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  1. Climate change and coral reef connectivity

    Science.gov (United States)

    Munday, P. L.; Leis, J. M.; Lough, J. M.; Paris, C. B.; Kingsford, M. J.; Berumen, M. L.; Lambrechts, J.

    2009-06-01

    This review assesses and predicts the impacts that rapid climate change will have on population connectivity in coral reef ecosystems, using fishes as a model group. Increased ocean temperatures are expected to accelerate larval development, potentially leading to reduced pelagic durations and earlier reef-seeking behaviour. Depending on the spatial arrangement of reefs, the expectation would be a reduction in dispersal distances and the spatial scale of connectivity. Small increase in temperature might enhance the number of larvae surviving the pelagic phase, but larger increases are likely to reduce reproductive output and increase larval mortality. Changes to ocean currents could alter the dynamics of larval supply and changes to planktonic productivity could affect how many larvae survive the pelagic stage and their condition at settlement; however, these patterns are likely to vary greatly from place-to-place and projections of how oceanographic features will change in the future lack sufficient certainty and resolution to make robust predictions. Connectivity could also be compromised by the increased fragmentation of reef habitat due to the effects of coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Changes to the spatial and temporal scales of connectivity have implications for the management of coral reef ecosystems, especially the design and placement of marine-protected areas. The size and spacing of protected areas may need to be strategically adjusted if reserve networks are to retain their efficacy in the future.

  2. Climate Change, Human Impacts, and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, T. P.; Baird, A. H.; Bellwood, D. R.; Card, M.; Connolly, S. R.; Folke, C.; Grosberg, R.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Jackson, J. B. C.; Kleypas, J.; Lough, J. M.; Marshall, P.; Nyström, M.; Palumbi, S. R.; Pandolfi, J. M.; Rosen, B.; Roughgarden, J.

    2003-08-01

    The diversity, frequency, and scale of human impacts on coral reefs are increasing to the extent that reefs are threatened globally. Projected increases in carbon dioxide and temperature over the next 50 years exceed the conditions under which coral reefs have flourished over the past half-million years. However, reefs will change rather than disappear entirely, with some species already showing far greater tolerance to climate change and coral bleaching than others. International integration of management strategies that support reef resilience need to be vigorously implemented, and complemented by strong policy decisions to reduce the rate of global warming.

  3. 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

  4. Coral Reef Remote Sensing: Helping Managers Protect Reefs in a Changing Climate

    Science.gov (United States)

    Eakin, C.; Liu, G.; Li, J.; Muller-Karger, F. E.; Heron, S. F.; Gledhill, D. K.; Christensen, T.; Rauenzahn, J.; Morgan, J.; Parker, B. A.; Skirving, W. J.; Nim, C.; Burgess, T.; Strong, A. E.

    2010-12-01

    Climate change and ocean acidification are already having severe impacts on coral reef ecosystems. Warming oceans have caused corals to bleach, or expel their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) with alarming frequency and severity and have contributed to a rise in coral infectious diseases. Ocean acidification is reducing the availability of carbonate ions needed by corals and many other marine organisms to build structural components like skeletons and shells and may already be slowing the coral growth. These two impacts are already killing corals and slowing reef growth, reducing biodiversity and the structure needed to provide crucial ecosystem services. NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW) uses a combination of satellite data, in situ observations, and models to provide coral reef managers, scientists, and others with information needed to monitor threats to coral reefs. The advance notice provided by remote sensing and models allows resource managers to protect corals, coral reefs, and the services they provide, although managers often encounter barriers to implementation of adaptation strategies. This talk will focus on application of NOAA’s satellite and model-based tools that monitor the risk of mass coral bleaching on a global scale, ocean acidification in the Caribbean, and coral disease outbreaks in selected regions, as well as CRW work to train managers in their use, and barriers to taking action to adapt to climate change. As both anthropogenic CO2 and temperatures will continue to rise, local actions to protect reefs are becoming even more important.

  5. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS

    Science.gov (United States)

    Corals and coral reefs of the Caribbean and through the world are deteriorating at an accelerated rate. Several stressors are believed to contrbute to this decline, including global changes in atmospheric gases and land use patterns. In particular, warmer water temperatures and...

  6. 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

  7. 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 reef-coral habitat ≤30 m will preclude coral growth and reef development. Thus, protecting the turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study, particularly in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the northern Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands (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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Coral reef habitat response to climate change scenarios.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lauren A Freeman

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by both climate change and direct anthropogenic stress. Climate change will alter the physico-chemical environment that reefs currently occupy, leaving only limited regions that are conducive to reef habitation. Identifying these regions early may aid conservation efforts and inform decisions to transplant particular coral species or groups. Here a species distribution model (Maxent is used to describe habitat suitable for coral reef growth. Two climate change scenarios (RCP4.5, RCP8.5 from the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Earth System Model were used with Maxent to determine environmental suitability for corals (order Scleractinia. Environmental input variables best at representing the limits of suitable reef growth regions were isolated using a principal component analysis. Climate-driven changes in suitable habitat depend strongly on the unique region of reefs used to train Maxent. Increased global habitat loss was predicted in both climate projections through the 21(st century. A maximum habitat loss of 43% by 2100 was predicted in RCP4.5 and 82% in RCP8.5. When the model is trained solely with environmental data from the Caribbean/Atlantic, 83% of global habitat was lost by 2100 for RCP4.5 and 88% was lost for RCP8.5. Similarly, global runs trained only with Pacific Ocean reefs estimated that 60% of suitable habitat would be lost by 2100 in RCP4.5 and 90% in RCP8.5. When Maxent was trained solely with Indian Ocean reefs, suitable habitat worldwide increased by 38% in RCP4.5 by 2100 and 28% in RCP8.5 by 2050. Global habitat loss by 2100 was just 10% for RCP8.5. This projection suggests that shallow tropical sites in the Indian Ocean basin experience conditions today that are most similar to future projections of worldwide conditions. Indian Ocean reefs may thus be ideal candidate regions from which to select the best strands of coral for potential re-seeding efforts.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Edmunds, Peter J; Adjeroud, Mehdi; Baskett, Marissa L; Baums, Iliana B; Budd, Ann F; Carpenter, Robert C; Fabina, Nicholas S; Fan, Tung-Yung; Franklin, Erik C; Gross, Kevin; Han, Xueying; Jacobson, Lianne; Klaus, James S; McClanahan, Tim R; O'Leary, Jennifer K; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Pochon, Xavier; Putnam, Hollie M; Smith, Tyler B; Stat, Michael; Sweatman, Hugh; van Woesik, Robert; Gates, Ruth D

    2014-01-01

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. The dynamics of architectural complexity on coral reefs under climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    One striking feature of coral reef ecosystems is the complex benthic architecture which supports diverse and abundant fauna, particularly of reef fish. Reef-building corals are in decline worldwide, with a corresponding loss of live coral cover resulting in a loss of architectural complexity. Understanding the dynamics of the reef architecture is therefore important to envision the ability of corals to maintain functional habitats in an era of climate change. Here, we develop a mechanistic model of reef topographical complexity for contemporary Caribbean reefs. The model describes the dynamics of corals and other benthic taxa under climate-driven disturbances (hurricanes and coral bleaching). Corals have a simplified shape with explicit diameter and height, allowing species-specific calculation of their colony surface and volume. Growth and the mechanical (hurricanes) and biological erosion (parrotfish) of carbonate skeletons are important in driving the pace of extension/reduction in the upper reef surface, the net outcome being quantified by a simple surface roughness index (reef rugosity). The model accurately simulated the decadal changes of coral cover observed in Cozumel (Mexico) between 1984 and 2008, and provided a realistic hindcast of coral colony-scale (1-10 m) changing rugosity over the same period. We then projected future changes of Caribbean reef rugosity in response to global warming. Under severe and frequent thermal stress, the model predicted a dramatic loss of rugosity over the next two or three decades. Critically, reefs with managed parrotfish populations were able to delay the general loss of architectural complexity, as the benefits of grazing in maintaining living coral outweighed the bioerosion of dead coral skeletons. Overall, this model provides the first explicit projections of reef rugosity in a warming climate, and highlights the need of combining local (protecting and restoring high grazing) to global (mitigation of greenhouse gas

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Feary, David A; Burt, John A; Bauman, Andrew G; Al Hazeem, Shaker; Abdel-Moati, Mohamed A; Al-Khalifa, Khalifa A; Anderson, Donald M; Amos, Carl; Baker, Andrew; Bartholomew, Aaron; Bento, Rita; Cavalcante, Geórgenes H; Chen, Chaolun Allen; Coles, Steve L; Dab, Koosha; Fowler, Ashley M; George, David; Grandcourt, Edwin; Hill, Ross; John, David M; Jones, David A; Keshavmurthy, Shashank; Mahmoud, Huda; Moradi Och Tapeh, Mahdi; Mostafavi, Pargol Ghavam; Naser, Humood; Pichon, Michel; Purkis, Sam; Riegl, Bernhard; Samimi-Namin, Kaveh; Sheppard, Charles; Vajed Samiei, Jahangir; Voolstra, Christian R; Wiedenmann, Joerg

    2013-07-30

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Coral reefs - Specialized ecosystems

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  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. 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.

  8. Climate change impacts on coral reefs: synergies with local effects, possibilities for acclimation, and management implications.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ateweberhan, Mebrahtu; Feary, David A; Keshavmurthy, Shashank; Chen, Allen; Schleyer, Michael H; Sheppard, Charles R C

    2013-09-30

    Most reviews concerning the impact of climate change on coral reefs discuss independent effects of warming or ocean acidification. However, the interactions between these, and between these and direct local stressors are less well addressed. This review underlines that coral bleaching, acidification, and diseases are expected to interact synergistically, and will negatively influence survival, growth, reproduction, larval development, settlement, and post-settlement development of corals. Interactions with local stress factors such as pollution, sedimentation, and overfishing are further expected to compound effects of climate change. Reduced coral cover and species composition following coral bleaching events affect coral reef fish community structure, with variable outcomes depending on their habitat dependence and trophic specialisation. Ocean acidification itself impacts fish mainly indirectly through disruption of predation- and habitat-associated behavior changes. Zooxanthellate octocorals on reefs are often overlooked but are substantial occupiers of space; these also are highly susceptible to bleaching but because they tend to be more heterotrophic, climate change impacts mainly manifest in terms of changes in species composition and population structure. Non-calcifying macroalgae are expected to respond positively to ocean acidification and promote microbe-induced coral mortality via the release of dissolved compounds, thus intensifying phase-shifts from coral to macroalgal domination. Adaptation of corals to these consequences of CO2 rise through increased tolerance of corals and successful mutualistic associations between corals and zooxanthellae is likely to be insufficient to match the rate and frequency of the projected changes. Impacts are interactive and magnified, and because there is a limited capacity for corals to adapt to climate change, global targets of carbon emission reductions are insufficient for coral reefs, so lower targets should be

  9. The threat to coral reefs from more intense cyclones under climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cheal, Alistair J; MacNeil, M Aaron; Emslie, Michael J; Sweatman, Hugh

    2017-04-01

    Ocean warming under climate change threatens coral reefs directly, through fatal heat stress to corals and indirectly, by boosting the energy of cyclones that cause coral destruction and loss of associated organisms. Although cyclone frequency is unlikely to rise, cyclone intensity is predicted to increase globally, causing more frequent occurrences of the most destructive cyclones with potentially severe consequences for coral reef ecosystems. While increasing heat stress is considered a pervasive risk to coral reefs, quantitative estimates of threats from cyclone intensification are lacking due to limited data on cyclone impacts to inform projections. Here, using extensive data from Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR), we show that increases in cyclone intensity predicted for this century are sufficient to greatly accelerate coral reef degradation. Coral losses on the outer GBR were small, localized and offset by gains on undisturbed reefs for more than a decade, despite numerous cyclones and periods of record heat stress, until three unusually intense cyclones over 5 years drove coral cover to record lows over >1500 km. Ecological damage was particularly severe in the central-southern region where 68% of coral cover was destroyed over >1000 km, forcing record declines in the species richness and abundance of associated fish communities, with many local extirpations. Four years later, recovery of average coral cover was relatively slow and there were further declines in fish species richness and abundance. Slow recovery of community diversity appears likely from such a degraded starting point. Highly unusual characteristics of two of the cyclones, aside from high intensity, inflated the extent of severe ecological damage that would more typically have occurred over 100s of km. Modelling published predictions of future cyclone activity, the likelihood of more intense cyclones within time frames of coral recovery by mid-century poses a global threat to coral

  10. 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

  11. Operationalizing resilience for adaptive coral reef management under global environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anthony, Kenneth R N; Marshall, Paul A; Abdulla, Ameer; Beeden, Roger; Bergh, Chris; Black, Ryan; Eakin, C Mark; Game, Edward T; Gooch, Margaret; Graham, Nicholas A J; Green, Alison; Heron, Scott F; van Hooidonk, Ruben; Knowland, Cheryl; Mangubhai, Sangeeta; Marshall, Nadine; Maynard, Jeffrey A; McGinnity, Peter; McLeod, Elizabeth; Mumby, Peter J; Nyström, Magnus; Obura, David; Oliver, Jamie; Possingham, Hugh P; Pressey, Robert L; Rowlands, Gwilym P; Tamelander, Jerker; Wachenfeld, David; Wear, Stephanie

    2015-01-01

    Cumulative pressures from global climate and ocean change combined with multiple regional and local-scale stressors pose fundamental challenges to coral reef managers worldwide. Understanding how cumulative stressors affect coral reef vulnerability is critical for successful reef conservation now and in the future. In this review, we present the case that strategically managing for increased ecological resilience (capacity for stress resistance and recovery) can reduce coral reef vulnerability (risk of net decline) up to a point. Specifically, we propose an operational framework for identifying effective management levers to enhance resilience and support management decisions that reduce reef vulnerability. Building on a system understanding of biological and ecological processes that drive resilience of coral reefs in different environmental and socio-economic settings, we present an Adaptive Resilience-Based management (ARBM) framework and suggest a set of guidelines for how and where resilience can be enhanced via management interventions. We argue that press-type stressors (pollution, sedimentation, overfishing, ocean warming and acidification) are key threats to coral reef resilience by affecting processes underpinning resistance and recovery, while pulse-type (acute) stressors (e.g. storms, bleaching events, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks) increase the demand for resilience. We apply the framework to a set of example problems for Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reefs. A combined strategy of active risk reduction and resilience support is needed, informed by key management objectives, knowledge of reef ecosystem processes and consideration of environmental and social drivers. As climate change and ocean acidification erode the resilience and increase the vulnerability of coral reefs globally, successful adaptive management of coral reefs will become increasingly difficult. Given limited resources, on-the-ground solutions are likely to focus increasingly on

  12. 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.

  13. The influence of coral reefs and climate change on wave-driven flooding of tropical coastlines

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ellen Quataert,; Storlazzi, Curt; Arnold van Rooijen,; Ap van Dongeren,; Cheriton, Olivia

    2015-01-01

    A numerical model, XBeach, calibrated and validated on field data collected at Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of Marshall Islands, was used to examine the effects of different coral reef characteristics on potential coastal hazards caused by wave-driven flooding and how these effects may be altered by projected climate change. The results presented herein suggest that coasts fronted by relatively narrow reefs with steep fore reef slopes (~1:10 and steeper) and deeper, smoother reef flats are expected to experience the highest wave runup. Wave runup increases for higher water levels (sea level rise), higher waves, and lower bed roughness (coral degradation), which are all expected effects of climate change. Rising sea levels and climate change will therefore have a significant negative impact on the ability of coral reefs to mitigate the effects of coastal hazards in the future.

  14. Climate Change and Interacting Stressors: Implications for Coral Reef Management in American Samoa (Final Report)

    Science.gov (United States)

    EPA announced the release of the final document, Climate Change and Interacting Stressors: Implications for Coral Reef Management in American Samoa. This report provides a synthesis of information on the interactive effects of climate change and other stressors on the reef...

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. The northernmost coral frontier of the Maldives: The coral reefs of Ihavandippolu Atoll under long-term environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tkachenko, Konstantin S

    2012-12-01

    Ihavandippolu, the northernmost atoll of the Maldives, experienced severe coral bleaching and mortality in 1998 followed by several bleaching episodes in the last decade. Coral cover in the 11 study sites surveyed in July-December of 2011 in the 3-5 m depth range varied from 1.7 to 51%. Reefs of the islands located in the center of Ihavandippolu lagoon have exhibited a very low coral recovery since 1998 and remain mostly degraded 12 years after the impact. At the same time, some reefs, especially in the inner part of the eastern ring of the atoll, demonstrate a high coral cover (>40%) with a dominance of branching Acropora that is known to be one of the coral genera that is most susceptible to thermal stress. The last severe bleaching event in 2010 resulted in high coral mortality in some sites of the atoll. Differences in coral mortality rates and proportion between "susceptible" and "resistant" taxa in study sites are apparently related to long-term adaptation and local hydrological features that can mitigate thermal impacts. Abundant herbivorous fish observed in the atoll prevent coral overgrowth by macroalgae even on degraded reefs. Despite the frequent influence of temperature anomalies and having less geomorphologic refuges for coral survivals than other larger Maldivian atolls, a major part of observed coral communities in Ihavandippolu Atoll exhibits high resilience and potential for further acclimatization to a changing environment.

  19. Long-term monitoring of reef corals at the Flower Garden Banks (northwest Gulf of Mexico): Reef coral population changes and historical incorporation of barium in Montastrea annularis

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Deslarzes, K.J.P.

