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Sample records for dominant caribbean corals

  1. 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. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

  2. Coral identity underpins architectural complexity on Caribbean reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2011-09-01

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

  3. 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

  4. Static measurements of the resilience of Caribbean coral populations

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew W. Bruckner

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available The progressive downward shift in dominance of key reef building corals, coupled with dramatic increases in macroalgae and other nuisance species, fields of unstable coral rubble ,loss of structural relief, and declines of major functional groups of fishes is a common occurrence throughout the Caribbean today. The incorporation of resilience principles into management is a proposed strategy to reverse this trend and ensure proper functioning of coral reefs under predicted scenarios of climate change, yet ecosystem processes and functions that underlie reef resilience are not fully understood. Rapid assessments using the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA and the IUCN Resilience Assessment protocol can provide baseline information on reef resilience. A key aspect of these surveys focuses on coral population dynamics, including measures of coral cover, size, partial and whole-colony mortality, condition, and recruitment. One challenge is that these represent static measures involving a single assessment. Without following individual corals over time, it is difficult to determine rates of survival and growth of recruits and adult colonies, and differentiation of juveniles from small remnants of older colonies may not be possible, especially when macroalgal cover is high. To address this limitation, corals assessed in Bonaire in July 2010 were subdivided into two categories: 1 colonies on the reef substrate; and 2 colonies colonizing dead corals and exposed skeletal surfaces of living corals. Coral populations in Bonaire exhibited many features indicative of high resilience, including high coral cover (often 30-50%, high levels of recruitment, and a large number of corals that settled on dead corals and survived to larger size-classes. Overall, the skeletal surfaces of 12 species of corals were colonized by 16 species of corals, with up to 12 settlers on each colony, most (67% on M. annularis (complex skeletons. Nevertheless, completely

  5. Coral diseases and bleaching on Colombian Caribbean coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Raúl Navas-Camacho

    2010-05-01

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

  6. 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

    ... the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the Southern Atlantic... regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of... Cancer Institute (http:// [[Page 39918

  7. Static measurements of the resilience of Caribbean coral populations

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew W. Bruckner

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available The progressive downward shift in dominance of key reef building corals, coupled with dramatic increases in macroalgae and other nuisance species, fields of unstable coral rubble ,loss of structural relief, and declines of major functional groups of fishes is a common occurrence throughout the Caribbean today. The incorporation of resilience principles into management is a proposed strategy to reverse this trend and ensure proper functioning of coral reefs under predicted scenarios of climate change, yet ecosystem processes and functions that underlie reef resilience are not fully understood. Rapid assessments using the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA and the IUCN Resilience Assessment protocol can provide baseline information on reef resilience. A key aspect of these surveys focuses on coral population dynamics, including measures of coral cover, size, partial and whole-colony mortality, condition, and recruitment. One challenge is that these represent static measures involving a single assessment. Without following individual corals over time, it is difficult to determine rates of survival and growth of recruits and adult colonies, and differentiation of juveniles from small remnants of older colonies may not be possible, especially when macroalgal cover is high. To address this limitation, corals assessed in Bonaire in July 2010 were subdivided into two categories: 1 colonies on the reef substrate; and 2 colonies colonizing dead corals and exposed skeletal surfaces of living corals. Coral populations in Bonaire exhibited many features indicative of high resilience, including high coral cover (often 30-50%, high levels of recruitment, and a large number of corals that settled on dead corals and survived to larger size-classes. Overall, the skeletal surfaces of 12 species of corals were colonized by 16 species of corals, with up to 12 settlers on each colony, most (67% on M. annularis (complex skeletons. Nevertheless, completely

  8. African dust and the demise of Caribbean coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shinn, E.A.; Smith, G.W.; Prospero, J.M.; Betzer, P.; Hayes, M.L.; Garrison, V.; Barber, R.T.

    2000-01-01

    The vitality of Caribbean coral reefs has undergone a continual state of decline since the late 1970s, a period of time coincidental with large increases in transatlantic dust transport. It is proposed that the hundreds of millions of tons/year of soil dust that have been crossing the Atlantic during the last 25 years could be a significant contributor to coral reef decline and may be affecting other ecosystems. Benchmark events, such as near synchronous Caribbean-wide mortalities of acroporid corals and the urchin Diadema in 1983, and coral bleaching beginning in 1987, correlate with the years of maximum dust flux into the Caribbean. Besides crustal elements, in particular Fe, Si, and aluminosilicate clays, the dust can serve as a substrate for numerous species of viable spores, especially the soil fungus Aspergillus. Aspergillus sydowii, the cause of an ongoing Caribbean-wide seafan disease, has been cultured from Caribbean air samples and used to inoculate sea fans.

  9. Biogeography of azooxanthellate corals in the Caribbean and surrounding areas

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dawson, J.

    2002-04-01

    Biogeographic patterns for azooxanthellate corals are not as well known as those of zooxanthellate (primarily reef-building) corals. I analyzed occurrences of 129 species of azooxanthellate corals in 19 geopolitical regions in the Caribbean and surrounding areas. I performed an unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic averages (UPGMA) cluster analysis using Bray-Curtis' similarity measure on the complete data set and shallow- and deep-water subsets of the data. The results indicate two provinces, each with a widespread (tropical and subtropical distributions) component to its fauna. One province has a tropical and primarily insular component to it, while the other has a subtropical and primarily continental component. By contrast, zooxanthellate corals have a uniform faunal composition throughout the Caribbean. Moreover, zooxanthellate corals have half as many species in the Caribbean as the azooxanthellate corals even though their global diversities are equal. These differences in diversity and geographic distribution patterns should be considered when developing conservation strategies.

  10. Genetic Signature of Resistance to White Band Disease in the Caribbean Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Silvia Libro

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to multiple factors including rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and disease outbreaks. Over the last 30 years, White Band Disease (WBD alone has killed up to 95% of the Caribbean`s dominant shallow-water corals--the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and the elkhorn coral A. palmata. Both corals are now listed on the US Endangered Species Act, and while their recovery has been slow, recent transmission surveys indicate that more than 5% of staghorn corals are disease resistant. Here we compared transcriptome-wide gene expression between resistant and susceptible staghorn corals exposed to WBD using in situ transmission assays. We identified constitutive gene expression differences underlying disease resistance that are independent from the immune response associated with disease exposure. Genes involved in RNA interference-mediated gene silencing, including Argonaute were up-regulated in resistant corals, whereas heat shock proteins (HSPs were down-regulated. Up-regulation of Argonaute proteins indicates that post-transcriptional gene silencing plays a key, but previously unsuspected role in coral immunity and disease resistance. Constitutive expression of HSPs has been linked to thermal resilience in other Acropora corals, suggesting that the down-regulation of HSPs in disease resistant staghorn corals may confer a dual benefit of thermal resilience.

  11. Genetic Signature of Resistance to White Band Disease in the Caribbean Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Libro, Silvia; Vollmer, Steven V

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to multiple factors including rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and disease outbreaks. Over the last 30 years, White Band Disease (WBD) alone has killed up to 95% of the Caribbean`s dominant shallow-water corals--the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and the elkhorn coral A. palmata. Both corals are now listed on the US Endangered Species Act, and while their recovery has been slow, recent transmission surveys indicate that more than 5% of staghorn corals are disease resistant. Here we compared transcriptome-wide gene expression between resistant and susceptible staghorn corals exposed to WBD using in situ transmission assays. We identified constitutive gene expression differences underlying disease resistance that are independent from the immune response associated with disease exposure. Genes involved in RNA interference-mediated gene silencing, including Argonaute were up-regulated in resistant corals, whereas heat shock proteins (HSPs) were down-regulated. Up-regulation of Argonaute proteins indicates that post-transcriptional gene silencing plays a key, but previously unsuspected role in coral immunity and disease resistance. Constitutive expression of HSPs has been linked to thermal resilience in other Acropora corals, suggesting that the down-regulation of HSPs in disease resistant staghorn corals may confer a dual benefit of thermal resilience.

  12. Assessing the potential of Southern Caribbean corals for reconstructions of Holocene temperature variability

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Giry, Cyril; Felis, Thomas; Scheffers, Sander; Fensterer, Claudia

    2010-01-01

    We present a 40-year long monthly resolved Sr/Ca record from a fossil Diploria strigosa coral from Bonaire (Southern Caribbean Sea) dated with U/Th at 2.35 ka before present (BP). Secondary modifiers of this sea surface temperature (SST) proxy in annually-banded corals such as diagenetic alteration of the skeleton and skeletal growth-rate are investigated. Extensive diagenetic investigations reveal that this fossil coral skeleton is pristine which is further supported by clear annual cycles in the coral Sr/Ca record. No significant correlation between annual growth rate and Sr/Ca is observed, suggesting that the Sr/Ca record is not affected by coral growth. Therefore, we conclude that the observed interannual Sr/Ca variability was influenced by ambient SST variability. Spectral analysis of the annual mean Sr/Ca record reveals a dominant frequency centred at 6-7 years that is not associated with changes of the annual growth rate. The first monthly resolved coral Sr/Ca record from the Southern Caribbean Sea for preindustrial time suggests that fossil corals from Bonaire are suitable tools for reconstructing past SST variability. Coastal deposits on Bonaire provide abundant fossil D. strigosa colonies of Holocene age that can be accurately dated and used to reconstruct climate variability. Comparisons of long monthly resolved Sr/Ca records from multiple fossil corals will provide a mean to estimate seasonality and interannual to interdecadal SST variability of the Southern Caribbean Sea during the Holocene.

  13. Mass Coral Bleaching in 2010 in the Southern Caribbean

    OpenAIRE

    Alemu I, Jahson Berhane; Clement, Ysharda

    2014-01-01

    Ocean temperatures are increasing globally and the Caribbean is no exception. An extreme ocean warming event in 2010 placed Tobago's coral reefs under severe stress resulting in widespread coral bleaching and threatening the livelihoods that rely on them. The bleaching response of four reef building taxa was monitored over a six month period across three major reefs systems in Tobago. By identifying taxa resilient to bleaching we propose to assist local coral reef managers in the decision mak...

  14. Coral diseases and bleaching on Colombian Caribbean coral reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Raúl Navas-Camacho

    2010-05-01

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

  15. 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

    ... the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic..., Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of the South Atlantic Region. The applicant has requested.... HHSN261200900012C) between the National Cancer Institute ( http://www.cancer.gov/ ) and the Coral Reef Research...

  16. Mass coral bleaching in 2010 in the southern Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alemu I, Jahson Berhane; Clement, Ysharda

    2014-01-01

    Ocean temperatures are increasing globally and the Caribbean is no exception. An extreme ocean warming event in 2010 placed Tobago's coral reefs under severe stress resulting in widespread coral bleaching and threatening the livelihoods that rely on them. The bleaching response of four reef building taxa was monitored over a six month period across three major reefs systems in Tobago. By identifying taxa resilient to bleaching we propose to assist local coral reef managers in the decision making process to cope with mass bleaching events. The bleaching signal (length of exposure to high ocean temperatures) varied widely between the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs, but regardless of this variation most taxa bleached. Colpophyllia natans, Montastraea faveolata and Siderastrea siderea were considered the most bleaching vulnerable taxa. Interestingly, reefs with the highest coral cover showed the greatest decline reef building taxa, and conversely, reefs with the lowest coral cover showed the most bleaching but lowest change in coral cover with little algal overgrowth post-bleaching.

  17. Mass Coral Bleaching in 2010 in the Southern Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alemu I, Jahson Berhane; Clement, Ysharda

    2014-01-01

    Ocean temperatures are increasing globally and the Caribbean is no exception. An extreme ocean warming event in 2010 placed Tobago's coral reefs under severe stress resulting in widespread coral bleaching and threatening the livelihoods that rely on them. The bleaching response of four reef building taxa was monitored over a six month period across three major reefs systems in Tobago. By identifying taxa resilient to bleaching we propose to assist local coral reef managers in the decision making process to cope with mass bleaching events. The bleaching signal (length of exposure to high ocean temperatures) varied widely between the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs, but regardless of this variation most taxa bleached. Colpophyllia natans, Montastraea faveolata and Siderastrea siderea were considered the most bleaching vulnerable taxa. Interestingly, reefs with the highest coral cover showed the greatest decline reef building taxa, and conversely, reefs with the lowest coral cover showed the most bleaching but lowest change in coral cover with little algal overgrowth post-bleaching. PMID:24400078

  18. Distribution and structure of the southernmost Caribbean coral reefs: golfo de Urabá, Colombia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    J. M. Díaz

    2000-09-01

    Full Text Available The Gulf of Urabá represents the southernmost portion of the Caribbean Sea. Due to the large amounts of sediment and freshwater discharged by the Atrato river and several minor streams, water conditions in the area are far from being optimal for coral settlement and growth. However, fringing and patch reefs are developed along the rocky shores of the northwest margin of the Gulf. Based on field observations performed at 44 sites (12 of them assessed quantitatively, interpretation of air photography of the area and depth profiles, the distribution, structure and zonation of the reefs are described. Classification analysis of the 12 sample sites yielded four coral assemblages: Diploria strigosa, crustose algae, Siderastrea siderea, Agaricia spp., and mixed massive corals. Other two assemblages, dominated respectively by Millepora complanata and thickets of Acropora palmata were noticed during reconnaissance dives. The distribution of these zones within the reef seems likely to be mainly controlled by wave exposure, bottom topography, sedimentation, and light penetration. Reef development, coral diversity and live coral cover increase along the coast in a SE-NW direction, with an evident maximum near to the cove of Sapzurro, suggesting an overall improvement of conditions for coral growth and settlement in that direction. A total of 33 species of hard corals were recorded during the survey. It is apparent that the live coral cover, particularly of foliose and branching species, has notably declined recently.

  19. Resource partitioning along multiple niche axes drives functional diversity in parrotfishes on Caribbean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Adam, Thomas C; Kelley, Megan; Ruttenberg, Benjamin I; Burkepile, Deron E

    2015-12-01

    The recent loss of key consumers to exploitation and habitat degradation has significantly altered community dynamics and ecosystem function across many ecosystems worldwide. Predicting the impacts of consumer losses requires knowing the level of functional diversity that exists within a consumer assemblage. In this study, we document functional diversity among nine species of parrotfishes on Caribbean coral reefs. Parrotfishes are key herbivores that facilitate the maintenance and recovery of coral-dominated reefs by controlling algae and provisioning space for the recruitment of corals. We observed large functional differences among two genera of parrotfishes that were driven by differences in diet. Fishes in the genus Scarus targeted filamentous algal turf assemblages, crustose coralline algae, and endolithic algae and avoided macroalgae, while fishes in the genus Sparisoma preferentially targeted macroalgae. However, species with similar diets were dissimilar in other attributes, including the habitats they frequented, the types of substrate they fed from, and the spatial scale at which they foraged. These differences indicate that species that appear to be functionally redundant when looking at diet alone exhibit high levels of complementarity when we consider multiple functional traits. By identifying key functional differences among parrotfishes, we provide critical information needed to manage parrotfishes to enhance the resilience of coral-dominated reefs and reverse phase shifts on algal-dominated reefs throughout the wider Caribbean. Further, our study provides a framework for predicting the impacts of consumer losses in other species rich ecosystems.

  20. Contemporary white-band disease in Caribbean corals driven by climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randall, C. J.; van Woesik, R.

    2015-04-01

    Over the past 40 years, two of the dominant reef-building corals in the Caribbean, Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis, have experienced unprecedented declines. That loss has been largely attributed to a syndrome commonly referred to as white-band disease. Climate change-driven increases in sea surface temperature (SST) have been linked to several coral diseases, yet, despite decades of research, the attribution of white-band disease to climate change remains unknown. Here we hindcasted the potential relationship between recent ocean warming and outbreaks of white-band disease on acroporid corals. We quantified eight SST metrics, including rates of change in SST and contemporary thermal anomalies, and compared them with records of white-band disease on A. palmata and A. cervicornis from 473 sites across the Caribbean, surveyed from 1997 to 2004. The results of our models suggest that decades-long climate-driven changes in SST, increases in thermal minima, and the breach of thermal maxima have all played significant roles in the spread of white-band disease. We conclude that white-band disease has been strongly coupled with thermal stresses associated with climate change, which has contributed to the regional decline of these once-dominant reef-building corals.

  1. Environmental drivers of recruitment success in Caribbean corals : Applications to aid the recovery of threatened coral populations

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Chamberland, V.F.

    2018-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs are amongst the most threatened marine ecosystems on Earth. About one third of their reef-building coral species (Scleractinia) are currently at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction, overexploitation and climate change. The successful establishment of coral larvae,

  2. Regionally isolated populations of an imperiled Caribbean coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, Iliana B; Miller, Margaret W; Hellberg, Michael E

    2005-04-01

    The movements of larvae between marine populations are difficult to follow directly and have been the subject of much controversy, especially in the Caribbean. The debate centres on the degree to which populations are demographically open, such that depleted populations can be replenished by recruitment from distant healthy populations, or demographically closed and thus in need of local management. Given the depressed state of many tropical reef populations, the understanding of these movements now bears critically on the number, placement, and size of marine reserves. Most genetic analyses assume that dispersal patterns have been stable for thousands of generations, thus they commonly reflect past colonization histories more than ongoing dispersal. Recently developed multilocus genotyping approaches, however, have the demonstrated ability to detect both migration and population isolation over far shorter timescales. Previously, we developed five microsatellite markers and demonstrated them to be both Mendelian and coral-specific. Using these markers and Bayesian analyses, we show here that populations of the imperiled reef-building coral, Acropora palmata, have experienced little or no recent genetic exchange between the western and the eastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is identified as an area of mixing between the two subregions. As a consequence of this regional isolation, populations in the western and eastern Caribbean should have the potential to adapt to local conditions and will require population-specific management strategies.

  3. 350 Year Cloud Reconstruction Deduced from Northeast Caribbean Coral Proxies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Winter, A.; Sammarco, P. W.; Mikolajewicz, U.; Jury, M.; Zanchettin, D.

    2014-12-01

    Clouds are a major factor influencing the global climate and its response to external forcing through their implications for the global hydrological cycle, and hence for the planetary radiative budget. Clouds also contribute to regional climates and their variability through, e.g., the changes they induce in regional precipitation patterns. There have been very few studies of decadal and longer-term changes in cloud cover in the tropics and sub-tropics, both over land and the ocean. In the tropics, there is great uncertainty regarding how global warming will affect cloud cover. Observational satellite data are too short to unambiguously discern any temporal trends in cloud cover. Corals generally live in well-mixed coastal regions and can often record environmental conditions of large areas of the upper ocean. This is particularly the case at low latitudes. Scleractinian corals are sessile, epibenthic fauna, and the type of environmental information recorded at the location where the coral has been living is dependent upon the species of coral considered and proxy index of interest. Skeletons of scleractinian corals are considered to provide among the best records of high-resolution (sub-annual) environmental variability in the tropical and sub-tropical oceans. Zooxanthellate hermatypic corals in tropical and sub-tropical seas precipitate CaCO3 skeletons as they grow. This growth is made possible through the manufacture of CaCO3crystals, facilitated by the zooxanthellae. During the process of crystallization, the holobiont binds carbon of different isotopes into the crystals. Stable carbon isotope concentrations vary with a variety of environmental conditions. In the Caribbean, d13C in corals of the species Montastraea faveolata can be used as a proxy for changes in cloud cover. In this contribution, we will demonstrate that the stable isotope 13C varies concomitantly with cloud cover for the northeastern Caribbean region. Using this proxy we have been able to

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2013-01-01

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

  5. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2017-05-01

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

  7. Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jackson, Jeremy; Donovan, Mary; Cramer, Katie; Lam, Vivian

    2014-01-01

    vigorously communicate results in simple and straightforward terms to foster more effective conservation and management.This and subsequent reports will focus on separate biogeographic regions in a stepwise fashion and combine all of the results for a global synthesis in the coming years. We began in the wide Caribbean region because the historical data are so extensive and to refine methods of analysis before moving on to other regions. This report documents quantitative trends for Caribbean reef corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on data from 90 reef locations over the past 43 tears. This is the first report to combine all these disparate kinds of data in a single place to explore how the different major components of coral reef ecosystems interact on a broadly regional oceanic scale.We obtained data from more than 35,000 ecological surveys carried out by 78 principal investigators (PIs) and some 200 colleagues working in 34 countries, states, and territories throughout the wide Caribbean region. We conducted two workshops in Panama and Brisbane, Australia to bring together people who provided the data to assist in data quality control, analysis, and synthesis. The first workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama 29 April to 5 May, 2012 included scientists from 18 countries and territories to verify and expand the database and to conduct exploratory analyses of status and trends. Preliminary results based on the Panama workshop were presented to the DC Marine Community and Smithsonian Institution Senate of Scientists in May 2012 and at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) and annual ICRI meeting in Cairns, Australia in July 2012. The second workshop in Brisbane, Australia in December 2012 brought together eight coral reef scientists for more detailed data analysis and organization of results for this report and subsequent publications. Subsequent presentations to solicit comments while the report was

  8. The importance of sponges and mangroves in supporting fish communities on degraded coral reefs in Caribbean Panama.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Seemann, Janina; Yingst, Alexandra; Stuart-Smith, Rick D; Edgar, Graham J; Altieri, Andrew H

    2018-01-01

    Fish communities associated with coral reefs worldwide are threatened by habitat degradation and overexploitation. We assessed coral reefs, mangrove fringes, and seagrass meadows on the Caribbean coast of Panama to explore the influences of their proximity to one another, habitat cover, and environmental characteristics in sustaining biomass, species richness and trophic structure of fish communities in a degraded tropical ecosystem. We found 94% of all fish across all habitat types were of small body size (≤10 cm), with communities dominated by fishes that usually live in habitats of low complexity, such as Pomacentridae (damselfishes) and Gobiidae (gobies). Total fish biomass was very low, with the trend of small fishes from low trophic levels over-represented, and top predators under-represented, relative to coral reefs elsewhere in the Caribbean. For example, herbivorous fishes comprised 27% of total fish biomass in Panama relative to 10% in the wider Caribbean, and the small parrotfish Scarus iseri comprised 72% of the parrotfish biomass. We found evidence that non-coral biogenic habitats support reef-associated fish communities. In particular, the abundance of sponges on a given reef and proximity of mangroves were found to be important positive correlates of reef fish species richness, biomass, abundance and trophic structure. Our study indicates that a diverse fish community can persist on degraded coral reefs, and that the availability and arrangement within the seascape of other habitat-forming organisms, including sponges and mangroves, is critical to the maintenance of functional processes in such ecosystems.

