state of seawater (Ωa). The downscaling of ocean acidification projections from global to GBR scales requires the set of regional drivers controlling Ωa to be resolved. Here we use a regional coupled circulation–biogeochemical model and observations to estimate the Ωa experienced by the 3,581 reefs of the GBR, and to apportion the contributions of the hydrological cycle, regional hydrodynamics and metabolism on Ωa variability. We find more detail, and a greater range (1.43), than previously compiled coarse maps of Ωa of the region (0.4), or in observations (1.0). Most of the variability in Ωa is due to processes upstream of the reef in question. As a result, future decline in Ωa is likely to be steeper on the GBR than currently projected by the IPCC assessment report.

  6. The exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to ocean acidification.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mongin, Mathieu; Baird, Mark E; Tilbrook, Bronte; Matear, Richard J; Lenton, Andrew; Herzfeld, Mike; Wild-Allen, Karen; Skerratt, Jenny; Margvelashvili, Nugzar; Robson, Barbara J; Duarte, Carlos M; Gustafsson, Malin S M; Ralph, Peter J; Steven, Andrew D L

    2016-02-23

    The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is founded on reef-building corals. Corals build their exoskeleton with aragonite, but ocean acidification is lowering the aragonite saturation state of seawater (Ωa). The downscaling of ocean acidification projections from global to GBR scales requires the set of regional drivers controlling Ωa to be resolved. Here we use a regional coupled circulation-biogeochemical model and observations to estimate the Ωa experienced by the 3,581 reefs of the GBR, and to apportion the contributions of the hydrological cycle, regional hydrodynamics and metabolism on Ωa variability. We find more detail, and a greater range (1.43), than previously compiled coarse maps of Ωa of the region (0.4), or in observations (1.0). Most of the variability in Ωa is due to processes upstream of the reef in question. As a result, future decline in Ωa is likely to be steeper on the GBR than currently projected by the IPCC assessment report.

  7. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Barott, K.L.; Rodriguez-Mueller, B; Youle, M.; Marhaver, K.L.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Smith, J.E.; Rohwer, F.L.

    2012-01-01

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the

  8. Satellite imaging coral reef resilience at regional scale. A case-study from Saudi Arabia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rowlands, Gwilym; Purkis, Sam; Riegl, Bernhard; Metsamaa, Liisa; Bruckner, Andrew; Renaud, Philip

    2012-06-01

    We propose a framework for spatially estimating a proxy for coral reef resilience using remote sensing. Data spanning large areas of coral reef habitat were obtained using the commercial QuickBird satellite, and freely available imagery (NASA, Google Earth). Principles of coral reef ecology, field observation, and remote observations, were combined to devise mapped indices. These capture important and accessible components of coral reef resilience. Indices are divided between factors known to stress corals, and factors incorporating properties of the reef landscape that resist stress or promote coral growth. The first-basis for a remote sensed resilience index (RSRI), an estimate of expected reef resilience, is proposed. Developed for the Red Sea, the framework of our analysis is flexible and with minimal adaptation, could be extended to other reef regions. We aim to stimulate discussion as to use of remote sensing to do more than simply deliver habitat maps of coral reefs. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  9. Resilience of coral reefs in the main Hawaiian Islands from 2013 to 2014 (NCEI Accession 0128219)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Declining health of coral reef ecosystems led scientists to search for factors that support reef resilience: the ability of reefs to resist and recover from...

  10. Paleoceanography of coral reefs in the hawaiian-emperor chain.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Grigg, R W

    1988-06-24

    The fossil record of shallow marine organisms in the Hawaiian Archipelago and Emperor seamount chain indicates that reef corals were absent during the first half of the Tertiary. Their appearance during the early Oligocene, 34 million years ago, is associated with several paleoceanographic events that appear to have combined to intensify gradually gyral surface currents in the north Pacific. This association suggests that corals were absent in the early Tertiary because of isolation of the Hawaiian Archipelago from the Indo-West Pacific (IWP), the center of reef coral abundance and diversity in the Pacific. Today, the number of species of reef corals in Hawaii is less than 10 percent of the number of species in the IWP. Since their initial colonization, reef corals have been present continuously in the Hawaiian Archipelago, although not without taxonomic change. Episodes of extinction and recolonization are the most likely cause of change in species composition. Recolonization from the IWP may also explain the low rate of endemism (about 20 percent) in the present-day coral fauna.

  11. Rapid survey protocol that provides dynamic information on reef condition to managers of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beeden, R J; Turner, M A; Dryden, J; Merida, F; Goudkamp, K; Malone, C; Marshall, P A; Birtles, A; Maynard, J A

    2014-12-01

    Managing to support coral reef resilience as the climate changes requires strategic and responsive actions that reduce anthropogenic stress. Managers can only target and tailor these actions if they regularly receive information on system condition and impact severity. In large coral reef areas like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), acquiring condition and impact data with good spatial and temporal coverage requires using a large network of observers. Here, we describe the result of ~10 years of evolving and refining participatory monitoring programs used in the GBR that have rangers, tourism operators and members of the public as observers. Participants complete Reef Health and Impact Surveys (RHIS) using a protocol that meets coral reef managers' needs for up-to-date information on the following: benthic community composition, reef condition and impacts including coral diseases, damage, predation and the presence of rubbish. Training programs ensure that the information gathered is sufficiently precise to inform management decisions. Participants regularly report because the demands of the survey methodology have been matched to their time availability. Undertaking the RHIS protocol we describe involves three ~20 min surveys at each site. Participants enter data into an online data management system that can create reports for managers and participants within minutes of data being submitted. Since 2009, 211 participants have completed a total of more than 10,415 surveys at more than 625 different reefs. The two-way exchange of information between managers and participants increases the capacity to manage reefs adaptively, meets education and outreach objectives and can increase stewardship. The general approach used and the survey methodology are both sufficiently adaptable to be used in all reef regions.

  12. High macroalgal cover and low coral recruitment undermines the potential resilience of the world's southernmost coral reef assemblages.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew S Hoey

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic and climate-induced stressors. The ability of reefs to reassemble and regenerate after disturbances (i.e., resilience is largely dependent on the capacity of herbivores to prevent macroalgal expansion, and the replenishment of coral populations through larval recruitment. Currently there is a paucity of this information for higher latitude, subtropical reefs. To assess the potential resilience of the benthic reef assemblages of Lord Howe Island (31°32'S, 159°04'E, the worlds' southernmost coral reef, we quantified the benthic composition, densities of juvenile corals (as a proxy for coral recruitment, and herbivorous fish communities. Despite some variation among habitats and sites, benthic communities were dominated by live scleractinian corals (mean cover 37.4% and fleshy macroalgae (20.9%. Live coral cover was higher than in most other subtropical reefs and directly comparable to lower latitude tropical reefs. Juvenile coral densities (0.8 ind.m(-2, however, were 5-200 times lower than those reported for tropical reefs. Overall, macroalgal cover was negatively related to the cover of live coral and the density of juvenile corals, but displayed no relationship with herbivorous fish biomass. The biomass of herbivorous fishes was relatively low (204 kg.ha(-1, and in marked contrast to tropical reefs was dominated by macroalgal browsing species (84.1% with relatively few grazing species. Despite their extremely low biomass, grazing fishes were positively related to both the density of juvenile corals and the cover of bare substrata, suggesting that they may enhance the recruitment of corals through the provision of suitable settlement sites. Although Lord Howe Islands' reefs are currently coral-dominated, the high macroalgal cover, coupled with limited coral recruitment and low coral growth rates suggest these reefs may be extremely susceptible to future disturbances.

  13. High macroalgal cover and low coral recruitment undermines the potential resilience of the world's southernmost coral reef assemblages

    KAUST Repository

    Hoey, Andrew

    2011-10-03

    Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic and climate-induced stressors. The ability of reefs to reassemble and regenerate after disturbances (i.e., resilience) is largely dependent on the capacity of herbivores to prevent macroalgal expansion, and the replenishment of coral populations through larval recruitment. Currently there is a paucity of this information for higher latitude, subtropical reefs. To assess the potential resilience of the benthic reef assemblages of Lord Howe Island (31°32?S, 159°04?E), the worlds\\' southernmost coral reef, we quantified the benthic composition, densities of juvenile corals (as a proxy for coral recruitment), and herbivorous fish communities. Despite some variation among habitats and sites, benthic communities were dominated by live scleractinian corals (mean cover 37.4%) and fleshy macroalgae (20.9%). Live coral cover was higher than in most other subtropical reefs and directly comparable to lower latitude tropical reefs. Juvenile coral densities (0.8 ind.m -2), however, were 5-200 times lower than those reported for tropical reefs. Overall, macroalgal cover was negatively related to the cover of live coral and the density of juvenile corals, but displayed no relationship with herbivorous fish biomass. The biomass of herbivorous fishes was relatively low (204 kg.ha -1), and in marked contrast to tropical reefs was dominated by macroalgal browsing species (84.1%) with relatively few grazing species. Despite their extremely low biomass, grazing fishes were positively related to both the density of juvenile corals and the cover of bare substrata, suggesting that they may enhance the recruitment of corals through the provision of suitable settlement sites. Although Lord Howe Islands\\' reefs are currently coral-dominated, the high macroalgal cover, coupled with limited coral recruitment and low coral growth rates suggest these reefs may be extremely susceptible to future disturbances. © 2011 Hoey et al.

  14. The diversity of coral reefs: what are we missing?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Laetitia Plaisance

    Full Text Available Tropical reefs shelter one quarter to one third of all marine species but one third of the coral species that construct reefs are now at risk of extinction. Because traditional methods for assessing reef diversity are extremely time consuming, taxonomic expertise for many groups is lacking, and marine organisms are thought to be less vulnerable to extinction, most discussions of reef conservation focus on maintenance of ecosystem services rather than biodiversity loss. In this study involving the three major oceans with reef growth, we provide new biodiversity estimates based on quantitative sampling and DNA barcoding. We focus on crustaceans, which are the second most diverse group of marine metazoans. We show exceptionally high numbers of crustacean species associated with coral reefs relative to sampling effort (525 species from a combined, globally distributed sample area of 6.3 m(2. The high prevalence of rare species (38% encountered only once, the low level of spatial overlap (81% found in only one locality and the biogeographic patterns of diversity detected (Indo-West Pacific>Central Pacific>Caribbean are consistent with results from traditional survey methods, making this approach a reliable and efficient method for assessing and monitoring biodiversity. The finding of such large numbers of species in a small total area suggests that coral reef diversity is seriously under-detected using traditional survey methods, and by implication, underestimated.

  15. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O; Mumby, P J; Hooten, A J; Steneck, R S; Greenfield, P; Gomez, E; Harvell, C D; Sale, P F; Edwards, A J; Caldeira, K; Knowlton, N; Eakin, C M; Iglesias-Prieto, R; Muthiga, N; Bradbury, R H; Dubi, A; Hatziolos, M E

    2007-12-14

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2 degrees C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

  16. Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Mumby, P. J.; Hooten, A. J.; Steneck, R. S.; Greenfield, P.; Gomez, E.; Harvell, C. D.; Sale, P. F.; Edwards, A. J.; Caldeira, K.; Knowlton, N.; Eakin, C. M.; Iglesias-Prieto, R.; Muthiga, N.; Bradbury, R. H.; Dubi, A.; Hatziolos, M. E.

    2007-12-01

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2°C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

  17. Scientific Frontiers in the Management of Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Shankar eAswani

    2015-07-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are subjected globally to a variety of natural and anthropogenic stressors that often act synergistically. Today, reversing ongoing and future coral reef degradation presents significant challenges and countering this negative trend will take considerable efforts and investments. Scientific knowledge can inform and guide the requisite decision-making process and offer practical solutions to the problem of protection as the effects of climate change exacerbate. However, implementation of solutions presently lags far behind the pace required to reverse global declines, and there is a need for an urgent and significant step-up in the extent and range of strategies being implemented. In this paper, we consider scientific frontiers in natural and social science research that can help build stronger support for reef management and improve the efficacy of interventions. We cover various areas including: (1 enhancing the case for reef conservation and management, (2 dealing with local stressors on reefs, (3 addressing global climate change impacts, (4 and reviewing various approaches to the governance of coral reefs. In sum, we consider scientific frontiers in natural and social science that will require further attention in coming years as managers’ work towards building stronger support for reef management and improve the efficacy of local interventions.

