WorldWideScience

Sample records for change coral reef

  1. Historical change in coral reef communities in Caribbean Panama

    OpenAIRE

    Cramer, Katie Lynn

    2011-01-01

    Scientists have witnessed a profound transformation in Caribbean coral reefs since the 1980s that includes a widespread mortality of corals and a shift in coral species composition. These changes have been widely attributed to modern disturbances such as coral disease and coral bleaching that have become prevalent in the most recent decades. However, the demise of corals in the Caribbean represents the most recent chapter in a long history of human alteration of Caribbean reef ecosystems. Cen...

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    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 ...

  3. Warm-water coral reefs and climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Spalding, Mark D; Brown, Barbara E

    2015-11-13

    Coral reefs are highly dynamic ecosystems that are regularly exposed to natural perturbations. Human activities have increased the range, intensity, and frequency of disturbance to reefs. Threats such as overfishing and pollution are being compounded by climate change, notably warming and ocean acidification. Elevated temperatures are driving increasingly frequent bleaching events that can lead to the loss of both coral cover and reef structural complexity. There remains considerable variability in the distribution of threats and in the ability of reefs to survive or recover from such disturbances. Without significant emissions reductions, however, the future of coral reefs is increasingly bleak.

  4. Warm-water coral reefs and climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Spalding, Mark D.; Brown, Barbara E.

    2015-11-01

    Coral reefs are highly dynamic ecosystems that are regularly exposed to natural perturbations. Human activities have increased the range, intensity, and frequency of disturbance to reefs. Threats such as overfishing and pollution are being compounded by climate change, notably warming and ocean acidification. Elevated temperatures are driving increasingly frequent bleaching events that can lead to the loss of both coral cover and reef structural complexity. There remains considerable variability in the distribution of threats and in the ability of reefs to survive or recover from such disturbances. Without significant emissions reductions, however, the future of coral reefs is increasingly bleak.

  5. Symbiont diversity may help coral reefs survive moderate climate change

    OpenAIRE

    Baskett, ML; Gaines, SD; Nisbet, RM

    2009-01-01

    Given climate change, thermal stress-related mass coral-bleaching events present one of the greatest anthropogenic threats to coral reefs. While corals and their symbiotic algae may respond to future temperatures through genetic adaptation and shifts in community compositions, the climate may change too rapidly for coral response. To test this potential for response, here we develop a model of coral and symbiont ecological dynamics and symbiont evolutionary dynamics. Model results without var...

  6. Wave transformation across coral reefs under changing sea levels

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harris, Daniel; Power, Hannah; Vila-Conejo, Ana; Webster, Jody

    2015-04-01

    The transformation of swell waves from deep water across reef flats is the primary process regulating energy regimes in coral reef systems. Coral reefs are effective barriers removing up to 99% of wave energy during breaking and propagation across reef flats. Consequently back-reef environments are often considered low energy with only limited sediment transport and geomorphic change during modal conditions. Coral reefs, and specifically reef flats, therefore provide important protection to tropical coastlines from coastal erosion and recession. However, changes in sea level could lead to significant changes in the dissipation of swell wave energy in coral reef systems with wave heights dependent on the depth over the reef flat. This suggests that a rise in sea level would also lead to significantly higher energy conditions exacerbating the transgressive effects of sea level rise on tropical beaches and reef islands. This study examines the potential implications of different sea level scenarios on the transformation of waves across the windward reef flats of One Tree Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef. Waves were measured on the reef flats and back-reef sand apron of One Tree Reef. A one-dimensional wave model was calibrated and used to investigate wave processes on the reef flats under different mean sea level (MSL) scenarios (present MSL, +1 m MSL, and +2 m MSL). These scenarios represent both potential future sea level states and also the paleo sea level of the late Holocene in the southern Great Barrier Reef. Wave heights were shown to increase under sea level rise, with greater wave induced orbital velocities affecting the bed under higher sea levels. In general waves were more likely to entrain and transport sediment both on the reef flat and in the back reef environment under higher sea levels which has implications for not only forecasted climate change scenarios but also for interpreting geological changes during the late Holocene when sea levels were 1

  7. Coral reef ecosystem decline: changing dynamics of coral reef carbonate production and implications for reef growth potential

    Science.gov (United States)

    Perry, Chris

    2016-04-01

    Global-scale deteriorations in coral reef health have caused major shifts in species composition and are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. It has been suggested that one effect of these ecological changes will be to lower reef carbonate production rates, which will impair reef growth potential and, ultimately, may lead to states of net reef erosion. However, quantitative data to support such assertions are limited, and linkages between the ecological state of coral reefs and their past and present geomorphic performance (in other words their growth potential) are poorly resolved. Using recently collected data from sites in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, and which have undergone very different post-disturbance ecological trajectories over the last ~20-30 years, the differential impacts of disturbance on contemporary carbonate production regimes and on reef growth potential can be explored. In the Caribbean, a region which has been severely impacted ecological over the last 30+ years, our datasets show that average carbonate production rates on reefs are now less than 50% of pre-disturbance rates, and that calculated accretion rates (mm yr-1) are an about order of magnitude lower within shallow water habitats compared to Holocene averages. Collectively, these data suggest that recent ecological declines are now propagating through the system to impact on the geomorphic performance of Caribbean reefs and will impair their future growth potential. In contrast, the carbonate budgets of most reefs across the Chagos archipelago (central Indian Ocean), which is geographically remote and largely isolated from direct human disturbances, have recovered rapidly from major past disturbances (specifically the 1998 coral bleaching event). The carbonate budgets on these remote reefs now average +3.7 G (G = kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1). Most significantly the production rates on Acropora-dominated reefs, which were most severely impacted by the 1998 bleaching event, average +8.4 G

  8. 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.

  9. Climate-change refugia: shading reef corals by turbidity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2016-03-01

    Coral reefs have recently experienced an unprecedented decline as the world's oceans continue to warm. Yet global climate models reveal a heterogeneously warming ocean, which has initiated a search for refuges, where corals may survive in the near future. We hypothesized that some turbid nearshore environments may act as climate-change refuges, shading corals from the harmful interaction between high sea-surface temperatures and high irradiance. We took a hierarchical Bayesian approach to determine the expected distribution of 12 coral species in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between the latitudes 37°N and 37°S, under representative concentration pathway 8.5 (W m(-2) ) by 2100. The turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study were located between latitudes 20-30°N and 15-25°S, where there was a strong coupling between turbidity and tidal fluctuations. Our model predicts that turbidity will mitigate high temperature bleaching for 9% of shallow reef habitat (to 30 m depth) - habitat that was previously considered inhospitable under ocean warming. Our model also predicted that turbidity will protect some coral species more than others from climate-change-associated thermal stress. We also identified locations where consistently high turbidity will likely reduce irradiance to Japan), eastern Vietnam, western and eastern Australia, New Caledonia, the northern Red Sea, and the Arabian Gulf, should become part of a judicious global strategy for reef-coral persistence under climate change. PMID:26695523

  10. Climate-change refugia: shading reef corals by turbidity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2016-03-01

    Coral reefs have recently experienced an unprecedented decline as the world's oceans continue to warm. Yet global climate models reveal a heterogeneously warming ocean, which has initiated a search for refuges, where corals may survive in the near future. We hypothesized that some turbid nearshore environments may act as climate-change refuges, shading corals from the harmful interaction between high sea-surface temperatures and high irradiance. We took a hierarchical Bayesian approach to determine the expected distribution of 12 coral species in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between the latitudes 37°N and 37°S, under representative concentration pathway 8.5 (W m(-2) ) by 2100. The turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study were located between latitudes 20-30°N and 15-25°S, where there was a strong coupling between turbidity and tidal fluctuations. Our model predicts that turbidity will mitigate high temperature bleaching for 9% of shallow reef habitat (to 30 m depth) - habitat that was previously considered inhospitable under ocean warming. Our model also predicted that turbidity will protect some coral species more than others from climate-change-associated thermal stress. We also identified locations where consistently high turbidity will likely reduce irradiance to Japan), eastern Vietnam, western and eastern Australia, New Caledonia, the northern Red Sea, and the Arabian Gulf, should become part of a judicious global strategy for reef-coral persistence under climate change.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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. PMID:25646684

  14. Coral community change on a turbid-zone reef complex: developing baseline records for the central Great Barrier Reef's nearshore coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnson, Jamie; Perry, Chris; Smithers, Scott; Morgan, Kyle; Johnson, Kenneth

    2016-04-01

    Understanding past coral community development and reef growth is crucial for placing contemporary ecological and environmental change within appropriate reef-building timescales. Coral reefs located within coastal inner-shelf zones are widely perceived to be most susceptible to declining water quality due to their proximity to modified river catchments. On the inner-shelf of Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) the impacts and magnitude of declining water quality since European settlement (c. 1850 A.D.) still remain unclear. This relates to ongoing debates concerning the significance of increased sediment yields against the naturally high background sedimentary regimes and the paucity of long-term (>decadal) ecological datasets. To provide baseline records for interpreting coral community change within the turbid inner-shelf waters of the GBR, 21 cores were recovered from five nearshore reefs spanning an evolutionary spectrum of reef development. Discrete intervals pre- and post-dating European settlement, but deposited at equivalent water depths, were identified by radiocarbon dating, enabling the discrimination of extrinsic and intrinsic driven shifts within the coral palaeo-record. We report no discernible evidence of anthropogenically-driven disturbance on the coral community records at these sites. Instead, significant transitions in coral community assemblages relating to water depth and vertical reef accretion were observed. We suggest that these records may be used to contextualise observed contemporary ecological change within similar environments on the GBR.

  15. Forecasting decadal changes in sea surface temperatures and coral bleaching within a Caribbean coral reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Li, Angang; Reidenbach, Matthew A.

    2014-09-01

    Elevated sea surface temperature (SST) caused by global warming is one of the major threats to coral reefs. While increased SST has been shown to negatively affect the health of coral reefs by increasing rates of coral bleaching, how changes to atmospheric heating impact SST distributions, modified by local flow environments, has been less understood. This study aimed to simulate future water flow patterns and water surface heating in response to increased air temperature within a coral reef system in Bocas del Toro, Panama, located within the Caribbean Sea. Water flow and SST were modeled using the Delft3D-FLOWcomputer simulation package. Locally measured physical parameters, including bathymetry, astronomic tidal forcing, and coral habitat distribution were input into the model and water flow, and SST was simulated over a four-month period under present day, as well as projected warming scenarios in 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s. Changes in SST, and hence the thermal stress to corals, were quantified by degree heating weeks. Results showed that present-day reported bleaching sites were consistent with localized regions of continuous high SST. Regions with highest SST were located within shallow coastal sites adjacent to the mainland or within the interior of the bay, and characterized by low currents with high water retention times. Under projected increases in SSTs, shallow reef areas in low flow regions were found to be hot spots for future bleaching.

  16. 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.

  17. 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 BACKGROUND: 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. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: 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.

  18. Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Georgina G Gurney

    Full Text Available 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

  19. 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

  20. Persistence and change in community composition of reef corals through present, past, and future climates.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Peter J Edmunds

    Full Text Available The reduction in coral cover on many contemporary tropical reefs suggests a different set of coral community assemblages will dominate future reefs. To evaluate the capacity of reef corals to persist over various time scales, we examined coral community dynamics in contemporary, fossil, and simulated future coral reef ecosystems. Based on studies between 1987 and 2012 at two locations in the Caribbean, and between 1981 and 2013 at five locations in the Indo-Pacific, we show that many coral genera declined in abundance, some showed no change in abundance, and a few coral genera increased in abundance. Whether the abundance of a genus declined, increased, or was conserved, was independent of coral family. An analysis of fossil-reef communities in the Caribbean revealed changes in numerical dominance and relative abundances of coral genera, and demonstrated that neither dominance nor taxon was associated with persistence. As coral family was a poor predictor of performance on contemporary reefs, a trait-based, dynamic, multi-patch model was developed to explore the phenotypic basis of ecological performance in a warmer future. Sensitivity analyses revealed that upon exposure to thermal stress, thermal tolerance, growth rate, and longevity were the most important predictors of coral persistence. Together, our results underscore the high variation in the rates and direction of change in coral abundances on contemporary and fossil reefs. Given this variation, it remains possible that coral reefs will be populated by a subset of the present coral fauna in a future that is warmer than the recent past.

  1. Critical research needs for identifying future changes in Gulf coral reef ecosystems

    KAUST Repository

    Feary, David A.

    2013-07-01

    Expert opinion was assessed to identify current knowledge gaps in determining future changes in Arabian/Persian Gulf (thereafter \\'Gulf\\') coral reefs. Thirty-one participants submitted 71 research questions that were peer-assessed in terms of scientific importance (i.e., filled a knowledge gap and was a research priority) and efficiency in resource use (i.e., was highly feasible and ecologically broad). Ten research questions, in six major research areas, were highly important for both understanding Gulf coral reef ecosystems and also an efficient use of limited research resources. These questions mirrored global evaluations of the importance of understanding and evaluating biodiversity, determining the potential impacts of climate change, the role of anthropogenic impacts in structuring coral reef communities, and economically evaluating coral reef communities. These questions provide guidance for future research on coral reef ecosystems within the Gulf, and enhance the potential for assessment and management of future changes in this globally significant region. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

  2. Climate change, global warming and coral reefs: modelling the effects of temperature.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Crabbe, M James C

    2008-10-01

    Climate change and global warming have severe consequences for the survival of scleractinian (reef-building) corals and their associated ecosystems. This review summarizes recent literature on the influence of temperature on coral growth, coral bleaching, and modelling the effects of high temperature on corals. Satellite-based sea surface temperature (SST) and coral bleaching information available on the internet is an important tool in monitoring and modelling coral responses to temperature. Within the narrow temperature range for coral growth, corals can respond to rate of temperature change as well as to temperature per se. We need to continue to develop models of how non-steady-state processes such as global warming and climate change will affect coral reefs.

  3. Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world's coral reefs

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O. [University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW (Australia). School of Biological Sciences

    1999-07-01

    Sea temperatures in many tropical regions have increased by almost 1{degree}C over the past 100 years, and are currently increasing at about 1-2{degree}C per century. Mass coral bleaching has occurred in association with episodes of elevated sea temperatures over the past 20 years and involves the loss of the zooxanthellae following chronic photoinhibition. Mass bleaching has resulted in significant losses of live coral in many parts of the world. This paper considers the biochemical, physiological and ecological perspectives of coral bleaching. It also uses the outputs of four runs from three models of global climate change which simulate changes in sea temperature and hence how the frequency and intensity of bleaching events will change over the next 100 years. The results suggest that the thermal tolerances of reef-building corals are likely to be exceeded every year within the next few decades. Events as severe as the 1998 event, the worst on record, are likely to become commonplace within 20 years. Most information suggests that the capacity for acclimation by corals has already been exceeded, and that adaptation will be too slow to avert a decline in the quality of the world's reefs.

  4. 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.

  5. Coral reefs in the South China Sea: Their response to and records on past environmental changes

    Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (English)

    YU KeFu

    2012-01-01

    This paper reviews both the recent and longer-term (Holocene) ecological history of coral reefs in the South China Sea (SCS).(1) Local ecological monitoring since the 1960s shows that the coral reefs in the South China Sea have declined dramatically,reflecting the rapid decrease of living coral cover and the great loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae.Collectively,this has led to a significant decrease of annual CaCO3 production.Heavy anthropogenic activities and global warming are recognized as major triggers of the observed coral reef degradation.Observations show that the modern coral reefs in the SCS are a source of atmospheric CO2 in summer.(2) Coral reefs of the SCS have been widely used to reveal longer-term environmental variations,including Holocene high-resolution sea surface temperature (SST) and abrupt climate events,millennial-scale E1 Ni(n)o variations,millennial-and centennial-scale sea level oscillations,strong and cyclic storm activities,East Asian monsoon intensities,variation in seawater pH,and recent seawater pollution,(3) Coral reefs of the southern SCS have experienced repeated episodes of bleaching over the last 200 years due to high SST and intense E1 Ni(n)o events; coral reefs of the northern SCS suffered high levels of mortality during several abrupt winter cold-water bleaching events during the middle Holocene warm period.On average,recovery after the middle Holocene cold-bleaching took 20-30 years; recovery following other middle Holocene environmental stresses took approximately 1020 years.Such findings have significantly contributed to the understanding of the present ecological pressures faced by the coral reefs in the SCS,the histories of Holocene climate/environment changes,and the long-term models of coral reef responses to various past environmental changes.

  6. Biology of corals and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Rajkumar, R.; Parulekar, A.H.

    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...

  7. Climate change affects key nitrogen-fixing bacterial populations on coral reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Santos, Henrique F.; Carmo, Flavia L.; Duarte, Gustavo; Dini-Andreote, Francisco; Castro, Clovis B.; Rosado, Alexandre S.; van Elsas, Jan Dirk; Peixoto, Raquel S.

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are at serious risk due to events associated with global climate change. Elevated ocean temperatures have unpredictable consequences for the ocean's biogeochemical cycles. The nitrogen cycle is driven by complex microbial transformations, including nitrogen fixation. This study investiga

  8. Recent Advances in Understanding the Effects of Climate Change on Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew S. Hoey

    2016-05-01

    Full Text Available Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the persistence of coral reefs. Sustained and ongoing increases in ocean temperatures and acidification are altering the structure and function of reefs globally. Here, we summarise recent advances in our understanding of the effects of climate change on scleractinian corals and reef fish. Although there is considerable among-species variability in responses to increasing temperature and seawater chemistry, changing temperature regimes are likely to have the greatest influence on the structure of coral and fish assemblages, at least over short–medium timeframes. Recent evidence of increases in coral bleaching thresholds, local genetic adaptation and inheritance of heat tolerance suggest that coral populations may have some capacity to respond to warming, although the extent to which these changes can keep pace with changing environmental conditions is unknown. For coral reef fishes, current evidence indicates increasing seawater temperature will be a major determinant of future assemblages, through both habitat degradation and direct effects on physiology and behaviour. The effects of climate change are, however, being compounded by a range of anthropogenic disturbances, which may undermine the capacity of coral reef organisms to acclimate and/or adapt to specific changes in environmental conditions.

  9. Mangrove habitats provide refuge from climate change for reef-building corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yates, K. K.; Rogers, C. S.; Herlan, J. J.; Brooks, G. R.; Smiley, N. A.; Larson, R. A.

    2014-03-01

    Risk analyses indicate that more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by climate change and local anthropogenic impacts by the year 2030 under "business as usual" climate scenarios. Increasing temperatures and solar radiation cause coral bleaching that has resulted in extensive coral mortality. Increasing carbon dioxide reduces seawater pH, slows coral growth, and may cause loss of reef structure. Management strategies include establishment of marine protected areas with environmental conditions that promote reef resiliency. However, few resilient reefs have been identified, and resiliency factors are poorly defined. Here we characterize the first natural, non-reef, coral refuge from thermal stress and ocean acidification and identify resiliency factors for mangrove-coral habitats. We measured diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature, salinity, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and seawater chemistry; characterized substrate parameters; and examined water circulation patterns in mangrove communities where scleractinian corals are growing attached to and under mangrove prop roots in Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Additionally, we inventoried the coral species and quantified incidences of coral bleaching, mortality and recovery for two major reef-building corals, Colpophyllia natans and Diploria labyrinthiformis, growing in mangrove shaded and exposed (unshaded) areas. At least 33 species of scleractinian corals were growing in association with mangroves. Corals were thriving in low-light (more than 70% attenuation of incident PAR) from mangrove shading and at higher temperatures than nearby reef tract corals. A higher percentage of C. natans colonies was living shaded by mangroves, and no shaded colonies bleached. Fewer D. labyrinthiformis colonies were shaded by mangroves, however more unshaded colonies bleached. A combination of substrate and habitat heterogeniety, proximity of different habitat types, hydrographic

  10. Mangrove habitats provide refuge from climate change for reef-building corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    K. K. Yates

    2014-03-01

    Full Text Available Risk analyses indicate that more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by climate change and local anthropogenic impacts by the year 2030 under "business as usual" climate scenarios. Increasing temperatures and solar radiation cause coral bleaching that has resulted in extensive coral mortality. Increasing carbon dioxide reduces seawater pH, slows coral growth, and may cause loss of reef structure. Management strategies include establishment of marine protected areas with environmental conditions that promote reef resiliency. However, few resilient reefs have been identified, and resiliency factors are poorly defined. Here we characterize the first natural, non-reef, coral refuge from thermal stress and ocean acidification and identify resiliency factors for mangrove–coral habitats. We measured diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature, salinity, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, and seawater chemistry; characterized substrate parameters; and examined water circulation patterns in mangrove communities where scleractinian corals are growing attached to and under mangrove prop roots in Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Additionally, we inventoried the coral species and quantified incidences of coral bleaching, mortality and recovery for two major reef-building corals, Colpophyllia natans and Diploria labyrinthiformis, growing in mangrove shaded and exposed (unshaded areas. At least 33 species of scleractinian corals were growing in association with mangroves. Corals were thriving in low-light (more than 70% attenuation of incident PAR from mangrove shading and at higher temperatures than nearby reef tract corals. A higher percentage of C. natans colonies was living shaded by mangroves, and no shaded colonies bleached. Fewer D. labyrinthiformis colonies were shaded by mangroves, however more unshaded colonies bleached. A combination of substrate and habitat heterogeniety, proximity of different habitat types

  11. 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.

  12. Community Change within a Caribbean Coral Reef Marine Protected Area following Two Decades of Local Management

    KAUST Repository

    Noble, Mae M.

    2013-01-14

    Structural change in both the habitat and reef-associated fish assemblages within spatially managed coral reefs can provide key insights into the benefits and limitations of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). While MPA zoning effects on particular target species are well reported, we are yet to fully resolve the various affects of spatial management on the structure of coral reef communities over decadal time scales. Here, we document mixed affects of MPA zoning on fish density, biomass and species richness over the 21 years since establishment of the Saba Marine Park (SMP). Although we found significantly greater biomass and species richness of reef-associated fishes within shallow habitats (5 meters depth) closed to fishing, this did not hold for deeper (15 m) habitats, and there was a widespread decline (38% decrease) in live hard coral cover and a 68% loss of carnivorous reef fishes across all zones of the SMP from the 1990s to 2008. Given the importance of live coral for the maintenance and replenishment of reef fishes, and the likely role of chronic disturbance in driving coral decline across the region, we explore how local spatial management can help protect coral reef ecosystems within the context of large-scale environmental pressures and disturbances outside the purview of local MPA management. © 2013 Noble et al.

  13. Community change within a Caribbean coral reef Marine Protected Area following two decades of local management.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mae M Noble

    Full Text Available Structural change in both the habitat and reef-associated fish assemblages within spatially managed coral reefs can provide key insights into the benefits and limitations of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs. While MPA zoning effects on particular target species are well reported, we are yet to fully resolve the various affects of spatial management on the structure of coral reef communities over decadal time scales. Here, we document mixed affects of MPA zoning on fish density, biomass and species richness over the 21 years since establishment of the Saba Marine Park (SMP. Although we found significantly greater biomass and species richness of reef-associated fishes within shallow habitats (5 meters depth closed to fishing, this did not hold for deeper (15 m habitats, and there was a widespread decline (38% decrease in live hard coral cover and a 68% loss of carnivorous reef fishes across all zones of the SMP from the 1990s to 2008. Given the importance of live coral for the maintenance and replenishment of reef fishes, and the likely role of chronic disturbance in driving coral decline across the region, we explore how local spatial management can help protect coral reef ecosystems within the context of large-scale environmental pressures and disturbances outside the purview of local MPA management.

  14. Modeling regional coral reef responses to global warming and changes in ocean chemistry: Caribbean case study

    Science.gov (United States)

    Buddemeier, R.W.; Lane, D.R.; Martinich, J.A.

    2011-01-01

    Climatic change threatens the future of coral reefs in the Caribbean and the important ecosystem services they provide. We used a simulation model [Combo ("COral Mortality and Bleaching Output")] to estimate future coral cover in the part of the eastern Caribbean impacted by a massive coral bleaching event in 2005. Combo calculates impacts of future climate change on coral reefs by combining impacts from long-term changes in average sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean acidification with impacts from episodic high temperature mortality (bleaching) events. We used mortality and heat dose data from the 2005 bleaching event to select historic temperature datasets, to use as a baseline for running Combo under different future climate scenarios and sets of assumptions. Results suggest a bleak future for coral reefs in the eastern Caribbean. For three different emissions scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; B1, A1B, and A1FI), coral cover on most Caribbean reefs is projected to drop below 5% by the year 2035, if future mortality rates are equivalent to some of those observed in the 2005 event (50%). For a scenario where corals gain an additional 1-1. 5??C of heat tolerance through a shift in the algae that live in the coral tissue, coral cover above 5% is prolonged until 2065. Additional impacts such as storms or anthropogenic damage could result in declines in coral cover even faster than those projected here. These results suggest the need to identify and preserve the locations that are likely to have a higher resiliency to bleaching to save as many remnant populations of corals as possible in the face of projected wide-spread coral loss. ?? 2011 The Author(s).

  15. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral

    OpenAIRE

    Pinzón, Jorge H.; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A.; Harvell, C. Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D.

    2015-01-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system...

  16. Changing carbonate chemistry in ocean waters surrounding coral reefs in the CMIP5 ensemble

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricke, K.; Schneider, K.; Cao, L.; Caldeira, K.

    2012-12-01

    Coral reefs comprise some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Today they are threatened by a number of stressors, including pollution, bleaching from global warming and ocean acidification. In this study, we focus on the implications of ocean acidification for the open ocean chemistry surrounding coral reefs. We use results from 13 Earth System Models included in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) to examine the changing aragonite saturations (Ωa) of open ocean waters surrounding approximately 6,000 coral reefs. These 13 Earth System Models participating in CMIP5 each have interactive ocean biogeochemistry models that output state variables including DIC, alkalinity, SST, and salinity. Variation in these values were combined with values from the GLODAP database to calculate aragonite, the form of calcium carbonate that corals use to make their skeletons. We used reef locations from ReefBase that were within one degree (in latitude or longitude) of water masses represented both in the GLODAP database and in the climate models. Carbonate chemistry calculations were performed by Dr. James C. Orr (IPSL) as part of a separate study. We find that in preindustrial times, 99.9 % of coral reefs were located in regions of the ocean with aragonite saturations of 3.5 or more. The saturation threshold for viable reef ecosystems in uncertain, but the pre-industrial distribution of water chemistry surrounding coral reefs may nevertheless provide some indication of viability. We examine the fate of coral reefs in the context of several potential aragonite saturation thresholds, i.e., when Ωa_crit equals 3, 3.25, or 3.5. We show that under a business-as-usual scenario Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, the specific value of Ωa_crit does not affect the long-term fate of coral reefs -- by the end of the 21st century, no coral reef considered is surrounded by water with Ωa> 3. However, under scenarios with significant CO2 emissions

  17. An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Kaplan, Isaac C.; Gorton, Rebecca; Leemans, R.; Mooij, W.M.; Brainard, Russell E.

    2015-01-01

    Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly consider

  18. Environmental characteristics of tropical coral reef-seagrass dominated lagoons (Lakshadweep, India) and implications to resilience to climate change.

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Nobi, E.P.; DineshKumar, P.K.

    -induced coral bleaching. The water quality and sediment texture generally showed marked intra- and inter-island variations illustrating that these coral reef ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate change brought about by increased human interventions...

  19. Global warming and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    warming up on the coral reefs of India. The latter is more pertinent, since Indian reefs not only hold a potential for commercial resources (potential fish yield alone from Indian reefs is equivalent to 10% of total annual m "rine fish production in India... in ocean current patterns. Its likelihood is uncertain, but in the event it happens, the conse quence, with respect to adult corals, will be an en hanced mortality if cooler or more warmer waters are advected onto a reef. Changing current patterns would...

  20. Resilience and climate change: lessons from coral reefs and bleaching in the Western Indian Ocean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Obura, David O.

    2005-05-01

    The impact of climate change through thermal stress-related coral bleaching on coral reefs of the Western Indian Ocean has been well documented and is caused by rising sea water temperatures associated with background warming trends and extreme climate events. Recent studies have identified a number of factors that may reduce the impact of coral bleaching and mortality at a reef or sub-reef level. However, there is little scientific consensus as yet, and it is unclear how well current science supports the immediate needs of management responses to climate change. This paper provides evidence from the Western Indian Ocean in support of recent hypotheses on coral and reef vulnerability to thermal stress that have been loosely termed 'resistance and resilience to bleaching'. The paper argues for a more explicit definition of terms, and identifies three concepts affecting coral-zooxanthellae holobiont and reef vulnerability to thermal stress previously termed 'resistance to bleaching': 'thermal protection', where some reefs are protected from the thermal conditions that induce bleaching and/or where local physical conditions reduce bleaching and mortality levels; 'thermal resistance', where individual corals bleach to differing degrees to the same thermal stress; and 'thermal tolerance', where individual corals suffer differing levels of mortality when exposed to the same thermal stress. 'Resilience to bleaching' is a special case of ecological resilience, where recovery following large-scale bleaching mortality varies according to ecological and other processes. These concepts apply across multiple levels of biological organization and temporal and spatial scales. Thermal resistance and tolerance are genetic properties and may interact with environmental protection properties resulting in phenotypic variation in bleaching and mortality of corals. The presence or absence of human threats and varying levels of reef management may alter the influence of the above factors

  1. Challenges for Ecosystem Services Provided by Coral Reefs In the Face of Climate Change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kikuchi, R. K.; Elliff, C. I.

    2014-12-01

    Coral reefs provide many ecosystem services of which coastal populations are especially dependent upon, both in cases of extreme events and in daily life. However, adaptation to climate change is still relatively unknown territory regarding the ecosystem services provided by coastal environments, such as coral reefs. Management strategies usually consider climate change as a distant issue and rarely include ecosystem services in decision-making. Coral reefs are among the most vulnerable environments to climate change, considering the impact that increased ocean temperature and acidity have on the organisms that compose this ecosystem. If no actions are taken, the most likely scenario to occur will be of extreme decline in the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs. Loss of biodiversity due to the pressures of ocean warming and acidification will lead to increased price of seafood products, negative impact on food security, and ecological imbalances. Also, sea-level rise and fragile structures due to carbonate dissolution will increase vulnerability to storms, which can lead to shoreline erosion and ultimately threaten coastal communities. Both these conditions will undoubtedly affect recreation and tourism, which are often the most important use values in the case of coral reef systems. Adaptation strategies to climate change must take on an ecosystem-based approach with continuous monitoring programs, so that multiple ecosystem services are considered and not only retrospective trends are analyzed. Brazilian coral reefs have been monitored on a regular basis since 2000 and, considering that these marginal coral reefs of the eastern Atlantic are naturally under stressful conditions (e.g. high sedimentation rates), inshore reefs of Brazil, such as those in Tinharé-Boipeba, have shown lower vitality rates due to greater impacts from the proximity to the coastal area (e.g. pollution, overfishing, sediment run-off). This chronic negative impact must be addressed

  2. Forecasted coral reef decline in marine biodiversity hotspots under climate change

    OpenAIRE

    Descombes, Patrice; Wisz, Mary S.; Leprieur, Fabien; Parravicini, Valerianio; Heine, Christian; Olsen, Steffen M.; Swingedouw, Didier; Kulbicki, Michel; Mouillot, David; Pellissier, Loïc

    2015-01-01

    Coral bleaching events threaten coral reef habitats globally and cause severe declines of local biodiversity and productivity. Related to high sea surface temperatures (SST), bleaching events are expected to increase as a consequence of future global warming. However, response to climate change is still uncertain as future low-latitude climatic conditions have no present-day analogue. Sea surface temperatures during the Eocene epoch were warmer than forecasted changes for the coming century, ...

  3. Decadal-Scale Changes on Coral Reefs in Quintana Roo, Mexico

    OpenAIRE

    Nicholls, Thaddeus Allen

    2008-01-01

    In 1988 data on coral reef community composition were collected from two areas, Akumal and Chemuyil, Quintana Roo, Mexico, ranging from 5-35m depth. These areas were revisited in 2005 and data were collected by the same methods and at the same depths as in 1988. Data from 1988 and 2005 were compared to determine if the coral reefs had undergone significant changes, and what specific changes had occurred. Chi-square analysis determined that community composition data collected in 1988 are s...

  4. 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.

  5. Crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes

    KAUST Repository

    Wilson, S. K.

    2010-02-26

    Expert opinion was canvassed to identify crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. Scientists that had published three or more papers on the effects of climate and environmental factors on reef fishes were invited to submit five questions that, if addressed, would improve our understanding of climate change effects on coral reef fishes. Thirty-three scientists provided 155 questions, and 32 scientists scored these questions in terms of: (i) identifying a knowledge gap, (ii) achievability, (iii) applicability to a broad spectrum of species and reef habitats, and (iv) priority. Forty-two per cent of the questions related to habitat associations and community dynamics of fish, reflecting the established effects and immediate concern relating to climate-induced coral loss and habitat degradation. However, there were also questions on fish demographics, physiology, behaviour and management, all of which could be potentially affected by climate change. Irrespective of their individual expertise and background, scientists scored questions from different topics similarly, suggesting limited bias and recognition of a need for greater interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Presented here are the 53 highest-scoring unique questions. These questions should act as a guide for future research, providing a basis for better assessment and management of climate change impacts on coral reefs and associated fish communities.

  6. Status and changing patterns on coral reefs in Thailand during the last two decades

    Science.gov (United States)

    Phongsuwan, Niphon; Chankong, Anchalee; Yamarunpatthana, Chaimongkol; Chansang, Hansa; Boonprakob, Ronnawon; Petchkumnerd, Padorn; Thongtham, Nalinee; Paokantha, Sathika; Chanmethakul, Thanongsak; Panchaiyapoom, Paitoon; Bundit, On-Anong

    2013-11-01

    A long-term survey on monitoring coral reef status using the Manta-tow technique has been carried out over approximately two decades in Thailand. This paper presents results of the survey from three off-shore areas (north, central and south) in the Andaman Sea (since 1988) and from the two near-shore areas and one off-shore area in the Gulf of Thailand (GoT, since 1995). The results revealed variations in the change of live coral cover over time between different locations. Natural and direct/indirect man-made disturbances have influenced these changes. Until early 2010, reefs in the Andaman Sea were in better condition than those in the Gulf of Thailand. The coral bleaching in mid-2010, however, greatly impacted many reefs both seas. The northern off-shore area in the Andaman Sea showed the most damage, while reefs in the lower west of the Gulf of Thailand were least affected. Long-term monitoring of changes on reefs subjected to different environmental factors and human pressures is essential for the understanding and prediction of reef recovery in the face of climate change.

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

  9. 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. PMID:27081069

  10. Prioritizing key resilience indicators to support coral reef management in a changing climate.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tim R McClanahan

    Full Text Available Managing coral reefs for resilience to climate change is a popular concept but has been difficult to implement because the empirical scientific evidence has either not been evaluated or is sometimes unsupportive of theory, which leads to uncertainty when considering methods and identifying priority reefs. We asked experts and reviewed the scientific literature for guidance on the multiple physical and biological factors that affect the ability of coral reefs to resist and recover from climate disturbance. Eleven key factors to inform decisions based on scaling scientific evidence and the achievability of quantifying the factors were identified. Factors important to resistance and recovery, which are important components of resilience, were not strongly related, and should be assessed independently. The abundance of resistant (heat-tolerant coral species and past temperature variability were perceived to provide the greatest resistance to climate change, while coral recruitment rates, and macroalgae abundance were most influential in the recovery process. Based on the 11 key factors, we tested an evidence-based framework for climate change resilience in an Indonesian marine protected area. The results suggest our evidence-weighted framework improved upon existing un-weighted methods in terms of characterizing resilience and distinguishing priority sites. The evaluation supports the concept that, despite high ecological complexity, relatively few strong variables can be important in influencing ecosystem dynamics. This is the first rigorous assessment of factors promoting coral reef resilience based on their perceived importance, empirical evidence, and feasibility of measurement. There were few differences between scientists' perceptions of factor importance and the scientific evidence found in journal publications but more before and after impact studies will be required to fully test the validity of all the factors. The methods here will

  11. Prioritizing key resilience indicators to support coral reef management in a changing climate.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McClanahan, Tim R; Donner, Simon D; Maynard, Jeffrey A; MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; Maina, Joseph; Baker, Andrew C; Alemu I, Jahson B; Beger, Maria; Campbell, Stuart J; Darling, Emily S; Eakin, C Mark; Heron, Scott F; Jupiter, Stacy D; Lundquist, Carolyn J; McLeod, Elizabeth; Mumby, Peter J; Paddack, Michelle J; Selig, Elizabeth R; van Woesik, Robert

    2012-01-01

    Managing coral reefs for resilience to climate change is a popular concept but has been difficult to implement because the empirical scientific evidence has either not been evaluated or is sometimes unsupportive of theory, which leads to uncertainty when considering methods and identifying priority reefs. We asked experts and reviewed the scientific literature for guidance on the multiple physical and biological factors that affect the ability of coral reefs to resist and recover from climate disturbance. Eleven key factors to inform decisions based on scaling scientific evidence and the achievability of quantifying the factors were identified. Factors important to resistance and recovery, which are important components of resilience, were not strongly related, and should be assessed independently. The abundance of resistant (heat-tolerant) coral species and past temperature variability were perceived to provide the greatest resistance to climate change, while coral recruitment rates, and macroalgae abundance were most influential in the recovery process. Based on the 11 key factors, we tested an evidence-based framework for climate change resilience in an Indonesian marine protected area. The results suggest our evidence-weighted framework improved upon existing un-weighted methods in terms of characterizing resilience and distinguishing priority sites. The evaluation supports the concept that, despite high ecological complexity, relatively few strong variables can be important in influencing ecosystem dynamics. This is the first rigorous assessment of factors promoting coral reef resilience based on their perceived importance, empirical evidence, and feasibility of measurement. There were few differences between scientists' perceptions of factor importance and the scientific evidence found in journal publications but more before and after impact studies will be required to fully test the validity of all the factors. The methods here will increase the feasibility

  12. Climate change impacts on freshwater fish, coral reefs, and related ecosystem services in the United States

    Science.gov (United States)

    We analyzed the potential physical and economic impacts of climate change on freshwater fisheries and coral reefs in the United States, examining a reference scenario and two policy scenarios that limit global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We modeled shifts in suitable habitat ...