  9. 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.

  10. 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...

  11. 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

    ... DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RIN 0648-XA491] Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the Southern Atlantic... sanctuaries, special management zones, or artificial reefs without additional authorization. A report on the...

  12. 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

    ... DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XA935 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic... conditions, various species of reef fish, crabs, and lobsters in Federal waters off South Carolina and North...

  13. 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

    ... the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic... South Carolina Aquarium to collect, with certain conditions, various species of reef fish, crabs, and..., marine sanctuaries, special management zones, or artificial reefs without additional authorization...

  14. Microphytoplankton variations during coral spawning at Los Roques, Southern Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Francoise Cavada-Blanco

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available Phytoplankton drives primary productivity in marine pelagic systems. This is also true for the oligotrophic waters in coral reefs, where natural and anthropogenic sources of nutrients can alter pelagic trophic webs. In this study, microphytoplankton assemblages were characterized for the first time in relation to expected coral spawning dates in the Caribbean. A hierarchical experimental design was used to examine these assemblages in Los Roques archipelago, Venezuela, at various temporal and spatial scales for spawning events in both 2007 and 2008. At four reefs, superficial water samples were taken daily for 9 days after the full moon of August, including days before, during and after the expected days of coral spawning. Microphytoplankton assemblages comprised 100 microalgae taxa at up to 50 cells per mL (mean ± 8 SD and showed temporal and spatial variations related to the coral spawning only in 2007. However, chlorophyll a concentrations increased during and after the spawning events in both years, and this was better matched with analyses of higher taxonomical groups (diatoms, cyanophytes and dinoflagellates, that also varied in relation to spawning times in 2007 and 2008, but asynchronously among reefs. Heterotrophic and mixotrophic dinoflagellates increased in abundance, correlating with a decrease of the diatom Cerataulina pelagica and an increase of the diatom Rhizosolenia imbricata. These variations occurred during and after the coral spawning event for some reefs in 2007. For the first time, a fresh-water cyanobacteria species of Anabaena was ephemerally found (only 3 days in the archipelago, at reefs closest to human settlements. Variability among reefs in relation to spawning times indicated that reef-specific processes such as water residence time, re-mineralization rates, and benthic-pelagic coupling can be relevant to the observed patterns. These results suggest an important role of microheterotrophic grazers in re

  15. 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).

  16. Weak prezygotic isolating mechanisms in threatened Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicole D Fogarty

    Full Text Available The Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, recently have undergone drastic declines primarily as a result of disease. Previous molecular studies have demonstrated that these species form a hybrid (A. prolifera that varies in abundance throughout the range of the parental distribution. There is variable unidirectional introgression across loci and sites of A. palmata genes flowing into A. cervicornis. Here we examine the efficacy of prezygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms within these corals including spawning times and choice and no-choice fertilization crosses. We show that these species have subtly different mean but overlapping spawning times, suggesting that temporal isolation is likely not an effective barrier to hybridization. We found species-specific differences in gametic incompatibilities. Acropora palmata eggs were relatively resistant to hybridization, especially when conspecific sperm are available to outcompete heterospecific sperm. Acropora cervicornis eggs demonstrated no evidence for gametic incompatibility and no evidence of reduced viability after aging four hours. This asymmetry in compatibility matches previous genetic data on unidirectional introgression.

  17. Weak prezygotic isolating mechanisms in threatened Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fogarty, Nicole D; Vollmer, Steven V; Levitan, Don R

    2012-01-01

    The Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, recently have undergone drastic declines primarily as a result of disease. Previous molecular studies have demonstrated that these species form a hybrid (A. prolifera) that varies in abundance throughout the range of the parental distribution. There is variable unidirectional introgression across loci and sites of A. palmata genes flowing into A. cervicornis. Here we examine the efficacy of prezygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms within these corals including spawning times and choice and no-choice fertilization crosses. We show that these species have subtly different mean but overlapping spawning times, suggesting that temporal isolation is likely not an effective barrier to hybridization. We found species-specific differences in gametic incompatibilities. Acropora palmata eggs were relatively resistant to hybridization, especially when conspecific sperm are available to outcompete heterospecific sperm. Acropora cervicornis eggs demonstrated no evidence for gametic incompatibility and no evidence of reduced viability after aging four hours. This asymmetry in compatibility matches previous genetic data on unidirectional introgression.

  18. Hurricanes, Coral Reefs and Rainforests: Resistance, Ruin and Recovery in the Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    A. E. Lugo; C. S. Rogers; S. W Nixon

    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...

  19. Deep down on a Caribbean reef: lower mesophotic depths harbor a specialized coral-endosymbiont community

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bongaerts, P.; Frade, P.R.; Hay, K.B.; Englebert, N.; Latijnhouwers, K.R.W.; Bak, R.P.M.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O

    2015-01-01

    The composition, ecology and environmental conditions of mesophotic coral ecosystems near the lower limits of their bathymetric distributions remain poorly understood. Here we provide the first in-depth assessment of a lower mesophotic coral community (60-100 m) in the Southern Caribbean through

  20. Deep down on a Caribbean reef: lower mesophotic depths harbor a specialized coral-endosymbiont community

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bongaerts, P.; Frade, P.R.; Hay, K.B.; Englebert, N.; Latijnhouwers, K.R.W.; Bak, R.P.M.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

    2015-01-01

    The composition, ecology and environmental conditions of mesophotic coral ecosystems near the lower limits of their bathymetric distributions remain poorly understood. Here we provide the first in-depth assessment of a lower mesophotic coral community (60–100 m) in the Southern Caribbean through

  1. Growth dynamics of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: influence of host genotype, symbiont identity, colony size, and environmental setting.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lirman, Diego; Schopmeyer, Stephanie; Galvan, Victor; Drury, Crawford; Baker, Andrew C; Baums, Iliana B

    2014-01-01

    The drastic decline in the abundance of Caribbean acroporid corals (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata) has prompted the listing of this genus as threatened as well as the development of a regional propagation and restoration program. Using in situ underwater nurseries, we documented the influence of coral genotype and symbiont identity, colony size, and propagation method on the growth and branching patterns of staghorn corals in Florida and the Dominican Republic. Individual tracking of> 1700 nursery-grown staghorn fragments and colonies from 37 distinct genotypes (identified using microsatellites) in Florida and the Dominican Republic revealed a significant positive relationship between size and growth, but a decreasing rate of productivity with increasing size. Pruning vigor (enhanced growth after fragmentation) was documented even in colonies that lost 95% of their coral tissue/skeleton, indicating that high productivity can be maintained within nurseries by sequentially fragmenting corals. A significant effect of coral genotype was documented for corals grown in a common-garden setting, with fast-growing genotypes growing up to an order of magnitude faster than slow-growing genotypes. Algal-symbiont identity established using qPCR techniques showed that clade A (likely Symbiodinium A3) was the dominant symbiont type for all coral genotypes, except for one coral genotype in the DR and two in Florida that were dominated by clade C, with A- and C-dominated genotypes having similar growth rates. The threatened Caribbean staghorn coral is capable of extremely fast growth, with annual productivity rates exceeding 5 cm of new coral produced for every cm of existing coral. This species benefits from high fragment survivorship coupled by the pruning vigor experienced by the parent colonies after fragmentation. These life-history characteristics make A. cervicornis a successful candidate nursery species and provide optimism for the potential role that active propagation

  2. Growth dynamics of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: influence of host genotype, symbiont identity, colony size, and environmental setting.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Diego Lirman

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: The drastic decline in the abundance of Caribbean acroporid corals (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata has prompted the listing of this genus as threatened as well as the development of a regional propagation and restoration program. Using in situ underwater nurseries, we documented the influence of coral genotype and symbiont identity, colony size, and propagation method on the growth and branching patterns of staghorn corals in Florida and the Dominican Republic. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Individual tracking of> 1700 nursery-grown staghorn fragments and colonies from 37 distinct genotypes (identified using microsatellites in Florida and the Dominican Republic revealed a significant positive relationship between size and growth, but a decreasing rate of productivity with increasing size. Pruning vigor (enhanced growth after fragmentation was documented even in colonies that lost 95% of their coral tissue/skeleton, indicating that high productivity can be maintained within nurseries by sequentially fragmenting corals. A significant effect of coral genotype was documented for corals grown in a common-garden setting, with fast-growing genotypes growing up to an order of magnitude faster than slow-growing genotypes. Algal-symbiont identity established using qPCR techniques showed that clade A (likely Symbiodinium A3 was the dominant symbiont type for all coral genotypes, except for one coral genotype in the DR and two in Florida that were dominated by clade C, with A- and C-dominated genotypes having similar growth rates. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The threatened Caribbean staghorn coral is capable of extremely fast growth, with annual productivity rates exceeding 5 cm of new coral produced for every cm of existing coral. This species benefits from high fragment survivorship coupled by the pruning vigor experienced by the parent colonies after fragmentation. These life-history characteristics make A. cervicornis a successful candidate

  3. Molluscan subfossil assemblages reveal the long-term deterioration of coral reef environments in Caribbean Panama.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cramer, Katie L; Leonard-Pingel, Jill S; Rodríguez, Félix; Jackson, Jeremy B C

    2015-07-15

    Caribbean reef corals have declined sharply since the 1980s, but the lack of prior baseline data has hindered identification of drivers of change. To assess anthropogenic change in reef environments over the past century, we tracked the composition of subfossil assemblages of bivalve and gastropod mollusks excavated from pits below lagoonal and offshore reefs in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The higher prevalence of (a) infaunal suspension-feeding bivalves and herbivorous and omnivorous gastropods in lagoons and (b) epifaunal and suspension-feeding bivalves and carnivorous and suspension-feeding gastropods offshore reflected the greater influence of land-based nutrients/sediments within lagoons. Temporal changes indicated deteriorating environmental conditions pre-1960 in lagoons and post-1960 offshore, with offshore communities becoming more similar to lagoonal ones since 1960. Relative abundances of dominant bivalve species tracked those of their coral hosts, revealing broader ecosystem effects of coral community change. The nature and timing of changes implicate land-based runoff in reef deterioration. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  4. Octocoral Species Assembly and Coexistence in Caribbean Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Velásquez, Johanna; Sánchez, Juan A

    2015-01-01

    What are the determinant factors of community assemblies in the most diverse ecosystem in the ocean? Coral reefs can be divided in continental (i.e., reefs that develop on the continental shelf, including siliciclastic reefs) and oceanic (i.e., far off the continental shelf, usually on volcanic substratum); whether or not these habitat differences impose community-wide ecological divergence or species exclusion/coexistence with evolutionary consequences, is unknown. Studying Caribbean octocorals as model system, we determined the phylogenetic community structure in a coral reef community, making emphasis on species coexistence evidenced on trait evolution and environmental feedbacks. Forty-nine species represented in five families constituted the species pool from which a phylogenetic tree was reconstructed using mtDNA. We included data from 11 localities in the Western Caribbean (Colombia) including most reef types. To test diversity-environment and phenotype-environment relationships, phylogenetic community structure and trait evolution we carried out comparative analyses implementing ecological and evolutionary approaches. Phylogenetic inferences suggest clustering of oceanic reefs (e.g., atolls) contrasting with phylogenetic overdispersion of continental reefs (e.g., reefs banks). Additionally, atolls and barrier reefs had the highest species diversity (Shannon index) whereas phylogenetic diversity was higher in reef banks. The discriminant component analysis supported this differentiation between oceanic and continental reefs, where continental octocoral species tend to have greater calyx apertures, thicker branches, prominent calyces and azooxanthellate species. This analysis also indicated a clear separation between the slope and the remaining habitats, caused by the presence or absence of Symbiodinium. K statistic analysis showed that this trait is conserved as well as the branch shape. There was strong octocoral community structure with opposite diversity

  5. Octocoral Species Assembly and Coexistence in Caribbean Coral Reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Johanna Velásquez

    Full Text Available What are the determinant factors of community assemblies in the most diverse ecosystem in the ocean? Coral reefs can be divided in continental (i.e., reefs that develop on the continental shelf, including siliciclastic reefs and oceanic (i.e., far off the continental shelf, usually on volcanic substratum; whether or not these habitat differences impose community-wide ecological divergence or species exclusion/coexistence with evolutionary consequences, is unknown.Studying Caribbean octocorals as model system, we determined the phylogenetic community structure in a coral reef community, making emphasis on species coexistence evidenced on trait evolution and environmental feedbacks. Forty-nine species represented in five families constituted the species pool from which a phylogenetic tree was reconstructed using mtDNA. We included data from 11 localities in the Western Caribbean (Colombia including most reef types. To test diversity-environment and phenotype-environment relationships, phylogenetic community structure and trait evolution we carried out comparative analyses implementing ecological and evolutionary approaches.Phylogenetic inferences suggest clustering of oceanic reefs (e.g., atolls contrasting with phylogenetic overdispersion of continental reefs (e.g., reefs banks. Additionally, atolls and barrier reefs had the highest species diversity (Shannon index whereas phylogenetic diversity was higher in reef banks. The discriminant component analysis supported this differentiation between oceanic and continental reefs, where continental octocoral species tend to have greater calyx apertures, thicker branches, prominent calyces and azooxanthellate species. This analysis also indicated a clear separation between the slope and the remaining habitats, caused by the presence or absence of Symbiodinium. K statistic analysis showed that this trait is conserved as well as the branch shape.There was strong octocoral community structure with opposite

  6. The importance of sponges and mangroves in supporting fish communities on degraded coral reefs in Caribbean Panama

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Janina Seemann

    2018-03-01

    Full Text Available Fish communities associated with coral reefs worldwide are threatened by habitat degradation and overexploitation. We assessed coral reefs, mangrove fringes, and seagrass meadows on the Caribbean coast of Panama to explore the influences of their proximity to one another, habitat cover, and environmental characteristics in sustaining biomass, species richness and trophic structure of fish communities in a degraded tropical ecosystem. We found 94% of all fish across all habitat types were of small body size (≤10 cm, with communities dominated by fishes that usually live in habitats of low complexity, such as Pomacentridae (damselfishes and Gobiidae (gobies. Total fish biomass was very low, with the trend of small fishes from low trophic levels over-represented, and top predators under-represented, relative to coral reefs elsewhere in the Caribbean. For example, herbivorous fishes comprised 27% of total fish biomass in Panama relative to 10% in the wider Caribbean, and the small parrotfish Scarus iseri comprised 72% of the parrotfish biomass. We found evidence that non-coral biogenic habitats support reef-associated fish communities. In particular, the abundance of sponges on a given reef and proximity of mangroves were found to be important positive correlates of reef fish species richness, biomass, abundance and trophic structure. Our study indicates that a diverse fish community can persist on degraded coral reefs, and that the availability and arrangement within the seascape of other habitat-forming organisms, including sponges and mangroves, is critical to the maintenance of functional processes in such ecosystems.

  7. Caribbean corals house shared and host-specific microbial symbionts over time and space.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chu, Nathaniel D; Vollmer, Steven V

    2016-08-01

    The rise of coral diseases has triggered a surge of interest in coral microbial communities. But to fully understand how the coral microbiome may cause or respond to disease, we must first understand structure and variation in the healthy coral microbiome. We used 16S rRNA sequencing to characterize the microbiomes of 100 healthy coral colonies from six Caribbean coral species (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata, Diploria labyrinthiformis, Diploria strigosa, Porites astreoides and P. furcata) across four reefs and three time points over 1 year. We found host species to be the strongest driver of coral microbiome structure across site and time. Analysis of the core microbiome revealed remarkable similarity in the bacterial taxa represented across coral hosts and many bacterial phylotypes shared across all corals sampled. Some of these widespread bacterial taxa have been identified in Pacific corals, indicating that a core coral microbiome may extend across oceans. Core bacterial phylotypes that were unique to each coral were taxonomically diverse, suggesting that different coral hosts provide persistent, divergent niches for bacteria. © 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  8. Sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs are structured by factors that are top-down, not bottom-up.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pawlik, Joseph R; Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E; Finelli, Christopher M

    2013-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have been transformed in the past few decades with the demise of reef-building corals, and sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming organisms on most reefs. Competing hypotheses propose that sponge communities are controlled primarily by predatory fishes (top-down) or by the availability of picoplankton to suspension-feeding sponges (bottom-up). We tested these hypotheses on Conch Reef, off Key Largo, Florida, by placing sponges inside and outside predator-excluding cages at sites with less and more planktonic food availability (15 m vs. 30 m depth). There was no evidence of a bottom-up effect on the growth of any of 5 sponge species, and 2 of 5 species grew more when caged at the shallow site with lower food abundance. There was, however, a strong effect of predation by fishes on sponge species that lacked chemical defenses. Sponges with chemical defenses grew slower than undefended species, demonstrating a resource trade-off between growth and the production of secondary metabolites. Surveys of the benthic community on Conch Reef similarly did not support a bottom-up effect, with higher sponge cover at the shallower depth. We conclude that the structure of sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs is primarily top-down, and predict that removal of sponge predators by overfishing will shift communities toward faster-growing, undefended species that better compete for space with threatened reef-building corals.

  9. Sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs are structured by factors that are top-down, not bottom-up.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joseph R Pawlik

    Full Text Available Caribbean coral reefs have been transformed in the past few decades with the demise of reef-building corals, and sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming organisms on most reefs. Competing hypotheses propose that sponge communities are controlled primarily by predatory fishes (top-down or by the availability of picoplankton to suspension-feeding sponges (bottom-up. We tested these hypotheses on Conch Reef, off Key Largo, Florida, by placing sponges inside and outside predator-excluding cages at sites with less and more planktonic food availability (15 m vs. 30 m depth. There was no evidence of a bottom-up effect on the growth of any of 5 sponge species, and 2 of 5 species grew more when caged at the shallow site with lower food abundance. There was, however, a strong effect of predation by fishes on sponge species that lacked chemical defenses. Sponges with chemical defenses grew slower than undefended species, demonstrating a resource trade-off between growth and the production of secondary metabolites. Surveys of the benthic community on Conch Reef similarly did not support a bottom-up effect, with higher sponge cover at the shallower depth. We conclude that the structure of sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs is primarily top-down, and predict that removal of sponge predators by overfishing will shift communities toward faster-growing, undefended species that better compete for space with threatened reef-building corals.

  10. An assessment of global warming stress on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Atwood, D.K.; Hendec, J.C.; Mendez, A. (NOAA, Miami, FL (USA). Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorology Laboratory)

    1992-07-01

    There is evidence that stress on coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region is increasing. Recently numerous authors have stated that the major stress results from 'abnormally high' seasonal sea surface temperatures (SST) and have implicated global warming as a cause, stating that recent episodes of coral bleaching result therefrom. However, an analysis of available SST data sets shows no discernible warming trend that could cause an increase in coral bleaching. Given the lack of long-term records synoptic with observations of coral ecosystem health, there is insufficient evidence available to label temperatures observed in coincidence with recent regional bleaching events as 'abnormally' high.

  11. An assessment of global warming stress on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Atwood, D K; Hendec, J C; Mendez, A [NOAA, Miami, FL (USA). Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorology Laboratory

    1992-07-01

    There is evidence that stress on coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region is increasing. Recently numerous authors have stated that the major stress results from 'abnormally high' seasonal sea surface temperatures (SST) and have implicated global warming as a cause, stating that recent episodes of coral bleaching result therefrom. However, an analysis of available SST data sets shows no discernible warming trend that could cause an increase in coral bleaching. Given the lack of long-term records synoptic with observations of coral ecosystem health, there is insufficient evidence available to label temperatures observed in coincidence with recent regional bleaching events as 'abnormally' high.

  12. Post-settlement survivorship in two Caribbean broadcasting corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miller, Margaret W.

    2014-12-01

    The post-settlement phase of broadcast-spawned coral life histories is poorly known due to its almost complete undetectability and, hence, presumed low abundance in the field. We used lab-cultured settled polyps of two important Caribbean reef-building species with negligible larval recruitment to quantify early post-settlement survivorship (6-9 weeks) over multiple years/cohorts and differing orientation on a reef in the Florida Keys. Orbicella faveolata showed significantly and consistently better survivorship in vertical rather than horizontal orientation, but no discernable growth overall. Meanwhile, Acropora palmata showed no significant difference in survivorship between orientations, but significantly greater growth in the horizontal orientation. Both species showed significant variation in mean survivorship between cohorts of different years; 0-47 % for O. faveolata and 12-49 % for A. palmata over the observed duration. These results demonstrate wide variation in success of cohorts and important differences in the larval recruitment capacities of these two important but imperiled reef-building species.

  13. Relative Pigment Composition and Remote Sensing Reflectance of Caribbean Shallow-Water Corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan L Torres-Pérez

    Full Text Available Reef corals typically contain a number of pigments, mostly due to their symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic dinoflagellates. These pigments usually vary in presence and concentration and influence the spectral characteristics of corals. We studied the variations in pigment composition among seven Caribbean shallow-water Scleractinian corals by means of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC analysis to further resolve the discrimination of corals. We found a total of 27 different pigments among the coral species, including some alteration products of the main pigments. Additionally, pigments typically found in endolithic algae were also identified. A Principal Components Analysis and a Hierarchical Cluster Analysis showed the separation of coral species based on pigment composition. All the corals were collected under the same physical environmental conditions. This suggests that pigment in the coral's symbionts might be more genetically-determined than influenced by prevailing physical conditions of the reef. We further investigated the use of remote sensing reflectance (Rrs as a tool for estimating the total pigment concentration of reef corals. Depending on the coral species, the Rrs and the total symbiont pigment concentration per coral tissue area correlation showed 79.5-98.5% confidence levels demonstrating its use as a non-invasive robust technique to estimate pigment concentration in studies of coral reef biodiversity and health.