  18. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Coral Reef Fish collected in Fl Keys Reef Tract (2014)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Divers conducted reef visual census (RVC) fish surveys and habitat assessments at 433 sites in the Florida Keys, 436 sites in the Dry Tortugas and 320 sites in the...

  19. A modeling tool to evaluate regional coral reef responses to changes in climate and ocean chemistry

    Science.gov (United States)

    Buddemeier, R.W.; Jokiel, P.L.; Zimmerman, K.M.; Lane, D.R.; Carey, J.M.; Bohling, Geoffrey C.; Martinich, J.A.

    2008-01-01

    We developed a spreadsheet-based model for the use of managers, conservationists, and biologists for projecting the effects of climate change on coral reefs at local-to-regional scales. The COMBO (Coral Mortality and Bleaching Output) model calculates the impacts to coral reefs from changes in average SST and CO2 concentrations, and from high temperature mortality (bleaching) events. The model uses a probabilistic assessment of the frequency of high temperature events under a future climate to address scientific uncertainties about potential adverse effects. COMBO offers data libraries and default factors for three selected regions (Hawai'i, Great Barrier Reef, and Caribbean), but it is structured with user-selectable parameter values and data input options, making possible modifications to reflect local conditions or to incorporate local expertise. Preliminary results from sensitivity analyses and simulation examples for Hawai'i demonstrate the relative importance of high temperature events, increased average temperature, and increased CO2 concentration on the future status of coral reefs; Illustrate significant interactions among variables; and allow comparisons of past environmental history with future predictions. ?? 2008, by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanugraphy, Inc.

  20. Spawning of coral reef invertebrates and a second spawning season for scleractinian corals in the central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Bouwmeester, Jessica

    2016-06-22

    Recent coral spawning observations in the central Red Sea show that most scleractinian species release their gametes in the spring, with a majority of species spawning in April. There is, however, a lack of reproductive data for several other coral species, as well as a general lack of data for other invertebrates. Here, we document the detailed timing of spawning for 13 scleractinian coral species, one sea anemone, and six echinoderms from an inshore reef off the coast of Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, in the spring between April and June 2014. Furthermore, inferred from the presence of mature gametes, we report the month of spawning for three additional coral species in the spring. Seven scleractinian coral species were inferred to release their gametes in a second reproductive season, in the autumn, between September and November. This is the first report of a second spawning season in the Arabian region. Biannual spawning has so far been reported on the Great Barrier Reef, in Western Australia, in Indonesia, in Malaysia, in Palau, in Thailand, in Taiwan, and in Western Samoa. © 2016, The American Microscopical Society, Inc.

  1. Impact of conservation areas on trophic interactions between apex predators and herbivores on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rizzari, Justin R; Bergseth, Brock J; Frisch, Ashley J

    2015-04-01

    Apex predators are declining at alarming rates due to exploitation by humans, but we have yet to fully discern the impacts of apex predator loss on ecosystem function. In a management context, it is critically important to clarify the role apex predators play in structuring populations of lower trophic levels. Thus, we examined the top-down influence of reef sharks (an apex predator on coral reefs) and mesopredators on large-bodied herbivores. We measured the abundance, size structure, and biomass of apex predators, mesopredators, and herbivores across fished, no-take, and no-entry management zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. Shark abundance and mesopredator size and biomass were higher in no-entry zones than in fished and no-take zones, which indicates the viability of strictly enforced human exclusion areas as tools for the conservation of predator communities. Changes in predator populations due to protection in no-entry zones did not have a discernible influence on the density, size, or biomass of different functional groups of herbivorous fishes. The lack of a relationship between predators and herbivores suggests that top-down forces may not play a strong role in regulating large-bodied herbivorous coral reef fish populations. Given this inconsistency with traditional ecological theories of trophic cascades, trophic structures on coral reefs may need to be reassessed to enable the establishment of appropriate and effective management regimes. © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology.

  2. Hysteresis in coral reefs under macroalgal toxicity and overfishing.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bhattacharyya, Joydeb; Pal, Samares

    2015-03-01

    Macroalgae and corals compete for the available space in coral reef ecosystems.While herbivorous reef fish play a beneficial role in decreasing the growth of macroalgae, macroalgal toxicity and overfishing of herbivores leads to proliferation of macroalgae. The abundance of macroalgae changes the community structure towards a macroalgae-dominated reef ecosystem. We investigate coral-macroalgal phase shifts by means of a continuous time model in a food chain. Conditions for local asymptotic stability of steady states are derived. It is observed that in the presence of macroalgal toxicity and overfishing, the system exhibits hysteresis through saddle-node bifurcation and transcritical bifurcation. We examine the effects of time lags in the liberation of toxins by macroalgae and the recovery of algal turf in response to grazing of herbivores on macroalgae by performing equilibrium and stability analyses of delay-differential forms of the ODE model. Computer simulations have been carried out to illustrate the different analytical results.

  3. Mechanisms of reef coral resistance to future climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Palumbi, Stephen R; Barshis, Daniel J; Traylor-Knowles, Nikki; Bay, Rachael A

    2014-05-23

    Reef corals are highly sensitive to heat, yet populations resistant to climate change have recently been identified. To determine the mechanisms of temperature tolerance, we reciprocally transplanted corals between reef sites experiencing distinct temperature regimes and tested subsequent physiological and gene expression profiles. Local acclimatization and fixed effects, such as adaptation, contributed about equally to heat tolerance and are reflected in patterns of gene expression. In less than 2 years, acclimatization achieves the same heat tolerance that we would expect from strong natural selection over many generations for these long-lived organisms. Our results show both short-term acclimatory and longer-term adaptive acquisition of climate resistance. Adding these adaptive abilities to ecosystem models is likely to slow predictions of demise for coral reef ecosystems. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  4. Temporal clustering of tropical cyclones on the Great Barrier Reef and its ecological importance

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wolff, Nicholas H.; Wong, Aaron; Vitolo, Renato; Stolberg, Kristin; Anthony, Kenneth R. N.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2016-06-01

    Tropical cyclones have been a major cause of reef coral decline during recent decades, including on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). While cyclones are a natural element of the disturbance regime of coral reefs, the role of temporal clustering has previously been overlooked. Here, we examine the consequences of different types of cyclone temporal distributions (clustered, stochastic or regular) on reef ecosystems. We subdivided the GBR into 14 adjoining regions, each spanning roughly 300 km, and quantified both the rate and clustering of cyclones using dispersion statistics. To interpret the consequences of such cyclone variability for coral reef health, we used a model of observed coral population dynamics. Results showed that clustering occurs on the margins of the cyclone belt, being strongest in the southern reefs and the far northern GBR, which also has the lowest cyclone rate. In the central GBR, where rates were greatest, cyclones had a relatively regular temporal pattern. Modelled dynamics of the dominant coral genus, Acropora, suggest that the long-term average cover might be more than 13 % greater (in absolute cover units) under a clustered cyclone regime compared to stochastic or regular regimes. Thus, not only does cyclone clustering vary significantly along the GBR but such clustering is predicted to have a marked, and management-relevant, impact on the status of coral populations. Additionally, we use our regional clustering and rate results to sample from a library of over 7000 synthetic cyclone tracks for the GBR. This allowed us to provide robust reef-scale maps of annual cyclone frequency and cyclone impacts on Acropora. We conclude that assessments of coral reef vulnerability need to account for both spatial and temporal cyclone distributions.

  5. NOAA Coral Reef Watch Larval Connectivity, Florida Reef Tract

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Climate change threatens even the best-protected and most remote reefs. Reef recovery following catastrophic disturbance usually requires disturbed sites be reseeded...

  6. Contrasting responses of coral reef fauna and foraminiferal assemblages to human influence in La Parguera, Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reef biota including stony corals, sponges, gorgonians, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates and foraminifera were surveyed in coastal waters near La Parguera, in southwestern Puerto Rico. The goal was to evaluate sensitivity of coral reef biological indicators to human distur...

  7. Monitoring Biogeochemical Processes in Coral Reef Environments with Remote Sensing: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Perez, D.; Phinn, S. R.; Roelfsema, C. M.; Shaw, E. C.; Johnston, L.; Iguel, J.; Camacho, R.

    2017-12-01

    Primary production and calcification are important to measure and monitor over time, because of their fundamental roles in the carbon cycling and accretion of habitat structure for reef ecosystems. However, monitoring biogeochemical processes in coastal environments has been difficult due to complications in resolving differences in water optical properties from biological productivity and other sources (sediment, dissolved organics, etc.). This complicates application of algorithms developed for satellite image data from open ocean conditions, and requires alternative approaches. This project applied a cross-disciplinary approach, using established methods for monitoring productivity in terrestrial environments to coral reef systems. Availability of regularly acquired high spatial (reefs. There is potential to further develop optical models for remote sensing applications to estimate and monitor reef system processes, such as primary productivity and calcification. This project collected field measurements of spectral absorptance and primary productivity and calcification rates for two reef systems: Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef and Saipan Lagoon, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Field data were used to parameterize a light-use efficiency (LUE) model, estimating productivity from absorbed photosynthetically active radiation. The LUE model has been successfully applied in terrestrial environments for the past 40 years, and could potentially be used in shallow, marine environments. The model was used in combination with a map of benthic community composition produced from objective based image analysis of WorldView 2 imagery. Light-use efficiency was measured for functional groups: coral, algae, seagrass, and sediment. However, LUE was overestimated for sediment, which led to overestimation of productivity for the mapped area. This was due to differences in spatial and temporal resolution of field data used in the model. The limitations and

  8. Fish-derived nutrient hotspots shape coral reef benthic communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shantz, Andrew A; Ladd, Mark C; Schrack, Elizabeth; Burkepile, Deron E

    2015-12-01

    Animal-derived nutrients play an important role in structuring nutrient regimes within and between ecosystems. When animals undergo repetitive, aggregating behavior through time, they can create nutrient hotspots where rates of biogeochemical activity are higher than those found in the surrounding environment. In turn, these hotspots can influence ecosystem processes and community structure. We examined the potential for reef fishes from the family Haemulidae (grunts) to create nutrient hotspots and the potential impact of these hotspots on reef communities. To do so, we tracked the schooling locations of diurnally migrating grunts, which shelter at reef sites during the day but forage off reef each night, and measured the impact of these fish schools on benthic communities. We found that grunt schools showed a high degree of site fidelity, repeatedly returning to the same coral heads. These aggregations created nutrient hotspots around coral heads where nitrogen and phosphorus delivery was roughly 10 and 7 times the respective rates of delivery to structurally similar sites that lacked schools of these fishes. In turn, grazing rates of herbivorous fishes at grunt-derived hotspots were approximately 3 times those of sites where grunts were rare. These differences in nutrient delivery and grazing led to distinct benthic communities with higher cover of crustose coralline algae and less total algal abundance at grunt aggregation sites. Importantly, coral growth was roughly 1.5 times greater at grunt hotspots, likely due to the important nutrient subsidy. Our results suggest that schooling reef fish and their nutrient subsidies play an important role in mediating community structure on coral reefs and that overfishing may have important negative consequences on ecosystem functions. As such, management strategies must consider mesopredatory fishes in addition to current protection often offered to herbivores and top-tier predators. Furthermore, our results suggest that

  9. Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Albright, Rebecca; Caldeira, Lilian; Hosfelt, Jessica; Kwiatkowski, Lester; Maclaren, Jana K; Mason, Benjamin M; Nebuchina, Yana; Ninokawa, Aaron; Pongratz, Julia; Ricke, Katharine L; Rivlin, Tanya; Schneider, Kenneth; Sesboüé, Marine; Shamberger, Kathryn; Silverman, Jacob; Wolfe, Kennedy; Zhu, Kai; Caldeira, Ken

    2016-03-17

    Approximately one-quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year is absorbed by the global oceans, causing measurable declines in surface ocean pH, carbonate ion concentration ([CO3(2-)]), and saturation state of carbonate minerals (Ω). This process, referred to as ocean acidification, represents a major threat to marine ecosystems, in particular marine calcifiers such as oysters, crabs, and corals. Laboratory and field studies have shown that calcification rates of many organisms decrease with declining pH, [CO3(2-)], and Ω. Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to ocean acidification, in part because the very architecture of the ecosystem is reliant on carbonate-secreting organisms. Acidification-induced reductions in calcification are projected to shift coral reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale declines in coral, and community, calcification over recent decades, determining the contribution of ocean acidification to these changes is difficult, if not impossible, owing to the confounding effects of other environmental factors such as temperature. Here we quantify the net calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment, and show that, when ocean chemistry is restored closer to pre-industrial conditions, net community calcification increases. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment of a natural coral reef community, we provide evidence that net community calcification is depressed compared with values expected for pre-industrial conditions, indicating that ocean acidification may already be impairing coral reef growth.