  13. Dynamic regulation of partner abundance mediates response of reef coral symbioses to environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cunning, R; Vaughan, N; Gillette, P; Capo, T R; Matté, J L; Baker, A C

    2015-05-01

    Regulating partner abunclance may allow symmotic organisms to mediate interaction outcomes, facilitating adaptive responses to environmental change. To explore the capacity for-adaptive regulation in an ecologically important endosymbiosis, we studied the population dynamics of symbiotic algae in reef-building corals under different abiotic contexts. We found high natural variability in symbiont abundance in corals across reefs, but this variability converged to different symbiont-specific abundances when colonies were maintained under constant conditions. When conditions changed seasonally, symbiont abundance readjusted to new equilibria. We explain these patterns using an a priori model of symbiotic costs and benefits to the coral host, which shows that the observed changes in symbiont abundance are consistent with the maximization of interaction benefit under different environmental conditions. These results indicate that, while regulating symbiont abundance helps hosts sustain maximum benefit in a dynamic environment, spatiotemporal variation in abiotic factors creates a broad range of symbiont abundances (and interaction outcomes) among corals that may account for observed natural variability in performance (e.g., growth rate) and stress tolerance (e.g., bleaching susceptibility). This cost or benefit framework provides a new perspective on the dynamic regulation of reef coral symbioses and illustrates that the dependence of interaction outcomes on biotic and abiotic contexts may be important in understanding how diverse mutualisms respond to environmental change. PMID:26236853

  14. Coral reefs in crisis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hinrichsen, D

    1997-01-01

    This article reports on the crisis facing reefs throughout the world and the struggle to save them. Coral reefs, one of the biological wonders of the world, are among the largest and oldest living communities of plants and animals on earth, having been evolved between 200 and 450 million years ago. Located mostly in the Pacific region, most established coral reefs are now dead and only the upper layer is covered by a thin changeable skin of living coral. Reefs, over the years, have been the main source of animal protein for over 1 billion people in Asia. Countries near the coastlines, which relied on the seas, have resorted to dynamite fishing, poisoning and other illegal and dangerous techniques. Overpopulation and pollution has caused the deteriorating conditions of the 600,000 sq. km of coral reefs worldwide. Despite these conditions, the government has ignored this problem as they struggle to develop their economies at the expense of common resources. In addition, this article narrates the efforts that are exerted by governments in promoting coral reef protection and management of these coastal resources, setting the Apo Island in the Philippines as an example of good management and sustainability.

  15. 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, G.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.

  16. Climate change and coral reef bleaching: An ecological assessment of long-term impacts, recovery trends and future outlook

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baker, Andrew C.; Glynn, Peter W.; Riegl, Bernhard

    2008-12-01

    Since the early 1980s, episodes of coral reef bleaching and mortality, due primarily to climate-induced ocean warming, have occurred almost annually in one or more of the world's tropical or subtropical seas. Bleaching is episodic, with the most severe events typically accompanying coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomena, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which result in sustained regional elevations of ocean temperature. Using this extended dataset (25+ years), we review the short- and long-term ecological impacts of coral bleaching on reef ecosystems, and quantitatively synthesize recovery data worldwide. Bleaching episodes have resulted in catastrophic loss of coral cover in some locations, and have changed coral community structure in many others, with a potentially critical influence on the maintenance of biodiversity in the marine tropics. Bleaching has also set the stage for other declines in reef health, such as increases in coral diseases, the breakdown of reef framework by bioeroders, and the loss of critical habitat for associated reef fishes and other biota. Secondary ecological effects, such as the concentration of predators on remnant surviving coral populations, have also accelerated the pace of decline in some areas. Although bleaching severity and recovery have been variable across all spatial scales, some reefs have experienced relatively rapid recovery from severe bleaching impacts. There has been a significant overall recovery of coral cover in the Indian Ocean, where many reefs were devastated by a single large bleaching event in 1998. In contrast, coral cover on western Atlantic reefs has generally continued to decline in response to multiple smaller bleaching events and a diverse set of chronic secondary stressors. No clear trends are apparent in the eastern Pacific, the central-southern-western Pacific or the Arabian Gulf, where some reefs are recovering and others are not. The majority of survivors and new recruits on

  17. Climate Change, Coral Reef Ecosystems, and Management Options for Marine Protected Areas

    OpenAIRE

    Keller, Brian D.; Gleason, Daniel F.; Mcleod, Elizabeth; Woodley, Christa M.; Airamé, Satie; Causey, Billy D.; Alan M Friedlander; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Johnson, Johanna E.; Steven L. Miller; Steneck, Robert S.

    2009-01-01

    Marine protected areas (MPAs) provide place-based management of marine ecosystems through various degrees and types of protective actions. Habitats such as coral reefs are especially susceptible to degradation resulting from climate change, as evidenced by mass bleaching events over the past two decades. Marine ecosystems are being altered by direct effects of climate change including ocean warming, ocean acidification, rising sea level, changing circulation patterns, increasing severity of s...

  18. Nitrification in reef corals

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

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

    - increase and discuss its importance in reef N economy. Live coral colonies were collected from the leeward reef of Agatti atoll (Lakshad- weep archipelago) and held in the dark in running seawater for 1 or 2 d to minimize dark uptake of NH...,’ by the zooxanthellae (Muscatine and D’Elia 1978). Subsequent- ly, each coral was transferred in the dark to 2-liter beakers, with 1 liter of Millipore-fil- tered seawater (MFSW). NO,- and NH4+ production rates were measured after a 2-h incubation. Each experiment...

  19. Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wolff, Nicholas H; Donner, Simon D; Cao, Long; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Sale, Peter F; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-11-01

    For many ecosystem services, it remains uncertain whether the impacts of climate change will be mostly negative or positive and how these changes will be geographically distributed. These unknowns hamper the identification of regional winners and losers, which can influence debate over climate policy. Here, we use coral reefs to explore the spatial variability of climate stress by modelling the ecological impacts of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, two important coral stressors associated with increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We then combine these results with national per capita emissions to quantify inequities arising from the distribution of cause (CO2 emissions) and effect (stress upon reefs) among coral reef countries. We find pollution and coral stress are spatially decoupled, creating substantial inequity of impacts as a function of emissions. We then consider the implications of such inequity for international climate policy. Targets for GHG reductions are likely to be tied to a country's emissions. Yet within a given level of GHG emissions, our analysis reveals that some countries experience relatively high levels of impact and will likely experience greater financial cost in terms of lost ecosystem productivity and more extensive adaptation measures. We suggest countries so disadvantaged be given access to international adaptation funds proportionate with impacts to their ecosystem. We raise the idea that funds could be more equitably allocated by formally including a metric of equity within a vulnerability framework. PMID:26234736

  20. Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wolff, Nicholas H; Donner, Simon D; Cao, Long; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Sale, Peter F; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-11-01

    For many ecosystem services, it remains uncertain whether the impacts of climate change will be mostly negative or positive and how these changes will be geographically distributed. These unknowns hamper the identification of regional winners and losers, which can influence debate over climate policy. Here, we use coral reefs to explore the spatial variability of climate stress by modelling the ecological impacts of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, two important coral stressors associated with increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We then combine these results with national per capita emissions to quantify inequities arising from the distribution of cause (CO2 emissions) and effect (stress upon reefs) among coral reef countries. We find pollution and coral stress are spatially decoupled, creating substantial inequity of impacts as a function of emissions. We then consider the implications of such inequity for international climate policy. Targets for GHG reductions are likely to be tied to a country's emissions. Yet within a given level of GHG emissions, our analysis reveals that some countries experience relatively high levels of impact and will likely experience greater financial cost in terms of lost ecosystem productivity and more extensive adaptation measures. We suggest countries so disadvantaged be given access to international adaptation funds proportionate with impacts to their ecosystem. We raise the idea that funds could be more equitably allocated by formally including a metric of equity within a vulnerability framework.

  1. Climate Change in the Seychelles: Implications for Water and Coral Reefs

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Payet, Rolph; Agricole, Wills [National Meteorological Services Mahe (Seychelles). Div. of Policy, Planning and Services

    2006-06-15

    The Seychelles is a small island state in the western Indian Ocean that is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This vulnerability led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001 to express concern over the potential economic and social consequences that may be faced by small island states. Small island states should be prepared to adapt to such changes, especially in view of their dependence on natural resources, such as water and coral reefs, to meet basic human welfare needs. Analysis of long-term data for precipitation, air temperature, and sea-surface temperature indicated that changes are already observable in the Seychelles. The increase in dry spells that resulted in drought conditions in 1999 and the 1998 mass coral bleaching are indicative of the events that are likely to occur under future climate change. Pre-IPCC Third Assessment Report scenarios and the new SRES scenarios are compared for changes in precipitation and air surface temperature for the Seychelles. These intercomparisons indicate that the IS92 scenarios project a much warmer and wetter climate for the Seychelles than do the SRES scenarios. However, a wetter climate does not imply readily available water, but rather longer dry spells with more intense precipitation events. These observations will likely place enormous pressures on water-resources management in the Seychelles. Similarly, sea-surface temperature increases predicted by the HADCm{sup 3} model will likely trigger repeated coral-bleaching episodes, with possible coral extinctions within the Seychelles region by 2040. The cover of many coral reefs around the Seychelles have already changed, and the protection of coral-resilient areas is a critical adaptive option.

  2. Benthic N2 fixation in coral reefs and the potential effects of human-induced environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cardini, Ulisse; Bednarz, Vanessa N; Foster, Rachel A; Wild, Christian

    2014-05-01

    Tropical coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems, despite being surrounded by ocean waters where nutrients are in short supply. Benthic dinitrogen (N2) fixation is a significant internal source of "new" nitrogen (N) in reef ecosystems, but related information appears to be sparse. Here, we review the current state (and gaps) of knowledge on N2 fixation associated with coral reef organisms and their ecosystems. By summarizing the existing literature, we show that benthic N2 fixation is an omnipresent process in tropical reef environments. Highest N2 fixation rates are detected in reef-associated cyanobacterial mats and sea grass meadows, clearly showing the significance of these functional groups, if present, to the input of new N in reef ecosystems. Nonetheless, key benthic organisms such as hard corals also importantly contribute to benthic N2 fixation in the reef. Given the usually high coral coverage of healthy reef systems, these results indicate that benthic symbiotic associations may be more important than previously thought. In fact, mutualisms between carbon (C) and N2 fixers have likely evolved that may enable reef communities to mitigate N limitation. We then explore the potential effects of the increasing human interferences on the process of benthic reef N2 fixation via changes in diazotrophic populations, enzymatic activities, or availability of benthic substrates favorable to these microorganisms. Current knowledge indicates positive effects of ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation and negative effects of increased ultraviolet radiation on the amount of N fixed in coral reefs. Eutrophication may either boost or suppress N2 fixation, depending on the nutrient becoming limiting. As N2 fixation appears to play a fundamental role in nutrient-limited reef ecosystems, these assumptions need to be expanded and confirmed by future research efforts addressing the knowledge gaps identified in this review.

  3. Quantifying and valuing potential climate change impacts on coral reefs in the United States: comparison of two scenarios.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Diana R Lane

    Full Text Available The biological and economic values of coral reefs are highly vulnerable to increasing atmospheric and ocean carbon dioxide concentrations. We applied the COMBO simulation model (COral Mortality and Bleaching Output to three major U.S. locations for shallow water reefs: South Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. We compared estimates of future coral cover from 2000 to 2100 for a "business as usual" (BAU greenhouse gas (GHG emissions scenario with a GHG mitigation policy scenario involving full international participation in reducing GHG emissions. We also calculated the economic value of changes in coral cover using a benefit transfer approach based on published studies of consumers' recreational values for snorkeling and diving on coral reefs as well as existence values for coral reefs. Our results suggest that a reduced emissions scenario would provide a large benefit to shallow water reefs in Hawaii by delaying or avoiding potential future bleaching events. For Hawaii, reducing emissions is projected to result in an estimated "avoided loss" from 2000 to 2100 of approximately $10.6 billion in recreational use values compared to a BAU scenario. However, reducing emissions is projected to provide only a minor economic benefit in Puerto Rico and South Florida, where sea-surface temperatures are already close to bleaching thresholds and coral cover is projected to drop well below 5% cover under both scenarios by 2050, and below 1% cover under both scenarios by 2100.

  4. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pinzón, Jorge H; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A; Harvell, C Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D

    2015-04-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system. In this study, whole transcriptome analysis of the coral holobiont and each of the associate components (i.e. coral host, algal symbiont and other associated microorganisms) was used to determine changes in gene expression in corals affected by a natural bleaching event as well as during the recovery phase. The main findings include evidence that the coral holobiont and the coral host have different responses to bleaching, and the host immune system appears suppressed even a year after a bleaching event. These results support the hypothesis that coral bleaching changes the expression of innate immune genes of corals, and these effects can last even after recovery of symbiont populations. Research on the role of immunity on coral's resistance to stressors can help make informed predictions on the future of corals and coral reefs. PMID:26064625

  5. An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mariska Weijerman

    Full Text Available Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly considers the indirect and cumulative effects of multiple disturbances has been recommended and adopted in policies in many places around the globe. Ecosystem models give insight into complex reef dynamics and their responses to multiple disturbances and are useful tools to support planning and implementation of ecosystem-based management. We adapted the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to incorporate key dynamics for a coral reef ecosystem around Guam in the tropical western Pacific. We used this model to quantify the effects of predicted climate and ocean changes and current levels of current land-based sources of pollution (LBSP and fishing. We used the following six ecosystem metrics as indicators of ecosystem state, resilience and harvest potential: 1 ratio of calcifying to non-calcifying benthic groups, 2 trophic level of the community, 3 biomass of apex predators, 4 biomass of herbivorous fishes, 5 total biomass of living groups and 6 the end-to-start ratio of exploited fish groups. Simulation tests of the effects of each of the three drivers separately suggest that by mid-century climate change will have the largest overall effect on this suite of ecosystem metrics due to substantial negative effects on coral cover. The effects of fishing were also important, negatively influencing five out of the six metrics. Moreover, LBSP exacerbates this effect for all metrics but not quite as badly as would be expected under additive assumptions, although the magnitude of the effects of LBSP are sensitive to uncertainty associated with primary productivity. Over longer time spans (i.e., 65 year simulations, climate change impacts have a slight positive interaction with

  6. 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.

  7. Redefining thermal regimes to design reserves for coral reefs in the face of climate change.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Iliana Chollett

    Full Text Available Reef managers cannot fight global warming through mitigation at local scale, but they can use information on thermal patterns to plan for reserve networks that maximize the probability of persistence of their reef system. Here we assess previous methods for the design of reserves for climate change and present a new approach to prioritize areas for conservation that leverages the most desirable properties of previous approaches. The new method moves the science of reserve design for climate change a step forwards by: (1 recognizing the role of seasonal acclimation in increasing the limits of environmental tolerance of corals and ameliorating the bleaching response; (2 using the best proxy for acclimatization currently available; (3 including information from several bleaching events, which frequency is likely to increase in the future; (4 assessing relevant variability at country scales, where most management plans are carried out. We demonstrate the method in Honduras, where a reassessment of the marine spatial plan is in progress.

  8. Redefining thermal regimes to design reserves for coral reefs in the face of climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chollett, Iliana; Enríquez, Susana; Mumby, Peter J

    2014-01-01

    Reef managers cannot fight global warming through mitigation at local scale, but they can use information on thermal patterns to plan for reserve networks that maximize the probability of persistence of their reef system. Here we assess previous methods for the design of reserves for climate change and present a new approach to prioritize areas for conservation that leverages the most desirable properties of previous approaches. The new method moves the science of reserve design for climate change a step forwards by: (1) recognizing the role of seasonal acclimation in increasing the limits of environmental tolerance of corals and ameliorating the bleaching response; (2) using the best proxy for acclimatization currently available; (3) including information from several bleaching events, which frequency is likely to increase in the future; (4) assessing relevant variability at country scales, where most management plans are carried out. We demonstrate the method in Honduras, where a reassessment of the marine spatial plan is in progress.

  9. Investigating the causes and consequences of symbiont shuffling in a multi-partner reef coral symbiosis under environmental change

    OpenAIRE

    Cunning, R.; Silverstein, R. N.; Baker, A. C.

    2015-01-01

    Dynamic symbioses may critically mediate impacts of climate change on diverse organisms, with repercussions for ecosystem persistence in some cases. On coral reefs, increases in heat-tolerant symbionts after thermal bleaching can reduce coral susceptibility to future stress. However, the relevance of this adaptive response is equivocal owing to conflicting reports of symbiont stability and change. We help reconcile this conflict by showing that change in symbiont community composition (symbio...

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Evaluating social and ecological vulnerability of coral reef fisheries to climate change.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joshua E Cinner

    Full Text Available There is an increasing need to evaluate the links between the social and ecological dimensions of human vulnerability to climate change. We use an empirical case study of 12 coastal communities and associated coral reefs in Kenya to assess and compare five key ecological and social components of the vulnerability of coastal social-ecological systems to temperature induced coral mortality [specifically: 1 environmental exposure; 2 ecological sensitivity; 3 ecological recovery potential; 4 social sensitivity; and 5 social adaptive capacity]. We examined whether ecological components of vulnerability varied between government operated no-take marine reserves, community-based reserves, and openly fished areas. Overall, fished sites were marginally more vulnerable than community-based and government marine reserves. Social sensitivity was indicated by the occupational composition of each community, including the importance of fishing relative to other occupations, as well as the susceptibility of different fishing gears to the effects of coral bleaching on target fish species. Key components of social adaptive capacity varied considerably between the communities. Together, these results show that different communities have relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of social-ecological vulnerability to climate change.

  14. Wave transformation over coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Young, Ian R.

    1989-07-01

    Ocean wave attenuation on coral reefs is discussed using data obtained from a preliminary field experiment and from the Seasat altimeter. Marked attenuation of the waves is observed, the rate being consistent with existing theories of bottom friction and wave breaking decay. In addition, there is a significant broadening of the spectrum during propagation across reefs. Three-dimensional effects, such as refraction and defraction, can also lead to substantial wave height reduction for significant distances adjacent to coral reefs. As a result, a matrix of such reefs provides significantly more wave attenuation than may initially be expected.

  15. Climate-driven coral reorganisation influences aggressive behaviour in juvenile coral-reef fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kok, Judith E.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Hoogenboom, Mia O.

    2016-06-01

    Globally, habitat degradation is altering the abundance and diversity of species in a variety of ecosystems. This study aimed to determine how habitat degradation, in terms of changing coral composition under climate change, affected abundance, species richness and aggressive behaviour of juveniles of three damselfishes ( Pomacentrus moluccensis, P. amboinensis and Dischistodus perspicillatus, in order of decreasing reliance on coral). Patch reefs were constructed to simulate two types of reefs: present-day reefs that are vulnerable to climate-induced coral bleaching, and reefs with more bleaching-robust coral taxa, thereby simulating the likely future of coral reefs under a warming climate. Fish communities were allowed to establish naturally on the reefs during the summer recruitment period. Climate-robust reefs had lower total species richness of coral-reef fishes than climate-vulnerable reefs, but total fish abundance was not significantly different between reef types (pooled across all species and life-history stages). The nature of aggressive interactions, measured as the number of aggressive chases, varied according to coral composition; on climate-robust reefs, juveniles used the substratum less often to avoid aggression from competitors, and interspecific aggression became relatively more frequent than intraspecific aggression for juveniles of the coral-obligate P. moluccensis. This study highlights the importance of coral composition as a determinant of behaviour and diversity of coral-reef fishes.

  16. Supporting Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Decisions Appropriate to Climate Change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hendee, J. C.; Fletcher, P.; Shein, K. A.

    2013-05-01

    There has been a perception that the myriad of environmental information products derived from satellite and other instrumental sources means ipso facto that there is a direct use for them by environmental managers. Trouble is, as information providers, for the most part we don't really know what decisions managers face daily, nor is it a trivial matter to ascertain the effect of management decisions on the environment, at least in a time frame that facilitates timely maintenance and enhancement of decision support software. To bridge this gap in understanding, we conducted a Needs Assessment (using methodology from the NOAA/Coastal Services Center's Product Design and Evaluation training program) from December, 2011 through May, 2012, in which we queried 15 resource managers in southeast Florida to identify the types of climate data and information products they needed to understand the effects of climate change in their region of purview, and how best these products should be delivered and subsequently enhanced or corrected. Our intent has been to develop a suite of software and information products customized specifically for environmental managers. This report summarizes our success to date, including a report on the development of software for gathering and presenting specific types of climate data, and a narrative about how some U.S. government sponsored efforts, such as Giovanni and TerraVis, as well as non-governmental sponsored efforts such as Marxan, Zonation, SimCLIM, and other off-the-shelf software might be customized for use in specific regions.

  17. 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...

  18. Risks to coral reefs from ocean carbonate chemistry changes in recent earth system model projections

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Today they are threatened by numerous stressors, including warming ocean waters and coastal pollution. Here we focus on the implications of ocean acidification for the open ocean chemistry surrounding coral reefs, as estimated from earth system models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5). We project risks to reefs in the context of three potential aragonite saturation (Ωa) thresholds. We find that in preindustrial times, 99.9% of reefs adjacent to open ocean in the CMIP5 ensemble were located in regions with Ωa > 3.5. Under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5), every coral reef considered will be surrounded by water with Ωa 2 emissions abatement, the Ωa threshold for reefs is critical to projecting their fate. Our results indicate that to maintain a majority of reefs surrounded by waters with Ωa > 3.5 to the end of the century, very aggressive reductions in emissions are required. The spread of Ωa projections across models in the CMIP5 ensemble is narrow, justifying a high level of confidence in these results. (letter)

  19. Carrying capacity of coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    ofextractive activities (fishing, mining, dredging), onshore developmental activities (that lead to industrial and sewage pollution), susceptibility to natural disasters, interactions with adjacent ecosystems (e.g. coral reefs and mangroves), current level...

  20. Coral reef research in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    , several activities of the programme will have to be accelerated to meet the time schedule of the project. As the programme is of multidisciplinary and mutliagency in nature, it demands an effective co ordination and management of activities amongst a... down to what depth the impacts of ultraviolet light could be harmful to corals. The third is the disparity between reef science and reef management. While the latter has progressed well in the last decade, with the corals brought under Schedule I...

  1. Impact of Global Warming on Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sirilak CHUMKIEW

    2011-06-01

    Full Text Available 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 supply by ventilation and circulation only occurs within these ranges. Indirect effects of climate change on the food web are also discussed. Further integrative studies are required to improve our knowledge of the processes linking coral reef responses to future climate change scenarios.Graphical abstract► Incidence of coral reef bleaching on a worldwide scale: location of bleaching reports during 1979 - 2010. Maps are from ReefBase, www.reefbase.org: 1, Arabian Gulf (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran; 2, Red Sea; 3, east Africa; 4, southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa; 5, Madagascar; 6, Mauritius, Reunion; 7, Seychelles; 8, Chagos; 9, Maldives; 10, Sri Lanka/southern India; 11, Andaman Sea (Andamans, Thailand, Malaysia; 12, South China Sea (Vietnam, Paracel Islands; 13, Philippines; 14, Indonesia; 15, western Australia; 16, Great Barrier Reef; 17, Ryukyu Islands; 18, Mariana Islands; 19, Palau; 20, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu; 21, Fiji; 22, Samoa; 23, French Polynesia (including Moorea; 24, Hawaiian Islands; 25, Easter Island; 26, Galapagos Islands; 27, equatorial eastern Pacific (Costa Rica, Cocos Island, Panama´, Colombia, Ecuador; 28, subtropical eastern Pacific (Mexico; 29, Mesoamerican reef system (Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua; 30, Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands; 31, Bahamas, Florida; 32, Bermuda; 33, Lesser Antilles; 34, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, Los Roques; 35, Brazil.

  2. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haas, Andreas F; Fairoz, Mohamed F M; Kelly, Linda W; Nelson, Craig E; Dinsdale, Elizabeth A; Edwards, Robert A; Giles, Steve; Hatay, Mark; Hisakawa, Nao; Knowles, Ben; Lim, Yan Wei; Maughan, Heather; Pantos, Olga; Roach, Ty N F; Sanchez, Savannah E; Silveira, Cynthia B; Sandin, Stuart; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-01-01

    Microbialization refers to the observed shift in ecosystem trophic structure towards higher microbial biomass and energy use. On coral reefs, the proximal causes of microbialization are overfishing and eutrophication, both of which facilitate enhanced growth of fleshy algae, conferring a competitive advantage over calcifying corals and coralline algae. The proposed mechanism for this competitive advantage is the DDAM positive feedback loop (dissolved organic carbon (DOC), disease, algae, microorganism), where DOC released by ungrazed fleshy algae supports copiotrophic, potentially pathogenic bacterial communities, ultimately harming corals and maintaining algal competitive dominance. Using an unprecedented data set of >400 samples from 60 coral reef sites, we show that the central DDAM predictions are consistent across three ocean basins. Reef algal cover is positively correlated with lower concentrations of DOC and higher microbial abundances. On turf and fleshy macroalgal-rich reefs, higher relative abundances of copiotrophic microbial taxa were identified. These microbial communities shift their metabolic potential for carbohydrate degradation from the more energy efficient Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway on coral-dominated reefs to the less efficient Entner-Doudoroff and pentose phosphate pathways on algal-dominated reefs. This 'yield-to-power' switch by microorganism directly threatens reefs via increased hypoxia and greater CO2 release from the microbial respiration of DOC.

  3. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haas, Andreas F; Fairoz, Mohamed F M; Kelly, Linda W; Nelson, Craig E; Dinsdale, Elizabeth A; Edwards, Robert A; Giles, Steve; Hatay, Mark; Hisakawa, Nao; Knowles, Ben; Lim, Yan Wei; Maughan, Heather; Pantos, Olga; Roach, Ty N F; Sanchez, Savannah E; Silveira, Cynthia B; Sandin, Stuart; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-01-01

    Microbialization refers to the observed shift in ecosystem trophic structure towards higher microbial biomass and energy use. On coral reefs, the proximal causes of microbialization are overfishing and eutrophication, both of which facilitate enhanced growth of fleshy algae, conferring a competitive advantage over calcifying corals and coralline algae. The proposed mechanism for this competitive advantage is the DDAM positive feedback loop (dissolved organic carbon (DOC), disease, algae, microorganism), where DOC released by ungrazed fleshy algae supports copiotrophic, potentially pathogenic bacterial communities, ultimately harming corals and maintaining algal competitive dominance. Using an unprecedented data set of >400 samples from 60 coral reef sites, we show that the central DDAM predictions are consistent across three ocean basins. Reef algal cover is positively correlated with lower concentrations of DOC and higher microbial abundances. On turf and fleshy macroalgal-rich reefs, higher relative abundances of copiotrophic microbial taxa were identified. These microbial communities shift their metabolic potential for carbohydrate degradation from the more energy efficient Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway on coral-dominated reefs to the less efficient Entner-Doudoroff and pentose phosphate pathways on algal-dominated reefs. This 'yield-to-power' switch by microorganism directly threatens reefs via increased hypoxia and greater CO2 release from the microbial respiration of DOC. PMID:27572833

  4. 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

  5. Coral Ecosystem Resilience, Conservation and Management on the Reefs of Jamaica in the Face of Anthropogenic Activities and Climate Change

    OpenAIRE

    Crabbe, M. James C

    2010-01-01

    Knowledge of factors that are important in reef resilience and integrity help us understand how reef ecosystems react following major anthropogenic and environmental disturbances. The North Jamaican fringing reefs have shown some recent resilience to acute disturbances from hurricanes and bleaching, in addition to the recurring chronic stressors of over-fishing and land development. Factors that can improve coral reef resilience are reviewed, and reef rugosity is shown to correlate with coral...

  6. Coral reef surveys in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    This paper briefly describes the history of coral reef surveys in India. All the surveys done so far have used simple techniques, but they have been quite effective in highlighting the damages to reefs in the short-term due to human interferences...

  7. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

    OpenAIRE

    Renema, Willem; Pandolfi, John M.; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Bosellini, Francesca R.; Klaus, James S.; Korpanty, Chelsea; Rosen, Brian R.; Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Wallace, Carden C; Webster, Jody M.; Johnson, Kenneth G.

    2016-01-01

    As one of the most prolific and widespread reef builders, the staghorn coral Acropora holds a disproportionately large role in how coral reefs will respond to accelerating anthropogenic change. We show that although Acropora has a diverse history extended over the past 50 million years, it was not a dominant reef builder until the onset of high-amplitude glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations 1.8 million years ago. High growth rates and propagation by fragmentation have favored staghorn corals...

  8. Hysteresis in coral reefs under macroalgal toxicity and overfishing

    OpenAIRE

    Bhattacharyya, Joydeb; Pal, Samares

    2015-01-01

    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 st...

  9. Estimating the willingness to pay to protect coral reefs from potential damage caused by climate change--The evidence from Taiwan.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tseng, William Wei-Chun; Hsu, Shu-Han; Chen, Chi-Chung

    2015-12-30

    Coral reefs constitute the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystem, and provide various goods and services including those related to fisheries, marine tourism, coastal protection, and medicine. However, they are sensitive to climate change and rising temperatures. Taiwan is located in the central part of the world's distribution of coral reefs and has about one third of the coral species in the world. This study estimates the welfare losses associated with the potential damage to coral reefs in Taiwan caused by climate change. The contingent valuation method adopted includes a pre-survey, a face-to-face formal survey, and photo illustrations used to obtain reliable data. Average annual personal willingness to pay is found to be around US$35.75 resulting in a total annual willingness to pay of around US$0.43 billion. These high values demonstrate that coral reefs in Taiwan deserve to be well preserved, which would require a dedicated agency and ocean reserves.

  10. Incorporating benthic community changes into hydrochemical-based projections of coral reef calcium carbonate production under ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shaw, Emily C.; Hamylton, Sarah M.; Phinn, Stuart R.

    2016-06-01

    The existence of coral reefs is dependent on the production and maintenance of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) framework that is produced through calcification. The net production of CaCO3 will likely decline in the future, from both declining net calcification rates (decreasing calcification and increasing dissolution) and shifts in benthic community composition from calcifying organisms to non-calcifying organisms. Here, we present a framework for hydrochemical studies that allows both declining net calcification rates and changes in benthic community composition to be incorporated into projections of coral reef CaCO3 production. The framework involves upscaling net calcification rates for each benthic community type using mapped proportional cover of the benthic communities. This upscaling process was applied to the reef flats at One Tree and Lady Elliot reefs (Great Barrier Reef) and Shiraho Reef (Okinawa), and compared to existing data. Future CaCO3 budgets were projected for Lady Elliot Reef, predicting a decline of 53 % from the present value by end-century (800 ppm CO2) without any changes to benthic community composition. A further 5.7 % decline in net CaCO3 production is expected for each 10 % decline in calcifier cover, and net dissolution is predicted by end-century if calcifier cover drops below 18 % of the present extent. These results show the combined negative effect of both declining net calcification rates and changing benthic community composition on reefs and the importance of considering both processes for determining future reef CaCO3 production.

  11. Water Column Correction for Coral Reef Studies by Remote Sensing

    OpenAIRE

    Maria Laura Zoffoli; Robert Frouin; Milton Kampel

    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 capabilit...

  12. Fisheries management: what chance on coral reefs?

    OpenAIRE

    Russ, G R

    1996-01-01

    Failures of fishery management to control fishing effort globally and how this affects the coral reef fisheries are discussed. The use of marine reserves in coral reef fisheries management is also emphasized.

  13. Coral Reef Ecosystems Monitoring Feature Service

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring feature service hosted on ArcGIS Online provides access to data collected in the Mariana Archipelago by the Coral Reef Ecosystem...

  14. Modelling effects of geoengineering options in response to climate change and global warming: implications for coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Crabbe, M J C

    2009-12-01

    Climate change will have serious effects on the planet and on its ecosystems. Currently, mitigation efforts are proving ineffectual in reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Coral reefs are the most sensitive ecosystems on the planet to climate change, and here we review modelling a number of geoengineering options, and their potential influence on coral reefs. There are two categories of geoengineering, shortwave solar radiation management and longwave carbon dioxide removal. The first set of techniques only reduce some, but not all, effects of climate change, while possibly creating other problems. They also do not affect CO2 levels and therefore fail to address the wider effects of rising CO2, including ocean acidification, important for coral reefs. Solar radiation is important to coral growth and survival, and solar radiation management is not in general appropriate for this ecosystem. Longwave carbon dioxide removal techniques address the root cause of climate change, rising CO2 concentrations, they have relatively low uncertainties and risks. They are worthy of further research and potential implementation, particularly carbon capture and storage, biochar, and afforestation methods, alongside increased mitigation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

  15. 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.

  16. Risks to coral reefs from ocean carbonate chemistry changes in recent earth system model projections

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricke, K. L.; Orr, J. C.; Schneider, K.; Caldeira, K.

    2013-09-01

    Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Today they are threatened by numerous stressors, including warming ocean waters and coastal pollution. Here we focus on the implications of ocean acidification for the open ocean chemistry surrounding coral reefs, as estimated from earth system models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5). We project risks to reefs in the context of three potential aragonite saturation (Ωa) thresholds. We find that in preindustrial times, 99.9% of reefs adjacent to open ocean in the CMIP5 ensemble were located in regions with Ωa > 3.5. Under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5), every coral reef considered will be surrounded by water with Ωa 3.5 to the end of the century, very aggressive reductions in emissions are required. The spread of Ωa projections across models in the CMIP5 ensemble is narrow, justifying a high level of confidence in these results.

  17. Additive Diversity Partitioning of Fish in a Caribbean Coral Reef Undergoing Shift Transition

    OpenAIRE

    Gilberto Acosta-González; Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Fabián A.; Hernández-Landa, Roberto C.; Arias-González, Jesús E.

    2013-01-01

    Shift transitions in dominance on coral reefs from hard coral cover to fleshy macroalgae are having negative effects on Caribbean coral reef communities. Data on spatiotemporal changes in biodiversity during these modifications are important for decision support for coral reef biodiversity protection. The main objective of this study is to detect the spatiotemporal patterns of coral reef fish diversity during this transition using additive diversity-partitioning analysis. We examined α, β and...

  18. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Renema, Willem; Pandolfi, John M; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Bosellini, Francesca R; Klaus, James S; Korpanty, Chelsea; Rosen, Brian R; Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Wallace, Carden C; Webster, Jody M; Johnson, Kenneth G

    2016-04-01

    As one of the most prolific and widespread reef builders, the staghorn coral Acropora holds a disproportionately large role in how coral reefs will respond to accelerating anthropogenic change. We show that although Acropora has a diverse history extended over the past 50 million years, it was not a dominant reef builder until the onset of high-amplitude glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations 1.8 million years ago. High growth rates and propagation by fragmentation have favored staghorn corals since this time. In contrast, staghorn corals are among the most vulnerable corals to anthropogenic stressors, with marked global loss of abundance worldwide. The continued decline in staghorn coral abundance and the mounting challenges from both local stress and climate change will limit the coral reefs' ability to provide ecosystem services.

  19. ReefLink Database: A decision support tool for Linking Coral Reefs and Society Through Systems Thinking

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs provide the ecological foundation for productive and diverse fish and invertebrate communities that support multibillion dollar reef fishing and tourism industries. Yet reefs are threatened by growing coastal development, climate change, and over-exploitation. A key i...

  20. Coral Ecosystem Resilience, Conservation and Management on the Reefs of Jamaica in the Face of Anthropogenic Activities and Climate Change

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    M. James C. Crabbe

    2010-06-01

    Full Text Available Knowledge of factors that are important in reef resilience and integrity help us understand how reef ecosystems react following major anthropogenic and environmental disturbances. The North Jamaican fringing reefs have shown some recent resilience to acute disturbances from hurricanes and bleaching, in addition to the recurring chronic stressors of over-fishing and land development. Factors that can improve coral reef resilience are reviewed, and reef rugosity is shown to correlate with coral cover and growth, particularly for branching Acropora species. The biodiversity index for the Jamaican reefs was lowered after the 2005 mass bleaching event, as were the numbers of coral colonies, but both had recovered by 2009. The importance of coastal zone reef management strategies and the economic value of reefs are discussed, and a protocol is suggested for future management of Jamaican reefs.

  1. Preconditioning in the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization in coral larvae under future climate change conditions.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Putnam, Hollie M; Gates, Ruth D

    2015-08-01

    Coral reefs are globally threatened by climate change-related ocean warming and ocean acidification (OA). To date, slow-response mechanisms such as genetic adaptation have been considered the major determinant of coral reef persistence, with little consideration of rapid-response acclimatization mechanisms. These rapid mechanisms such as parental effects that can contribute to trans-generational acclimatization (e.g. epigenetics) have, however, been identified as important contributors to offspring response in other systems. We present the first evidence of parental effects in a cross-generational exposure to temperature and OA in reef-building corals. Here, we exposed adults to high (28.9°C, 805 µatm P(CO2)) or ambient (26.5°C, 417 µatm P(CO2)) temperature and OA treatments during the larval brooding period. Exposure to high treatment negatively affected adult performance, but their larvae exhibited size differences and metabolic acclimation when subsequently re-exposed, unlike larvae from parents exposed to ambient conditions. Understanding the innate capacity corals possess to respond to current and future climatic conditions is essential to reef protection and maintenance. Our results identify that parental effects may have an important role through (1) ameliorating the effects of stress through preconditioning and adaptive plasticity, and/or (2) amplifying the negative parental response through latent effects on future life stages. Whether the consequences of parental effects and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization are beneficial or maladaptive, our work identifies a critical need to expand currently proposed climate change outcomes for corals to further assess rapid response mechanisms that include non-genetic inheritance through parental contributions and classical epigenetic mechanisms. PMID:26246609

  2. 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...

  3. 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...

  4. Monitoring Coral Health to Determine Coral Bleaching Response at High Latitude Eastern Australian Reefs: An Applied Model for A Changing Climate

    OpenAIRE

    Andrew G. Carroll; Dalton, Steven J.

    2011-01-01

    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, extrapolate...