  14. Relative Pigment Composition and Remote Sensing Reflectance of Caribbean Shallow-Water Corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Torres-Pérez, Juan L; Guild, Liane S; Armstrong, Roy A; Corredor, Jorge; Zuluaga-Montero, Anabella; Polanco, Ramón

    2015-01-01

    Reef corals typically contain a number of pigments, mostly due to their symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic dinoflagellates. These pigments usually vary in presence and concentration and influence the spectral characteristics of corals. We studied the variations in pigment composition among seven Caribbean shallow-water Scleractinian corals by means of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis to further resolve the discrimination of corals. We found a total of 27 different pigments among the coral species, including some alteration products of the main pigments. Additionally, pigments typically found in endolithic algae were also identified. A Principal Components Analysis and a Hierarchical Cluster Analysis showed the separation of coral species based on pigment composition. All the corals were collected under the same physical environmental conditions. This suggests that pigment in the coral's symbionts might be more genetically-determined than influenced by prevailing physical conditions of the reef. We further investigated the use of remote sensing reflectance (Rrs) as a tool for estimating the total pigment concentration of reef corals. Depending on the coral species, the Rrs and the total symbiont pigment concentration per coral tissue area correlation showed 79.5-98.5% confidence levels demonstrating its use as a non-invasive robust technique to estimate pigment concentration in studies of coral reef biodiversity and health.

  15. Herbivory versus corallivory: are parrotfish good or bad for Caribbean coral reefs?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mumby, Peter J.

    2009-09-01

    With coral cover in decline on many Caribbean reefs, any process of coral mortality is of potential concern. While sparisomid parrotfishes are major grazers of Caribbean reefs and help control algal blooms, the fact that they also undertake corallivory has prompted some to question the rationale for their conservation. Here the weight of evidence for beneficial effects of parrotfishes, in terms of reducing algal cover and facilitating demographic processes in corals, and the deleterious effects of parrotfishes in terms of causing coral mortality and chronic stress, are reviewed. While elevated parrotfish density will likely increase the predation rate upon juvenile corals, the net effect appears to be positive in enhancing coral recruitment through removal of macroalgal competitors. Parrotfish corallivory can cause modest partial colony mortality in the most intensively grazed species of Montastraea but the generation and healing of bite scars appear to be in near equilibrium, even when coral cover is low. Whole colony mortality in adult corals can lead to complete exclusion of some delicate, lagoonal species of Porites from forereef environments but is only reported for one reef species ( Porites astreoides), for one habitat (backreef), and with uncertain incidence (though likely zooxanthellae after bleaching events may be retarded. The balance of evidence to date finds strong support for the herbivory role of parrotfishes in facilitating coral recruitment, growth, and fecundity. In contrast, no net deleterious effects of corallivory have been reported for reef corals. Corallivory is unlikely to constrain overall coral cover but contraints upon dwindling populations of the Montastraea annularis species complex are feasible and the role of parrotfishes as a vector of coral disease requires evaluation. However, any assertion that conservation practices should guard against protecting corallivorous parrotfishes appears to be unwarranted at this stage.

  16. Recovery of the coral Montastrea annularis in the Florida Keys after the 1987 Caribbean ``bleaching event''

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fitt, William K.; Spero, Howard J.; Halas, John; White, Michael W.; Porter, James W.

    1993-07-01

    Many reef-building corals and other cnidarians lost photosynthetic pigments and symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) during the coral bleaching event in the Caribbean in 1987. The Florida Reef Tract included some of the first documented cases, with widespread bleaching of the massive coral Montastrea annularis beginning in late August. Phototransects at Carysfort Reef showed discoloration of >90% of colonies of this species in March 1988 compared to 0% in July 1986; however no mortality was observed between 1986 and 1988. Samples of corals collected in February and June 1988 had zooxanthellae densities ranging from 0.1 in the most lightly colored corals, to 1.6x106 cells/cm2 in the darker corals. Minimum densities increased to 0.5x106 cells/cm2 by August 1989. Chlorophyll- a content of zooxanthellae and zooxanthellar mitotic indices were significantly higher in corals with lower densities of zooxanthellae, suggesting that zooxanthellar at low densities may be more nutrientsufficient than those in unbleached corals. Ash-free dry weight of coral tissue was positively correlated with zooxanthellae density at all sample times and was significantly lower in June 1988 compared to August 1989. Proteins and lipids per cm2 were significantly higher in August 1989 than in February or June, 1988. Although recovery of zooxanthellae density and coral pigmentation to normal levels may occur in less than one year, regrowth of tissue biomass and energy stores lost during the period of low symbiont densities may take significantly longer.

  17. Structure of Caribbean coral reef communities across a large gradient of fish biomass.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Newman, Marah J H; Paredes, Gustavo A; Sala, Enric; Jackson, Jeremy B C

    2006-11-01

    The collapse of Caribbean coral reefs has been attributed in part to historic overfishing, but whether fish assemblages can recover and how such recovery might affect the benthic reef community has not been tested across appropriate scales. We surveyed the biomass of reef communities across a range in fish abundance from 14 to 593 g m(-2), a gradient exceeding that of any previously reported for coral reefs. Increased fish biomass was correlated with an increased proportion of apex predators, which were abundant only inside large marine reserves. Increased herbivorous fish biomass was correlated with a decrease in fleshy algal biomass but corals have not yet recovered.

  18. Experimental antibiotic treatment identifies potential pathogens of white band disease in the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sweet, M J; Croquer, A; Bythell, J C

    2014-08-07

    Coral diseases have been increasingly reported over the past few decades and are a major contributor to coral decline worldwide. The Caribbean, in particular, has been noted as a hotspot for coral disease, and the aptly named white syndromes have caused the decline of the dominant reef building corals throughout their range. White band disease (WBD) has been implicated in the dramatic loss of Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata since the 1970s, resulting in both species being listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list. The causal agent of WBD remains unknown, although recent studies based on challenge experiments with filtrate from infected hosts concluded that the disease is probably caused by bacteria. Here, we report an experiment using four different antibiotic treatments, targeting different members of the disease-associated microbial community. Two antibiotics, ampicillin and paromomycin, arrested the disease completely, and by comparing with community shifts brought about by treatments that did not arrest the disease, we have identified the likely candidate causal agent or agents of WBD. Our interpretation of the experimental treatments is that one or a combination of up to three specific bacterial types, detected consistently in diseased corals but not detectable in healthy corals, are likely causal agents of WBD. In addition, a histophagous ciliate (Philaster lucinda) identical to that found consistently in association with white syndrome in Indo-Pacific acroporas was also consistently detected in all WBD samples and absent in healthy coral. Treatment with metronidazole reduced it to below detection limits, but did not arrest the disease. However, the microscopic disease signs changed, suggesting a secondary role in disease causation for this ciliate. In future studies to identify a causal agent of WBD via tests of Henle-Koch's postulates, it will be vital to experimentally control for populations

  19. ETIOLOGY OF WHITE POX, A LETHAL DISEASE OF THE CARIBBEAN ELKHORN CORAL, ACROPORA PALMATA.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Populations of the shallow-water Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, are being decimated by white pox disease, with losses in the Florida Keys typically in excess of 70%. Tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2 day-1. A bacterium isolated from diseased A. palmata was shown...

  20. Reproductive natural history and successful juvenile propagation of the threatened Caribbean Pillar Coral Dendrogyra cylindrus

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Marhaver, K.L.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Medina, M.M.

    2015-01-01

    Background: The Caribbean pillar coral Dendrogyra cylindrus was recently listed as a threatened species under the United States Endangered Species Act. One of the major threats to this species is its low, virtually undetectable recruitment rate. To our knowledge, sexually-produced recruits have

  1. Organic matter degradation drives benthic cyanobacterial mat abundance on caribbean coral reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Brocke, Hannah J.; Polerecky, Lubos; De Beer, Dirk; Weber, Miriam; Claudet, Joachim; Nugues, Maggy M.

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are impacting coral reefs worldwide. However, the factors and mechanisms driving their proliferation are unclear. We conducted a multi-year survey around the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which revealed highest BCM abundance on sheltered reefs close to urbanised

  2. The chemical cue tetrabromopyrrole from a biofilm bacterium induces settlement of multiple Caribbean corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sneed, Jennifer M; Sharp, Koty H; Ritchie, Kimberly B; Paul, Valerie J

    2014-07-07

    Microbial biofilms induce larval settlement for some invertebrates, including corals; however, the chemical cues involved have rarely been identified. Here, we demonstrate the role of microbial biofilms in inducing larval settlement with the Caribbean coral Porites astreoides and report the first instance of a chemical cue isolated from a marine biofilm bacterium that induces complete settlement (attachment and metamorphosis) of Caribbean coral larvae. Larvae settled in response to natural biofilms, and the response was eliminated when biofilms were treated with antibiotics. A similar settlement response was elicited by monospecific biofilms of a single bacterial strain, Pseudoalteromonas sp. PS5, isolated from the surface biofilm of a crustose coralline alga. The activity of Pseudoalteromonas sp. PS5 was attributed to the production of a single compound, tetrabromopyrrole (TBP), which has been shown previously to induce metamorphosis without attachment in Pacific acroporid corals. In addition to inducing settlement of brooded larvae (P. astreoides), TBP also induced larval settlement for two broadcast-spawning species, Orbicella (formerly Montastraea) franksi and Acropora palmata, indicating that this compound may have widespread importance among Caribbean coral species. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

  3. Coral Reef Health Indices versus the Biological, Ecological and Functional Diversity of Fish and Coral Assemblages in the Caribbean Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Díaz-Pérez, Leopoldo; Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Fabián Alejandro; Ortiz, Marco; Cupul-Magaña, Amílcar Leví; Carriquiry, Jose D; Ríos-Jara, Eduardo; Rodríguez-Troncoso, Alma Paola; García-Rivas, María Del Carmen

    2016-01-01

    This study evaluated the relationship between the indices known as the Reef Health Index (RHI) and two-dimensional Coral Health Index (2D-CHI) and different representative metrics of biological, ecological and functional diversity of fish and corals in 101 reef sites located across seven zones in the western Caribbean Sea. Species richness and average taxonomic distinctness were used to asses biological estimation; while ecological diversity was evaluated with the indices of Shannon diversity and Pielou´s evenness, as well as by taxonomic diversity and distinctness. Functional diversity considered the number of functional groups, the Shannon diversity and the functional Pielou´s evenness. According to the RHI, 57.15% of the zones were classified as presenting a "poor" health grade, while 42.85% were in "critical" grade. Based on the 2D-CHI, 28.5% of the zones were in "degraded" condition and 71.5% were "very degraded". Differences in fish and coral diversity among sites and zones were demonstrated using permutational ANOVAs. Differences between the two health indices (RHI and 2D-CHI) and some indices of biological, ecological and functional diversity of fish and corals were observed; however, only the RHI showed a correlation between the health grades and the species and functional group richness of fish at the scale of sites, and with the species and functional group richness and Shannon diversity of the fish assemblages at the scale of zones. None of the health indices were related to the metrics analyzed for the coral diversity. In general, our study suggests that the estimation of health indices should be complemented with classic community indices, or should at least include diversity indices of fish and corals, in order to improve the accuracy of the estimated health status of coral reefs in the western Caribbean Sea.

  4. Differential gene expression during thermal stress and bleaching in the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    DeSalvo, M K; Voolstra, C R; Sunagawa, S; Schwarz, J A; Stillman, J H; Coffroth, M A; Szmant, A M; Medina, M

    2008-09-01

    The declining health of coral reefs worldwide is likely to intensify in response to continued anthropogenic disturbance from coastal development, pollution, and climate change. In response to these stresses, reef-building corals may exhibit bleaching, which marks the breakdown in symbiosis between coral and zooxanthellae. Mass coral bleaching due to elevated water temperature can devastate coral reefs on a large geographical scale. In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis of bleaching in corals, we have measured gene expression changes associated with thermal stress and bleaching using a complementary DNA microarray containing 1310 genes of the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata. In a first experiment, we identified differentially expressed genes by comparing experimentally bleached M. faveolata fragments to control non-heat-stressed fragments. In a second experiment, we identified differentially expressed genes during a time course experiment with four time points across 9 days. Results suggest that thermal stress and bleaching in M. faveolata affect the following processes: oxidative stress, Ca(2+) homeostasis, cytoskeletal organization, cell death, calcification, metabolism, protein synthesis, heat shock protein activity, and transposon activity. These results represent the first medium-scale transcriptomic study focused on revealing the cellular foundation of thermal stress-induced coral bleaching. We postulate that oxidative stress in thermal-stressed corals causes a disruption of Ca(2+) homeostasis, which in turn leads to cytoskeletal and cell adhesion changes, decreased calcification, and the initiation of cell death via apoptosis and necrosis.

  5. Assessment of host-associated genetic differentiation among phenotypically divergent populations of a coral-eating gastropod across the Caribbean.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lyza Johnston

    Full Text Available Host-associated adaptation is emerging as a potential driver of population differentiation and speciation for marine organisms with major implications for ecosystem structure and function. Coralliophila abbreviata are corallivorous gastropods that live and feed on most of the reef-building corals in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. Populations of C. abbreviata associated with the threatened acroporid corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, display different behavioral, morphological, demographic, and life-history characteristics than those that inhabit other coral host taxa, indicating that host-specific selective forces may be acting on C. abbreviata. Here, we used newly developed polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence data to assess the population genetic structure, connectivity, and demographic history of C. abbreviata populations from three coral host taxa (A. palmata, Montastraea spp., Mycetophyllia spp. and six geographic locations across the Caribbean. Analysis of molecular variance provided some evidence of weak and possibly geographically variable host-associated differentiation but no evidence of differentiation among sampling locations or major oceanographic regions, suggesting high gene flow across the Caribbean. Phylogenetic network and bayesian clustering analyses supported a hypothesis of a single panmictic population as individuals failed to cluster by host or sampling location. Demographic analyses consistently supported a scenario of population expansion during the Pleistocene, a time of major carbonate reef development in the region. Although further study is needed to fully elucidate the interactive effects of host-associated selection and high gene flow in this system, our results have implications for local and regional community interactions and impact of predation on declining coral populations.

  6. Assessment of host-associated genetic differentiation among phenotypically divergent populations of a coral-eating gastropod across the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnston, Lyza; Miller, Margaret W; Baums, Iliana B

    2012-01-01

    Host-associated adaptation is emerging as a potential driver of population differentiation and speciation for marine organisms with major implications for ecosystem structure and function. Coralliophila abbreviata are corallivorous gastropods that live and feed on most of the reef-building corals in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. Populations of C. abbreviata associated with the threatened acroporid corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, display different behavioral, morphological, demographic, and life-history characteristics than those that inhabit other coral host taxa, indicating that host-specific selective forces may be acting on C. abbreviata. Here, we used newly developed polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence data to assess the population genetic structure, connectivity, and demographic history of C. abbreviata populations from three coral host taxa (A. palmata, Montastraea spp., Mycetophyllia spp.) and six geographic locations across the Caribbean. Analysis of molecular variance provided some evidence of weak and possibly geographically variable host-associated differentiation but no evidence of differentiation among sampling locations or major oceanographic regions, suggesting high gene flow across the Caribbean. Phylogenetic network and bayesian clustering analyses supported a hypothesis of a single panmictic population as individuals failed to cluster by host or sampling location. Demographic analyses consistently supported a scenario of population expansion during the Pleistocene, a time of major carbonate reef development in the region. Although further study is needed to fully elucidate the interactive effects of host-associated selection and high gene flow in this system, our results have implications for local and regional community interactions and impact of predation on declining coral populations.

  7. Multiple mechanisms of transmission of the Caribbean coral disease white plague

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clemens, E.; Brandt, M. E.

    2015-12-01

    White plague is one of the most devastating coral diseases in the Caribbean, and yet important aspects of its epidemiology, including how the disease transmits, remain unknown. This study tested potential mechanisms and rates of transmission of white plague in a laboratory setting. Transmission mechanisms including the transport of water, contact with macroalgae, and predation via corallivorous worms and snails were tested on the host species Orbicella annularis. Two of the tested mechanisms were shown to transmit disease: water transport and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. Between these transmission mechanisms, transport of water between a diseased coral and a healthy coral resulted in disease incidence significantly more frequently in exposed healthy corals. Transmission via water transport also occurred more quickly and was associated with higher rates of tissue loss (up to 3.5 cm d-1) than with the corallivorous snail treatment. In addition, water that was in contact with diseased corals but was filtered with a 0.22-μm filter prior to being introduced to apparently healthy corals also resulted in the transmission of disease signs, but at a much lower rate than when water was not filtered. This study has provided important information on the transmission potential of Caribbean white plague disease and highlights the need for a greater understanding of how these processes operate in the natural environment.

  8. Workshop on Biological Integrity of Coral Reefs August 21-22, 2012, Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, Isla Magueyes, La Parguera, Puerto Rico.

    Science.gov (United States)

    This report summarizes an EPA-sponsored workshop on coral reef biological integrity held at the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in La Parguera, Puerto Rico on August 21-22, 2012. The goals of this workshop were to:• Identify key qualitative and quantitative ecological characterist...

  9. Indirect effects of overfishing on Caribbean reefs: sponges overgrow reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E; Henkel, Timothy P; Vicente, Jan; Pawlik, Joseph R

    2015-01-01

    Consumer-mediated indirect effects at the community level are difficult to demonstrate empirically. Here, we show an explicit indirect effect of overfishing on competition between sponges and reef-building corals from surveys of 69 sites across the Caribbean. Leveraging the large-scale, long-term removal of sponge predators, we selected overfished sites where intensive methods, primarily fish-trapping, have been employed for decades or more, and compared them to sites in remote or marine protected areas (MPAs) with variable levels of enforcement. Sponge-eating fishes (angelfishes and parrotfishes) were counted at each site, and the benthos surveyed, with coral colonies scored for interaction with sponges. Overfished sites had >3 fold more overgrowth of corals by sponges, and mean coral contact with sponges was 25.6%, compared with 12.0% at less-fished sites. Greater contact with corals by sponges at overfished sites was mostly by sponge species palatable to sponge predators. Palatable species have faster rates of growth or reproduction than defended sponge species, which instead make metabolically expensive chemical defenses. These results validate the top-down conceptual model of sponge community ecology for Caribbean reefs, as well as provide an unambiguous justification for MPAs to protect threatened reef-building corals. An unanticipated outcome of the benthic survey component of this study was that overfished sites had lower mean macroalgal cover (23.1% vs. 38.1% for less-fished sites), a result that is contrary to prevailing assumptions about seaweed control by herbivorous fishes. Because we did not quantify herbivores for this study, we interpret this result with caution, but suggest that additional large-scale studies comparing intensively overfished and MPA sites are warranted to examine the relative impacts of herbivorous fishes and urchins on Caribbean reefs.

  10. Effects of thermal stress and nitrate enrichment on the larval performance of two Caribbean reef corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Serrano, Xaymara M.; Miller, Margaret W.; Hendee, James C.; Jensen, Brittany A.; Gapayao, Justine Z.; Pasparakis, Christina; Grosell, Martin; Baker, Andrew C.

    2018-03-01

    The effects of multiple stressors on the early life stages of reef-building corals are poorly understood. Elevated temperature is the main physiological driver of mass coral bleaching events, but increasing evidence suggests that other stressors, including elevated dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), may exacerbate the negative effects of thermal stress. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the performance of larvae of Orbicella faveolata and Porites astreoides, two important Caribbean reef coral species with contrasting reproductive and algal transmission modes, under increased temperature and/or elevated DIN. We used a fluorescence-based microplate respirometer to measure the oxygen consumption of coral larvae from both species, and also assessed the effects of these stressors on P. astreoides larval settlement and mortality. Overall, we found that (1) larvae increased their respiration in response to different factors ( O. faveolata in response to elevated temperature and P. astreoides in response to elevated nitrate) and (2) P. astreoides larvae showed a significant increase in settlement as a result of elevated nitrate, but higher mortality under elevated temperature. This study shows how microplate respirometry can be successfully used to assess changes in respiration of coral larvae, and our findings suggest that the effects of thermal stress and nitrate enrichment in coral larvae may be species specific and are neither additive nor synergistic for O. faveolata or P. astreoides. These findings may have important consequences for the recruitment and community reassembly of corals to nutrient-polluted reefs that have been impacted by climate change.

  11. The genetics of colony form and function in Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hemond, Elizabeth M; Kaluziak, Stefan T; Vollmer, Steven V

    2014-12-17

    Colonial reef-building corals have evolved a broad spectrum of colony morphologies based on coordinated asexual reproduction of polyps on a secreted calcium carbonate skeleton. Though cnidarians have been shown to possess and use similar developmental genes to bilaterians during larval development and polyp formation, little is known about genetic regulation of colony morphology in hard corals. We used RNA-seq to evaluate transcriptomic differences between functionally distinct regions of the coral (apical branch tips and branch bases) in two species of Caribbean Acropora, the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis, and the elkhorn coral, A. palmata. Transcriptome-wide gene profiles differed significantly between different parts of the coral colony as well as between species. Genes showing differential expression between branch tips and bases were involved in developmental signaling pathways, such as Wnt, Notch, and BMP, as well as pH regulation, ion transport, extracellular matrix production and other processes. Differences both within colonies and between species identify a relatively small number of genes that may contribute to the distinct "staghorn" versus "elkhorn" morphologies of these two sister species. The large number of differentially expressed genes supports a strong division of labor between coral branch tips and branch bases. Genes involved in growth of mature Acropora colonies include the classical signaling pathways associated with development of cnidarian larvae and polyps as well as morphological determination in higher metazoans.

  12. Bleaching Susceptibility and Recovery of Colombian Caribbean Corals in Response to Water Current Exposure and Seasonal Upwelling

    OpenAIRE

    Bayraktarov, Elisa; Pizarro, Valeria; Eidens, Corvin; Wilke, Thomas; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Coral bleaching events are globally occurring more frequently and with higher intensity, mainly caused by increases in seawater temperature. In Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP) in the Colombian Caribbean, local coral communities are subjected to seasonal wind-triggered upwelling events coinciding with stronger water currents depending on location. This natural phenomenon offers the unique opportunity to study potential water current-induced mitigation mechanisms of coral bleaching in an u...