    1992-01-01

    Reef coral populations were monitored from 1988 to 1991 at the Flower Garden Banks located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The status of reef coral populations, and natural or man-made factors potentially affecting their well-being were determined. Man-made chronic disturbances are degrading coral reef resources on a global scale. Yet, the Flower Garden coral reefs seem to have been sheltered from the effects of regional stresses generated by population growth and increased industrial activity. Since 1974, reef coral population levels have remained unchanged in the Montastrea-Diploria Zones at the Flower Garden Banks. Live coral cover ranges between 46 and 46.5%. Montastrea annularis and Diploria strigosa comprise 80% of the coral cover on either bank. The remainder of the cover is mostly shared by eight other taxa. Coral taxa appear to be more homogeneously distributed on the West Bank. The relatively greater number of Agaricia spp., Madracis decastis, and P. astreoides colonies on the East Bank may be the source of a decreased evenness. The health of reef corals was assessed using repetitive and non-repetitive photographic methods, and accretionary growth measurements of M. annularis. Reef corals have undergone small scale changes at the Flower Gardens probably reflecting natural disturbance, predation, disease, and inter-specific competition. White mat disease (ridge disease) is shown to generate more tissue loss than any of the three bleaching events that took place at the Flower Gardens (1989, 1990, and 1991). Advance to retreat linear ratios of encrusting growth revealed a net tissue gain on the East Bank and a net tissue loss on the West Bank. Growth rates of M. annularis were highly variable. The annual barium content from 1910 in 1989 in a M. annularis colony from the West Flower Garden did not reveal trends associated with the extensive oil and gas exploration in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

  20. Coral reefs as the first line of defense: Shoreline protection in face of climate change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Elliff, Carla I; Silva, Iracema R

    2017-03-25

    Coral reefs are responsible for a wide array of ecosystem services including shoreline protection. However, the processes involved in delivering this particular service have not been fully understood. The objective of the present review was to compile the main results in the literature regarding the study of shoreline protection delivered by coral reefs, identifying the main threats climate change imposes to the service, and discuss mitigation and recovery strategies that can and have been applied to these ecosystems. While different zones of a reef have been associated with different levels of wave energy and wave height attenuation, more information is still needed regarding the capacity of different reef morphologies to deliver shoreline protection. Moreover, the synergy between the main threats imposed by climate change to coral reefs has also not been thoroughly investigated. Recovery strategies are being tested and while there are numerous mitigation options, the challenge remains as to how to implement them and monitor their efficacy.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Noble, Mae M; van Laake, Gregoor; Berumen, Michael L; Fulton, Christopher J

    2013-01-01

    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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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, Rik; 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Confronting the coral reef crisis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bellwood, D. R.; Hughes, T. P.; Folke, C.; Nyström, M.

    2004-06-01

    The worldwide decline of coral reefs calls for an urgent reassessment of current management practices. Confronting large-scale crises requires a major scaling-up of management efforts based on an improved understanding of the ecological processes that underlie reef resilience. Managing for improved resilience, incorporating the role of human activity in shaping ecosystems, provides a basis for coping with uncertainty, future changes and ecological surprises. Here we review the ecological roles of critical functional groups (for both corals and reef fishes) that are fundamental to understanding resilience and avoiding phase shifts from coral dominance to less desirable, degraded ecosystems. We identify striking biogeographic differences in the species richness and composition of functional groups, which highlight the vulnerability of Caribbean reef ecosystems. These findings have profound implications for restoration of degraded reefs, management of fisheries, and the focus on marine protected areas and biodiversity hotspots as priorities for conservation.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wilson, S K; Adjeroud, M; Bellwood, D R; Berumen, M L; Booth, D; Bozec, Y-Marie; Chabanet, P; Cheal, A; Cinner, J; Depczynski, M; Feary, D A; Gagliano, M; Graham, N A J; Halford, A R; Halpern, B S; Harborne, A R; Hoey, A S; Holbrook, S J; Jones, G P; Kulbiki, M; Letourneur, Y; De Loma, T L; McClanahan, T; McCormick, M I; Meekan, M G; Mumby, P J; Munday, P L; Ohman, M C; Pratchett, M S; Riegl, B; Sano, M; Schmitt, R J; Syms, C

    2010-03-15

    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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2014-11-01

    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 investigated the effects of increased seawater temperature on bacteria able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs) that live in association with the mussid coral Mussismilia harttii. Consistent increases in diazotroph abundances and diversities were found at increased temperatures. Moreover, gradual shifts in the dominance of particular diazotroph populations occurred as temperature increased, indicating a potential future scenario of climate change. The temperature-sensitive diazotrophs may provide useful bioindicators of the effects of thermal stress on coral reef health, allowing the impact of thermal anomalies to be monitored. In addition, our findings support the development of research on different strategies to improve the fitness of corals during events of thermal stress, such as augmentation with specific diazotrophs.

  14. 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).

  15. 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.

  16. Global change and modern coral reefs: New opportunities to understand shallow-water carbonate depositional processes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hallock, Pamela

    2005-04-01

    Human activities are impacting coral reefs physically, biologically, and chemically. Nutrification, sedimentation, chemical pollution, and overfishing are significant local threats that are occurring worldwide. Ozone depletion and global warming are triggering mass coral-bleaching events; corals under temperature stress lose the ability to synthesize protective sunscreens and become more sensitive to sunlight. Photo-oxidative stress also reduces fitness, rendering reef-building organisms more susceptible to emerging diseases. Increasing concentration of atmospheric CO 2 has already reduced CaCO 3 saturation in surface waters by more than 10%. Doubling of atmospheric CO 2 concentration over pre-industrial concentration in the 21st century may reduce carbonate production in tropical shallow marine environments by as much as 80%. As shallow-water reefs decline worldwide, opportunities abound for researchers to expand understanding of carbonate depositional systems. Coordinated studies of carbonate geochemistry with photozoan physiology and calcification, particularly in cool subtropical-transition zones between photozoan-reef and heterotrophic carbonate-ramp communities, will contribute to understanding of carbonate sedimentation under environmental change, both in the future and in the geologic record. Cyanobacteria are becoming increasingly prominent on declining reefs, as these microbes can tolerate strong solar radiation, higher temperatures, and abundant nutrients. The responses of reef-dwelling cyanobacteria to environmental parameters associated with global change are prime topics for further research, with both ecological and geological implications.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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 ...

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Brazilian coral reefs in a period of global change: A synthesis

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Zelinda M. A. N. Leão

    Full Text Available Abstract Brazilian coral reefs form structures significantly different from the well-known reef models, as follows: (i they have a growth form of mushroom-shaped coral pinnacles called "chapeirões", (ii they are built by a low diversity coral fauna rich in endemic species, most of them relic forms dating back to the Tertiary, and (iii the nearshore bank reefs are surrounded by siliciclastic sediments. The reefs are distributed in the following four major sectors along the Brazilian coast: the northern, the northeastern and the eastern regions, and the oceanic islands, but certain isolated coral species can be found in warmer waters in embayments of the southern region. There are different types of bank reefs, fringing reefs, isolated "chapeirões" and an atoll present along the Brazilian coast. Corals, milleporids and coralline algae build the rigid frame of the reefs. The areas in which the major coral reefs occur correspond to regions in which nearby urban centers are experiencing accelerated growth, and tourism development is rapidly increasing. The major human effects on the reef ecosystem are mostly associated with the increased sedimentation due to the removal of the Atlantic rainforest and the discharge of industrial and urban effluents. The effects of the warming of oceanic waters that had previously affected several reef areas with high intensity coral bleaching had not shown, by the time of the 2010 event, any episodes of mass coral mortality on Brazilian reefs.

  4. Continued post-bleaching decline and changed benthic community of a Kenyan coral reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lambo, A L; Ormond, R F G

    2006-12-01

    During the global coral bleaching event of 1997/1998 Kenyan reefs experienced between 50% and 90% coral mortality, with coral cover at Malindi being reduced from 35-45% (pre-bleaching) to 10-20%. Even before this event there was concern that these reefs were being impacted by increased sediment loads from the nearby Sabaki River. Here we report that since 1998 coral cover has declined yet further with, in 2004, means of 5.1% being recorded at North Reef (within the non-fished Malindi Marine National Park) and 2.3% on Leopard Reef (within the fished Marine Reserve). Prior to bleaching 55 coral genera were recorded from the area, currently we find only 23. Meanwhile algal cover, especially the calcareous green alga Halimeda, has increased, and on Leopard Reef is twice that on North Reef. Taken with the evidence of previous studies, these data suggest a combined impact of coral bleaching with sedimentation and fishing.

  5. 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.

  6. Scenarios of climate change in the northern Veracruz Coral Reef System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allende-Arandía, M.; Zavala-Hidalgo, J.; Mateos-Jasso, A.; Romero-Centeno, R.; Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction Group

    2013-05-01

    Some studies of the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems have focused on the abundance and distribution of species, but both are closely related to environmental conditions determined by the physical factors of the particular area. The impact on these ecosystems depend on the increase in sea level (growth rates and sediment supply), changes in oceanographic conditions (temperature, salinity and acidification), changes in the frequency and intensity of storms, and the anthropogenic influence on coastal areas, thereby increasing the vulnerability of coral reefs to climate change and reducing its adaptation ability. This work aims to study average and extreme conditions in the Veracruz Coral Reef System (SAV) that may have an environmental impact associated with climate change. Data from two global models (MIROC3.2 and ECHAM/MPI-OM) and reanalysis data (NARR) are used to compare weather conditions in the SAV for the period 1991-2000 and the proposed IPCC projections for the period 2091-2100. No significant difference in wind patterns were observed, so these scenarios suggest that no significant changes are expected in the dynamic conditions and stratification caused by climate change in the SAV.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    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 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Kaplan, Isaac C; Gorton, Rebecca; Leemans, Rik; Mooij, Wolf 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 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 other drivers

  14. 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

  15. Coral reefs: threats and conservation in an era of global change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Riegl, Bernhard; Bruckner, Andy; Coles, Steve L; Renaud, Philip; Dodge, Richard E

    2009-04-01

    Coral reefs are iconic, threatened ecosystems that have been in existence for approximately 500 million years, yet their continued ecological persistence seems doubtful at present. Anthropogenic modification of chemical and physical atmospheric dynamics that cause coral death by bleaching and newly emergent diseases due to increased heat and irradiation, as well as decline in calcification caused by ocean acidification due to increased CO(2), are the most important large-scale threats. On more local scales, overfishing and destructive fisheries, coastal construction, nutrient enrichment, increased runoff and sedimentation, and the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species have caused phase shifts away from corals. Already approximately 20% of the world's reefs are lost and approximately 26% are under imminent threat. Conservation science of coral reefs is well advanced, but its practical application has often been lagging. Societal priorites, economic pressures, and legal/administrative systems of many countries are more prone to destroy rather than conserve coral-reef ecosystems. Nevertheless, many examples of successful conservation exist from the national level to community-enforced local action. When effectively managed, protected areas have contributed to regeneration of coral reefs and stocks of associated marine resources. Local communities often support coral-reef conservation in order to raise income potential associated with tourism and/or improved resource levels. Coral reefs create an annual income in S-Florida alone of over $4 billion. Thus, no conflict between development, societal welfare, and coral-reef conservation needs to exist. Despite growing threats, it is not too late for decisive action to protect and save these economically and ecologically high-value ecosystems. Conservation science plays a critical role in designing effective strategies.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Bioindication in coral reef ecosystems.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yap, H T

    1986-01-01

    The concept of bioindication in the sense of the use of organisms for detecting environmental stress has been employed in coral reef conservation and management for the past several years. Important tools are coral growth rates and various community parameters, notably hard coral cover. The present need is the optimal coordination of international efforts for the earliest possible institution of an effective monitoring system.

  20. Coral reef ecosystem

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

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

    stream_size 58869 stream_content_type text/plain stream_name Sustain_Mgmt_Wetlands_2003_117.pdf.txt stream_source_info Sustain_Mgmt_Wetlands_2003_117.pdf.txt Content-Encoding UTF-8 Content-Type text/plain; charset=UTF-8... fossil fuels in the immediate future but they, espe cially, the solar and wave cnergies, do hold a promise of alleviating the dependence on the fomler to a significant extent. Threats Constraints to sustainability of coral reefs are over-exploitation anr...

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-07-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Fluctuations in coral health of four common inshore reef corals in response to seasonal and anthropogenic changes in water quality.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Browne, Nicola K; Tay, Jason K L; Low, Jeffrey; Larson, Ole; Todd, Peter A

    2015-04-01

    Environmental drivers of coral condition (maximum quantum yield, symbiont density, chlorophyll a content and coral skeletal growth rates) were assessed in the equatorial inshore coastal waters of Singapore, where the amplitude of seasonal variation is low, but anthropogenic influence is relatively high. Water quality variables (sediments, nutrients, trace metals, temperature, light) explained between 52 and 83% of the variation in coral condition, with sediments and light availability as key drivers of foliose corals (Merulina ampliata, Pachyseris speciosa), and temperature exerting a greater influence on a branching coral (Pocillopora damicornis). Seasonal reductions in water quality led to high chlorophyll a concentrations and maximum quantum yields in corals, but low growth rates. These marginal coral communities are potentially vulnerable to climate change, hence, we propose water quality thresholds for coral growth with the aim of mitigating both local and global environmental impacts.

  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. 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...

  11. Fisheries management: what chance on coral reefs?

    OpenAIRE

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  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. 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.

  16. 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...

  17. 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.

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    2010-01-01

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

  19. 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...

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

    OpenAIRE

    Carroll, Andrew G; 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...

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    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:...

  6. 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...

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2013-12-12

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

  8. 75 FR 48934 - Coral Reef Conservation Program Implementation Guidelines

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-08-12

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-ZC19 Coral Reef Conservation Program... Implementation Guidelines for the Coral Reef Conservation Program. SUMMARY: This document provides NOAA's revised Grant Program Implementation Guidelines (Guidelines) for the Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP...

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    2016-09-01

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. Drivers and predictions of coral reef carbonate budget trajectories

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Jennings, Simon; Perry, Chris T.

    2017-01-01

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the long-term maintenance of coral-dominated tropical ecosystems, and has received considerable attention over the past two decades. Coral bleaching and associated mortality events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense, can alter the balance of different elements that are responsible for coral reef growth and maintenance. The geomorphic impacts of coral mass mortality have received relatively little attention, particularly questions concerning temporal recovery of reef carbonate production and the factors that promote resilience of reef growth potential. Here, we track the biological carbonate budgets of inner Seychelles reefs from 1994 to 2014, spanning the 1998 global bleaching event when these reefs lost more than 90% of coral cover. All 21 reefs had positive budgets in 1994, but in 2005 budgets were predominantly negative. By 2014, carbonate budgets on seven reefs were comparable with 1994, but on all reefs where an ecological regime shift to macroalgal dominance occurred, budgets remained negative through 2014. Reefs with higher massive coral cover, lower macroalgae cover and lower excavating parrotfish biomass in 1994 were more likely to have positive budgets post-bleaching. If mortality of corals from the 2016 bleaching event is as severe as that of 1998, our predictions based on past trends would suggest that six of eight reefs with positive budgets in 2014 would still have positive budgets by 2030. Our results highlight that reef accretion and framework maintenance cannot be assumed from the ecological state alone, and that managers should focus on conserving aspects of coral reefs that support resilient carbonate budgets. PMID:28123092

  14. 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...

  15. 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.

  16. Cyanobacteria in coral reef ecosystems : a review

    OpenAIRE

    Charpy, L.; Casareto, B.E.; Langlade, M. J.; Suzuki, Y.

    2012-01-01

    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 nitrog...

  17. Unseen players shape benthic competition on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Barott, Katie L; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-12-01

    Recent work has shown that hydrophilic and hydrophobic organic matter (OM) from algae disrupts the function of the coral holobiont and promotes the invasion of opportunistic pathogens, leading to coral morbidity and mortality. Here we refer to these dynamics as the (3)DAM [dissolved organic matter (DOM), direct contact, disease, algae and microbes] model. There is considerable complexity in coral-algae interactions; turf algae and macroalgae promote heterotrophic microbial overgrowth of coral, macroalgae also directly harm the corals via hydrophobic OM, whereas crustose coralline algae generally encourage benign microbial communities. In addition, complex flow patterns transport OM and pathogens from algae to downstream corals, and direct algal contact enhances their delivery. These invisible players (microbes, viruses, and OM) are important drivers of coral reefs because they have non-linear responses to disturbances and are the first to change in response to perturbations, providing near real-time trajectories for a coral reef, a vital metric for conservation and restoration.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    of an earlier version of this manuscript. We thank Prof. Ramola Antao, consultant, Senior Cambridge English examinations in India, for editing the manuscript. The first author is thankful to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi for the financial... change. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, pp 297-368 Wentworth CK (1922) A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. J Geol 30: 377-392 14    Table 1 Depth range of Seagrass, Coral Reef and Sandy areas in the study region Island...

  1. Evolution of long-toothed fishes and the changing nature of fish-benthos interactions on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bellwood, David R; Hoey, Andrew S; Bellwood, Orpha; Goatley, Christopher H R

    2014-01-01

    Interactions between fishes and the benthos have shaped the development of marine ecosystems since at least the early Mesozoic. Here, using the morphology of fish teeth as an indicator of feeding abilities, we quantify changes over the last 240 million years of reef fish evolution. Fossil and extant coral reef fish assemblages reveal exceptional stasis in tooth design over time, with one notable exception, a distinct long-toothed form. Arising only in the last 40 million years, these long-toothed fishes have bypassed the invertebrate link in the food chain, feeding directly on benthic particulate material. With the appearance of elongated teeth, these specialized detritivores have moved from eating invertebrates to eating the food of invertebrates. Over evolutionary time, fishes have slid back down the food chain.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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...