  10. Farming behaviour of reef fishes increases the prevalence of coral disease associated microbes and black band disease.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Casey, Jordan M; Ainsworth, Tracy D; Choat, J Howard; Connolly, Sean R

    2014-08-07

    Microbial community structure on coral reefs is strongly influenced by coral-algae interactions; however, the extent to which this influence is mediated by fishes is unknown. By excluding fleshy macroalgae, cultivating palatable filamentous algae and engaging in frequent aggression to protect resources, territorial damselfish (f. Pomacentridae), such as Stegastes, mediate macro-benthic dynamics on coral reefs and may significantly influence microbial communities. To elucidate how Stegastes apicalis and Stegastes nigricans may alter benthic microbial assemblages and coral health, we determined the benthic community composition (epilithic algal matrix and prokaryotes) and coral disease prevalence inside and outside of damselfish territories in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. 16S rDNA sequencing revealed distinct bacterial communities associated with turf algae and a two to three times greater relative abundance of phylotypes with high sequence similarity to potential coral pathogens inside Stegastes's territories. These potentially pathogenic phylotypes (totalling 30.04% of the community) were found to have high sequence similarity to those amplified from black band disease (BBD) and disease affected corals worldwide. Disease surveys further revealed a significantly higher occurrence of BBD inside S. nigricans's territories. These findings demonstrate the first link between fish behaviour, reservoirs of potential coral disease pathogens and the prevalence of coral disease. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

  11. DIVERSITY OF REEF FISH FUNGSIONAL GROUPS IN TERMS OF CORAL REEF RESILIENCES

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Isa Nagib edrus

    2017-01-01

    Full Text Available Infrastructure development in the particular sites of  Seribu Islands as well as those in main land of Jakarta City increased with coastal population this phenomenon is likely to increase the effects to the adjacent coral waters of Seribu Islands.  Chemical pollutants, sedimentation, and domestic wastes are the common impact and threatening, the survival of coral reef ecosystem. Coral reef resiliences naturaly remained on their processes under many influences of supporting factors. One of the major factor is the role of reef fish functional groups on controling algae growth to recolonize coral juveniles. The  aim of this study to obtain data of a herbivory and other fish functional groups of reef fishes in the Pari Islands that are resilience indicators, or that may indicate the effectiveness of management actions. A conventional scientific approach on fish diversity and abundance data gathering was conducted by the underwater visual cencus. Diversity values of the reef fish functional groups, such as the abundance of individual fish including species, were collected and tabulated by classes and weighted as a baseline to understand the resilience of coral reed based on Obura and Grimsditch (2009 techniques. The results succesfully identified several fish functional groups such as harbivores (21 species, carnivores (13 species and fish indicator (5 species occurred in the area. Regarding the aspects of fish density and its diversity, especially herbivorous fish functional group, were presumably in the state of rarely available to support the coral reef resiliences. Resilience indices ranged from 1 (low level to 3 (moderate level and averages of the quality levels ranged from 227 to 674. These levels were inadequate to support coral reef recolonization.

  12. African dust and the demise of Caribbean Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shinn, Eugene A.; Smith, Garriet W.; Prospero, Joseph M.; Betzer, Peter; Hayes, Marshall L.; Garrison, Virginia; Barber, Richard T.

    2000-10-01

    The vitality of Caribbean coral reefs has undergone a continual state of decline since the late 1970s, a period of time coincidental with large increases in transatlantic dust transport. It is proposed that the hundreds of millions of tons/year of soil dust that have been crossing the Atlantic during the last 25 years could be a significant contributor to coral reef decline and may be affecting other ecosystems. Benchmark events, such as near synchronous Caribbean-wide mortalities of acroporid corals and the urchin Diadema in 1983, and coral bleaching beginning in 1987, correlate with the years of maximum dust flux into the Caribbean. Besides crustal elements, in particular Fe, Si, and aluminosilicate clays, the dust can serve as a substrate for numerous species of viable spores, especially the soil fungus Aspergillus. Aspergillus sydowii, the cause of an ongoing Caribbean-wide seafan disease, has been cultured from Caribbean air samples and used to inoculate sea fans.

  13. Factors Affecting Detection Probability of Acoustic Tags in Coral Reefs

    KAUST Repository

    Bermudez, Edgar F.

    2012-05-01

    Acoustic telemetry is an important tool for studying the movement patterns, behaviour, and site fidelity of marine organisms; however, its application is challenged in coral reef environments where complex topography and intense environmental noise interferes with acoustic signals, and there has been less study. Therefore, it is particularly critical in coral reef telemetry studies to first conduct a long-term range test, a tool that provides informa- tion on the variability and periodicity of the transmitter detection range and the detection probability. A one-month range test of a coded telemetric system was conducted prior to a large-scale tagging project investigating the movement of approximately 400 fishes from 30 species on offshore coral reefs in the central Red Sea. During this range test we determined the effect of the following factors on transmitter detection efficiency: distance from receiver, time of day, depth, wind, current, moon-phase and temperature. The experiment showed that biological noise is likely to be responsible for a diel pattern of -on average- twice as many detections during the day as during the night. Biological noise appears to be the most important noise source in coral reefs overwhelming the effect of wind-driven noise, which is important in other studies. Detection probability is also heavily influenced by the location of the acoustic sensor within the reef structure. Understanding the effect of environmental factors on transmitter detection probability allowed us to design a more effective receiver array for the large-scale tagging study.

  14. High natural gene expression variation in the reef-building coral Acropora millepora: potential for acclimative and adaptive plasticity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Granados-Cifuentes, Camila; Bellantuono, Anthony J; Ridgway, Tyrone; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Rodriguez-Lanetty, Mauricio

    2013-04-08

    Ecosystems worldwide are suffering the consequences of anthropogenic impact. The diverse ecosystem of coral reefs, for example, are globally threatened by increases in sea surface temperatures due to global warming. Studies to date have focused on determining genetic diversity, the sequence variability of genes in a species, as a proxy to estimate and predict the potential adaptive response of coral populations to environmental changes linked to climate changes. However, the examination of natural gene expression variation has received less attention. This variation has been implicated as an important factor in evolutionary processes, upon which natural selection can act. We acclimatized coral nubbins from six colonies of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora to a common garden in Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, GBR) for a period of four weeks to remove any site-specific environmental effects on the physiology of the coral nubbins. By using a cDNA microarray platform, we detected a high level of gene expression variation, with 17% (488) of the unigenes differentially expressed across coral nubbins of the six colonies (jsFDR-corrected, p < 0.01). Among the main categories of biological processes found differentially expressed were transport, translation, response to stimulus, oxidation-reduction processes, and apoptosis. We found that the transcriptional profiles did not correspond to the genotype of the colony characterized using either an intron of the carbonic anhydrase gene or microsatellite loci markers. Our results provide evidence of the high inter-colony variation in A. millepora at the transcriptomic level grown under a common garden and without a correspondence with genotypic identity. This finding brings to our attention the importance of taking into account natural variation between reef corals when assessing experimental gene expression differences. The high transcriptional variation detected in this study is interpreted and discussed within the

  15. Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Reichert, Jessica; Schellenberg, Johannes; Schubert, Patrick; Wilke, Thomas

    2017-11-13

    Pollution of marine environments with microplastic particles (i.e. plastic fragments microplastic ingestion can have adverse effects on marine invertebrates. However, little is known about its effects on small-polyp stony corals that are the main framework builders in coral reefs. The goal of this study is to characterise how different coral species I) respond to microplastic particles and whether the exposure might II) lead to health effects. Therefore, six small-polyp stony coral species belonging to the genera Acropora, Pocillopora, and Porites were exposed to microplastics (polyethylene, size 37-163 μm, concentration ca. 4000 particles L -1 ) over four weeks, and responses and effects on health were documented. The study showed that the corals responded differentially to microplastics. Cleaning mechanisms (direct interaction, mucus production) but also feeding interactions (i.e. interaction with mesenterial filaments, ingestion, and egestion) were observed. Additionally, passive contact through overgrowth was documented. In five of the six studied species, negative effects on health (i.e. bleaching and tissue necrosis) were reported. We here provide preliminary knowledge about coral-microplastic-interactions. The results call for further investigations of the effects of realistic microplastic concentrations on growth, reproduction, and survival of stony corals. This might lead to a better understanding of resilience capacities in coral reef ecosystems. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  16. Holocene emerged coral reef in Takarajima and Kodakarajima, Ryukyu islands, Southwest Japan

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Nakata, Takashi; Omoto, Kunio; Koba, Motoharu

    1978-01-01

    Due to the recent development of radiometric dating, coral reefs emerged in Holocene epoch are studied intensively worldwidely in relation to sea level change and coral reef formation. Attempt was made to determine the age, pattern and growth rate of coral reefs in the marginal area of coral sea in the Northwest Pacific. Field observation was made in the emerged coral reefs in Takarajima and Kodakarajima islands and the samples for radiocarbon dating were taken from geological sections across the emerged reefs. These islands are located at about 29 deg 10 min N, 129 deg 15 min E, where warm Kuroshio current pushes the margin of coral sea northward, and furnished with flourishing development of coral reefs emerged in both pleistocence and Holocene epochs. Though without earthquake records, it is assumed that Holocene reefs have been terraced due to sudden uplift associated with major earthquakes. (Mori, K.)

  17. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Claire L A Dell

    Full Text Available Many reefs have shifted from coral and fish dominated habitats to less productive macroalgal dominated habitats, and current research is investigating means of reversing this phase shift. In the tropical Pacific, overfished reefs with inadequate herbivory can become dominated by the brown alga Sargassum polycystum. This alga suppresses recruitment and survival of corals and fishes, thus limiting the potential for reef recovery. Here we investigate the mechanisms that reinforce S. polycystum dominance and show that in addition to negatively affecting other species, this species acts in a self-reinforcing manner, positively promoting survival and growth of conspecifics. We found that survival and growth of both recruit-sized and mature S. polycystum fronds were higher within Sargassum beds than outside the beds and these results were found in both protected and fished reefs. Much of this benefit resulted from reduced herbivory within the Sargassum beds, but adult fronds also grew ~50% more within the beds even when herbivory did not appear to be occurring, suggesting some physiological advantage despite the intraspecific crowding. Thus via positive feedbacks, S. polycystum enhances its own growth and resistance to herbivores, facilitating its dominance (perhaps also expansion and thus its resilience on degraded reefs. This may be a key feedback mechanism suppressing the recovery of coral communities in reefs dominated by macroalgal beds.

  18. [Cryptobenthic coral reef fishes in Los Roques National Park, Caribbean of Venezuela].