  5. Do tabular corals constitute keystone structures for fishes on coral reefs?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kerry, J. T.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2015-03-01

    This study examined the changes in community composition of reef fishes by experimentally manipulating the availability of shelter provided by tabular structures on a mid-shelf reef on the Great Barrier Reef. At locations where access to tabular corals ( Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora cytherea) was excluded, a rapid and sustained reduction in the abundance of large reef fishes occurred. At locations where tabular structure was added, the abundance and diversity of large reef fishes increased and the abundance of small reef fishes tended to decrease, although over a longer time frame. Based on their response to changes in the availability of tabular structures, nine families of large reef fishes were separated into three categories; designated as obligate, facultative or non-structure users. This relationship may relate to the particular ecological demands of each family, including avoidance of predation and ultraviolet radiation, access to feeding areas and reef navigation. This study highlights the importance of tabular corals for large reef fishes in shallow reef environments and provides a possible mechanism for local changes in the abundance of reef fishes following loss of structural complexity on coral reefs. Keystone structures have a distinct structure and disproportionate effect on their ecosystem relative to their abundance, as such the result of this study suggests tabular corals may constitute keystone structures on shallow coral reefs.

  6. The wicked problem of China's disappearing coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, Terry P; Huang, Hui; Young, Matthew A L

    2013-04-01

    We examined the development of coral reef science and the policies, institutions, and governance frameworks for management of coral reefs in China in order to highlight the wicked problem of preserving reefs while simultaneously promoting human development and nation building. China and other sovereign states in the region are experiencing unprecedented economic expansion, rapid population growth, mass migration, widespread coastal development, and loss of habitat. We analyzed a large, fragmented literature on the condition of coral reefs in China and the disputed territories of the South China Sea. We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80% over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island. On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by 6 countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of >60% to around 20% within the past 10-15 years. Climate change has affected these reefs far less than coastal development, pollution, overfishing, and destructive fishing practices. Ironically, these widespread declines in the condition of reefs are unfolding as China's research and reef-management capacity are rapidly expanding. Before the loss of corals becomes irreversible, governance of China's coastal reefs could be improved by increasing public awareness of declining ecosystem services, by providing financial support for training of reef scientists and managers, by improving monitoring of coral reef dynamics and condition to better inform policy development, and by enforcing existing regulations that could protect coral reefs. In the South China Sea, changes in policy and legal frameworks, refinement of governance structures, and cooperation among neighboring countries are urgently needed to develop cooperative management of contested offshore reefs. PMID:23140101

  7. The wicked problem of China's disappearing coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, Terry P; Huang, Hui; Young, Matthew A L

    2013-04-01

    We examined the development of coral reef science and the policies, institutions, and governance frameworks for management of coral reefs in China in order to highlight the wicked problem of preserving reefs while simultaneously promoting human development and nation building. China and other sovereign states in the region are experiencing unprecedented economic expansion, rapid population growth, mass migration, widespread coastal development, and loss of habitat. We analyzed a large, fragmented literature on the condition of coral reefs in China and the disputed territories of the South China Sea. We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80% over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island. On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by 6 countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of >60% to around 20% within the past 10-15 years. Climate change has affected these reefs far less than coastal development, pollution, overfishing, and destructive fishing practices. Ironically, these widespread declines in the condition of reefs are unfolding as China's research and reef-management capacity are rapidly expanding. Before the loss of corals becomes irreversible, governance of China's coastal reefs could be improved by increasing public awareness of declining ecosystem services, by providing financial support for training of reef scientists and managers, by improving monitoring of coral reef dynamics and condition to better inform policy development, and by enforcing existing regulations that could protect coral reefs. In the South China Sea, changes in policy and legal frameworks, refinement of governance structures, and cooperation among neighboring countries are urgently needed to develop cooperative management of contested offshore reefs.

  8. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:27529748

  9. 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.

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    2016-01-01

    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:...

  11. 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.

  12. Quantifying and Valuing Potential Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs in the United States: Comparison of Two Scenarios

    OpenAIRE

    Lane, Diana R.; Richard C. Ready; Buddemeier, Robert W.; Martinich, Jeremy A.; Kate Cardamone Shouse; Cameron W Wobus

    2013-01-01

    The biological and economic values of coral reefs are highly vulnerable to increasing atmospheric and ocean carbon dioxide concentrations. We applied the COMBO simulation model (COral Mortality and Bleaching Output) to three major U.S. locations for shallow water reefs: South Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. We compared estimates of future coral cover from 2000 to 2100 for a "business as usual" (BAU) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenario with a GHG mitigation policy scenario involving full...

  13. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program: 2016 projects to assess coral resilence and the resilence of communities to climate change

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — In 2016 the following projects will take place to assess coral resilence and the resilence of communities to climate change: Climate and resilience-based...

  14. Threshold Effects in Coral Reef Fisheries

    OpenAIRE

    Crépin, Anne Sophie

    2003-01-01

    Coral reefs may naturally flip between coral-dominated and algae-dominated states, when species' stocks trespass some threshold levels. This essay uses a stylized model of a coral reef to show how fishing may induce flips towards more algae-dominated states. Threshold effects have consequences for fisheries management, which are analyzed for open access fisheries and sole ownership.

  15. Paleobiogeography of scleractinian reef corals: Changing patterns during the Oligocene-Miocene climatic transition in the Mediterranean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Perrin, Christine; Bosellini, Francesca R.

    2012-02-01

    During the Oligocene-Miocene Greenhouse-to-Icehouse climatic transition, the biogeography of reef corals or zooxanthellate-like scleractinian corals was gradually changing from a pan-tropical Tethyan Province in the Eocene to three reef-coral Provinces of the Western Atlantic-Caribbean, Indo-Pacific and Mediterranean. Our REEFCORAL database encompasses updated and homogenized data on paleoenvironmental and systematics of scleractinian corals occurring in the Oligocene and Miocene outcrops from circum-Mediterranean regions, provided by most of relatively recently published data in the literature and by the study of published and unpublished collections of coral specimens from the same area, including the important collections housed at the MNHN (Paris) and our own collections. As there is no validated direct criterion for the identification of the coral-zooxanthellate symbiosis in the fossil record, and considering the difficulty to use the biogeochemical approaches in the context of this study, the subjectivity of the morphological criteria and the relative recent age of the fossil corals we are dealing with, a uniformitarian approach has been used for inferring the symbiotic status of scleractinian genera in REEFCORAL. Among the 158 genera included in our database, 93 can be considered as zooxanthellate and 10 have a doubtful zooxanthellate status. This relatively exhaustive database was used to reconstruct the temporal and spatial distribution of scleractinian corals in the Mediterranean during the Oligocene-Miocene time in order to discuss the interplaying effects of the global cooling at that time, the re-organization of the Tethyan realm resulting from the African, Arabian and Eurasian plate collision and the emergence of the Alpine chains, driving the gradual northward movement of the whole region outside the tropical/subtropical belt. It is shown that the structure of the Mediterranean z-coral Oligocene-Miocene paleobiodiversity was characterized by many

  16. Anthropogenic mortality on coral reefs in Caribbean Panama predates coral disease and bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cramer, Katie L; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Angioletti, Christopher V; Leonard-Pingel, Jill; Guilderson, Thomas P

    2012-06-01

    Caribbean reef corals have declined precipitously since the 1980s due to regional episodes of bleaching, disease and algal overgrowth, but the extent of earlier degradation due to localised historical disturbances such as land clearing and overfishing remains unresolved. We analysed coral and molluscan fossil assemblages from reefs near Bocas del Toro, Panama to construct a timeline of ecological change from the 19th century-present. We report large changes before 1960 in coastal lagoons coincident with extensive deforestation, and after 1960 on offshore reefs. Striking changes include the demise of previously dominant staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and oyster Dendrostrea frons that lives attached to gorgonians and staghorn corals. Reductions in bivalve size and simplification of gastropod trophic structure further implicate increasing environmental stress on reefs. Our paleoecological data strongly support the hypothesis, from extensive qualitative data, that Caribbean reef degradation predates coral bleaching and disease outbreaks linked to anthropogenic climate change. PMID:22462739

  17. Risk assessment and predator learning in a changing world: understanding the impacts of coral reef degradation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chivers, Douglas P.; McCormick, Mark I.; Allan, Bridie J. M.; Ferrari, Maud C. O.

    2016-01-01

    Habitat degradation is among the top drivers of the loss of global biodiversity. This problem is particularly acute in coral reef system. Here we investigated whether coral degradation influences predator risk assessment and learning for damselfish. When in a live coral environment, Ambon damselfish were able to learn the identity of an unknown predator upon exposure to damselfish alarm cues combined with predator odour and were able to socially transmit this learned recognition to naïve conspecifics. However, in the presence of dead coral water, damselfish failed to learn to recognize the predator through alarm cue conditioning and hence could not transmit the information socially. Unlike alarm cues of Ambon damselfish that appear to be rendered unusable in degraded coral habitats, alarm cues of Nagasaki damselfish remain viable in this same environment. Nagasaki damselfish were able to learn predators through conditioning with alarm cues in degraded habitats and subsequently transmit the information socially to Ambon damselfish. Predator-prey dynamics may be profoundly affected as habitat degradation proceeds; the success of one species that appears to have compromised predation assessment and learning, may find itself reliant on other species that are seemingly unaffected by the same degree of habitat degradation. PMID:27611870

  18. Risk assessment and predator learning in a changing world: understanding the impacts of coral reef degradation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chivers, Douglas P; McCormick, Mark I; Allan, Bridie J M; Ferrari, Maud C O

    2016-01-01

    Habitat degradation is among the top drivers of the loss of global biodiversity. This problem is particularly acute in coral reef system. Here we investigated whether coral degradation influences predator risk assessment and learning for damselfish. When in a live coral environment, Ambon damselfish were able to learn the identity of an unknown predator upon exposure to damselfish alarm cues combined with predator odour and were able to socially transmit this learned recognition to naïve conspecifics. However, in the presence of dead coral water, damselfish failed to learn to recognize the predator through alarm cue conditioning and hence could not transmit the information socially. Unlike alarm cues of Ambon damselfish that appear to be rendered unusable in degraded coral habitats, alarm cues of Nagasaki damselfish remain viable in this same environment. Nagasaki damselfish were able to learn predators through conditioning with alarm cues in degraded habitats and subsequently transmit the information socially to Ambon damselfish. Predator-prey dynamics may be profoundly affected as habitat degradation proceeds; the success of one species that appears to have compromised predation assessment and learning, may find itself reliant on other species that are seemingly unaffected by the same degree of habitat degradation. PMID:27611870

  19. Disturbance and the Dynamics of Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995–2009)

    OpenAIRE

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

    2011-01-01

    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 ...

  20. Current status, crisis and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in China

    OpenAIRE

    ShaoHong Wu; WenJun Zhang

    2012-01-01

    Harboring rich marine species and playing important ecological functions, coral reef ecosystems have attracted widespread concern around the world. Ecosystem diversity, conservation and management of coral reefs are becoming a hot research area. Coral reefs in China are mainly distributed in the South China Sea and Hainan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guangdong, and Guangxi coastal waters. In recent years, due to the global climate change and the growing impact of human activities, coral reef biodivers...

  1. From ridge to reef—linking erosion and changing watersheds to impacts on the coral reef ecosystems of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Ocean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stock, Jonathan D.; Cochran, Susan A.; Field, Michael E.; Jacobi, James D.; Tribble, Gordon

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by unprecedented watershed changes in the United States and worldwide. These ecosystems sustain fishing and tourism industries essential to the economic survival of many communities. Sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from watersheds are increasingly transported to coastal waters, where these contaminants damage corals. Although pollution from watersheds is one of many factors threatening coral survival, it is one that local people can have a profound influence on. U.S. Geological Survey scientists are using mapping, monitoring, and computer modeling to better forecast the effects of watershed changes on reef health. Working with communities in Hawai‘i and on other U.S. islands in the Pacific, they are helping to provide the science needed to make informed decisions on watershed and coral reef management.

  2. Digital Reef Rugosity Estimates Coral Reef Habitat Complexity

    OpenAIRE

    Phillip Dustan; Orla Doherty; Shinta Pardede

    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 t...

  3. Reef Fishes in Biodiversity Hotspots Are at Greatest Risk from Loss of Coral Species

    OpenAIRE

    Holbrook, Sally J.; Schmitt, Russell J.; Vanessa Messmer; Brooks, Andrew J; Maya Srinivasan; 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 par...

  4. 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.

  5. 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...

  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. Water column productivity and temperature predict coral reef regeneration across the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Riegl, B.; Glynn, P. W.; Wieters, E.; Purkis, S.; D'Angelo, C.; Wiedenmann, J.

    2015-02-01

    Predicted increases in seawater temperatures accelerate coral reef decline due to mortality by heat-driven coral bleaching. Alteration of the natural nutrient environment of reef corals reduces tolerance of corals to heat and light stress and thus will exacerbate impacts of global warming on reefs. Still, many reefs demonstrate remarkable regeneration from past stress events. This paper investigates the effects of sea surface temperature (SST) and water column productivity on recovery of coral reefs. In 71 Indo-Pacific sites, coral cover changes over the past 1-3 decades correlated negative-exponentially with mean SST, chlorophyll a, and SST rise. At six monitoring sites (Persian/Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, northern and southern Galápagos, Easter Island, Panama), over half of all corals were coral reefs presently have the best chances for survival. However, reefs best buffered against temperature and nutrient effects are those that current studies suggest to be most at peril from future ocean acidification.

  8. Long-term community changes on a high-latitude coral reef in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schleyer, Michael H; Kruger, Alke; Celliers, Louis

    2008-03-01

    South African coral reefs are limited in size but, being marginal, provide a model for the study of many of the stresses to which these valuable systems are being subjected globally. Soft coral cover, comprising relatively few species, exceeds that of scleractinians over much of the reefs. The coral communities nevertheless attain a high biodiversity at this latitude on the East African coast. A long-term monitoring programme was initiated in 1993, entailing temperature logging and image analysis of high resolution photographs of fixed quadrats on representative reef. Sea temperatures rose by 0.15 degrees C p.a. at the site up to 2000 but have subsequently been decreasing by 0.07 degrees C p.a. Insignificant bleaching was encountered in the region during the 1998 El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, unlike elsewhere in East Africa, but quantifiable bleaching occurred during an extended period of warming in 2000. Peak temperatures on the South African reefs thus appear to have attained the coral bleaching threshold. While this has resulted in relatively little bleaching thus far, the increased temperatures appear to have had a deleterious effect on coral recruitment success as other anthropogenic influences on the reefs are minimal. Recruitment success diminished remarkably up to 2004 but appears again to be improving. Throughout, the corals have also manifested changes in community structure, involving an increase in hard coral cover and reduction in that of soft corals, resulting in a 5.5% drop in overall coral cover. These "silent" effects of temperature increase do not appear to have been reported elsewhere in the literature.

  9. Ecological consequences of major hydrodynamic disturbances on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Madin, Joshua S; Connolly, Sean R

    2006-11-23

    A recent tsunami and an apparent increase in the frequency of severe tropical storms underscore the need to understand and predict the ecological consequences of major hydrodynamic disturbances. Reef corals provide the habitat structure that sustains the high biodiversity of tropical reefs, and thus provide the foundation for the ecosystem goods and services that are critical to many tropical societies. Here we integrate predictions from oceanographic models with engineering theory, to predict the dislodgement of benthic reef corals during hydrodynamic disturbances. This generalizes earlier work, by incorporating colonies of any shape and by explicitly examining the effects of hydrodynamic gradients on coral assemblage structure. A field test shows that this model accurately predicts changes in the mechanical vulnerability of coral colonies, and thus their size and shape, with distance from the reef crest. This work provides a general framework for understanding and predicting the effects of hydrodynamic disturbances on coral reef communities; such disturbances have a major role in determining species zonation and coexistence on coral reefs, and are critical determinants of how coral assemblages will respond to changes in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms associated with a changing climate. PMID:17122855

  10. Feedbacks and responses of coral calcification on the Bermuda reef system to seasonal changes in biological processes and ocean acidification

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    N. R. Bates

    2010-08-01

    Full Text Available Despite the potential impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems such as coral reefs, surprisingly, there is very limited field data on the relationships between calcification and seawater carbonate chemistry. In this study, contemporaneous in situ datasets of seawater carbonate chemistry and calcification rates from the high-latitude coral reef of Bermuda over annual timescales provide a framework for investigating the present and future potential impact of rising carbon dioxide (CO2 levels and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems in their natural environment. A strong correlation was found between the in situ rates of calcification for the major framework building coral species Diploria labyrinthiformis and the seasonal variability of [CO32-] and aragonite saturation state Ωaragonite, rather than other environmental factors such as light and temperature. These field observations provide sufficient data to hypothesize that there is a seasonal "Carbonate Chemistry Coral Reef Ecosystem Feedback" (CREF hypothesis between the primary components of the reef ecosystem (i.e., scleractinian hard corals and macroalgae and seawater carbonate chemistry. In early summer, strong net autotrophy from benthic components of the reef system enhance [CO32-] and Ωaragonite conditions, and rates of coral calcification due to the photosynthetic uptake of CO2. In late summer, rates of coral calcification are suppressed by release of CO2 from reef metabolism during a period of strong net heterotrophy. It is likely that this seasonal CREF mechanism is present in other tropical reefs although attenuated compared to high-latitude reefs such as Bermuda. Due to lower annual mean surface seawater [CO32-] and Ωaragonite in Bermuda compared to tropical regions, we anticipate that Bermuda corals will experience seasonal periods

  11. 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.

    2015-01-01

    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. PMID:25646461

  12. Investigating the causes and consequences of symbiont shuffling in a multi-partner reef coral symbiosis under environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cunning, R; Silverstein, R N; Baker, A C

    2015-06-22

    Dynamic symbioses may critically mediate impacts of climate change on diverse organisms, with repercussions for ecosystem persistence in some cases. On coral reefs, increases in heat-tolerant symbionts after thermal bleaching can reduce coral susceptibility to future stress. However, the relevance of this adaptive response is equivocal owing to conflicting reports of symbiont stability and change. We help reconcile this conflict by showing that change in symbiont community composition (symbiont shuffling) in Orbicella faveolata depends on the disturbance severity and recovery environment. The proportion of heat-tolerant symbionts dramatically increased following severe experimental bleaching, especially in a warmer recovery environment, but tended to decrease if bleaching was less severe. These patterns can be explained by variation in symbiont performance in the changing microenvironments created by differentially bleached host tissues. Furthermore, higher proportions of heat-tolerant symbionts linearly increased bleaching resistance but reduced photochemical efficiency, suggesting that any change in community structure oppositely impacts performance and stress tolerance. Therefore, even minor symbiont shuffling can adaptively benefit corals, although fitness effects of resulting trade-offs are difficult to predict. This work helps elucidate causes and consequences of dynamism in symbiosis, which is critical to predicting responses of multi-partner symbioses such as O. faveolata to environmental change. PMID:26041354

  13. Analyzing the Effects of Climate Change on Sea Surface Temperature in Monitoring Coral Reef Health in the Florida Keys Using Sea Surface Temperature Data

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, Jason; Burbank, Renane; Billiot, Amanda; Schultz, Logan

    2011-01-01

    This presentation discusses use of 4 kilometer satellite-based sea surface temperature (SST) data to monitor and assess coral reef areas of the Florida Keys. There are growing concerns about the impacts of climate change on coral reef systems throughout the world. Satellite remote sensing technology is being used for monitoring coral reef areas with the goal of understanding the climatic and oceanic changes that can lead to coral bleaching events. Elevated SST is a well-documented cause of coral bleaching events. Some coral monitoring studies have used 50 km data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) to study the relationships of sea surface temperature anomalies to bleaching events. In partnership with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the University of South Florida's Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, this project utilized higher resolution SST data from the Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and AVHRR. SST data for 2000-2010 was employed to compute sea surface temperature anomalies within the study area. The 4 km SST anomaly products enabled visualization of SST levels for known coral bleaching events from 2000-2010.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Variability in reef connectivity in the Coral Triangle

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thompson, D. M.; Kleypas, J. A.; Castruccio, F. S.; Watson, J. R.; Curchitser, E. N.

    2015-12-01

    The Coral Triangle (CT) is not only the global center of marine biodiversity, it also supports the livelihoods of millions of people. Unfortunately, it is also considered the most threatened of all reef regions, with rising temperature and coral bleaching already taking a toll. Reproductive connectivity between reefs plays a critical role in the reef's capacity to recover after such disturbances. Thus, oceanographic modeling efforts to understand patterns of reef connectivity are essential to the effective design of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve marine ecosystems in the Coral Triangle. Here, we combine a Regional Ocean Modeling System developed for the Coral Triangle (CT-ROMS) with a Lagrangian particle tracking tool (TRACMASS) to investigate the probability of coral larval transport between reefs. A 47-year hindcast simulation (1960-2006) was used to investigate the variability in larval transport of a broadcasting coral following mass spawning events in April and September. Potential connectivity between reefs was highly variable and stochastic from year to year, emphasizing the importance of decadal or longer simulations in identifying connectivity patterns, key source and sink regions, and thus marine management targets for MPAs. The influence of temperature on realized connectivity (future work) may add further uncertainty to year-to-year patterns of connectivity between reefs. Nonetheless, the potential connectivity results we present here suggest that although reefs in this region are primarily self-seeded, rare long-distance dispersal may promote recovery and genetic exchange between reefs in the region. The spatial pattern of "subpopulations" based solely on the physical drivers of connectivity between reefs closely match regional patterns of biodiversity, suggesting that physical barriers to larval dispersal may be a key driver of reef biodiversity. Finally, 21st Century simulations driven by the Community Earth System Model (CESM

  17. Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christopher Doropoulos

    Full Text Available Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (<50 mm coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%, whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals. For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21-50 mm highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (<20 mm had the highest influence on reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large

  18. Coral diseases and their research in Colombian reefs

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    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.

  19. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Assessment of coral reef communities in Puerto Rico using the Coral Demographics method

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Coral Demographic method is one of two benthic surveys conducted in Puerto Rico as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP). The coral...

  20. Modeling Reef Hydrodynamics to Predict Coral Bleaching

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bird, James; Steinberg, Craig; Hardy, Tom

    2005-11-01

    The aim of this study is to use environmental physics to predict water temperatures around and within coral reefs. Anomalously warm water is the leading cause for mass coral bleaching; thus a clearer understanding of the oceanographic mechanisms that control reef water temperatures will enable better reef management. In March 1998 a major coral bleaching event occurred at Scott Reef, a 40 km-wide lagoon 300 km off the northwest coast of Australia. Meteorological and coral cover observations were collected before, during, and after the event. In this study, two hydrodynamic models are applied to Scott Reef and validated against oceanographic data collected between March and June 2003. The models are then used to hindcast the reef hydrodynamics that led up to the 1998 bleaching event. Results show a positive correlation between poorly mixed regions and bleaching severity.

  1. Astronaut Photography of Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Robinson, Julie A.; Noordeloos, Marco

    2001-01-01

    Astronaut photographs of tropical coastal areas may contain information on submerged features, including coral reefs, up to depths of about 15 m in clear waters. Previous research efforts have shown that astronaut photographs can aid in estimating coral reef locations and extent on national, regional and global scales, and allow characterization of major geomorphological rim and lagoon features (Andrefouet et al. 2000, in preparation). They can be combined with traditional satellite data to help distinguish between clouds and lagoon features such as pinnacles (Andrefouet and Robinson, in review). Furthermore, astronaut photographs may provide reef scientists and managers with information on the location and extent of river plumes and sediment run off, or facilitate identification of land cover types, including mangroves (Webb et al., in press). Photographs included in the section were selected based on several criteria. The primary consideration of the editors was that the photographs represent a worldwide distribution of coral reefs, have extremely low visual interference by cloud cover, and display a spatial scale reasonable for examining reef-related features. Once photographs were selected, they were digitized from 2nd generation copies. The color and contrast were hand corrected to an approximation of natural color (required to account for spectral differences between photographs due to the color sensitivities of films used, and differences in sun angle and exposure of the photographs). None of the photographs shown here have been georeferenced to correct them to a map projection and scale. Any distortions in features due to slightly oblique look angles when the photographs were taken through spacecraft windows remain. When feasible, near vertical photographs have been rotated so that north is toward the top. An approximate scale bar and north arrow have added using distinctive features on each photograph with reference to a 1:1,000,000 scale navigation chart

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hochberg, E. J.

    2015-12-01

    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.

  3. 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...

  4. Current status, crisis and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in China

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    ShaoHong Wu

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available Harboring rich marine species and playing important ecological functions, coral reef ecosystems have attracted widespread concern around the world. Ecosystem diversity, conservation and management of coral reefs are becoming a hot research area. Coral reefs in China are mainly distributed in the South China Sea and Hainan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guangdong, and Guangxi coastal waters. In recent years, due to the global climate change and the growing impact of human activities, coral reef biodiversity in China have been reducing and the ecological functions of coral reef ecosystems are severely degenerating. In this paper we summarized the current status, crisis and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in China. Some progress in coral reef research was discussed.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Novel tradable instruments in the conservation of coral reefs, based on the coral gardening concept for reef restoration.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rinkevich, Baruch

    2015-10-01

    Nearly all coral reefs bordering nations have experienced net losses in reef biodiversity, goods and services, even without considering the ever-developing global change impacts. In response, this overview wishes to reveal through prospects of active reef-restoration, the currently non-marketed or poorly marketed reef services, focusing on a single coral species (Stylophora pistillata). It is implied that the integration of equity capitals and other commodification with reef-restoration practices will improve total reef services. Two tiers of market-related activities are defined, the traditional first-tier instruments (valuating costs/gains for extracting tradable goods and services) and novel second-tier instruments (new/expanded monetary tools developed as by-products of reef restoration measures). The emerging new suite of economic mechanisms based on restoration methodologies could be served as an incentive for ecosystem conservation, enhancing the sum values of all services generated by coral reefs, where the same stocks of farmed/transplanted coral colonies will be used as market instruments. I found that active restoration measures disclose 12 classes of second-tier goods and services, which may partly/wholly finance restoration acts, bringing to light reef capitalizations that allow the expansion of markets with products that have not been considered before. The degree to which the second tier of market-related services could buffer coral-reef degradation is still unclear and would vary with different reef types and in various reef restoration scenarios; however, reducing the uncertainty associated with restoration. It is expected that the expansion of markets with the new products and the enhancement of those already existing will be materialized even if reef ecosystems will recover into different statuses. PMID:26241935

  8. 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...

  9. Climate-driven coral reorganisation influences aggressive behaviour in juvenile coral-reef fishes

    OpenAIRE

    Kok, Judith E.; Graham, Nicholas Anthony James; Hoogenboom, Mia O.

    2016-01-01

    Globally, habitat degradation is altering the abundance and diversity of species in a variety of ecosystems. This study aimed to determine how habitat degradation, in terms of changing coral composition under climate change, affected abundance, species richness and aggressive behaviour of juveniles of three damselfishes (Pomacentrus moluccensis, P. amboinensis and Dischistodus perspicillatus, in order of decreasing reliance on coral). Patch reefs were constructed to simulate two types of reef...

  10. Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21-50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation in reef slope environments. PMID:26009892

  11. 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...

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. Thirty years of coral reef change in relation to coastal construction and increased sedimentation at Pelekane Bay, Hawai'i.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stender, Yuko; Jokiel, Paul L; Rodgers, Kuʻulei S

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are being critically impacted by anthropogenic processes throughout the world. Long term monitoring is essential to the understanding of coral reef response to human impacts and the effectiveness of corrective management efforts. Here we reevaluated a valuable coral reef baseline established in Pelekane Bay, Hawai'i during 1976 and subsequently resurveyed in 1996. During this time interval substantial impacts occurred followed by extensive corrective measures. Coral and fish communities showed dramatic declines from 1977 to 1996 due to massive harbor construction and suboptimal land management practices on the watershed. More recently, corrective measures in the form of watershed stabilization and fishing regulations have been implemented. Consequently our 2012 survey reveals that coral cover since 1996 has increased slightly accompanied by a significant increase in fish abundance, diversity, and evenness. This improvement can be attributed to lower fishing pressure since 1996 due to reduced shoreline access, tighter fishing regulations and increased monitoring of legal and illegal fishing activities. Stabilization of the coral community can be attributed partially to reduced sedimentation resulting from watershed restoration that included installation of sediment check dams, control of feral ungulates, controlled grazing and replanting of native vegetation. Insights into the mechanism that removes sediment from reefs was provided by a major storm event and a tsunami that remobilized and flushed out sediment deposits. The increase in herbivorous fishes probably played a role in reducing algal competition in favor of corals. The data suggest that the precipitous reef decline in this area has been arrested and offers support for the corrective actions previously undertaken.

  15. Sediments and herbivory as sensitive indicators of coral reef degradation

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christopher H. R. Goatley

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available Around the world, the decreasing health of coral reef ecosystems has highlighted the need to better understand the processes of reef degradation. The development of more sensitive tools, which complement traditional methods of monitoring coral reefs, may reveal earlier signs of degradation and provide an opportunity for pre-emptive responses. We identify new, sensitive metrics of ecosystem processes and benthic composition that allow us to quantify subtle, yet destabilizing, changes in the ecosystem state of an inshore coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef. Following severe climatic disturbances over the period 2011-2012, the herbivorous reef fish community of the reef did not change in terms of biomass or functional groups present. However, fish-based ecosystem processes showed marked changes, with grazing by herbivorous fishes declining by over 90%. On the benthos, algal turf lengths in the epilithic algal matrix increased more than 50% while benthic sediment loads increased 37-fold. The profound changes in processes, despite no visible change in ecosystem state, i.e., no shift to macroalgal dominance, suggest that although the reef has not undergone a visible regime-shift, the ecosystem is highly unstable, and may sit on an ecological knife-edge. Sensitive, process-based metrics of ecosystem state, such as grazing or browsing rates thus appear to be effective in detecting subtle signs of degradation and may be critical in identifying ecosystems at risk for the future.

  16. New perspectives on ecological mechanisms affecting coral recruitment on reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    R. Ritson-Williams; S.N. Arnold; N.D. Fogarty; R.S. Steneck; M.J.A. Vermeij; V.J. Paul

    2007-01-01

    Coral mortality has increased in recent decades, making coral recruitment more important than ever in sustaining coral reef ecosystems and contributing to their resilience. This review summarizes existing information on ecological factors affecting scleractinian coral recruitment. Successful recruit

  17. Wicked Social–Ecological Problems Forcing Unprecedented Change on the Latitudinal Margins of Coral Reefs: the Case of Southwest Madagascar

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jens Zinke

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available High-latitude coral reefs may be a refuge and area of reef expansion under climate change. As these locations are expected to become dryer and as livestock and agricultural yields decline, coastal populations may become increasingly dependent on marine resources. To evaluate this social–ecological conundrum, we examined the Grand Récif of Toliara (GRT, southwest Madagascar, which was intensively studied in the 1960s and has been highly degraded since the 1980s. We analyzed the social and ecological published and unpublished literature on this region and provide new data to assess the magnitude of the changes and evaluate the causes of reef degradation. Top-down controls were identified as the major drivers: human population growth and migrations, overfishing, and climate change, specifically decreased rainfall and rising temperature. Water quality has not changed since originally studied, and bottom-up control was ruled out. The identified network of social–ecological processes acting at different scales implies that decision makers will face complex problems that are linked to broader social, economic, and policy issues. This characterizes wicked problems, which are often dealt with by partial solutions that are exploratory and include inputs from various stakeholders along with information sharing, knowledge synthesis, and trust building. A hybrid approach based on classical fishery management options and preferences, along with monitoring, feedback and forums for searching solutions, could move the process of adaptation forward once an adaptive and appropriately scaled governance system is functioning. This approach has broad implications for resources management given the emerging climate change and multiple social and environmental stresses.

  18. 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. PMID:27429784

  19. Herbivore space use influences coral reef recovery

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:27429784

  20. Cold induces acute stress but heat is ultimately more deleterious for the reef-building coral Acropora yongei

    OpenAIRE

    Roth, Melissa S.; Ralf Goericke; Deheyn, Dimitri D.

    2012-01-01

    Climate change driven increases in intensity and frequency of both hot and cold extreme events contribute to coral reef decline by causing widespread coral bleaching and mortality. Here, we show that hot and cold temperature changes cause distinct physiological responses on different time scales in reef-building corals. We exposed the branching coral Acropora yongei in individual aquaria to a ± 5°C temperature change. Compared to heat-treated corals, cold-treated corals initially show greater...

  1. 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...

  2. Coral Reef Watch, Nighttime Temperature, 50 km

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — NOAA Coral Reef Watch provides sea surface temperature (SST) products derived from NOAA's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). This data provides...

  3. Developing the Biological Condition Gradient (BCG), as a Tool for Describing the Condition of US Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Understanding effects of human activity on coral reefs requires knowing what characteristics constitute a high quality coral reef and identifying measurable criteria. The BCG is a conceptual model that describes how biological attributes of coral reefs change along a gradient of ...

  4. Ecological Processes and Contemporary Coral Reef Management

    OpenAIRE

    Angela Dikou

    2010-01-01

    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 outbre...

  5. 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

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:26876092

  6. Tradeoffs between fisheries harvest and the resilience of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; O'Farrell, Shay; Bruggemann, J Henrich; Luckhurst, Brian E; Mumby, Peter J

    2016-04-19

    Many countries are legally obliged to embrace ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. Reductions in bycatch and physical habitat damage are now commonplace, but mitigating more sophisticated impacts associated with the ecological functions of target fisheries species are in their infancy. Here we model the impacts of a parrotfish fishery on the future state and resilience of Caribbean coral reefs, enabling us to view the tradeoff between harvest and ecosystem health. We find that the implementation of a simple and enforceable size restriction of >30 cm provides a win:win outcome in the short term, delivering both ecological and fisheries benefits and leading to increased yield and greater coral recovery rate for a given harvest rate. However, maintaining resilient coral reefs even until 2030 requires the addition of harvest limitations (<10% of virgin fishable biomass) to cope with a changing climate and induced coral disturbances, even in reefs that are relatively healthy today. Managing parrotfish is not a panacea for protecting coral reefs but can play a role in sustaining the health of reefs and high-quality habitat for reef fisheries. PMID:27044106

  7. Macroalgal herbivory on recovering versus degrading coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chong-Seng, K. M.; Nash, K. L.; Bellwood, D. R.; Graham, N. A. J.

    2014-06-01

    Macroalgal-feeding fishes are considered to be a key functional group on coral reefs due to their role in preventing phase shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance, and potentially reversing the shift should it occur. However, assessments of macroalgal herbivory using bioassay experiments are primarily from systems with relatively high coral cover. This raises the question of whether continued functionality can be ensured in degraded systems. It is clearly important to determine whether the species that remove macroalgae on coral-dominated reefs will still be present and performing significant algal removal on macroalgal-dominated reefs. We compared the identity and effectiveness of macroalgal-feeding fishes on reefs in two conditions post-disturbance—those regenerating with high live coral cover (20-46 %) and those degrading with high macroalgal cover (57-82 %). Using filmed Sargassum bioassays, we found significantly different Sargassum biomass loss between the two conditions; mean assay weight loss due to herbivory was 27.9 ± 4.9 % on coral-dominated reefs and 2.2 ± 1.1 % on reefs with high macroalgal cover. However, once standardised for the availability of macroalgae on the reefs, the rates of removal were similar between the two reef conditions (4.8 ± 4.1 g m-2 h-1 on coral-dominated and 5.3 ± 2.1 g m-2 h-1 on macroalgal-dominated reefs). Interestingly, the Sargassum-assay consumer assemblages differed between reef conditions; nominally grazing herbivores, Siganus puelloides and Chlorurus sordidus, and the browser , Siganus sutor, dominated feeding on high coral cover reefs, whereas browsing herbivores, Naso elegans, Naso unicornis, and Leptoscarus vaigiensis, prevailed on macroalgal-dominated reefs. It appeared that macroalgal density in the surrounding habitat had a strong influence on the species driving the process of macroalgal removal. This suggests that although the function of macroalgal removal may continue, the species responsible may change

  8. A review of coral reef restoration techniques

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Meesters, H.W.G.; Smith, S.R.; Becking, L.E.

    2015-01-01

    In this review the following three reef restoration techniques are discussed: 1. Coral gardening, 2. Larval seeding, and 3. Reef balls. In this report we provide a description of each method and review the pro/cons using the following criteria: 1. Survival of fragments and larvae before transplantat

  9. 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.

  10. Florida Integrated Science Center (FISC) Coral Reef Research

    Science.gov (United States)

    Poore, D.Z.

    2008-01-01

    Coral reefs provide important ecosystem services such as shoreline protection and the support of lucrative industries including fisheries and tourism. Such ecosystem services are being compromised as reefs decline due to coral disease, climate change, overfishing, and pollution. There is a need for focused, integrated science to understand the complex ecological interactions and effects of these many stressors and to provide information that will effectively guide policies and best management practices to preserve and restore these important resources. The U.S. Geological Survey Florida Integrated Science Center (USGS-FISC) is conducting a coordinated Coral Reef Research Project beginning in 2009. Specific research topics are aimed at addressing priorities identified in the 'Strategic Science for Coral Ecosystems 2007-2011' document (U.S. Geological Survey, 2007). Planned research will include a blend of historical, monitoring, and process studies aimed at improving our understanding of the development, current status and function, and likely future changes in coral ecosystems. Topics such as habitat characterization and distribution, coral disease, and trends in biogenic calcification are major themes of understanding reef structure, ecological integrity, and responses to global change.

  11. Experimental Bleaching of a Reef-Building Coral Using a Simplified Recirculating Laboratory Exposure System

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mace G. Barron

    2010-01-01

    Full Text Available Determining stressor-response relationships in reef building corals continues to be a critical research need due to global declines in coral reef ecosystems and projected declines for the future. A simplified recirculating coral exposure system was coupled to a solar simulator to allow laboratory testing of a diversity of species and morphologies of reef building corals under ecologically relevant conditions of temperature and solar radiation. Combinations of lamps and attenuating filters allowed for assignment of solar radiation treatments in experimental bleaching studies. Three bleaching experiments were performed using the reef building coral, Pocillopora damicornis, to assess the reproducibility of system performance and coral responses under control and stress conditions. Experiments showed consistent temperature- and solar radiation dependent-changes in pigment, numbers of symbiotic algae, photosystem II quantum yield, and tissue loss during exposure and recovery. The laboratory exposure system is recommended for use in experimental bleaching studies with reef building corals.