  6. 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.

  7. 78 FR 67128 - Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-11-08

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting AGENCY: Coral Reef... of public comment. SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given of a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task... to do so. Established by Presidential Executive Order 13089 in 1998, the U.S. Coral Reef Task...

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Spatial dynamics of benthic competition on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandin, Stuart A; McNamara, Dylan E

    2012-04-01

    The community structure of sedentary organisms is largely controlled by the outcome of direct competition for space. Understanding factors defining competitive outcomes among neighbors is thus critical for predicting large-scale changes, such as transitions to alternate states within coral reefs. Using a spatially explicit model, we explored the importance of variation in two spatial properties in benthic dynamics on coral reefs: (1) patterns of herbivory are spatially distinct between fishes and sea urchins and (2) there is wide variation in the areal extent into which different coral species can expand. We reveal that the size-specific, competitive asymmetry of corals versus fleshy algae highlights the significance of spatial patterning of herbivory and of coral growth. Spatial dynamics that alter the demographic importance of coral recruitment and maturation have profound effects on the emergent structure of the reef benthic community. Spatially constrained herbivory (as by sea urchins) is more effective than spatially unconstrained herbivory (as by many fish) at opening space for the time needed for corals to settle and to recruit to the adult population. Further, spatially unconstrained coral growth (as by many branching coral species) reduces the number of recruitment events needed to fill a habitat with coral relative to more spatially constrained growth (as by many massive species). Our model predicts that widespread mortality of branching corals (e.g., Acropora spp) and herbivorous sea urchins (particularly Diadema antillarum) in the Caribbean has greatly reduced the potential for restoration across the region.

  12. Impact of sea-level rise and coral mortality on the wave dynamics and wave forces on barrier reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baldock, T E; Golshani, A; Callaghan, D P; Saunders, M I; Mumby, P J

    2014-06-15

    A one-dimensional wave model was used to investigate the reef top wave dynamics across a large suite of idealized reef-lagoon profiles, representing barrier coral reef systems under different sea-level rise (SLR) scenarios. The modeling shows that the impacts of SLR vary spatially and are strongly influenced by the bathymetry of the reef and coral type. A complex response occurs for the wave orbital velocity and forces on corals, such that the changes in the wave dynamics vary reef by reef. Different wave loading regimes on massive and branching corals also leads to contrasting impacts from SLR. For many reef bathymetries, wave orbital velocities increase with SLR and cyclonic wave forces are reduced for certain coral species. These changes may be beneficial to coral health and colony resilience and imply that predicting SLR impacts on coral reefs requires careful consideration of the reef bathymetry and the mix of coral species.

  13. Fear of fishers: human predation explains behavioral changes in coral reef fishes.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fraser A Januchowski-Hartley

    Full Text Available Prey flight decisions in response to predation risk are increasingly being considered in conservation and management decisions in the terrestrial realm, but are rarely considered in marine systems. This field-based study investigated how the behavioral response of coral reef fish families varied along a gradient of subsistence fishing pressure in Papua New Guinea. Specifically, we examined how fishing pressure was related to pre-flight behavior and flight initiation distance (FID, and whether FID was influenced by body size (centimeters total length, group size (including both con- and hetero-specific individuals, or life-history phase. Fishing pressure was positively associated with higher FID, but only in families that were primarily targeted by spear guns. Among these families, there were variable responses in FID; some families showed increased FID monotonically with fishing pressure, while others showed increased FID only at the highest levels of fishing pressure. Body size was more significant in varying FID at higher levels of fishing pressure. Although family-level differences in pre-flight behavior were reported, such behavior showed low concordance with fishing pressure. FID shows promise as a tool by which compliance and effectiveness of management of reef fisheries can be assessed.

  14. Coral reef research in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    area of the coastline gets lost every year. Some of the remedial measures to control erosion have also been indicated. The second article on Deep Sea Mining is of great potential value for the future. The polymetallic nodules which cover a very large... 2008 Dr. S.Z. Qasim In This Issue... From the Editor's Desk Vulnerability of the Indian Coastline to Erosion S.Z. Qasim Potential for Deep Sea Mining in India G.S. Roonwal Coral Reef Research in India M.V.M. Wafar Role of Microbes in the Ecology...

  15. 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...

  16. Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Jennings, Simon; MacNeil, M Aaron; Mouillot, David; Wilson, Shaun K

    2015-02-05

    Climate-induced coral bleaching is among the greatest current threats to coral reefs, causing widespread loss of live coral cover. Conditions under which reefs bounce back from bleaching events or shift from coral to algal dominance are unknown, making it difficult to predict and plan for differing reef responses under climate change. Here we document and predict long-term reef responses to a major climate-induced coral bleaching event that caused unprecedented region-wide mortality of Indo-Pacific corals. Following loss of >90% live coral cover, 12 of 21 reefs recovered towards pre-disturbance live coral states, while nine reefs underwent regime shifts to fleshy macroalgae. Functional diversity of associated reef fish communities shifted substantially following bleaching, returning towards pre-disturbance structure on recovering reefs, while becoming progressively altered on regime shifting reefs. We identified threshold values for a range of factors that accurately predicted ecosystem response to the bleaching event. Recovery was favoured when reefs were structurally complex and in deeper water, when density of juvenile corals and herbivorous fishes was relatively high and when nutrient loads were low. Whether reefs were inside no-take marine reserves had no bearing on ecosystem trajectory. Although conditions governing regime shift or recovery dynamics were diverse, pre-disturbance quantification of simple factors such as structural complexity and water depth accurately predicted ecosystem trajectories. These findings foreshadow the likely divergent but predictable outcomes for reef ecosystems in response to climate change, thus guiding improved management and adaptation.

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    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...

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andreas F. Haas

    2015-11-01

    Full Text Available 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, neglecting changes in their aesthetic appearance. Here we introduce a standardized computational approach to assess coral reef environments based on 109 visual features designed to evaluate the aesthetic appearance of art. The main feature groups include color intensity and diversity of the image, relative size, color, and distribution of discernable objects within the image, and texture. Specific coral reef aesthetic values combining all 109 features were calibrated against an established biogeochemical assessment (NCEAS using machine learning algorithms. These values were generated for ∼2,100 random photographic images collected from 9 coral reef locations exposed to varying levels of anthropogenic influence across 2 ocean systems. Aesthetic values proved accurate predictors of the NCEAS scores (root mean square error < 5 for N ≥ 3 and significantly correlated to microbial abundance at each site. This shows that mathematical approaches designed to assess the aesthetic appearance of photographic images can be used as an inexpensive monitoring tool for coral reef ecosystems. It further suggests that human perception of aesthetics is not purely subjective but influenced by inherent reactions towards measurable visual cues. By quantifying aesthetic features of coral reef systems this method provides a cost efficient monitoring tool that targets one of the most important socioeconomic values of coral reefs directly tied to revenue for its local population.

  19. Hydrodynamic Regimes Affect Coral Reef Resilience to Ocean Acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Teneva, L. T.; Dunbar, R. B.; Koseff, J. R.; Fleischfresser, J. D.; Koweek, D.

    2013-05-01

    Caribbean reefs hold tremendous value as sources of food, income, coastal protection, in addition to their cultural significance. Recently, studies showed that Caribbean reef growth has been surpassed in places by excessive rates of erosion due to climate change. The rates of coral reef response to ocean pH changes and warming and the implications for ecosystem resilience remain largely unknown. One way to investigate the potential structural resilience of reefs to climate change is to measure the physical oceanographic conditions in the area. Determining the hydrodynamic regimes and residence time of water in a particular reef environment is crucial to understanding the rates of future warming and acidification a reef site would experience. Our work on Pacific Islands' hydrodynamics - Central Equatorial Pacific, Great Barrier Reef, and Western Pacific -- would be of interest to Caribbean physical oceanographers and coral reef scientists. We use a combination of Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters, temperature and salinity sensors, and pressure sensors to characterize reef hydrodynamic regimes. Our work indicates that shallower, more protected reef habitats are characterized by longer residence times, their biological signals are strongly tidally modulated, essentially subjecting such habitats to higher rates of warming and acidification in the future. Reef crest environments and fore reef habitats, on the other hand, are well-mixed with open-ocean water. The hydrodynamic regimes there condition such reef sites to more attenuated temperature and pH ranges, conditions more typical of the open ocean. Our work suggests that investigating the geomorphology and resulting localized hydrodynamics in a reef area can provide insights into the relative rates at which a reef could resist or succumb to impacts of ocean acidification. Such information for different reef islands, in the Pacific or Caribbean basins, could provide helpful insights

  20. Projecting coral reef futures under global warming and ocean acidification.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pandolfi, John M; Connolly, Sean R; Marshall, Dustin J; Cohen, Anne L

    2011-07-22

    Many physiological responses in present-day coral reefs to climate change are interpreted as consistent with the imminent disappearance of modern reefs globally because of annual mass bleaching events, carbonate dissolution, and insufficient time for substantial evolutionary responses. Emerging evidence for variability in the coral calcification response to acidification, geographical variation in bleaching susceptibility and recovery, responses to past climate change, and potential rates of adaptation to rapid warming supports an alternative scenario in which reef degradation occurs with greater temporal and spatial heterogeneity than current projections suggest. Reducing uncertainty in projecting coral reef futures requires improved understanding of past responses to rapid climate change; physiological responses to interacting factors, such as temperature, acidification, and nutrients; and the costs and constraints imposed by acclimation and adaptation.

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

    Data.gov (United States)

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

  2. Digital reef rugosity estimates coral reef habitat complexity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dustan, Phillip; Doherty, Orla; Pardede, Shinta

    2013-01-01

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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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...

  9. EPA Field Manual for Coral Reef Assessments

    Science.gov (United States)

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

  10. MANGROVE-DERIVED NUTRIENTS AND CORAL REEFS

    Science.gov (United States)

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

  11. Ecosystem function and biodiversity on coral reefs

    OpenAIRE

    1994-01-01

    The article highlights a workshop held in Key West, Florida in November 1993 attended by a group of 35 international scientists where topics of ecosystem function and biodiversity on coral reefs were discussed.

  12. Coral Reef Watch, Temperature Anomaly, 50 km

    Data.gov (United States)

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

  13. Behaviourally mediated phenotypic selection in a disturbed coral reef environment.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mark I McCormick

    Full Text Available Natural and anthropogenic disturbances are leading to changes in the nature of many habitats globally, and the magnitude and frequency of these perturbations are predicted to increase under climate change. Globally coral reefs are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change. Fishes often show relatively rapid declines in abundance when corals become stressed and die, but the processes responsible are largely unknown. This study explored the mechanism by which coral bleaching may influence the levels and selective nature of mortality on a juvenile damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, which associates with hard coral. Recently settled fish had a low propensity to migrate small distances (40 cm between habitat patches, even when densities were elevated to their natural maximum. Intraspecific interactions and space use differ among three habitats: live hard coral, bleached coral and dead algal-covered coral. Large fish pushed smaller fish further from the shelter of bleached and dead coral thereby exposing smaller fish to higher mortality than experienced on healthy coral. Small recruits suffered higher mortality than large recruits on bleached and dead coral. Mortality was not size selective on live coral. Survival was 3 times as high on live coral as on either bleached or dead coral. Subtle behavioural interactions between fish and their habitats influence the fundamental link between life history stages, the distribution of phenotypic traits in the local population and potentially the evolution of life history strategies.

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    2012-01-01

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

  15. 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)

    J. Henrich. Bruggemann

    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.

  16. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horwitz, Rael; Hoogenboom, Mia O.; Fine, Maoz

    2017-01-01

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities.

  17. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horwitz, Rael; Hoogenboom, Mia O.; Fine, Maoz

    2017-01-01

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities. PMID:28067281

  18. Monitoring of coastal coral reefs near Dahab (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea) indicates local eutrophication as potential cause for change in benthic communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Naumann, Malik S; Bednarz, Vanessa N; Ferse, Sebastian C A; Niggl, Wolfgang; Wild, Christian

    2015-02-01

    Coral reef ecosystems fringing the coastline of Dahab (South Sinai, Egypt) have experienced increasing anthropogenic disturbance as an emergent international tourism destination. Previous reports covering tourism-related impacts on coastal environments, particularly mechanical damage and destructive fishing, have highlighted the vital necessity for regular ecosystem monitoring of coral reefs near Dahab. However, a continuous scientific monitoring programme of permanent survey sites has not been established to date. Thus, this study conducted in situ monitoring surveys to investigate spatio-temporal variability of benthic reef communities and selected reef-associated herbivores along with reef health indicator organisms by revisiting three of the locally most frequented dive sites during expeditions in March 2010, September 2011 and February 2013. In addition, inorganic nutrient concentrations in reef-surrounding waters were determined to evaluate bottom-up effects of key environmental parameters on benthic reef community shifts in relation to grazer-induced top-down control. Findings revealed that from 2010 to 2013, live hard coral cover declined significantly by 12 % at the current-sheltered site Three Pools (TP), while showing negative trends for the Blue Hole (BH) and Lighthouse (LH) sites. Hard coral cover decline was significantly and highly correlated to a substantial increase in turf algae cover (up to 57 % at TP) at all sites, replacing hard corals as dominant benthic space occupiers in 2013. These changes were correlated to ambient phosphate and ammonium concentrations that exhibited highest values (0.64 ± 0.07 μmol PO4 (3-) l(-1), 1.05 ± 0.07 μmol NH4 (+) l(-1)) at the degraded site TP. While macroalgae appeared to respond to both bottom-up and top-down factors, change in turf algae was consistent with expected indications for bottom-up control. Temporal variability measured in herbivorous reef fish stocks reflected seasonal impacts by

  19. 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 ...

  20. Degradation and recovery of Caribbean coral reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Paredes, Gustavo Adolfo

    2009-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems worldwide have been seriously impacted by human activities. The current deteriorated state of coral reef communities is the result of a long history of exploitation. The scientific community has recognized the extent of degradation, its consequences, and how little we have done to avoid further degradation only in the last two decades. Marine reserves are one of the main conservation actions that could help to reduce the impacts of human activities on the ecosystem, part...

  1. 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...

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-02-15

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

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2012-03-01

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

  4. High coral cover on a mesophotic, subtropical island platform at the limits of coral reef growth

    Science.gov (United States)

    Linklater, Michelle; Carroll, Andrew G.; Hamylton, Sarah M.; Jordan, Alan R.; Brooke, Brendan P.; Nichol, Scott L.; Woodroffe, Colin D.

    2016-11-01

    Balls Pyramid is a volcanic monolith rising 552 m from the Tasman Sea, 24 km southeast of the Pacific Ocean's southernmost modern coral reef at Lord Howe Island. High resolution seabed mapping of the shelf surrounding Balls Pyramid has revealed an extensive submerged reef structure in 30-50 m water depth, covering an area of 87 km2. Benthic community composition analysis of high-resolution still images revealed abundant scleractinian corals on the submerged reef, extending to a maximum depth of 94 m. Scleractinian coral occurred predominantly in 30-40 m depth where it comprised 13.3% of benthic cover within this depth range. Average scleractinian coral cover for all transects was 6.7±12.2%, with the highest average transect cover of 19.4±14.3% and up to 84% cover recorded for an individual still image. The remaining substrate comprised mixed benthos with veneers of carbonate sand. Benthic data were shown to significantly relate to the underlying geomorphology. BVSTEP analyses identified depth and backscatter as the strongest correlating explanatory variables driving benthic community structure. The prevalence of scleractinian corals on the submerged reef features at Balls Pyramid, and the mesophotic depths to which these corals extend, demonstrates the important role of this subtropical island shelf as habitat for modern coral communities in the southwest Pacific Ocean. As Balls Pyramid is located beyond the known latitudinal limit of coral reef formation, these findings have important implications for potential coral reef range expansion and deep reef refugia under a changing climate.

  5. Coral diseases and bleaching on Colombian Caribbean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Navas-Camacho, Raúl; Gil-Agudelo, Diego Luis; Rodríguez-Ramírez, Alberto; Reyes-Nivia, María Catalina; Garzón-Ferreira, Jaime

    2010-05-01

    Since 1998 the National Monitoring System for the Coral Reefs of Colombia (SIMAC) has monitored the occurrence of coral bleaching and diseases in some Colombian coral reefs (permanent stations at San Andres Island, Rosario Islands, Tayrona, San Bernardo Islands and Urabá). The main purpose is to evaluate their health status and to understand the factors that have been contributing to their decline. To estimate these occurrences, annual surveys in 126 permanent belt transects (10 x 2m) with different depth intervals (3-6 meters, 9-12 meters and 15-18 meters) are performed at all reef sites. Data from the 1998-2004 period, revealed that San Andrés Island had many colonies with diseases (38.9 colonies/m2), and Urabá had high numbers with bleaching (54.4 colonies/m2). Of the seven reported coral diseases studied, Dark Spots Disease (DSD), and White Plague Disease (WPD) were noteworthy because they occurred in all Caribbean monitored sites, and because of their high interannual infection incidence. Thirty five species of scleractinian corals were affected by at least one disease and a high incidence of coral diseases on the main reef builders is documented. Bleaching was present in 34 species. During the whole monitoring period, Agaricia agaricites and Siderastrea siderea were the species most severely affected by DSD and bleaching, respectively. Diseases on species such as Agaricia fragilis, A. grahamae, A. humilis, Diploria clivosa, Eusmilia fastigiata, Millepora complanata, and Mycetophyllia aliciae are recorded for first time in Colombia. We present bleaching and disease incidences, kinds of diseases, coral species affected, reef localities studied, depth intervals of surveys, and temporal (years) variation for each geographic area. This variation makes difficult to clearly determine defined patterns or general trends for monitored reefs. This is the first long-term study of coral diseases and bleaching in the Southwestern Caribbean, and one of the few long

  6. Coral reef surveys in India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

    and in persuading the Government agencies to take protective and conservational measures. The current approach is towards establishing a monitoring design to detect changes in reef ecology in the long-term, and to standardize the survey techniques to be compatible...