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rodríguez-Quintal, José G

    2010-03-01

    A significant portion of coral reef fish assemblages are composed of small cryptobenthic fishes, but these are poorly represented in regional fish characterization works. We characterized the cryptobenthic reef fish community associated with coral reef in Los Roques National Park during six week surveys. The study included 11 locations in which these fish were registered in transects of 10 x 2 m. Specimens were collected using the suction method and a fine-mesh net. A total of 31 species of six families were collected (four Blenniidae, six Chaenopsidae, one Gobiesocidae, 12 Gobiidae, seven Labrisomidae and one Tripterygiidae). Six represented new records to the park, and Coralliozetus cardonae (Chaenopsidae) was a new record for Venezuela. The most important families were Gobiidae, Chaenopsidae and Labrisomidae. Cryptic fish assemblages changed with the reef environments, with a clear distribution pattern: some species were only observed in shallow areas of less than 5 m depth, while in fringing and barrier reef areas, other species were present and differentially distributed between the reef crest and the seaward slope. These patterns probably are related to the close association that these small fish maintain with the benthos.

  19. In situ coral reef oxygen metabolism: an eddy correlation study.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Matthew H Long

    Full Text Available Quantitative studies of coral reefs are challenged by the three-dimensional hard structure of reefs and the high spatial variability and temporal dynamics of their metabolism. We used the non-invasive eddy correlation technique to examine respiration and photosynthesis rates, through O2 fluxes, from reef crests and reef slopes in the Florida Keys, USA. We assessed how the photosynthesis and respiration of different reef habitats is controlled by light and hydrodynamics. Numerous fluxes (over a 0.25 h period were as high as 4500 mmol O2 m(-2 d(-1, which can only be explained by efficient light utilization by the phototrophic community and the complex canopy structure of the reef, having a many-fold larger surface area than its horizontal projection. Over diel cycles, the reef crest was net autotrophic, whereas on the reef slope oxygen production and respiration were balanced. The autotrophic nature of the shallow reef crests implies that the export of organics is an important source of primary production for the larger area. Net oxygen production on the reef crest was proportional to the light intensity, up to 1750 µmol photons m(-2 s(-1 and decreased thereafter as respiration was stimulated by high current velocities coincident with peak light levels. Nighttime respiration rates were also stimulated by the current velocity, through enhanced ventilation of the porous framework of the reef. Respiration rates were the highest directly after sunset, and then decreased during the night suggesting that highly labile photosynthates produced during the day fueled early-night respiration. The reef framework was also important to the acquisition of nutrients as the ambient nitrogen stock in the water had sufficient capacity to support these high production rates across the entire reef width. These direct measurements of complex reefs systems yielded high metabolic rates and dynamics that can only be determined through in situ, high temporal resolution

  20. Modelling Growth of Juvenile Crown-of-Thorns Starfish on the Northern Great Barrier Reef

    OpenAIRE

    Jennifer Wilmes; Samuel Matthews; Daniel Schultz; Vanessa Messmer; Andrew Hoey; Morgan Pratchett

    2016-01-01

    The corallivorous crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.) is a major cause of coral mortality on Indo-Pacific reefs. Despite considerable research into the biology of crown-of-thorns starfish, our understanding of the early post-settlement life stage has been hindered by the small size and cryptic nature of recently settled individuals. Most growth rates are derived from either laboratory studies or field studies conducted in Fiji and Japan. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently exper...

  1. Trends in biomass of coral reef fishes, derived from shore-based creel surveys in Guam

    OpenAIRE

    Weijerman, M.; Williams, Ivor; Gutierrez, Jay; Grafeld, Shanna; Tibbatts, Brent; Davis, Gerry

    2016-01-01

    Coral reef fisheries have a cultural, economic, and ecological importance and sustain the societal well-being of many coastal communities. However, the complexities of the multigear, multispecies fisheries that target coral reef species pose challenges for fisheries management. We focus on the Guam shore-based coral reef fishery 1) to evaluate the characteristics of the past and recent fishery in terms of catch composition and effort per gear type and 2) to reconstruct the reef-fish populatio...

  2. Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jackson, Jeremy; Donovan, Mary; Cramer, Katie; Lam, Vivian

    2014-01-01

    This it the 9th status report since the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was founded in 1995 was the data arm of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to document the ecological condition or corral reefs, strengthen monitoring efforts, and link existing organizations and people working on reefs worldwide. The US Government provided the initial funding to help set up a global network of coral reef workers and has continued to provide core support. Since then, the series of reports have aimed to present the current status of coral reefs of the world or particular regions, the major threats to reefs and their consequences, and any initiative undertaken under the auspices of ICRI or other bodies to arrest or reverse the decline of coral reefs.IUCN assumed responsibility for hosting the global coordination of the GCRMN in 2010 under the scientific direction of Jeremy Jackson with the following objectives:1. Document quantitatively the global status and trends for corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on available data from individual scientists as well as the peer reviewed scientific literature, monitoring programs, and report.2. Bring together regional experts in a series of workshops to involve them in data compilation, analysis, and synthesis.3. Integrate coral reef status and trends with independent environmental, management, and socioeconomic data to better understand the primary factors responsible for coral reef decline, the possible synergies among factors that may further magnify their impacts, and how these stresses may be more effectively alleviated.Work with GCRMN partners to establish simple and practical standardized protocols for future monitoring and assessment.Disseminate information and results to help guide member state policy and actions.The overarching objective is to understand why some reefs are much healthier than others, to identify what kinds of actions have been particularly beneficial or harmful, and to

  3. Effects of reduced water quality on coral reefs in and out of no-take marine reserves.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wenger, Amelia S; Williamson, David H; da Silva, Eduardo T; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Browne, Nicola K; Petus, Caroline; Devlin, Michelle J

    2016-02-01

    Near-shore marine environments are increasingly subjected to reduced water quality, and their ability to withstand it is critical to their persistence. The potential role marine reserves may play in mitigating the effects of reduced water quality has received little attention. We investigated the spatial and temporal variability in live coral and macro-algal cover and water quality during moderate and major flooding events of the Fitzroy River within the Keppel Bay region of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from 2007 to 2013. We used 7 years of remote sensing data on water quality and data from long-term monitoring of coral reefs to quantify exposure of coral reefs to flood plumes. We used a distance linear model to partition the contribution of abiotic and biotic factors, including zoning, as drivers of the observed changes in coral and macro-algae cover. Moderate flood plumes from 2007 to 2009 did not affect coral cover on reefs in the Keppel Islands, suggesting the reef has intrinsic resistance against short-term exposure to reduced water quality. However, from 2009 to 2013, live coral cover declined by ∼ 50% following several weeks of exposure to turbid, low salinity water from major flood plume events in 2011 and subsequent moderate events in 2012 and 2013. Although the flooding events in 2012 and 2013 were smaller than the flooding events between 2007 to 2009, the ability of the reefs to withstand these moderate floods was lost, as evidenced by a ∼ 20% decline in coral cover between 2011 to 2013. Although zoning (no-take reserve or fished) was identified a significant driver of coral cover, we recorded consistently lower coral cover on reserve reefs than on fished reefs throughout the study period and significantly lower cover in 2011. Our findings suggest that even reefs with an inherent resistance to reduced water quality are not able to withstand repeated disturbance events. The limitations of reserves in mitigating the effects of reduced water

  4. Coral reef microbialites as contemporaneous framework component (deglacial, Tahiti)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Westphal, H.; Heindel, K.; Brandano, M.; Peckmann, J.; Cabioch, G.

    2009-04-01

    Marine microbialites associated with hermatypic corals are known from several intervals of Earth's history, including the latest deglacial from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. In contrast, in the modern world no such massive occurrences are known to form. Here, deglacial microbialites from Tahiti (IODP 310) are studied. The paradox of the co-occurrence of oligotrophic corals with microbialites that tend to form in more nutrient-rich environments has previously led to the assumption that the microbialites are considerably younger than the coral framework, and have formed in deeper storeys of the reef edifice; or that they represent a severe disturbance of the reef ecosystem. The present study in contrast demonstrates that microbialite encrustation occurred immediately after coral demise. Encrustation has taken place under photic conditions, even though the involvement of cyanobacteria or anoxygenic phototrophs in the microbialite precipitation remains elusive. The reason for the voluminous development of microbialites in the deglacial reefs of Tahiti (up to 80% by volume of the cores) remains an open question. High trophic conditions caused by fluvial or groundwater transport from the volcanic hinterland appears to be an unlikely cause, given that the corals and the microbialites developed in close vicinity, and that the coral community prospered continuously - no breaks in the development of the succession were detected. The fact, however, that voluminous deglacial reef microbialites are restricted to volcanic islands, implies that moderately, and possibly episodically elevated trophic conditions favor this type of microbialite formation. Clearly, the reef microbialites recovered in the IODP 310 cores did not develop after a serious disturbance such as drowning or suffocation by terrestrial material, and are no "disaster forms". Rather, their precipitation represents a continuous process in an ecosystem that was on the verge of its limiting conditions.

  5. Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Jennings, Simon; MacNeil, M Aaron; Mouillot, David; Wilson, Shaun K

    2015-02-05

    Climate-induced coral bleaching is among the greatest current threats to coral reefs, causing widespread loss of live coral cover. Conditions under which reefs bounce back from bleaching events or shift from coral to algal dominance are unknown, making it difficult to predict and plan for differing reef responses under climate change. Here we document and predict long-term reef responses to a major climate-induced coral bleaching event that caused unprecedented region-wide mortality of Indo-Pacific corals. Following loss of >90% live coral cover, 12 of 21 reefs recovered towards pre-disturbance live coral states, while nine reefs underwent regime shifts to fleshy macroalgae. Functional diversity of associated reef fish communities shifted substantially following bleaching, returning towards pre-disturbance structure on recovering reefs, while becoming progressively altered on regime shifting reefs. We identified threshold values for a range of factors that accurately predicted ecosystem response to the bleaching event. Recovery was favoured when reefs were structurally complex and in deeper water, when density of juvenile corals and herbivorous fishes was relatively high and when nutrient loads were low. Whether reefs were inside no-take marine reserves had no bearing on ecosystem trajectory. Although conditions governing regime shift or recovery dynamics were diverse, pre-disturbance quantification of simple factors such as structural complexity and water depth accurately predicted ecosystem trajectories. These findings foreshadow the likely divergent but predictable outcomes for reef ecosystems in response to climate change, thus guiding improved management and adaptation.

  6. Linking habitat mosaics and connectivity in a coral reef seascape

    KAUST Repository

    McMahon, Kelton

    2012-09-04

    Tropical marine ecosystems are under mounting anthropogenic pressure from overfishing and habitat destruction, leading to declines in their structure and function on a global scale. Although maintaining connectivity among habitats within a seascape is necessary for preserving population resistance and resilience, quantifying movements of individuals within seascapes remains challenging. Traditional methods of identifying and valuing potential coral reef fish nursery habitats are indirect, often relying on visual surveys of abundance and correlations of size and biomass among habitats. We used compound-specific stable isotope analyses to determine movement patterns of commercially important fish populations within a coral reef seascape. This approach allowed us to quantify the relative contributions of individuals from inshore nurseries to reef populations and identify migration corridors among important habitats. Our results provided direct measurements of remarkable migrations by juvenile snapper of over 30 km, between nurseries and reefs. We also found significant plasticity in juvenile nursery residency. Although a majority of individuals on coastal reefs had used seagrass nurseries as juveniles, many adults on oceanic reefs had settled directly into reef habitats. Moreover, seascape con figuration played a critical but heretofore unrecognized role in determining connectivity among habitats. Finally, our approach provides key quantitative data necessary to estimate the value of distinctive habitats to ecosystem services provided by seascapes.