  13. The effects of elevated seawater temperatures on Caribbean gorgonian corals and their algal symbionts, Symbiodinium spp.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tamar L Goulet

    Full Text Available Global climate change not only leads to elevated seawater temperatures but also to episodic anomalously high or low temperatures lasting for several hours to days. Scleractinian corals are detrimentally affected by thermal fluctuations, which often lead to an uncoupling of their mutualism with Symbiodinium spp. (coral bleaching and potentially coral death. Consequently, on many Caribbean reefs scleractinian coral cover has plummeted. Conversely, gorgonian corals persist, with their abundance even increasing. How gorgonians react to thermal anomalies has been investigated utilizing limited parameters of either the gorgonian, Symbiodinium or the combined symbiosis (holobiont. We employed a holistic approach to examine the effect of an experimental five-day elevated temperature episode on parameters of the host, symbiont, and the holobiont in Eunicea tourneforti, E. flexuosa and Pseudoplexaura porosa. These gorgonian corals reacted and coped with 32°C seawater temperatures. Neither Symbiodinium genotypes nor densities differed between the ambient 29.5°C and 32°C. Chlorophyll a and c2 per Symbiodinium cell, however, were lower at 32°C leading to a reduction in chlorophyll content in the branches and an associated reduction in estimated absorbance and increase in the chlorophyll a specific absorption coefficient. The adjustments in the photochemical parameters led to changes in photochemical efficiencies, although these too showed that the gorgonians were coping. For example, the maximum excitation pressure, Qm, was significantly lower at 32°C than at 29.5°C. In addition, although per dry weight the amount of protein and lipids were lower at 32°C, the overall energy content in the tissues did not differ between the temperatures. Antioxidant activity either remained the same or increased following exposure to 32°C further reiterating a response that dealt with the stressor. Taken together, the capability of Caribbean gorgonian corals to modify

  14. Chemical defenses and resource trade-offs structure sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs

    OpenAIRE

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; Pawlik, Joseph R.

    2014-01-01

    Chemical defenses are known to protect some species from consumers, but it is often difficult to detect this advantage at the community or ecosystem levels because of the complexity of abiotic and biotic factors that influence species abundances. We surveyed the community of sponges and sponge predators (angelfishes and parrotfishes) on coral reefs across the Caribbean ranging from heavily overfished sites to protected marine reserves. High predator abundance correlated with high abundance of...

  15. Caribbean corals in crisis: record thermal stress, bleaching, and mortality in 2005.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Eakin, C Mark; Morgan, Jessica A; Heron, Scott F; Smith, Tyler B; Liu, Gang; Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Baca, Bart; Bartels, Erich; Bastidas, Carolina; Bouchon, Claude; Brandt, Marilyn; Bruckner, Andrew W; Bunkley-Williams, Lucy; Cameron, Andrew; Causey, Billy D; Chiappone, Mark; Christensen, Tyler R L; Crabbe, M James C; Day, Owen; de la Guardia, Elena; Díaz-Pulido, Guillermo; DiResta, Daniel; Gil-Agudelo, Diego L; Gilliam, David S; Ginsburg, Robert N; Gore, Shannon; Guzmán, Héctor M; Hendee, James C; Hernández-Delgado, Edwin A; Husain, Ellen; Jeffrey, Christopher F G; Jones, Ross J; Jordán-Dahlgren, Eric; Kaufman, Les S; Kline, David I; Kramer, Philip A; Lang, Judith C; Lirman, Diego; Mallela, Jennie; Manfrino, Carrie; Maréchal, Jean-Philippe; Marks, Ken; Mihaly, Jennifer; Miller, W Jeff; Mueller, Erich M; Muller, Erinn M; Orozco Toro, Carlos A; Oxenford, Hazel A; Ponce-Taylor, Daniel; Quinn, Norman; Ritchie, Kim B; Rodríguez, Sebastián; Ramírez, Alberto Rodríguez; Romano, Sandra; Samhouri, Jameal F; Sánchez, Juan A; Schmahl, George P; Shank, Burton V; Skirving, William J; Steiner, Sascha C C; Villamizar, Estrella; Walsh, Sheila M; Walter, Cory; Weil, Ernesto; Williams, Ernest H; Roberson, Kimberly Woody; Yusuf, Yusri

    2010-11-15

    The rising temperature of the world's oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers' field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Degree Heating Weeks) and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate.

  16. Caribbean corals in crisis: record thermal stress, bleaching, and mortality in 2005.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    C Mark Eakin

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: The rising temperature of the world's oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers' field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Degree Heating Weeks and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate.

  17. Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005

    Science.gov (United States)

    Eakin, C. Mark; Morgan, Jessica A.; Heron, Scott F.; Smith, Tyler B.; Liu, Gang; Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Baca, Bart; Bartels, Erich; Bastidas, Carolina; Bouchon, Claude; Brandt, Marilyn; Bruckner, Andrew W.; Bunkley-Williams, Lucy; Cameron, Andrew; Causey, Billy D.; Chiappone, Mark; Christensen, Tyler R. L.; Crabbe, M. James C; Day, Owen; de la Guardia, Elena; Díaz-Pulido, Guillermo; DiResta, Daniel; Gil-Agudelo, Diego L.; Gilliam, David S.; Ginsburg, Robert N.; Gore, Shannon; Guzmán, Héctor M.; Hendee, James C.; Hernández-Delgado, Edwin A.; Husain, Ellen; Jeffrey, Christopher F. G.; Jones, Ross J.; Jordán-Dahlgren, Eric; Kaufman, Les S.; Kline, David I.; Kramer, Philip A.; Lang, Judith C.; Lirman, Diego; Mallela, Jennie; Manfrino, Carrie; Maréchal, Jean-Philippe; Marks, Ken; Mihaly, Jennifer; Miller, W. Jeff; Mueller, Erich M.; Muller, Erinn M.; Orozco Toro, Carlos A.; Oxenford, Hazel A.; Ponce-Taylor, Daniel; Quinn, Norman; Ritchie, Kim B.; Rodríguez, Sebastián; Ramírez, Alberto Rodríguez; Romano, Sandra; Samhouri, Jameal F.; Sánchez, Juan A.; Schmahl, George P.; Shank, Burton V.; Skirving, William J.; Steiner, Sascha C. C.; Villamizar, Estrella; Walsh, Sheila M.; Walter, Cory; Weil, Ernesto; Williams, Ernest H.; Roberson, Kimberly Woody; Yusuf, Yusri

    2010-01-01

    Background The rising temperature of the world's oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. Methodology/Principal Findings Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers' field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. Conclusions/Significance Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Degree Heating Weeks) and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate. PMID:21125021

  18. Comparative Profiling of coral symbiont communities from the Caribbean, Indo-Pacific, and Arabian Seas

    KAUST Repository

    Arif, Chatchanit

    2014-12-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are in rapid decline due to global and local anthropogenic factors. Being among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, a loss will decrease species diversity, and remove food source for people along the coast. The coral together with its symbionts (i.e. Symbiodinium, bacteria, and other microorganisms) is called the ‘coral holobiont’. The coral host offers its associated symbionts suitable habitats and nutrients, while Symbiodinium and coral-associated bacteria provide the host with photosynthates and vital nutrients. Association of corals with certain types of Symbiodinium and bacteria confer coral stress tolerance, and lack or loss of these symbionts coincides with diseased or bleached corals. However, a detailed understanding of the coral holobiont diversity and structure in regard to diseases and health states or across global scales is missing. This dissertation addressed coral-associated symbiont diversity, specifically of Symbiodinium and bacteria, in various coral species from different geographic locations and different health states. The main aims were (1) to expand the scope of existing technologies, (2) to establish a standardized framework to facilitate comparison of symbiont assemblages over coral species and sites, (3) to assess Symbiodinium diversity in the Arabian Seas, and (4) to elucidate whether coral health states have conserved bacterial footprints. In summary, a next generation sequencing pipeline for Symbiodinium diversity typing of the ITS2 marker is developed and applied to describe Symbiodinium diversity in corals around the Arabian Peninsula. The data show that corals in the Arabian Seas are dominated by a single Symbiodinium type, but harbor a rich variety of types in low abundant. Further, association with different Symbiodinium types is structured according to geographic locations. In addition, the application of 16S rRNA gene microarrays to investigate how differences in microbiome structure relate to

  19. A clear human footprint in the coral reefs of the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mora, Camilo

    2008-04-07

    The recent degradation of coral reefs worldwide is increasingly well documented, yet the underlying causes remain debated. In this study, we used a large-scale database on the status of coral reef communities in the Caribbean and analysed it in combination with a comprehensive set of socioeconomic and environmental databases to decouple confounding factors and identify the drivers of change in coral reef communities. Our results indicated that human activities related to agricultural land use, coastal development, overfishing and climate change had created independent and overwhelming responses in fishes, corals and macroalgae. While the effective implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) increased the biomass of fish populations, coral reef builders and macroalgae followed patterns of change independent of MPAs. However, we also found significant ecological links among all these groups of organisms suggesting that the long-term stability of coral reefs as a whole requires a holistic and regional approach to the control of human-related stressors in addition to the improvement and establishment of new MPAs.

  20. A clear human footprint in the coral reefs of the Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mora, Camilo

    2008-01-01

    The recent degradation of coral reefs worldwide is increasingly well documented, yet the underlying causes remain debated. In this study, we used a large-scale database on the status of coral reef communities in the Caribbean and analysed it in combination with a comprehensive set of socioeconomic and environmental databases to decouple confounding factors and identify the drivers of change in coral reef communities. Our results indicated that human activities related to agricultural land use, coastal development, overfishing and climate change had created independent and overwhelming responses in fishes, corals and macroalgae. While the effective implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) increased the biomass of fish populations, coral reef builders and macroalgae followed patterns of change independent of MPAs. However, we also found significant ecological links among all these groups of organisms suggesting that the long-term stability of coral reefs as a whole requires a holistic and regional approach to the control of human-related stressors in addition to the improvement and establishment of new MPAs. PMID:18182370

  1. Socio-ecological dynamics of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems and conservation opinion propagation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thampi, Vivek A; Anand, Madhur; Bauch, Chris T

    2018-02-07

    The Caribbean coral reef ecosystem has experienced a long history of deterioration due to various stressors. For instance, over-fishing of parrotfish - an important grazer of macroalgae that can prevent destructive overgrowth of macroalgae - has threatened reef ecosystems in recent decades and stimulated conservation efforts such as the formation of marine protected areas. Here we develop a mathematical model of coupled socio-ecological interactions between reef dynamics and conservation opinion dynamics to better understand how natural and human factors interact individually and in combination to determine coral reef cover. We find that the coupling opinion and reef systems generates complex dynamics that are difficult to anticipate without use of a model. For instance, instead of converging to a stable state of constant coral cover and conservationist opinion, the system can oscillate between low and high live coral cover as human opinion oscillates in a boom-bust cycle between complacency and concern. Out of various possible parameter manipulations, we also find that raising awareness of coral reef endangerment best avoids counter-productive nonlinear feedbacks and always increases and stabilizes live coral reef cover. In conclusion, an improved understanding of coupled opinion-reef dynamics under anthrogenic stressors is possible using coupled socio-ecological models, and such models should be further researched.

  2. Tracking transmission of apicomplexan symbionts in diverse Caribbean corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nathan L Kirk

    Full Text Available Symbionts in each generation are transmitted to new host individuals either vertically (parent to offspring, horizontally (from exogenous sources, or a combination of both. Scleractinian corals make an excellent study system for understanding patterns of symbiont transmission since they harbor diverse symbionts and possess distinct reproductive modes of either internal brooding or external broadcast spawning that generally correlate with vertical or horizontal transmission, respectively. Here, we focused on the under-recognized, but apparently widespread, coral-associated apicomplexans (Protista: Alveolata to determine if symbiont transmission depends on host reproductive mode. Specifically, a PCR-based assay was utilized towards identifying whether planula larvae and reproductive adults from brooding and broadcast spawning scleractinian coral species in Florida and Belize harbored apicomplexan DNA. Nearly all (85.5%; n = 85/89 examined planulae of five brooding species (Porites astreoides, Agaricia tenuifolia, Agaricia agaricites, Favia fragum, Mycetophyllia ferox and adults of P. astreoides were positive for apicomplexan DNA. In contrast, no (n = 0/10 apicomplexan DNA was detected from planulae of four broadcast spawning species (Acropora cervicornis, Acropora palmata, Pseudodiploria strigosa, and Orbicella faveolata and rarely in gametes (8.9%; n = 5/56 of these species sampled from the same geographical range as the brooding species. In contrast, tissue samples from nearly all (92.0%; n = 81/88 adults of the broadcast spawning species A. cervicornis, A. palmata and O. faveolata harbored apicomplexan DNA, including colonies whose gametes and planulae tested negative for these symbionts. Taken together, these data suggest apicomplexans are transmitted vertically in these brooding scleractinian coral species while the broadcast spawning scleractinian species examined here acquire these symbionts horizontally. Notably, these transmission

  3. Tracking transmission of apicomplexan symbionts in diverse Caribbean corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kirk, Nathan L; Ritson-Williams, Raphael; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Miller, Margaret W; Fogarty, Nicole D; Santos, Scott R

    2013-01-01

    Symbionts in each generation are transmitted to new host individuals either vertically (parent to offspring), horizontally (from exogenous sources), or a combination of both. Scleractinian corals make an excellent study system for understanding patterns of symbiont transmission since they harbor diverse symbionts and possess distinct reproductive modes of either internal brooding or external broadcast spawning that generally correlate with vertical or horizontal transmission, respectively. Here, we focused on the under-recognized, but apparently widespread, coral-associated apicomplexans (Protista: Alveolata) to determine if symbiont transmission depends on host reproductive mode. Specifically, a PCR-based assay was utilized towards identifying whether planula larvae and reproductive adults from brooding and broadcast spawning scleractinian coral species in Florida and Belize harbored apicomplexan DNA. Nearly all (85.5%; n = 85/89) examined planulae of five brooding species (Porites astreoides, Agaricia tenuifolia, Agaricia agaricites, Favia fragum, Mycetophyllia ferox) and adults of P. astreoides were positive for apicomplexan DNA. In contrast, no (n = 0/10) apicomplexan DNA was detected from planulae of four broadcast spawning species (Acropora cervicornis, Acropora palmata, Pseudodiploria strigosa, and Orbicella faveolata) and rarely in gametes (8.9%; n = 5/56) of these species sampled from the same geographical range as the brooding species. In contrast, tissue samples from nearly all (92.0%; n = 81/88) adults of the broadcast spawning species A. cervicornis, A. palmata and O. faveolata harbored apicomplexan DNA, including colonies whose gametes and planulae tested negative for these symbionts. Taken together, these data suggest apicomplexans are transmitted vertically in these brooding scleractinian coral species while the broadcast spawning scleractinian species examined here acquire these symbionts horizontally. Notably, these transmission patterns are

  4. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Virginia H. Garrison

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1 identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2 test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3 develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community. The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs. Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs. Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate. Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place. Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only. Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10. Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are understood and

  5. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Science.gov (United States)

    Garrison, Virginia H.; Ward, Greg A.

    2012-01-01

    In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1) identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2) test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3) develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community.  The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs.  Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae)] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae)] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs.  Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate.  Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place.  Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only.  Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10.  Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are

  6. Coral reefs chronically exposed to river sediment plumes in the southwestern Caribbean: Rosario Islands, Colombia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Restrepo, Juan D; Park, Edward; Aquino, Samia; Latrubesse, Edgardo M

    2016-05-15

    Politicians do not acknowledge the devastating impacts riverine sediments can have on healthy coral reef ecosystems during environmental debates in Caribbean countries. Therefore, regional and/or local decision makers do not implement the necessary measures to reduce fluvial sediment fluxes on coral reefs. The Magdalena River, the main contributor of continental fluxes into the Caribbean Sea, delivers water and sediment fluxes into the Rosario Islands National Park, an important marine protected area in the southwestern Caribbean. Until now, there is no scientific consensus on the presence of sediment fluxes from the Magdalena River in the coral reefs of the Rosario Islands. Our hypothesis is that high sediment and freshwater inputs from the Magdalena have been present at higher acute levels during the last decade than previously thought, and that these runoff pulses are not flashy. We use in-situ calibrated MODIS satellite images to capture the spatiotemporal variability of the distribution of suspended sediment over the coral reefs. Furthermore, geochemical data are analyzed to detect associated sedimentation rates and pollutant dispersion into the coastal zone. Results confirm that turbidity levels have been much higher than previous values presented by national environmental authorities on coral reefs off Colombia over the last decade. During the 2003-2013-period most of the Total Suspended Sediments (TSS) values witnessed in the sampled regions were above 10mg/l, a threshold value of turbidity for healthy coral reef waters. TSS concentrations throughout the analyzed time were up to 62.3mg/l. Plume pulses were more pronounced during wet seasons of La Niña events in 2002-2003, 2007-2008, and 2009-2010. Reconstructed time series of MODIS TSS indicates that coral reef waters were exposed to river plumes between 19.6 and 47.8% of the entire period of analysis (2000-2013). Further analyses of time series of water discharge and sediment load into the coastal zone

  7. RNA-Seq of the Caribbean reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata (Scleractinia-Merulinidae under bleaching and disease stress expands models of coral innate immunity

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    David A. Anderson

    2016-02-01

    Full Text Available Climate change-driven coral disease outbreaks have led to widespread declines in coral populations. Early work on coral genomics established that corals have a complex innate immune system, and whole-transcriptome gene expression studies have revealed mechanisms by which the coral immune system responds to stress and disease. The present investigation expands bioinformatic data available to study coral molecular physiology through the assembly and annotation of a reference transcriptome of the Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata. Samples were collected during a warm water thermal anomaly, coral bleaching event and Caribbean yellow band disease outbreak in 2010 in Puerto Rico. Multiplex sequencing of RNA on the Illumina GAIIx platform and de novo transcriptome assembly by Trinity produced 70,745,177 raw short-sequence reads and 32,463 O. faveolata transcripts, respectively. The reference transcriptome was annotated with gene ontologies, mapped to KEGG pathways, and a predicted proteome of 20,488 sequences was generated. Protein families and signaling pathways that are essential in the regulation of innate immunity across Phyla were investigated in-depth. Results were used to develop models of evolutionarily conserved Wnt, Notch, Rig-like receptor, Nod-like receptor, and Dicer signaling. O. faveolata is a coral species that has been studied widely under climate-driven stress and disease, and the present investigation provides new data on the genes that putatively regulate its immune system.

  8. White plague-like coral disease in remote reefs of the Western Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan A Sánchez

    2010-05-01

    Full Text Available The health of coral reef communities has been decreasing over the last 50 years, due the negative effects of human activities combined with other natural processes. We present documentation of a White Plague Disease (WPD outbreak in the Serrana Bank, an isolated Western Caribbean atoll with presumably inexistent pollutant inputs from local human settlements. In addition, this study summarizes seven years of observations on diseased corals in the nearby island of San Andrés, which in contrast is one of the most populated islands of the Caribbean. There was a massive coral mortality in the atoll lagoon (14°27’53.24", 80°14’22.27" W, and 12m depth due to WPD on May 4 of 2003. Seventeen species were found dead or largely affected by the disease. The information resulting from GPS and manta-tow transects revealed that approximately 5.8ha of reticulate Montastraea spp. patch reefs were lethally affected by the disease in the atoll. On May 8 of the same year we observed and calculated a mean coral cover of 7.03% (SD± 2.44, a mean diseased coral tissue cover of 5.5% (SD± 1.1 and a 13.4% (SD± 8.05 of recently dead coral covered with a thin filamentous algae layer; approximately 73% of mortalities caused by the disease occurred before the end of the outbreak. A rough estimate of 18.9% in recent coral cover reduction can be attributed to WPD. This represents about 82% of the total coral cover decline since 1995. Semi-enclosed environments such as atoll lagoons and the reticulate patch-reefs of Montastraea spp. seem to be particularly vulnerable to this kind of coral disease, which constitute an alert to increase the monitoring of the same kind of atoll environments. The WPD has been present in the area of the nearby island of San Andrés at a low prevalence level, with sporadic increasing peaks of disease proliferation. The peaks observed during 1999 and 2004 comprised increases of 266% and 355% respectively, suggesting an alarming progression of

  9. Geographic differences in vertical connectivity in the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa despite high levels of horizontal connectivity at shallow depths.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Serrano, X; Baums, I B; O'Reilly, K; Smith, T B; Jones, R J; Shearer, T L; Nunes, F L D; Baker, A C

    2014-09-01

    The deep reef refugia hypothesis proposes that deep reefs can act as local recruitment sources for shallow reefs following disturbance. To test this hypothesis, nine polymorphic DNA microsatellite loci were developed and used to assess vertical connectivity in 583 coral colonies of the Caribbean depth-generalist coral Montastraea cavernosa. Samples were collected from three depth zones (≤10, 15-20 and ≥25 m) at sites in Florida (within the Upper Keys, Lower Keys and Dry Tortugas), Bermuda, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Migration rates were estimated to determine the probability of coral larval migration from shallow to deep and from deep to shallow. Finally, algal symbiont (Symbiodinium spp.) diversity and distribution were assessed in a subset of corals to test whether symbiont depth zonation might indicate limited vertical connectivity. Overall, analyses revealed significant genetic differentiation by depth in Florida, but not in Bermuda or the U.S. Virgin Islands, despite high levels of horizontal connectivity between these geographic locations at shallow depths. Within Florida, greater vertical connectivity was observed in the Dry Tortugas compared to the Lower or Upper Keys. However, at all sites, and regardless of the extent of vertical connectivity, migration occurred asymmetrically, with greater likelihood of migration from shallow to intermediate/deep habitats. Finally, most colonies hosted a single Symbiodinium type (C3), ruling out symbiont depth zonation of the dominant symbiont type as a structuring factor. Together, these findings suggest that the potential for shallow reefs to recover from deep-water refugia in M. cavernosa is location-specific, varying among and within geographic locations likely as a consequence of local hydrology. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  10. Proteomic analysis of bleached and unbleached Acropora palmata, a threatened coral species of the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricaurte, Martha; Schizas, Nikolaos V; Ciborowski, Pawel; Boukli, Nawal M

    2016-06-15

    There has been an increase in the scale and frequency of coral bleaching around the world due mainly to changes in sea temperature. This may occur at large scales, often resulting in significant decline in coral coverage. In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis of the ever-increasing incidence of coral bleaching, we have undertaken a comparative proteomic approach with the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Using a proteomic tandem mass spectrometry approach, we identified 285 and 321 expressed protein signatures in bleached and unbleached A. palmata colonies, respectively, in southwestern Puerto Rico. Overall the expression level of 38 key proteins was significantly different between bleached and unbleached corals. A wide range of proteins was detected and categorized, including transcription factors involved mainly in heat stress/UV responses, immunity, apoptosis, biomineralization, the cytoskeleton, and endo-exophagocytosis. The results suggest that for bleached A. palmata, there was an induced differential protein expression response compared with those colonies that did not bleach under the same environmental conditions. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  11. A 350 Year Cloud Cover Reconstruction Deduced from Caribbean Coral Proxies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Winter, Amos; Sammarco, Paul; Mikolajewicz, Uwe; Jury, Mark; Zanchettin, Davide