  12. Temporal comparison and predictors of fish species abundance and richness on undisturbed coral reef patches

    OpenAIRE

    Wagner, Elena L.E.S.; Roche, Dominique G.; Binning, Sandra A.; Wismer, Sharon; Bshary, Redouan

    2015-01-01

    Large disturbances can cause rapid degradation of coral reef communities, but what baseline changes in species assemblages occur on undisturbed reefs through time? We surveyed live coral cover, reef fish abundance and fish species richness in 1997 and again in 2007 on 47 fringing patch reefs of varying size and depth at Mersa Bareika, Ras Mohammed National Park, Egypt. No major human or natural disturbance event occurred between these two survey periods in this remote protected area. In the a...

  13. Assessment of Coral Reef Degradation in Tanzania: Results of Coral Reef Monitoring 1999

    OpenAIRE

    Muhando, C.A.; Mohammed, M.S.; Machano, H.

    1999-01-01

    Coral reefs play a crucial role in the well being of coastal communities in Tanzania (Johnstone et al., 1998; Muhando, 1999). However, despite their usefulness, coral reefs are being degraded by destructive anthropogenic activities (Salm et al., 1998) and natural causes (e.g., competition, predation, diseases, bleaching, etc.). The coral bleaching and mortality event of March - June 1998 was the most serious natural calamity ever recorded in the Indian Ocean (Wilkinson, et al., 1999). Several...

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    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, ne

  15. A coral-on-a-chip microfluidic platform enabling live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals

    OpenAIRE

    Shapiro, Orr H.; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Gavish, Assaf R.; Stocker, Roman; Vardi, Assaf

    2016-01-01

    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 ideall...

  16. Boring sponges, an increasing threat for coral reefs affected by bleaching events

    OpenAIRE

    Carballo, José L; Bautista, Eric; Nava, Héctor; Cruz-Barraza, José A; Chávez, Jesus A

    2013-01-01

    Coral bleaching is a stress response of corals induced by a variety of factors, but these events have become more frequent and intense in response to recent climate-change-related temperature anomalies. We tested the hypothesis that coral reefs affected by bleaching events are currently heavily infested by boring sponges, which are playing a significant role in the destruction of their physical structure. Seventeen reefs that cover the entire distributional range of corals along the Mexican P...

  17. Coping with Commitment: Projected Thermal Stress on Coral Reefs under Different Future Scenarios

    OpenAIRE

    Donner, Simon D.

    2009-01-01

    BACKGROUND: Periods of anomalously warm ocean temperatures can lead to mass coral bleaching. Past studies have concluded that anthropogenic climate change may rapidly increase the frequency of these thermal stress events, leading to declines in coral cover, shifts in the composition of corals and other reef-dwelling organisms, and stress on the human populations who depend on coral reef ecosystems for food, income and shoreline protection. The ability of greenhouse gas mitigation to alter the...

  18. New protection initiatives announced for coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Showstack, Randy

    Off the coasts of some of the South Pacific's most idyllic-sounding atolls, Austin Bowden-Kerby has seen first-hand the heavy damage to coral reefs from dynamite and cyanide fishing. For instance, while snorkeling near Chuuk, an island in Micronesia, he has observed craters and rubble beds of coral, which locals have told him date to World War II ordnance.A marine biologist and project scientist for the Coral Gardens Initiative of the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, Bowden-Kerby has also identified what he says are some public health effects related to destroyed coral reefs and their dying fisheries. These problems include protein and vitamin A deficiency and blindness, all of which may—in some instances—be linked to poor nutrition resulting from lower reef fish consumption by islanders, according to Bowden-Kerby.

  19. Vertical Sound Velocity Transition in the Coral Reef Core and its Significance of Indicating Facies

    Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (English)

    Li Ganxian; Lu Bo

    2002-01-01

    On the basis of the sound velocity measurements of the coral reef core from Nanyong No. 1 Well of Yongshu Reef in the Nansha Islands, the paper studies the relations between the vertical sound velocity transition features in the coral reef core and the corresponding stratigraphic depositional facies change as well as stratigraphic gap of erosion,analyses the cause of the sound velocity transition, expounds the concrete process of the sea level change resulting in the stratigraphic gap of erosion and facies change in the coral reef and explains the relations between the vertical sound velocity transition in the coral reef core and the corresponding stratigraphic paleoclimate and the sea level change. This study is of important practical value and theoretical significance to the island and reef engineering construction and the acoustic logging for oil exploration in the reef limestone area as well as the paleoceanographic study of the marginal sea in the western Pacific Ocean.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Uthicke, Sven; Furnas, Miles; Lønborg, Christian

    2014-01-01

    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.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    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.

  2. The Keeling Curve and The Coral Reef Mosaic Project - Introducing the Realities of Climate Change to Educators and Scholars using Mosaic Arts.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lueker, T.; Chinn, P. W. U.

    2014-12-01

    In May 2013, The, record of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa, popularly known as "The Keeling Curve" reached 400 ppm for the first time in human history. Among the most sobering consequences of rising CO2 is Ocean Acidification, caused when the excess CO2 emitted from the burning of fossil fuels is absorbed by the surface oceans. The resulting reduction in pH harms stony corals (Scleractinia), and many other calcareous organisms. If civilization continues along the current trajectory of fossil fuel emissions, most coral reef ecosystems are expected to suffer extreme stress or mortality within the lifetime of the next generation. "If we do not reverse current trends in carbon dioxide emissions soon, we will cause the biggest and most rapid change in ocean chemistry since the extinction of the dinosaurs." (www.seaweb.org/getinvolved/oceanvoices/KenCaldeira.php). This looming tragedy is topical among marine scientists, but less appreciated or unknown to the general public, particularly among communities in the tropics where impacts to coral reef ecosystems will be severe. The Coral Reef Mosaic Project grew from my experiences leading education outreach in local schools. Making mosaics is an engaging way to enlighten educators and scholars on the pressing issues of climate change. When taking part in a mural project, students find mosaic art is a fun and rewarding experience that results in a beautiful depiction of a coral reef. Students explore the ecosystem diversity of coral reef inhabitants as they design the mural and piece together a representative environment. They work together as a team to learn the mosaic techniques and then build their own chosen creatures to inhabit the reef. The result is a beautiful and lasting mural for their school or community that provides an important message for the future. In a cooperative project with Dr. Pauline Chin at UH Manoa we traveled to Hawaii to train teachers on the Big Island in the art of mosaic and to convey the

  3. 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

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tom Bridge

    Full Text Available AIM: 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. LOCATION: Great Barrier Reef, Australia. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. MAIN CONCLUSION: Extensive submerged coral reef communities that are currently undocumented are likely to occur throughout the Great Barrier Reef. High

  5. Macroalgae decrease growth and alter microbial community structure of the reef-building coral, Porites astreoides.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rebecca Vega Thurber

    Full Text Available With the continued and unprecedented decline of coral reefs worldwide, evaluating the factors that contribute to coral demise is of critical importance. As coral cover declines, macroalgae are becoming more common on tropical reefs. Interactions between these macroalgae and corals may alter the coral microbiome, which is thought to play an important role in colony health and survival. Together, such changes in benthic macroalgae and in the coral microbiome may result in a feedback mechanism that contributes to additional coral cover loss. To determine if macroalgae alter the coral microbiome, we conducted a field-based experiment in which the coral Porites astreoides was placed in competition with five species of macroalgae. Macroalgal contact increased variance in the coral-associated microbial community, and two algal species significantly altered microbial community composition. All macroalgae caused the disappearance of a γ-proteobacterium previously hypothesized to be an important mutualist of P. astreoides. Macroalgal contact also triggered: 1 increases or 2 decreases in microbial taxa already present in corals, 3 establishment of new taxa to the coral microbiome, and 4 vectoring and growth of microbial taxa from the macroalgae to the coral. Furthermore, macroalgal competition decreased coral growth rates by an average of 36.8%. Overall, this study found that competition between corals and certain species of macroalgae leads to an altered coral microbiome, providing a potential mechanism by which macroalgae-coral interactions reduce coral health and lead to coral loss on impacted reefs.

  6. Macroalgae Decrease Growth and Alter Microbial Community Structure of the Reef-Building Coral, Porites astreoides

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vega Thurber, Rebecca; Burkepile, Deron E.; Correa, Adrienne M. S.; Thurber, Andrew R.; Shantz, Andrew A.; Welsh, Rory; Pritchard, Catharine; Rosales, Stephanie

    2012-01-01

    With the continued and unprecedented decline of coral reefs worldwide, evaluating the factors that contribute to coral demise is of critical importance. As coral cover declines, macroalgae are becoming more common on tropical reefs. Interactions between these macroalgae and corals may alter the coral microbiome, which is thought to play an important role in colony health and survival. Together, such changes in benthic macroalgae and in the coral microbiome may result in a feedback mechanism that contributes to additional coral cover loss. To determine if macroalgae alter the coral microbiome, we conducted a field-based experiment in which the coral Porites astreoides was placed in competition with five species of macroalgae. Macroalgal contact increased variance in the coral-associated microbial community, and two algal species significantly altered microbial community composition. All macroalgae caused the disappearance of a γ-proteobacterium previously hypothesized to be an important mutualist of P. astreoides. Macroalgal contact also triggered: 1) increases or 2) decreases in microbial taxa already present in corals, 3) establishment of new taxa to the coral microbiome, and 4) vectoring and growth of microbial taxa from the macroalgae to the coral. Furthermore, macroalgal competition decreased coral growth rates by an average of 36.8%. Overall, this study found that competition between corals and certain species of macroalgae leads to an altered coral microbiome, providing a potential mechanism by which macroalgae-coral interactions reduce coral health and lead to coral loss on impacted reefs. PMID:22957055

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    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.

  10. Alkalinity Enrichment Enhances Net Calcification of a Coral Reef Flat

    Science.gov (United States)

    Albright, R.; Caldeira, K.

    2015-12-01

    Ocean acidification is projected to shift reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution sometime this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale changes in coral calcification over the last several decades, it is not possible to unequivocally link these results to ocean acidification due to confounding factors of temperature and other environmental parameters. Here, we quantified the calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment to test whether reef calcification increases when ocean chemistry is restored to near pre-industrial conditions. We used sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to increase the total alkalinity of seawater flowing over a reef flat, with the aim of increasing carbonate ion concentrations [CO32-] and the aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) to values that would have been attained under pre-industrial atmospheric pCO2 levels. We developed a dual tracer regression method to estimate alkalinity uptake (i.e., calcification) in response to alkalinity enrichment. This approach uses the change in ratios between a non-conservative tracer (alkalinity) and a conservative tracer (a non-reactive dye, Rhodamine WT) to assess the fraction of added alkalinity that is taken up by the reef as a result of an induced increase in calcification rate. Using this method, we estimate that an average of 17.3% ± 2.3% of the added alkalinity was taken up by the reef community. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment performed on a natural coral reef community (without artificial confinement), we demonstrate that, upon increase of [CO32-] and Ωarag to near pre-industrial values, reef calcification increases. Thus, we conclude that, the impacts of ocean acidification are already being felt by coral reefs. This work is the culmination of years of work in the Caldeira lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science, involving many people including Jack Silverman, Kenny Schneider, and Jana Maclaren.

  11. 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...

  12. 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…

  13. Environmentally controlled succession in a late Pleistocene coral reef (Sinai, Egypt)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mewis, H.; Kiessling, W.

    2013-03-01

    The concept of ecological succession has been frequently applied in the study of ancient reefs. Whereas Paleozoic and Mesozoic reefs are commonly thought to reveal an autogenic primary—climax zonation, patterns in Neogene and Quaternary reefs are much more diverse. Here, we describe a well-preserved late Pleistocene coral reef from Dahab on Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), which shows a distinct zonation that resembles an ecological succession. In contrast to classical examples of ecological successions, species composition, paleoenvironmental conditions, and coral biodiversity of the Dahab reef indicate an allogenic, sea-level controlled community change, from marginal marine to reef slope and back reef. A review of the literature confirms that autogenic, short-term successions are virtually absent in Quaternary reefs. We predict that long generation times of corals make it unlikely that classical autogenic successions develop in reefs at all, unless environmental conditions are unusually stable.

  14. 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. PMID:25708511

  15. Tectonic subsidence provides insight into possible coral reef futures under rapid sea-level rise

    Science.gov (United States)

    Saunders, Megan I.; Albert, Simon; Roelfsema, Chris M.; Leon, Javier X.; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Phinn, Stuart R.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2016-03-01

    Sea-level rise will change environmental conditions on coral reef flats, which comprise extensive habitats in shallow tropical seas and support a wealth of ecosystem services. Rapid relative sea-level rise of 0.6 m over a relatively pristine coral reef in Solomon Islands, caused by a subduction earthquake in April 2007, generated a unique opportunity to examine in situ coral reef response to relative sea-level rise of the magnitude (but not the rate) anticipated by 2100. Extent of live coral was measured from satellite imagery in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012. Ecological data were obtained from microatolls and ecological surveys in May 2013. The reef was sampled at 12 locations where dense live hard coral remained absent, remained present or changed from absent to present following subsidence. Ecological data (substratum depth, live coral canopy depth, coral canopy height, substratum suitability, recruitment, diversity and Acropora presence) were measured at each location to identify factors associated with coral response to relative sea-level rise. Vertical and horizontal proliferation of coral occurred following subsidence. Lateral expansion of live coral, accomplished primarily by branching Acropora spp., resulted in lower diversity in regions which changed composition from pavement to dense live coral following subsidence. Of the ecological factors measured, biotic factors were more influential than abiotic factors; species identity was the most important factor in determining which regions of the reef responded to rapid sea-level rise. On relatively pristine reef flats under present climatic conditions, rapid relative sea-level rise generated an opportunity for hard coral to proliferate. However, the species assemblage of the existing reef was important in determining response to sea-level change, by providing previously bare substrate with a source of new coral colonies. Degraded reefs with altered species composition and slower coral growth rates may be less

  16. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals

    OpenAIRE

    Huang, Danwei; Roy, Kaustuv

    2015-01-01

    One-third of the world's reef-building corals are facing heightened extinction risk from climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. Previous studies have shown that such threats are not distributed randomly across the coral tree of life, and future extinctions have the potential to disproportionately reduce the phylogenetic diversity of this group on a global scale. However, the impact of such losses on a regional scale remains poorly known. In this study, we use phylogenetic metrics in ...

  17. A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B; Toth, Lauren T

    2016-08-01

    Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a geological perspective. The importance of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs-as breakwaters that dissipate wave energy and protect shorelines and as providers of habitat for innumerable species-cannot be overstated. However, the few coral species responsible for reef building in the western Atlantic during the last approximately 1.5 million years are not thriving in the 21st century. These species are highly sensitive to abrupt temperature extremes, prone to disease infection, and have low sexual reproductive potential. Their vulnerability and the low functional redundancy of branching corals have led to the low resilience of western Atlantic reef ecosystems. The decrease in live coral cover over the last 50 years highlights the need for study of relict (senescent) reefs, which, from the perspective of coastline protection and habitat structure, may be just as important to conserve as the living coral veneer. Research is needed to characterize the geological processes of bioerosion, reef cementation, and sediment transport as they relate to modern-day changes in reef elevation. For example, although parrotfish remove nuisance macroalgae, possibly promoting coral recruitment, they will not save Atlantic reefs from geological degradation. In fact, these fish are quickly nibbling away significant quantities of Holocene reef framework. The question of how different biota covering dead reefs affect framework resistance to biological and physical erosion needs to be addressed. Monitoring and managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of resources

  18. A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B; Toth, Lauren T

    2016-08-01

    Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a geological perspective. The importance of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs-as breakwaters that dissipate wave energy and protect shorelines and as providers of habitat for innumerable species-cannot be overstated. However, the few coral species responsible for reef building in the western Atlantic during the last approximately 1.5 million years are not thriving in the 21st century. These species are highly sensitive to abrupt temperature extremes, prone to disease infection, and have low sexual reproductive potential. Their vulnerability and the low functional redundancy of branching corals have led to the low resilience of western Atlantic reef ecosystems. The decrease in live coral cover over the last 50 years highlights the need for study of relict (senescent) reefs, which, from the perspective of coastline protection and habitat structure, may be just as important to conserve as the living coral veneer. Research is needed to characterize the geological processes of bioerosion, reef cementation, and sediment transport as they relate to modern-day changes in reef elevation. For example, although parrotfish remove nuisance macroalgae, possibly promoting coral recruitment, they will not save Atlantic reefs from geological degradation. In fact, these fish are quickly nibbling away significant quantities of Holocene reef framework. The question of how different biota covering dead reefs affect framework resistance to biological and physical erosion needs to be addressed. Monitoring and managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of resources

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Raghukumar, Chandralata; Ravindran, J

    2012-01-01

    Fungi in coral reefs exist as endoliths, endobionts, saprotrophs and as pathogens. Although algal and fungal endoliths in corals were described way back in 1973, their role in microboring, carbonate alteration, discoloration, density banding, symbiotic or parasitic association was postulated almost 25 years later. Fungi, as pathogens in corals, have become a much discussed topic in the last 10 years. It is either due to the availability of better tools for investigations or greater awareness among the research communities. Fungi 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 to various pharmaceutical industries and funding agencies. Fungal enzymes in degradation of coral mucus, and plant detritus hold great promise in biotechnological applications. Unravelling fungal diversity in corals and associated reef organisms using culture and culture-independent approaches is a subject gaining attention from research community world over. PMID:22222828

  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. 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.

  2. Developing a Biological Condition Gradient for the Protection of Puerto Rico's Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    We introduce the application of the Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) to coral reefs: a conceptual model that describes how biological attributes of coral reef ecosystems might change along a gradient of increasing anthropogenic stress. Under authority of the Clean Water Act, t...

  3. A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren

    2016-01-01

    Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a geological perspective. The importance of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs—as breakwaters that dissipate wave energy and protect shorelines and as providers of habitat for innumerable species—cannot be overstated. However, the few coral species responsible for reef building in the western Atlantic during the last approximately 1.5 million years are not thriving in the 21st century. These species are highly sensitive to abrupt temperature extremes, prone to disease infection, and have low sexual reproductive potential. Their vulnerability and the low functional redundancy of branching corals have led to the low resilience of western Atlantic reef ecosystems. The decrease in live coral cover over the last 50 years highlights the need for study of relict (senescent) reefs, which, from the perspective of coastline protection and habitat structure, may be just as important to conserve as the living coral veneer. Research is needed to characterize the geological processes of bioerosion, reef cementation, and sediment transport as they relate to modern-day changes in reef elevation. For example, although parrotfish remove nuisance macroalgae, possibly promoting coral recruitment, they will not save Atlantic reefs from geological degradation. In fact, these fish are quickly nibbling away significant quantities of Holocene reef framework. The question of how different biota covering dead reefs affect framework resistance to biological and physical erosion needs to be addressed. Monitoring and managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    2016-03-01

    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 ([CO32-]), 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, [CO32-], 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.

  6. 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. PMID:26909578

  7. Colour thresholds in a coral reef fish

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vorobyev, M.; Marshall, N. J.

    2016-01-01

    Coral reef fishes are among the most colourful animals in the world. Given the diversity of lifestyles and habitats on the reef, it is probable that in many instances coloration is a compromise between crypsis and communication. However, human observation of this coloration is biased by our primate visual system. Most animals have visual systems that are ‘tuned’ differently to humans; optimized for different parts of the visible spectrum. To understand reef fish colours, we need to reconstruct the appearance of colourful patterns and backgrounds as they are seen through the eyes of fish. Here, the coral reef associated triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, was tested behaviourally to determine the limits of its colour vision. This is the first demonstration of behavioural colour discrimination thresholds in a coral reef species and is a critical step in our understanding of communication and speciation in this vibrant colourful habitat. Fish were trained to discriminate between a reward colour stimulus and series of non-reward colour stimuli and the discrimination thresholds were found to correspond well with predictions based on the receptor noise limited visual model and anatomy of the eye. Colour discrimination abilities of both reef fish and a variety of animals can therefore now be predicted using the parameters described here. PMID:27703704

  8. Interactive effects of live coral and structural complexity on the recruitment of reef fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coker, D. J.; Graham, N. A. J.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2012-12-01

    Corals reefs are subjected to multiple disturbances that modify levels of coral cover and structural complexity of the reef matrix, and in turn influence the structure of associated fish communities. With disturbances predicted to increase, insight into how changes in substrate condition will influence the recruitment of many fishes is essential for understanding the recovery of reef fish populations following biological and physical disturbances. While studies have revealed that both live coral cover and structural complexity are important for many fishes, there is a lack of understanding regarding how a combination of these changes will impact the recruitment of fishes. This study used experimentally constructed patch reefs consisting of six different habitat treatments; three levels of live coral cover (high, medium, low) crossed with two levels of structural complexity (high, low), to test the independent and combined effects of live coral cover and structural complexity on the recruitment and recovery of fish communities. The abundance and species diversity of fishes varied significantly among the six habitat treatments, but differences were not clearly associated with either coral cover or structural complexity and varied through time. More striking, however, was a significant difference in the composition of fish assemblages among treatments, due mostly to disproportionate abundance of coral-dwelling fishes on high coral cover, high complexity reefs. Overall, it appears that coral cover had a more important influence than structural complexity, at least for the contrasting levels of structural complexity achieved on experimental patch reefs. Furthermore, we found that live coral cover is important for the recruitment of some non-coral-dependent fishes. This study confirms that live coral cover is critical for the maintenance of high biodiversity on tropical coral reefs, and that sustained and ongoing declines in coral cover will adversely affect recruitment

  9. 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...

  10. Global and local threats to coral reef functioning and existence: review and predictions

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Wilkinson, C.R. [Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, Townsville, Qld. (Australia)

    1999-07-01

    Factors causing global degradation of coral reefs are examined briefly as a basis for predicting the likely consequences of increases in these factors. The earlier consensus was that widespread but localized damage from natural factors such as storms, and direct anthropogenic effects such as increased sedimentation, pollution and exploitation, posed the largest immediate threat to coral reefs. Now truly global factors associated with accelerating Global Climate Change are either damaging coral reefs or have the potential to inflict greater damage in the immediate future e.g. increases in coral bleaching and mortality, and reduction in coral calcification due to changes in sea-water chemistry with increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. Rises in sea level will probably disrupt human communities and their cultures by making coral cays uninhabitable, whereas coral reefs will sustain minimal damage from the rise in sea level. The short-term (decades) prognosis is that major reductions are almost certain in the extent and biodiversity of coral reefs, and severe disruptions to cultures and economies dependent on reef resources will occur. The long-term (centuries to millennia) prognosis is more encouraging because coral reefs have remarkable resilience to severe disruption and will probably show this resilience in the future when climate changes either stabilize or reverse.

  11. 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…

  12. A Record of Environmental Change in Caribbean Coral Reefs: Sclerochronology and Geochemistry of O. faveolata as a Paleoclimate Proxy at Coral Gardens and Rocky Point, Belize

    Science.gov (United States)

    DeCorte, I. A.; Greer, L.; Wirth, K. R.; Flowers Falls, E.; Lescinsky, H.; Doss, W. C.

    2015-12-01

    Over the last several decades, Acropora cervicornis has seen a massive die-off in the Caribbean. (Aronson and Precht 2001; Gardner et al., 2003; Greer et al., 2009). The potential causes of decline in A. cervicornis in the Caribbean include: extremes in sea surface temperatures (SST), ocean acidification, eutrophication, white-band disease, storm disturbances, and other anthropogenic disturbances. Contrary to the regional decline in A. cervicornis, Coral Gardens on the Belize Barrier Reef has an Acropora sp. population that appears to be thriving. Through a combination of sclerochronology, stable isotope analysis, and in situ sensor data, this work capitilizes on the opportunity to study reef conditions in a site where micro-environmental conditions appear to be favorable for healthy A. cervicornis coral growth. We use cores from two Orbicella faveolata colonies located within Acropora stands, as A. cervicornis does not reveal annual banding. We compare two cores from one O. faveolata colony at Coral Gardens, first cored in 2011 and again in 2014, to one O. faveolata core at near-by Rocky Point, where A. cervicornis is much less abundant. These cores were x-radiographed in order to expose the annual banding and sampled for stable oxygen and carbon isotope analysis (10-15 samples/cm). We show that, although there are no significant differences in the range of the δ18O and δ13C signature between Rocky Point and Coral Gardens, there is a clear difference in the stress histories at these locations as inferred from linear extension rates (LER's) and annual banding patterns. Rocky Point averages a LER of 10.5±1.4 mm/year (n = 29) over a 30 year record and Coral Gardens averages 9.1±1.2 mm/year (n = 70) from ~1953 - 2001, and averages 6.2±1.6 mm/year (n = 36) from coral years 2001-2014 after an inferred stress-banding event. This is in contrast to the observed overall health of A. cervicornis at the two locations. The inferred stress-banding event is currently

  13. Pattern and intensity of human impact on coral reefs depend on depth along the reef profile and on the descriptor adopted

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nepote, Ettore; Bianchi, Carlo Nike; Chiantore, Mariachiara; Morri, Carla; Montefalcone, Monica

    2016-09-01

    Coral reefs are threatened by multiple global and local disturbances. The Maldives, already heavily hit by the 1998 mass bleaching event, are currently affected also by growing tourism and coastal development that may add to global impacts. Most of the studies investigating effects of local disturbances on coral reefs assessed the response of communities along a horizontal distance from the impact source. This study investigated the status of a Maldivian coral reef around an island where an international touristic airport has been recently (2009-2011) built, at different depths along the reef profile (5-20 m depth) and considering the change in the percentage of cover of five different non-taxonomic descriptors assessed through underwater visual surveys: hard corals, soft corals, other invertebrates, macroalgae and abiotic attributes. Eight reefs in areas not affected by any coastal development were used as controls and showed a reduction of hard coral cover and an increase of abiotic attributes (i.e. sand, rock, coral rubble) at the impacted reef. However, hard coral cover, the most widely used descriptor of coral reef health, was not sufficient on its own to detect subtle indirect effects that occurred down the reef profile. Selecting an array of descriptors and considering different depths, where corals may find a refuge from climate impacts, could guide the efforts of minimising local human pressures on coral reefs.

  14. 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...

  15. 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.

  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 nutrient

  17. Limited flexibility in resource use in a coral reef grazer foraging on seasonally changing algal communities

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Afeworki, Y.; Bruggemann, J. H.; Videler, J. J.

    2011-01-01

    Feeding ecology of three life phases of the parrotfish Scarus ferrugineus was studied on a southern Red Sea fringing reef by comparing availability and consumption of benthic algae during the monsoon hot and cool seasons. Dominant biota covering dead carbonate substrates were in decreasing order of

  18. 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.

    The major reef formations in India are restricted to the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kachchh, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. Scattered coral growth has also been reported along certain inter-tidal belts and submerged banks both on the east...

  19. Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, Kenya.

    OpenAIRE

    Ransom, Kevin Paul

    2008-01-01

    Kenya's coral reefs, and the livelihoods and communities they support, face numerous threats including global climate change and a growing coastal human population. A contingent valuation study was conducted with Kenyan citizen and foreign tourists to evaluate the conservation benefits of coral reefs at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve (MMNPR), and assess the implications for local reef management. Citizen and foreign visitors to MMNPR were willing to pay an extra US$2.23 and US$7.94 ...

  20. Reefscape proxies for the conservation of Caribbean coral reef biodiversity

    OpenAIRE

    JE Arias-González; E Núñez-Lara; FA Rodríguez-Zaragoza; Legendre, P.

    2011-01-01

    The explanatory value of four hypotheses for geographic variation in total species richness and species richness was evaluated per family in coral and fish communities in the North Sector of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (NS-MBRS). The four hypotheses emphasize different reefscape attributes that are important for coral and fish: reef area (RA), live coral cover (LCC), habitat complexity (HC), and coral richness itself and for fish. For both coral and fish communities, we estimated the...

  1. 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.

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

    OpenAIRE

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Richard D. Evans; 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 ...

  3. 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.

  4. Advancing Ocean Monitoring Near Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Heron, Scott F.; Steinberg, Craig R.; Heron, Mal L.; Mantovanelli, Alessandra; Jaffrés, Jasmine B. D.; Skirving, William J.; McAllister, Felicity; Rigby, Paul; Wisdom, Daniel; Bainbridge, Scott

    2010-10-01

    Corals, the foundation of tropical marine ecosystems, exist in a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae (algae). The corals obtain much of their energy by consuming compounds derived from photosynthesis by these microorganisms; the microorganisms, which reside in the coral tissue, in turn use waste products from the corals to sustain photosynthesis. This symbiosis is very sensitive to subtle changes in environment, such as increased ocean acidity, temperature, and light. When unduly stressed, the colorful algae are expelled from the corals, causing the corals to “bleach” and potentially die [e.g., van Oppen and Lough, 2009].

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Global Trajectories of the Long-Term Decline of Coral Reef Ecosystems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pandolfi, John M.; Bradbury, Roger H.; Sala, Enric; Hughes, Terence P.; Bjorndal, Karen A.; Cooke, Richard G.; McArdle, Deborah; McClenachan, Loren; Newman, Marah J. H.; Paredes, Gustavo; Warner, Robert R.; Jackson, Jeremy B. C.

    2003-08-01

    Degradation of coral reef ecosystems began centuries ago, but there is no global summary of the magnitude of change. We compiled records, extending back thousands of years, of the status and trends of seven major guilds of carnivores, herbivores, and architectural species from 14 regions. Large animals declined before small animals and architectural species, and Atlantic reefs declined before reefs in the Red Sea and Australia, but the trajectories of decline were markedly similar worldwide. All reefs were substantially degraded long before outbreaks of coral disease and bleaching. Regardless of these new threats, reefs will not survive without immediate protection from human exploitation over large spatial scales.

  9. 75 FR 21650 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-04-26

    ... National Park Service Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement... Availability of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan... Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan for Biscayne National Park,...

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Decadal coral community reassembly on an African fringing reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    McClanahan, T. R.

    2014-12-01

    Changes in the cover of the dominant hard coral taxa were studied on seven Kenyan back reefs over 20 yr. All factors of time, taxa, site, and their interactions were statistically significant and the 1998 temperature anomaly caused the greatest community changes. The 1998 disturbance changes reflected a classic coral succession, which included partial or little mortality and persistence of stress tolerant (massive and submassive growth forms) and early colonization by weedy taxa (pocilloporids). Nevertheless, competitive taxa had high and full mortality and the expected dominance of acroporids was inhibited even ~13 yr after the disturbance. So, while total hard coral cover displayed the expected logistic recovery where maximum cover was reached coral cover. A number of stress-resistant and weedy taxa (poritids, agaricidae, faviids, and pocilloporids) are expected to dominate the composition of these reefs in the future. Nevertheless, three submassive faviids and branching Porites began to decline toward the end of the time series, indicating further stress after 1998. Increased algal cover and other unstudied factors, including milder warming, may explain these changes. The patterns of change on this continental fringing reef differ from recovery of more remote, offshore islands. This probably reflects low acroporid dominance and recruitment limitations associated with greater anthropogenic influences of high sea urchin grazing and terrestrial runoff.

  13. Understanding the murky history of the Coral Triangle: Miocene corals and reef habitats in East Kalimantan (Indonesia)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Renema, Willem; Johnson, Kenneth G.

    2016-09-01

    Studies on ancient coral communities living in marginal conditions, including low light, high turbidity, extreme temperatures, or high nutrients, are important to understand the current structure of reefs and how they could potentially respond to global changes. The main goal of this study was to document the rich and well-preserved fossil coral fauna preserved in Miocene exposures of the Kutai Basin in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Our collections include almost forty thousand specimens collected from 47 outcrops. Seventy-nine genera and 234 species have been identified. Three different coral assemblages were found corresponding to small patch reefs that developed under the influence of high siliciclastic inputs from the Mahakam Delta. Coral assemblages vary in richness, structure, and composition. Platy coral assemblages were common until the Serravallian (Middle Miocene), while branching coral assemblages became dominant in the Tortonian (Late Miocene). By the late Tortonian massive coral assemblages dominated, similar to modern-style coral framework. Our results suggest that challenging habitats, such as the Miocene turbid habitats of East Kalimantan, might have played an important role during the early diversification of the Coral Triangle by hosting a pool of resilient species more likely to survive the environmental changes that have affected this region since the Cenozoic. Further research that integrates fossil and recent turbid habitats may provide a glimpse into the dynamics and future of coral reefs as "typical" clear-water reefs continue to decline in most regions.

  14. From crypsis to mimicry: changes in colour and the configuration of the visual system during ontogenetic habitat transitions in a coral reef fish.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cortesi, Fabio; Musilová, Zuzana; Stieb, Sara M; Hart, Nathan S; Siebeck, Ulrike E; Cheney, Karen L; Salzburger, Walter; Marshall, N Justin

    2016-08-15

    Animals often change their habitat throughout ontogeny; yet, the triggers for habitat transitions and how these correlate with developmental changes - e.g. physiological, morphological and behavioural - remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated how ontogenetic changes in body coloration and of the visual system relate to habitat transitions in a coral reef fish. Adult dusky dottybacks, Pseudochromis fuscus, are aggressive mimics that change colour to imitate various fishes in their surroundings; however, little is known about the early life stages of this fish. Using a developmental time series in combination with the examination of wild-caught specimens, we revealed that dottybacks change colour twice during development: (i) nearly translucent cryptic pelagic larvae change to a grey camouflage coloration when settling on coral reefs; and (ii) juveniles change to mimic yellow- or brown-coloured fishes when reaching a size capable of consuming juvenile fish prey. Moreover, microspectrophotometric (MSP) and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) experiments show developmental changes of the dottyback visual system, including the use of a novel adult-specific visual gene (RH2 opsin). This gene is likely to be co-expressed with other visual pigments to form broad spectral sensitivities that cover the medium-wavelength part of the visible spectrum. Surprisingly, the visual modifications precede changes in habitat and colour, possibly because dottybacks need to first acquire the appropriate visual performance before transitioning into novel life stages. PMID:27307489

  15. Feedbacks Between Wave Energy And Declining Coral Reef Structure: Implications For Coastal Morphodynamics

    Science.gov (United States)

    Grady, A. E.; Jenkins, C. J.; Moore, L. J.; Potts, D. C.; Burgess, P. M.; Storlazzi, C. D.; Elias, E.; Reidenbach, M. A.

    2013-12-01

    The incident wave energy dissipated by the structural complexity and bottom roughness of coral reef ecosystems, and the carbonate sediment produced by framework-building corals, provide natural shoreline protection and nourishment, respectively. Globally, coral reef ecosystems are in decline as a result of ocean warming and acidification, which is exacerbated by chronic regional stressors such as pollution and disease. As a consequence of declining reef health, many reef ecosystems are experiencing reduced coral cover and shifts to dominance by macroalgae, resulting in a loss of rugosity and thus hydrodynamic roughness. As coral reef architecture is compromised and carbonate skeletons are eroded, wave energy dissipation and sediment transport patterns--along with the carbonate sediment budget of the coastal environment--may be altered. Using a Delft3D numerical model of the south-central Molokai, Hawaii, fringing reef, we simulate the effects of changing reef states on wave energy and sediment transport. To determine the temporally-varying effects of biotic and abiotic stressors such as storms and bleaching on the reef structure and carbonate production, we couple Delft3D with CarboLOT, a model that simulates growth and competition of carbonate-producing organisms. CarboLOT is driven by the Lotka-Volterra population ecology equations and niche suitability principles, and accesses the CarboKB database for region-specific, carbonate-producing species information on growth rates, reproduction patterns, habitat suitability, as well as organism geometries. Simulations assess how changing reef states--which alter carbonate sediment production and reef morphology and thus hydrodynamic roughness--impact wave attenuation and sediment transport gradients along reef-fronted beaches. Initial results suggest that along fringing reefs having characteristics similar to the Molokai fringing reef, projected sea level rise will likely outpace coral reef accretion, and the increased

  16. The influence of fire-coral colony size and agonistic behaviour of territorial damselfish on associated coral reef fish communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leal, Isabela Carolina Silva; de Araújo, Maria Elisabeth; da Cunha, Simone Rabelo; Pereira, Pedro Henrique Cipresso

    2015-07-01

    Branching hydrocorals from the genus Millepora play an important ecological role in South Atlantic reefs, where branching scleractinian corals are absent. Previous studies have shown a high proportion of reef fish species using branching fire-coral colonies as shelter, breeding, and feeding sites. However, the effects of Millepora spp. colony size and how the agonistic behaviour of a competitive damselfish affect the associated reef fish community are still unknown. The present study examined how fire-coral colony volume and the presence of a highly territorial and aggressive damselfish (Brazilian endemic Stegastes fuscus) affects the reef fish community associated with the fire-coral Millepora alcicornis. M. alcicornis colonies were surveyed from September 2012 to April 2013 at Tamandaré Reefs off Northeast Brazil. Our results show that the abundance and richness of coral associated fish was positively correlated with M. alcicornis coral colony volume. Additionally, behaviour of S. fuscus, the most abundant reef fish species found associated with fire-coral colonies (almost 57% of the fish community), was also influenced by fire-coral colony volume. There was a clear trend of increased agonistic behaviour and feeding on coral polyps as colony volume increased. This trend was reversed for the non-occupational swimming category, which decreased as M. alcicornis colony volume increased. Behavioural ontogenetic changes were also detected for S. fuscus individuals. Juveniles mainly showed two distinct behaviours: sheltered on coral branches and feeding on coral polyps. In contrast, adults presented greater equitability among the behavioural categories, mostly non-occupational swimming around coral colonies and agonistic behaviour. Lastly, S. fuscus individuals actively defended fire-coral colonies from intruders. A large number of agonistic interactions occurred against potential food competitors, which were mainly roving herbivores, omnivores, and sessile

  17. Influence of Coral Bleaching on the Fauna of Tutia Reef, Tanzania

    OpenAIRE

    Öhman, M.C.; Lindahl, U.; Schelten, C.K.

    1999-01-01

    In 1998, coral reefs of Tanzania were severely affected by bleaching. The coral mortality that followed caused a concern for coral reef degradation and overall resource depletion. In this study, we investigated coral bleaching effects on the coral reef fauna at Tutia Reef in Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania. Corals from adjacent reef patches of the species Acropora formosa were transplanted into plots, and reef structure and associated fish assemblages were examined before and after the ble...