  7. Molecular reproductive characteristics of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rougée, Luc R A; Richmond, Robert H; Collier, Abby C

    2015-11-01

    Coral reefs are an indispensible worldwide resource, accounting for billions of dollars in cultural, economic, and ecological services. An understanding of coral reproduction is essential to determining the effects of environmental stressors on coral reef ecosystems and their persistence into the future. Here, we describe the presence of and changes in steroidal hormones along with associated steroidogenic and steroid removal enzymes during the reproductive cycle of the brooding, pan-Pacific, hermaphroditic coral, Pocillopora damicornis. Detectable levels of 17β-estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone were consistently detected over two consecutive lunar reproductive cycles in coral tissue. Intra-colony variation in steroid hormone levels ranged between 1.5- and 2.2-fold and were not statistically different. Activities of the steroidogenic enzymes 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and cytochrome P450 (CYP) 17 dehydrogenase were detectable and did not fluctuate over the reproductive cycle. Aromatase-like activity was detected during the lunar reproductive cycle with no significant fluctuations. Activities of regeneration enzymes did not fluctuate over the lunar cycle; however, activity of the clearance enzyme UDP-glucuronosyl transferases increased significantly (ANOVA, post hoc pcoral. Sulfotransferase enzymes could not be detected. Our findings provide the first data defining normal physiological and lunar/reproductive variability in steroidal enzymes in a coral species with respect to their potential role in coral reproduction. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  8. Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) RPC Experiment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Estep, Leland; Spruce, Joseph P.; Hall, Callie

    2007-01-01

    This viewgraph document reviews the background, objectives, methodology, validation, and present status of the Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Rapid Prototyping Capability (RPC) experiment. The potential NASA contribution to CREWS Decision Support Tool (DST) centers on remotely sensed imagery products.

  9. Population genetic structure of coral reef species Plectorhinchus ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    The population genetic structure and the dispersal ability of Plectorhinchus flavomaculatus from South China Sea were examined with a 464 bp segment of mtDNA control region. A total of 116 individuals were collected from 12 coral reefs in Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha archipelagos and 22 haplotypes were obtained.

  10. Physics of coral reef systems in a shallow tidal embayment

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Hoitink, Antonius Johannes Franciscus

    2003-01-01

    Ongoing deforestation in the tropics involves higher river discharges and an increase of runoff, which has consequences to coastal ecosystems. The dispersal of fluvial sediment and freshwater by marine processes affects the environmental determinants of coral reefs near the coast, which include

  11. Fire coral clones demonstrate phenotypic plasticity among reef habitats.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dubé, Caroline E; Boissin, Emilie; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Planes, Serge

    2017-08-01

    Clonal populations are often characterized by reduced levels of genotypic diversity, which can translate into lower numbers of functional phenotypes, both of which impede adaptation. Study of partially clonal animals enables examination of the environmental settings under which clonal reproduction is favoured. Here, we gathered genotypic and phenotypic information from 3,651 georeferenced colonies of the fire coral Millepora platyphylla in five habitats with different hydrodynamic regimes in Moorea, French Polynesia. In the upper slope where waves break, most colonies grew as vertical sheets ("sheet tree") making them more vulnerable to fragmentation. Nearly all fire corals in the other habitats are encrusting or massive. The M. platyphylla population is highly clonal (80% of the colonies are clones), while characterized by the highest genotype diversity ever documented for terrestrial or marine populations (1,064 genotypes). The proportion of clones varies greatly among habitats (≥58%-97%) and clones (328 clonal lineages) are distributed perpendicularly from the reef crest, perfectly aligned with wave energy. There are six clonal lineages with clones dispersed in at least two adjacent habitats that strongly demonstrate phenotypic plasticity. Eighty per cent of the colonies in these lineages are "sheet tree" on the upper slope, while 80%-100% are encrusting or massive on the mid slope and back reef. This is a unique example of phenotypic plasticity among reef-building coral clones as corals typically have wave-tolerant growth forms in high-energy reef areas. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  12. The Coral Reef Alphabet Book for American Samoa.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Madrigal, Larry G.

    This book, produced for the American Samoa Department of Education Marine Enhancement Program, presents underwater color photography of coral reef life in an alphabetical resource. The specimens are described in English, and some are translated into the Samoan language. A picture-matching learning exercise and a glossary of scientific and oceanic…

  13. Biological Criteria for Protection of U.S. Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by natural stressors, human activities, and natural stressors exacerbated by human activities. Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, States and Territories may guard against anthropogenic threats by adopting water quality standards based on biologic...

  14. Comparison of Coral Reef Ecosystems along a Fishing Pressure Gradient

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weijerman, M.W.; Fulton, E.A.; Parrish, F.A.

    2013-01-01

    Three trophic mass-balance models representing coral reef ecosystems along a fishery gradient were compared to evaluate ecosystem effects of fishing. The majority of the biomass estimates came directly from a large-scale visual survey program; therefore, data were collected in the same way for all

  15. Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Waheed, Zarinah; van Mil, Harald G J; Syed Hussein, Muhammad Ali; Jumin, Robecca; Golam Ahad, Bobita; Hoeksema, Bert W

    2015-01-01

    The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.

  16. Virus-host interactions and their roles in coral reef health and disease.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thurber, Rebecca Vega; Payet, Jérôme P; Thurber, Andrew R; Correa, Adrienne M S

    2017-04-01

    Coral reefs occur in nutrient-poor shallow waters, constitute biodiversity and productivity hotspots, and are threatened by anthropogenic disturbance. This Review provides an introduction to coral reef virology and emphasizes the links between viruses, coral mortality and reef ecosystem decline. We describe the distinctive benthic-associated and water-column- associated viromes that are unique to coral reefs, which have received less attention than viruses in open-ocean systems. We hypothesize that viruses of bacteria and eukaryotes dynamically interact with their hosts in the water column and with scleractinian (stony) corals to influence microbial community dynamics, coral bleaching and disease, and reef biogeochemical cycling. Last, we outline how marine viruses are an integral part of the reef system and suggest that the influence of viruses on reef function is an essential component of these globally important environments.

  17. Acoustical Measurement and Biot Model for Coral Reef Detection and Quantification

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Henry M. Manik

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are coastal resources and very useful for marine ecosystems. Nowadays, the existence of coral reefs is seriously threatened due to the activities of blast fishing, coral mining, marine sedimentation, pollution, and global climate change. To determine the existence of coral reefs, it is necessary to study them comprehensively. One method to study a coral reef by using a propagation of sound waves is proposed. In this research, the measurement of reflection coefficient, transmission coefficient, acoustic backscattering, hardness, and roughness of coral reefs has been conducted using acoustic instruments and numerical modeling using Biot theory. The results showed that the quantification of the acoustic backscatter can classify the type of coral reef.

  18. Human Dimensions of Coral Reef Social-Ecological Systems

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    John N. Kittinger

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet but are declining because of human activities. Despite general recognition of the human role in the plight of coral reefs, the vast majority of research focuses on the ecological rather than the human dimensions of reef ecosystems, limiting our understanding of social relationships with these environments as well as potential solutions for reef recovery. General frameworks for social-ecological systems (SESs have been advanced, but system-specific approaches are needed to develop a more nuanced view of human-environmental interactions for specific contexts and resource systems, and at specific scales. We synthesize existing concepts related to SESs and present a human dimensions framework that explores the linkages between social system structural traits, human activities, ecosystem services, and human well-being in coral reef SESs. Key features of the framework include social-ecological reciprocity, proximate and underlying dimensions, and the directionality of key relationships and feedback loops. Such frameworks are needed if human dimensions research is to be more fully integrated into studies of ecosystem change and the sustainability of linked SESs.

  19. Decadal changes in turbid-water coral communities at Pandora Reef: loss of resilience or too soon to tell?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Done, Terry; Turak, Emre; Wakeford, Mary; Devantier, Lyndon; McDonald, Abbi; Fisk, David

    2007-12-01

    Coral communities were monitored at Pandora Reef, nearshore Great Barrier Reef from 1981 to 2005 using photography and videography. In the 1980s, regional elevation of land-based nutrients in coastal waters (ca. 2-6 times pre-European levels of early 1800s) did not prevent overall recovery of coral cover and diversity following a sequence of environmental disturbances in the 1970s. However, prospects for a repeat of such resilience following catastrophic mortality from high-temperature bleaching in 1998 and a cyclone in 2000 are not clear. Different coral communities around the reef varied greatly in relation to impacts and recovery. Fore-reef communities dominated by acroporids (fast growing branching and tabular Acropora and foliose Montipora) recovered strongly in the 1980s following apparently severe impacts by cyclone, flood and heat wave disturbances in the 1970s, attaining 60-90% cover by stabilizing rubble and outgrowing macro-algae in reef, by contrast, poritid-dominated communities (massive and finger Porites and columnar Goniopora and Alveopora) had more stable trajectories and smaller impact from recent disturbances: recovery was well underway in 2005. The contrasting trajectories of different parts of the reef reflect differential survival of more persistent versus more ephemeral taxa, notably poritids and acroporids, respectively, both major contributors to framework and cover on reefs globally. A repeat of earlier resilience appears possible in the shallow fore-reef, but unlikely in the deeper fore-reef, which had few viable fragments or recruits in 2005. The main limits on recovery may be (1) reduced supply of coral larvae due to widespread regional losses of coral brood stock and (2) the reduced intervals between disturbances associated with global climate change. The presence of a high abundance of Acroporidae is a major pre-disposing risk factor for climate change impacts.

  20. The growth of coral reef science in the Gulf: a historical perspective.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, John A

    2013-07-30

    Coral reef science has grown exponentially in recent decades in the Gulf. Analysis of literature from 1950 to 2012 identified 270 publications on coral reefs in the Gulf, half of which were published in just the past decade. This paper summarizes the growth and evolution of coral reef science in the Gulf by examining when, where and how research has been conducted on Gulf reefs, who conducted that research, and what themes and taxa have dominated scientific interest. The results demonstrate that there has been significant growth in our understanding of the valuable coral reefs of the Gulf, but also highlight the fact that we are documenting an increasingly degraded ecosystem. Reef scientists must make a concerted effort to improve dialogue with regional reef management and decision-makers if we are to stem the tide of decline in coral reefs in the Gulf. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  1. Origins and Implications of a Primary Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Outbreak in the Southern Great Barrier Reef

    OpenAIRE

    Ian Miller; Hugh Sweatman; Alistair Cheal; Mike Emslie; Kerryn Johns; Michelle Jonker; Kate Osborne

    2015-01-01

    The crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) is a major predator of hard corals. Repeated COTS outbreaks in the Cairns and Central sections of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have been responsible for greater declines in coral cover than any other type of disturbance, including cyclones, disease, and coral bleaching. Knowledge of the precise timing and location of primary outbreaks could reveal the initial drivers of outbreaks and so could indicate possible management measures. In the central GBR, COTS o...

  2. Ocean acidification: Linking science to management solutions using the Great Barrier Reef as a case study.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Albright, Rebecca; Anthony, Kenneth R N; Baird, Mark; Beeden, Roger; Byrne, Maria; Collier, Catherine; Dove, Sophie; Fabricius, Katharina; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Kelly, Ryan P; Lough, Janice; Mongin, Mathieu; Munday, Philip L; Pears, Rachel J; Russell, Bayden D; Tilbrook, Bronte; Abal, Eva

    2016-11-01

    Coral reefs are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to ocean acidification. While our understanding of the potential impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems is growing, gaps remain that limit our ability to translate scientific knowledge into management action. To guide solution-based research, we review the current knowledge of ocean acidification impacts on coral reefs alongside management needs and priorities. We use the world's largest continuous reef system, Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR), as a case study. We integrate scientific knowledge gained from a variety of approaches (e.g., laboratory studies, field observations, and ecosystem modelling) and scales (e.g., cell, organism, ecosystem) that underpin a systems-level understanding of how ocean acidification is likely to impact the GBR and associated goods and services. We then discuss local and regional management options that may be effective to help mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on the GBR, with likely application to other coral reef systems. We develop a research framework for linking solution-based ocean acidification research to practical management options. The framework assists in identifying effective and cost-efficient options for supporting ecosystem resilience. The framework enables on-the-ground OA management to be the focus, while not losing sight of CO2 mitigation as the ultimate solution. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  3. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-08-13

    ... the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries... Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that would authorize Kampachi Farms, LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem management unit fish species in a floating pen moored about 5.5 nm off the west coast of...