    2015-04-01

    Clouds are a major factor contributing to climate change with respect to a variety of effects on the earth's climates, primarily radiative effects, amelioration of heating, and regional changes in precipitation patterns. There have been very few studies of decadal and longer term changes in cloud cover in the tropics and sub-tropics, both over land and the ocean. In the tropics, there is great uncertainty regarding how global warming will affect cloud cover. Observational satellite data is so short that it is difficult to discern any temporal trends. The skeletons of scleractinian corals are considered to contain among the best records of high-resolution (sub-annual) environmental variability in the tropical and sub-tropical oceans. Corals generally live in well-mixed coastal regions and can often record environmental conditions of large areas of the upper ocean. This is particularly the case at low latitudes. Scleractinian corals are sessile, epibenthic fauna, and the type of environmental information recorded at the location where the coral has been living is dependent upon the species of coral considered and proxy index of interest. Zooxanthellate hermatypic corals in tropical and sub-tropical seas precipitate CaCO3 skeletons as they grow. This growth is made possible through the manufacture of CaCO3 crystals, facilitated by the zooxanthellae. During the process of crystallization, the holobiont binds carbon of different isotopes into the crystals. Stable carbon isotope concentrations vary with a variety of environmental conditions. In the Caribbean, δ13C in corals of the species Montastraea faveolata can be used as a proxy for changes in cloud cover. In this contribution, we will demonstrate that the stable isotope 13C varies concomitantly with cloud cover and present a new reconstruction of cloud cover over the Caribbean Sea that extends back to the year 1760. We will show that there is good agreement between the main features of our coral proxy record of

  12. Hyperspectral Distinction of Two Caribbean Shallow-Water Corals Based on Their Pigments and Corresponding Reflectance

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan L. Torres-Pérez

    2012-11-01

    Full Text Available The coloration of tropical reef corals is mainly due to their association with photosynthetic dinoflagellates commonly known as zooxanthellae. Combining High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC, spectroscopy and derivative analysis we provide a novel approach to discriminate between the Caribbean shallow-water corals Acropora cervicornis and Porites porites based on their associated pigments. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the total array of pigments found within the coral holobiont is reported. A total of 20 different pigments were identified including chlorophylls, carotenes and xanthophylls. Of these, eleven pigments were common to both species, eight were present only in A. cervicornis, and three were present only in P. porites. Given that these corals are living in similar physical conditions, we hypothesize that this pigment composition difference is likely a consequence of harboring different zooxanthellae clades with a possible influence of endolithic green or brown algae. We tested the effect of this difference in pigments on the reflectance spectra of both species. An important outcome was the correlation of total pigment concentration with coral reflectance spectra up to a 97% confidence level. Derivative analysis of the reflectance curves showed particular differences between species at wavelengths where several chlorophylls, carotenes and xanthophylls absorb. Within species variability of spectral features was not significant while interspecies variability was highly significant. We recognize that the detection of such differences with actual airborne or satellite remote sensors is extremely difficult. Nonetheless, based on our results, the combination of these techniques (HPLC, spectroscopy and derivative analysis can be used as a robust approach for the development of a site specific spectral library for the identification of shallow-water coral species. Studies (Torres-Pérez, NASA Postdoctoral

  13. Changes in Caribbean coral disease prevalence after the 2005 bleaching event.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cróquer, Aldo; Weil, Ernesto

    2009-11-16

    Bleaching events and disease epizootics have increased during the past decades, suggesting a positive link between these 2 causes in producing coral mortality. However, studies to test this hypothesis, integrating a broad range of hierarchical spatial scales from habitats to distant localities, have not been conducted in the Caribbean. In this study, we examined links between bleaching intensity and disease prevalence collected from 6 countries, 2 reef sites for each country, and 3 habitats within each reef site (N = 6 x 2 x 3 = 36 site-habitat combinations) during the peak of bleaching in 2005 and a year after, in 2006. Patterns of disease prevalence and bleaching were significantly correlated (Rho = 0.58, p = 0.04). Higher variability in disease prevalence after bleaching occurred among habitats at each particular reef site, with a significant increase in prevalence recorded in 4 of the 10 site-habitats where bleaching was intense and a non-significant increase in disease prevalence in 18 out of the 26 site-habitats where bleaching was low to moderate. A significant linear correlation was found (r = 0.89, p = 0.008) between bleaching and the prevalence of 2 virulent diseases (yellow band disease and white plague) affecting the Montastraea species complex. Results of this study suggest that if bleaching events become more intense and frequent, disease-related mortality of Caribbean coral reef builders could increase, with uncertain effects on coral reef resilience.

  14. Hurricane-Driven Patterns of Clonality in an Ecosystem Engineer: The Caribbean Coral Montastraea annularis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foster, Nicola L.; Baums, Iliana B.; Sanchez, Juan A.; Paris, Claire B.; Chollett, Iliana; Agudelo, Claudia L.; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2013-01-01

    K-selected species with low rates of sexual recruitment may utilise storage effects where low adult mortality allows a number of individuals to persist through time until a favourable recruitment period occurs. Alternative methods of recruitment may become increasingly important for such species if the availability of favourable conditions for sexual recruitment decline under rising anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Here, we test the hypotheses that asexual dispersal is an integral life history strategy not only in branching corals, as previously reported, but also in a columnar, ‘K-selected’ coral species, and that its prevalence is driven by the frequency of severe hurricane disturbance. Montastraea annularis is a long-lived major frame-work builder of Caribbean coral reefs but its survival is threatened by the consequences of climate induced disturbance, such as bleaching, ocean acidification and increased prevalence of disease. 700 M. annularis samples from 18 reefs within the Caribbean were genotyped using six polymorphic microsatellite loci. We demonstrate that asexual reproduction occurs at varying frequency across the species-range and significantly contributes to the local abundance of M. annularis, with its contribution increasing in areas with greater hurricane frequency. We tested several competing hypotheses that might explain the observed pattern of genotypic diversity. 64% of the variation in genotypic diversity among the sites was explained by hurricane incidence and reef slope, demonstrating that large-scale disturbances combine with local habitat characteristics to shape the balance between sexual and asexual reproduction in populations of M. annularis. PMID:23308185

  15. Hurricane-driven patterns of clonality in an ecosystem engineer: the Caribbean coral Montastraea annularis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicola L Foster

    Full Text Available K-selected species with low rates of sexual recruitment may utilise storage effects where low adult mortality allows a number of individuals to persist through time until a favourable recruitment period occurs. Alternative methods of recruitment may become increasingly important for such species if the availability of favourable conditions for sexual recruitment decline under rising anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Here, we test the hypotheses that asexual dispersal is an integral life history strategy not only in branching corals, as previously reported, but also in a columnar, 'K-selected' coral species, and that its prevalence is driven by the frequency of severe hurricane disturbance. Montastraea annularis is a long-lived major frame-work builder of Caribbean coral reefs but its survival is threatened by the consequences of climate induced disturbance, such as bleaching, ocean acidification and increased prevalence of disease. 700 M. annularis samples from 18 reefs within the Caribbean were genotyped using six polymorphic microsatellite loci. We demonstrate that asexual reproduction occurs at varying frequency across the species-range and significantly contributes to the local abundance of M. annularis, with its contribution increasing in areas with greater hurricane frequency. We tested several competing hypotheses that might explain the observed pattern of genotypic diversity. 64% of the variation in genotypic diversity among the sites was explained by hurricane incidence and reef slope, demonstrating that large-scale disturbances combine with local habitat characteristics to shape the balance between sexual and asexual reproduction in populations of M. annularis.

  16. Field Spectroscopy And Spectral Analysis Of Caribbean Scleractinian Reef Corals And Related Benthic Biota

    Science.gov (United States)

    Torres-Perez, J. L.; Guild, L. S.; Armstrong, R.; Corredor, J. E.; Polanco, R.; Zuluaga-Montero, A. B.

    2013-05-01

    Coral reefs are highly heterogenic ecosystems with a plethora of photosynthetic organisms forming most of the benthic communities. Usually coral reef benthos is a composite of reef corals, different groups of algae, seagrasses, sandy bottoms, dead rubble, and even mangrove forests living in a relatively small area. The remote characterization of these important tropical ecosystems represents a challenge to scientists, particularly due to the similarity of the spectral signatures among some of these components. As such, we examined the similarities and differences between nine Scleractinian Caribbean shallow-water reef corals' spectral reflectance curves. Samples were also collected from each species for pigment analysis using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Reflectance curves were obtained with the aid of a GER-1500 hand-held field spectroradiometer enclosed in an underwater housing. Our findings showed that even though most of the pigmentation was directly related to the relationship of corals with their symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae), the presence of other endolithic photosynthetic organisms can also contribute to the light absorption of corals and, hence, the reflectance spectra of each species. Also, the relative contribution of chlorophylls vs. carotenes or xanthophylls depends on the coral species with some species relying more on Chlorophyll a and other species relying on Chlorophyl c2 and Peridinin with a small Chlorophyll a component. Pigments associated with the xanthophyll cycle of dinoflagellates (Diadinoxanthin and Diatoxanthin) were detected in most species. Pigments typical of endolithic organisms such as Zeaxanthin, Fucoxanthin, Violaxanthin and Siphonaxanthin were also detected in some coral species. The influence of major pigments on the reflectance curve was evidenced with a 2nd derivative analysis. This could be used to discriminate among most species. Further, an analysis of the integration of the area under the

  17. Chemical defenses and resource trade-offs structure sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; Pawlik, Joseph R

    2014-03-18

    Ecological studies have rarely been performed at the community level across a large biogeographic region. Sponges are now the primary habitat-forming organisms on Caribbean coral reefs. Recent species-level investigations have demonstrated that predatory fishes (angelfishes and some parrotfishes) differentially graze sponges that lack chemical defenses, while co-occurring, palatable species heal, grow, reproduce, or recruit at faster rates than defended species. Our prediction, based on resource allocation theory, was that predator removal would result in a greater proportion of palatable species in the sponge community on overfished reefs. We tested this prediction by performing surveys of sponge and fish community composition on reefs having different levels of fishing intensity across the Caribbean. A total of 109 sponge species was recorded from 69 sites, with the 10 most common species comprising 51.0% of sponge cover (3.6-7.7% per species). Nonmetric multidimensional scaling indicated that the species composition of sponge communities depended more on the abundance of sponge-eating fishes than geographic location. Across all sites, multiple-regression analyses revealed that spongivore abundance explained 32.8% of the variation in the proportion of palatable sponges, but when data were limited to geographically adjacent locations with strongly contrasting levels of fishing pressure (Cayman Islands and Jamaica; Curaçao, Bonaire, and Martinique), the adjusted R(2) values were much higher (76.5% and 94.6%, respectively). Overfishing of Caribbean coral reefs, particularly by fish trapping, removes sponge predators and is likely to result in greater competition for space between faster-growing palatable sponges and endangered reef-building corals.

  18. Nine novel, polymorphic microsatellite markers for the study of threatened Caribbean acroporid corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, I B; Devlin-Durante, M K; Brown, L; Pinzón, J H

    2009-07-01

    Caribbean reef-building corals in the genus Acropora have been declining dramatically since the 1980s and are now listed as threatened. The study of their complex reproductive system (mixed asexual and sexual) and their population structure requires highly polymorphic nuclear genetic markers. Of eight previously developed microsatellite loci for A. palmata, only five behaved in a Mendelian fashion and only four reliably amplified the sister species, A. cervicornis. Here, nine novel microsatellite markers are presented that dramatically increase the power to distinguish between asexual and sexual reproductive events and may help to refine population boundaries and gene flow across their ranges. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  19. Studies on the origin and distribution of palytoxin in a Caribbean coral reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gleibs, S; Mebs, D; Werding, B

    1995-11-01

    In coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea (Colombia) palytoxin (PTX) has been detected in zoanthid species of the genera Palythoa and Zoanthus by assaying the delayed haemolysis in human erythrocytes produced by aqueous extracts, which is inhibited by ouabain pretreatment, and by HPLC. The toxin content of the polyps and colonies is highly variable and is not correlated with their reproductive cycle or with the amount of symbiotic algae. Sequestration of PTX has been observed in crustaceans (Platypodiella sp.) living in close association with Palythoa colonies and in polychaete worms (Hermodice carunculata) feeding on the zoanthids. Resistance of marine animals to the toxin may enable it to enter food chains.

  20. Acclimatization to high-variance habitats does not enhance physiological tolerance of two key Caribbean corals to future temperature and pH.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Camp, Emma F; Smith, David J; Evenhuis, Chris; Enochs, Ian; Manzello, Derek; Woodcock, Stephen; Suggett, David J

    2016-05-25

    Corals are acclimatized to populate dynamic habitats that neighbour coral reefs. Habitats such as seagrass beds exhibit broad diel changes in temperature and pH that routinely expose corals to conditions predicted for reefs over the next 50-100 years. However, whether such acclimatization effectively enhances physiological tolerance to, and hence provides refuge against, future climate scenarios remains unknown. Also, whether corals living in low-variance habitats can tolerate present-day high-variance conditions remains untested. We experimentally examined how pH and temperature predicted for the year 2100 affects the growth and physiology of two dominant Caribbean corals (Acropora palmata and Porites astreoides) native to habitats with intrinsically low (outer-reef terrace, LV) and/or high (neighbouring seagrass, HV) environmental variance. Under present-day temperature and pH, growth and metabolic rates (calcification, respiration and photosynthesis) were unchanged for HV versus LV populations. Superimposing future climate scenarios onto the HV and LV conditions did not result in any enhanced tolerance to colonies native to HV. Calcification rates were always lower for elevated temperature and/or reduced pH. Together, these results suggest that seagrass habitats may not serve as refugia against climate change if the magnitude of future temperature and pH changes is equivalent to neighbouring reef habitats. © 2016 The Author(s).

  1. Changes in the fluorescence of the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata during heat-induced bleaching

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zawada, David G.; Jaffe, J.S.

    2003-01-01

    In order to evaluate the response of commonly occurring green and orange fluorescent host-based pigments, a thermal stress experiment was performed on specimens of the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata. Seven paired samples were collected from a small oceanic reef near Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas. Seven of the fourteen corals were subjected to elevated temperatures for 28 d, followed by a recovery period lasting 53 d. Throughout the experiment, high-resolution (~400 µm pixel-1) multispectral images of induced fluorescence were recorded at wavelengths corresponding to the green and orange host pigments, plus chlorophyll. These images revealed that the fluorescence of both host pigments was concentrated at polyp centers and declined by 70–90% in regions between polyps. Chlorophyll fluorescence, however, was distributed almost uniformly across the entire coral surface, but with decreases of 10–30% around polyp centers. A normalized difference ratio between the green and orange pigments (GO ratio) was developed to facilitate comparison with chlorophyll fluorescence as a bleaching indicator. Analysis showed a high correspondence between a sustained GO ratio of less than zero and the death of corals. Finally, this ratio was resistant to contamination from other sources of chlorophyll fluorescence, such as filamentous algae.

  2. Microbial invasion of the Caribbean by an Indo-Pacific coral zooxanthella.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pettay, D Tye; Wham, Drew C; Smith, Robin T; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; LaJeunesse, Todd C

    2015-06-16

    Human-induced environmental changes have ushered in the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems, particularly by disrupting the symbioses between reef-building corals and their photosymbionts. However, escalating stressful conditions enable some symbionts to thrive as opportunists. We present evidence that a stress-tolerant "zooxanthella" from the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Symbiodinium trenchii, has rapidly spread to coral communities across the Greater Caribbean. In marked contrast to populations from the Indo-Pacific, Atlantic populations of S. trenchii contained exceptionally low genetic diversity, including several widespread and genetically similar clones. Colonies with this symbiont tolerate temperatures 1-2 °C higher than other host-symbiont combinations; however, calcification by hosts harboring S. trenchii is reduced by nearly half, compared with those harboring natives, and suggests that these new symbioses are maladapted. Unforeseen opportunism and geographical expansion by invasive mutualistic microbes could profoundly influence the response of reef coral symbioses to major environmental perturbations but may ultimately compromise ecosystem stability and function.

  3. Sexual reproduction in the Caribbean coral genus Isophyllia (Scleractinia: Mussidae

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Derek Soto

    2016-11-01

    Full Text Available The sexual pattern, reproductive mode, and timing of reproduction of Isophyllia sinuosa and Isophyllia rigida, two Caribbean Mussids, were assessed by histological analysis of specimens collected monthly during 2000–2001. Both species are simultaneous hermaphroditic brooders characterized by a single annual gametogenetic cycle. Spermatocytes and oocytes of different stages were found to develop within the same mesentery indicating sequential maturation for extended planulation. Oogenesis took place during May through April in I. sinuosa and from August through June in I. rigida. Oocytes began development 7–8 months prior to spermaries but both sexes matured simultaneously. Zooxanthellate planulae were observed in I. sinuosa during April and in I. rigida from June through September. Higher polyp and mesenterial fecundity were found in I. rigida compared to I. sinuosa. Larger oocyte sizes were found in I. sinuosa than in I. rigida, however larger planula sizes were found in I. rigida. Hermaphroditism is the exclusive sexual pattern within the Mussidae while brooding has been documented within the related genera Mussa, Scolymia and Mycetophyllia. This study represents the first description of the sexual characteristics of I. rigida and provides an updated description of I. sinuosa.

  4. Symbiont shuffling linked to differential photochemical dynamics of Symbiodinium in three Caribbean reef corals

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2018-03-01

    Dynamic symbioses with functionally diverse dinoflagellate algae in the genus Symbiodinium may allow some reef corals to alter their phenotypes through `symbiont shuffling', or changes in symbiont community composition. In particular, corals may become more bleaching resistant by increasing the relative abundance of thermally tolerant Symbiodinium in clade D after bleaching. Despite the immediate relevance of this phenomenon to corals living in warming oceans—and to interventions aimed at boosting coral resilience—the mechanisms governing how, why, and when symbiont shuffling occurs are still poorly understood. Here, we performed controlled thermal bleaching and recovery experiments on three species of Caribbean corals hosting mixtures of D1a ( S. trenchii) and other symbionts in clades B or C. We show that the degree of symbiont shuffling is related to (1) the duration of stress exposure and (2) the difference in photochemical efficiency ( F v /F m) of co-occurring symbionts under stress (i.e., the `photochemical advantage' of one symbiont over the other). The advantage of D1a under stress was greatest in Montastraea cavernosa, intermediate in Siderastrea siderea, and lowest in Orbicella faveolata and correlated positively with the magnitude of shuffling toward D1a. In holobionts where D1a had less of an advantage over co-occurring symbionts (i.e., only slightly higher F v /F m under stress), a longer stress duration was required to elicit commensurate increases in D1a abundance. In fact, across these three coral species, 92.9% of variation in the degree of symbiont shuffling could be explained by the time-integrated photochemical advantage of D1a under heat stress. Although F v /F m is governed by numerous factors that this study is unable to resolve mechanistically, its strong empirical relationship with symbiont shuffling helps elucidate general features that govern this process in reef corals, which will help refine predictions of coral responses to

  5. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Virginia H. Garrison

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1 identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2 test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3 develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community. The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs. Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs. Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate. Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place. Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only. Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10. Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are understood and

  6. Impact of herbivore identity on algal succession and coral growth on a Caribbean reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Deron E Burkepile

    2010-01-01

    Full Text Available Herbivory is an important top-down force on coral reefs that regulates macroalgal abundance, mediates competitive interactions between macroalgae and corals, and provides resilience following disturbances such as hurricanes and coral bleaching. However, reductions in herbivore diversity and abundance via disease or over-fishing may harm corals directly and may indirectly increase coral susceptibility to other disturbances.In two experiments over two years, we enclosed equivalent densities and masses of either single-species or mixed-species of herbivorous fishes in replicate, 4 m(2 cages at a depth of 17 m on a reef in the Florida Keys, USA to evaluate the effects of herbivore identity and species richness on colonization and development of macroalgal communities and the cascading effects of algae on coral growth. In Year 1, we used the redband parrotfish (Sparisoma aurofrenatum and the ocean surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus; in Year 2, we used the redband parrotfish and the princess parrotfish (Scarus taeniopterus. On new substrates, rapid grazing by ocean surgeonfish and princess parrotfish kept communities in an early successional stage dominated by short, filamentous algae and crustose coralline algae that did not suppress coral growth. In contrast, feeding by redband parrotfish allowed an accumulation of tall filaments and later successional macroalgae that suppressed coral growth. These patterns contrast with patterns from established communities not undergoing primary succession; on established substrates redband parrotfish significantly reduced upright macroalgal cover while ocean surgeonfish and princess parrotfish allowed significant increases in late successional macroalgae.This study further highlights the importance of biodiversity in affecting ecosystem function in that different species of herbivorous fishes had very different impacts on reef communities depending on the developmental stage of the community. The species

  7. ASSESSING UV IRRADIANCE IN CARIBBEAN REEF CORAL AND DNA DAMAGE IN THEIR CORAL AND ZOOXANTHELLAE

    Science.gov (United States)

    UV penetration into the water near coral reefs may be increasing as a consequence of global climate change. Calm waters associated with ENSO conditions can enhance stratification that increases the amount of photobleaching of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in surfa...

  8. Vanadium century record from Caribbean reef corals: A tracer of oil pollution in Panama

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Guzman, H.M.; Jarvis, K.E.