  18. Unexpected complexity of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora millepora transcription factor network

    OpenAIRE

    Ravasi Timothy; Voolstra Christian R; Bayer Till; Mavromatis Charalampos; Ryu Taewoo

    2011-01-01

    Abstract Background Coral reefs are disturbed on a global scale by environmental changes including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Little is known about how corals respond or adapt to these environmental changes especially at the molecular level. This is mostly because of the paucity of genome-wide studies on corals and the application of systems approaches that incorporate the latter. Like in any other organism, the response of corals to stress is tightly controlled ...

  19. Unexpected complexity of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora transcription factor network.

    KAUST Repository

    Ryu, Taewoo

    2011-04-28

    Coral reefs are disturbed on a global scale by environmental changes including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Little is known about how corals respond or adapt to these environmental changes especially at the molecular level. This is mostly because of the paucity of genome-wide studies on corals and the application of systems approaches that incorporate the latter. Like in any other organism, the response of corals to stress is tightly controlled by the coordinated interplay of many transcription factors.

  20. Vertical variations of coral reef drag forces

    Science.gov (United States)

    Asher, Shai; Niewerth, Stephan; Koll, Katinka; Shavit, Uri

    2016-05-01

    Modeling flow in a coral reef requires a closure model that links the local drag force to the local mean velocity. However, the spatial flow variations make it difficult to predict the distribution of the local drag. Here we report on vertical profiles of measured drag and velocity in a laboratory reef that was made of 81 Pocillopora Meandrina colony skeletons, densely arranged along a tilted flume. Two corals were CT-scanned, sliced horizontally, and printed using a 3-D printer. Drag was measured as a function of height above the bottom by connecting the slices to drag sensors. Profiles of velocity were measured in-between the coral branches and above the reef. Measured drag of whole colonies shows an excellent agreement with previous field and laboratory studies; however, these studies never showed how drag varies vertically. The vertical distribution of drag is reported as a function of flow rate and water level. When the water level is the same as the reef height, Reynolds stresses are negligible and the drag force per unit fluid mass is nearly constant. However, when the water depth is larger, Reynolds stress gradients become significant and drag increases with height. An excellent agreement was found between the drag calculated by a momentum budget and the measured drag of the individual printed slices. Finally, we propose a modified formulation of the drag coefficient that includes the normal dispersive stress term and results in reduced variations of the drag coefficient at the cost of introducing an additional coefficient.

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

  3. Effects of ocean acidification and sea-level rise on coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yates, K.K.; Moyer, R.P.

    2010-01-01

    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are developing comprehensive records of historical and modern coral reef growth and calcification rates relative to changing seawater chemistry resulting from increasing atmospheric CO2 from the pre-industrial period to the present. These records will provide the scientific foundation for predicting future impacts of ocean acidification and sea-level rise on coral reef growth. Changes in coral growth rates in response to past changes in seawater pH are being examined by using cores from coral colonies.

  4. Coping with commitment: projected thermal stress on coral reefs under different future scenarios.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Simon D Donner

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Periods of anomalously warm ocean temperatures can lead to mass coral bleaching. Past studies have concluded that anthropogenic climate change may rapidly increase the frequency of these thermal stress events, leading to declines in coral cover, shifts in the composition of corals and other reef-dwelling organisms, and stress on the human populations who depend on coral reef ecosystems for food, income and shoreline protection. The ability of greenhouse gas mitigation to alter the near-term forecast for coral reefs is limited by the time lag between greenhouse gas emissions and the physical climate response. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study uses observed sea surface temperatures and the results of global climate model forced with five different future emissions scenarios to evaluate the "committed warming" for coral reefs worldwide. The results show that the physical warming commitment from current accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could cause over half of the world's coral reefs to experience harmfully frequent (p> or =0.2 year(-1 thermal stress by 2080. An additional "societal" warming commitment, caused by the time required to shift from a business-as-usual emissions trajectory to a 550 ppm CO(2 stabilization trajectory, may cause over 80% of the world's coral reefs to experience harmfully frequent events by 2030. Thermal adaptation of 1.5 degrees C would delay the thermal stress forecast by 50-80 years. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results suggest that adaptation -- via biological mechanisms, coral community shifts and/or management interventions -- could provide time to change the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and possibly avoid the recurrence of harmfully frequent events at the majority (97% of the world's coral reefs this century. Without any thermal adaptation, atmospheric CO(2 concentrations may need to be stabilized below current levels to avoid the degradation of coral reef ecosystems

  5. The engine of the reef: Photobiology of the coral-algal symbiosis

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Melissa Susan Roth

    2014-08-01

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems thrive in tropical oligotrophic oceans because of the relationship between corals and endosymbiotic dinoflagellate algae called Symbiodinium. Symbiodinium convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into organic carbon and oxygen to fuel coral growth and calcification, creating habitat for these diverse and productive ecosystems. Light is thus a key regulating factor shaping the productivity, physiology and ecology of the coral holobiont. Similar to all oxygenic photoautotrophs, Symbiodinium must safely harvest sunlight for photosynthesis and dissipate excess energy to prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by environmental stressors such as those associated with global climate change, and ultimately leads to breakdown of the coral-algal symbiosis known as coral bleaching. Recently, large-scale coral bleaching events have become pervasive and frequent threatening and endangering coral reefs. Because the coral-algal symbiosis is the biological engine producing the reef, the future of coral reef ecosystems depends on the ecophysiology of the symbiosis. This review examines the photobiology of the coral-algal symbiosis with particular focus on the photophysiological responses and timescales of corals and Symbiodinium. Additionally, this review summarizes the light environment and its dynamics, the vulnerability of the symbiosis to oxidative stress, the abiotic and biotic factors influencing photosynthesis, the diversity of the coral-algal symbiosis and recent advances in the field. Studies integrating physiology with the developing omics fields will provide new insights into the coral-algal symbiosis. Greater physiological and ecological understanding of the coral-algal symbiosis is needed for protection and conservation of coral reefs.

  6. 76 FR 30110 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-05-24

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit... implementing the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of the South... Cancer Institute ( http://www.cancer.gov/ ) and the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF,...

  7. 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...

  8. Effects of Simulated Eutrophication and Overfishing on Coral Reef Invertebrates, Algae and Microbes in the Red Sea

    OpenAIRE

    Jessen, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Besides the main climate change consequences, ocean warming and acidification, local disturbances such as overfishing and eutrophication are major threats to coral reefs worldwide. Despite its relatively healthy coral reefs that are increasingly faced with growing coastal development, the Red Sea is highly under-investigated, particularly outside the Gulf of Aqaba. This thesis therefore aims to contribute to the understanding of eutrophication and overfishing effects on Red Sea coral reefs by...

  9. Human Dimensions of Coral Reef Social-Ecological Systems

    OpenAIRE

    John N. Kittinger; Elena M. Finkbeiner; Edward W. Glazier; Larry B Crowder

    2012-01-01

    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, ...

  10. Synergistic impacts of global warming on the resilience of coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; Mumby, Peter J.

    2015-01-01

    Recent epizootics have removed important functional species from Caribbean coral reefs and left communities vulnerable to alternative attractors. Global warming will impact reefs further through two mechanisms. A chronic mechanism reduces coral calcification, which can result in depressed somatic growth. An acute mechanism, coral bleaching, causes extreme mortality when sea temperatures become anomalously high. We ask how these two mechanisms interact in driving future reef state (coral cover) and resilience (the probability of a reef remaining within a coral attractor). We find that acute mechanisms have the greatest impact overall, but the nature of the interaction with chronic stress depends on the metric considered. Chronic and acute stress act additively on reef state but form a strong synergy when influencing resilience by intensifying a regime shift. Chronic stress increases the size of the algal basin of attraction (at the expense of the coral basin), whereas coral bleaching pushes the system closer to the algal attractor. Resilience can change faster—and earlier—than a change in reef state. Therefore, we caution against basing management solely on measures of reef state because a loss of resilience can go unnoticed for many years and then become disproportionately more difficult to restore.

  11. Are artificial reefs surrogates of natural habitats for corals and fish in Dubai, United Arab Emirates?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, J.; Bartholomew, A.; Usseglio, P.; Bauman, A.; Sale, P. F.

    2009-09-01

    Artificial reefs are often promoted as mitigating human impacts in coastal ecosystems and enhancing fisheries; however, evidence supporting their benefits is equivocal. Such structures must be compared with natural reefs in order to assess their performance, but past comparisons typically examined artificial structures that were too small, or were immature, relative to the natural reefs. We compared coral and fish communities on two large (>400,000 m3) and mature (>25 year) artificial reefs with six natural coral patches. Coral cover was higher on artificial reefs (50%) than in natural habitats (31%), but natural coral patches contained higher species richness (29 vs. 20) and coral diversity ( H' = 2.3 vs. 1.8). Multivariate analyses indicated strong differences between coral communities in natural and artificial habitats. Fish communities were sampled seasonally for 1 year. Multivariate fish communities differed significantly among habitat types in the summer and fall, but converged in the winter and spring. Univariate analysis indicated that species richness and abundance were stable throughout the year on natural coral patches but increased significantly in the summer on artificial reefs compared with the winter and spring, explaining the multivariate changes in community structure. The increased summer abundance on artificial reefs was mainly due to adult immigration. Piscivores were much more abundant in the fall than in the winter or spring on artificial reefs, but had low and stable abundance throughout the year in natural habitats. It is likely that the decreased winter and spring abundance of fish on the artificial reefs resulted from both predation and emigration. These results indicate that large artificial reefs can support diverse and abundant coral and fish communities. However, these communities differ structurally and functionally from those in natural habitats, and they should not be considered as replacements for natural coral and fish communities.

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

    OpenAIRE

    Gang Liu; Heron, Scott F.; C. Mark Eakin; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Maria Vega-Rodriguez; Liane S. Guild; Jacqueline L. De La Cour; Erick F. Geiger; Skirving, William J.; Timothy F. R. Burgess; Alan E. Strong; Andy Harris; Eileen Maturi; Alexander Ignatov; John Sapper

    2014-01-01

    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 reso...

  13. Vitamin B_<12> compounds in coral reef

    OpenAIRE

    Nishijima, Toshitaka

    1994-01-01

    The distribution of free- and bound-vitamin B_ in the waters of coral reef of Heron Island, Australia was investigated. The contents of total and free-vitamin B_ were fairly high: 3.2-23.8 ng/l and 1.98-22.4 ng/l, respectively. The bound-B_, which is a biologically non-active B_, ranged from O.77 to 2.31 ng/l and amounted to 5.8-47.9 % (mean: 23.5 %) of total B_. The content of free-B_ in the waters of coral reef was found to be close to the critical level which maximizes the growth of B_-req...

  14. 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.

  15. Comparative Effects of Different Disturbances in Coral Reef Habitats in Moorea, French Polynesia

    OpenAIRE

    Mélanie L. Trapon; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Penin, Lucie

    2011-01-01

    Degradation and loss of critical coastal habitats has significant ramifications for marine fisheries, such that knowledge of changes in habitat quality and quantity are fundamental to effective ecosystem management. This study explores changes in the structure of coral reef habitats, specifically changes in coral cover and composition, in Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess the independent and combined effects of different disturbances since 1979. During this period, reefs on the north coast ...

  16. Human activity selectively impacts the ecosystem roles of parrotfishes on coral reefs

    KAUST Repository

    Bellwood, David R.

    2011-11-16

    Around the globe, coral reefs and other marine ecosystems are increasingly overfished. Conventionally, studies of fishing impacts have focused on the population size and dynamics of targeted stocks rather than the broader ecosystem-wide effects of harvesting. Using parrotfishes as an example, we show how coral reef fish populations respond to escalating fishing pressure across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Based on these fish abundance data, we infer the potential impact on four key functional roles performed by parrotfishes. Rates of bioerosion and coral predation are highly sensitive to human activity, whereas grazing and sediment removal are resilient to fishing. Our results offer new insights into the vulnerability and resilience of coral reefs to the ever-growing human footprint. The depletion of fishes causes differential decline of key ecosystem functions, radically changing the dynamics of coral reefs and setting the stage for future ecological surprises. © 2011 The Royal Society.

  17. Changes to coral health and metabolic activity under oxygen deprivation

    OpenAIRE

    Murphy, James W.A.; Richmond, Robert H.

    2016-01-01

    On Hawaiian reefs, the fast-growing, invasive algae Gracilaria salicornia overgrows coral heads, restricting water flow and light, thereby smothering corals. Field data shows hypoxic conditions (dissolved oxygen (DO2) < 2 mg/L) occurring underneath algal mats at night, and concurrent bleaching and partial tissue loss of shaded corals. To analyze the impact of nighttime oxygen-deprivation on coral health, this study evaluated changes in coral metabolism through the exposure of corals to chroni...

  18. 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.

  19. Effects of cold stress and heat stress on coral fluorescence in reef-building corals

    OpenAIRE

    Melissa S. Roth; Deheyn, Dimitri D.

    2013-01-01

    Widespread temperature stress has caused catastrophic coral bleaching events that have been devastating for coral reefs. Here, we evaluate whether coral fluorescence could be utilized as a noninvasive assessment for coral health. We conducted cold and heat stress treatments on the branching coral Acropora yongei, and found that green fluorescent protein (GFP) concentration and fluorescence decreased with declining coral health, prior to initiation of bleaching. Ultimately, cold-treated corals...

  20. Spatial and seasonal reef calcification in corals and calcareous crusts in the central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Roik, Anna

    2015-12-14

    The existence of coral reef ecosystems critically relies on the reef carbonate framework produced by scleractinian corals and calcareous crusts (i.e., crustose coralline algae). While the Red Sea harbors one of the longest connected reef systems in the world, detailed calcification data are only available from the northernmost part. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured in situ calcification rates of primary and secondary reef builders in the central Red Sea. We collected data on the major habitat-forming coral genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora and also on calcareous crusts (CC) in a spatio-seasonal framework. The scope of the study comprised sheltered and exposed sites of three reefs along a cross-shelf gradient and over four seasons of the year. Calcification of all coral genera was consistent across the shelf and highest in spring. In addition, Pocillopora showed increased calcification at exposed reef sites. In contrast, CC calcification increased from nearshore, sheltered to offshore, exposed reef sites, but also varied over seasons. Comparing our data to other reef locations, calcification in the Red Sea was in the range of data collected from reefs in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific; however, Acropora calcification estimates were at the lower end of worldwide rates. Our study shows that the increasing coral cover from nearshore to offshore environments aligned with CC calcification but not coral calcification, highlighting the potentially important role of CC in structuring reef cover and habitats. While coral calcification maxima have been typically observed during summer in many reef locations worldwide, calcification maxima during spring in the central Red Sea indicate that summer temperatures exceed the optima of reef calcifiers in this region. This study provides a foundation for comparative efforts and sets a baseline to quantify impact of future environmental change in the central Red Sea.

  1. Spatial and seasonal reef calcification in corals and calcareous crusts in the central Red Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roik, Anna; Roder, Cornelia; Röthig, Till; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2016-06-01

    The existence of coral reef ecosystems critically relies on the reef carbonate framework produced by scleractinian corals and calcareous crusts (i.e., crustose coralline algae). While the Red Sea harbors one of the longest connected reef systems in the world, detailed calcification data are only available from the northernmost part. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured in situ calcification rates of primary and secondary reef builders in the central Red Sea. We collected data on the major habitat-forming coral genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora and also on calcareous crusts (CC) in a spatio-seasonal framework. The scope of the study comprised sheltered and exposed sites of three reefs along a cross-shelf gradient and over four seasons of the year. Calcification of all coral genera was consistent across the shelf and highest in spring. In addition, Pocillopora showed increased calcification at exposed reef sites. In contrast, CC calcification increased from nearshore, sheltered to offshore, exposed reef sites, but also varied over seasons. Comparing our data to other reef locations, calcification in the Red Sea was in the range of data collected from reefs in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific; however, Acropora calcification estimates were at the lower end of worldwide rates. Our study shows that the increasing coral cover from nearshore to offshore environments aligned with CC calcification but not coral calcification, highlighting the potentially important role of CC in structuring reef cover and habitats. While coral calcification maxima have been typically observed during summer in many reef locations worldwide, calcification maxima during spring in the central Red Sea indicate that summer temperatures exceed the optima of reef calcifiers in this region. This study provides a foundation for comparative efforts and sets a baseline to quantify impact of future environmental change in the central Red Sea.

  2. Evidence for multiple stressor interactions and effects on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ban, Stephen S; Graham, Nicholas A J; Connolly, Sean R

    2014-03-01

    Concern is growing about the potential effects of interacting multiple stressors, especially as the global climate changes. We provide a comprehensive review of multiple stressor interactions in coral reef ecosystems, which are widely considered to be one of the most sensitive ecosystems to global change. First, we synthesized coral reef studies that examined interactions of two or more stressors, highlighting stressor interactions (where one stressor directly influences another) and potentially synergistic effects on response variables (where two stressors interact to produce an effect that is greater than purely additive). For stressor-stressor interactions, we found 176 studies that examined at least 2 of the 13 stressors of interest. Applying network analysis to analyze relationships between stressors, we found that pathogens were exacerbated by more costressors than any other stressor, with ca. 78% of studies reporting an enhancing effect by another stressor. Sedimentation, storms, and water temperature directly affected the largest number of other stressors. Pathogens, nutrients, and crown-of-thorns starfish were the most-influenced stressors. We found 187 studies that examined the effects of two or more stressors on a third dependent variable. The interaction of irradiance and temperature on corals has been the subject of more research (62 studies, 33% of the total) than any other combination of stressors, with many studies reporting a synergistic effect on coral symbiont photosynthetic performance (n = 19). Second, we performed a quantitative meta-analysis of existing literature on this most-studied interaction (irradiance and temperature). We found that the mean effect size of combined treatments was statistically indistinguishable from a purely additive interaction, although it should be noted that the sample size was relatively small (n = 26). Overall, although in aggregate a large body of literature examines stressor effects on coral reefs and coral

  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. Multiple Stressors and Ecological Complexity Require A New Approach to Coral Reef Research

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Linwood Hagan Pendleton

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science reveals that these multiple stressors interact and may affect a multitude of physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors and pathways or outcomes (e.g. bleaching. Based on a critical review of the literature, we call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research that addresses this complexity and provides more realistic projections about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change. We believe similar approaches are needed for other ecosystems that face global environmental change.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  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.

  9. 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. PMID:26975420

  10. The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christopher H R Goatley

    Full Text Available 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Reassessing the trophic role of reef sharks as apex predators on coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Frisch, Ashley J.; Ireland, Matthew; Rizzari, Justin R.; Lönnstedt, Oona M.; Magnenat, Katalin A.; Mirbach, Christopher E.; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A.

    2016-06-01

    Apex predators often have strong top-down effects on ecosystem components and are therefore a priority for conservation and management. Due to their large size and conspicuous predatory behaviour, reef sharks are typically assumed to be apex predators, but their functional role is yet to be confirmed. In this study, we used stomach contents and stable isotopes to estimate diet, trophic position and carbon sources for three common species of reef shark ( Triaenodon obesus, Carcharhinus melanopterus and C. amblyrhynchos) from the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and evaluated their assumed functional role as apex predators by qualitative and quantitative comparisons with other sharks and large predatory fishes. We found that reef sharks do not occupy the apex of coral reef food chains, but instead have functional roles similar to those of large predatory fishes such as snappers, emperors and groupers, which are typically regarded as high-level mesopredators. We hypothesise that a degree of functional redundancy exists within this guild of predators, potentially explaining why shark-induced trophic cascades are rare or subtle in coral reef ecosystems. We also found that reef sharks participate in multiple food webs (pelagic and benthic) and are sustained by multiple sources of primary production. We conclude that large conspicuous predators, be they elasmobranchs or any other taxon, should not axiomatically be regarded as apex predators without thorough analysis of their diet. In the case of reef sharks, our dietary analyses suggest they should be reassigned to an alternative trophic group such as high-level mesopredators. This change will facilitate improved understanding of how reef communities function and how removal of predators (e.g., via fishing) might affect ecosystem properties.

  13. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    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.

  15. Coral mortality in reefs: The cause and effect; A central concern for reef monitoring

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.

    are destructive and long-lasting. The coral reef monitoring programme therefore aims at identifying reefs in various localities inorder to monitor them for various diseases and hence evolve strategies to eliminate the causes of diseases...

  16. 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...

  17. Coral reefs in crisis: reversing the biotic death spiral

    OpenAIRE

    Hay, Mark E.; Rasher, Douglas B

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are disappearing due to global warming, overfishing, ocean acidification, pollution, and interactions of these and other stresses. Ecologically informed management of fishes that facilitate corals by suppressing seaweeds may be our best bet for bringing reefs back from the brink of extinction.

  18. Sea level record obtained from submerged the Great Barrier Reef coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yokoyama, Y.; Esat, T. M.; Thompson, W. G.; Thomas, A. L.; Webster, J.; Miyairi, Y.; Matsuzaki, H.; Okuno, J.; Fallon, S.; Braga, J.; Humblet, M.; Iryu, Y.; Potts, D. C.

    2013-12-01

    The last glacial is an interesting time in climate history. The growth and decay of large northern hemisphere ice sheets acting in harmony with major changes in ocean circulation amplified climate variations and resulted in severe and rapid climate swings throughout this time. The variability is not limited to climate but includes rapid, large scale changes in sea level recorded by tropical corals (eg., Yokoyama and Esat, 2011 Oceanography). Research done in the last decade using corals provides a better picture of the climate system, though only a few samples older than 15 ka are available. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 325 drilled 34 holes across 17 sites in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia to recover fossil coral reef deposits. We recovered reef materials from water depth to 126 m that ranged in age from 9,000 years to older than 30,000 years ago covering several paleoclimatologically important events, including the Last Glacial Maximum. Two transects separated more than 600 km apart show an identical sea-level history thereby verifying the reliability of the records. Radiometrically dated corals and coralline algae indicate periods of rapid sea-level fluctuation at this time, likely due to complex interactions between ocean currents and ice sheets of the North Atlantic.

  19. Additive diversity partitioning of fish in a Caribbean coral reef undergoing shift transition.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Gilberto Acosta-González

    Full Text Available Shift transitions in dominance on coral reefs from hard coral cover to fleshy macroalgae are having negative effects on Caribbean coral reef communities. Data on spatiotemporal changes in biodiversity during these modifications are important for decision support for coral reef biodiversity protection. The main objective of this study is to detect the spatiotemporal patterns of coral reef fish diversity during this transition using additive diversity-partitioning analysis. We examined α, β and γ fish diversity from 2000 to 2010, during which time a shift transition occurred at Mahahual Reef, located in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Data on coral reef fish and benthic communities were obtained from 12 transects per geomorphological unit (GU in two GUs (reef slope and terrace over six years (2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010. Spatial analysis within and between the GUs indicated that the γ-diversity was primarily related to higher β-diversity. Throughout the six study years, there were losses of α, β and γ-diversity associated spatially with the shallow (reef slope and deeper (reef terrace GUs and temporally with the transition in cover from mound corals to fleshy macroalgae and boulder corals. Despite a drastic reduction in the number of species over time, β-diversity continues to be the highest component of γ-diversity. The shift transition had a negative effect on α, β and γ-diversity, primarily by impacting rare species, leading a group of small and less vulnerable fish species to become common and an important group of rare species to become locally extinct. The maintenance of fish heterogeneity (β-diversity over time may imply the abetment of vulnerability in the face of local and global changes.

  20. 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…

  1. 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.

  2. A cross-ocean comparison of responses to settlement cues in reef-building corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sarah W. Davies

    2014-04-01

    Full Text Available Caribbean coral reefs have deteriorated substantially over the past 30 years, which is broadly attributable to the effects of global climate change. In the same time, Indo-Pacific reefs maintain higher coral cover and typically recover rapidly after disturbances. This difference in reef resilience is largely due to much higher coral recruitment rates in the Pacific. We hypothesized that the lack of Caribbean recruitment might be explained by diminishing quality of settlement cues and/or impaired sensitivity of Caribbean coral larvae to those cues, relative to the Pacific. To evaluate this hypothesis, we assembled a collection of bulk samples of reef encrusting communities, mostly consisting of crustose coralline algae (CCA, from various reefs around the world and tested them as settlement cues for several coral species originating from different ocean provinces. Cue samples were meta-barcoded to evaluate their taxonomic diversity. We observed no systematic differences either in cue potency or in strength of larval responses depending on the ocean province, and no preference of coral larvae towards cues from the same ocean. Instead, we detected significant differences in cue preferences among coral species, even for corals originating from the same reef. We conclude that the region-wide disruption of the settlement process is unlikely to be the major cause of Caribbean reef loss. However, due to their high sensitivity to the effects of climate change, shifts in the composition of CCA-associated communities, combined with pronounced differences in cue preferences among coral species, could substantially influence future coral community structure.

  3. Rapid Recent Warming of Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Manzello, Derek P

    2015-01-01

    Coral reef decline in the Florida Keys has been well-publicized, controversial, and polarizing owing to debate over the causative agent being climate change versus overfishing. The recurrence of mass bleaching in 2014, the sixth event since 1987, prompted a reanalysis of temperature data. The summer and winter of 2014 were the warmest on record. The oldest known in-situ temperature record of any coral reef is from Hens and Chickens Reef (H&C) in the Florida Keys, which showed significant warming from 1975-2014. The average number of days ≥31.5 and 32(o)C per year increased 2670% and 2560%, respectively, from the mid-1990 s to present relative to the previous 20 years. In every year after 1992 and 1994, maximum daily average temperatures exceeded 30.5 and 31°C, respectively. From 1975-1994, temperatures were climate models and satellite-based sea temperatures. These data show that thermal stress is increasing and occurring on a near-annual basis on Florida Keys reefs due to ocean warming from climate change. PMID:26567884

  4. Development and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in U.S. jurisdictions.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bradley, Patricia; Fisher, William S; Bell, Heidi; Davis, Wayne; Chan, Valerie; LoBue, Charles; Wiltse, Wendy

    2009-03-01

    Coral reefs worldwide are declining at an alarming rate and are under continuous threat from both natural and anthropogenic environmental stressors. Warmer sea temperatures attributed to global climate change and numerous human activities at local scales place these valuable ecosystems at risk. Reefs provide numerous services, including shoreline protection, fishing, tourism and biological diversity, which are lost through physical damage, overfishing, and pollution. Pollution can be controlled under provisions of the Clean Water Act, but these options have not been fully employed to protect coral reefs. No U.S. jurisdiction has implemented coral reef biocriteria, which are narrative or quantitative water quality standards based on the condition of a biological resource or assemblage. The President's Ocean Action Plan directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop biological assessment methods and biological criteria for evaluating and maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. EPA has formed the Coral Reef Biocriteria Working Group (CRBWG) to foster development of coral reef biocriteria through focused research, evaluation and communication among Agency partners and U.S. jurisdictions. Ongoing CRBWG activities include development and evaluation of a rapid bioassessment protocol for application in biocriteria programs; development of a survey design and monitoring strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands; comprehensive reviews of biocriteria approaches proposed by states and territories; and assembly of data from a variety of monitoring programs for additional metrics. Guidance documents are being prepared to assist U.S. jurisdictions in reaching protective and defensible biocriteria.

  5. Hyperspectral data for coral reef monitoring. A case study: Fordate, Tanimbar, Indonesia

    OpenAIRE

    Sterckx, S.; Debruyn, W.; Vanderstraete, T.; Goossens, R.; Heijden, P. van der

    2005-01-01

    Coral reefs are endangered world-wide by devastating fishing methods (overfishing, dynamite and cyanide fishery), pollution, tourism, environmental changes and bleaching. The aim of this project is to monitor coral reefs and associated ecosystems (mangroves, sea-grass beds) by integrating different remote sensing data with spectral libraries and field measurements. The study area is Fordate, a small island to the northeast of Tanimbar, Indonesia. The monitoring system under development will e...

  6. Assessing threats from coral and crustose coralline algae disease on the reefs of New Caledonia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aeby, Greta S.; Tribollet, Aline; Lasne, Gregory; Work, Thierry M.

    2015-01-01

    The present study reports the results of the first quantitative survey of lesions on coral and crustose coralline algae (CCA) on reefs in the lagoon of New Caledonia. Surveys on inshore and offshore reefs were conducted at 13 sites in 2010, with 12 sites resurveyed in 2013. Thirty coral diseases affecting 15 coral genera were found, with low overall disease prevalence (<1%). This study extends the known distribution of growth anomalies to the coral genera Platygyraand Hydnophora, endolithic hypermycosis to Platygyra, Leptoria and Goniastrea and extends the geographic range of three CCA diseases. We found the first trematode infection in Porites outside of Hawaii. Disease prevalence differed among coral genera, with Porites having more lesions, and Acropora and Montipora fewer lesions, than expected on the basis of field abundance. Inshore reefs had a lower coral-colony density, species diversity and reduced CCA cover than did the offshore reefs. Disease prevalence was significantly higher on inshore reefs in 2013 than in 2010, but did not change on offshore reefs. The potential ecological impact of individual coral diseases was assessed using an integrative-scoring and relative-ranking scheme based on average frequency of occurrence, prevalence and estimated degree of virulence. The top-five ranked diseases were all tissue-loss diseases.

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    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 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....

  8. THE CONDITION OF CORAL REEFS IN SOUTH FLORIDA (2000) USING CORAL DISEASE AND BLEACHING AS INDICATORS

    Science.gov (United States)

    The destruction for coral reef habitats is occurring at unprecedented levels. Coral disease epizootics in the Southwestern Atlantic have lead to coral replacement by turf algae, prompting a call to classify some coral species as endangered. In addition, a massive bleaching event ...

  9. 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...

  10. Management of Bleached and Severely Damaged Coral Reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Westmacott, Susie; Teleki, Kristian; Wells, Sue; West, Jordan

    2000-01-01

    Coral reefs are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Rivalling terrestrial rainforests in their biological diversity, and providing major economic benefits from fisheries and tourism, coral reefs ecosystems are of global concern. In addition, reefs provide many vital functions in developing countries, especially in Small Island Developing States. Until recently, stresses caused by human activities – such as land-based sources of pollution and destructive...

  11. Hypoxia in paradise: widespread hypoxia tolerance in coral reef fishes.

    OpenAIRE

    Nilsson, Göran E.; Ostlund-Nilsson, Sara

    2004-01-01

    Using respirometry, we examined the hypoxia tolerance of 31 teleost fish species (seven families) inhabiting coral reefs at a 2-5 m depth in the lagoon at Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). All fishes studied maintained their rate of oxygen consumption down to relatively severe hypoxia (20-30% air saturation). Indeed, most fishes appeared unaffected by hypoxia until the oxygen level fell below 10% of air saturation. This, hitherto unrecognized, hypoxia tolerance among coral reef f...

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leggat, William; Bongaerts, Pim

    2016-01-01

    ABSTRACT 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. PMID:27460792

  13. 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.

  14. Ecological States and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Terry Done

    2002-12-01

    Full Text Available We review the evidence for multiple ecological states and the factors that create ecological resilience in coral reef ecosystems. There are natural differences among benthic communities along gradients of water temperature, light, nutrients, and organic matter associated with upwelling-downwelling and onshore-offshore systems. Along gradients from oligotrophy to eutrophy, plant-animal symbioses tend to decrease, and the abundance of algae and heterotrophic suspension feeders and the ratio of organic to inorganic carbon production tend to increase. Human influences such as fishing, increased organic matter and nutrients, sediments, warm water, and transportation of xenobiotics and diseases are common causes of a large number of recently reported ecological shifts. It is often the interaction of persistent and multiple synergistic disturbances that causes permanent ecological transitions, rather than the succession of individual short-term disturbances. For example, fishing can remove top-level predators, resulting in the ecological release of prey such as sea urchins and coral-eating invertebrates. When sea urchins are not common because of unsuitable habitat, recruitment limitations, and diseases, and when overfishing removes herbivorous fish, frondose brown algae can dominate. Terrigenous sediments carried onto reefs as a result of increased soil erosion largely promote the dominance of turf or articulated green algae. Elevated nutrients and organic matter can increase internal eroders of reef substratum and a mixture of filamentous algae. Local conservation actions that attempt to reduce fishing and terrestrial influences promote the high production of inorganic carbon that is necessary for reef growth. However, global climate change threatens to undermine such actions because of increased bleaching and mortality caused by warm-water anomalies, weakened coral skeletons caused by reduced aragonite availability in reef waters, and increased

  15. Comparative studies on the status of Indonesian coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Soekarno, R.

    Coral reefs are of great economic importance for Indonesia. Unfortunately these resources are suffering from increasing human pressure. Several factors may cause the degradation of coral reefs, including the consequences of several human activities. Activities indirectly affecting the quality of the reefs are land-based activities such as deforestation, agriculture intensification, industrialization and domestic waste disposal. Direct use of the reefs, e.g. by coral mining, fish blasting and other fishing and collecting activities, is of greater and more widespread importance. Therefore, a rational management of the reef resources is urgently needed. Management is impossible without simple means of monitoring the status of reefs. One factor, living coral cover, has been determined for several years in many areas, including those studied during the Snellius-II Expedition. This allowed a comparative study of several different areas, which showed that coral cover is often very useful as an indication of the quality of reefs. It was found that the diversity of reef fishes is correlated with the condition of reefs as determined by the percentage cover of living coral.

  16. 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

  17. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Stratified Random surveys (StRS) of coral demography (adult and juvenile corals) since 2013

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP), established by CRED and supported by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), is tasked with...

  18. Comparative Effects of Different Disturbances in Coral Reef Habitats in Moorea, French Polynesia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mélanie L. Trapon

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Degradation and loss of critical coastal habitats has significant ramifications for marine fisheries, such that knowledge of changes in habitat quality and quantity are fundamental to effective ecosystem management. This study explores changes in the structure of coral reef habitats, specifically changes in coral cover and composition, in Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess the independent and combined effects of different disturbances since 1979. During this period, reefs on the north coast have been subject to coral bleaching, severe tropical storms, as well as outbreaks of Acanthaster. Coral cover varied significantly among years, showing marked declines during some, but not all, disturbances. The greatest rates of coral loss coincided with outbreaks of A. planci. Moreover, successive disturbances have had differential effects among coral genera, leading to strong directional shifts in coral composition. Acropora is declining in abundance and coral assemblages are becoming increasingly dominated by Pocillopora and Porites. Observed changes in the cover and composition of corals are likely to have further significant impacts on the reef fish assemblages. Given that significant disturbances have been mostly associated with outbreaks of A. planci, rather than climate change, effective ecosystem management may reduce and/or delay impending effects of climate change.

  19. Evidence of an original scale development during the settlement phase of a coral reef fish (Acanthurus triostegus)

    OpenAIRE

    Frederich, Bruno; Lecchini, David; Vandewalle, Pierre

    2010-01-01

    As the majority of coral reef fishes, the Convict Surgeonfish Acanthurus triostegus (Acanthuridae) has a complex life cycle that involves an ontogenetic change in morphology, physiology and behaviour as its pelagic larval stage colonizes the benthic habitat. Few studies are devoted to the changes in skeleton during the settlement phase of coral reef fishes. In the present study, we highlighted an unexpected scales development in A. trisostegus just after the reef settlement. At settlement (t0...

  20. Hurricanes and coral bleaching linked to changes in coral recruitment in Tobago

    OpenAIRE

    Mallela, J.; Crabbe, M. J. C.

    2009-01-01

    Hurricanes and coral bleaching linked to changes in coral recruitment in Tobago correspondence: Corresponding author. (Mallela, J.) (Mallela, J.) Department of Life Sciences, The University of the West Indies - St Augustine--> , The West Indies--> - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (Mallela, J.) ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University - Canb...

  1. Patterns of scleractinian coral recruitment at Lord Howe Island, an isolated subtropical reef off eastern Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cameron, Kerry A.; Harrison, Peter L.

    2016-06-01

    Changing oceanic conditions, particularly ocean warming and altered currents, can affect the reproductive success of corals. Improving the knowledge of coral reproductive processes at the marginal range limits of coral reefs is important for understanding the ecology of subtropical coral communities and the potential for coral species to expand their ranges in higher latitudes in the future. The extent of live coral cover around subtropical Lord Howe Island (LHI; 31°33'S, 159°05'E) approximately 600 km off the east coast of Australia, has been relatively stable over the last several decades; however, shifts in dominant species in the adult coral community have been reported. To examine the potential influences of recent altered currents and shifts in dominant scleractinian taxa within this community, this study examined spatial and seasonal variation of coral larval settlement at different habitats within the LHI reef lagoon. The study also assessed whether the assemblage of scleractinian corals settling at LHI has changed between 1990-1991 and 2011-2012. Mean densities of coral settlement in 2011-2012 (230 spat m-2 yr-1) were consistent with those reported in 1990-1991 and in other regions. However, changes in taxonomic composition were apparent with increases in the proportion of Acroporidae spat at some sites. Settlement of all taxa was highest over summer months, whereas during winter only one coral spat (Pocilloporidae) was detected. Coral settlement was highest and most taxonomically diverse at sites closest to the reef crest, where mortality of settled spat was also greatest. Rates of settlement were high compared with juvenile densities; hence, post-settlement mortality is also likely to be high. Post-settlement processes, influenced by local environmental conditions, are likely to be very important in structuring the adult coral communities within the LHI reef lagoon.

  2. 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

    2016-01-01

    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 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. PMID:26740019

  3. Simulations of long-term community dynamics in coral reefs--how perturbations shape trajectories.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andreas Kubicek

    Full Text Available Tropical coral reefs feature extraordinary biodiversity and high productivity rates in oligotrophic waters. Due to increasing frequencies of perturbations--anthropogenic and natural--many reefs are under threat. Such perturbations often have devastating effects on these unique ecosystems and especially if they occur simultaneously and amplify each other's impact, they might trigger a phase shift and create irreversible conditions.We developed a generic, spatially explicit, individual-based model in which competition drives the dynamics of a virtual benthic reef community--comprised of scleractinian corals and algae--under different environmental settings. Higher system properties, like population dynamics or community composition arise through self-organization as emergent properties. The model was parameterized for a typical coral reef site at Zanzibar, Tanzania and features coral bleaching and physical disturbance regimes as major sources of perturbations. Our results show that various types and modes (intensities and frequencies of perturbations create diverse outcomes and that the switch from high diversity to single species dominance can be evoked by small changes in a key parameter. Here we extend the understanding of coral reef resilience and the identification of key processes, drivers and respective thresholds, responsible for changes in local situations. One future goal is to provide a tool which may aid decision making processes in management of coral reefs.