  4. Historical baselines of coral cover on tropical reefs as estimated by expert opinion.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Eddy, Tyler D; Cheung, William W L; Bruno, John F

    2018-01-01

    Coral reefs are important habitats that represent global marine biodiversity hotspots and provide important benefits to people in many tropical regions. However, coral reefs are becoming increasingly threatened by climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution. Historical baselines of coral cover are important to understand how much coral cover has been lost, e.g., to avoid the 'shifting baseline syndrome'. There are few quantitative observations of coral reef cover prior to the industrial revolution, and therefore baselines of coral reef cover are difficult to estimate. Here, we use expert and ocean-user opinion surveys to estimate baselines of global coral reef cover. The overall mean estimated baseline coral cover was 59% (±19% standard deviation), compared to an average of 58% (±18% standard deviation) estimated by professional scientists. We did not find evidence of the shifting baseline syndrome, whereby respondents who first observed coral reefs more recently report lower estimates of baseline coral cover. These estimates of historical coral reef baseline cover are important for scientists, policy makers, and managers to understand the extent to which coral reefs have become depleted and to set appropriate recovery targets.

  5. Historical baselines of coral cover on tropical reefs as estimated by expert opinion

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tyler D. Eddy

    2018-01-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are important habitats that represent global marine biodiversity hotspots and provide important benefits to people in many tropical regions. However, coral reefs are becoming increasingly threatened by climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution. Historical baselines of coral cover are important to understand how much coral cover has been lost, e.g., to avoid the ‘shifting baseline syndrome’. There are few quantitative observations of coral reef cover prior to the industrial revolution, and therefore baselines of coral reef cover are difficult to estimate. Here, we use expert and ocean-user opinion surveys to estimate baselines of global coral reef cover. The overall mean estimated baseline coral cover was 59% (±19% standard deviation, compared to an average of 58% (±18% standard deviation estimated by professional scientists. We did not find evidence of the shifting baseline syndrome, whereby respondents who first observed coral reefs more recently report lower estimates of baseline coral cover. These estimates of historical coral reef baseline cover are important for scientists, policy makers, and managers to understand the extent to which coral reefs have become depleted and to set appropriate recovery targets.

  6. Mass coral bleaching causes biotic homogenization of reef fish assemblages.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richardson, Laura E; Graham, Nicholas A J; Pratchett, Morgan S; Eurich, Jacob G; Hoey, Andrew S

    2018-04-06

    Global climate change is altering community composition across many ecosystems due to nonrandom species turnover, typically characterized by the loss of specialist species and increasing similarity of biological communities across spatial scales. As anthropogenic disturbances continue to alter species composition globally, there is a growing need to identify how species responses influence the establishment of distinct assemblages, such that management actions may be appropriately assigned. Here, we use trait-based analyses to compare temporal changes in five complementary indices of reef fish assemblage structure among six taxonomically distinct coral reef habitats exposed to a system-wide thermal stress event. Our results revealed increased taxonomic and functional similarity of previously distinct reef fish assemblages following mass coral bleaching, with changes characterized by subtle, but significant, shifts toward predominance of small-bodied, algal-farming habitat generalists. Furthermore, while the taxonomic or functional richness of fish assemblages did not change across all habitats, an increase in functional originality indicated an overall loss of functional redundancy. We also found that prebleaching coral composition better predicted changes in fish assemblage structure than the magnitude of coral loss. These results emphasize how measures of alpha diversity can mask important changes in the structure and functioning of ecosystems as assemblages reorganize. Our findings also highlight the role of coral species composition in structuring communities and influencing the diversity of responses of reef fishes to disturbance. As new coral species configurations emerge, their desirability will hinge upon the composition of associated species and their capacity to maintain key ecological processes in spite of ongoing disturbances. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  7. Status of Kenyan Coral Reef lagoons. Project Report to Kenya Wildlife Services, Kenya Karine and Fisheries Researoh Institute & Kenya"s Fisheries Department.

    OpenAIRE

    McClanahan, T.; Muthiga, N.; Obura, D.; Mutere, J.; Mwachireya, S.

    1992-01-01

    This report presents the findings of Wildlife Conservation International's Coral Reef Conservation Project monitoring program of Kenyan coral reefs and suggest research and management plans for the coral reefs based on the findings.

  8. Coastal nutrification and coral health at Porto Seguro reefs, Brazil

    Science.gov (United States)

    Costa, O.; Attrill, M.; Nimmo, M.

    2003-04-01

    correlation between zoanthids and algal abundance and a positive correlation with the amount of available space for settlement. On the offshore reef, correlation of algal cover with both zoanthids and available space were negative, suggesting that hard substrate may be the primary limiting factor for algal settlement and growth in the nearshore reefs. Highly variable physical disturbances (like wave energy and low tide exposure) between landward and seaward reef sides appear to be the factors controlling algal distribution in the offshore reef. Highly spatial variability in coral cover ultimately reflects the patchy distribution of stony corals over the reefs.

  9. Workshop on Biological Integrity of Coral Reefs August 21-22, 2012, Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, Isla Magueyes, La Parguera, Puerto Rico.

    Science.gov (United States)

    This report summarizes an EPA-sponsored workshop on coral reef biological integrity held at the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in La Parguera, Puerto Rico on August 21-22, 2012. The goals of this workshop were to:• Identify key qualitative and quantitative ecological characterist...

  10. Spatial patterns in benthic communities and the dynamics of a mosaic ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ninio, R.; Meekan, M.

    2002-04-01

    The benthic communities of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have been characterized as a mosaic with patches at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometres formed by clusters of reefs with comparable environmental settings and histories of disturbance. We use data sets of changes in cover of abundant benthic organisms to examine the relationship between community composition and the dynamics of this mosaic. Our data were compiled from seven annual video surveys of permanent transects on the north-east flanks of up to 52 reefs at different shelf positions throughout most of the GBR. Classification analysis of these data sets identified three distinct groups of reefs, the first dominated by poritid hard corals and alcyoniid soft corals, the second by hard corals of the genus Acropora, and the third by xeniid soft corals. These groups underwent different amounts of change in cover during the period of our study. As acroporan corals are fast growing but susceptible to mortality due to predators and wave action, the group of reefs dominated by this genus displayed rapid rates of growth and loss of cover. In contrast, cover in the remaining groups changed very slowly or remained stable. Some evidence suggests that competition for space may limit growth of acroporan corals and thus rates of change in the group dominated by xeniid soft corals. These contrasting patterns imply that susceptibility to, and recovery from, disturbances such as cyclones, predators, and bleaching events will differ among these groups of reefs.

  11. High refuge availability on coral reefs increases the vulnerability of reef-associated predators to overexploitation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Alice; Blanchard, Julia L; Newman, Steven P; Dryden, Charlie S; Mumby, Peter J

    2018-02-01

    Refuge availability and fishing alter predator-prey interactions on coral reefs, but our understanding of how they interact to drive food web dynamics, community structure and vulnerability of different trophic groups is unclear. Here, we apply a size-based ecosystem model of coral reefs, parameterized with empirical measures of structural complexity, to predict fish biomass, productivity and community structure in reef ecosystems under a broad range of refuge availability and fishing regimes. In unfished ecosystems, the expected positive correlation between reef structural complexity and biomass emerges, but a non-linear effect of predation refuges is observed for the productivity of predatory fish. Reefs with intermediate complexity have the highest predator productivity, but when refuge availability is high and prey are less available, predator growth rates decrease, with significant implications for fisheries. Specifically, as fishing intensity increases, predators in habitats with high refuge availability exhibit vulnerability to over-exploitation, resulting in communities dominated by herbivores. Our study reveals mechanisms for threshold dynamics in predators living in complex habitats and elucidates how predators can be food-limited when most of their prey are able to hide. We also highlight the importance of nutrient recycling via the detrital pathway, to support high predator biomasses on coral reefs. © 2018 by the Ecological Society of America.

  12. Contaminants assessment in the coral reefs of Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bargar, Timothy A.; Garrison, Virginia H.; Alvarez, David A.; Echols, Kathy

    2013-01-01

    Coral, fish, plankton, and detritus samples were collected from coral reefs in Virgin Islands National Park (VIIS) and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (VICR) to assess existing contamination levels. Passive water sampling using polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS) and semi-permeable membrane devices found a few emerging pollutants of concern (DEET and galaxolide) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Very little persistent organic chemical contamination was detected in the tissue or detritus samples. Detected contaminants were at concentrations below those reported to be harmful to aquatic organisms. Extracts from the POCIS were subjected to the yeast estrogen screen (YES) to assess potential estrogenicity of the contaminant mixture. Results of the YES (estrogen equivalency of 0.17–0.31 ng/L 17-β-estradiol) indicated a low estrogenicity likelihood for contaminants extracted from water. Findings point to low levels of polar and non-polar organic contaminants in the bays sampled within VICR and VIIS.

  13. Size structuring and allometric scaling relationships in coral reef fishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dunic, Jillian C; Baum, Julia K

    2017-05-01

    Temperate marine fish communities are often size-structured, with predators consuming increasingly larger prey and feeding at higher trophic levels as they grow. Gape limitation and ontogenetic diet shifts are key mechanisms by which size structuring arises in these communities. Little is known, however, about size structuring in coral reef fishes. Here, we aimed to advance understanding of size structuring in coral reef food webs by examining the evidence for these mechanisms in two groups of reef predators. Given the diversity of feeding modes amongst coral reef fishes, we also compared gape size-body size allometric relationships across functional groups to determine whether they are reliable indicators of size structuring. We used gut content analysis and quantile regressions of predator size-prey size relationships to test for evidence of gape limitation and ontogenetic niche shifts in reef piscivores (n = 13 species) and benthic invertivores (n = 3 species). We then estimated gape size-body size allometric scaling coefficients for 21 different species from four functional groups, including herbivores/detritivores, which are not expected to be gape-limited. We found evidence of both mechanisms for size structuring in coral reef piscivores, with maximum prey size scaling positively with predator body size, and ontogenetic diet shifts including prey type and expansion of prey size. There was, however, little evidence of size structuring in benthic invertivores. Across species and functional groups, absolute and relative gape sizes were largest in piscivores as expected, but gape size-body size scaling relationships were not indicative of size structuring. Instead, relative gape sizes and mouth morphologies may be better indicators. Our results provide evidence that coral reef piscivores are size-structured and that gape limitation and ontogenetic niche shifts are the mechanisms from which this structure arises. Although gape allometry was not indicative of

  14. Coral larvae move toward reef sounds

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Vermeij, M.J.A.; Marhaver, K.L.; Huijbers, C.M.; Nagelkerken, I.; Simpson, S.D.