    1996-01-01

    The Caribbean region is potentially one of the largest oil-producing areas in the world, and contamination by petroleum is threatening the marine environment. Vanadium (V), an abundant element in crude oils, was used as proxy tracer of oil pollution along the Caribbean coast of Panama. We develop a century chronology based on the concentration of vanadium (using ICP-MS) incorporated into annual growth bands of coral skeletons. The chronology for vanadium showed a relatively clear pattern where background seawater concentrations were observed in the early history of the corals followed by an increase after 1962, the initiation of a refinery operation. The vanadium chronology suggests that a major degradation process in the coastal zone could have started around the 1960s, but we were unable to confirm such an assumption due to the lack of long-term ecological and pollution data. The gradual increase of vanadium into the marine environment might be used as a pointer to oil pollution. 46 refs, 4 figs, 1 tab

  9. Model-based assessment of the role of human-induced climate change in the 2005 Caribbean coral bleaching event

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Donner, S.D. [Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Knutson, T.R. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, NJ (United States). Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab.; Oppenheimer, M. [Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Dept. of Geosciences

    2007-03-27

    Episodes of mass coral bleaching around the world in recent decades have been attributed to periods of anomalously warm ocean temperatures. In 2005, the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in the tropical North Atlantic that may have contributed to the strong hurricane season caused widespread coral bleaching in the Eastern Caribbean. Here, the authors use two global climate models to evaluate the contribution of natural climate variability and anthropogenic forcing to the thermal stress that caused the 2005 coral bleaching event. Historical temperature data and simulations for the 1870-2000 period show that the observed warming in the region is unlikely to be due to unforced climate variability alone. Simulation of background climate variability suggests that anthropogenic warming may have increased the probability of occurrence of significant thermal stress events for corals in this region by an order of magnitude. Under scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions, mass coral bleaching in the Eastern Caribbean may become a biannual event in 20-30 years. However, if corals and their symbionts can adapt by 1-1.5{sup o}C, such mass bleaching events may not begin to recur at potentially harmful intervals until the latter half of the century. The delay could enable more time to alter the path of greenhouse gas emissions, although long-term 'committed warming' even after stabilization of atmospheric CO{sub 2} levels may still represent an additional long-term threat to corals.

  10. Bleaching Susceptibility and Recovery of Colombian Caribbean Corals in Response to Water Current Exposure and Seasonal Upwelling

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bayraktarov, Elisa; Pizarro, Valeria; Eidens, Corvin; Wilke, Thomas; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Coral bleaching events are globally occurring more frequently and with higher intensity, mainly caused by increases in seawater temperature. In Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP) in the Colombian Caribbean, local coral communities are subjected to seasonal wind-triggered upwelling events coinciding with stronger water currents depending on location. This natural phenomenon offers the unique opportunity to study potential water current-induced mitigation mechanisms of coral bleaching in an upwelling influenced region. Therefore, coral bleaching susceptibility and recovery patterns were compared during a moderate and a mild bleaching event in December 2010 and 2011, and at the end of the subsequent upwelling periods at a water current-exposed and -sheltered site of an exemplary bay using permanent transect and labeling tools. This was accompanied by parallel monitoring of key environmental variables. Findings revealed that in 2010 overall coral bleaching before upwelling was significantly higher at the sheltered (34%) compared to the exposed site (8%). Whereas 97% of all previously bleached corals at the water current-exposed site had recovered from bleaching by April 2011, only 77% recovered at the sheltered site, but 12% had died there. In December 2011, only mild bleaching (bleaching. This indicates the existence of local resilience patterns against coral bleaching in Caribbean reefs. PMID:24282551

  11. Earlier (late Pliocene) first appearance of the Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata: Stratigraphic and evolutionary implications

    Science.gov (United States)

    McNeill, Donald F.; Budd, Ann F.; Borne, Pamela F.

    1997-10-01

    An integrated stratigraphic study of reefal deposits on the Caribbean side of the Isthmus of Panama (Limon, Costa Rica) has discovered a significantly earlier first appearance of the major reef-building coral Acropora palmata. A. palmata is here reported from the early late Pliocene, constrained in age to within the Gauss chron (ca. 3.6 2.6 Ma). This coral was previously thought to have originated in the earliest Pleistocene and has subsequently been used as a Quaternary marker throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas. An earlier appearance in the southern Caribbean implies a diachronous first appearance datum relative to the northern Caribbean. This older age also places A. palmata well within the transition phase of a Pliocene (4 1 Ma) faunal turnover that was marked by widespread extinction and origination of Caribbean coral species. An early late Pliocene origination is coincident with formation of the Isthmus, climate reorganization, and frequent sea-level changes associated with onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciations. The rapid growth and accumulation rates that characterize A. palmata may therefore be adaptive to these fluctuating environmental conditions, enabling its success during the subsequent Pleistocene glacial cycles.

  12. Tissue mortality by Caribbean ciliate infection and white band disease in three reef-building coral species

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alejandra Verde

    2016-07-01

    Full Text Available Caribbean ciliate infection (CCI and white band disease (WBD are diseases that affect a multitude of coral hosts and are associated with rapid rates of tissue losses, thus contributing to declining coral cover in Caribbean reefs. In this study we compared tissue mortality rates associated to CCI in three species of corals with different growth forms: Orbicella faveolata (massive-boulder, O. annularis (massive-columnar and Acropora cervicornis (branching. We also compared mortality rates in colonies of A. cervicornis bearing WBD and CCI. The study was conducted at two locations in Los Roques Archipelago National Park between April 2012 and March 2013. In A. cervicornis, the rate of tissue loss was similar between WBD (0.8 ± 1 mm/day, mean ± SD and CCI (0.7 ± 0.9 mm/day. However, mortality rate by CCI in A. cervicornis was faster than in the massive species O. faveolata (0.5 ± 0.6 mm/day and O. annularis (0.3 ± 0.3 mm/day. Tissue regeneration was at least fifteen times slower than the mortality rates for both diseases regardless of coral species. This is the first study providing coral tissue mortality and regeneration rates associated to CCI in colonies with massive morphologies, and it highlights the risks of further cover losses of the three most important reef-building species in the Caribbean.

  13. Threatened Caribbean coral is able to mitigate the adverse effects of ocean acidification on calcification by increasing feeding rate.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Erica K Towle

    Full Text Available Global climate change threatens coral growth and reef ecosystem health via ocean warming and ocean acidification (OA. Whereas the negative impacts of these stressors are increasingly well-documented, studies identifying pathways to resilience are still poorly understood. Heterotrophy has been shown to help corals experiencing decreases in growth due to either thermal or OA stress; however, the mechanism by which it mitigates these decreases remains unclear. This study tested the ability of coral heterotrophy to mitigate reductions in growth due to climate change stress in the critically endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis via changes in feeding rate and lipid content. Corals were either fed or unfed and exposed to elevated temperature (30°C, enriched pCO2 (800 ppm, or both (30°C/800 ppm as compared to a control (26°C/390 ppm for 8 weeks. Feeding rate and lipid content both increased in corals experiencing OA vs. present-day conditions, and were significantly correlated. Fed corals were able to maintain ambient growth rates at both elevated temperature and elevated CO2, while unfed corals experienced significant decreases in growth with respect to fed conspecifics. Our results show for the first time that a threatened coral species can buffer OA-reduced calcification by increasing feeding rates and lipid content.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lugo, Ariel E.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Nixon, Scott W.

    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.

  15. Organic matter degradation drives benthic cyanobacterial mat abundance on Caribbean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brocke, Hannah J; Polerecky, Lubos; de Beer, Dirk; Weber, Miriam; Claudet, Joachim; Nugues, Maggy M

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are impacting coral reefs worldwide. However, the factors and mechanisms driving their proliferation are unclear. We conducted a multi-year survey around the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which revealed highest BCM abundance on sheltered reefs close to urbanised areas. Reefs with high BCM abundance were also characterised by high benthic cover of macroalgae and low cover of corals. Nutrient concentrations in the water-column were consistently low, but markedly increased just above substrata (both sandy and hard) covered with BCMs. This was true for sites with both high and low BCM coverage, suggesting that BCM growth is stimulated by a localised, substrate-linked release of nutrients from the microbial degradation of organic matter. This hypothesis was supported by a higher organic content in sediments on reefs with high BCM coverage, and by an in situ experiment which showed that BCMs grew within days on sediments enriched with organic matter (Spirulina). We propose that nutrient runoff from urbanised areas stimulates phototrophic blooms and enhances organic matter concentrations on the reef. This organic matter is transported by currents and settles on the seabed at sites with low hydrodynamics. Subsequently, nutrients released from the organic matter degradation fuel the growth of BCMs. Improved management of nutrients generated on land should lower organic loading of sediments and other benthos (e.g. turf and macroalgae) to reduce BCM proliferation on coral reefs.

  16. Bleaching susceptibility and recovery of Colombian Caribbean corals in response to water current exposure and seasonal upwelling.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bayraktarov, Elisa; Pizarro, Valeria; Eidens, Corvin; Wilke, Thomas; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Coral bleaching events are globally occurring more frequently and with higher intensity, mainly caused by increases in seawater temperature. In Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP) in the Colombian Caribbean, local coral communities are subjected to seasonal wind-triggered upwelling events coinciding with stronger water currents depending on location. This natural phenomenon offers the unique opportunity to study potential water current-induced mitigation mechanisms of coral bleaching in an upwelling influenced region. Therefore, coral bleaching susceptibility and recovery patterns were compared during a moderate and a mild bleaching event in December 2010 and 2011, and at the end of the subsequent upwelling periods at a water current-exposed and -sheltered site of an exemplary bay using permanent transect and labeling tools. This was accompanied by parallel monitoring of key environmental variables. Findings revealed that in 2010 overall coral bleaching before upwelling was significantly higher at the sheltered (34%) compared to the exposed site (8%). Whereas 97% of all previously bleached corals at the water current-exposed site had recovered from bleaching by April 2011, only 77% recovered at the sheltered site, but 12% had died there. In December 2011, only mild bleaching (corals recovered significantly at both sites in the course of upwelling. No differences in water temperatures between sites occurred, but water current exposure and turbidity were significantly higher at the exposed site, suggesting that these variables may be responsible for the observed site-specific mitigation of coral bleaching. This indicates the existence of local resilience patterns against coral bleaching in Caribbean reefs.

  17. Bleaching susceptibility and recovery of Colombian Caribbean corals in response to water current exposure and seasonal upwelling.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elisa Bayraktarov

    Full Text Available Coral bleaching events are globally occurring more frequently and with higher intensity, mainly caused by increases in seawater temperature. In Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP in the Colombian Caribbean, local coral communities are subjected to seasonal wind-triggered upwelling events coinciding with stronger water currents depending on location. This natural phenomenon offers the unique opportunity to study potential water current-induced mitigation mechanisms of coral bleaching in an upwelling influenced region. Therefore, coral bleaching susceptibility and recovery patterns were compared during a moderate and a mild bleaching event in December 2010 and 2011, and at the end of the subsequent upwelling periods at a water current-exposed and -sheltered site of an exemplary bay using permanent transect and labeling tools. This was accompanied by parallel monitoring of key environmental variables. Findings revealed that in 2010 overall coral bleaching before upwelling was significantly higher at the sheltered (34% compared to the exposed site (8%. Whereas 97% of all previously bleached corals at the water current-exposed site had recovered from bleaching by April 2011, only 77% recovered at the sheltered site, but 12% had died there. In December 2011, only mild bleaching (<10% at both sites was observed, but corals recovered significantly at both sites in the course of upwelling. No differences in water temperatures between sites occurred, but water current exposure and turbidity were significantly higher at the exposed site, suggesting that these variables may be responsible for the observed site-specific mitigation of coral bleaching. This indicates the existence of local resilience patterns against coral bleaching in Caribbean reefs.

  18. Physiological response of the Caribbean Coral O. annularis to Pollution Gradients

    Science.gov (United States)

    Murphy, E. L.; Sivaguru, M.; Fouke, B. W.

    2014-12-01

    Orbicella annularis is an abundant ecological cornerstone framework-building Scleractinian coral throughout the Caribbean Sea. The O. annularis holobiont (biotic and abiotic components of the coral) is negatively impacted by increased exposure to anthropogenic pollution. This is consistently evidenced by altered tissue cellular composition, and skeletal structure. The O. annularis' holobiont is weakened by increased exposure to sewage and ship bilge pollution. Pollution exposure is characterized by decreased skeletal growth, as well as decreased zooxanthellae and chromatophore tissue cell densities. Healthy colonies studied at five sites on the leeward coast of Curacao, along a systematically decreasing pollution concentration, were sampled from the back-reef depositional facies of a protected fringing reef tract. A unidirectional oceanographic current flows to the NW past the city of Willemstad, a large point source of human sewage and ship bilge. This setting creates an ideal natural laboratory for in situ experimentation that quantitatively tracks the impact to coral physiology along a gradient from unimpacted to polluted seawater. Our lab has established laser scanning microscopy for three-dimensional (3D) quantification of zooxanthellae, and chromatophore cellular tissue density. X-ray computed tomography (BioCT) was used for analysis of skeletal density. Zooxanthellae density decreased as pollution concentration increased. Chromatophore density showed no significant relationship with pollution concentration but varied dramatically within each site. This suggests zooxanthellae density is highly impacted by environmental stress while variation in chromatophore density is driven by genetic variation. These results will be used to create a new model for environmental impacts on coral physiology and skeletal growth.

  19. Cryptobiota associated to dead Acropora palmata (Scleractinia: Acroporidae coral, Isla Grande, Colombian Caribbean

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    Silvia K. Moreno-Forero

    1998-06-01

    Full Text Available Cryptobiota of dead fragments of five branches in live position and five fallen pieces of the coral Acropora palmata each one of approximate 1dm3, covered by filamentous algae were extracted from the north reef crest of Isla Grande (Colombian Caribbean, in April 1991. There were three groups of organisms according to size and position (on and within the coral: 1 mobile epibenthos, mainly microcrustaceans that live among the filamentous algae 2 boring microcryptobiota, located in the layer between the epilithic organisms and the coral skeleton itself and, 3 perforating macrocryptobionts that bore and penetrate the coral skeleton. Polychaetes, sipuncu-lids, mollusks and crustaceans were most abundant in the last group. There were no differences in macrocryptobiont composition between standing dead branches and fallen fragments. There was a large variation in total biomass and type and density of macro-cryptobionts, possibly associated to stochastic factors such as placement and thickness of branches and small scale variations in recruitmentLa criptobiota de diez fragmentos coralinos muertos de Acropora palmata, de 10 dm3 cada uno, cubiertos de algas filamentosas, se colectó en abril de 1991en la cresta arrecifal de Isla Grande (Caribe colombiano. Se halló tres grupos: 1 móviles epibentónicos asociados a las algas filamentosas y conformados principalmente por microcrustáceos; 2 microcriptobiontes perforantes, ubicados en la capa intermedia entre los organismos epilíticos y el esqueleto del coral y 3 macrocriptobiontes que perforan todo el cuerpo del esqueleto coralino (principalmente poliquetos, sipuncúlidos, moluscos y crustáceos. No se encontraron diferencias en la composición de los macrocriptobiontes que habitan los corales en posición de vida y los fragmentos caidos sobre el fondo. Se presentó una amplia variación en biomasa total, tipo y densidad de macrocriptobiontes, posiblemente asociada a factores estocásticos tales como la

  20. The etiology of white pox, a lethal disease of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Patterson, Kathryn L; Porter, James W; Ritchie, Kim B; Polson, Shawn W; Mueller, Erich; Peters, Esther C; Santavy, Deborah L; Smith, Garriet W

    2002-06-25

    Populations of the shallow-water Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, are being decimated by white pox disease, with losses of living cover in the Florida Keys typically in excess of 70%. The rate of tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2 x day(-1), and is greatest during periods of seasonally elevated temperature. In Florida, the spread of white pox fits the contagion model, with nearest neighbors most susceptible to infection. In this report, we identify a common fecal enterobacterium, Serratia marcescens, as the causal agent of white pox. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a bacterial species associated with the human gut has been shown to be a marine invertebrate pathogen.

  1. Modeled differences of coral life-history traits influence the refugium potential of a remote Caribbean reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Davies, Sarah W.; Strader, Marie E.; Kool, Johnathan T.; Kenkel, Carly D.; Matz, Mikhail V.

    2017-09-01

    Remote populations can influence connectivity and may serve as refugia from climate change. We investigated two reef-building corals ( Pseudodiploria strigosa and Orbicella franksi) from the Flower Garden Banks (FGB), the most isolated, high-latitude Caribbean reef system, which, until recently, retained high coral cover. We characterized coral size-frequency distributions, quantified larval mortality rates and onset of competence ex situ, estimated larval production, and created detailed biophysical models incorporating these parameters to evaluate the source-sink dynamics at the FGB from 2009 to 2012. Estimated mortality rates were similar between species, but pre-competency differed dramatically; P. strigosa was capable of metamorphosis within 2.5 d post-fertilization (dpf) and was competent at least until 8 dpf, while O. franksi was not competent until >20 dpf and remained competent up to 120 dpf. To explore the effect of such contrasting life histories on connectivity, we modeled larval dispersal from the FGB assuming pelagic larval durations (PLD) of either 3-20 d, approximating laboratory-measured pre-competency of P. strigosa, or 20-120 d, approximating pre-competency observed in O. franksi. Surprisingly, both models predicted similar probabilities of local retention at the FGB, either by direct rapid reseeding or via long-term persistence in the Loop Current with larvae returning to the FGB within a month. However, our models predicted that short PLDs would result in complete isolation from the rest of the Caribbean, while long PLDs allowed for larval export to more distant northern Caribbean reefs, highlighting the importance of quantifying larval pre-competency dynamics when parameterizing biophysical models to predict larval connectivity. These simulations suggest that FGB coral populations are likely to be largely self-sustaining and highlight the potential of long-PLD corals, such as endangered Orbicella, to act as larval sources for other degraded

  2. Ecological and genetic data indicate recovery of the endangered coral Acropora palmata in Los Roques, Southern Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zubillaga, A. L.; Márquez, L. M.; Cróquer, A.; Bastidas, C.

    2008-03-01

    The rapid decline of Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata has often been linked with coral reef deterioration in the Caribbean; yet, it remains controversial whether these species are currently recovering or still declining. In this study, the status of ten populations of A. palmata in Los Roques National Park (LRNP), Venezuela is presented. Six of these populations showed signs of recovery. Ten 80 m2 belt-transects were surveyed at each of the ten reef sites. Within belt-transects, each colony was measured (maximum diameter and height) and its status (healthy, diseased or injured) was recorded. Populations in recovery were defined by a dominance of small to medium-sized colonies in densities >1 colony per 10 m2, together with 75% undamaged colonies, a low prevalence of diseases (<10%), and a low density of predators (0.25 snails per colony). Based on allozyme analysis of seven polymorphic loci in four populations ( N = 30), a moderate to high-genetic connectivity among these populations ( F ST = 0.048) was found with a predominance of sexual over asexual reproduction ( N* : N = 1; N go : N = 0.93-1). Both ecological and molecular data support a good prognosis for the recovery of this species in Los Roques.

  3. Sr/Ca-Sea surface temperature calibration in the branching Caribbean coral Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gallup, Christina D.; Olson, Donna M.; Edwards, R. Lawrence; Gruhn, Leah M.; Winter, Amos; Taylor, Frederick W.

    2006-02-01

    We measured Sr/Ca ratios by thermal ionization mass spectrometry in radial and axial growth of modern Caribbean Acropora palmata corals. Comparison of our results with sea surface temperature (SST) allows radial and axial Sr/Ca-SST calibrations of Sr/Ca (mmol/mol) = 11.30 - 0.07072 × SST (°C) and Sr/Ca (mmol/mol) = 11.32 - 0.06281 x SST (°C), respectively. Application of the calibrations to fossil Acropora palmata from the last glacial maximum in Barbados (Guilderson et al., 1994) imply ~7°C cooler conditions than the present, much larger than the 1-1.5° cooling suggested by modern analog technique foraminifera-based estimates (Trend-Staid and Prell, 2002). If the foraminifera-based estimates are correct, then the excess cooling suggested by the Barbados corals could be explained by a 5% shift in the marine Sr/Ca ratio or an addition of ~20% abiotic secondary aragonite.

  4. The Effect of Ambient Temperatures of Two Threatened Caribbean Coral Species: a Proteomic Study

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricaurte, M.; Schizas, N. V.; Weil, E.; Ciborowski, P.; Boukli, N. M.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs are among the most valuable ecosystems on the earth. Increasing water temperatures as a consequence of global warming have been identified, as an overriding cause of coral decline (e.g. increased incidence of diseases, bleaching), and one of the regions that has been identified vulnerable to climatic changes, is the Caribbean. Laboratory experiments have shown negative effects of different temperatures in coral growth, larval and adult survival, and gene expression. In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis in the protein regulation during changes in temperature in the field, a comparative proteomic analysis associated with thermal fluctuations was made from wet and dry season of 2014. In the study, we investigated alterations in proteins of Acropora palmata and Orbicella faveolata by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-GE) followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, protein identification, and confirmation at the gene expression level by qRT-PCR.Proteomes of related samples demonstrated 195 differentially expressed proteins (DEP) in A. palmata during dry season and 108 (DEP) during wet season of 2014. O. faveolata overexpressed 62 (DEP) in dry season and 190 (DEP) during wet season of 2014. All proteins had a two-fold or greater change in expression due to temperature, altering several components of the cellular stress response that include chaperones, stress proteins, antioxidant enzymes, proteases, cytoskeletal and apoptosis regulating proteins. Our results suggest that A. palmata and O. faveolata display a distinct response by expressing these key protein signatures in dry and wet season. This proteomic approach may open new avenues of research to detect potential early biomarkers involved in response to these stressors, during seasonal changes in water temperatures. The results provide insight into targets and mechanistic strategies to detect potential markers involved in response to temperature change for A

  5. Geochemical signature of land-based activities in Caribbean coral surface samples

    Science.gov (United States)

    Prouty, N.G.; Hughen, K.A.; Carilli, J.