  4. Monitoring of coral reef ecosystems on the Island of Hawaii from 22 May 1999 to 25 May 1999 through the Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques (QUEST) project (NODC Accession 0000264)

    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...

  5. Thirty years of coral reef change in relation to coastal construction and increased sedimentation at Pelekane Bay, Hawaiʻi

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Yuko Stender

    2014-03-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are being critically impacted by anthropogenic processes throughout the world. Long term monitoring is essential to the understanding of coral reef response to human impacts and the effectiveness of corrective management efforts. Here we reevaluated a valuable coral reef baseline established in Pelekane Bay, Hawaiʻi during 1976 and subsequently resurveyed in 1996. During this time interval substantial impacts occurred followed by extensive corrective measures. Coral and fish communities showed dramatic declines from 1977 to 1996 due to massive harbor construction and suboptimal land management practices on the watershed. More recently, corrective measures in the form of watershed stabilization and fishing regulations have been implemented. Consequently our 2012 survey reveals that coral cover since 1996 has increased slightly accompanied by a significant increase in fish abundance, diversity, and evenness. This improvement can be attributed to lower fishing pressure since 1996 due to reduced shoreline access, tighter fishing regulations and increased monitoring of legal and illegal fishing activities. Stabilization of the coral community can be attributed partially to reduced sedimentation resulting from watershed restoration that included installation of sediment check dams, control of feral ungulates, controlled grazing and replanting of native vegetation. Insights into the mechanism that removes sediment from reefs was provided by a major storm event and a tsunami that remobilized and flushed out sediment deposits. The increase in herbivorous fishes probably played a role in reducing algal competition in favor of corals. The data suggest that the precipitous reef decline in this area has been arrested and offers support for the corrective actions previously undertaken.

  6. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Assessment of coral reef communities in U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) using the Coral Demographics method

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Coral Demographics method is one of two benthic surveys conducted in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program...

  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. 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.

  9. Improved water quality can ameliorate effects of climate change on corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wooldridge, Scott A; Done, Terence J

    2009-09-01

    The threats of wide-scale coral bleaching and reef demise associated with anthropogenic climate change are widely known. Moreover, rates of genetic adaptation and/or changes in the coral-zooxanthella partnerships are considered unlikely to be sufficiently fast for corals to acquire increased physiological resistance to increasing sea temperatures and declining pH. However, it has been suggested that coral reef resilience to climate change may be improved by good local management of coral reefs, including management of water quality. Here, using major data sets from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, we investigate geographic patterns of coral bleaching in 1998 and 2002 and outline a synergism between heat stress and nutrient flux as a major causative mechanism for those patterns. The study provides the first concrete evidence for the oft-expressed belief that improved coral reef management will increase the regional-scale survival prospects of coral reefs to global climate change.

  10. Post-glacial microbialite formation in coral reefs of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans

    OpenAIRE

    Heindel, K.; D. Birgel; Brunner, B.; V. Thiel; Westphal, H.; Gischler, E.; Ziegenbalg, S. B.; Cabioch, Guy; Sjovall, P.; Peckmann, J.

    2012-01-01

    The occurrence of microbialites in post-glacial coral reefs has been interpreted to reflect an ecosystem response to environmental change. The greater thickness of microbialites in reefs with a volcanic hinterland compared to thinner microbial crusts in reefs with a non-volcanic hinterland led to the suggestion that fertilization of the reefal environment by chemical weathering of volcanic rocks stimulated primary productivity and microbialite formation. Using a molecular and isotopic approac...

  11. Recovery of an isolated coral reef system following severe disturbance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gilmour, James P; Smith, Luke D; Heyward, Andrew J; Baird, Andrew H; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2013-04-01

    Coral reef recovery from major disturbance is hypothesized to depend on the arrival of propagules from nearby undisturbed reefs. Therefore, reefs isolated by distance or current patterns are thought to be highly vulnerable to catastrophic disturbance. We found that on an isolated reef system in north Western Australia, coral cover increased from 9% to 44% within 12 years of a coral bleaching event, despite a 94% reduction in larval supply for 6 years after the bleaching. The initial increase in coral cover was the result of high rates of growth and survival of remnant colonies, followed by a rapid increase in juvenile recruitment as colonies matured. We show that isolated reefs can recover from major disturbance, and that the benefits of their isolation from chronic anthropogenic pressures can outweigh the costs of limited connectivity. PMID:23559247

  12. Ocean acidification accelerates dissolution of experimental coral reef communities

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    S. Comeau

    2014-08-01

    Full Text Available Ocean acidification (OA poses a severe threat to tropical coral reefs, yet much of what is know about these effects comes from individual corals and algae incubated in isolation under high pCO2. Studies of similar effects on coral reef communities are scarce. To investigate the response of coral reef communities to OA, we used large outdoor flumes in which communities composed of calcified algae, corals, and sediment were combined to match the percentage cover of benthic communities in the shallow back reef of Moorea, French Polynesia. Reef communities in the flumes were exposed to ambient (~400 μatm and high pCO2 (~1300 μatm for 8 weeks, and calcification rates measured for the constructed communities including the sediments. Community calcification was depressed 59% under high pCO2, with sediment dissolution explaining ~50% of this decrease; net calcification of corals and calcified algae remained positive, but was reduced 29% under elevated pCO2. These results show that despite the capacity of coral reef calcifiers to maintain positive net accretion of calcium carbonate under OA conditions, reef communities might switch to net dissolution as pCO2 increases, particularly at night, due to enhanced sediment dissolution.

  13. 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.

  14. Red Sea coral reef trajectories over 2 decades suggest increasing community homogenization and decline in coral size.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Bernhard M Riegl

    Full Text Available Three independent line intercept transect surveys on northern Red Sea reef slopes conducted in 1988/9 and 1997/8 in Egypt and from 2006-9 in Saudi Arabia were used to compare community patterns and coral size. Coral communities showed scale-dependent variability, highest at fine spatial and taxonomic scale (species-specific within and among reef patterns. At coarser scale (generic pattern across regions, patterns were more uniform (regionally consistent generic dominance on differently exposed reef slopes and at different depths. Neither fine- nor coarse-scale patterns aligned along the sampled 1700 km latitudinal gradient. Thus, a latitudinal gradient that had been described earlier from comparable datasets, separating the Red Sea into three faunistic zones, was no longer apparent. This may indicate subtle changes in species distributions. Coral size, measured as corrected average intercept of corals in transects, had decreased from 1997 to 2009, after having remained constant from 1988 to 1997. Recruitment had remained stable (∼12 juvenile corals per m(2. Size distributions had not changed significantly but large corals had declined over 20 years. Thus, data from a wide range of sites taken over two decades support claims by others that climate change is indeed beginning to show clear effects on Red Sea reefs.

  15. Fringing coral reef condition decline: assembling the puzzle of human impact associated to coastal development.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Garza-Perez, J. R.; Lopez-Patoni, A.; Naranjo-Garcia, M. J.

    2014-12-01

    Coral cover at Akumal fringing coral reef decreased 50% in a 13 yr. period, while the adjacent coastal zone increased its human-modified surface (associated to urban-tourist development) in 192%. In the same period, the number of local residents only increased 20% (1088 to1362) but the visitors did in 50% from ca. 200,000 to ca. 300,000. In this coastal zone, the phreatic acts as a storage of nutrients and pollutants from sources related to human activity, thus having a chronic run-off towards the reef, with acute episodes during the rainy season, specially during the anomalous rainy season of 2013. Using videotransects for monitoring the benthic reef components, changes were detected: from 2000 to 2013 the algae cover increased 166%, the reef condition and the reef structure indexes decreased in 50%, and coral diseases incidence increased 25% after a spike increment of 150% in 2010. The role of anthropogenic-stress indicators (population, modified land area, nutrients) was explored along reef condition indicators (reef structure and diversity indexes, topographic complexity, benthic cover and coral diseases incidence) via spatial analysis and multivariate statistics. Spatial patterns of the change in reef condition derived from high-resolution satellite imagery also provided insight for the stressors analysis and their relationships along the study period. Stress indicators (land-modified area and population) are correlated to decreases in coral cover and in reef structure. Direct stressors as sedimentation, nutrients and pollutants seem to be related to the decrease in overall reef condition, although time-series data is lacking; the contextual interpretation of their effects, paired with benthic condition characteristics suggest a strong relationship between these stressors and the decrease in the condition of the reef.

  16. Eco-geomorphic processes that maintain a small coral reef island: Ballast Island in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kayanne, Hajime; Aoki, Kenji; Suzuki, Takuya; Hongo, Chuki; Yamano, Hiroya; Ide, Yoichi; Iwatsuka, Yuudai; Takahashi, Kenya; Katayama, Hiroyuki; Sekimoto, Tsunehiro; Isobe, Masahiko

    2016-10-01

    Landform changes in Ballast Island, a small coral reef island in the Ryukyu Islands, were investigated by remote sensing analysis and a field survey. The area of the island almost doubled after a mass coral bleaching event in 1998. Coral branches generated by the mass mortality and broken by waves were delivered and stocked on a reef flat and accumulated to expand the area of the island. In 2012 high waves generated by typhoons also changed the island's topography. Overall, the island moved in the downdrift direction of the higher waves. Waves impacting both sides of the island piled up a large volume of coral gravels above the high-tide level. Eco-geomorphic processes, including a supply of calcareous materials from the corals on the same reef especially during stormy wave conditions, were key factors in maintaining the dynamic topographic features of this small coral reef island.

  17. Reproductive periodicity and steroid hormone profiles in the sex-changing coral-reef fish, Plectropomus leopardus

    Science.gov (United States)

    Frisch, A. J.; McCormick, M. I.; Pankhurst, N. W.

    2007-03-01

    The reproductive biology of coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, from the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) was investigated by correlating gonadal condition with plasma levels of gonadal steroids. Female fish were found to be regressed from mid-summer to early spring, after which rapid and cyclical increases in gonado-somatic index ( I G), maximum oocyte diameter (MOD) and plasma concentrations of estradiol-17β and testosterone were detected. Male fish, in contrast, commenced recrudescence slightly earlier in winter and responded with less dramatic increases in both I G and plasma concentrations of testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone. The mode of oocyte development was multiple group-synchronous, and cyclical fluctuations in reproductive parameters ( I G, MOD and gonadal steroid concentrations) were synchronized with new-moon lunar phases. It is likely, therefore, that individual P. leopardus have the capacity to spawn on multiple occasions, with lunar periodicity. However, evidence suggests that early bouts of reproduction may be more important in terms of reproductive investment than subsequent bouts later in the same season. It is concluded that patterns of gametogenesis and steroidogenesis in P. leopardus are similar to the patterns displayed by other tropical groupers, suggesting that management regimes and propagation protocols developed for these fishes may also be appropriate for use with P. leopardus.

  18. Water quality and herbivory interactively drive coral-reef recovery patterns in American Samoa.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Peter Houk

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Compared with a wealth of information regarding coral-reef recovery patterns following major disturbances, less insight exists to explain the cause(s of spatial variation in the recovery process. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study quantifies the influence of herbivory and water quality upon coral reef assemblages through space and time in Tutuila, American Samoa, a Pacific high island. Widespread declines in dominant corals (Acropora and Montipora resulted from cyclone Heta at the end of 2003, shortly after the study began. Four sites that initially had similar coral reef assemblages but differential temporal dynamics four years following the disturbance event were classified by standardized measures of 'recovery status', defined by rates of change in ecological measures that are known to be sensitive to localized stressors. Status was best predicted, interactively, by water quality and herbivory. Expanding upon temporal trends, this study examined if similar dependencies existed through space; building multiple regression models to identify linkages between similar status measures and local stressors for 17 localities around Tutuila. The results highlighted consistent, interactive interdependencies for coral reef assemblages residing upon two unique geological reef types. Finally, the predictive regression models produced at the island scale were graphically interpreted with respect to hypothesized site-specific recovery thresholds. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Cumulatively, our study purports that moving away from describing relatively well-known patterns behind recovery, and focusing upon understanding causes, improves our foundation to predict future ecological dynamics, and thus improves coral reef management.

  19. 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...... a large amount of variation for a range of biological and ecological processes. Such an approach can accelerate our understanding of coral ecology and our ability to protect critically threatened global ecosystems....

  20. Evaluation of coral reef carbonate production models at a global scale

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    N. S. Jones

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Calcification by coral reef communities is estimated to account for half of all carbonate produced in shallow water environments and more than 25% of the total carbonate buried in marine sediments globally. Production of calcium carbonate by coral reefs is therefore an important component of the global carbon cycle. It is also threatened by future global warming and other global change pressures. Numerical models of reefal carbonate production are essential for understanding how carbonate deposition responds to environmental conditions including future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but these models must first be evaluated in terms of their skill in recreating present day calcification rates. Here we evaluate four published model descriptions of reef carbonate production in terms of their predictive power, at both local and global scales, by comparing carbonate budget outputs with independent estimates. We also compile available global data on reef calcification to produce an observation-based dataset for the model evaluation. The four calcification models are based on functions sensitive to combinations of light availability, aragonite saturation (Ωa and temperature and were implemented within a specifically-developed global framework, the Global Reef Accretion Model (GRAM. None of the four models correlated with independent rate estimates of whole reef calcification. The temperature-only based approach was the only model output to significantly correlate with coral-calcification rate observations. The absence of any predictive power for whole reef systems, even when consistent at the scale of individual corals, points to the overriding importance of coral cover estimates in the calculations. Our work highlights the need for an ecosystem modeling approach, accounting for population dynamics in terms of mortality and recruitment and hence coral cover, in estimating global reef carbonate budgets. In addition, validation of reef carbonate

  1. Coral reef diseases in the Atlantic-Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Weil, Ernesto

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are the jewels of the tropical oceans. They boast the highest diversity of all marine ecosystems, aid in the development and protection of other important, productive coastal marine communities, and have provided millions of people with food, building materials, protection from storms, recreation and social stability over thousands of years, and more recently, income, active pharmacological compounds and other benefits. These communities have been deteriorating rapidly in recent times. The continuous emergence of coral reef diseases and increase in bleaching events caused in part by high water temperatures among other factors underscore the need for intensive assessments of their ecological status and causes and their impact on coral reefs.

  2. Excess algal symbionts increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cunning, Ross; Baker, Andrew C.

    2013-03-01

    Rising ocean temperatures associated with global climate change are causing mass coral bleaching and mortality worldwide. Understanding the genetic and environmental factors that mitigate coral bleaching susceptibility may aid local management efforts to help coral reefs survive climate change. Although bleaching susceptibility depends partly on the genetic identity of a coral's algal symbionts, the effect of symbiont density, and the factors controlling it, remain poorly understood. By applying a new metric of symbiont density to study the coral Pocillopora damicornis during seasonal warming and acute bleaching, we show that symbiont cell ratio density is a function of both symbiont type and environmental conditions, and that corals with high densities are more susceptible to bleaching. Higher vulnerability of corals with more symbionts establishes a quantitative mechanistic link between symbiont density and the molecular basis for coral bleaching, and indicates that high densities do not buffer corals from thermal stress, as has been previously suggested. These results indicate that environmental conditions that increase symbiont densities, such as nutrient pollution, will exacerbate climate-change-induced coral bleaching, providing a mechanistic explanation for why local management to reduce these stressors will help coral reefs survive future warming.

  3. 76 FR 41764 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-07-15

    ... Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit AGENCY: National... artificial reefs without additional authorization. A report on the project findings is due at the end of...

  4. Effects of Protection and Sediment Stress on Coral Reefs in Saint Lucia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bégin, Chantale; Schelten, Christiane K; Nugues, Maggy M; Hawkins, Julie; Roberts, Callum; Côté, Isabelle M

    2016-01-01

    The extent to which Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) benefit corals is contentious. On one hand, MPAs could enhance coral growth and survival through increases in herbivory within their borders; on the other, they are unlikely to prevent disturbances, such as terrestrial runoff, that originate outside their boundaries. We examined the effect of spatial protection and terrestrial sediment on the benthic composition of coral reefs in Saint Lucia. In 2011 (10 to 16 years after MPAs were created), we resurveyed 21 reefs that had been surveyed in 2001 and analyzed current benthic assemblages as well as changes in benthic cover over that decade in relation to protection status, terrestrial sediment influence (measured as the proportion of terrigenous material in reef-associated sediment) and depth. The cover of all benthic biotic components has changed significantly over the decade, including a decline in coral and increase in macroalgae. Protection status was not a significant predictor of either current benthic composition or changes in composition, but current cover and change in cover of several components were related to terrigenous content of sediment deposited recently. Sites with a higher proportion of terrigenous sediment had lower current coral cover, higher macroalgal cover and greater coral declines. Our results suggest that terrestrial sediment is an important factor in the recent degradation of coral reefs in Saint Lucia and that the current MPA network should be complemented by measures to reduce runoff from land.

  5. Poorly cemented coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific: Possible insights into reef development in a high-CO2 world

    OpenAIRE

    Manzello, Derek P.; Kleypas, Joan A.; Budd, David A.; Eakin, C. Mark; Glynn, Peter W.; Langdon, Chris

    2008-01-01

    Ocean acidification describes the progressive, global reduction in seawater pH that is currently underway because of the accelerating oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2. Acidification is expected to reduce coral reef calcification and increase reef dissolution. Inorganic cementation in reefs describes the precipitation of CaCO3 that acts to bind framework components and occlude porosity. Little is known about the effects of ocean acidification on reef cementation and whether changes in cementa...

  6. 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.

  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

    2014-02-01

    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. PMID:24634720

  8. 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.

  9. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    K.L. Barott; B Rodriguez-Mueller; M. Youle; K.L. Marhaver; M.J.A. Vermeij; J.E. Smith; F.L. Rohwer

    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 reef-buil

  10. Dynamics of hydrogen peroxide in a coral reef: Sources and sinks

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shaked, Yeala; Armoza-Zvuloni, Rachel

    2013-12-01

    dynamics of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was studied in the fringing coral reef off the coast of Eilat, Red Sea. Diurnal changes in H2O2 concentrations in the reef lagoon were typical of photochemically produced species. During the daytime H2O2 accumulated in the lagoon at low tide and exceeded open water concentrations by 100-250 nM. Elevated H2O2 decay kinetics (termed hereafter antioxidant activity) were also recorded in the lagoon at low tide. The observed antioxidant activities were high enough to moderate H2O2 accumulation in the lagoon. In pursuit of the antioxidant source, the ability of corals to release antioxidant activity to their surrounding water was examined in both natural and laboratory settings. Water collected in situ from surfaces of individual corals and next to a coral knoll contained high antioxidant activity. Incubation experiments revealed that many Red Sea corals release antioxidant activity to their external milieu. Besides serving a potential antioxidant source to the reef system, the antioxidant activity detected on coral surfaces enabled corals to lower H2O2 concentrations in their vicinity. The ability of corals to offset exogenous H2O2 was validated in incubations with Stylophora pistillata in the absence of mixing. Conversely, corals subjected to mixing in a beaker were found to release H2O2, implying that corals may act as both a sink and a source for H2O2 in the reef. This newly described ability of corals to change H2O2 dynamics by releasing both H2O2 and antioxidants may bare important implications for coral physiology and interactions with the environment.

  11. 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...

  12. Biological impacts of oil pollution: coral reefs. V. 3

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Coral reefs are the largest structures made by living things and exist as extremely productive ecosystems in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Their location in nearshore waters means that there is a potential danger to corals from tanker accidents, refinery operations, oil exploration and production. There are now a number of published scientific papers concerning the effects of oils on corals, but results are not entirely consistent. This report summarizes and interprets the findings, and provides background information on the structure and ecology of coral reefs. Clean-up options and their implications are discussed in the light of the latest evidence from case histories and field experiments. (UK)

  13. Validation of Reef-Scale Thermal Stress Satellite Products for Coral Bleaching Monitoring

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Scott F. Heron

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available Satellite monitoring of thermal stress on coral reefs has become an essential component of reef management practice around the world. A recent development by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch (NOAA CRW program provides daily global monitoring at 5 km resolution—at or near the scale of most coral reefs. In this paper, we introduce two new monitoring products in the CRW Decision Support System for coral reef management: Regional Virtual Stations, a regional synthesis of thermal stress conditions, and Seven-day Sea Surface Temperature (SST Trend, describing recent changes in temperature at each location. We describe how these products provided information in support of management activities prior to, during and after the 2014 thermal stress event in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI. Using in situ survey data from this event, we undertake the first quantitative comparison between 5 km satellite monitoring products and coral bleaching observations. Analysis of coral community characteristics, historical temperature conditions and thermal stress revealed a strong influence of coral biodiversity in the patterns of observed bleaching. This resulted in a model based on thermal stress and generic richness that explained 97% of the variance in observed bleaching. These findings illustrate the importance of using local benthic characteristics to interpret the level of impact from thermal stress exposure. In an era of continuing climate change, accurate monitoring of thermal stress and prediction of coral bleaching are essential for stakeholders to direct resources to the most effective management actions to conserve coral reefs.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    K. R. N. Anthony

    2013-02-01

    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 (pn and calcification (gn. Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia contribute to changes in seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa. Results of flume studies 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 four different benthic 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 potentially sand.

  15. Please mind the gap - Visual census and cryptic biodiversity assessment at central Red Sea coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pearman, John K; Anlauf, Holger; Irigoien, Xabier; Carvalho, Susana

    2016-07-01

    Coral reefs harbor the most diverse assemblages in the ocean, however, a large proportion of the diversity is cryptic and, therefore, undetected by standard visual census techniques. Cryptic and exposed communities differ considerably in species composition and ecological function. This study compares three different coral reef assessment protocols: i) visual benthic reef surveys: ii) visual census of Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) plates; and iii) metabarcoding techniques of the ARMS (including sessile, 106-500 μm and 500-2000 μm size fractions), that target the cryptic and exposed communities of three reefs in the central Red Sea. Visual census showed a dominance of Cnidaria (Anthozoa) and Rhodophyta on the reef substrate, while Porifera, Bryozoa and Rhodophyta were the most abundant groups on the ARMS plates. Metabarcoding, targeting the 18S rRNA gene, significantly increased estimates of the species diversity (p reefs. Furthermore, metabarcoding detected microbial eukaryotic groups such as Syndiniophyceae, Mamiellophyceae and Bacillariophyceae as relevant components of the sessile fraction. ANOSIM analysis showed that the three reef sites showed no differences based on the visual census data. Metabarcoding showed a higher sensitivity for identifying differences between reef communities at smaller geographic scales than standard visual census techniques as significant differences in the assemblages were observed amongst the reefs. Comparison of the techniques showed no similar patterns for the visual techniques while the metabarcoding of the ARMS showed similar patterns amongst fractions. Establishing ARMS as a standard tool in reef monitoring will not only advance our understanding of local processes and ecological community response to environmental changes, as different faunal components will provide complementary information but also improve the estimates of biodiversity in coral reef benthic communities. This study lays the foundations

  16. Coral Reef Functioning Along a Cross‐shelf Environmental Gradient: Abiotic and Biotic Drivers of Coral Reef Growth in the Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Roik, Anna

    2016-06-01

    Despite high temperature and salinity conditions that challenge reef growth in other oceans, the Red Sea maintains amongst the most biodiverse and productive coral reefs worldwide. It is therefore an important region for the exploration of coral reef functioning, and expected to contribute valuable insights towards the understanding of coral reefs in challenging environments. This dissertation assessed the baseline variability of in situ abiotic conditions (temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and total alkalinity, among others) in the central Red Sea and highlights these environmental regimes in a global context. Further, focus was directed on biotic factors (biofilm community dynamics, calcification and bioerosion), which underlie reef growth processes and are crucial for maintaining coral reef functioning and ecosystem services. Using full‐year data from an environmental cross‐shelf gradient, the dynamic interplay of abiotic and biotic factors was investigated. In situ observations demonstrate that central Red Sea coral reefs were highly variable on spatial, seasonal, and diel scales, and exhibited comparably high temperature, high salinity, and low dissolved oxygen levels, which on the one hand reflect future ocean predictions. Under these conditions epilithic bacterial and algal assemblages were mainly driven by variables (i.e., temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen) which are predicted to change strongly in the progression of global climate change, implying an influential bottom up effect on reef‐building communities. On the other hand, measured alkalinity and other carbonate chemistry value were close to the estimates of preindustrial global ocean surface water and thus in favor of reef growth processes. Despite this beneficial carbonate chemistry, calcification and carbonate budgets in the reefs were not higher than in other coral reef regions. In this regard, seasonal calcification patterns suggest that summer temperatures may be exceeding the optima

  17. Climate warming, marine protected areas and the ocean-scale integrity of coral reef ecosystems.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas A J Graham

    Full Text Available Coral reefs have emerged as one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate variation and change. While the contribution of a warming climate to the loss of live coral cover has been well documented across large spatial and temporal scales, the associated effects on fish have not. Here, we respond to recent and repeated calls to assess the importance of local management in conserving coral reefs in the context of global climate change. Such information is important, as coral reef fish assemblages are the most species dense vertebrate communities on earth, contributing critical ecosystem functions and providing crucial ecosystem services to human societies in tropical countries. Our assessment of the impacts of the 1998 mass bleaching event on coral cover, reef structural complexity, and reef associated fishes spans 7 countries, 66 sites and 26 degrees of latitude in the Indian Ocean. Using Bayesian meta-analysis we show that changes in the size structure, diversity and trophic composition of the reef fish community have followed coral declines. Although the ocean scale integrity of these coral reef ecosystems has been lost, it is positive to see the effects are spatially variable at multiple scales, with impacts and vulnerability affected by geography but not management regime. Existing no-take marine protected areas still support high biomass of fish, however they had no positive affect on the ecosystem response to large-scale disturbance. This suggests a need for future conservation and management efforts to identify and protect regional refugia, which should be integrated into existing management frameworks and combined with policies to improve system-wide resilience to climate variation and change.

  18. Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cinner, Joshua E.; Huchery, Cindy; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; McClanahan, Tim R.; Maina, Joseph; Maire, Eva; Kittinger, John N.; Hicks, Christina C.; Mora, Camilo; Allison, Edward H.; D'Agata, Stephanie; Hoey, Andrew; Feary, David A.; Crowder, Larry; Williams, Ivor D.; Kulbicki, Michel; Vigliola, Laurent; Wantiez, Laurent; Edgar, Graham; Stuart-Smith, Rick D.; Sandin, Stuart A.; Green, Alison L.; Hardt, Marah J.; Beger, Maria; Friedlander, Alan; Campbell, Stuart J.; Holmes, Katherine E.; Wilson, Shaun K.; Brokovich, Eran; Brooks, Andrew J.; Cruz-Motta, Juan J.; Booth, David J.; Chabanet, Pascale; Gough, Charlie; Tupper, Mark; Ferse, Sebastian C. A.; Sumaila, U. Rashid; Mouillot, David

    2016-07-01

    Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world’s coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the ‘outliers’—places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers they are exposed to. Here we compile data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide and develop a Bayesian hierarchical model to generate expectations of how standing stocks of reef fish biomass are related to 18 socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions. We identify 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots among our global survey of coral reefs, defined as sites that have biomass levels more than two standard deviations from expectations. Importantly, bright spots are not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure; they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystem resources is high, potentially providing insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Conversely, dark spots are not necessarily the sites with the lowest absolute biomass and even include some remote, uninhabited locations often considered near pristine. We surveyed local experts about social, institutional, and environmental conditions at these sites to reveal that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Alternatively, dark spots are characterized by intensive capture and storage technology and a recent history of environmental shocks. Our results suggest that investments in strengthening fisheries

  19. Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cinner, Joshua E; Huchery, Cindy; MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; McClanahan, Tim R; Maina, Joseph; Maire, Eva; Kittinger, John N; Hicks, Christina C; Mora, Camilo; Allison, Edward H; D'Agata, Stephanie; Hoey, Andrew; Feary, David A; Crowder, Larry; Williams, Ivor D; Kulbicki, Michel; Vigliola, Laurent; Wantiez, Laurent; Edgar, Graham; Stuart-Smith, Rick D; Sandin, Stuart A; Green, Alison L; Hardt, Marah J; Beger, Maria; Friedlander, Alan; Campbell, Stuart J; Holmes, Katherine E; Wilson, Shaun K; Brokovich, Eran; Brooks, Andrew J; Cruz-Motta, Juan J; Booth, David J; Chabanet, Pascale; Gough, Charlie; Tupper, Mark; Ferse, Sebastian C A; Sumaila, U Rashid; Mouillot, David

    2016-07-21

    Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world’s coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them3. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the ‘outliers’—places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers they are exposed to. Here we compile data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide and develop a Bayesian hierarchical model to generate expectations of how standing stocks of reef fish biomass are related to 18 socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions. We identify 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots among our global survey of coral reefs, defined as sites that have biomass levels more than two standard deviations from expectations. Importantly, bright spots are not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure; they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystem resources is high, potentially providing insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Conversely, dark spots are not necessarily the sites with the lowest absolute biomass and even include some remote, uninhabited locations often considered near pristine6. We surveyed local experts about social, institutional, and environmental conditions at these sites to reveal that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Alternatively, dark spots are characterized by intensive capture and storage technology and a recent history of environmental shocks. Our results suggest that investments in strengthening fisheries

  20. 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

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:26940983

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Benjamin D Walther

    Full Text Available 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.

  2. Coral-associated bacterial communities on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ceh, Janja; Van Keulen, Mike; Bourne, David G

    2011-01-01

    Coral-associated microbial communities from three coral species (Pocillopora damicornis, Acropora tenuis and Favites abdita) were examined every 3 months (January, March, June, October) over a period of 1 year on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Tissue from corals was collected throughout the year and additional sampling of coral mucus and seawater samples was performed in January. Tissue samples were also obtained in October from P. damicornis coral colonies on Rottnest Island off Perth, 1200 km south of Ningaloo Reef, to provide comparisons between coral-microbial associates in different locations. The community structures of the coral-associated microorganisms were analysed using phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries, which demonstrated highly diverse microbial profiles among all the coral species sampled. Principal component analysis revealed that samples grouped according to time and not species, indicating that coral-microbial associations may be a result of environmental drivers such as oceanographic characteristics, benthic community structure and temperature. Tissue samples from P. damicornis at Rottnest Island revealed similarities in bacteria to the samples at Ningaloo Reef. This study highlights that coral-associated microbial communities are highly diverse; however, the complex interactions that determine the stability of these associations are not necessarily dependent on coral host specificity. PMID:21044100

  3. Validation of Reef-Scale Thermal Stress Satellite Products for Coral Bleaching Monitoring

    OpenAIRE

    Heron, Scott F.; Lyza Johnston; Gang Liu; Erick F. Geiger; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Jacqueline L. De La Cour; Steven Johnson; Ryan Okano; David Benavente; Timothy F. R. Burgess; John Iguel; Denise I. Perez; Skirving, William J.; Alan E. Strong; Kyle Tirak

    2016-01-01

    Satellite monitoring of thermal stress on coral reefs has become an essential component of reef management practice around the world. A recent development by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch (NOAA CRW) program provides daily global monitoring at 5 km resolution—at or near the scale of most coral reefs. In this paper, we introduce two new monitoring products in the CRW Decision Support System for coral reef management: Regional Virtual Stations, a reg...

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew G Bauman

    Full Text Available 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 <1%. Other, unidentifiable families represented 10% of the 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

  5. 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

  6. 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...

  7. 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...

  8. Status of the Coral Reefs of the Samoan Archipelago

    Data.gov (United States)

    US Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior — The objectives of this study are twofold: (1) To determine the current status of coral reef fishes and their habitat throughout the Samoan Archipelago. This will be...

  9. A Survey of Coral Reefs in South China Sea Completed

    Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (English)

    2006-01-01

    @@ An investigation of coral reefs in South China Sea has recently completed by CAS scientists at South China Sea Institute of Oceanography (SCSIO) in Guangzhou. The compilation and analysis of the obtained data is now under way.

  10. Baselines and degradation of coral reefs in the Northern Line Islands.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Stuart A Sandin

    Full Text Available Effective conservation requires rigorous baselines of pristine conditions to assess the impacts of human activities and to evaluate the efficacy of management. Most coral reefs are moderately to severely degraded by local human activities such as fishing and pollution as well as global change, hence it is difficult to separate local from global effects. To this end, we surveyed coral reefs on uninhabited atolls in the northern Line Islands to provide a baseline of reef community structure, and on increasingly populated atolls to document changes associated with human activities. We found that top predators and reef-building organisms dominated unpopulated Kingman and Palmyra, while small planktivorous fishes and fleshy algae dominated the populated atolls of Tabuaeran and Kiritimati. Sharks and other top predators overwhelmed the fish assemblages on Kingman and Palmyra so that the biomass pyramid was inverted (top-heavy. In contrast, the biomass pyramid at Tabuaeran and Kiritimati exhibited the typical bottom-heavy pattern. Reefs without people exhibited less coral disease and greater coral recruitment relative to more inhabited reefs. Thus, protection from overfishing and pollution appears to increase the resilience of reef ecosystems to the effects of global warming.

  11. 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.

  12. Mesophotic depths as refuge areas for fishery-targeted species on coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lindfield, Steven J.; Harvey, Euan S.; Halford, Andrew R.; McIlwain, Jennifer L.

    2016-03-01

    Coral reefs are subjected to unprecedented levels of disturbance with population growth and climate change combining to reduce standing coral cover and stocks of reef fishes. Most of the damage is concentrated in shallow waters (herbivores prevailed in similar biomass and species richness to 60 m. Compared to shallow marine protected areas, there was clearly greater biomass of fishery-targeted species accrued in mesophotic depths. Particularly some species typically harvested by depth-limited fishing methods (e.g., spearfishing), such as the endangered humphead wrasse Cheilinus undulatus, were found in greater abundance on deeper reefs. We conclude that mesophotic depths provide essential fish habitat and refuge for fishery-targeted species, representing crucial zones for fishery management and research into the resilience of disturbed coral reef ecosystems.

  13. Poorly cemented coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific: possible insights into reef development in a high-CO2 world.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Manzello, Derek P; Kleypas, Joan A; Budd, David A; Eakin, C Mark; Glynn, Peter W; Langdon, Chris

    2008-07-29

    Ocean acidification describes the progressive, global reduction in seawater pH that is currently underway because of the accelerating oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO(2). Acidification is expected to reduce coral reef calcification and increase reef dissolution. Inorganic cementation in reefs describes the precipitation of CaCO(3) that acts to bind framework components and occlude porosity. Little is known about the effects of ocean acidification on reef cementation and whether changes in cementation rates will affect reef resistance to erosion. Coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) are poorly developed and subject to rapid bioerosion. Upwelling processes mix cool, subthermocline waters with elevated pCO(2) (the partial pressure of CO(2)) and nutrients into the surface layers throughout the ETP. Concerns about ocean acidification have led to the suggestion that this region of naturally low pH waters may serve as a model of coral reef development in a high-CO(2) world. We analyzed seawater chemistry and reef framework samples from multiple reef sites in the ETP and found that a low carbonate saturation state (Omega) and trace abundances of cement are characteristic of these reefs. These low cement abundances may be a factor in the high bioerosion rates previously reported for ETP reefs, although elevated nutrients in upwelled waters may also be limiting cementation and/or stimulating bioerosion. ETP reefs represent a real-world example of coral reef growth in low-Omega waters that provide insights into how the biological-geological interface of coral reef ecosystems will change in a high-CO(2) world. PMID:18663220

  14. A study on the recovery of Tobago's coral reefs following the 2010 mass bleaching event.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Buglass, Salome; Donner, Simon D; Alemu I, Jahson B

    2016-03-15

    In 2010, severe coral bleaching was observed across the southeastern Caribbean, including the island of Tobago, where coral reefs are subject to sedimentation and high nutrient levels from terrestrial runoff. Here we examine changes in corals' colony size distributions over time (2010-2013), juvenile abundances and sedimentation rates for sites across Tobago following the 2010 bleaching event. The results indicated that since pre-bleaching coral cover was already low due to local factors and past disturbance, the 2010 event affected only particular susceptible species' population size structure and increased the proportion of small sized colonies. The low density of juveniles (mean of 5.4±6.3 juveniles/m(-2)) suggests that Tobago's reefs already experienced limited recruitment, especially of large broadcasting species. The juvenile distribution and the response of individual species to the bleaching event support the notion that Caribbean reefs are becoming dominated by weedy non-framework building taxa which are more resilient to disturbances.

  15. Evaluation of coral reef carbonate production models at a global scale

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, N. S.; Ridgwell, A.; Hendy, E. J.

    2015-03-01

    Calcification by coral reef communities is estimated to account for half of all carbonate produced in shallow water environments and more than 25% of the total carbonate buried in marine sediments globally. Production of calcium carbonate by coral reefs is therefore an important component of the global carbon cycle; it is also threatened by future global warming and other global change pressures. Numerical models of reefal carbonate production are needed for understanding how carbonate deposition responds to environmental conditions including atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the past and into the future. However, before any projections can be made, the basic test is to establish model skill in recreating present-day calcification rates. Here we evaluate four published model descriptions of reef carbonate production in terms of their predictive power, at both local and global scales. We also compile available global data on reef calcification to produce an independent observation-based data set for the model evaluation of carbonate budget outputs. The four calcification models are based on functions sensitive to combinations of light availability, aragonite saturation (Ωa) and temperature and were implemented within a specifically developed global framework, the Global Reef Accretion Model (GRAM). No model was able to reproduce independent rate estimates of whole-reef calcification, and the output from the temperature-only based approach was the only model to significantly correlate with coral-calcification rate observations. The absence of any predictive power for whole reef systems, even when consistent at the scale of individual corals, points to the overriding importance of coral cover estimates in the calculations. Our work highlights the need for an ecosystem modelling approach, accounting for population dynamics in terms of mortality and recruitment and hence calcifier abundance, in estimating global reef carbonate budgets. In addition, validation of reef

  16. Microbial responses and coral reef resilience to organic matter inputs

    OpenAIRE

    Garren, Melissa Sara

    2011-01-01

    Little attention has been given to the small-scale mechanisms relevant to microbial processes that determine the resilience of individual corals to the stress of organic matter (OM) inputs. Such mechanisms may be a critical link for predicting larger scale patterns of reef resilience. The research presented here aims to develop methods necessary to elucidate these processes and to explore the in situ responses of microbial assemblages on coral reefs experiencing persistent OM enrichment. A ne...