  7. Watershed restoration as a tool for improving coral reef resilience against climate change and other human impacts

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shelton, Austin J.; Richmond, Robert H.

    2016-12-01

    Environmental stressors in coastal areas threaten the sustainability of marine resources and reduce their resilience to climate change impacts. Accelerated land erosion is a major stressor that leads to increased turbidity and sedimentation on downstream coral reefs and the degradation of ecosystem functions. Volunteers from a community-based initiative in Guam installed 130 tree seedlings and 54 m of sediment filter socks in eroding hillsides above Fouha Bay, to reduce erosion. A soil probing method for measuring soil depth was developed and used to evaluate the effectiveness of the watershed restoration tools. The trees and socks trapped 111.8 tons of sediment on land after 21 months. In heavily eroding portions of the restoration plot, where socks and trees were used in combination, the mean sediment trapping efficiency was 44 kg m-2 yr-1. Previous studies indicate a 75% reduction in sedimentation rate is required to bring Fouha Bay below severe-catastrophic sedimentation stress (>50 mg cm-2 day-1). Based on the observed sediment trapping efficiency of restoration tools in this study, an estimated 0.05 km2 of severely eroding hillsides must be treated with 19 km of socks and 11,000 trees to trap 2121 tons of sediment and achieve the necessary reduction. If sediment input into the bay is controlled, existing sediment will clear out with storm-driven swells. As shown in other high islands, coral reefs are resilient and can recover after sedimentation stress is reduced. Data generated on the efficiency of watershed restoration tools in this study can be used in watershed management plans to promote the sustainability and resilience of coastal areas in other tropical islands.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Energetic differences between bacterioplankton trophic groups and coral reef resistance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McDole Somera, Tracey; Bailey, Barbara; Barott, Katie; Grasis, Juris; Hatay, Mark; Hilton, Brett J; Hisakawa, Nao; Nosrat, Bahador; Nulton, James; Silveira, Cynthia B; Sullivan, Chris; Brainard, Russell E; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-04-27

    Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems on the Earth. They are also particularly sensitive to changing energetic requirements by different trophic levels. Microbialization specifically refers to the increase in the energetic metabolic demands of microbes relative to macrobes and is significantly correlated with increasing human influence on coral reefs. In this study, metabolic theory of ecology is used to quantify the relative contributions of two broad bacterioplankton groups, autotrophs and heterotrophs, to energy flux on 27 Pacific coral reef ecosystems experiencing human impact to varying degrees. The effective activation energy required for photosynthesis is lower than the average energy of activation for the biochemical reactions of the Krebs cycle, and changes in the proportional abundance of these two groups can greatly affect rates of energy and materials cycling. We show that reef-water communities with a higher proportional abundance of microbial autotrophs expend more metabolic energy per gram of microbial biomass. Increased energy and materials flux through fast energy channels (i.e. water-column associated microbial autotrophs) may dampen the detrimental effects of increased heterotrophic loads (e.g. coral disease) on coral reef systems experiencing anthropogenic disturbance.

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mesolella, K J

    1967-05-05

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

  13. 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.

  14. Clues to Coral Reef Ecosystem Health: Spectral Analysis Coupled with Radiative Transfer Modeling

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guild, L.; Ganapol, B.; Kramer, P.; Armstrong, R.; Gleason, A.; Torres, J.; Johnson, L.; Garfield, N.

    2003-12-01

    Coral reefs are among the world's most productive and biologically rich ecosystems and are some of the oldest ecosystems on Earth. Coralline structures protect coastlines from storms, maintain high diversity of marine life, and provide nurseries for marine species. Coral reefs play a role in carbon cycling through high rates of organic carbon metabolism and calcification. Coral reefs provide fisheries habitat that are the sole protein source for humans on remote islands. Reefs respond immediately to environmental change and therefore are considered "canaries" of the oceans. However, the world's reefs are in peril: they have shrunk 10-50% from their historical extent due to climate change and anthropogenic activity. An important contribution to coral reef research is improved spectral distinction of reef species' health where anthropogenic activity and climate change impacts are high. Relatively little is known concerning the spectral properties of coral or how coral structures reflect and transmit light. New insights into optical processes of corals under stressed conditions can lead to improved interpretation of airborne and satellite data and forecasting of immediate or long-term impacts of events such as bleaching and disease in coral. We are investigating the spatial and spectral resolution required to detect remotely changes in reef health by coupling spectral analysis of in situ spectra and airborne spectral data with a new radiative transfer model called CorMOD2. Challenges include light attenuation by the water column, atmospheric scattering, and scattering caused by the coral themselves that confound the spectral signal. In CorMOD2, input coral reflectance measurements produce modeled absorption through an inversion at each visible wavelength. The first model development phase of CorMOD2 imposes a scattering baseline that is constant regardless of coral condition, and further specifies that coral is optically thick. Evolution of CorMOD2 is towards a coral

  15. Resetting predator baselines in coral reef ecosystems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bradley, Darcy; Conklin, Eric; Papastamatiou, Yannis P.; McCauley, Douglas J.; Pollock, Kydd; Pollock, Amanda; Kendall, Bruce E.; Gaines, Steven D.; Caselle, Jennifer E.

    2017-01-01

    What did coral reef ecosystems look like before human impacts became pervasive? Early efforts to reconstruct baselines resulted in the controversial suggestion that pristine coral reefs have inverted trophic pyramids, with disproportionally large top predator biomass. The validity of the coral reef inverted trophic pyramid has been questioned, but until now, was not resolved empirically. We use data from an eight-year tag-recapture program with spatially explicit, capture-recapture models to re-examine the population size and density of a key top predator at Palmyra atoll, the same location that inspired the idea of inverted trophic biomass pyramids in coral reef ecosystems. Given that animal movement is suspected to have significantly biased early biomass estimates of highly mobile top predators, we focused our reassessment on the most mobile and most abundant predator at Palmyra, the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos). We estimated a density of 21.3 (95% CI 17.8, 24.7) grey reef sharks/km2, which is an order of magnitude lower than the estimates that suggested an inverted trophic pyramid. Our results indicate that the trophic structure of an unexploited reef fish community is not inverted, and that even healthy top predator populations may be considerably smaller, and more precarious, than previously thought. PMID:28220895

  16. Marine reserves enhance the recovery of corals on Caribbean reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mumby, Peter J; Harborne, Alastair R

    2010-01-11

    The fisheries and biodiversity benefits of marine reserves are widely recognised but there is mounting interest in exploiting the importance of herbivorous fishes as a tool to help ecosystems recover from climate change impacts. This approach might be particularly suitable for coral reefs, which are acutely threatened by climate change, yet the trophic cascades generated by reserves are strong enough that they might theoretically enhance the rate of coral recovery after disturbance. However, evidence for reserves facilitating coral recovery has been lacking. Here we investigate whether reductions in macroalgal cover, caused by recovery of herbivorous parrotfishes within a reserve, have resulted in a faster rate of coral recovery than in areas subject to fishing. Surveys of ten sites inside and outside a Bahamian marine reserve over a 2.5-year period demonstrated that increases in coral cover, including adjustments for the initial size-distribution of corals, were significantly higher at reserve sites than those in non-reserve sites. Furthermore, macroalgal cover was significantly negatively correlated with the change in total coral cover over time. Recovery rates of individual species were generally consistent with small-scale manipulations on coral-macroalgal interactions, but also revealed differences that demonstrate the difficulties of translating experiments across spatial scales. Size-frequency data indicated that species which were particularly affected by high abundances of macroalgae outside the reserve had a population bottleneck restricting the supply of smaller corals to larger size classes. Importantly, because coral cover increased from a heavily degraded state, and recovery from such states has not previously been described, similar or better outcomes should be expected for many reefs in the region. Reducing herbivore exploitation as part of an ecosystem-based management strategy for coral reefs appears to be justified.

  17. Marine reserves enhance the recovery of corals on Caribbean reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Peter J Mumby

    Full Text Available The fisheries and biodiversity benefits of marine reserves are widely recognised but there is mounting interest in exploiting the importance of herbivorous fishes as a tool to help ecosystems recover from climate change impacts. This approach might be particularly suitable for coral reefs, which are acutely threatened by climate change, yet the trophic cascades generated by reserves are strong enough that they might theoretically enhance the rate of coral recovery after disturbance. However, evidence for reserves facilitating coral recovery has been lacking. Here we investigate whether reductions in macroalgal cover, caused by recovery of herbivorous parrotfishes within a reserve, have resulted in a faster rate of coral recovery than in areas subject to fishing. Surveys of ten sites inside and outside a Bahamian marine reserve over a 2.5-year period demonstrated that increases in coral cover, including adjustments for the initial size-distribution of corals, were significantly higher at reserve sites than those in non-reserve sites. Furthermore, macroalgal cover was significantly negatively correlated with the change in total coral cover over time. Recovery rates of individual species were generally consistent with small-scale manipulations on coral-macroalgal interactions, but also revealed differences that demonstrate the difficulties of translating experiments across spatial scales. Size-frequency data indicated that species which were particularly affected by high abundances of macroalgae outside the reserve had a population bottleneck restricting the supply of smaller corals to larger size classes. Importantly, because coral cover increased from a heavily degraded state, and recovery from such states has not previously been described, similar or better outcomes should be expected for many reefs in the region. Reducing herbivore exploitation as part of an ecosystem-based management strategy for coral reefs appears to be justified.

  18. Thresholds and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mumby, Peter J; Hastings, Alan; Edwards, Helen J

    2007-11-01

    The deteriorating health of the world's coral reefs threatens global biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the livelihoods of millions of people living in tropical coastal regions. Reefs in the Caribbean are among the most heavily affected, having experienced mass disease-induced mortality of the herbivorous urchin Diadema antillarum in 1983 and two framework-building species of coral. Declining reef health is characterized by increases in macroalgae. A critical question is whether the observed macroalgal bloom on Caribbean reefs is easily reversible. To answer this question, we must resolve whether algal-dominated reefs are an alternative stable state of the ecosystem or simply the readily reversible result of a phase change along a gradient of some environmental or ecological parameter. Here, using a fully parameterized simulation model in combination with a simple analytical model, we show that Caribbean reefs became susceptible to alternative stable states once the urchin mortality event of 1983 confined the majority of grazing to parrotfishes. We reveal dramatic hysteresis in a natural system and define critical thresholds of grazing and coral cover beyond which resilience is lost. Most grazing thresholds lie near the upper level observed for parrotfishes in nature, suggesting that reefs are highly sensitive to parrotfish exploitation. Ecosystem thresholds can be combined with stochastic models of disturbance to identify targets for the restoration of ecosystem processes. We illustrate this principle by estimating the relationship between current reef state (coral cover and grazing) and the probability that the reef will withstand moderate hurricane intensity for two decades without becoming entrained in a shift towards a stable macroalgal-dominated state. Such targets may help reef managers face the challenge of addressing global disturbance at local scales.

  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. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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...

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. Suitable environmental ranges for potential coral reef habitats in the tropical ocean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guan, Yi; Hohn, Sönke; Merico, Agostino

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are found within a limited range of environmental conditions or tolerance limits. Estimating these limits is a critical prerequisite for understanding the impacts of climate change on the biogeography of coral reefs. Here we used the diagnostic model ReefHab to determine the current environmental tolerance limits for coral reefs and the global distribution of potential coral reef habitats as a function of six factors: temperature, salinity, nitrate, phosphate, aragonite saturation state, and light. To determine these tolerance limits, we extracted maximum and minimum values of all environmental variables in corresponding locations where coral reefs are present. We found that the global, annually averaged tolerance limits for coral reefs are 21.7-29.6 °C for temperature, 28.7-40.4 psu for salinity, 4.51 μmol L-1 for nitrate, 0.63 μmol L-1 for phosphate, and 2.82 for aragonite saturation state. The averaged minimum light intensity in coral reefs is 450 μmol photons m-2 s-1. The global area of potential reef habitats calculated by the model is 330.5 × 103 km2. Compared with previous studies, the tolerance limits for temperature, salinity, and nutrients have not changed much, whereas the minimum value of aragonite saturation in coral reef waters has decreased from 3.28 to 2.82. The potential reef habitat area calculated with ReefHab is about 121×103 km2 larger than the area estimated from the charted reefs, suggesting that the growth potential of coral reefs is higher than currently observed.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-03-04

    Coral reefs, and the unique ecosystems they support, are facing severe threats by human activities and climate change. Our understanding of these threats is hampered by the lack of robust approaches for studying the micro-scale interactions between corals and their environment. Here we present an experimental platform, coral-on-a-chip, combining micropropagation and microfluidics to allow direct microscopic study of live coral polyps. The small and transparent coral micropropagates are ideally suited for live-imaging microscopy, while the microfluidic platform facilitates long-term visualization under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by imaging coral micropropagates at previously unattainable spatio-temporal resolutions, providing new insights into several micro-scale processes including coral calcification, coral-pathogen interaction and the loss of algal symbionts (coral bleaching). Coral-on-a-chip thus provides a powerful method for studying coral physiology in vivo at the micro-scale, opening new vistas in coral biology.

  16. Habitat associations of juvenile fish at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia: the importance of coral and algae.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Shaun K Wilson

    Full Text Available Habitat specificity plays a pivotal role in forming community patterns in coral reef fishes, yet considerable uncertainty remains as to the extent of this selectivity, particularly among newly settled recruits. Here we quantified habitat specificity of juvenile coral reef fish at three ecological levels; algal meadows vs. coral reefs, live vs. dead coral and among different coral morphologies. In total, 6979 individuals from 11 families and 56 species were censused along Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Juvenile fishes exhibited divergence in habitat use and specialization among species and at all study scales. Despite the close proximity of coral reef and algal meadows (10's of metres 25 species were unique to coral reef habitats, and seven to algal meadows. Of the seven unique to algal meadows, several species are known to occupy coral reef habitat as adults, suggesting possible ontogenetic shifts in habitat use. Selectivity between live and dead coral was found to be species-specific. In particular, juvenile scarids were found predominantly on the skeletons of dead coral whereas many damsel and butterfly fishes were closely associated with live coral habitat. Among the coral dependent species, coral morphology played a key role in juvenile distribution. Corymbose corals supported a disproportionate number of coral species and individuals relative to their availability, whereas less complex shapes (i.e. massive & encrusting were rarely used by juvenile fish. Habitat specialisation by juvenile species of ecological and fisheries importance, for a variety of habitat types, argues strongly for the careful conservation and management of multiple habitat types within marine parks, and indicates that the current emphasis on planning conservation using representative habitat areas is warranted. Furthermore, the close association of many juvenile fish with corals susceptible to climate change related disturbances suggests that identifying and

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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...

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren T.

    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

  3. Summit-to-sea mapping and change detection using satellite imagery: tools for conservation and management of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shapiro, A C; Rohmann, S O

    2005-05-01

    Continuous summit-to-sea maps showing both land features and shallow-water coral reefs have been completed in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, using circa 2000 Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) Imagery. Continuous land/sea terrain was mapped by merging Digital Elevation Models (DEM) with satellite-derived bathymetry. Benthic habitat characterizations were created by unsupervised classifications of Landsat imagery clustered using field data, and produced maps with an estimated overall accuracy of>75% (Tau coefficient >0.65). These were merged with Geocover-LC (land use/land cover) data to create continuous land/ sea cover maps. Image pairs from different dates were analyzed using Principle Components Analysis (PCA) in order to detect areas of change in the marine environment over two different time intervals: 2000 to 2001, and 1991 to 2003. This activity demonstrates the capabilities of Landsat imagery to produce continuous summit-to-sea maps, as well as detect certain changes in the shallow-water marine environment, providing a valuable tool for efficient coastal zone monitoring and effective management and conservation.

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

    OpenAIRE

    Graham, N. A. J.; Mcclanahan, T.R.; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Wilson, Shaun K.; Polunin, Nicholas; Jennings, Simon; Chabanet, Pascale; Clark, Susan; Spalding, Mark; Letourneur, Yves; Bigot, Lionel; Galzin, René; Öhman, Marcus C; Garpe, Kajsa C.; Edwards, Alasdair J.

    2008-01-01

    Coral reefs have emerged as one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate variation and change. While the contribution\\ud of a warming climate to the loss of live coral cover has been well documented across large spatial and temporal scales, the\\ud associated effects on fish have not. Here, we respond to recent and repeated calls to assess the importance of local\\ud management in conserving coral reefs in the context of global climate change. Such information is important, as coral reef\\ud...