    2008-01-01

    Anthropogenic threats, such as increased sedimentation, agrochemical run-off, coastal development, tourism, and overfishing, are of great concern to the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef System (MACR). Trace metals in corals can be used to quantify and monitor the impact of these land-based activities. Surface coral samples from the MACR were investigated for trace metal signatures resulting from relative differences in water quality. Samples were analyzed at three spatial scales (colony, reef, and regional) as part of a hierarchical multi-scale survey. A primary goal of the paper is to elucidate the extrapolation of information between fine-scale variation at the colony or reef scale and broad-scale patterns at the regional scale. Of the 18 metals measured, five yielded statistical differences at the colony and/or reef scale, suggesting fine-scale spatial heterogeneity not conducive to regional interpretation. Five metals yielded a statistical difference at the regional scale with an absence of a statistical difference at either the colony or reef scale. These metals are barium (Ba), manganese (Mn), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), and antimony (Sb). The most robust geochemical indicators of land-based activities are coral Ba and Mn concentrations, which are elevated in samples from the southern region of the Gulf of Honduras relative to those from the Turneffe Islands. These findings are consistent with the occurrence of the most significant watersheds in the MACR from southern Belize to Honduras, which contribute sediment-laden freshwater to the coastal zone primarily as a result of human alteration to the landscape (e.g., deforestation and agricultural practices). Elevated levels of Cu and Sb were found in samples from Honduras and may be linked to industrial shipping activities where copper-antimony additives are commonly used in antifouling paints. Results from this study strongly demonstrate the impact of terrestrial runoff and anthropogenic activities on coastal water

  6. Archaeal and Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus of Caribbean Corals Differ in Their Degree of Host Specificity and Community Turnover Over Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Frade, Pedro R; Roll, Katharina; Bergauer, Kristin; Herndl, Gerhard J

    2016-01-01

    Comparative studies on the distribution of archaeal versus bacterial communities associated with the surface mucus layer of corals have rarely taken place. It has therefore remained enigmatic whether mucus-associated archaeal and bacterial communities exhibit a similar specificity towards coral hosts and whether they vary in the same fashion over spatial gradients and between reef locations. We used microbial community profiling (terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism, T-RFLP) and clone library sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to compare the diversity and community structure of dominant archaeal and bacterial communities associating with the mucus of three common reef-building coral species (Porites astreoides, Siderastrea siderea and Orbicella annularis) over different spatial scales on a Caribbean fringing reef. Sampling locations included three reef sites, three reef patches within each site and two depths. Reference sediment samples and ambient water were also taken for each of the 18 sampling locations resulting in a total of 239 samples. While only 41% of the bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) characterized by T-RFLP were shared between mucus and the ambient water or sediment, for archaeal OTUs this percentage was 2-fold higher (78%). About half of the mucus-associated OTUs (44% and 58% of bacterial and archaeal OTUs, respectively) were shared between the three coral species. Our multivariate statistical analysis (ANOSIM, PERMANOVA and CCA) showed that while the bacterial community composition was determined by habitat (mucus, sediment or seawater), host coral species, location and spatial distance, the archaeal community composition was solely determined by the habitat. This study highlights that mucus-associated archaeal and bacterial communities differ in their degree of community turnover over reefs and in their host-specificity.

  7. Archaeal and Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus of Caribbean Corals Differ in Their Degree of Host Specificity and Community Turnover Over Reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Pedro R Frade

    Full Text Available Comparative studies on the distribution of archaeal versus bacterial communities associated with the surface mucus layer of corals have rarely taken place. It has therefore remained enigmatic whether mucus-associated archaeal and bacterial communities exhibit a similar specificity towards coral hosts and whether they vary in the same fashion over spatial gradients and between reef locations. We used microbial community profiling (terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism, T-RFLP and clone library sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to compare the diversity and community structure of dominant archaeal and bacterial communities associating with the mucus of three common reef-building coral species (Porites astreoides, Siderastrea siderea and Orbicella annularis over different spatial scales on a Caribbean fringing reef. Sampling locations included three reef sites, three reef patches within each site and two depths. Reference sediment samples and ambient water were also taken for each of the 18 sampling locations resulting in a total of 239 samples. While only 41% of the bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs characterized by T-RFLP were shared between mucus and the ambient water or sediment, for archaeal OTUs this percentage was 2-fold higher (78%. About half of the mucus-associated OTUs (44% and 58% of bacterial and archaeal OTUs, respectively were shared between the three coral species. Our multivariate statistical analysis (ANOSIM, PERMANOVA and CCA showed that while the bacterial community composition was determined by habitat (mucus, sediment or seawater, host coral species, location and spatial distance, the archaeal community composition was solely determined by the habitat. This study highlights that mucus-associated archaeal and bacterial communities differ in their degree of community turnover over reefs and in their host-specificity.

  8. Unraveling the structure and composition of Varadero Reef, an improbable and imperiled coral reef in the Colombian Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Valeria Pizarro

    2017-12-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are commonly associated with oligotrophic, well-illuminated waters. In 2013, a healthy coral reef was discovered in one of the least expected places within the Colombian Caribbean: at the entrance of Cartagena Bay, a highly-polluted system that receives industrial and sewage waste, as well as high sediment and freshwater loads from an outlet of the Magdalena River (the longest and most populated river basin in Colombia. Here we provide the first characterization of Varadero Reef’s geomorphology and biological diversity. We also compare these characteristics with those of a nearby reference reef, Barú Reef, located in an area much less influenced by the described polluted system. Below the murky waters, we found high coral cover of 45.1% (±3.9; up to 80% in some sectors, high species diversity, including 42 species of scleractinian coral, 38 of sponge, three of lobster, and eight of sea urchin; a fish community composed of 61 species belonging to 24 families, and the typical zonation of a Caribbean fringing reef. All attributes found correspond to a reef that, according to current standards should be considered in “good condition”. Current plans to dredge part of Varadero threaten the survival of this reef. There is, therefore, an urgent need to describe the location and characteristics of Varadero as a first step towards gaining acknowledgement of its existence and garnering inherent legal and environmental protections.

  9. Downscaled projections of Caribbean coral bleaching that can inform conservation planning.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Hooidonk, Ruben; Maynard, Jeffrey Allen; Liu, Yanyun; Lee, Sang-Ki

    2015-09-01

    Projections of climate change impacts on coral reefs produced at the coarse resolution (~1°) of Global Climate Models (GCMs) have informed debate but have not helped target local management actions. Here, projections of the onset of annual coral bleaching conditions in the Caribbean under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 are produced using an ensemble of 33 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase-5 models and via dynamical and statistical downscaling. A high-resolution (~11 km) regional ocean model (MOM4.1) is used for the dynamical downscaling. For statistical downscaling, sea surface temperature (SST) means and annual cycles in all the GCMs are replaced with observed data from the ~4-km NOAA Pathfinder SST dataset. Spatial patterns in all three projections are broadly similar; the average year for the onset of annual severe bleaching is 2040-2043 for all projections. However, downscaled projections show many locations where the onset of annual severe bleaching (ASB) varies 10 or more years within a single GCM grid cell. Managers in locations where this applies (e.g., Florida, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, among others) can identify locations that represent relative albeit temporary refugia. Both downscaled projections are different for the Bahamas compared to the GCM projections. The dynamically downscaled projections suggest an earlier onset of ASB linked to projected changes in regional currents, a feature not resolved in GCMs. This result demonstrates the value of dynamical downscaling for this application and means statistically downscaled projections have to be interpreted with caution. However, aside from west of Andros Island, the projections for the two types of downscaling are mostly aligned; projected onset of ASB is within ±10 years for 72% of the reef locations. © 2015 The Authors. Global Change Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  10. Fluorescence-based classification of Caribbean coral reef organisms and substrates

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zawada, David G.; Mazel, Charles H.

    2014-01-01

    A diverse group of coral reef organisms, representing several phyla, possess fluorescent pigments. We investigated the potential of using the characteristic fluorescence emission spectra of these pigments to enable unsupervised, optical classification of coral reef habitats. We compiled a library of characteristic fluorescence spectra through in situ and laboratory measurements from a variety of specimens throughout the Caribbean. Because fluorescent pigments are not species-specific, the spectral library is organized in terms of 15 functional groups. We investigated the spectral separability of the functional groups in terms of the number of wavebands required to distinguish between them, using the similarity measures Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM), Spectral Information Divergence (SID), SID-SAM mixed measure, and Mahalanobis distance. This set of measures represents geometric, stochastic, joint geometric-stochastic, and statistical approaches to classifying spectra. Our hyperspectral fluorescence data were used to generate sets of 4-, 6-, and 8-waveband spectra, including random variations in relative signal amplitude, spectral peak shifts, and water-column attenuation. Each set consisted of 2 different band definitions: ‘optimally-picked’ and ‘evenly-spaced.’ The optimally-picked wavebands were chosen to coincide with as many peaks as possible in the functional group spectra. Reference libraries were formed from half of the spectra in each set and used for training purposes. Average classification accuracies ranged from 76.3% for SAM with 4 evenly-spaced wavebands to 93.8% for Mahalanobis distance with 8 evenly-spaced wavebands. The Mahalanobis distance consistently outperformed the other measures. In a second test, empirically-measured spectra were classified using the same reference libraries and the Mahalanobis distance for just the 8 evenly-spaced waveband case. Average classification accuracies were 84% and 87%, corresponding to the extremes in modeled

  11. Decadal- to interannual-scale source water variations in the Caribbean Sea recorded by Puerto Rican coral radiocarbon

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Kilbourne, K H; Quinn, T M; Guilderson, T P; Webb, R S; Taylor, F W

    2006-12-05

    Water that forms the Florida Current, and eventually the Gulf Stream, coalesces in the Caribbean from both subtropical and equatorial sources. The equatorial sources are made up of, in part, South Atlantic water moving northward and compensating for southward flow at depth related to meridional overturning circulation. Subtropical surface water contains relatively high amounts of radiocarbon ({sup 14}C), whereas equatorial waters are influenced by the upwelling of low {sup 14}C water and have relatively low concentrations of {sup 14}C. We use a 250-year record of {Delta}{sup 14}C in a coral from southwestern Puerto Rico along with previously published coral {Delta}{sup 14}C records as tracers of subtropical and equatorial water mixing in the northern Caribbean. Data generated in this study and from other studies indicate that the influence of either of the two water masses can change considerably on interannual to interdecadal time scales. Variability due to ocean dynamics in this region is large relative to variability caused by atmospheric {sup 14}C changes, thus masking the Suess effect at this site. A mixing model produced using coral {Delta}{sup 14}C illustrates the time varying proportion of equatorial versus subtropical waters in the northern Caribbean between 1963 and 1983. The results of the model are consistent with linkages between multidecadal thermal variability in the North Atlantic and meridional overturning circulation. Ekman transport changes related to tradewind variability are proposed as a possible mechanism to explain the observed switches between relatively low and relatively high {Delta}{sup 14}C values in the coral radiocarbon records.

  12. Rapid recovery of a coral dominated Eastern Tropical Pacific reef after experimentally produced anthropogenic disturbance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muthukrishnan, Ranjan; Fong, Peggy

    2018-05-07

    Local anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing, nutrient enrichment and increased sediment loading have been shown to push coral reefs toward greater dominance by algae. In a few cases this shift has been temporary, with the ability to recover to a healthy coral-dominated community after disturbance, suggesting some systems have considerable resilience. However, an understanding of the circumstances under which reefs may recover is only beginning to emerge. We monitored recovery of a coral-dominated reef in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) after cessation of a ∼6 month multiple stressor experiment (with herbivore exclosure, nutrient addition, and sediment addition). We observed substantial recovery from small-scale disturbances, though there were differences in both the extent and temporal dynamics of recovery between treatments. Plots that had been caged showed the largest recovery in absolute terms and recovery was quite rapid, while nutrient and sediment addition plots were slower to recover. We also observed different recovery patterns depending on the type of algae that replaced coral during or after disturbances. Macroalgae that established during manipulation were almost completely removed within 2 weeks, revealing that a significant proportion had covered still-living coral. Turf algae persisted longer, but were almost completely replaced by regenerating coral within 18 months. Very little crustose coralline algae were apparent during manipulations, but coverage did increase during recovery. This rapid recovery of corals after simulated anthropogenic disturbance to ETP reefs underscores the value of management of local stressors for short-term recovery and perhaps as a buffer for longer-term global stressors. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  13. Repopulation of Zooxanthellae in the Caribbean corals Montastraea annularis and M. faveolata following experimental and disease-associated bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Toller, W W; Rowan, R; Knowlton, N

    2001-12-01

    Caribbean corals of the Montastraea annularis species complex associate with four taxa of symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae; genus Symbiodinium) in ecologically predictable patterns. To investigate the resilience of these host-zooxanthella associations, we conducted field experiments in which we experimentally reduced the numbers of zooxanthellae (by transplanting to shallow water or by shading) and then allowed treated corals to recover. When depletion was not extreme, recovering corals generally contained the same types of zooxanthellae as they did prior to treatment. After severe depletion, however, recovering corals were always repopulated by zooxanthellae atypical for their habitat (and in some cases atypical for the coral species). These unusual zooxanthellar associations were often (but not always) established in experimentally bleached tissues even when adjacent tissues were untreated. Atypical zooxanthellae were also observed in bleached tissues of unmanipulated Montastraea with yellow-blotch disease. In colonies where unusual associations were established, the original taxa of zooxanthellae were not detected even 9 months after the end of treatment. These observations suggest that zooxanthellae in Montastraea range from fugitive opportunists and stress-tolerant generalists (Symbiodinium A and E) to narrowly adapted specialists (Symbiodinium B and C), and may undergo succession.

  14. Larval settlement preferences and post-settlement survival of the threatened Caribbean corals Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ritson-Williams, R.; Paul, Valerie J.; Arnold, S. N.; Steneck, R. S.

    2010-03-01

    The settlement specificity of two threatened Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, was tested by measuring their rates of larval metamorphosis in response to crustose coralline algae (CCA) and other substrata. In the no-choice experiments, the coral larvae were placed in six treatments: filtered seawater (FSW), a fragment of biofilmed dead skeleton of A. palmata, or a fragment of one of four species of CCA ( Hydrolithon boergesenii, Porolithon pachydermum, Paragoniolithon solubile, and Titanoderma prototypum). Within each CCA treatment, there were three different substrata on which to settle and metamorphose: (1) the CCA surface, (2) the rock under the CCA, or (3) the plastic dish. The 5-day-old larvae of both A. palmata and A. cervicornis had similar rates of total metamorphosis (all substrata combined) in every treatment (excluding FSW) even in the absence of CCA. However, there were differences in larval behavior among the CCA species since the larvae settled and metamorphosed on different substrata in the presence of different CCA species. In the no-choice experiments the larvae of both corals had higher rates of metamorphosis on the top surfaces of H. boergesenii and/or T. prototypum than on P. pachydermum. In the choice experiments, the coral larvae were offered two species of CCA in the same dish. When given a choice, both species of coral larvae had more settlement and metamorphosis on the surface of H. boergesenii or T. prototypum or clean rock than onto the surface of P. solubile. After 6 weeks in the field, transplanted A. palmata recruits had approximately 15% survival on both T. prototypum and H. boergesenii, but A. cervicornis recruits only survived on T. prototypum (13%). Some, but not all, CCA species facilitated the larval settlement and post-settlement survival of these two threatened corals, highlighting the importance of benthic community composition for successful coral recruitment.

  15. Caribbean Coral Reef, Seagrass and Mangrove Sites (CARICOMP), (NODC Accession 0000501)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity (CARICOMP) Program is a Caribbean-wide research and monitoring network of 27 marine laboratories, parks, and reserves in 17...

  16. Human sewage identified as likely source of white pox disease of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Porter, James W; Turner, Jeffrey W; Thomas, Brian J; Looney, Erin E; Luna, Trevor P; Meyers, Meredith K; Futch, J Carrie; Lipp, Erin K

    2010-05-01

    Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, has been decimated in recent years, resulting in the listing of this species as threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act. A major contributing factor in the decline of this iconic species is white pox disease. In 2002, we identified the faecal enterobacterium, Serratia marcescens, as an etiological agent for white pox. During outbreaks in 2003 a unique strain of S. marcescens was identified in both human sewage and white pox lesions. This strain (PDR60) was also identified from corallivorious snails (Coralliophila abbreviata), reef water, and two non-acroporid coral species, Siderastrea siderea and Solenastrea bournoni. Identification of PDR60 in sewage, diseased Acropora palmata and other reef invertebrates within a discrete time frame suggests a causal link between white pox and sewage contamination on reefs and supports the conclusion that humans are a likely source of this disease.

  17. Evaluation of Sr/Ca-based paleoclimate reconstructions in modern and Medieval Diploria strigosa corals in the northeastern Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Xu, Y.; Pearson, S. P.; Kilbourne, K.

    2013-12-01

    Tropical sea surface temperature (SST) has been implicated as a driver of climate changes during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, 950-1300 A.D.) but little data exists from the tropical oceans during this time period. We collected three modern and seven sub-fossil Diploria strigosa coral colonies from an overwash deposit on Anegada, British Virgin Islands (18.73 °N, 63.33 °W) in order to reconstruct climate in the northeastern Caribbean and Tropical North Atlantic during the MCA. The first step in our reconstruction was to verify the climate signal from this species at this site. We sub-sampled the modern corals along thecal walls with an average sampling resolution of 11-13 samples per year. Sr/Ca ratios measured in the sub-samples were calibrated to temperature using three different calibration techniques (ordinary least squares, reduced major axis, and weighted least squares (WLS)) on the monthly data that includes the seasonal cycles and on the monthly anomaly data. WLS regression accounts for unequal errors in the x and y terms, so we consider it the most robust technique. The WLS regression slope between gridded SST and coral Sr/Ca is similar to the previous two calibrations of this species. Mean Sr/Ca for each of the three modern corals is 8.993 × 0.004 mmol/mol, 9.127 × 0.003 mmol/mol, and 8.960 × 0.007 mmol/mol. These straddle the mean Diploria strigosa Sr/Ca found by Giry et al., (2010), 9.080 mmol/mol, at a site with nearly the same mean SST as Anegada (27.4 °C vs. 27.5 °C). The climatological seasonal cycles for SST derived from the modern corals are statistically indistinguishable from the seasonal cycles in the instrumental SST data. The coral-based seasonal cycles have ranges of 2.70 × 0.31 °C, 2.65 × 0.08 °C and 2.71 × 0.53 °C. These results indicate that this calibration can be applied to our sub-fossil coral data. We applied the WLS calibration to monthly-resolution Sr/Ca data from multiple sub-fossil corals dating to the medieval

  18. Effects of titanium dioxide (TiO2 ) nanoparticles on caribbean reef-building coral (Montastraea faveolata).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jovanović, Boris; Guzmán, Héctor M

    2014-06-01

    Increased use of manufactured titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2 ) is causing a rise in their concentration in the aquatic environment, including coral reef ecosystems. Caribbean mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) has frequently been used as a model species to study gene expression during stress and bleaching events. Specimens of M. faveolata were collected in Panama and exposed for 17 d to nano-TiO2 suspensions (0.1 mg L(-1) and 10 mg L(-1) ). Exposure to nano-TiO2 caused significant zooxanthellae expulsion in all the colonies, without mortality. Induction of the gene for heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) was observed during an early stage of exposure (day 2), indicating acute stress. However, there was no statistical difference in HSP70 expression on day 7 or 17, indicating possible coral acclimation and recovery from stress. No other genes were significantly upregulated. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis revealed that nano-TiO2 was predominantly trapped and stored within the posterior layer of the coral fragment (burrowing sponges, bacterial and fungal mats). The bioconcentration factor in the posterior layer was close to 600 after exposure to 10 mg L(-1) of nano-TiO2 for 17 d. The transient increase in HSP70, expulsion of zooxanthellae, and bioaccumulation of nano-TiO2 in the microflora of the coral colony indicate the potential of such exposure to induce stress and possibly contribute to an overall decrease in coral populations. © 2014 SETAC.

  19. Recruitment failure in Florida Keys Acropora palmata, a threatened Caribbean coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williams, D. E.; Miller, M. W.; Kramer, K. L.

    2008-09-01

    Recovery of Acropora palmata from its currently imperiled status depends on recruitment, a process which is poorly documented in existing Caribbean coral population studies. A. palmata is thought to be well adapted to proliferate through the recruitment of fragments resulting from physical disturbances, such as moderate intensity hurricanes. This study monitored fifteen 150 m2 fixed study plots on the upper Florida Keys fore-reef for asexual and sexual recruitment from 2004 to 2007. Between July and October 2005, 4 hurricanes passed by the Florida Keys, producing wind speeds on the reef tract of 23 to 33 m s-1. Surveys following the hurricanes documented an average loss of 52% estimated live tissue area within the study plots. The percentage of “branching” colonies in the population decreased from 67% to 42% while “remnant” colonies (isolated patches of tissue on standing skeleton) increased from 11% to 27%. Although some detached branches remained as loose fragments, more than 70% of the 380 fragments observed in the study plots were dead or rapidly losing tissue 3 weeks after Hurricane Dennis. Over the course of the study, only 27 fragments became attached to the substrate to form successful asexual recruits. Meanwhile, of the 18 new, small encrusting colonies that were observed in the study, only 2 were not attributable to asexual origin (i.e., remnant tissue from colonies or fragments previously observed) and are therefore possible sexual recruits. In summary, the 2005 hurricane season resulted in substantial loss of A. palmata from the upper Florida Keys fore-reef from a combination of physical removal and subsequent disease-like tissue mortality, and yielded few recruits of either sexual or asexual origin. Furthermore, the asexual and sexual fecundity of the remaining population is compromised for the near future due to the lack of branches (i.e., “asexual fecundity”) and overall loss of live tissue.

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

    KAUST Repository

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

    2013-01-01

    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

  1. The reproductive biology and early life ecology of a common Caribbean brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis (Scleractinia: Faviinae)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chamberland, Valérie F.; Snowden, Skylar; Marhaver, Kristen L.; Petersen, Dirk; Vermeij, Mark J. A.