  17. Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) from coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific

    OpenAIRE

    Rebeca Granja Fernández; María Dinorah Herrero Pérezrul; Ramón Andrés López Pérez; Luis Hernández; Fabián Rodríguez Zaragoza; Robert Wallace Jones; Rubén Pineda López

    2014-01-01

    Abstract There are numerous and important coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific, but scarce studies of brittle stars conducted in these ecosystems. In this regard, this work provides the first annotated checklist of brittle stars associated with coral communities and reefs in the Mexican Pacific and an illustrated key to identify the species. We also provide taxonomic descriptions, spatial and bathymetric distributions and some important remarks of the species. We report a total of 14 species of...

  18. ReefSAM - Reef Sedimentary Accretion Model: A new 3D coral reef evolution model/simulator

    Science.gov (United States)

    Barrett, Samuel; Webster, Jody

    2013-04-01

    Coral reefs show characteristic morphological patterns (e.g. coral dominated margins with detrital carbonate dominated lagoons/back-reef) and temporal development (e.g. Hopley et al. 2007). While the processes which lead to predictable patterns on a range of scales have been discussed qualitatively, a full quantitative understanding of the range of processes and parameters involved requires modelling. Previous attempts to model complex Holocene reef systems (i.e. One Tree Reef, GBR - Barrett and Webster 2012) using a carbonate stratigraphic forward model (Carbonate3D - Warrlich et al. 2002) identified a number of important but unsimulated processes and potential model improvements. ReefSAM has been written from scratch in Matlab using these findings and experiences from using Carbonate3D. It simulates coralgal accretion and carbonate sand production and transport. Specific improvements include: 1. a more complex hydrodynamic model based on wave refraction and incorporating vertical (depth) and lateral (substrate dependent) variations in transport energy and erosion. 2. a complex reef growth model incorporating depth, wave energy/turbidity and substrate composition. 3. Paleo-water depth, paleo-wave energy and bio-zone (combination of paleo-water depth and wave energy) model outputs allowing coralgal habitat changes through time and space to be simulated and compared to observational data. The model is compared to the well studied One Tree Reef - tests similar to those undertaken in Barrett and Webster 2012 with Carbonate3D are presented. Model development coincides with plans for further intensive drilling at One Tree Reef (mid 2013) providing an opportunity to test the model predictively. The model is still in active development. References: Barrett, S.J., Webster, J.M.,2012. Holocene evolution of the Great Barrier Reef: Insights from 3D numerical modelling. Sedimentary Geology 265-266, 56-71. Warrlich, G.M.D., Waltham, D.A., Bosence D.W.J., 2002. Quantifying the

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. Local extinction of a coral reef fish explained by inflexible prey choice

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brooker, R. M.; Munday, P. L.; Brandl, S. J.; Jones, G. P.

    2014-12-01

    While global extinctions of marine species are infrequent, local extinctions are becoming common. However, the role of habitat degradation and resource specialisation in explaining local extinction is unknown. On coral reefs, coral bleaching is an increasingly frequent cause of coral mortality that can result in dramatic changes to coral community composition. Coral-associated fishes are often specialised on a limited suite of coral species and are therefore sensitive to these changes. This study documents the local extinction of a corallivorous reef fish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris, following a mass bleaching event that altered the species composition of associated coral communities. Local extinction only occurred on reefs that also completely lost a key prey species, Acropora millepora, even though coral cover remained high. In an experimental test, fish continued to select bleached A. millepora over the healthy, but less-preferred prey species that resisted bleaching. These results suggest that behavioural inflexibility may limit the ability of specialists to cope with even subtle changes to resource availability.

  2. Oxygen consumption by a coral reef sponge.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hadas, Eran; Ilan, Micha; Shpigel, Muki

    2008-07-01

    Oxygen consumption of the Red Sea coral reef sponge Negombata magnifica was measured using both incubation and steady-state methods. The latter method was found to be the more reliable because sponge activity remained stable over time. Oxygen consumption rate was measured during three levels of sponge activity: full activity, reduced activity and basal activity (starved). It was found that the active oxygen consumption rate of N. magnifica averaged 37.3+/-4.6 nmol O2 min(-1) g(-1) wet mass, which is within the upper range reported for other tropical marine sponges. Fully active N. magnifica individuals consumed an average of 41.8+/-3.2 nmol O2 min(-1) g(-1) wet mass. The mean basal respiration rate was 20.2+/-1.2 nmol O2 min(-1) g(-1) wet mass, which is 51.6+/-2.5% of the active respiration rate. Therefore, the oxygen used for water pumping was calculated to be at most 10.6+/-1.8 nmol O2 min(-1) g(-1) wet mass, which is 25.1+/-3.6% of the total respiration. Combined oxygen used for maintenance and water pumping activity was calculated to be 30.8 nmol O2 min(-1) g(-1) wet mass, which is approximately 74% of the sponge's total oxygen requirement. The remaining oxygen is directed to other physiological activities, mainly the energy requirement of growth. These findings suggest that only a relatively minor amount of energy is potentially available for growth, and thus might be a factor in controlling the growth rate of N. magnifica in oligotrophic coral reefs.

  3. 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.

  4. Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wiedenmann, Jörg; D'Angelo, Cecilia; Smith, Edward G.; Hunt, Alan N.; Legiret, François-Eric; Postle, Anthony D.; Achterberg, Eric P.

    2013-02-01

    Mass coral bleaching, resulting from the breakdown of coral-algal symbiosis has been identified as the most severe threat to coral reef survival on a global scale. Regionally, nutrient enrichment of reef waters is often associated with a significant loss of coral cover and diversity. Recently, increased dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations have been linked to a reduction of the temperature threshold of coral bleaching, a phenomenon for which no mechanistic explanation is available. Here we show that increased levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen in combination with limited phosphate concentrations result in an increased susceptibility of corals to temperature- and light-induced bleaching. Mass spectrometric analyses of the algal lipidome revealed a marked accumulation of sulpholipids under these conditions. Together with increased phosphatase activities, this change indicates that the imbalanced supply of dissolved inorganic nitrogen results in phosphate starvation of the symbiotic algae. Based on these findings we introduce a conceptual model that links unfavourable ratios of dissolved inorganic nutrients in the water column with established mechanisms of coral bleaching. Notably, this model improves the understanding of the detrimental effects of coastal nutrient enrichment on coral reefs, which is urgently required to support knowledge-based management strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.

  5. COLLABORATIVE GUIDE: A REEF MANAGER'S GUIDE TO CORAL BLEACHING

    Science.gov (United States)

    Innovative strategies to conserve the world's coral reefs are included in a new guide released today by NOAA, and the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, with author contributions from a variety of international partners from government agencies, non-governmental...

  6. Anticipative management for coral reef ecosystem services in the 21st century.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Alice; Harborne, Alastair R; Brown, Christopher J; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Castro, Carolina; Chollett, Iliana; Hock, Karlo; Knowland, Cheryl A; Marshell, Alyssa; Ortiz, Juan C; Razak, Tries; Roff, George; Samper-Villarreal, Jimena; Saunders, Megan I; Wolff, Nicholas H; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-02-01

    Under projections of global climate change and other stressors, significant changes in the ecology, structure and function of coral reefs are predicted. Current management strategies tend to look to the past to set goals, focusing on halting declines and restoring baseline conditions. Here, we explore a complementary approach to decision making that is based on the anticipation of future changes in ecosystem state, function and services. Reviewing the existing literature and utilizing a scenario planning approach, we explore how the structure of coral reef communities might change in the future in response to global climate change and overfishing. We incorporate uncertainties in our predictions by considering heterogeneity in reef types in relation to structural complexity and primary productivity. We examine 14 ecosystem services provided by reefs, and rate their sensitivity to a range of future scenarios and management options. Our predictions suggest that the efficacy of management is highly dependent on biophysical characteristics and reef state. Reserves are currently widely used and are predicted to remain effective for reefs with high structural complexity. However, when complexity is lost, maximizing service provision requires a broader portfolio of management approaches, including the provision of artificial complexity, coral restoration, fish aggregation devices and herbivore management. Increased use of such management tools will require capacity building and technique refinement and we therefore conclude that diversification of our management toolbox should be considered urgently to prepare for the challenges of managing reefs into the 21st century.

  7. 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

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:26940983

  8. Homogeneity of coral reef communities across 8 degrees of latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roberts, May B; Jones, Geoffrey P; McCormick, Mark I; Munday, Philip L; Neale, Stephen; Thorrold, Simon; Robitzch, Vanessa S N; Berumen, Michael L

    2016-04-30

    Coral reef communities between 26.8 °N and 18.6 °N latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea were surveyed to provide baseline data and an assessment of fine-scale biogeography of communities in this region. Forty reefs along 1100 km of coastline were surveyed using depth-stratified visual transects of fish and benthic communities. Fish abundance and benthic cover data were analyzed using multivariate approaches to investigate whether coral reef communities differed with latitude. A total of 215 fish species and 90 benthic categories were recorded on the surveys. There were no significant differences among locations in fish abundance, species richness, or among several diversity indices. Despite known environmental gradients within the Red Sea, the communities remained surprisingly similar. The communities do, however, exhibit subtle changes across this span of reefs that likely reflect the constrained distributions of several species of reef fish and benthic fauna. PMID:26608504

  9. Homogeneity of coral reef communities across 8 degrees of latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Roberts, May B.

    2015-11-20

    Coral reef communities between 26.8°N and 18.6°N latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea were surveyed to provide baseline data and an assessment of fine-scale biogeography of communities in this region. Forty reefs along 1100 km of coastline were surveyed using depth-stratified visual transects of fish and benthic communities. Fish abundance and benthic cover data were analyzed using multivariate approaches to investigate whether coral reef communities differed with latitude. A total of 215 fish species and 90 benthic categories were recorded on the surveys. There were no significant differences among locations in fish abundance, species richness, or among several diversity indices. Despite known environmental gradients within the Red Sea, the communities remained surprisingly similar. The communities do, however, exhibit subtle changes across this span of reefs that likely reflect the constrained distributions of several species of reef fish and benthic fauna.

  10. Trans-Atlantic rafting by the brooding reef coral

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    2012-01-01

    Specimens 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 by the Gulf Stream a

  11. Comparative Effects of Different Disturbances in Coral Reef Habitats in Moorea, French Polynesia

    OpenAIRE

    Mélanie L. Trapon; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Lucie Penin

    2011-01-01

    Degradation and loss of critical coastal habitats has significant ramifications for marine fisheries, such that knowledge of changes in habitat quality and quantity are fundamental to effective ecosystem management. This study explores changes in the structure of coral reef habitats, specifically changes in coral cover and composition, in Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess the independent and combined effects of different disturbances since 1979. During this period, r...

  12. 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.

  13. Conservation Planning for Coral Reefs Accounting for Climate Warming Disturbances.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rafael A Magris

    Full Text Available Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST data, integrating both observed (1985-2009 and projected (2010-2099 time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatially- and temporally-explicit data; and (ii by strategically allocating different forms of spatial management (MPA types intended to mitigate warming impacts and also enhance future resistance to climate warming.

  14. Conservation Planning for Coral Reefs Accounting for Climate Warming Disturbances.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Magris, Rafael A; Heron, Scott F; Pressey, Robert L

    2015-01-01

    Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs) is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST) data, integrating both observed (1985-2009) and projected (2010-2099) time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events) and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming) and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i) by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatially- and temporally-explicit data; and (ii) by strategically allocating different forms of spatial management (MPA types) intended to mitigate warming impacts and also enhance future resistance to climate warming.

  15. Conservation Planning for Coral Reefs Accounting for Climate Warming Disturbances

    Science.gov (United States)

    Magris, Rafael A.; Heron, Scott F.; Pressey, Robert L.

    2015-01-01

    Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs) is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST) data, integrating both observed (1985–2009) and projected (2010–2099) time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events) and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming) and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i) by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatially- and temporally-explicit data; and (ii) by strategically allocating different forms of spatial management (MPA types) intended to mitigate warming impacts and also enhance future resistance to climate warming. PMID:26535586

  16. Ocean acidification and warming will lower coral reef resilience

    OpenAIRE

    Anthony, Kenneth R. N.; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; Peter J Mumby; Marshall, Paul A; Cao, Long; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2011-01-01

    Ocean warming and acidification from increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 represent major global threats to coral reefs, and are in many regions exacerbated by local-scale disturbances such as overfishing and nutrient enrichment. Our understanding of global threats and local-scale disturbances on reefs is growing, but their relative contribution to reef resilience and vulnerability in the future is unclear. Here, we analyse quantitatively how different combinations of CO2 and fishing pressure...

  17. Biogeography and Change among Regional Coral Communities across the Western Indian Ocean

    OpenAIRE

    McClanahan, Timothy R.; Mebrahtu Ateweberhan; Darling1, Emily S.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Nyawira A Muthiga

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are biodiverse ecosystems structured by abiotic and biotic factors operating across many spatial scales. Regional-scale interactions between climate change, biogeography and fisheries management remain poorly understood. Here, we evaluated large-scale patterns of coral communities in the western Indian Ocean after a major coral bleaching event in 1998. We surveyed 291 coral reef sites in 11 countries and over 30° of latitude between 2004 and 2011 to evaluate variations in coral co...

  18. Through bleaching and tsunami : coral reef recovery in the Maldives

    OpenAIRE

    Morri, C.; M. MONTEFALCONE; Lasagna, R.; Gatti, G.; A. Rovere; Parravicini, Valeriano; Baldelli, G.; Colantoni, P.; C.N. BIANCHI

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are degrading worldwide, but little information exists on their previous conditions for most regions of the world. Since 1989, we have been studying the Maldives, collecting data before, during and after the bleaching and mass mortality event of 1998. As early as 1999, many newly settled colonies were recorded. Recruits shifted from a dominance of massive and encrusting corals in the early stages of recolonisation towards a dominance of Acropora and Pocillopora by 2009. Coral cove...

  19. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-buidling coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    OpenAIRE

    Camille eDaniels; Sebastian eBaumgarten; Lauren K Yum; Michell, Craig T.; Till eBayer; Chatchanit eArif; Cornelia eRoder; Ernesto eWeil; Christian Robert Voolstra

    2015-01-01

    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 surv...

  20. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    OpenAIRE

    Daniels, Camille A.; Baumgarten, Sebastian; Yum, Lauren K.; Michell, Craig T.; Bayer, Till; Arif, Chatchanit; Roder, Cornelia; Weil, Ernesto; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2015-01-01

    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 surv...

  1. SIMAC: development and implementation of a coral reef monitoring network in Colombia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Garzón-Ferreira, Jaime; Rodríguez-Ramírez, Alberto

    2010-05-01

    Significant coral reef decline has been observed in Colombia during the last three decades. However, due to the lack of monitoring activities, most of the information about health and changes was fragmentary or inadequate. To develop an expanded nation-wide reef-monitoring program, in 1998 INVEMAR (Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras: "Colombian Institute of Marine and Coastal Research") designed and implemented SIMAC (Sistema Nacional de Monitorco de Arrecifes Coralinos en Colombia: "National Monitoring System of Coral Reefs in Colombia") with the participation of other institutions. By the end of 2003 the SIMAC network reached more than twice its initial size, covering ten reef areas (seven in the Caribbean and three in the Pacific), 63 reef sites and 263 permanent transects. SIMAC monitoring continued without interruption until 2008 and should persist in the long-term. The SIMAC has a large database and consists basically of water quality measurements (temperature, salinity, turbidity) and a yearly estimation of benthic reef cover, coral disease prevalence, gorgonian density, abundance of important mobile invertebrates, fish diversity and abundance of important fish species. A methods manual is available in the Internet. Data and results of SIMAC have been widely circulated through a summary report published annually since 2000 for the Colombian environmental agencies and the general public, as well as numerous national and international scientific papers and presentations at meetings. SIMAC information has contributed to support regional and global reef monitoring networks and databases (i.e. CARICOMP, GCRMN, ReefBase).

  2. Rising sea level may cause decline of fringing coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Field, Michael E.; Ogston, Andrea S.; Storlazzi, Curt D.

    2011-08-01

    Coral reefs are major marine ecosystems and critical resources for marine diversity and fisheries. These ecosystems are widely recognized to be at risk from a number of stressors, and added to those in the past several decades is climate change due to anthropogenically driven increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Most threatening to most coral reefs are elevated sea surface temperatures and increased ocean acidity [e.g., Kleypas et al., 1999; Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2007], but sea level rise, another consequence of climate change, is also likely to increase sedimentary processes that potentially interfere with photosynthesis, feeding, recruitment, and other key physiological processes (Figure 1). Anderson et al. [2010] argue compellingly that potential hazardous impacts to coastlines from 21st-century sea level rise are greatly underestimated, particularly because of the rapid rate of rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that sea level will rise in the coming century (1990-2090) by 2.2-4.4 millimeters per year, when projected with little contribution from melting ice [Meehl et al., 2007]. New studies indicate that rapid melting of land ice could substantially increase the rate of sea level rise [Grinsted et al., 2009; Milne et al., 2009].

  3. 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

  4. Topography and biological noise determine acoustic detectability on coral reefs

    KAUST Repository

    Cagua, Edgar F.

    2013-08-19

    Acoustic telemetry is an increasingly common tool for studying the movement patterns, behavior and site fidelity of marine organisms, but to accurately interpret acoustic data, the variability, periodicity and range of detectability between acoustic tags and receivers must be understood. The relative and interactive effects of topography with biological and environmental noise have not been quantified on coral reefs. We conduct two long-term range tests (1- and 4-month duration) on two different reef types in the central Red Sea to determine the relative effect of distance, depth, topography, time of day, wind, lunar phase, sea surface temperature and thermocline on detection probability. Detectability, as expected, declines with increasing distance between tags and receivers, and we find average detection ranges of 530 and 120 m, using V16 and V13 tags, respectively, but the topography of the reef can significantly modify this relationship, reducing the range by ~70 %, even when tags and receivers are in line-of-sight. Analyses that assume a relationship between distance and detections must therefore be used with care. Nighttime detection range was consistently reduced in both locations, and detections varied by lunar phase in the 4-month test, suggesting a strong influence of biological noise (reducing detection probability up to 30 %), notably more influential than other environmental noises, including wind-driven noise, which is normally considered important in open-water environments. Analysis of detections should be corrected in consideration of the diel patterns we find, and range tests or sentinel tags should be used for more than 1 month to quantify potential changes due to lunar phase. Some studies assume that the most usual factor limiting detection range is weather-related noise; this cannot be extrapolated to coral reefs. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

  5. Observed decadal changes in extent of mangroves and coral reefs in southern Gulf of Kachchh using principal component analysis and geo-spatial techniques: A case study

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Prerna, R.; Naidu, V.S.; Soniya, S.; Gajbhiye, S.N.

    between 0.5 to 4 m and thus were mostly of the bushy and dwarf type (Anonymous, 2011 a). (a) (b) Fig 2 (a) Avicennia marina located at 22.481˚ N 69.227˚ E along the EOL pipeline corridor in the Narara Island (b) Dense mangroves Ceriops tagal located at 22... in sea water, oil spillage, manual displacement of corals for laying underwater pipelines etc. are just a few causes for reduction in the coral reef development. The study area lies extremely close to major industrial centers which have, over the years...

  6. Baseline Assessment of Coral Reefs in Timor-Leste from 2012 to 2014

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S Department of State, and NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program the PIFSC Coral Reef...

  7. Mechanical vulnerability explains size-dependent mortality of reef corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Madin, Joshua S; Baird, Andrew H; Dornelas, Maria; Connolly, Sean R

    2014-01-01

    Understanding life history and demographic variation among species within communities is a central ecological goal. Mortality schedules are especially important in ecosystems where disturbance plays a major role in structuring communities, such as coral reefs. Here, we test whether a trait-based, mechanistic model of mechanical vulnerability in corals can explain mortality schedules. Specifically, we ask whether species that become increasingly vulnerable to hydrodynamic dislodgment as they grow have bathtub-shaped mortality curves, whereas species that remain mechanically stable have decreasing mortality rates with size, as predicted by classical life history theory for reef corals. We find that size-dependent mortality is highly consistent between species with the same growth form and that the shape of size-dependent mortality for each growth form can be explained by mechanical vulnerability. Our findings highlight the feasibility of predicting assemblage-scale mortality patterns on coral reefs with trait-based approaches. PMID:24894390

  8. Coral reef monitoring in the Iles Eparses, Mozambique Channel (2011-2013)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chabanet, P.; Bigot, L.; Nicet, J.-B.; Durville, P.; Massé, L.; Mulochau, T.; Russo, C.; Tessier, E.; Obura, D.

    2016-04-01

    Monitoring of coral reefs has become a major tool for understanding how they are changing, and for managing them in a context of increasing degradation of coastal ecosystems. The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) has near-global coverage, but there are few remote sites free of direct human impact that can serve as reference sites. This study provides baseline data for the French Iles Eparses in the Mozambique Channel, Western Indian Ocean (WIO), whose coral reefs are little known owing to their limited accessibility, and have been free from fishing pressure for over 20 years. Surveys of coral reef health and fish community structure were undertaken at four of the islands (Europa, Bassas da India, Juan de Nova and Glorieuses) in 2011-2013. Monitoring was conducted using standardized GCRMN methods for benthos and fish communities, at the highest taxonomic level. Benthic cover showed a latitudinal gradient, with higher coral cover and conversely lower algae cover (60% and 14% respectively) in the south of the Mozambique Channel. This could be due to the geomorphology of the islands, the latitudinal temperature gradient, and/or the history of chronic stress and bleaching events during the last decades. Fish also showed a latitudinal gradient with higher diversity in the north, in a center of diversity for the western Indian Ocean already recognized for corals. An exceptional biomass fish was recorded (approximately 3500 kg/ha excluding sharks, compared to a maximum of 1400 kg/ha elsewhere in the WIO). The presence of large predators and sharks in all the islands as well as the absence of fleshy benthic algae were indicators of the good health of the reef systems. Nevertheless, these islands are beginning to experience illegal fishing, particularly in the north of the Mozambique Channel, demonstrating their vulnerability to exploitation and the need to protect them as reference sites for coral reef studies, including of climate change impacts, for the region

  9. First description of the neuro-anatomy of a larval coral reef fish Amphiprion ocellaris.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jacob, H; Metian, M; Brooker, R M; Duran, E; Nakamura, N; Roux, N; Masanet, P; Soulat, O; Lecchini, D

    2016-09-01

    The present study described the neuro-anatomy of a larval coral reef fish Amphiprion ocellaris and hypothesized that morphological changes during the transition from the oceanic environment to a reef environment (i.e. recruitment) have the potential to be driven by changes to environmental conditions and associated changes to cognitive requirements. Quantitative comparisons were made of the relative development of three specific brain areas (telencephalon, mesencephalon and cerebellum) between 6 days post-hatch (dph) larvae (oceanic phase) and 11 dph (at reef recruitment). The results showed that 6 dph larvae had at least two larger structures (telencephalon and mesencephalon) than 11 dph larvae, while the size of cerebellum remained identical. These results suggest that the structure and organization of the brain may reflect the cognitive demands at every stage of development. This study initiates analysis of the relationship between behavioural ecology and neuroscience in coral reef fishes. PMID:27346539

  10. Caribbean mesophotic coral ecosystems are unlikely climate change refugia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith, Tyler B; Gyory, Joanna; Brandt, Marilyn E; Miller, William J; Jossart, Jonathan; Nemeth, Richard S

    2016-08-01

    Deeper coral reefs experience reduced temperatures and light and are often shielded from localized anthropogenic stressors such as pollution and fishing. The deep reef refugia hypothesis posits that light-dependent stony coral species at deeper depths are buffered from thermal stress and will avoid bleaching-related mass mortalities caused by increasing sea surface temperatures under climate change. This hypothesis has not been tested because data collection on deeper coral reefs is difficult. Here we show that deeper (mesophotic) reefs, 30-75 m depth, in the Caribbean are not refugia because they have lower bleaching threshold temperatures than shallow reefs. Over two thermal stress events, mesophotic reef bleaching was driven by a bleaching threshold that declines 0.26 °C every +10 m depth. Thus, the main premise of the deep reef refugia hypothesis that cooler environments are protective is incorrect; any increase in temperatures above the local mean warmest conditions can lead to thermal stress and bleaching. Thus, relatively cooler temperatures can no longer be considered a de facto refugium for corals and it is likely that many deeper coral reefs are as vulnerable to climate change as shallow water reefs. PMID:26648385

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. Digital still transect images from the Hawaii Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (CRAMP) in 2004 (NODC Accession 0037908)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — These data were collected to understand the ecology of Hawaiian coral reefs in relation to other geographic areas and to monitor change at each given site. They are...

  14. Turning up the Heat: Increasing Temperature and Coral Bleaching at the High Latitude Coral Reefs of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands

    OpenAIRE

    David A Abdo; Bellchambers, Lynda M.; Scott N Evans

    2012-01-01

    BACKGROUND: Coral reefs face increasing pressures particularly when on the edge of their distributions. The Houtman Abrolhos Islands (Abrolhos) are the southernmost coral reef system in the Indian Ocean, and one of the highest latitude reefs in the world. These reefs have a unique mix of tropical and temperate marine fauna and flora and support 184 species of coral, dominated by Acropora species. A significant La Niña event during 2011 produced anomalous conditions of increased temperature al...

  15. Coral reefs as buffers during the 2009 South Pacific tsunami, Upolu Island, Samoa

    Science.gov (United States)

    McAdoo, Brian G.; Ah-Leong, Joyce Samuelu; Bell, Lui; Ifopo, Pulea; Ward, Juney; Lovell, Edward; Skelton, Posa

    2011-07-01

    The coral reef bordering the coastline of Samoa affected by the 29 September 2009 tsunami provides a variety of ecosystem services — from nurseries for fisheries and inshore source of food for local communities, to aesthetics for tourists, and the width of the lagoon may have been a factor in reducing the onshore wave height. To understand the complex interactions between the onshore human population and the offshore coral, we formed an interdisciplinary survey team to document the effects the tsunami had on the nearshore coral reef, and how these changes might affect local inhabitants. The scale of reef damage varied from severe, where piles of freshly-killed coral fragments and mortality were present, to areas that exhibited little impact, despite being overrun by the tsunami. We found that many coral colonies were impacted by tsunami-entrained coral debris, which had been ripped up and deposited on the fore reef by repeated cyclones and storm waves. In other places, large surface area tabular coral sustained damage as the tsunami velocity increased as it was funneled through channels. Areas that lacked debris entrained by the waves as well as areas in the lee of islands came through relatively unscathed, with the exception of the delicate corals that lived on a sandy substrate. In the lagoon on the south coast with its steep topography, coral colonies were damaged by tsunami-generated debris from onshore entrained in the backwash. Despite the potential for severe tsunami-related damage, there were no noticeable decreases in live coral cover between successive surveys at two locations, although algal cover was higher with the increased nutrients mobilized by the tsunami. While there was an immediate decrease in fish takes in the month following the tsunami, when supporting services were likely impacted, both volume and income have rapidly increased to pre-tsunami levels. Long-term monitoring should be implemented to determine if nursery services were affected.

  16. Technical Note: Artificial coral reef mesocosms for ocean acidification investigations

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    J. Leblud

    2014-11-01

    Full Text Available The design and evaluation of replicated artificial mesocosms are presented in the context of a thirteen month experiment on the effects of ocean acidification on tropical coral reefs. They are defined here as (semi-closed (i.e. with or without water change from the reef mesocosms in the laboratory with a more realistic physico-chemical environment than microcosms. Important physico-chemical parameters (i.e. pH, pO2, pCO2, total alkalinity, temperature, salinity, total alkaline earth metals and nutrients availability were successfully monitored and controlled. Daily variations of irradiance and pH were applied to approach field conditions. Results highlighted that it was possible to maintain realistic physico-chemical parameters, including daily changes, into artificial mesocosms. On the other hand, the two identical artificial mesocosms evolved differently in terms of global community oxygen budgets although the initial biological communities and physico-chemical parameters were comparable. Artificial reef mesocosms seem to leave enough degrees of freedom to the enclosed community of living organisms to organize and change along possibly diverging pathways.

  17. Water column productivity and temperature predict coral reef regeneration across the Indo-Pacific

    OpenAIRE

    RIEGL, B.; P. W. Glynn; Wieters, E.; S. Purkis; .C. D'Angelo; Wiedenmann, J.

    2015-01-01

    Predicted increases in seawater temperatures accelerate coral reef decline due to mortality by heat-driven coral bleaching. Alteration of the natural nutrient environment of reef corals reduces tolerance of corals to heat and light stress and thus will exacerbate impacts of global warming on reefs. Still, many reefs demonstrate remarkable regeneration from past stress events. This paper investigates the effects of sea surface temperature (SST) and water column productivity on recovery of cora...

  18. Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G; Taylor, Marc H; Husain, Aidah A A; Teichberg, Mirta C; Ferse, Sebastian C A

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  19. Region-wide temporal and spatial variation in Caribbean reef architecture: is coral cover the whole story?

    OpenAIRE

    Alvarez-Filip, L.; Cote, IM; Gill, JA; Watkinson, AR; Dulvy, NK

    2011-01-01

    The architectural complexity of coral reefs is largely generated by reef-building corals, yet the effects of current regional-scale declines in coral cover on reef complexity are poorly understood. In particular, both the extent to which declines in coral cover lead to declines in complexity and the length of time it takes for reefs to collapse following coral mortality are unknown. Here we assess the extent of temporal and spatial covariation between coral cover and reef architectural comple...

  20. Using passive acoustic telemetry to infer mortality events in adult herbivorous coral reef fishes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Khan, J. A.; Welsh, J. Q.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2016-06-01

    Mortality is considered to be an important factor shaping the structure of coral reef fish communities, but data on the rate and nature of mortality of adult coral reef fishes are sparse. Mortality on coral reefs is intrinsically linked with predation, with most evidence suggesting that predation is highest during crepuscular periods. We tested this hypothesis using passive acoustic telemetry data to determine the time of day of potential mortality events (PMEs) of adult herbivorous reef fishes. A total of 94 fishes were tagged with acoustic transmitters, of which 43 exhibited a PME. Furthermore, we identified five categories of PMEs based on the nature of change in acoustic signal detections from tagged fishes. The majority of PMEs were characterised by an abrupt stop in detections, possibly as a result of a large, mobile predator. Overall, mortality rates were estimated to be approximately 59 % per year using passive acoustic telemetry. The time of day of PMEs suggests that predation was highest during the day and crepuscular periods and lowest at night, offering only partial support for the crepuscular predation hypothesis. Visually oriented, diurnal and crepuscular predators appear to be more important than their nocturnal counterparts in terms of predation on adult reef fishes. By timing PMEs, passive acoustic telemetry may offer an important new tool for investigating the nature of predation on coral reefs.

  1. The Habitat Persistence Hypothesis: A New Perspective on the Distribution of Coral-Reef Organisms

    OpenAIRE

    Pyle, Richard L.; Copus, Joshua M.; Bowen, Brian B.; Kosaki, Randall K.

    2016-01-01

    We propose the “Habitat Persistence Hypothesis” (HPH) to explain patterns of diversity on tropical coral-reefs. We reviewed distributions of organisms inhabiting tropical coral reefs, and formulated the HPH to account for biogeographical patterns on both shallow (<30m) and deep (30–150m) coral-reef habitats. Species occurring on deep reefs appear to show higher rates of endemism and less eastward diversity attenuation than their counterparts on shallow reefs. The HPH stip...

  2. Through bleaching and tsunami: Coral reef recovery in the Maldives.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Morri, Carla; Montefalcone, Monica; Lasagna, Roberta; Gatti, Giulia; Rovere, Alessio; Parravicini, Valeriano; Baldelli, Giuseppe; Colantoni, Paolo; Bianchi, Carlo Nike

    2015-09-15

    Coral reefs are degrading worldwide, but little information exists on their previous conditions for most regions of the world. Since 1989, we have been studying the Maldives, collecting data before, during and after the bleaching and mass mortality event of 1998. As early as 1999, many newly settled colonies were recorded. Recruits shifted from a dominance of massive and encrusting corals in the early stages of recolonisation towards a dominance of Acropora and Pocillopora by 2009. Coral cover, which dropped to less than 10% after the bleaching, returned to pre-bleaching values of around 50% by 2013. The 2004 tsunami had comparatively little effect. In 2014, the coral community was similar to that existing before the bleaching. According to descriptors and metrics adopted, recovery of Maldivian coral reefs took between 6 and 15years, or may even be considered unachieved, as there are species that had not come back yet. PMID:26228070

  3. Monitoring Watershed Water Quality Impacts on Near-Shore Coral Reef Ecosystems in American Samoa using NASA Earth Observations

    Science.gov (United States)

    Teaby, A.; Price, J.; Minovitz, D.; Makely, L.; Torres-Perez, J. L.; Schmidt, C.; Guild, L. S.; Palacios, S. L.

    2014-12-01

    Land use changes can greatly increase erosion and sediment loads reaching watersheds and downstream coastal waters. In coastal environments with steep terrain and small drainage basins, sedimentation directly influences water quality in near-shore marine environments. Poor water quality indicators (i.e., dissolved nutrients and high particulates) affect coral calcification, photosynthesis, and coral cover. The abundance, recruitment, and biodiversity of American Samoa's coral reefs have been heavily affected by population growth, land cover change, pollution, and sediment influx. Monitoring, managing, and protecting these fragile ecosystems remains difficult due to limited resource availability, steep terrain, and local land ownership. Despite extensive field hours, traditional field and lab-based water quality research produces temporally and spatially limited datasets. Using a 'ridge to reef' effort, this project built a management tool to assess coral reef vulnerability using land use, hydrology, water quality, and coral reef cover in American Samoa to provide local agencies and partners with spatial representation of water quality parameters and site-specific implications for coral reef vulnerability. This project used land cover classified from Landsat 7 and 8 images, precipitation data from NOAA, and physical ocean factors from Terra MODIS. Changes in land cover from 2000 to 2014 were also estimated using Landsat imagery. Final products were distributed to partners to enhance water quality management, community outreach, and coral reef conservation.

  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. Protection, Participation, and Public Awareness : Indonesia Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project

    OpenAIRE

    Kuehnast, Kathleen

    2001-01-01

    The Indonesia Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project (COREMAP) is the first operation supported by the World Bank to focus exclusively on coral reef ecosystems. COREMAP is being implemented in 10 provinces over 15 years, during which period the communities are given incentives, training, and resources to protect the coral reefs. Social Development best practice elements identifie...

  6. 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....

  7. 77 FR 12567 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-03-01

    ... Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems Logbook and Reporting AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric... Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit (authorized under the Fishery Management Plan for Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Western Pacific Region), to complete logbooks and submit them to NMFS. The information...

  8. 76 FR 77779 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-12-14

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS....byers@noaa.gov . SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve is a ] marine... the following vacant seats on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve...

  9. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-08-13

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic... assessment; request for comments. SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to issue a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing... Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit to Kampachi Farms, LLC, consistent with Federal regulations...

  10. Experimental Bleaching of a Reef-Building Coral Using a Simplified Recirculating Laboratory Exposure System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Determining stressor-response relationships in reef building corals is a critical need for researchers because of global declines in coral reef ecosystems. A simplified recirculating coral exposure system for laboratory testing of a diversity of species and morphologies of reef b...

  11. 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

  12. Length-weight relationships of coral reef fishes from the Alacran Reef, Yucatan, Mexico

    OpenAIRE

    Gonzalez-Gandara, C.; Perez-Diaz, E.; Santos-Rodriguez, L.; Arias-Gonzalez, J.E.

    2003-01-01

    Length-weight relationships were computed for 42 species of coral reef fishes from 14 families from the Alacran Reef (Yucatan, Mexico). A total of 1 892 individuals was used for this purpose. The fish species were caught by different fishing techniques such as fishhooks, harpoons, gill and trawl nets. The sampling period was from March 1998 to January 2000.

  13. 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. PMID:25959987

  14. Environmental symbiont acquisition may not be the solution to warming seas for reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mary Alice Coffroth

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Coral reefs worldwide are in decline. Much of the mortality can be attributed to coral bleaching (loss of the coral's intracellular photosynthetic algal symbiont associated with global warming. How corals will respond to increasing oceanic temperatures has been an area of extensive study and debate. Recovery after a bleaching event is dependent on regaining symbionts, but the source of repopulating symbionts is poorly understood. Possibilities include recovery from the proliferation of endogenous symbionts or recovery by uptake of exogenous stress-tolerant symbionts. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To test one of these possibilities, the ability of corals to acquire exogenous symbionts, bleached colonies of Porites divaricata were exposed to symbiont types not normally found within this coral and symbiont acquisition was monitored. After three weeks exposure to exogenous symbionts, these novel symbionts were detected in some of the recovering corals, providing the first experimental evidence that scleractinian corals are capable of temporarily acquiring symbionts from the water column after bleaching. However, the acquisition was transient, indicating that the new symbioses were unstable. Only those symbiont types present before bleaching were stable upon recovery, demonstrating that recovery was from the resident in situ symbiont populations. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that some corals do not have the ability to adjust to climate warming by acquiring and maintaining exogenous, more stress-tolerant symbionts. This has serious ramifications for the success of coral reefs and surrounding ecosystems and suggests that unless actions are taken to reverse it, climate change will lead to decreases in biodiversity and a loss of coral reefs.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Townsend, Joseph E.; Courtney, Travis A.; Aichelman, Hannah E.; Davies, Sarah W.; Lima, Fernando P.; Castillo, Karl D.