  5. How will coral reef fish communities respond to climate-driven disturbances? Insight from landscape-scale perturbations.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Adam, Thomas C; Brooks, Andrew J; Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Washburn, Libe; Bernardi, Giacomo

    2014-09-01

    Global climate change is rapidly altering disturbance regimes in many ecosystems including coral reefs, yet the long-term impacts of these changes on ecosystem structure and function are difficult to predict. A major ecosystem service provided by coral reefs is the provisioning of physical habitat for other organisms, and consequently, many of the effects of climate change on coral reefs will be mediated by their impacts on habitat structure. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand the independent and combined effects of coral mortality and loss of physical habitat on reef-associated biota. Here, we use a unique series of events affecting the coral reefs around the Pacific island of Moorea, French Polynesia to differentiate between the impacts of coral mortality and the degradation of physical habitat on the structure of reef fish communities. We found that, by removing large amounts of physical habitat, a tropical cyclone had larger impacts on reef fish communities than an outbreak of coral-eating sea stars that caused widespread coral mortality but left the physical structure intact. In addition, the impacts of declining structural complexity on reef fish assemblages accelerated as structure became increasingly rare. Structure provided by dead coral colonies can take up to decades to erode following coral mortality, and, consequently, our results suggest that predictions based on short-term studies are likely to grossly underestimate the long-term impacts of coral decline on reef fish communities.

  6. 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...

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

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    MacIntyre, I.G.

    1988-11-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. A bioindicator system for water quality on inshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fabricius, Katharina E; Cooper, Timothy F; Humphrey, Craig; Uthicke, Sven; De'ath, Glenn; Davidson, Johnston; LeGrand, Hélène; Thompson, Angus; Schaffelke, Britta

    2012-01-01

    Responses of bioindicator candidates for water quality were quantified in two studies on inshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). In Study 1, 33 of the 38 investigated candidate indicators (including coral physiology, benthos composition, coral recruitment, macrobioeroder densities and FORAM index) showed significant relationships with a composite index of 13 water quality variables. These relationships were confirmed in Study 2 along four other water quality gradients (turbidity and chlorophyll). Changes in water quality led to multi-faceted shifts from phototrophic to heterotrophic benthic communities, and from diverse coral dominated communities to low-diversity communities dominated by macroalgae. Turbidity was the best predictor of biota; hence turbidity measurements remain essential to directly monitor water quality on the GBR, potentially complemented by our final calibrated 12 bioindicators. In combination, this bioindicator system may be used to assess changes in water quality, especially where direct water quality data are unavailable.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2013-04-01

    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 Pacific coast were studied between 2005/2006, and later between 2009/2010. Most of these coral reefs were previously impacted by bleaching events, which resulted in coral mortalities. Sponge abundance and species richness was used as an indicator of bioerosion, and coral cover was used to describe the present condition of coral reefs. Coral reefs are currently highly invaded (46% of the samples examined) by a very high diversity of boring sponges (20 species); being the coral reef framework the substrate most invaded (56%) followed by the rubbles (45%), and the living colonies (36%). The results also indicated that boring sponges are promoting the dislodgment of live colonies and large fragments from the framework. In summary, the eastern coral reefs affected by bleaching phenomena, mainly provoked by El Niño, present a high diversity and abundance of boring sponges, which are weakening the union of the colony with the reef framework and promoting their dislodgment. These phenomena will probably become even more intense and severe, as temperatures are projected to continue to rise under the scenarios for future climate change, which could place many eastern coral reefs beyond their survival threshold.

  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. 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 reefs in the northwest and central Indian Ocean, as well as the central west Pacific, are at highest risk of degradation, and those at high latitudes the least. The model pinpoints regions where 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walker, Brian K; Gilliam, David S

    2013-01-01

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

  4. 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,...

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Radiative Transfer Modeling, Spectral Analysis, and Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guild, L.; Ganapol, B.; Furfaro, R.; Kramer, P.; Armstrong, R.; Gleason, A.; Torres, J.

    2004-12-01

    The calcium carbonate structures of tropical coral reefs protect coastlines from storms, create habitats for the world's greatest marine biodiversity, provide nurseries for many marine species; play essential roles in carbon and CO2 cycles, are major protein sources for many local populations, and are vital for sustainable economies of many societies. The world's reefs are in peril due to climate change and anthropogenic activity caused by rapidly growing populations in coastal zones. An important contribution to coral reef research is improved spectral distinction of reef components indicative of reef condition, including physical and biological degradation. Unfortunately, relatively little is known concerning the spectral properties of coral or how coral architecture reflect/transmit light. New insights into optical processes of corals can lead to improved interpretation of remote sensing data and forecasting of immediate or long-term impacts such as bleaching and disease in coral and algal overgrowth. We are investigating the spatial/spectral properties required to remotely sense changes in reef biological and physical properties by coupling spectral analysis of in situ spectra with a new coral-specific radiative transfer model. The first model development phase (CorMOD) imposes a scattering baseline that is constant regardless of coral condition, and further specifies that coral is optically thick. Evolution of the model is towards a coral-specific radiative transfer model that includes coral biochemical concentrations, specific absorptivities of coral components, and transmission measurements from coral surfaces. We present our field collected in situ spectra and resultant output relative absorption profiles of coral from CorMOD. Further, we will present NASA AVIRIS data and in situ spectra collection of coral and seagrass to support the AVIRIS mission that was collected during August 2004 for Florida Keys and Puerto Rico.

  9. 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...

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

    KAUST Repository

    Ryu, Tae Woo

    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.

  11. 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

  12. ReefGrow v2.0: A classroom tool for visualizing the processes controlling coral reef development and demise

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chase, A. C.; Clague, D.; Webster, J.; Berger, W.; Schramm, R.; Winterer, J.

    2004-12-01

    Understanding the complex interplay between coral reef growth, sea-level variations and tectonics is a major challenge in paleoclimate research. A continuing challenge for students is how to visualize the complex interplay of different geological processes through time. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has developed ReefGrow v2.0, a Java-based program that numerically models and displays coral reef growth in 2D. The program was developed initially as a research tool but has educational applications as well. Based on straightforward mathematical algorithms, ReefGrow v2.0, realistically "grows" reefs in response to different variables (including subsidence or uplift rate, coral growth rate, sedimentation rate, dissolution rate when the reef is subaerially exposed). The program can import a bathymetric profile to use as the substrate, can import different sea level curves, and can vary the subsidence, or uplift, rates as a function of distance from the shoreline. A major strength of ReefGrow v2.0 is its simple graphical interface, allowing variables to be changed and their impacts on reef development readily assessed. Students are able to view the models' output in the form of a dynamic 2D cross section that steps forward or back through time. To illustrate its use, we applied ReefGrow v2.0 to a "real world" situation using published data from drowned fossil coral reefs that grew on the subsiding flanks of Hawaii over the last 500 ka. ReefGrow v.2.0 was able to realistically model the number and morphology of the reef terraces. The models can be used to constrain the timing of coral reef drowning, the rate and shape of island subsidence, the timing of subaerial exposure of each reef, and the rate of coral growth required to mimic the morphology of the reef. The cross section shows the internal structure of the reef. The program can also be used to forward model reef growth in response to future climate change that causes sea-level rise, or

  13. 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.

  14. Multiple Stressors and the Functioning of Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harborne, Alastair R.; Rogers, Alice; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Mumby, Peter J.

    2017-01-01

    Coral reefs provide critical services to coastal communities, and these services rely on ecosystem functions threatened by stressors. By summarizing the threats to the functioning of reefs from fishing, climate change, and decreasing water quality, we highlight that these stressors have multiple, conflicting effects on functionally similar groups of species and their interactions, and that the overall effects are often uncertain because of a lack of data or variability among taxa. The direct effects of stressors on links among functional groups, such as predator-prey interactions, are particularly uncertain. Using qualitative modeling, we demonstrate that this uncertainty of stressor impacts on functional groups (whether they are positive, negative, or neutral) can have significant effects on models of ecosystem stability, and reducing uncertainty is vital for understanding changes to reef functioning. This review also provides guidance for future models of reef functioning, which should include interactions among functional groups and the cumulative effect of stressors.

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

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

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

    dominated by algal turfs. Birrell et al. (2005) proved that algal turfs in combination with sediments prevent the settlement of coral recruits. In addition, the filamentous turf algae upon interaction with corals results in a chronic stress, overgrowth... to the reefs (McClanahan et al. 2006). However, majority of the MPAs lack effective enforcement of laws leading to reef damage and over exploitation (Mora et al. 2006). Climate change and Ocean acidification are chronic processes that exert their effects at a...

  16. Wide field-of-view fluorescence imaging of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Treibitz, Tali; Neal, Benjamin P; Kline, David I; Beijbom, Oscar; Roberts, Paul L D; Mitchell, B Greg; Kriegman, David

    2015-01-13

    Coral reefs globally are declining rapidly because of both local and global stressors. Improved monitoring tools are urgently needed to understand the changes that are occurring at appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Coral fluorescence imaging tools have the potential to improve both ecological and physiological assessments. Although fluorescence imaging is regularly used for laboratory studies of corals, it has not yet been used for large-scale in situ assessments. Current obstacles to effective underwater fluorescence surveying include limited field-of-view due to low camera sensitivity, the need for nighttime deployment because of ambient light contamination, and the need for custom multispectral narrow band imaging systems to separate the signal into meaningful fluorescence bands. Here we describe the Fluorescence Imaging System (FluorIS), based on a consumer camera modified for greatly increased sensitivity to chlorophyll-a fluorescence, and we show high spectral correlation between acquired images and in situ spectrometer measurements. This system greatly facilitates underwater wide field-of-view fluorophore surveying during both night and day, and potentially enables improvements in semi-automated segmentation of live corals in coral reef photographs and juvenile coral surveys.

  17. 76 FR 63904 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Administration

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-10-14

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

  18. Carrying capacity of coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.

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

  19. 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,...

  20. 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...

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Lag effects in the impacts of mass coral bleaching on coral reef fish, fisheries, and ecosystems.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Wilson, Shaun K; Jennings, Simon; Polunin, Nicholas V C; Robinson, Jan; Bijoux, Jude P; Daw, Tim M

    2007-10-01

    Recent episodes of coral bleaching have led to wide-scale loss of reef corals and raised concerns over the effectiveness of existing conservation and management efforts. The 1998 bleaching event was most severe in the western Indian Ocean, where coral declined by up to 90% in some locations. Using fisheries-independent data, we assessed the long-term impacts of this event on fishery target species in the Seychelles, the overall size structure of the fish assemblage, and the effectiveness of two marine protected areas (MPAs) in protecting fish communities. The biomass of fished species above the size retained in fish traps changed little between 1994 and 2005, indicating no current effect on fishery yields. Biomass remained higher in MPAs, indicating they were effective in protecting fish stocks. Nevertheless, the size structure of the fish communities, as described with size-spectra analysis, changed in both fished areas and MPAs, with a decline in smaller fish (45 cm). We believe this represents a time-lag response to a reduction in reef structural complexity brought about because fishes are being lost through natural mortality and fishing, and are not being replaced by juveniles. This effect is expected to be greater in terms of fisheries productivity and, because congruent patterns are observed for herbivores, suggests that MPAs do not offer coral reefs long-term resilience to bleaching events. Corallivores and planktivores declined strikingly in abundance, particularly in MPAs, and this decline was associated with a similar pattern of decline in their preferred corals. We suggest that climate-mediated disturbances, such as coral bleaching, be at the fore of conservation planning for coral reefs.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Macroalgal communities on multi-stressed coral reefs in the Caribbean: Long-term changes, spatial variations, and relationships with environmental variables

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sangil, Carlos; Guzman, Hector M.

    2016-11-01

    Long-term changes in macroalgal cover, spatial variation between macroalgal communities, and relationships with environmental variables and benthic groups were assessed in coral reefs along the Caribbean coast of Panama. Sampling was conducted in two regions: Western and Central. Data collected between 2000 and 2012 showed a continuous increase in macroalgal abundance, although patterns differed according to region and site. There were differences in macroalgal communities between regions, as well as within regions between different wave-exposure levels. There were also differences between sites within regions exposed to the same level of wave action. Multivariate analysis found that wave exposure along with herbivore density (Echinometra viridis) and sedimentation were the variables that explained most of the variability between communities. Other variables such as Echinometra lucunter and Diadema antillarum densities, fish density, productivity, and live coral cover had significant relationships with community structure, but explained less of the variability.

  8. 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.

  9. Threatened Reef Corals of the World

    OpenAIRE

    Danwei Huang

    2012-01-01

    A substantial proportion of the world's living species, including one-third of the reef-building corals, are threatened with extinction and in pressing need of conservation action. In order to reduce biodiversity loss, it is important to consider species' contribution to evolutionary diversity along with their risk of extinction for the purpose of setting conservation priorities. Here I reconstruct the most comprehensive tree of life for the order Scleractinia (1,293 species) that includes al...

  10. The COral-REef Front (COREF Project

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    John A. and Katherine G. Jackson

    2007-09-01

    Full Text Available The First International Workshop on the COral-REef Front (COREF project was held on 14−19 January 2007 in Okinawa-jima, southwestern Japan to discuss objectives, required laboratory analyses and techniques, potential drilling sites, and scientific proposals for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP. This article briefly introduces the project and reports the outcome of the First International Workshop on the COREF Project.

  11. 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.

  12. Water column correction for coral reef studies by remote sensing.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-09-11

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application.

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

    KAUST Repository

    Roik, Anna Krystyna

    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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Change in algal symbiont communities after bleaching, not prior heat exposure, increases heat tolerance of reef corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silverstein, Rachel N; Cunning, Ross; Baker, Andrew C

    2015-01-01

    Mutualistic organisms can be particularly susceptible to climate change stress, as their survivorship is often limited by the most vulnerable partner. However, symbiotic plasticity can also help organisms in changing environments by expanding their realized niche space. Coral-algal (Symbiodinium spp.) symbiosis exemplifies this dichotomy: the partnership is highly susceptible to 'bleaching' (stress-induced symbiosis breakdown), but stress-tolerant symbionts can also sometimes mitigate bleaching. Here, we investigate the role of diverse and mutable symbiotic partnerships in increasing corals' ability to thrive in high temperature conditions. We conducted repeat bleaching and recovery experiments on the coral Montastraea cavernosa, and used quantitative PCR and chlorophyll fluorometry to assess the structure and function of Symbiodinium communities within coral hosts. During an initial heat exposure (32 °C for 10 days), corals hosting only stress-sensitive symbionts (Symbiodinium C3) bleached, but recovered (at either 24 °C or 29 °C) with predominantly (>90%) stress-tolerant symbionts (Symbiodinium D1a), which were not detected before bleaching (either due to absence or extreme low abundance). When a second heat stress (also 32 °C for 10 days) was applied 3 months later, corals that previously bleached and were now dominated by D1a Symbiodinium experienced less photodamage and symbiont loss compared to control corals that had not been previously bleached, and were therefore still dominated by Symbiodinium C3. Additional corals that were initially bleached without heat by a herbicide (DCMU, at 24 °C) also recovered predominantly with D1a symbionts, and similarly lost fewer symbionts during subsequent thermal stress. Increased thermotolerance was also not observed in C3-dominated corals that were acclimated for 3 months to warmer temperatures (29 °C) before heat stress. These findings indicate that increased thermotolerance post-bleaching resulted from

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Coral Reef Protection Implementation Plan

    Science.gov (United States)

    2007-11-02

    ecosystems. These reports Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico , and Pacific Ocean." For the will also serve as an awareness tool for agencies to purposes of this report...alternatives for proposed discharges of - 7 dredged or fill material into U.S or international waters, *o SECTION THi- zEE EXISTING FUNDING SOURCES FOR CORAL...facilities on several thousand acres within the Ko’olaupoko Region on O’ahu. Popu- NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO lation growth and development throughout

  6. 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...

  7. Flattening of Caribbean coral reefs: region-wide declines in architectural complexity.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2009-08-22

    Coral reefs are rich in biodiversity, in large part because their highly complex architecture provides shelter and resources for a wide range of organisms. Recent rapid declines in hard coral cover have occurred across the Caribbean region, but the concomitant consequences for reef architecture have not been quantified on a large scale to date. We provide, to our knowledge, the first region-wide analysis of changes in reef architectural complexity, using nearly 500 surveys across 200 reefs, between 1969 and 2008. The architectural complexity of Caribbean reefs has declined nonlinearly with the near disappearance of the most complex reefs over the last 40 years. The flattening of Caribbean reefs was apparent by the early 1980s, followed by a period of stasis between 1985 and 1998 and then a resumption of the decline in complexity to the present. Rates of loss are similar on shallow (20 m) reefs and are consistent across all five subregions. The temporal pattern of declining architecture coincides with key events in recent Caribbean ecological history: the loss of structurally complex Acropora corals, the mass mortality of the grazing urchin Diadema antillarum and the 1998 El Nino Southern Oscillation-induced worldwide coral bleaching event. The consistently low estimates of current architectural complexity suggest regional-scale degradation and homogenization of reef structure. The widespread loss of architectural complexity is likely to have serious consequences for reef biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and associated environmental services.

  8. [A review of the role and function of microbes in coral reef ecosystem].

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zhou, Jin; Jin, Hui; Cai, Zhong-Hua

    2014-03-01

    Coral reef is consisted with several kinds of reef-associated organisms, including coral, fish, benthos, algae and microbes, which is an important marine ecosystem. Coral reef lives in the oligotrophic environment, has very highly primary productivity and net productivity, and is called "tropical rain forest in ocean". In corals, diverse microorganisms exert a significant influence on biogeochemical and ecological processes, including food webs, organism life cycles, and nutrient cycling. With the development of molecular biology, the role of microorganisms in a coral system is becoming more outstanding. In this article, we reviewed current understanding on 1) the onset of coral-bacterial associations; 2) the characteristics of microbes in coral (specificity, plasticity and co-evolution) ; 3) the role and signal regulation of microbes in the health and disease of coral; and 4) the response mechanism of microbes for global climatic change and consequent effects, such as temperature rise, ocean acidification and eutrophication. The aims of this article were to summarize the latest theories and achievements, clear the mechanism of microbial ecology in coral reefs and provide a theoretical reference for better protection and maintaining the coral's biodiversity.