    2010-01-01

    Free-swimming larvae of tropical corals go through a critical life-phase when they return from the open ocean to select a suitable settlement substrate. During the planktonic phase of their life cycle, the behaviours of small coral larvae (<1 mm) that influence settlement success are difficult to

  15. Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gurney, Georgina G; Melbourne-Thomas, Jessica; Geronimo, Rollan C; Aliño, Perry M; Johnson, Craig R

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has emerged as a principal threat to coral reefs, and is expected to exacerbate coral reef degradation caused by more localised stressors. Management of local stressors is widely advocated to bolster coral reef resilience, but the extent to which management of local stressors might affect future trajectories of reef state remains unclear. This is in part because of limited understanding of the cumulative impact of multiple stressors. Models are ideal tools to aid understanding of future reef state under alternative management and climatic scenarios, but to date few have been sufficiently developed to be useful as decision support tools for local management of coral reefs subject to multiple stressors. We used a simulation model of coral reefs to investigate the extent to which the management of local stressors (namely poor water quality and fishing) might influence future reef state under varying climatic scenarios relating to coral bleaching. We parameterised the model for Bolinao, the Philippines, and explored how simulation modelling can be used to provide decision support for local management. We found that management of water quality, and to a lesser extent fishing, can have a significant impact on future reef state, including coral recovery following bleaching-induced mortality. The stressors we examined interacted antagonistically to affect reef state, highlighting the importance of considering the combined impact of multiple stressors rather than considering them individually. Further, by providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, such as which course of management action will most likely to be effective over what time scales and at which sites, we demonstrated the utility of simulation models for supporting management. Aside from providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, our study offers insights which could inform reef management more broadly, as well as general understanding of reef

  16. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-buidling coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Camille eDaniels

    2015-09-01

    Full Text Available White Plague Disease (WPD is implicated in coral reef decline in the Caribbean and is characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue. Studies thus far have focused on assessing microbial communities or the identification of specific pathogens, yet few have addressed holobiont response across metaorganism compartments in coral disease. Here, we report on the first metatranscriptomic assessment of the coral host, algal symbiont, and microbial compartment in order to survey holobiont structure and function in healthy and diseased samples from Orbicella faveolata collected at reef sites off Puerto Rico. Our data indicate metaorganism-wide as well as compartment-specific responses to WPD. Gene expression changes in the diseased coral host involved proteins playing a role in innate immunity, cytoskeletal integrity, cell adhesion, oxidative stress, chemical defense, and retroelements. In contrast, the algal symbiont showed comparatively few expression changes, but of large magnitude, of genes related to stress, photosynthesis, and metal transport. Concordant with the coral host response, the bacterial compartment showed increased abundance of heat shock proteins, genes related to oxidative stress, DNA repair, and potential retroelement activity. Importantly, analysis of the expressed bacterial gene functions establishes the participation of multiple bacterial families in WPD pathogenesis and also suggests a possible involvement of viruses and/or phages in structuring the bacterial assemblage. In this study, we implement an experimental approach to partition the coral holobiont and resolve compartment- and taxa-specific responses in order to understand metaorganism function in coral disease.

  17. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    KAUST Repository

    Daniels, Camille Arian

    2015-09-11

    White Plague Disease (WPD) is implicated in coral reef decline in the Caribbean and is characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue. Studies thus far have focused on assessing microbial communities or the identification of specific pathogens, yet few have addressed holobiont response across metaorganism compartments in coral disease. Here, we report on the first metatranscriptomic assessment of the coral host, algal symbiont, and microbial compartment in order to survey holobiont structure and function in healthy and diseased samples from Orbicella faveolata collected at reef sites off Puerto Rico. Our data indicate holobiont-wide as well as compartment-specific responses to WPD. Gene expression changes in the diseased coral host involved proteins playing a role in innate immunity, cytoskeletal integrity, cell adhesion, oxidative stress, chemical defense, and retroelements. In contrast, the algal symbiont showed comparatively few expression changes, but of large magnitude, of genes related to stress, photosynthesis, and metal transport. Concordant with the coral host response, the bacterial compartment showed increased abundance of heat shock proteins, genes related to oxidative stress, DNA repair, and potential retroelement activity. Importantly, analysis of the expressed bacterial gene functions establishes the participation of multiple bacterial families in WPD pathogenesis and also suggests a possible involvement of viruses and/or phages in structuring the bacterial assemblage. In this study, we implement an experimental approach to partition the coral holobiont and resolve compartment- and taxa-specific responses in order to understand metaorganism function in coral disease.

  18. Diversity among macroalgae-consuming fishes on coral reefs: a transcontinental comparison.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Adriana Vergés

    Full Text Available Despite high diversity and abundance of nominally herbivorous fishes on coral reefs, recent studies indicate that only a small subset of taxa are capable of removing dominant macroalgae once these become established. This limited functional redundancy highlights the potential vulnerability of coral reefs to disturbance and stresses the need to assess the functional role of individual species of herbivores. However, our knowledge of species-specific patterns in macroalgal consumption is limited geographically, and there is a need to determine the extent to which patterns observed in specific reefs can be generalised at larger spatial scales. In this study, video cameras were used to quantify rates of macroalgae consumption by fishes in two coral reefs located at a similar latitude in opposite sides of Australia: the Keppel Islands in the Great Barrier Reef (eastern coast and Ningaloo Reef (western coast. The community of nominally herbivorous fish was also characterised in both systems to determine whether potential differences in the species observed feeding on macroalgae were related to spatial dissimilarities in herbivore community composition. The total number of species observed biting on the dominant brown alga Sargassum myriocystum differed dramatically among the two systems, with 23 species feeding in Ningaloo, compared with just 8 in the Keppel Islands. Strong differences were also found in the species composition and total biomass of nominally herbivorous fish, which was an order of magnitude higher in Ningaloo. However, despite such marked differences in the diversity, biomass, and community composition of resident herbivorous fishes, Sargassum consumption was dominated by only four species in both systems, with Naso unicornis and Kyphosus vaigiensis consistently emerging as dominant feeders of macroalgae.

  19. Diversity among macroalgae-consuming fishes on coral reefs: a transcontinental comparison.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vergés, Adriana; Bennett, Scott; Bellwood, David R

    2012-01-01

    Despite high diversity and abundance of nominally herbivorous fishes on coral reefs, recent studies indicate that only a small subset of taxa are capable of removing dominant macroalgae once these become established. This limited functional redundancy highlights the potential vulnerability of coral reefs to disturbance and stresses the need to assess the functional role of individual species of herbivores. However, our knowledge of species-specific patterns in macroalgal consumption is limited geographically, and there is a need to determine the extent to which patterns observed in specific reefs can be generalised at larger spatial scales. In this study, video cameras were used to quantify rates of macroalgae consumption by fishes in two coral reefs located at a similar latitude in opposite sides of Australia: the Keppel Islands in the Great Barrier Reef (eastern coast) and Ningaloo Reef (western coast). The community of nominally herbivorous fish was also characterised in both systems to determine whether potential differences in the species observed feeding on macroalgae were related to spatial dissimilarities in herbivore community composition. The total number of species observed biting on the dominant brown alga Sargassum myriocystum differed dramatically among the two systems, with 23 species feeding in Ningaloo, compared with just 8 in the Keppel Islands. Strong differences were also found in the species composition and total biomass of nominally herbivorous fish, which was an order of magnitude higher in Ningaloo. However, despite such marked differences in the diversity, biomass, and community composition of resident herbivorous fishes, Sargassum consumption was dominated by only four species in both systems, with Naso unicornis and Kyphosus vaigiensis consistently emerging as dominant feeders of macroalgae.

  20. Sensitivity of calcification to thermal stress varies among genera of massive reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan P Carricart-Ganivet

    Full Text Available Reductions in calcification in reef-building corals occur when thermal conditions are suboptimal, but it is unclear how they vary between genera in response to the same thermal stress event. Using densitometry techniques, we investigate reductions in the calcification rate of massive Porites spp. from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR, and P. astreoides, Montastraea faveolata, and M. franksi from the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (MBR, and correlate them to thermal stress associated with ocean warming. Results show that Porites spp. are more sensitive to increasing temperature than Montastraea, with calcification rates decreasing by 0.40 g cm(-2 year(-1 in Porites spp. and 0.12 g cm(-2 year(-1 in Montastraea spp. for each 1°C increase. Under similar warming trends, the predicted calcification rates at 2100 are close to zero in Porites spp. and reduced by 40% in Montastraea spp. However, these predictions do not account for ocean acidification. Although yearly mean aragonite saturation (Ω(ar at MBR sites has recently decreased, only P. astreoides at Chinchorro showed a reduction in calcification. In corals at the other sites calcification did not change, indicating there was no widespread effect of Ω(ar changes on coral calcification rate in the MBR. Even in the absence of ocean acidification, differential reductions in calcification between Porites spp. and Montastraea spp. associated with warming might be expected to have significant ecological repercussions. For instance, Porites spp. invest increased calcification in extension, and under warming scenarios it may reduce their ability to compete for space. As a consequence, shifts in taxonomic composition would be expected in Indo-Pacific reefs with uncertain repercussions for biodiversity. By contrast, Montastraea spp. use their increased calcification resources to construct denser skeletons. Reductions in calcification would therefore make them more susceptible to both physical and biological

  1. Human disturbances on coral reefs in Sri Lanka: A case study

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Oehman, M.C.; Linden, O. (Stockholm Univ. (Sweden). Dept. of Zoology); Rajasuriya, A. (NARA, Crow Island, Colombo (Sri Lanka))

    1993-01-01

    The degradation of coral reefs in Sri Lanka has increased substantially over the last decades. Human activities causing this degradation include: mining for lime production, sewage discharges, discharges of oil and other pollutants in connection with shipping and port activities, destructive fishing practices, land and mangrove destruction, tourism and the collecting of fauna such as fish, shells and corals. In this study, three adjacent coral reefs; Bar Reef, Talawila Reef, and Kandakuliya Reef, which are widely scattered patch reefs off Kalpitiya Peninsula, northwestern Sri Lanka, were surveyed and compared in terms of their fish and coral diversity and abundance as well as human and natural disturbances. Information was gathered by snorkeling in visual overview surveys and by scuba diving in detailed transect surveys. When each reef was ranked according to the extent of live coral cover, and chaetodontid diversity, the results indicated that Bar Reef was in excellent condition, Talawila Reef was intermediate, and Kandakuliya Reef was in poor condition. The diversity of coral genera, the topographic relief and the proportion of coral rubble, did not follow the same pattern. The number of coral genera found was 49, while 283 fish species belonging to 51 families were recorded. Human disturbance factors on the reefs were found to be net fishing, boat anchoring and ornamental fish collection for the aquarium trade. Bottom.set nylon nets in particular were found to have a very destructive impact on the bottom fauna. 33 refs, 7 figs, 1 tab

  2. Redundancy and response diversity of functional groups: implications for the resilience of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nyström, Magnus

    2006-02-01

    To improve coral reef management, a deeper understanding of biodiversity across scales in the context of functional groups is required. The focus of this paper is on the role of diversity within functional groups in securing important ecosystem processes that contribute to the resilience of coral-dominated reef states. Two important components of species biodiversity that confer ecosystem resilience are analyzed: redundancy and the diversity of responses within functional groups to change. Three critical functional groups are used to illustrate the interaction between these two components and their role in coral reef resilience: zooxanthellae (symbiotic micro algae in reef-building corals), reef-building corals, and herbivores. The paper further examines the consequences of undermining functional redundancy and response diversity and addresses strategies to secure ecological processes that are critical for coral reef resilience.

  3. Water Column Correction for Coral Reef Studies by Remote Sensing

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-01-01

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application. PMID:25215941

  4. Water column correction for coral reef studies by remote sensing.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-09-11

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application.

  5. Measuring, interpreting, and responding to changes in coral reefs: A challenge for biologists, geologist, and managers

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Miller, Jeff; Hubbard, Dennis K.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Lipps, Jere H.; Stanley, George D.

    2016-01-01

    What, exactly, is a coral reef? And how have the world’s reefs changed in the last several decades? What are the stressors undermining reef structure and function? Given the predicted effects of climate change, do reefs have a future? Is it possible to “manage” coral reefs for resilience? What can coral reef scientists contribute to improve protection and management of coral reefs? What insights can biologists and geologists provide regarding the persistence of coral reefs on a human timescale? What is reef change to a biologist… to a geologist?Clearly, there are many challenging questions. In this chapter, we present some of our thoughts on monitoring and management of coral reefs in US national parks in the Caribbean and western Atlantic based on our experience as members of monitoring teams. We reflect on the need to characterize and evaluate reefs, on how to conduct high-quality monitoring programs, and on what we can learn from biological and geological experiments and investigations. We explore the possibility that specific steps can be taken to “manage” coral reefs for greater resilience.