    2016-01-01

    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 utilizing

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baumann, Justin H; Townsend, Joseph E; Courtney, Travis A; Aichelman, Hannah E; Davies, Sarah W; Lima, Fernando P; Castillo, Karl D

    2016-01-01

    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 utilizing

  17. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Barott, Katie L; Rodriguez-Mueller, Beltran; Youle, Merry; Marhaver, Kristen L; Vermeij, Mark J A; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-04-22

    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 reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral-CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs.

  18. 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...

  19. Coral and artificial reef shape files, Broward County, Florida, (NODC Accession 0000244)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Coral reef and artificial reef location shape files and accompanying table files for reefs located off shore of Broward County, Florida. Accompanying "attribute"...

  20. 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 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. PMID:24959921

  1. Upwellings mitigated Plio-Pleistocene heat stress for reef corals on the Florida platform (USA)

    OpenAIRE

    Brachert, Thomas C.; Reuter, Markus; Krüger, Stefan; Kirkerowicz, Julia; Klaus, James S.

    2016-01-01

    The fast growing calcareous skeletons of zooxanthellate reef corals (z corals) represent unique environmental proxy archives through their oxygen and carbon stable isotope composition (δ18O, δ13C). In addition, the accretion of the skeleton itself is ultimately linked to the environment and responds with variable growth rates (extension rate) and density to environmental changes. Here we present classical proxy data (δ18O, δ13C) in combination with calcification records from...

  2. Growth study of branching coral Acropora formosa between natural reef habitats and in situ coral nurseries

    Science.gov (United States)

    Xin, Loke Hai; Hyde, Julian; Cob, Zaidi Che; Adzis, Kee Alfian Abdul

    2013-11-01

    Being a common reef building coral in Malaysian waters, growth of Acropora Formosa in natural reef habitat and coral nursery condition had been studied in aspects of extension growth, survival and proto-branch generation. The study sites took place at two separate islands with different environment conditions. In this study, A. formosa samples of natural reefs at Pangkor Island turbid waters recorded better growth in average extension rate (0.71 ±0.48 cm/month) and higher proto-branch generation rate (up to 52% after 6 months) than Tioman Island samples (0.38 ±0.34 cm/month, highest 17% after 6 months). However, Tioman Island natural reef samples maintained 100% survival throughout the study period. Then, branch fragments or nubbins of A. formosa were transplanted into two coral nursery sites at Tioman Island. Among these two coral nurseries, the Tekek site had better growth in all three aspects than Air Batang site. This was believed due to Tekek nursery had been setup with nubbins for more than 6 months before Air Batang nursery, thus the Tekek samples were conditioned long enough for growing in the coral nursery environment. The results of this study documented the growth of this particular coral species in two islands of Peninsular Malaysia, and demonstrated the potential application of A. Formosa for coral transplant, in situ nursery and active reef restoration.

  3. 77 FR 25407 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-04-30

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit... conditions, various species of reef fish, crabs, and lobsters in Federal waters off South Carolina and North... zones, or artificial reefs without additional authorization. Additionally, NMFS prohibits the...

  4. Coupling Biophysical and Socioeconomic Models for Coral Reef Systems in Quintana Roo, Mexican Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elizabeth A. Fulton

    2011-09-01

    Full Text Available Transdisciplinary approaches that consider both socioeconomic and biophysical processes are central to understanding and managing rapid change in coral reef systems worldwide. To date, there have been limited attempts to couple the two sets of processes in dynamic models for coral reefs, and these attempts are confined to reef systems in developed countries. We present an approach to coupling existing biophysical and socioeconomic models for coral reef systems in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The biophysical model is multiscale, using dynamic equations to capture local-scale ecological processes on individual reefs, with reefs connected at regional scales by the ocean transport of larval propagules. The agent-based socioeconomic model simulates changes in tourism, fisheries, and urbanization in the Quintana Roo region. Despite differences in the formulation and currencies of the two models, we were able to successfully modify and integrate them to synchronize and define information flows and feedbacks between them. A preliminary evaluation of the coupled model system indicates that the model gives reasonable predictions for fisheries and ecological variables and can be used to examine scenarios for future social–ecological change in Quintana Roo. We provide recommendations for where efforts might usefully be focused in future attempts to integrate models of biophysical and socioeconomic processes, based on the limitations of our coupled system.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Unexpected complexity of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora millepora transcription factor network

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ravasi Timothy

    2011-04-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Coral reefs are disturbed on a global scale by environmental changes including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Little is known about how corals respond or adapt to these environmental changes especially at the molecular level. This is mostly because of the paucity of genome-wide studies on corals and the application of systems approaches that incorporate the latter. Like in any other organism, the response of corals to stress is tightly controlled by the coordinated interplay of many transcription factors. Results Here, we develop and apply a new system-wide approach in order to infer combinatorial transcription factor networks of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora. By integrating sequencing-derived transcriptome measurements, a network of physically interacting transcription factors, and phylogenetic network footprinting we were able to infer such a network. Analysis of the network across a phylogenetically broad sample of five species, including human, reveals that despite the apparent simplicity of corals, their transcription factors repertoire and interaction networks seem to be largely conserved. In addition, we were able to identify interactions among transcription factors that appear to be species-specific lending strength to the novel concept of "Taxonomically Restricted Interactions". Conclusions This study provides the first look at transcription factor networks in corals. We identified a transcription factor repertoire encoded by the coral genome and found consistencies of the domain architectures of transcription factors and conserved regulatory subnetworks across eumetazoan species, providing insight into how regulatory networks have evolved.

  9. Identification and prevalence of coral diseases on three Western Indian Ocean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Séré, Mathieu G; Chabanet, Pascale; Turquet, Jean; Quod, Jean-Pascal; Schleyer, Michael H

    2015-06-01

    Coral diseases have caused a substantial decline in the biodiversity and abundance of reef-building corals. To date, more than 30 distinct diseases of scleractinian corals have been reported, which cause progressive tissue loss and/or affect coral growth, reproductive capacity, recruitment, species diversity and the abundance of reef-associated organisms. While coral disease research has increased over the last 4 decades, very little is known about coral diseases in the Western Indian Ocean. Surveys conducted at multiple sites in Reunion, South Africa and Mayotte between August 2010 and June 2012 revealed the presence of 6 main coral diseases: black band disease (BBD), white syndrome (WS), pink line syndrome (PLS), growth anomalies (GA), skeleton eroding band (SEB) and Porites white patch syndrome (PWPS). Overall, disease prevalence was higher in Reunion (7.5 ± 2.2%; mean ± SE) compared to South Africa (3.9 ± 0.8%) and Mayotte (2.7 ± 0.3%). Across locations, Acropora and Porites were the genera most susceptible to disease. Spatial variability was detected in both Reunion and South Africa, with BBD and WS more prevalent on shallow than deep reefs. There was also evidence of seasonality in 2 diseases: the prevalence of BBD and WS was higher in summer than winter. This was the first study to investigate the ecology of coral diseases, providing both qualitative and quantitative data, on Western Indian Ocean reefs, and surveys should be expanded to confirm these patterns. PMID:26036832

  10. Can ASTER-data be used for bathymetric mapping of coral reefs in the Red Sea using digital photogrammetry?

    OpenAIRE

    Vanderstraete, T.; Goossens, R.; Ghabour, T.K.

    2003-01-01

    Coral reefs are main contributors to the national income of many developing countries. As they are experiencing more and more stress due to inappropriate human actions and global change, they need to be studied in order to monitor them and preserve them for the future. Bathymetric mapping of coral reefs has always experienced difficulties. Due to their rather shallow depth and/or often remote location in the middle of the ocean, they are not always suitable for standard bathymetric sounding c...

  11. Behavioural thermoregulation in a temperature-sensitive coral reef fish, the five-lined cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus)

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Nay, Tiffany J.; Johansen, Jacob L.; Habary, Adam;

    2015-01-01

    provide a strategy to cope with changing conditions. A temperature-sensitive coral reef cardinalfish (Cheilodipterusquinquelineatus) was exposed to 28 °C (average at collection site) or 32 °C (predicted end-of-century) for 6 weeks. Tpref was determined using a shuttlebox system, which allowed fish...... than night-time movements. Understanding temperature-mediated movements is imperative for predicting how ocean warming will influence coral reef species and distribution patterns....

  12. Predicting coral recruitment in Palau's complex reef archipelago.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Yimnang Golbuu

    Full Text Available Reproduction and recruitment are key processes that replenish marine populations. Here we use the Palau archipelago, in the western Pacific Ocean, as a case study to examine scales of connectivity and to determine whether an oceanographic model, incorporating the complex reef architecture, is a useful predictor of coral recruitment. We tested the hypothesis that the reefs with the highest retention also had the highest densities of juvenile coral density from 80 field sites. Field comparisons showed a significant correlation between the densities of juvenile Acropora colonies and total larval recruitment derived from the model (i.e., calculated as the sum of the densities of larvae that self-seeded and recruited from the other reefs in the archipelago. Long-distance larval imports may be too infrequent to sustain coral populations, but are critical for recovery in times of extreme local stress.

  13. 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.

  14. 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. PMID:27038889

  15. Assessing coral reefs on a Pacific-wide scale using the microbialization score.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tracey McDole

    Full Text Available The majority of the world's coral reefs are in various stages of decline. While a suite of disturbances (overfishing, eutrophication, and global climate change have been identified, the mechanism(s of reef system decline remain elusive. Increased microbial and viral loading with higher percentages of opportunistic and specific microbial pathogens have been identified as potentially unifying features of coral reefs in decline. Due to their relative size and high per cell activity, a small change in microbial biomass may signal a large reallocation of available energy in an ecosystem; that is the microbialization of the coral reef. Our hypothesis was that human activities alter the energy budget of the reef system, specifically by altering the allocation of metabolic energy between microbes and macrobes. To determine if this is occurring on a regional scale, we calculated the basal metabolic rates for the fish and microbial communities at 99 sites on twenty-nine coral islands throughout the Pacific Ocean using previously established scaling relationships. From these metabolic rate predictions, we derived a new metric for assessing and comparing reef health called the microbialization score. The microbialization score represents the percentage of the combined fish and microbial predicted metabolic rate that is microbial. Our results demonstrate a strong positive correlation between reef microbialization scores and human impact. In contrast, microbialization scores did not significantly correlate with ocean net primary production, local chla concentrations, or the combined metabolic rate of the fish and microbial communities. These findings support the hypothesis that human activities are shifting energy to the microbes, at the expense of the macrobes. Regardless of oceanographic context, the microbialization score is a powerful metric for assessing the level of human impact a reef system is experiencing.

  16. 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.

  17. Revealing the regime of shallow coral reefs at patch scale by continuous spatial modeling

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Antoine eCollin

    2014-11-01

    Full Text Available Reliably translating real-world spatial patterns of ecosystems is critical for understanding processes susceptible to reinforce resilience. However the great majority of studies in spatial ecology use thematic maps to describe habitats and species in a binary scheme. By discretizing the transitional areas and neglecting the gradual replacement across a given space, the thematic approach may suffer from substantial limitations when interpreting patterns created by many continuous variables. Here, local and regional spectral proxies were used to design and spatially map at very fine scale a continuous index dedicated to one of the most complex seascapes, the coral reefscape. Through a groundbreaking merge of bottom-up and top-down approach, we demonstrate that three to seven-habitat continuous indices can be modeled by nine, six, four and three spectral proxies, respectively, at 0.5 m spatial resolution using hand- and spaceborne measurements. We map the seven-habitat continuous index, spanning major Indo-Pacific coral reef habitats through the far red-green normalized difference ratio over the entire lagoon of a low (Tetiaroa atoll and a high volcanic (Moorea island in French Polynesia with 84% and 82% accuracy, respectively. Further examinations of the two resulting spatial models using a customized histoscape (density function of model values distributed on a concentric strip across the reef crest-coastline distance show that Tetiaroa exhibits a greater variety of coral reef habitats than Moorea. By designing such easy-to-implement, transferrable spectral proxies of coral reef regime, this study initiates a framework for spatial ecologists tackling coral reef biodiversity, responses to stresses, perturbations and shifts. We discuss the limitations and contributions of our findings towards the study of worldwide coral reef resilience following stochastic environmental change.

  18. Simulation of global ocean acidification and chemical habitats of shallow- and cold-water coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mei-Di Zheng

    2014-12-01

    Full Text Available Using the UVic Earth System Model, this study simulated the change of seawater chemistry and analyzed the chemical habitat surrounding shallow- and cold-water coral reefs from the year 1800 to 2300 employing RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5 scenarios. The model results showed that the global ocean will continue to absorb atmospheric CO2. Global mean surface ocean temperature will rise 1.1–2.8 K at the end of the 21st century across RCP scenarios. Meanwhile, the global mean surface ocean pH will drop 0.14–0.42 and the ocean surface mean concentration of carbonate will decrease 20%–51% across the RCP scenarios. The saturated state of sea water with respect to calcite carbonate minerals (Ω will decrease rapidly. During the pre-industrial period, 99% of the shallow-water coral reefs were surrounded by seawater with Ω > 3.5 and 87% of the deep-sea coral reefs were surrounded by seawater with aragonite supersaturation. Within the 21st century, except for the high mitigation scenario of RCP2.6, almost none shallow-water coral reefs will be surrounded by seawater with Ω > 3.5. Under the intensive emission scenario of RCP8.5, by the year 2100, the aragonite saturation horizon will rise to 308 m under the sea surface from 1138 m at the pre-industrial period, thus 73% of the cold-water coral reefs will be surrounded by seawater with aragonite undersaturation. By the year 2300, only 5% of the cold-water coral reefs will be surrounded by seawater with aragonite supersaturation.

  19. A Fundamental Paradigm for Coral Reef Carbonate Sediment Dissolution

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andreas J Andersson

    2015-07-01

    Full Text Available The long-term success of coral reefs depends on a positive balance of calcium carbonate production exceeding dissolution, erosion, and material export. As a result of ocean acidification, coral reefs could transition from net accretion to net erosion owing to decreasing rates of calcification and increasing rates of chemical dissolution and bioerosion. Here, I present a fundamental paradigm that aims to explain the main driver of carbonate sediment dissolution on coral reefs based on theory and a new empirical dataset of pore water carbonate chemistry from the Bermuda coral reef platform. The paradigm shows that carbonate sediment dissolution is most strongly controlled by the extent of organic matter decomposition in the sediments, but that the magnitude of dissolution is influenced by how much decomposition is required to reach pore water undersaturation with respect to the most soluble bulk carbonate mineral phase present in the sediments, a condition defined as the Carbonate Critical Threshold (CCT. Decomposition of organic matter beyond the CCT under aerobic conditions results in stoichiometric proportional dissolution of carbonate sediments. As ocean acidification proceeds over the next several decades, the extent of organic matter decomposition required to reach the CCT will decrease, carbonate dissolution will increase, and subsequently the accumulation of carbonate sediments will decrease. Since drastic reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emission are unlikely in the foreseeable future, the paradigm shows that active controls and reduction of organic matter input to coral reefs at the local scale might be an effective mitigation strategy to prevent or delay coral reefs transitioning to a state of net dissolution.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Gradients in coral reef communities exposed to muddy river discharge in Pohnpei, Micronesia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Golbuu, Yimnang; Fabricius, Katharina; Victor, Steven; Richmond, Robert H.

    2008-01-01

    This study analyzed how coral communities change along a gradient of increasing exposure to a mud-discharging river in the Enipein Catchment, Pohnpei, Micronesia. Using video transects, we quantified benthic communities at five sites along a gradient moving away from the river mouth towards the barrier reef. The most river-impacted site was characterized by a high accumulation of mud, low coral cover and low coral diversity. Although coral cover leveled off at ˜400 m from the river mouth to values found at the outer-most sites, coral diversity continued to increase with increasing distance, suggesting that the most distant site was still impacted by the river discharges. Fungiidae, Pavona, Acropora, Pachyseris and Porites rus all significantly increased in cover with distance from the river, while Turbinaria decreased. The combined presence and abundance of these six species groups, together with coral species richness, may help to indicate the effects of terrestrial runoff in similar runoff-exposed settings around Micronesia, whereas coral cover is not a sensitive indicator for river impact. Coral reefs are important resources for the people of Pohnpei. To prevent further degradation of this important resource, an integrated watershed approach is needed to control terrestrial activities.

  4. 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.

  5. Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shinn, Eugene A.

    1976-01-01

    Long-term observations and study of coral reef destruction by hurricanes in the Florida Keys show, surprisingly, that although corals are devastated on a grand scale during storms, recovery is rapid. Recovery occurs because of the widespread scattering of live fragments, many of which become growth sites of new colonies. Reef recovery from death by chilling in the Persian Gulf was well under way when last observed, but it is not yet known if the recovery rate was as rapid as recovery from the storm destruction in Florida. Recovery from death by chilling requires settlement of transported coral larvae and a substrate suitable for larval attachment. Such resettlement is subject to the effects of currents, predators, pollution, and competition for substrate. A growth rate of 10 cm per year combined with geometrical progression of branch formation accounts for rapid recovery. Although calculated coral proliferation seems unusually high, it has been confirmed by serial underwater photographs spanning ten years. More precise measurements of growth and branching are needed, along with growth data for other common reef-building corals. Such data would be useful for predicting standing crop of a restocked or transplanted reef.

  6. Coral reef invertebrate microbiomes correlate with the presence of photosymbionts

    OpenAIRE

    Bourne, David G.; Dennis, Paul G.; Uthicke, Sven; Soo, Rochelle M; Tyson, Gene W; Nicole WEBSTER

    2013-01-01

    Coral reefs provide habitat for an array of marine invertebrates that host symbiotic microbiomes. Photosynthetic symbionts including Symbiodinium dinoflagellates and diatoms potentially influence the diversity of their host-associated microbiomes by releasing carbon-containing photosynthates and other organic compounds that fuel microbial metabolism. Here we used 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene amplicon pyrosequencing to characterise the microbiomes of 11 common Great Barrier Reef marine invert...

  7. The functioning of coral reef communities along environmental gradients

    OpenAIRE

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah

    2015-01-01

    One of the primary challenges in ecology is to understand how environmental disturbance affects diversity and community structure, and what are the subsequent consequences on ecosystem functioning. Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet resulting in complex sets of interactions between benthic, habitat-forming constituents and mobile fish consumers. However, scleractinian corals, the primary habitat engineers, are dependent on high-light, low-nutrient water conditio...

  8. Sponge diversity and community composition in Irish bathyal coral reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Soest, van, A.J.; Cleary, D.F.R.; Kluijver, de, M.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Maier, C.; Duy, van, F.C.

    2007-01-01

    Sponge diversity and community composition in bathyal cold water coral reefs (CWRs) were examined at 500-900 m depth on the southeastern slopes of Rockall Bank and the northwestern slope of Porcupine Bank, to the west of Ireland in 2004 and 2005 with boxcores. A total of 104 boxcore samples, supplemented with 10 trawl/dredge attempts, were analyzed for the presence and abundance of sponges, using microscopical examination of (sub)samples of collected coral branches, and semi-quantitative macr...

  9. Evidence of an original scale development during the settlement phase of a coral reef fish (Acanthurus triostegus)

    OpenAIRE

    Frédérich, B.; Lecchini, D; Vandewalle, P

    2010-01-01

    As the majority of coral reef fishes, the Convict Surgeonfish Acanthurus triostegus (Acanthuridae) has a complex life cycle that involves an ontogenetic change in morphology, physiology and behaviour as its pelagic larval stage colonizes the benthic habitat. Few studies are devoted to the changes in skeleton during the settlement phase of coral reef fishes. In the present study, we highlighted an unexpected scales development in A. trisostegus just after the reef settlement. At settlement (t0...

  10. Quaternary onset and evolution of Kimberley coral reefs (Northwest Australia) revealed by high-resolution seismic imaging

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bufarale, Giada; Collins, Lindsay B.; O'Leary, Michael J.; Stevens, Alexandra; Kordi, Moataz; Solihuddin, Tubagus

    2016-07-01

    The inner shelf Kimberley Bioregion of Northwest Australia is characterised by a macrotidal setting where prolific coral reefs growth as developed around a complex drowned landscape and is considered a biodiversity "hotspot". High-resolution shallow seismic studies were conducted across various reef settings in the Kimberley (Buccaneer Archipelago, north of Dampier Peninsula, latitude: between 16°40‧S and 16°00‧S) to evaluate stratigraphic evolution, interaction with different substrates, morphological patterns and distribution. Reef sites were chosen to assess most of the reef types present, particularly high intertidal planar reefs and fringing reefs. Reef internal acoustic reflectors were identified according to their shape, stratigraphic position and characteristics. Two main seismic horizons were identified marking the boundaries between Holocene reef (Marine Isotope Stage 1, MIS 1, last 12 ky), commonly 10-20 m thick, and MIS 5 (Last Interglacial, LIG, ~120 ky, up to 12 m thick) and Proterozoic rock foundation over which Quaternary reef growth occurred. Within the Holocene Reef unit, at least three minor internal reflectors, generally discontinuous, subparallel to the reef flat were recognised and interpreted as either growth hiatuses or a change of the coral framework or sediment matrix. The LIG reefs represent a new northernmost occurrence along the Western Australian coast. The research presented here achieved the first regional geophysical study of the Kimberley reefs. Subbottom profiles demonstrated that the surveyed reefs are characterised by a multi-stage reef buildup, indicating that coral growth occurred in the Kimberley during previous sea level highstands. The data show also that antecedent substrate and regional subsidence have contributed, too, in determining the amount of accommodation available for reef growth and controlling the morphology of the successive reef building stages. Moreover, the study showed that in spite of macrotidal

  11. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dell, Claire L A; Longo, Guilherme O; Hay, Mark E

    2016-01-01

    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.

  12. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dell, Claire L A; Longo, Guilherme O; Hay, Mark E

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:27186979

  13. 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.

  14. Remote sensing of coral reefs and their physical environment

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Mumby, Peter J.; Skirving, William; Strong, Alan E.; Hardy, John T.; LeDrew, Ellsworth F.; Hochberg, Eric J.; Stumpf, Rick P.; David, Laura T

    2004-02-01

    There has been a vast improvement in access to remotely sensed data in just a few recent years. This revolution of information is the result of heavy investment in new technology by governments and industry, rapid developments in computing power and storage, and easy dissemination of data over the internet. Today, remotely sensed data are available to virtually anyone with a desktop computer. Here, we review the status of one of the most popular areas of marine remote sensing research: coral reefs. Previous reviews have focused on the ability of remote sensing to map the structure and habitat composition of coral reefs, but have neglected to consider the physical environment in which reefs occur. We provide a holistic review of what can, might, and cannot be mapped using remote sensing at this time. We cover aspects of reef structure and health but also discuss the diversity of physical environmental data such as temperature, winds, solar radiation and water quality. There have been numerous recent advances in the remote sensing of reefs and we hope that this paper enhances awareness of the diverse data sources available, and helps practitioners identify realistic objectives for remote sensing in coral reef areas.

  15. CORAL REEF BIOLOGICAL CRITERIA: USING THE CLEAN WATER ACT TO PROTECT A NATIONAL TREASURE

    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 inh...

  16. Management strategy evaluation applied to coral reef ecosystems in support of ecosystem-based management

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weijerman, M.; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Brainard, Russell E.

    2016-01-01

    Ecosystem modelling is increasingly used to explore ecosystem-level effects of changing environmental conditions and management actions. For coral reefs there has been increasing interest in recent decades in the use of ecosystem models for evaluating the effects of fishing and the efficacy of ma

  17. Application of 1H-NMR metabolomic profiling for reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Emilia M Sogin

    Full Text Available In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1 investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2 evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3 assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM. Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix. Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change.

  18. Application of 1H-NMR Metabolomic Profiling for Reef-Building Corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sogin, Emilia M.; Anderson, Paul; Williams, Philip; Chen, Chii-Shiarng; Gates, Ruth D.

    2014-01-01

    In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions) across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR)-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1) investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2) evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3) assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA) to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM). Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix). Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change. PMID:25354140

  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. Losers and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fabricius, Katharina E.; Langdon, Chris; Uthicke, Sven; Humphrey, Craig; Noonan, Sam; de'Ath, Glenn; Okazaki, Remy; Muehllehner, Nancy; Glas, Martin S.; Lough, Janice M.

    2011-06-01

    Experiments have shown that ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations has deleterious effects on the performance of many marine organisms. However, few empirical or modelling studies have addressed the long-term consequences of ocean acidification for marine ecosystems. Here we show that as pH declines from 8.1 to 7.8 (the change expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from 390 to 750ppm, consistent with some scenarios for the end of this century) some organisms benefit, but many more lose out. We investigated coral reefs, seagrasses and sediments that are acclimatized to low pH at three cool and shallow volcanic carbon dioxide seeps in Papua New Guinea. At reduced pH, we observed reductions in coral diversity, recruitment and abundances of structurally complex framework builders, and shifts in competitive interactions between taxa. However, coral cover remained constant between pH 8.1 and ~7.8, because massive Porites corals established dominance over structural corals, despite low rates of calcification. Reef development ceased below pH 7.7. Our empirical data from this unique field setting confirm model predictions that ocean acidification, together with temperature stress, will probably lead to severely reduced diversity, structural complexity and resilience of Indo-Pacific coral reefs within this century.

  1. Utilizing Underwater Three-Dimensional Modeling to Enhance Ecological and Biological Studies of Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burns, J. H. R.; Delparte, D.; Gates, R. D.; Takabayashi, M.

    2015-04-01

    The structural complexity of coral reefs profoundly affects the biodiversity, productivity, and overall functionality of reef ecosystems. Conventional survey techniques utilize 2-dimensional metrics that are inadequate for accurately capturing and quantifying the intricate structural complexity of scleractinian corals. A 3-dimensional (3D) approach improves the capacity to accurately measure architectural complexity, topography, rugosity, volume, and other structural characteristics that play a significant role in habitat facilitation and ecosystem processes. This study utilized Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry techniques to create 3D mesh models for several Hawaiian corals that represent distinct morphological phenotypes. The orthophotos and digital elevation models generated from the SfM process were imported into geospatial analysis software in order to quantify several metrics pertaining to 3D complexity that are known to affect ecosystem biodiversity and productivity. The 3D structural properties of the reconstructed coral colonies were statistically analyzed to determine if the each species represents a unique morpho-functional group. The SfM reconstruction techniques described in this paper can be utilized for an array of research purposes to improve our understanding of how changes in coral composition affect habitat structure and ecological processes in coral reef ecosystems.

  2. Temporal stability of Symbiodinium phylotype in scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis from a tropical fringing reef in the South China Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zhou, Guowei; Huang, Hui; Dong, Zhijun; Yu, Ziniu

    2011-11-01

    Symbiodinium sp. occurs in a symbiotic association with various marine invertebrates, including the scleractinian corals. Understanding the flexibility and specificity in coral-algal symbiosis can have important implications for predicting the future of coral reefs in the era of global climate change. In the present study, we conducted Symbiodinium phylotype analysis, based on polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP), in the scleractinian coral, Galaxea fascicularis, from a tropical fringing reef in Hainan Island, over a 1-yr period. Our results showed that Galaxea fascicularis could associate with Symbiodinium clade C and D either individually or simultaneously. However, during the sampling period, the Symbiodinium phylotype did not change significantly in the scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis, although the seawater temperature decreased sharply in the winter season. This study further suggests that the shift in Symbiodinium communities in response to seasonally fluctuating environments might not be a universal feature of coral-algal associations.

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

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.; Ravindran, J.

    as an epibiont in algae (Sparrow 1960). 3. The role of fungi in corals 3.1. Fungi as carbonate borers Phototrophic algae and heterotrophic fungi are the two most commonly occurring endoliths in calcium carbonate structures of corals. Very often... to colourful, hard and soft corals, sponges, a diverse population of fishes, holothurians, calciferous algae and other myriad communities (Connell 1978). They support tourism, food production and coastal protection from natural hazards. Corals fall in two...

  4. Impact of mass coral bleaching on reef fish community and fishermen catches at Sabang, Aceh Province, Indonesia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Edi Rudi

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available Mass coral bleaching was observed at Sabang, Aceh in early 2010, and approximately 60% ofhard coral in waters surrounding Sabang died post-event. Coral mortality was expected to affect thecomposition of reef fish due to decrease its function such as providing a shelter, feeding and spawninggrounds for fish and other marine organisms. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the impactof coral bleaching on coral reef fish community and to compare the composition of fishermen catchesbefore and after the coral bleaching. The data were collected before (in 2008 and after (in 2010 themass coral bleaching event in Sabang waters by using a photographic method and the data on theaverage catch of fishermen (catch per fishing effort was calculated in kg/hour. The data of theknowledge of fishermen on climate change was collected by questionnaire method. The results showedthat 259 species of coral reef fishes were caught by fishermen in 2008 and 2010. There was nosignificantly difference between the fish catches before and after the mass coral bleaching. However,species richness decreased up to 50% after the mass coral bleaching. The knowledge of fishermen onclimate change issue was very low.

  5. Coral similarity and connectivity of some reefs of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean

    OpenAIRE

    Chávez-Hidalgo, A.; De la Cruz-Agüero, G.; Chávez, E.A.

    2010-01-01

    Coral reef connectivity results from the export and import of species or reproductive product between localities. Possible exchange pathways between the reef ecosystems in the country are not known; such knowledge about coral reef connectivity could contribute to its management and conservation. The connectivity between reefs of the Gulf of Mexico and Mexican Caribbean was evaluated based on patterns of similarity — information for 55 stony coral species in 17 localities. Species richness sug...

  6. What's Behind the Spread of White Syndrome in Great Barrier Reef Corals?

    OpenAIRE

    John F. Bruno; Elizabeth R Selig; Casey, Kenneth S.; Cathie A Page; Willis, Bette L.; C Drew Harvell; Hugh Sweatman; Amy M Melendy

    2007-01-01

    Author Summary Coral reefs have been decimated over the last several decades. The global decline of reef-building corals is of particular concern. Infectious diseases are thought to be key to this mass coral mortality, and many reef ecologists suspect that anomalously high ocean temperatures contribute to the increased incidence and severity of disease outbreaks. This hypothesis is supported by local observations—for example, that some coral diseases become more prevalent in the summertime—bu...

  7. Habitat structure, degradation and management effects on coral reef fish communities

    OpenAIRE

    Yahya, Saleh A.S.

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth, and are critical to the survival of tropical marine ecosystems and sustenance of local human populations. However, coral reefs are quite vulnerable to disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic. This thesis looks at how coral reef communities have responded to climactic disturbances, particularly the 1997-98 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and subsequent coral bleaching and mortality that affected much of the Ind...

  8. Synergistic impacts of global warming on the resilience of coral reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; Peter J Mumby

    2015-01-01

    Recent epizootics have removed important functional species from Caribbean coral reefs and left communities vulnerable to alternative attractors. Global warming will impact reefs further through two mechanisms. A chronic mechanism reduces coral calcification, which can result in depressed somatic growth. An acute mechanism, coral bleaching, causes extreme mortality when sea temperatures become anomalously high. We ask how these two mechanisms interact in driving future reef state (coral cover...

  9. Experimental Bleaching of a Reef-Building Coral Using a Simplified Recirculating Laboratory Exposure System

    OpenAIRE

    Mace G. Barron; Cheryl J. McGill; Lee A. Courtney; Marcovich, Dragoslav T

    2010-01-01

    Determining stressor-response relationships in reef building corals continues to be a critical research need due to global declines in coral reef ecosystems and projected declines for the future. A simplified recirculating coral exposure system was coupled to a solar simulator to allow laboratory testing of a diversity of species and morphologies of reef building corals under ecologically relevant conditions of temperature and solar radiation. Combinations of lamps and attenuating filters al...

  10. 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

  11. Habitat degradation and fishing effects on the size structure of coral reef fish communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wilson, S K; Fisher, R; Pratchett, M S; Graham, N A J; Dulvy, N K; Turner, R A; Cakacaka, A; Polunin, N V C

    2010-03-01

    Overfishing and habitat degradation through climate change pose the greatest threats to sustainability of marine resources on coral reefs. We examined how changes in fishing pressure and benthic habitat composition influenced the size spectra of island-scale reef fish communities in Lau, Fiji. Between 2000 and 2006 fishing pressure declined in the Lau Islands due to declining human populations and reduced demand for fresh fish. At the same time, coral cover declined and fine-scale architectural complexity eroded due to coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. We examined the size distribution of reef fish communities using size spectra analysis, the linearized relationship between abundance and body size class. Spatial variation in fishing pressure accounted for 31% of the variation in the slope of the size spectra in 2000, higher fishing pressure being associated with a steeper slope, which is indicative of fewer large-bodied fish and/or more small-bodied fish. Conversely, in 2006 spatial variation in habitat explained 53% of the variation in the size spectra slopes, and the relationship with fishing pressure was much weaker (approximately 12% of variation) than in 2000. Reduced cover of corals and lower structural complexity was associated with less steep size spectra slopes, primarily due to reduced abundance of fish < 20 cm. Habitat degradation will compound effects of fishing on coral reefs as increased fishing reduces large-bodied target species, while habitat loss results in fewer small-bodied juveniles and prey that replenish stocks and provide dietary resources for predatory target species. Effective management of reef resources therefore depends on both reducing fishing pressure and maintaining processes that encourage rapid recovery of coral habitat. PMID:20405798

  12. The Use of Simulated Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) Imagery for Coral Reef Monitoring

    Science.gov (United States)

    Estep, L.; Spruce, J.; Blonski, S.; Moore, R.

    2008-01-01

    Coral reefs are some of the most biologically rich and economically important ecosystems on Earth. Coral reefs are Earth's largest biological structures and have taken thousands of years to form. Coral reefs not only provide important habitat for many marine animals and plants, but they also provide humanity with food, jobs, chemicals, protection against storms, and life-saving pharmaceuticals. Severe bleaching events have occurred that have dramatic long-term ecological impacts to corals, including loss of reef-building corals, changes in benthic habitat, and, in some cases, changes in larval fish populations (Holden and Ledrew, 1998). Some researchers suggest that 10 percent of Earth s coral reefs have already been destroyed and that another 60 percent are in danger. Scientists have proposed that as much as 95 percent of Jamaica's reefs are dying or dead. This poster reports on a Rapid Prototyping Capability (RPC) experiment done to determine whether future NASA sensors - the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) - could generate key data products for the Integrated Coral Reef Observation Network (ICON)/Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Decision Support Tool (DST) operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  13. Rapid Smothering of Coral Reef Organisms by Muddy Marine Snow

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fabricius, K. E.; Wolanski, E.

    2000-01-01

    Estuarine mud, when resuspended in nutrient-rich near-shore water, aggregates to marine snow, and within minutes to hours can exert detrimental or even lethal effects on small coral reef organisms. In a pilot study, estuarine mud was suspended in near-shore and off-shore waters of the Great Barrier Reef to a final concentration of 170 mg l -1. The short-term responses of a coral ( Acropora sp.) and coral-inhabiting barnacles (subfamily Pyrgomatidae), exposed to either near-shore or off-shore water, were microscopically observed and video recorded. In the off-shore water treatment, flocculation was minor, and aggregate sizes were c. 50 μm. The organisms were able to clean themselves from these small settling aggregates at low siltation (mucus only at high siltation (4-5 mg cm -2). In contrast, in near-shore, nutrient-enriched waters, the suspended mud aggregated into large sticky flocs of marine snow (200-2000 μm diameter). The organisms responded to a thin coat of deposited flocs with vigorous cleaning by cirri and tentacle beating. After 5 min struggle, the barnacle stopped moving, calanoid copepods were entangled in the aggregates, and thick layers of mucus were exuded by the coral polyps. Both barnacle and copepods died after coral reefs. Enhanced nutrient concentrations are known to contribute to enhance biologically mediated flocculation. This pilot study suggests that the concentration of suspended mud, and extent of stickiness and flocculation, can synergistically affect reef benthos organisms after short exposure. The enclosed macro video recordings clearly visualize these effects, and help convey the important implications for managers: that inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef cannot be sustainably managed without managing the adjacent land.

  14. Study of Scleractinia coral reef recruitment in Kepulauan Seribu, Jakarta

    OpenAIRE

    EDI RUDI

    2008-01-01

    This research was conducted at three sites (Lancang, Pari, and Payung Islands) in the coral reef ecosystem of Kepulauan Seribu, from March 2004 to March 2005 in order to study pattern of coral recruitment. Limestone substrata as collectors were laid for 3 months at 5 and 10 m waters depth at each site, and further were taken and replace with new ones. The result shows that significant recruits number were occurred between locations, number of coral recruits became higher in the direction to t...

  15. Coral degradation and ability of rehabilitation of coral reefs in Co To Archipelago, Quang Ninh province, Vietnam

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ngai, Nguyen Dang; Cu, Nguyen Duc; Tuyet, Dao Anh

    2013-11-01

    Serious degradation of coral reefs in the Co To Archipelago occurred from 2002 to 2006. Nearly 80% of the species and over 90% of living coral cover were lost and some reefs were completely dead. Currently, the highest coral cover is only 7.5% where previously most of the reefs had over 50% live coral cover. The cause of the reef degradation has been identified to be residues of cyanide used by local fishermen for fishing on reefs. To overcome the consequences transplantation corals on natural and artificial shelters were attempted. Survival rate on artificial shelters was 88.3% after 2 years and growth rate averaged 2.3 cm/year. Transplanted corals on natural shelters had lower survival rate, 55.9%. The natural recovery of coral on degraded reefs was also monitored periodically in this study. No coral recruitment was seen on completely dead reefs whereas there was little new coral recruitment on reefs with some remaining live corals.

  16. High Macroalgal Cover and Low Coral Recruitment Undermines the Potential Resilience of the World's Southernmost Coral Reef Assemblages

    OpenAIRE

    Hoey, Andrew S.; Pratchett, Morgan S; Christopher Cvitanovic

    2011-01-01

    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 Lor...

  17. 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.

  18. Artificial reef structures and coral transplantation: fish community responses and effects on coral recruitment in North Sulawesi/Indonesia

    OpenAIRE

    Ferse, Sebastian

    2008-01-01

    Artificial reefs alone and in combination with coral transplants (branching Acropora and Pocillopora species) were deployed in 100 m2 plots at three locations (Gangga, Meras and Bunaken) in North Sulawesi/Indonesia in order to study the effects on the associated reef fish community and on coral recruitment dynamics. Control plots covered with coral rubble were monitored for comparison. The study was carried out between May 2005 and July 2007. Coral recru