  9. Integration of coral reef ecosystem process studies and remote sensing: Chapter 5

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brook, John; Yates, Kimberly; Halley, Robert

    2006-01-01

    Worldwide, local-scale anthropogenic stress combined with global climate change is driving shifts in the state of reef benthic communities from coral-rich to micro- or macroalgal-dominated (Knowlton, 1992; Done, 1999). Such phase shifts in reef benthic communities may be either abrupt or gradual, and case studies from diverse ocean basins demonstrate that recovery, while uncertain (Hughes, 1994), typically involves progression through successional stages (Done, 1992). These transitions in benthic community structure involve changes in community metabolism, and accordingly, the holistic evaluation of associated biogeochemical variables is of great intrinsic value (Done, 1992). Effective reef management requires advance prediction of coral reef alteration in the face of anthropogenic stress and change in the global environment (Hatcher, 1997a). In practice, this goal requires techniques that can rapidly discern, at an early stage, sublethal effects that may cause long-term increases in mortality (brown, 1988; Grigg and Dollar, 1990). Such methods would improve our understanding of the differences in the population, community, and ecosystem structure, as well as function, between pristine and degraded reefs. This knowledge base could then support scientifically based management strategies (Done, 1992). Brown (1988) noted the general lack of rigor in the assessment of stress on coral reefs and suggested that more quantitative approaches than currently exist are needed to allow objective understanding of coral reef dynamics. Sensitive techniques for the timely appraisal of pollution effects or generalized endemic stress in coral reefs are sorely lacking (Grigg and Dollar, 1990; Wilkinsin, 1992). Moreover, monitoring methods based on population inventories, sclerochronology, or reproductive biology tend to myopic and may give inconsistent results. Ideally, an improved means of evaluating reef stress would discriminate mortality due to natural causes from morality to

  10. Effects of seawater acidification on a coral reef meiofauna community

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sarmento, V. C.; Souza, T. P.; Esteves, A. M.; Santos, P. J. P.

    2015-09-01

    Despite the increasing risk that ocean acidification will modify benthic communities, great uncertainty remains about how this impact will affect the lower trophic levels, such as members of the meiofauna. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of water acidification on a phytal meiofauna community from a coral reef. Community samples collected from the coral reef subtidal zone (Recife de Fora Municipal Marine Park, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil), using artificial substrate units, were exposed to a control pH (ambient seawater) and to three levels of seawater acidification (pH reductions of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 units below ambient) and collected after 15 and 30 d. After 30 d of exposure, major changes in the structure of the meiofauna community were observed in response to reduced pH. The major meiofauna groups showed divergent responses to acidification. Harpacticoida and Polychaeta densities did not show significant differences due to pH. Nematoda, Ostracoda, Turbellaria, and Tardigrada exhibited their highest densities in low-pH treatments (especially at the pH reduction of 0.6 units, pH 7.5), while harpacticoid nauplii were strongly negatively affected by low pH. This community-based mesocosm study supports previous suggestions that ocean acidification induces important changes in the structure of marine benthic communities. Considering the importance of meiofauna in the food web of coral reef ecosystems, the results presented here demonstrate that the trophic functioning of coral reefs is seriously threatened by ocean acidification.

  11. 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.

  12. 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…

  13. 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... the logbooks is used to obtain fish catch/fishing effort data on coral reef fishes and...

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 ...

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Coral reef destruction of Small island in 44 years and destructive fishing in Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nurdin, Nurjannah; Komatsu, Teruhisa; Rani, Chair; Supriadi; Fakhriyyah, Sitti; Agus

    2016-11-01

    Coral reefs are among the most diverse and threatened ecosystems on the planet. The most commonly stated for developing coral reef remote sensing techniques is to asses and or to monitor the status of these ecosystems. The study site was selected one of small island in inner zone Spermonde archipelago, Indonesia. We used Landsat MSS, Landsat TM, Landsat ETM, and Landsat OLI data to examine changes in the coral reefs of inner zone island in the Spermonde Archipelago from 1972 to 2016. The image processing are gap fills, atmospheric correction, geometric corrections, image composites, water column corrections, unsupervised classifications, and reclassification. Some of component change detection procedure was applied to define change. The results showed significant changes in 44 years. Disturbed coral reefs are typically characterized by loss of coral cover by increase in the abundance of dead corals and rubble. Local factors such as destructive fishing is direct destruction of inner zone island. While the impact of local threats may be reduced through management action, global threats to coral reefs are likely to increase in severity in the coming years.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. Ecological States and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tim McClanahan

    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

  3. Prehistorical and historical declines in Caribbean coral reef accretion rates driven by loss of parrotfish

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cramer, Katie L.; O'Dea, Aaron; Clark, Tara R.; Zhao, Jian-Xin; Norris, Richard D.

    2017-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have transformed into algal-dominated habitats over recent decades, but the mechanisms of change are unresolved due to a lack of quantitative ecological data before large-scale human impacts. To understand the role of reduced herbivory in recent coral declines, we produce a high-resolution 3,000 year record of reef accretion rate and herbivore (parrotfish and urchin) abundance from the analysis of sediments and fish, coral and urchin subfossils within cores from Caribbean Panama. At each site, declines in accretion rates and parrotfish abundance were initiated in the prehistorical or historical period. Statistical tests of direct cause and effect relationships using convergent cross mapping reveal that accretion rates are driven by parrotfish abundance (but not vice versa) but are not affected by total urchin abundance. These results confirm the critical role of parrotfish in maintaining coral-dominated reef habitat and the urgent need for restoration of parrotfish populations to enable reef persistence.

  4. 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.

  5. Thermal tolerances of reef corals in the Gulf: a review of the potential for increasing coral survival and adaptation to climate change through assisted translocation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coles, Steve L; Riegl, Bernhard M

    2013-07-30

    Corals in the Gulf withstand summer temperatures up to 10 °C higher than corals elsewhere and have recovered from extreme temperature events in 10 years or less. This heat-tolerance of Gulf corals has positive implications for the world's coral populations to adapt to increasing water temperatures. However, survival of Gulf corals has been severely tested by 35-37 °C temperatures five times in the last 15 years, each time causing extensive coral bleaching and mortality. Anticipated future temperature increases may therefore challenge survival of already highly stressed Gulf corals. Previously proposed translocation of Gulf corals to introduce temperature-adapted corals outside of the Gulf is assessed and determined to be problematical, and to be considered a tool of last resort. Coral culture and transplantation within the Gulf is feasible for helping maintain coral species populations and preserving genomes and adaptive capacities of Gulf corals that are endangered by future thermal stress events.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-01-07

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

  7. 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.

  8. Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris Agreement

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Hooidonk, Ruben; Maynard, Jeffrey; Tamelander, Jerker; Gove, Jamison; Ahmadia, Gabby; Raymundo, Laurie; Williams, Gareth; Heron, Scott F.; Planes, Serge

    2016-12-01

    Increasingly frequent severe coral bleaching is among the greatest threats to coral reefs posed by climate change. Global climate models (GCMs) project great spatial variation in the timing of annual severe bleaching (ASB) conditions; a point at which reefs are certain to change and recovery will be limited. However, previous model-resolution projections (~1 × 1°) are too coarse to inform conservation planning. To meet the need for higher-resolution projections, we generated statistically downscaled projections (4-km resolution) for all coral reefs; these projections reveal high local-scale variation in ASB. Timing of ASB varies >10 years in 71 of the 87 countries and territories with >500 km2 of reef area. Emissions scenario RCP4.5 represents lower emissions mid-century than will eventuate if pledges made following the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) become reality. These pledges do little to provide reefs with more time to adapt and acclimate prior to severe bleaching conditions occurring annually. RCP4.5 adds 11 years to the global average ASB timing when compared to RCP8.5; however, >75% of reefs still experience ASB before 2070 under RCP4.5. Coral reef futures clearly vary greatly among and within countries, indicating the projections warrant consideration in most reef areas during conservation and management planning.

  9. The implications of recurrent disturbances within the world's hottest coral reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bento, Rita; Hoey, Andrew S; Bauman, Andrew G; Feary, David A; Burt, John A

    2016-04-30

    Determining how coral ecosystems are structured within extreme environments may provide insights into how coral reefs are impacted by future climate change. Benthic community structure was examined within the Persian Gulf, and adjacent Musandam and northern Oman regions across a 3-year period (2008-2011) in which all regions were exposed to major disturbances. Although there was evidence of temporal switching in coral composition within regions, communities predominantly reflected local environmental conditions and the disturbance history of each region. Gulf reefs showed little change in coral composition, being dominated by stress-tolerant Faviidae and Poritidae across the 3 years. In comparison, Musandam and Oman coral communities were comprised of stress-sensitive Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae; Oman communities showed substantial declines in such taxa and increased cover of stress-tolerant communities. Our results suggest that coral communities may persist within an increasingly disturbed future environment, albeit in a much more structurally simple configuration.

  10. 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...

  11. Opposite latitudinal gradients in projected ocean acidification and bleaching impacts on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Hooidonk, Ruben; Maynard, Jeffrey Allen; Manzello, Derek; Planes, Serge

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs and the services they provide are seriously threatened by ocean acidification and climate change impacts like coral bleaching. Here, we present updated global projections for these key threats to coral reefs based on ensembles of IPCC AR5 climate models using the new Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) experiments. For all tropical reef locations, we project absolute and percentage changes in aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) for the period between 2006 and the onset of annual severe bleaching (thermal stress >8 degree heating weeks); a point at which it is difficult to believe reefs can persist as we know them. Severe annual bleaching is projected to start 10-15 years later at high-latitude reefs than for reefs in low latitudes under RCP8.5. In these 10-15 years, Ωarag keeps declining and thus any benefits for high-latitude reefs of later onset of annual bleaching may be negated by the effects of acidification. There are no long-term refugia from the effects of both acidification and bleaching. Of all reef locations, 90% are projected to experience severe bleaching annually by 2055. Furthermore, 5% declines in calcification are projected for all reef locations by 2034 under RCP8.5, assuming a 15% decline in calcification per unit of Ωarag. Drastic emissions cuts, such as those represented by RCP6.0, result in an average year for the onset of annual severe bleaching that is ~20 years later (2062 vs. 2044). However, global emissions are tracking above the current worst-case scenario devised by the scientific community, as has happened in previous generations of emission scenarios. The projections here for conditions on coral reefs are dire, but provide the most up-to-date assessment of what the changing climate and ocean acidification mean for the persistence of coral reefs.

  12. 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...

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

    2013-04-05

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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....

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fabian Alejandro Rodriguez-Zaragoza

    2015-03-01

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

  3. Mapping the Rainforest of the Sea: Global Coral Reef Maps for Global Conservation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Robinson, Julie A.

    2006-01-01

    Coral reefs are the center of marine biodiversity, yet are under threat with an estimated 60% of coral reef habitats considered at risk by the World Resources Institute. The location and extent of coral reefs in the world are the basic information required for resource management and as a baseline for monitoring change. A NASA sponsored partnership between remote sensing scientists, international agencies and NGOs, has developed a new generation of global reef maps based on data collected by satellites. The effort, dubbed the Millennium Coral Reef Map aims to develop new methods for wide distribution of voluminous satellite data of use to the conservation and management communities. We discuss the tradeoffs between remote sensing data sources, mapping objectives, and the needs for conservation and resource management. SeaWiFS data were used to produce a composite global shallow bathymetry map at 1 km resolution. Landsat 7/ETM+ data acquisition plans were modified to collect global reefs and new operational methods were designed to generate the firstever global coral reef geomorphology map. We discuss the challenges encountered to build these databases and in implementing the geospatial data distribution strategies. Conservation applications include a new assessment of the distribution of the world s marine protected areas (UNEPWCMC), improved spatial resolution in the Reefs at Risk analysis for the Caribbean (WRI), and a global basemap for the Census of Marine Life's OBIS database. The Millennium Coral Reef map and digital image archive will pay significant dividends for local and regional conservation projects around the globe. Complete details of the project are available at http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/reefs.

  4. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    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 absence of large disturbances, we found that live coral cover, reef fish abundance and fish species richness did not differ in 1997 compared to 2007. Fish abundance and species richness on patches was largely related to the presence of shelters (caves and/or holes), live coral cover and patch size (volume). The presence of the ectoparasite-eating cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, was also positively related to fish species richness. Our results underscore the importance of physical reef characteristics, such as patch size and shelter availability, in addition to biotic characteristics, such as live coral cover and cleaner wrasse abundance, in supporting reef fish species richness and abundance through time in a relatively undisturbed and understudied region.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elena L.E.S. Wagner

    2015-12-01

    Full Text Available 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 absence of large disturbances, we found that live coral cover, reef fish abundance and fish species richness did not differ in 1997 compared to 2007. Fish abundance and species richness on patches was largely related to the presence of shelters (caves and/or holes, live coral cover and patch size (volume. The presence of the ectoparasite-eating cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, was also positively related to fish species richness. Our results underscore the importance of physical reef characteristics, such as patch size and shelter availability, in addition to biotic characteristics, such as live coral cover and cleaner wrasse abundance, in supporting reef fish species richness and abundance through time in a relatively undisturbed and understudied region.

  7. Long-term Shifts in Coral Communities On Shallow to Deep Reef Slopes of Curaçao and Bonaire: Are There Any Winners?

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    de Bakker, D.M.; Meesters, E.H.; Bak, R.P.M.; Nieuwland, G.; van Duyl, F.C.

    2016-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically important ecosystems on earth. Nevertheless, we found dramatic changes in coral communities on the reef slopes of Curaçao and Bonaire since 1973. Cover and abundance declined for virtually all coral species. The data show

  8. Coral reef diseases in the Atlantic-Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Weil, Ernesto; Dubinsky, Zvy; Stambler, Noga

    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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lidz, Barbara H.

    2001-01-01

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

  10. 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.

  11. 77 FR 32572 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-06-01

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

  12. 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...

  13. Evaluate the effect of the soluble fraction of crude oil on changes of symbiotic Zooxanthellae clades with two species of reef-building corals in vitro and molecular methods

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Maryam Faghidi

    2016-11-01

    Full Text Available Introduction: Oil pollution is one of the factors affecting symbiotic Zooxanthellae with coral stone. It seems that one of the causes of coral bleaching is soluble fraction of crude oil and its effect on their symbiotic algae physiology, which can lead to the loss of Zooxanthellae clades or change in the type of their clades. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the soluble fraction of crude oil on changes of symbiotic Zooxanthellae clades with two species of reef-building corals in vitro and molecular methods. Method: In this study, two species corals of Faviapallidae and Psammocoracontigua were sampled on the Larak Island. Corals were stored for two weeks in three treatments, 50% and 30% and 10% of the soluble fraction of crude oil. After leaving slime Zooxanthellae of coral tissues by air pump and extraction of their DNA, using PCR and target gene was evaluated (ITS2 Internal Transcribed spacer in the presence of different clouds using specific primers. Results: in samples of 50% of the soluble fraction of crude oil, after 9 days, bleaching was observed, and after two weeks, all samples were bleached. Also in the molecular study showed that, pallidaeFavia coral specie in three treatment by soluble fraction of crude oil have clade D and sub-clade D1a and not changed, and Psammocoracontigua coral have clade D and sub-clade D1a and C1 D1a and not changed.

  14. 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.

  15. Umbrella species in marine systems: using the endangered humphead wrasse to conserve coral reefs

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Weng, Kevin C.; Pedersen, Martin Wæver; Del Raye, Gen A.

    2015-01-01

    of the humphead wrasse as an umbrella species for coral reef conservation, we conducted a multi-year study of humphead wrasse home range at Palmyra Atoll, Central Tropical Pacific, tagging juvenile, female, and male individuals with acoustic transmitters. We quantified home range using 2 metrics, length and area.......4 to 14 km and changed with ontogeny. Females had larger home ranges than other reef fishes studied to date (n = 68), indicating value as an umbrella species for coral reefs. We compared the home range of the species to the size distribution of tropical marine protected areas (MPAs), and used a model...

  16. Mapping coral reefs using consumer-grade drones and structure from motion photogrammetry techniques

    Science.gov (United States)

    Casella, Elisa; Collin, Antoine; Harris, Daniel; Ferse, Sebastian; Bejarano, Sonia; Parravicini, Valeriano; Hench, James L.; Rovere, Alessio

    2017-03-01

    We propose a novel technique to measure the small-scale three-dimensional features of a shallow-water coral reef using a small drone equipped with a consumer-grade camera, a handheld GPS and structure from motion (SfM) algorithms. We used a GoPro HERO4 with a modified lens mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 drone (maximum total take-off weight coral reefs. We discuss the utility of such data to monitor temporal changes in topographic complexity of reefs and associated biological processes.

  17. 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...