  6. Expectations and Outcomes of Reserve Network Performance following Re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Emslie, Michael J; Logan, Murray; Williamson, David H; Ayling, Anthony M; MacNeil, M Aaron; Ceccarelli, Daniela; Cheal, Alistair J; Evans, Richard D; Johns, Kerryn A; Jonker, Michelle J; Miller, Ian R; Osborne, Kate; Russ, Garry R; Sweatman, Hugh P A

    2015-04-20

    Networks of no-take marine reserves (NTMRs) are widely advocated for preserving exploited fish stocks and for conserving biodiversity. We used underwater visual surveys of coral reef fish and benthic communities to quantify the short- to medium-term (5 to 30 years) ecological effects of the establishment of NTMRs within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). The density, mean length, and biomass of principal fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp., Variola spp.), were consistently greater in NTMRs than on fished reefs over both the short and medium term. However, there were no clear or consistent differences in the structure of fish or benthic assemblages, non-target fish density, fish species richness, or coral cover between NTMR and fished reefs. There was no indication that the displacement and concentration of fishing effort reduced coral trout populations on fished reefs. A severe tropical cyclone impacted many survey reefs during the study, causing similar declines in coral cover and fish density on both NTMR and fished reefs. However, coral trout biomass declined only on fished reefs after the cyclone. The GBRMP is performing as expected in terms of the protection of fished stocks and biodiversity for a developed country in which fishing is not excessive and targets a narrow range of species. NTMRs cannot protect coral reefs directly from acute regional-scale disturbance but, after a strong tropical cyclone, impacted NTMR reefs supported higher biomass of key fishery-targeted species and so should provide valuable sources of larvae to enhance population recovery and long-term persistence. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  7. Coral reefs promote the evolution of morphological diversity and ecological novelty in labrid fishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Price, S A; Holzman, R; Near, T J; Wainwright, P C

    2011-05-01

    Although coral reefs are renowned biodiversity hotspots it is not known whether they also promote the evolution of exceptional ecomorphological diversity. We investigated this question by analysing a large functional morphological dataset of trophic characters within Labridae, a highly diverse group of fishes. Using an analysis that accounts for species relationships, the time available for diversification and model uncertainty we show that coral reef species have evolved functional morphological diversity twice as fast as non-reef species. In addition, coral reef species occupy 68.6% more trophic morphospace than non-reef species. Our results suggest that coral reef habitats promote the evolution of both trophic novelty and morphological diversity within fishes. Thus, the preservation of coral reefs is necessary, not only to safeguard current biological diversity but also to conserve the underlying mechanisms that can produce functional diversity in future. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

  8. Watershed processes from ridge to reef: consequences of feral ungulates for coral reef and effects of watershed management

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gordon Tribble; Jonathan Stock; Jim Jacobi

    2016-01-01

    Molokai’s south shore has some of Hawaii’s most extensive and best-developed coral reefs. Historic terrigenous sedimentation appears to have impacted coral growth along several miles of fringing reef. The land upslope of the reef consists of small watersheds with streams that flow intermittently to the ocean. A USGS gage at the outlet of one of the most impacted...

  9. Monitoring Coral Health to Determine Coral Bleaching Response at High Latitude Eastern Australian Reefs: An Applied Model for A Changing Climate

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew G. Carroll

    2011-09-01

    Full Text Available Limited information is available on the bleaching susceptibility of coral species that dominate high latitude reefs along the eastern seaboard of Australia. The main aims of this study were to: (i monitor coral health and spatial patterns of coral bleaching response at the Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP and Lord Howe Island Marine Park (LHIMP, to determine variability of bleaching susceptibility among coral taxa; (ii predict coral bleaching thresholds at 30 °S and 31.5 °S, extrapolated from published bleaching threshold data; and (iii propose a subtropical northern New South Wales coral bleaching model from biological and physical data. Between 2005 and 2007 minor bleaching was observed in dominant coral families including Pocilloporidae, Poritidae and Dendrophylliidae in the SIMP and Pocilloporidae, Poritidae and Acroporidae (Isopora and Montipora spp. in the LHIMP, with a clear difference in bleaching susceptibility found between sites, both within and between locations. Bleaching susceptibility was highest in Porites spp. at the most offshore island site within the SIMP during summer 2005. Patterns of subtropical family bleaching susceptibility within the SIMP and LHIMP differed to those previously reported for the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR. These differences may be due to a number of factors, including temperature history and/or the coral hosts association with different zooxanthellae clades, which may have lower thermal tolerances. An analysis of published estimates of coral bleaching thresholds from the Caribbean, South Africa, GBR and central and northern Pacific regions suggests that the bleaching threshold at 30–31.5 °S ranges between 26.5–26.8 °C. This predicted threshold was confirmed by an extensive coral bleaching event on the world’s southernmost coral reef at Lord Howe Island, during the 2010 austral summer season. These results imply that dominant coral taxa at subtropical reefs along the eastern Australian

  10. Coral Reef Management in Padaido Marine Tourism Park, Biak Numfor Case Study for the Alternative Solution to Destructive Fishing Practices on Coral Reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Supriharyono

    2003-01-01

    Coral reef is the most productive marine ecosystem in coastal waters. Unfortunately, this ecosystem has already suffered from non-sustainable human use including destructive fishing practices (bombing and cyanide), coral mining, over fishing, settlement pollution and uncontrolled tourism development. These affected the production of those fisheries resources in coral reefs. In order to manage those resources, such alternative to destructive use need to be studied. This paper reports alternat...

  11. Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats

    Science.gov (United States)

    2002-09-30

    and C. S. Yentsch. Light Absorption and Utilization by Colonies of the Congeneric Hermatypic Corals , Montastraea faveolata and Montastraea cavernosa...Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote...Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats Dr. Michael P. Lesser University of New Hampshire Department of Zoology and Center for Marine Biology Durham, NH 03824

  12. A coral-on-a-chip microfluidic platform enabling live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shapiro, Orr H; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Gavish, Assaf R; Stocker, Roman; Vardi, Assaf

    2016-03-04

    Coral reefs, and the unique ecosystems they support, are facing severe threats by human activities and climate change. Our understanding of these threats is hampered by the lack of robust approaches for studying the micro-scale interactions between corals and their environment. Here we present an experimental platform, coral-on-a-chip, combining micropropagation and microfluidics to allow direct microscopic study of live coral polyps. The small and transparent coral micropropagates are ideally suited for live-imaging microscopy, while the microfluidic platform facilitates long-term visualization under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by imaging coral micropropagates at previously unattainable spatio-temporal resolutions, providing new insights into several micro-scale processes including coral calcification, coral-pathogen interaction and the loss of algal symbionts (coral bleaching). Coral-on-a-chip thus provides a powerful method for studying coral physiology in vivo at the micro-scale, opening new vistas in coral biology.

  13. Coral reef fishes exhibit beneficial phenotypes inside marine protected areas.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fidler, Robert Y; Carroll, Jessica; Rynerson, Kristen W; Matthews, Danielle F; Turingan, Ralph G

    2018-01-01

    Human fishing effort is size-selective, preferentially removing the largest individuals from harvested stocks. Intensive, size-specific fishing mortality induces directional shifts in phenotypic frequencies towards the predominance of smaller and earlier-maturing individuals, which are among the primary causes of declining fish biomass. Fish that reproduce at smaller size and younger age produce fewer, smaller, and less viable larvae, severely reducing the reproductive capacity of harvested populations. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are extensively utilized in coral reefs for fisheries management, and are thought to mitigate the impacts of size-selective fishing mortality and supplement fished stocks through larval export. However, empirical evidence of disparities in fitness-relevant phenotypes between MPAs and adjacent fished reefs is necessary to validate this assertion. Here, we compare key life-history traits in three coral-reef fishes (Acanthurus nigrofuscus, Ctenochaetus striatus, and Parupeneus multifasciatus) between MPAs and fished reefs in the Philippines. Results of our analyses support previous hypotheses regarding the impacts of MPAs on phenotypic traits. Asymptotic length (Linf) and growth rates (K) differed between conspecifics in MPAs and fished reefs, with protected populations exhibiting phenotypes that are known to confer higher fecundity. Additionally, populations demonstrated increases in length at 50% maturity (L50) inside MPAs compared to adjacent areas, although age at 50% maturity (A50) did not appear to be impacted by MPA establishment. Shifts toward advantageous phenotypes were most common in the oldest and largest MPAs, but occurred in all of the MPAs examined. These results suggest that MPAs may provide protection against the impacts of size-selective harvest on life-history traits in coral-reef fishes.

  14. Potential effects of invasive Pterois volitans in coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Banamali Maji

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available The invasion of predatory lionfish (Pterois volitans represents a major threat to the western Atlantic coral reef ecosystems. The proliferation of venomous, fast reproducing and aggressive P. volitans in coral reefs causes severe declines in the abundance and diversity of reef herbivores. There is also widespread cannibalism amongst P. volitans populations. A mathematical model is proposed to study the effects of predation on the biomass of herbivorous reef fishes by considering two life stages and intraguild predation of P. volitans population with harvesting of adult P. volitans. The system undergoes a supercritical Hopf bifurcation when the invasiveness of P. volitans crosses a certain critical value. It is observed that cannibalism of P. volitans induces stability in the system even with high invasiveness of adult P. volitans. The dynamic instability of the system due to higher invasiveness of P. volitans can be controlled by increasing the rate of harvesting of P. volitans. It is also proven that P. volitans goes extinct when the harvest rate is greater than some critical threshold value. These results indicate that the dynamical behaviour of the model is very sensitive to the harvesting of P. volitans, which in turn is useful in the conservation of reef herbivores.

  15. Reef-coral refugia in a rapidly changing ocean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2015-06-01

    This study sought to identify climate-change thermal-stress refugia for reef corals in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A species distribution modeling approach was used to identify refugia for 12 coral species that differed considerably in their local response to thermal stress. We hypothesized that the local response of coral species to thermal stress might be similarly reflected as a regional response to climate change. We assessed the contemporary geographic range of each species and determined their temperature and irradiance preferences using a k-fold algorithm to randomly select training and evaluation sites. That information was applied to downscaled outputs of global climate models to predict where each species is likely to exist by the year 2100. Our model was run with and without a 1°C capacity to adapt to the rising ocean temperature. The results show a positive exponential relationship between the current area of habitat that coral species occupy and the predicted area of habitat that they will occupy by 2100. There was considerable decoupling between scales of response, however, and with further ocean warming some 'winners' at local scales will likely become 'losers' at regional scales. We predicted that nine of the 12 species examined will lose 24-50% of their current habitat. Most reductions are predicted to occur between the latitudes 5-15°, in both hemispheres. Yet when we modeled a 1°C capacity to adapt, two ubiquitous species, Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora digitifera, were predicted to retain much of their current habitat. By contrast, the thermally tolerant Porites lobata is expected to increase its current distribution by 14%, particularly southward along the east and west coasts of Australia. Five areas were identified as Indian Ocean refugia, and seven areas were identified as Pacific Ocean refugia for reef corals under climate change. All 12 of these reef-coral refugia deserve high-conservation status. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  16. American Samoa: coral reef monitoring interactive map and information layers primarily from 2010 surveys

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This interactive map displays American Samoa data collected by the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) during the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring...

  17. Linking Terrigenous Sediment Delivery to Declines in Coral Reef Ecosystem Services

    Science.gov (United States)

    Worldwide coral reef conditions continue to decline despite the valuable socioeconomic benefits of these ecosystems. There is growing recognition that quantifying reefs in terms reflecting what stakeholders value is vital for comparing inherent tradeoffs among coastal management ...

  18. Atlantis Modeled Output Data for the Coral Reef Ecosystems of Guam

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — A proof-of-concept Guam Atlantis Coral Reef Ecosystem Model has been developed and an added coral module to the Atlantis framework has been validated. The model is...

  19. Reef fish and coral assemblages at Maptaput, Rayong Province

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Voravit Cheevaporn

    2007-06-01

    Full Text Available This study describes the structure of coral and fish assemblages of a group of small islands and pinnacles in the vicinity of Maptaput deep sea port, Rayong Province, Thailand during 2002. The coral and fish assemblages at Saket Island and nearby pinnacle, Hin-Yai, which are located less than 1 km from the deep sea port, had changed. Living coral cover in 2002 was 8% at Hin-Yai and 4% at Saket