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

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

    2012-01-01

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-buil

  19. Ecological limitations to the resilience of coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-12-01

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

  20. Oman's coral reefs: A unique ecosystem challenged by natural and man-related stresses and in need of conservation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, J A; Coles, S; van Lavieren, H; Taylor, O; Looker, E; Samimi-Namin, K

    2016-04-30

    Oman contains diverse and abundant reef coral communities that extend along a coast that borders three environmentally distinct water bodies, with corals existing under unique and often stressful environmental conditions. In recent years Oman's reefs have undergone considerable change due to recurrent predatory starfish outbreaks, cyclone damage, harmful algal blooms, and other stressors. In this review we summarize current knowledge of the biology and status of corals in Oman, particularly in light of recent stressors and projected future threats, and examine current reef management practices. Oman's coral communities occur in marginal environmental conditions for reefs, and hence are quite vulnerable to anthropogenic effects. We recommend a focus on developing conservation-oriented coral research to guide proactive management and expansion of the number and size of designated protected areas in Oman, particularly those associated with critical coral habitat.

  1. 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.

  2. 76 FR 38618 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Survey

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-07-01

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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 76 FR 82413 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-12-30

    ... Part 622 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants... Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and... the FMP for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Spiny Lobster...

  9. 76 FR 59377 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-09-26

    ..., Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management... Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) for Reef Fish Resources, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Coral and Reef... (AMs) if ACLs should be exceeded for selected reef fish, spiny lobster, and aquarium trade...

  10. 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...

  11. First frozen repository for the Great Barrier Reef coral created.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hagedorn, Mary; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Carter, Virginia; Henley, Mike; Abrego, David; Puill-Stephan, Eneour; Negri, Andrew; Heyward, Andrew; MacFarlane, Doug; Spindler, Rebecca

    2012-10-01

    To build new tools for the continued protection and propagation of coral from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), an international group of coral and cryopreservation scientists known as the Reef Recovery Initiative joined forces during the November 2011 mass-spawning event. The outcome was the creation of the first frozen bank for Australian coral from two important GBR reef-building species, Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora. Approximately 190 frozen samples each with billions of cells were placed into long-term storage. Sperm cells were successfully cryopreserved, and after thawing, samples were used to fertilize eggs, resulting in functioning larvae. Additionally, developing larvae were dissociated, and these pluripotent cells were cryopreserved and viable after thawing. Now, we are in a unique position to move our work from the laboratory to the reefs to develop collaborative, practical conservation management tools to help secure Australia's coral biodiversity.

  12. 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.

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

    Data.gov (United States)

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

  14. 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...

  15. Reef ecology. Chemically mediated behavior of recruiting corals and fishes: a tipping point that may limit reef recovery.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dixson, Danielle L; Abrego, David; Hay, Mark E

    2014-08-22

    Coral reefs are in global decline, converting from dominance by coral to dominance by seaweed. Once seaweeds become abundant, coral recovery is suppressed unless herbivores return to remove seaweeds, and corals then recruit. Variance in the recovery of fishes and corals is not well understood. We show that juveniles of both corals and fishes are repelled by chemical cues from fished, seaweed-dominated reefs but attracted to cues from coral-dominated areas where fishing is prohibited. Chemical cues of specific seaweeds from degraded reefs repulsed recruits, and cues from specific corals that are typical of healthy reefs attracted recruits. Juveniles were present at but behaviorally avoided recruiting to degraded reefs dominated by seaweeds. For recovery, degraded reefs may need to be managed to produce cues that attract, rather than repel, recruiting corals and fishes.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Coral reef baselines: how much macroalgae is natural?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bruno, John F; Precht, William F; Vroom, Peter S; Aronson, Richard B

    2014-03-15

    Identifying the baseline or natural state of an ecosystem is a critical step in effective conservation and restoration. Like most marine ecosystems, coral reefs are being degraded by human activities: corals and fish have declined in abundance and seaweeds, or macroalgae, have become more prevalent. The challenge for resource managers is to reverse these trends, but by how much? Based on surveys of Caribbean reefs in the 1970s, some reef scientists believe that the average cover of seaweed was very low in the natural state: perhaps less than 3%. On the other hand, evidence from remote Pacific reefs, ecological theory, and impacts of over-harvesting in other systems all suggest that, historically, macroalgal biomass may have been higher than assumed. Uncertainties about the natural state of coral reefs illustrate the difficulty of determining the baseline condition of even well studied systems.

  19. 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.

  20. 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...

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roth, Melissa S; 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 acclimated and GFP concentration and fluorescence recovered. In contrast, heat-treated corals eventually bleached but showed strong fluorescence despite reduced GFP concentration, likely resulting from the large reduction in shading from decreased dinoflagellate density. Consequently, GFP concentration and fluorescence showed distinct correlations in non-bleached and bleached corals. Green fluorescence was positively correlated with dinoflagellate photobiology, but its closest correlation was with coral growth suggesting that green fluorescence could be used as a physiological proxy for health in some corals.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cagua, E. F.; Berumen, M. L.; Tyler, E. H. M.

    2013-12-01

    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.

  19. 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).

  20. 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

  1. Coral reef fish assemblages along a disturbance gradient in the northern Persian Gulf: A seasonal perspective.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ghazilou, Amir; Shokri, Mohammad Reza; Gladstone, William

    2016-04-30

    Seasonal dynamics of coral reef fish assemblages were assessed along a gradient of potential anthropogenic disturbance in the Northern Persian Gulf. Overall, the attributes of coral reef fish assemblages showed seasonality at two different levels: seasonal changes irrespective of the magnitude of disturbance level (e.g. species richness), and seasonal changes in response to disturbance level (e.g. total abundance and assemblage composition). The examined parameters mostly belonged to the second group, but the interpretation of the relationship between patterns of seasonal changes and the disturbance level was not straightforward. The abundance of carnivorous fishes did not vary among seasons. SIMPER identified the family Nemipteridae as the major contributor to the observed spatiotemporal variations in the composition of coral reef fish assemblages in the study area.

  2. Hurricanes, coral reefs and rainforests: resistance, ruin and recovery in the Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    2000-01-01

    The coexistence of hurricanes, coral reefs, and rainforests in the Caribbean demonstrates that highly structured ecosystems with great diversity can flourish in spite of recurring exposure to intense destructive energy. Coral reefs develop in response to wave energy and resist hurricanes largely by virtue of their structural strength. Limited fetch also protects some reefs from fully developed hurricane waves. While storms may produce dramatic local reef damage, they appear to have little impact on the ability of coral reefs to provide food or habitat for fish and other animals. Rainforests experience an enormous increase in wind energy during hurricanes with dramatic structural changes in the vegetation. The resulting changes in forest microclimate are larger than those on reefs and the loss of fruit, leaves, cover, and microclimate has a great impact on animal populations. Recovery of many aspects of rainforest structure and function is rapid, though there may be long-term changes in species composition. While resistance and repair have maintained reefs and rainforests in the past, human impacts may threaten their ability to survive.

  3. 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...

  4. A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Connolly, Sean R; Hughes, Terry P; Bellwood, David R

    2017-04-01

    Abundance patterns in ecological communities have important implications for biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem functioning. However, ecological theory has been largely unsuccessful at capturing multiple macroecological abundance patterns simultaneously. Here, we propose a parsimonious model that unifies widespread ecological relationships involving local aggregation, species-abundance distributions, and species associations, and we test this model against the metacommunity structure of reef-building corals and coral reef fishes across the western and central Pacific. For both corals and fishes, the unified model simultaneously captures extremely well local species-abundance distributions, interspecific variation in the strength of spatial aggregation, patterns of community similarity, species accumulation, and regional species richness, performing far better than alternative models also examined here and in previous work on coral reefs. Our approach contributes to the development of synthetic theory for large-scale patterns of community structure in nature, and to addressing ongoing challenges in biodiversity conservation at macroecological scales.

  5. 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

  6. 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...

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. A continuous, real-time water quality monitoring system for the coral reef ecosystems of Nanwan Bay, Southern Taiwan.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tew, Kwee Siong; Leu, Ming-Yih; Wang, Jih-Terng; Chang, Chia-Ming; Chen, Chung-Chi; Meng, Pei-Jie

    2014-08-30

    The coral reef ecosystems of Nanwan Bay, Southern Taiwan are undergoing degradation due to anthropogenic impacts, and as such have resulted in a decline in coral cover. As a first step in preventing the continual degradation of these coral reef environments, it is important to understand how changes in water quality affect these ecosystems on a fine-tuned timescale. To this end, a real-time water quality monitoring system was implemented in Nanwan Bay in 2010. We found that natural events, such as cold water intrusion due to upwelling, tended to elicit temporal shifts in coral spawning between 2010 and 2011. In addition, Degree Heating Weeks (DHWs), a commonly utilized predictor of coral bleaching, were 0.92 and 0.59 in summer 2010 and 2011, respectively. Though this quantity of DHW was below the presumed stress-inducing value for these reefs, a rise in DHWs in the future may stress the resident corals.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. Coral communities of the remote atoll reefs in the Nansha Islands, southern South China Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zhao, M X; Yu, K F; Shi, Q; Chen, T R; Zhang, H L; Chen, T G

    2013-09-01

    During the months of May and June in the year 2007, a survey was conducted regarding coral reef communities in the remote atolls (Zhubi Reef and Meiji Reef) of Nansha Islands, southern South China Sea. The goals of the survey were to: (1) for the first time, compile a scleractinian coral check-list; (2) estimate the total richness, coral cover, and growth forms of the community; and (3) describe preliminary patterns of community structure according to geomorphological units. Findings of this survey revealed a total of 120 species of scleractinia belonging to 40 genera, while the average coral cover was 21 %, ranging from less than 10 % to higher than 50 %. Branching and massive corals were also found to be the most important growth forms of the whole coral community, while Acropora, Montipora, and Porites were the three dominant genera in the overall region, with their contributions to total coral cover measuring 21, 22, and 23 %, respectively. Overall, coral communities of the Nansha Islands were in a relative healthy condition with high species diversity and coral cover. Spatial pattern of coral communities existed among various geomorphological units. Mean coral cover was highest in the patch reef within the lagoon, followed by the fore reef slope, reef flat, and lagoon slope. The greatest contributors to total coral cover were branching Acropora (45 %) in the lagoon slope, branching Montipora (44 %) in the reef flat, and massive Porites (51 %) in the patch reef. Coral cover in the fore reef revealed a greater range of genera than in other habitats. The leeward fore reef slope had higher coral cover (> 50 %) when compared with the windward slope (coral communities of the inner reef flat were characterized by higher coral cover (27 %) and dominant branching Montipora corals, while lower coral cover (4 %) was dominated by Psammocora with massive growth forms on the outer reef flat. Destructive fishing and coral bleaching were two major threats to coral communities

  14. 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.

  15. Twilight spectral dynamics and the coral reef invertebrate spawning response.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sweeney, Alison M; Boch, Charles A; Johnsen, Sonke; Morse, Daniel E

    2011-03-01

    There are dramatic and physiologically relevant changes in both skylight color and intensity during evening twilight as the pathlength of direct sunlight through the atmosphere increases, ozone increasingly absorbs long wavelengths and skylight becomes increasingly blue shifted. The moon is above the horizon at sunset during the waxing phase of the lunar cycle, on the horizon at sunset on the night of the full moon and below the horizon during the waning phase. Moonlight is red shifted compared with daylight, so the presence, phase and position of the moon in the sky could modulate the blue shifts during twilight. Therefore, the influence of the moon on twilight color is likely to differ somewhat each night of the lunar cycle, and to vary especially rapidly around the full moon, as the moon transitions from above to below the horizon during twilight. Many important light-mediated biological processes occur during twilight, and this lunar effect may play a role. One particularly intriguing biological event tightly correlated with these twilight processes is the occurrence of mass spawning events on coral reefs. Therefore, we measured downwelling underwater hyperspectral irradiance on a coral reef during twilight for several nights before and after the full moon. We demonstrate that shifts in twilight color and intensity on nights both within and between evenings, immediately before and after the full moon, are correlated with the observed times of synchronized mass spawning, and that these optical phenomena are a biologically plausible cue for the synchronization of these mass spawning events.

  16. 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...

  17. 78 FR 16296 - Record of Decision for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Biscayne National Park, FL

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-03-14

    ... National Park Service Record of Decision for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Biscayne National Park, FL... the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan (Plan) for... systematic approach to addressing injuries to coral reefs caused by vessel groundings within...

  18. 77 FR 16211 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-03-20

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS... the following vacant seats on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory... . SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve is a marine protected area designed to...

  19. 77 FR 39724 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-07-05

    ...-123D0102DM-DS61200000] U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife.... Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force... better preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The Departments of Commerce and the Interior...

  20. 77 FR 6786 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-02-09

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public..., Notice of public comment. SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given of a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task.... Coral Reef Task Force, provides a forum for coordinated planning and action among federal...

  1. 77 FR 48504 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Economic Value of Puerto Rico's Coral Reef...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-08-14

    ... Value of Puerto Rico's Coral Reef Ecosystems for Recreation-Tourism AGENCY: National Oceanic and... values of Puerto Rico's coral reef ecosystems. Estimates will be made for all ecosystem services for the Guanica Bay Watershed and for recreation-tourism for all of Puerto Rico's coral reef ecosystems....

  2. 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 Permit that would authorize Kampachi Farms, LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem...

  3. 75 FR 47624 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-08-06

    ... Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and... U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task...: Andrew_Gude@fws.gov ); or Liza Johnson, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Department of the Interior Liaison,...

  4. 76 FR 7579 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-02-10

    ... Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and... U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public business meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef...-mail: Andrew_Gude@fws.gov ); or Liza Johnson, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Department of the...

  5. Assessing the sensitivity of coral reef condition indicators to local and global stressors with Bayesian networks

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are highly valued ecosystems that are currently imperiled. Although the value of coral reefs to human societies is only just being investigated and better understood, for many local and global economies coral reefs are important providers of ecosystem services that su...

  6. 76 FR 52318 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-08-22

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public..., Notice of public comment. SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given of a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task... the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, provides a forum for coordinated planning and action among...

  7. 77 FR 12243 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2012-02-29

    ... Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems Permit Form AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... vessel to fish for Western Pacific coral reef ecosystem management unit species in the designated low-use... regulations; or (3) fishing for, taking, or retaining any Potentially Harvested Coral Reef Taxa in the...

  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... the following vacant seats on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory....byers@noaa.gov . SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve is a ]...

  9. 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....

  10. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-11-06

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic... assessment and finding of no significant impact for the issuance of a special coral reef ecosystem fishing permit. SUMMARY: NMFS issued a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that authorizes Kampachi...

  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. Challenges for Managing Fisheries on Diverse Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Douglas Fenner

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available Widespread coral reef decline has included the decline of reef fish populations, and the subsistence and artisanal fisheries that depend on them. Overfishing and destructive fishing have been identified as the greatest local threats to coral reefs, but the greatest future threats are acidification and increases in mass coral bleaching caused by global warming. Some reefs have shifted from dominance by corals to macroalgae, in what are called “phase shifts”. Depletion of herbivores including fishes has been identified as a contributor to such phase shifts, though nutrients are also involved in complex interactions with herbivory and competition. The depletion of herbivorous fishes implies a reduction of the resilience of coral reefs to the looming threat of mass coral mortality from bleaching, since mass coral deaths are likely to be followed by mass macroalgal blooms on the newly exposed dead substrates. Conventional stock assessment of each fish species would be the preferred option for understanding the status of the reef fishes, but this is far too expensive to be practical because of the high diversity of the fishery and poverty where most reefs are located. In addition, stock assessment models and fisheries in general assume density dependent populations, but a key prediction that stocks recover from fishing is not always confirmed. Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE has far too many weaknesses to be a useful method. The ratio of catch to stock and the proportion of catch that is mature depend on fish catch data, and are heavily biased toward stocks that are in good condition and incapable of finding species that are in the worst condition. Near-pristine reefs give us a reality check about just how much we have lost. Common fisheries management tools that control effort or catch are often prohibitively difficult to enforce for most coral reefs except in developed countries. Ecosystem-based management requires management of impacts of fishing

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. Satellite imaging coral reef resilience at regional scale. A case-study from Saudi Arabia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rowlands, Gwilym; Purkis, Sam; Riegl, Bernhard; Metsamaa, Liisa; Bruckner, Andrew; Renaud, Philip

    2012-06-01

    We propose a framework for spatially estimating a proxy for coral reef resilience using remote sensing. Data spanning large areas of coral reef habitat were obtained using the commercial QuickBird satellite, and freely available imagery (NASA, Google Earth). Principles of coral reef ecology, field observation, and remote observations, were combined to devise mapped indices. These capture important and accessible components of coral reef resilience. Indices are divided between factors known to stress corals, and factors incorporating properties of the reef landscape that resist stress or promote coral growth. The first-basis for a remote sensed resilience index (RSRI), an estimate of expected reef resilience, is proposed. Developed for the Red Sea, the framework of our analysis is flexible and with minimal adaptation, could be extended to other reef regions. We aim to stimulate discussion as to use of remote sensing to do more than simply deliver habitat maps of coral reefs.

  17. Neogene reef coral assemblages of the Bocas del Toro region, Panama: the rise of Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Klaus, J. S.; McNeill, D. F.; Budd, A. F.; Coates, A. G.

    2012-03-01

    Temporal patterns are evaluated in Neogene reef coral assemblages from the Bocas del Toro Basin of Panama in order to understand how reef ecosystems respond to long-term environmental change. Analyses are based on a total of 1,702 zooxanthellate coral specimens collected from six coral-bearing units ranging in age from the earliest Late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene: (1) Valiente Formation (12-11 Ma), (2) Fish Hole Member of the Old Bank Formation (5.8-5.6 Ma), (3) La Gruta Member of the Isla Colon Formation (2.2-1.4 Ma), (4) Ground Creek Member of the Isla Colon Formation (2.2-1.4 Ma), (5) Mimitimbi Member of the Urracá Formation (1.2-0.8 Ma), and (6) Hill Point Member of the Urracá Formation (1.2-0.8 Ma). Over 100 coral species occur in the six units, with faunal assemblages ranging from less than 10% extant taxa (Valiente Formation) to over 85% extant taxa (Ground Creek Member). The collections provide new temporal constraints on the emergence of modern Caribbean reefs, with the La Gruta Member containing the earliest occurrence of large monospecific stands of the dominant Caribbean reef coral Acropora palmata, and the Urracá Formation containing the last fossil occurrences of 15 regionally extinct taxa. Canonical correspondence analysis of 41 Late Miocene to Recent reef coral assemblages from the Caribbean region suggests changes in community structure coincident with effective oceanic closure of the Central American Seaway (~3.5 Ma). These changes, including increased Acropora dominance, may have contributed to a protracted period of elevated extinction debt prior to the major peak in regional coral extinctions (~2-1 Ma).

  18. 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"...

  19. 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...

  20. Macroalgae in the coral reefs of Eilat (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea) as a possible indicator of reef degradation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bahartan, Karnit; Zibdah, Mohammad; Ahmed, Yousef; Israel, Alvaro; Brickner, Itzchak; Abelson, Avigdor

    2010-05-01

    The current state of health of the coral reefs in the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea), notably the Eilat reefs, is under debate regarding both their exact condition and the causes of degradation. A dearth of earlier data and unequivocal reliable indices are the major problems hinder a clear understanding of the reef state. Our research objective was to examine coral-algal dynamics as a potential cause and an indication of reef degradation. The community structure of stony corals and algae along the northern Gulf of Aqaba reveal non-seasonal turf algae dominancy in the shallow Eilat reefs (up to 72%), while the proximate Aqaba reefs present negligible turf cover (reefs, based on the reduction in essential reef components followed by proliferation of perennial turf algae. Our findings provide further evidence for the severe state of the Eilat coral reefs.

  1. Bleaching and recovery patterns of corals in Palk Bay, India: An indication of bleaching resilient reef

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Manikandan, B.; Ravindran, J.; Vidya, P.J.; ManiMurali, R.

    Frequency and severity of coral bleaching events increased in recent years affecting the recovery and resilience of corals. In this study, influence of bleaching and recovery patterns of corals on the resilience potential of Palk Bay reef...

  2. 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...

  3. 76 FR 66273 - Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-10-26

    ... Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permit AGENCY... conditions, various species of reef fish and live rock in Federal waters off North Carolina. The specimens... Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region and the FMP for Coral,...

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Assembly rules of reef corals are flexible along a steep climatic gradient.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, Terry P; Baird, Andrew H; Dinsdale, Elizabeth A; Moltschaniwskyj, Natalie A; Pratchett, Morgan S; Tanner, Jason E; Willis, Bette L

    2012-04-24

    Coral reefs, one of the world's most complex and vulnerable ecosystems, face an uncertain future in coming decades as they continue to respond to anthropogenic climate change, overfishing, pollution, and other human impacts [1, 2]. Traditionally, marine macroecology is based on presence/absence data from taxonomic checklists or geographic ranges, providing a qualitative overview of spatial shifts in species richness that treats rare and common species equally [3, 4]. As a consequence, regional and long-term shifts in relative abundances of individual taxa are poorly understood. Here we apply a more rigorous quantitative approach to examine large-scale spatial variation in the species composition and abundance of corals on midshelf reefs along the length of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a biogeographic region where species richness is high and relatively homogeneous [5]. We demonstrate that important functional components of coral assemblages "sample" space differently at 132 sites separated by up to 1740 km, leading to complex latitudinal shifts in patterns of absolute and relative abundance. The flexibility in community composition that we document along latitudinal environmental gradients indicates that climate change is likely to result in a reassortment of coral reef taxa rather than wholesale loss of entire reef ecosystems.

  9. 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.

  10. 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....

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2015-01-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. A coral reef refuge in the Red Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fine, Maoz; Gildor, Hezi; Genin, Amatzia

    2013-12-01

    The stability and persistence of coral reefs in the decades to come is uncertain due to global warming and repeated bleaching events that will lead to reduced resilience of these ecological and socio-economically important ecosystems. Identifying key refugia is potentially important for future conservation actions. We suggest that the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) (Red Sea) may serve as a reef refugium due to a unique suite of environmental conditions. Our hypothesis is based on experimental detection of an exceptionally high bleaching threshold of northern Red Sea corals and on the potential dispersal of coral planulae larvae through a selective thermal barrier estimated using an ocean model. We propose that millennia of natural selection in the form of a thermal barrier at the southernmost end of the Red Sea have selected coral genotypes that are less susceptible to thermal stress in the northern Red Sea, delaying bleaching events in the GoA by at least a century.

  18. Contrasting responses of coral reef fauna and foraminiferal assemblages to human influence in La Parguera, Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reef biota including stony corals, sponges, gorgonians, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates and foraminifera were surveyed in coastal waters near La Parguera, in southwestern Puerto Rico. The goal was to evaluate sensitivity of coral reef biological indicators to human distur...

  19. Long-term Shifts in Coral Communities On Shallow to Deep Reef Slopes of Curaçao and Bonaire: Are There Any Winners?

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bakker, De Didier M.; Meesters, Erik H.; Bak, Rolf P.M.; Nieuwland, Gerard; Duyl, Van Fleur C.

    2016-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically important ecosystems on earth. Nevertheless, we found dramatic changes in coral communities on the reef slopes of Curaçao and Bonaire since 1973. Cover species. The data show a shift from communities dominated by framework

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2017-01-01

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  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. Disease incidence is related to bleaching extent in reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brandt, Marilyn E; McManus, John W

    2009-10-01

    Recent outbreaks of coral bleaching and disease have contributed to substantial declines in the abundance of reef-building coral. Significant attention has been paid to both phenomena in order to determine their effect on reef trajectories. Although each is positively correlated with high temperatures, few studies have explored the potential links between bleaching and disease. A longitudinal study of corals in the Florida Keys was therefore conducted during the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event to quantify bleaching extent and disease incidence in corals, and to determine whether they were related or if they acted as discrete phenomena. These data indicated that overall, a positive correlation exists between bleaching extent and disease incidence. However, the specific interactions between these two phenomena varied among disease bleaching combinations. Montastraea faveolata colonies with greater bleaching intensities later developed white plague (WP) infections. Meanwhile, Siderastrea siderea colonies with dark spot disease (DS) bleached more extensively than apparently healthy colonies. Finally, bleaching and black band disease (BB) co-occurred on Colpophyllia natans throughout the bleaching event. WP, BB, and bleaching are each independently capable of changing the structure of coral populations through loss of living tissue, and DS is an important indicator of reef health. Understanding the dynamics of how these mortality sources interact is critical to understanding mortality patterns and predicting how reef communities will respond to future events.

  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. The preparation of the rice coral Montipora capitata nubbins for application in coral-reef ecotoxicology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vijayavel, K; Richmond, R H

    2012-04-01

    Securing adequate and appropriate source material for coral-reef ecotoxicology studies is a significant impediment to conducting various experiments supporting the goal of conserving coral-reef ecosystems. Collecting colonies from wild stocks may be counter to protecting coral reef populations. To address this issue the rice coral Montipora capitata was used to generate sufficient genetically identical nubbins for research purposes. Growth and survival rates of these laboratory-prepared M. capitata nubbins were studied over a period of 90 days. The resulting data support the conclusion that the laboratory-prepared M. capitata nubbins showed successful growth and survival rates and are the best solution to solve the source material issue for lab experimentation. This paper describes the laboratory method used for the preparation and maintenance of these M. capitata nubbins and discusses the benefits and difficulties of using these nubbins in ecotoxicity studies.

  7. 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.

  8. Climate-Smart Design for Ecosystem Management: A Test Application for Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    West, Jordan M.; Courtney, Catherine A.; Hamilton, Anna T.; Parker, Britt A.; Julius, Susan H.; Hoffman, Jennie; Koltes, Karen H.; MacGowan, Petra

    2017-01-01

    The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an "adaptation design tool" that is now under development.

  9. 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...

  10. Biological oxygen demand optode analysis of coral reef-associated microbial communities exposed to algal exudates

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Gregg, A.K.; Hatay, M.; Haas, A.F.; Robinett, N.L.; Barott, K.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Marhaver, K.; Thompson, F.; Meirelles, P.; Rohwer, F.

    2013-01-01

    Algae-derived dissolved organic matter has been hypothesized to induce mortality of reef building corals. One proposed killing mechanism is a zone of hypoxia created by rapidly growing microbes. To investigate this hypothesis, biological oxygen demand (BOD) optodes were used to quantify the change i

  11. 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

  12. What can two years of monitoring tell us about Venezuelan coral reefs? the Southern Tropical America Node of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (STA-GCRMN).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cróquer, Aldo; Debrot, Denise; Klein, Eduardo; Kurten, Martina; Rodríguez, Sebastian; Bastidas, Carolina

    2010-05-01

    In spite of their economic importance, coral reef communities of the world are rapidly decreasing, and an adequate management planification is needed. The benthic and fish communities of Dos Mosquises Sur and Madrizqui at Los Roques National Park, and Caiman and Cayo Norte at Morrocoy National Park, in Venezuela were monitored during 2003 and 2004. The CARICOMP method was used to describe the benthic community, and the AGRRA protocol was applied to the fish community assessment. The benthic cover of five broad living categories (i.e. corals, algae, sponge and octocorals) differed across the sites (Nested ANOVA, p Curtis), whereas Caiman differed greatly (57- 68%) from all other sites. The cover of hard coral, algae, sponges and octocorals was similar between 2003 and 2004 in all four sites. Similarly, the fish community structure of both parks did not change over time, and was dominated by herbivores (Pomacentridac, Scaridae and Acanthuridae). However, commercially important carnivores (e.g. Lutjanids and Serranids) were more abundant in Los Roques than in Morrocoy. Although it was expected that the benthic cover and fish community would reflect greater differences between Los Roques and Morrocoy, only the fish community appeared healthier in Los Roques, whereas Cayo Norte (Morrocoy), had a coral cover similar or higher than both sites of Los Roques. Thus, our results suggest that in Venezuela, oceanic reef sites are not necessarily 'healthier' (i.e. higher coral cover) than land-influenced coral communities. The addition of three new sites and the reincorporation of Caiman has improved and expanded the monitoring capabilities in Venezuela and it represents the first step towards the consolidation of a coral reef monitoring program for the country.

  13. 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

  14. CORAL RESPONSES TO CLIMATE AND LAND USE CHANGES

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fisher, William S., Debbie L. Santavy, John E. Rogers and Richard G. Zepp. In press. Coral Responses to Climate and Land Use Changes (Abstract). To be presented at the SETAC Fourth World Congress, 14-18 November 2004, Portland, OR. 1 p. (ERL,GB R1019). Coral reefs have ex...

  15. 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.

  16. 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...

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

    OpenAIRE

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

  18. 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

  19. Taphonomy of coral reefs from Southern Lagoon of Belize

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Westphall, M.J.; Ginsburg, R.N.

    1985-02-01

    The Southern Lagoon of the Belize barrier complex, an area of some 600 km/sup 2/, contains a tremendous number of lagoon reefs, which range in size from patches several meters across to rhomboidal-shaped structures several kilometers in their long dimension. These lagoon reefs are remarkable because they have Holocene sediment accumulations in excess of 13 m consisting almost entirely of coral debris and lime mud and sand, and rise up to 30 m above the surrounding lagoon floor with steeply sloping sides (50-80/sup 0/), yet are totally uncemented. The reef-building biota and their corresponding deposits were studied at a representative reef, the rhomboidal complex of Channel Cay. As with many of the reefs in this area, the steeply sloping flanks of Channel Cay are covered mainly by the branched staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and ribbonlike and platy growth of Agaricia spp. The living corals are not cemented to the substrate, but are merely intergrown. Fragmented pieces of corals accumulate with an open framework below the living community; this open framework is subsequently infilled by lime muds and sands produced mainly from bioerosion. Results from probing and coring suggest that the bafflestone fabric of coral debris and sediment extends at least 13 m into the subsurface. Radiocarbon-age estimates indicate these impressive piles of coral rubble and sediment have accumulated in the past 9000 yr (giving a minimum accumulation rate of 1.4 m/1000 yr) and illustrate the potential for significant carbonate buildups without the need for early lithification.

  20. Coral reef microbialites as contemporaneous framework component (deglacial, Tahiti)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Westphal, H.; Heindel, K.; Brandano, M.; Peckmann, J.; Cabioch, G.

    2009-04-01

    Marine microbialites associated with hermatypic corals are known from several intervals of Earth's history, including the latest deglacial from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. In contrast, in the modern world no such massive occurrences are known to form. Here, deglacial microbialites from Tahiti (IODP 310) are studied. The paradox of the co-occurrence of oligotrophic corals with microbialites that tend to form in more nutrient-rich environments has previously led to the assumption that the microbialites are considerably younger than the coral framework, and have formed in deeper storeys of the reef edifice; or that they represent a severe disturbance of the reef ecosystem. The present study in contrast demonstrates that microbialite encrustation occurred immediately after coral demise. Encrustation has taken place under photic conditions, even though the involvement of cyanobacteria or anoxygenic phototrophs in the microbialite precipitation remains elusive. The reason for the voluminous development of microbialites in the deglacial reefs of Tahiti (up to 80% by volume of the cores) remains an open question. High trophic conditions caused by fluvial or groundwater transport from the volcanic hinterland appears to be an unlikely cause, given that the corals and the microbialites developed in close vicinity, and that the coral community prospered continuously - no breaks in the development of the succession were detected. The fact, however, that voluminous deglacial reef microbialites are restricted to volcanic islands, implies that moderately, and possibly episodically elevated trophic conditions favor this type of microbialite formation. Clearly, the reef microbialites recovered in the IODP 310 cores did not develop after a serious disturbance such as drowning or suffocation by terrestrial material, and are no "disaster forms". Rather, their precipitation represents a continuous process in an ecosystem that was on the verge of its limiting conditions.

  1. 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).

  2. Working with, not against, coral-reef fisheries

    Science.gov (United States)

    Birkeland, Charles

    2017-03-01

    The fisheries policies of some Pacific island nations are more appropriate to the biology of their resources than are some of the fisheries policies of more industrialized countries. Exclusive local ownership of natural resources in Palau encourages adjustive management on biologically relevant scales of time and space and promotes responsibility by reducing the tragedy of the commons. The presence of large individuals in fish populations and adequate size of spawning aggregations are more efficient and meaningful cues for timely management than are surveys of abundance or biomass. Taking fish from populations more than halfway to their carrying capacity is working favorably with the fishery because removing fish potentially increases resource stability by negative feedback between stock size and population production. Taking the same amount of fish from a population below half its carrying capacity is working against the fishery, making the population unstable, because reducing the reproductive stock potentially accelerates reduction of the population production by positive feedback. Reef fish are consumed locally, while Palauan laws ban the export of reef resources. This is consistent with the high gross primary production with little excess net production from undisturbed coral-reef ecosystems. The relatively rapid growth rates, short life spans, reliable recruitment and wide-ranging movements of open-ocean fishes such as scombrids make them much more productive than coral-reef fishes. The greater fisheries yield per square kilometer in the open ocean multiplied by well over a thousand times the area of the exclusive economic zone than that of Palau's coral reefs should encourage Palauans to keep reef fishes for subsistence and to feed tourists open-ocean fishes. Fisheries having only artisanal means should be encouraged to increase the yield and sustainability by moving away from coral reefs to bulk harvesting of nearshore pelagics.

  3. 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.

  4. Linking habitat mosaics and connectivity in a coral reef seascape.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McMahon, Kelton W; Berumen, Michael L; Thorrold, Simon R

    2012-09-18

    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 configuration 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.

  5. Mine waste disposal leads to lower coral cover, reduced species richness and a predominance of simple coral growth forms on a fringing coral reef in Papua New Guinea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haywood, M D E; Dennis, D; Thomson, D P; Pillans, R D

    2016-04-01

    A large gold mine has been operating at the Lihir Island Group, Papua New Guinea since 1997. The mine disposes of waste rock in nearshore waters, impacting nearby coral communities. During 2010, 2012 we conducted photographic surveys at 73 sites within 40 km of the mine to document impacts of mining operations on the hard coral communities. Coral communities close to the mine (∼2 km to the north and south of the mine) were depaurperate, but surprisingly, coral cover and community composition beyond this range appeared to be relatively similar, suggesting that the mine impacts were limited spatially. In particular, we found mining operations have resulted in a significant decrease in coral cover (4.4% 1.48 km from the disposal site c.f. 66.9% 10.36 km from the disposal site), decreased species richness and a predominance of less complex growth forms within ∼2 km to the north and south of the mine waste disposal site. In contrast to the two 'snapshot' surveys of corals performed in 2010 and 2012, long term data (1999-2012) based on visual estimates of coral cover suggested that impacts on coral communities may have been more extensive than this. With global pressures on the world's coral reefs increasing, it is vital that local, direct anthropogenic pressures are reduced, in order to help offset the impacts of climate change, disease and predation.

  6. Management Strategy Evaluation Applied to Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of Ecosystem-Based Management.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Weijerman, Mariska; 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 marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis) to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings) and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated 'full regulation' scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

  7. Management Strategy Evaluation Applied to Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of Ecosystem-Based Management.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mariska Weijerman

    Full Text Available 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 marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated 'full regulation' scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

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

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Soest, van R.W.M; Cleary, D.F.R.; Kluijver, de M.J.; 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, supplem