    2017-03-01

    Despite the fact that most of the severe demographic bottlenecks in coral populations occur during their earliest life stages, information on the reproductive biology and early life history traits of many coral species is limited and often inferred from adult traits only. This study reports on several atypical aspects of the reproductive biology and early life ecology of the grooved brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis (Linnaeus, 1758), a conspicuous reef-building species on Caribbean reefs. The timing of gamete release of D. labyrinthiformis was monitored in Curaçao over eight consecutive months, and embryogenesis, planulae behavior, and settlement rates were observed and quantified. We further studied growth and symbiont acquisition in juvenile D. labyrinthiformis for 3.5 yr and compared settler survival under ambient and nutrient-enriched conditions in situ. Notably, D. labyrinthiformis reproduced during daylight hours in six consecutive monthly spawning events between May and September 2013, with a peak in June. This is the largest number of reproductive events per year ever observed in a broadcast-spawning Caribbean coral species. In settlement experiments, D. labyrinthiformis planulae swam to the bottom of culture containers 13 h after spawning and rapidly settled when provided with settlement cues (42% within 14 h). After 5 months, the survival and growth rates of settled juveniles were 3.7 and 1.9 times higher, respectively, for settlers that acquired zooxanthellae within 1 month after settlement, compared to those that acquired symbionts later on. Nutrient enrichment increased settler survival fourfold, but only for settlers that had acquired symbionts within 1 month after settlement. With at least six reproductive events per year, a short planktonic larval phase, high settlement rates, and a positive response to nutrient enrichment, the broadcast-spawning species D. labyrinthiformis displays a range of reproductive and early life-history traits that

  2. Effects of macroalgae, with emphasis on Sargassum spp., on coral reef recruitment processes in Martinique (French West Indies)

    OpenAIRE

    Thabard, Marie

    2012-01-01

    Many coral reef ecosystems have undergone profound ecological changes over the past decades leading sometimes to a shift from coral to macroalgal-dominated areas. In Martinique (Caribbean region), the proliferation of macroalgae is an important phenomenon. Coral reef resilience, involving reef building species recruitment, might be modified by macroalgal presence. This work aimed at understanding reef recruitment processes in areas dominated either by macroalgae, coral or intermediate, based ...

  3. The functional value of Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats to ecosystem processes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harborne, Alastair R; Mumby, Peter J; Micheli, Fiorenza; Perry, Christopher T; Dahlgren, Craig P; Holmes, Katherine E; Brumbaugh, Daniel R

    2006-01-01

    Caribbean coral reef habitats, seagrass beds and mangroves provide important goods and services both individually and through functional linkages. A range of anthropogenic factors are threatening the ecological and economic importance of these habitats and it is vital to understand how ecosystem processes vary across seascapes. A greater understanding of processes will facilitate further insight into the effects of disturbances and assist with assessing management options. Despite the need to study processes across whole seascapes, few spatially explicit ecosystem-scale assessments exist. We review the empirical literature to examine the role of different habitat types for a range of processes. The importance of each of 10 generic habitats to each process is defined as its "functional value" (none, low, medium or high), quantitatively derived from published data wherever possible and summarised in a single figure. This summary represents the first time the importance of habitats across an entire Caribbean seascape has been assessed for a range of processes. Furthermore, we review the susceptibility of each habitat to disturbances to investigate spatial patterns that might affect functional values. Habitat types are considered at the scale discriminated by remotely-sensed imagery and we envisage that functional values can be combined with habitat maps to provide spatially explicit information on processes across ecosystems. We provide examples of mapping the functional values of habitats for populations of three commercially important species. The resulting data layers were then used to generate seascape-scale assessments of "hot spots" of functional value that might be considered priorities for conservation. We also provide an example of how the literature reviewed here can be used to parameterise a habitat-specific model investigating reef resilience under different scenarios of herbivory. Finally, we use multidimensional scaling to provide a basic analysis of the

  4. Diurnal observations on the behavioral ecology of Gymnothorax moringa (Cuvier) and Muraena miliaris (Kaup) on a Caribbean coral reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Abrams, R. W.; Abrams, M. D.; Schein, M. W.

    1983-09-01

    Activities of muraenids, primarily Gymnothorax moringa and Muraena miliaris, were observed on a Caribbean coral reef with a view to further understanding their role in the reef ecosystem. Other muraenid species included in the total of 198 sightings were Echidna catenata, Enchelycore nigricans, and an unidentified brown moray. The five species were unequally distributed among three basic habitats (sand, coral head, reef rock) available on the reef. Nine particular holes accounted for 52.5% of the total sightings, although hundreds of other seemingly appropriate sites were available. The eels (except M. miliaris) were transient with respect to given holes and particular sections of the reef. While some G. moringa were sighted in the same holes for several consecutive days, M. miliaris individuals remained in the same coral heads throughout the 6-week study period. Muraenids observed in this study showed high tolerances for and were tolerated by other fishes (including other morays) and invertebrates on the reef. They appeared to be opportunistic, roving predators and were not strictly nocturnal. Distinct behavioral interactions and displays between muraenids and reef fish were observed.

  5. Dominance of Endozoicomonas bacteria throughout coral bleaching and mortality suggests structural inflexibility of the Pocillopora verrucosa microbiome

    KAUST Repository

    Pogoreutz, Claudia; Radecker, Nils; Cardenas, Anny; Gä rdes, Astrid; Wild, Christian; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2018-01-01

    sequences. This dominance of Endozoicomonas even under conditions of coral bleaching and mortality suggests the bacterial community of P. verrucosa may be rather inflexible and thereby unable to respond or acclimatize to rapid changes in the environment

  6. DOC concentrations across a depth-dependent light gradient on a Caribbean coral reef

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Mueller, Benjamin; Meesters, Erik H.; Duyl, Van Fleur C.

    2017-01-01

    Photosynthates released by benthic primary producers (BPP), such as reef algae and scleractinian corals, fuel the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) production on tropical coral reefs. DOC concentrations near BPP have repeatedly been observed to be elevated compared to those in the surrounding water

  7. Ocean acidification effects on calcification in pCO2 acclimated Caribbean scleractinian coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ocean acidification (OA) is projected to increase the acidity of coral reef habitats 2-3 times that of present day pCO2 levels. Many studies have shown the adverse effects on scleractinian calcification when exposed to elevated pCO2 levels, however, in these studies, corals have ...

  8. The cumulative impact of annual coral bleaching can turn some coral species winners into losers.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Grottoli, Andréa G; Warner, Mark E; Levas, Stephen J; Aschaffenburg, Matthew D; Schoepf, Verena; McGinley, Michael; Baumann, Justin; Matsui, Yohei

    2014-12-01

    Mass coral bleaching events caused by elevated seawater temperatures result in extensive coral loss throughout the tropics, and are projected to increase in frequency and severity. If bleaching becomes an annual event later in this century, more than 90% of coral reefs worldwide may be at risk of long-term degradation. While corals can recover from single isolated bleaching and can acclimate to recurring bleaching events that are separated by multiple years, it is currently unknown if and how they will survive and possibly acclimatize to annual coral bleaching. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that annual coral bleaching can dramatically alter thermal tolerance in Caribbean corals. We found that high coral energy reserves and changes in the dominant algal endosymbiont type (Symbiodinium spp.) facilitated rapid acclimation in Porites divaricata, whereas low energy reserves and a lack of algal phenotypic plasticity significantly increased susceptibility in Porites astreoides to bleaching the following year. Phenotypic plasticity in the dominant endosymbiont type of Orbicella faveolata did not prevent repeat bleaching, but may have facilitated rapid recovery. Thus, coral holobiont response to an isolated single bleaching event is not an accurate predictor of its response to bleaching the following year. Rather, the cumulative impact of annual coral bleaching can turn some coral species 'winners' into 'losers', and can also facilitate acclimation and turn some coral species 'losers' into 'winners'. Overall, these findings indicate that cumulative impact of annual coral bleaching could result in some species becoming increasingly susceptible to bleaching and face a long-term decline, while phenotypically plastic coral species will acclimatize and persist. Thus, annual coral bleaching and recovery could contribute to the selective loss of coral diversity as well as the overall decline of coral reefs in the Caribbean. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  9. Natural disease resistance in threatened staghorn corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Steven V Vollmer

    Full Text Available Disease epidemics have caused extensive damage to tropical coral reefs and to the reef-building corals themselves, yet nothing is known about the abilities of the coral host to resist disease infection. Understanding the potential for natural disease resistance in corals is critically important, especially in the Caribbean where the two ecologically dominant shallow-water corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have suffered an unprecedented mass die-off due to White Band Disease (WBD, and are now listed as threatened under the US Threatened Species Act and as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List criteria. Here we examine the potential for natural resistance to WBD in the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis by combining microsatellite genotype information with in situ transmission assays and field monitoring of WBD on tagged genotypes. We show that six percent of staghorn coral genotypes (3 out of 49 are resistant to WBD. This natural resistance to WBD in staghorn corals represents the first evidence of host disease resistance in scleractinian corals and demonstrates that staghorn corals have an innate ability to resist WBD infection. These resistant staghorn coral genotypes may explain why pockets of Acropora have been able to survive the WBD epidemic. Understanding disease resistance in these corals may be the critical link to restoring populations of these once dominant corals throughout their range.

  10. Comparative Use of a Caribbean Mesophotic Coral Ecosystem and Association with Fish Spawning Aggregations by Three Species of Shark.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alexandria E Pickard

    Full Text Available Understanding of species interactions within mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; ~ 30-150 m lags well behind that for shallow coral reefs. MCEs are often sites of fish spawning aggregations (FSAs for a variety of species, including many groupers. Such reproductive fish aggregations represent temporal concentrations of potential prey that may be drivers of habitat use by predatory species, including sharks. We investigated movements of three species of sharks within a MCE and in relation to FSAs located on the shelf edge south of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. Movements of 17 tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier, seven lemon (Negaprion brevirostris, and six Caribbean reef (Carcharhinus perezi sharks tagged with acoustic transmitters were monitored within the MCE using an array of acoustic receivers spanning an area of 1,060 km2 over a five year period. Receivers were concentrated around prominent grouper FSAs to monitor movements of sharks in relation to these temporally transient aggregations. Over 130,000 detections of telemetered sharks were recorded, with four sharks tracked in excess of 3 years. All three shark species were present within the MCE over long periods of time and detected frequently at FSAs, but patterns of MCE use and orientation towards FSAs varied both spatially and temporally among species. Lemon sharks moved over a large expanse of the MCE, but concentrated their activities around FSAs during grouper spawning and were present within the MCE significantly more during grouper spawning season. Caribbean reef sharks were present within a restricted portion of the MCE for prolonged periods of time, but were also absent for long periods. Tiger sharks were detected throughout the extent of the acoustic array, with the MCE representing only portion of their habitat use, although a high degree of individual variation was observed. Our findings indicate that although patterns of use varied, all three species of sharks repeatedly

  11. Comparative Use of a Caribbean Mesophotic Coral Ecosystem and Association with Fish Spawning Aggregations by Three Species of Shark.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pickard, Alexandria E; Vaudo, Jeremy J; Wetherbee, Bradley M; Nemeth, Richard S; Blondeau, Jeremiah B; Kadison, Elizabeth A; Shivji, Mahmood S

    2016-01-01

    Understanding of species interactions within mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; ~ 30-150 m) lags well behind that for shallow coral reefs. MCEs are often sites of fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) for a variety of species, including many groupers. Such reproductive fish aggregations represent temporal concentrations of potential prey that may be drivers of habitat use by predatory species, including sharks. We investigated movements of three species of sharks within a MCE and in relation to FSAs located on the shelf edge south of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. Movements of 17 tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), seven lemon (Negaprion brevirostris), and six Caribbean reef (Carcharhinus perezi) sharks tagged with acoustic transmitters were monitored within the MCE using an array of acoustic receivers spanning an area of 1,060 km2 over a five year period. Receivers were concentrated around prominent grouper FSAs to monitor movements of sharks in relation to these temporally transient aggregations. Over 130,000 detections of telemetered sharks were recorded, with four sharks tracked in excess of 3 years. All three shark species were present within the MCE over long periods of time and detected frequently at FSAs, but patterns of MCE use and orientation towards FSAs varied both spatially and temporally among species. Lemon sharks moved over a large expanse of the MCE, but concentrated their activities around FSAs during grouper spawning and were present within the MCE significantly more during grouper spawning season. Caribbean reef sharks were present within a restricted portion of the MCE for prolonged periods of time, but were also absent for long periods. Tiger sharks were detected throughout the extent of the acoustic array, with the MCE representing only portion of their habitat use, although a high degree of individual variation was observed. Our findings indicate that although patterns of use varied, all three species of sharks repeatedly utilized the MCE and

  12. Coral life history and symbiosis: Functional genomic resources for two reef building Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Szmant Alina M

    2008-02-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Scleractinian corals are the foundation of reef ecosystems in tropical marine environments. Their great success is due to interactions with endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp., with which they are obligately symbiotic. To develop a foundation for studying coral biology and coral symbiosis, we have constructed a set of cDNA libraries and generated and annotated ESTs from two species of corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata. Results We generated 14,588 (Ap and 3,854 (Mf high quality ESTs from five life history/symbiosis stages (spawned eggs, early-stage planula larvae, late-stage planula larvae either infected with symbionts or uninfected, and adult coral. The ESTs assembled into a set of primarily stage-specific clusters, producing 4,980 (Ap, and 1,732 (Mf unigenes. The egg stage library, relative to the other developmental stages, was enriched in genes functioning in cell division and proliferation, transcription, signal transduction, and regulation of protein function. Fifteen unigenes were identified as candidate symbiosis-related genes as they were expressed in all libraries constructed from the symbiotic stages and were absent from all of the non symbiotic stages. These include several DNA interacting proteins, and one highly expressed unigene (containing 17 cDNAs with no significant protein-coding region. A significant number of unigenes (25 encode potential pattern recognition receptors (lectins, scavenger receptors, and others, as well as genes that may function in signaling pathways involved in innate immune responses (toll-like signaling, NFkB p105, and MAP kinases. Comparison between the A. palmata and an A. millepora EST dataset identified ferritin as a highly expressed gene in both datasets that appears to be undergoing adaptive evolution. Five unigenes appear to be restricted to the Scleractinia, as they had no homology to any sequences in the nr databases nor to the non

  13. Coral life history and symbiosis: functional genomic resources for two reef building Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schwarz, Jodi A; Brokstein, Peter B; Voolstra, Christian; Terry, Astrid Y; Manohar, Chitra F; Miller, David J; Szmant, Alina M; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Medina, Mónica

    2008-02-25

    Scleractinian corals are the foundation of reef ecosystems in tropical marine environments. Their great success is due to interactions with endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.), with which they are obligately symbiotic. To develop a foundation for studying coral biology and coral symbiosis, we have constructed a set of cDNA libraries and generated and annotated ESTs from two species of corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata. We generated 14,588 (Ap) and 3,854 (Mf) high quality ESTs from five life history/symbiosis stages (spawned eggs, early-stage planula larvae, late-stage planula larvae either infected with symbionts or uninfected, and adult coral). The ESTs assembled into a set of primarily stage-specific clusters, producing 4,980 (Ap), and 1,732 (Mf) unigenes. The egg stage library, relative to the other developmental stages, was enriched in genes functioning in cell division and proliferation, transcription, signal transduction, and regulation of protein function. Fifteen unigenes were identified as candidate symbiosis-related genes as they were expressed in all libraries constructed from the symbiotic stages and were absent from all of the non symbiotic stages. These include several DNA interacting proteins, and one highly expressed unigene (containing 17 cDNAs) with no significant protein-coding region. A significant number of unigenes (25) encode potential pattern recognition receptors (lectins, scavenger receptors, and others), as well as genes that may function in signaling pathways involved in innate immune responses (toll-like signaling, NFkB p105, and MAP kinases). Comparison between the A. palmata and an A. millepora EST dataset identified ferritin as a highly expressed gene in both datasets that appears to be undergoing adaptive evolution. Five unigenes appear to be restricted to the Scleractinia, as they had no homology to any sequences in the nr databases nor to the non-scleractinian cnidarians Nematostella vectensis and

  14. Effects of trap fishing on coral reefs and associated habitats in the US Caribbean

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — We are conducting surveys of trap distributions, targeted habitats, trap damage to coral reefs and associated habitats, and spatial/temporal distribution of catches....

  15. Spatial and temporal distribution of the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans in coral reefs of Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombian Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bayraktarov, Elisa; Alarcón-Moscoso, Javier; Polanco F, Andrea; Wild, Christian

    2014-01-01

    The lionfish Pterois volitans is an invasive species throughout the Western Atlantic that disturbs functioning of local ecosystems such as coral reefs via fast and intense consumption of small fish and invertebrates. In 2009, lionfish populated the bays of Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP), a biodiversity hotspot in the Colombian Caribbean that is strongly influenced by changing environmental conditions due to a rainy and dry season. So far, the spatial and temporal distribution of P. volitans in the bays of TNNP is unknown. Therefore, this study assessed the abundance and body lengths of P. volitans during monthly surveys throughout the year 2012 in four bays (thereof two bays where lionfish removals were undertaken) of TNNP at 10 m water depth in coral reefs using transect tools. Findings revealed lionfish abundances of 2.9 ± 0.9 individuals ha(-1) with lengths of 20-25 cm for TNNP, hinting to an established, mostly adult local population. Actual TNNP lionfish abundances are thereby very similar to those at Indo-Pacific reef locations where the invasive lionfish formerly originated from. Significant spatial differences for lionfish abundances and body lengths between different bays in TNNP suggest habitat preferences of P. volitans depending on age. Lionfish abundances were highly variable over time, but without significant differences between seasons. Removals could not reduce lionfish abundances significantly during the period of study. This study therefore recommends improved management actions in order to control the already established invasive lionfish population in TNNP.

  16. Spatial and temporal distribution of the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans in coral reefs of Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombian Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elisa Bayraktarov

    2014-05-01

    Full Text Available The lionfish Pterois volitans is an invasive species throughout the Western Atlantic that disturbs functioning of local ecosystems such as coral reefs via fast and intense consumption of small fish and invertebrates. In 2009, lionfish populated the bays of Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP, a biodiversity hotspot in the Colombian Caribbean that is strongly influenced by changing environmental conditions due to a rainy and dry season. So far, the spatial and temporal distribution of P. volitans in the bays of TNNP is unknown. Therefore, this study assessed the abundance and body lengths of P. volitans during monthly surveys throughout the year 2012 in four bays (thereof two bays where lionfish removals were undertaken of TNNP at 10 m water depth in coral reefs using transect tools. Findings revealed lionfish abundances of 2.9 ± 0.9 individuals ha−1 with lengths of 20–25 cm for TNNP, hinting to an established, mostly adult local population. Actual TNNP lionfish abundances are thereby very similar to those at Indo–Pacific reef locations where the invasive lionfish formerly originated from. Significant spatial differences for lionfish abundances and body lengths between different bays in TNNP suggest habitat preferences of P. volitans depending on age. Lionfish abundances were highly variable over time, but without significant differences between seasons. Removals could not reduce lionfish abundances significantly during the period of study. This study therefore recommends improved management actions in order to control the already established invasive lionfish population in TNNP.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. A connection between colony biomass and death in Caribbean reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Daniel J Thornhill

    Full Text Available Increased sea-surface temperatures linked to warming climate threaten coral reef ecosystems globally. To better understand how corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp. respond to environmental change, tissue biomass and Symbiodinium density of seven coral species were measured on various reefs approximately every four months for up to thirteen years in the Upper Florida Keys, United States (1994-2007, eleven years in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas (1995-2006, and four years in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (2003-2007. For six out of seven coral species, tissue biomass correlated with Symbiodinium density. Within a particular coral species, tissue biomasses and Symbiodinium densities varied regionally according to the following trends: Mexico≥Florida Keys≥Bahamas. Average tissue biomasses and symbiont cell densities were generally higher in shallow habitats (1-4 m compared to deeper-dwelling conspecifics (12-15 m. Most colonies that were sampled displayed seasonal fluctuations in biomass and endosymbiont density related to annual temperature variations. During the bleaching episodes of 1998 and 2005, five out of seven species that were exposed to unusually high temperatures exhibited significant decreases in symbiotic algae that, in certain cases, preceded further decreases in tissue biomass. Following bleaching, Montastraea spp. colonies with low relative biomass levels died, whereas colonies with higher biomass levels survived. Bleaching- or disease-associated mortality was also observed in Acropora cervicornis colonies; compared to A. palmata, all A. cervicornis colonies experienced low biomass values. Such patterns suggest that Montastraea spp. and possibly other coral species with relatively low biomass experience increased susceptibility to death following bleaching or other stressors than do conspecifics with higher tissue biomass levels.

  20. A connection between colony biomass and death in Caribbean reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thornhill, Daniel J; Rotjan, Randi D; Todd, Brian D; Chilcoat, Geoff C; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Kemp, Dustin W; LaJeunesse, Todd C; Reynolds, Jennifer McCabe; Schmidt, Gregory W; Shannon, Thomas; Warner, Mark E; Fitt, William K

    2011-01-01

    Increased sea-surface temperatures linked to warming climate threaten coral reef ecosystems globally. To better understand how corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.) respond to environmental change, tissue biomass and Symbiodinium density of seven coral species were measured on various reefs approximately every four months for up to thirteen years in the Upper Florida Keys, United States (1994-2007), eleven years in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas (1995-2006), and four years in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (2003-2007). For six out of seven coral species, tissue biomass correlated with Symbiodinium density. Within a particular coral species, tissue biomasses and Symbiodinium densities varied regionally according to the following trends: Mexico≥Florida Keys≥Bahamas. Average tissue biomasses and symbiont cell densities were generally higher in shallow habitats (1-4 m) compared to deeper-dwelling conspecifics (12-15 m). Most colonies that were sampled displayed seasonal fluctuations in biomass and endosymbiont density related to annual temperature variations. During the bleaching episodes of 1998 and 2005, five out of seven species that were exposed to unusually high temperatures exhibited significant decreases in symbiotic algae that, in certain cases, preceded further decreases in tissue biomass. Following bleaching, Montastraea spp. colonies with low relative biomass levels died, whereas colonies with higher biomass levels survived. Bleaching- or disease-associated mortality was also observed in Acropora cervicornis colonies; compared to A. palmata, all A. cervicornis colonies experienced low biomass values. Such patterns suggest that Montastraea spp. and possibly other coral species with relatively low biomass experience increased susceptibility to death following bleaching or other stressors than do conspecifics with higher tissue biomass levels. © 2011 Thornhill et al.

  1. Ocean acidification compromises recruitment success of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Albright, Rebecca; Mason, Benjamin; Miller, Margaret; Langdon, Chris

    2010-11-23

    Ocean acidification (OA) refers to the ongoing decline in oceanic pH resulting from the uptake of atmospheric CO(2). Mounting experimental evidence suggests that OA will have negative consequences for a variety of marine organisms. Whereas the effect of OA on the calcification of adult reef corals is increasingly well documented, effects on early life history stages are largely unknown. Coral recruitment, which necessitates successful fertilization, larval settlement, and postsettlement growth and survivorship, is critical to the persistence and resilience of coral reefs. To determine whether OA threatens successful sexual recruitment of reef-building corals, we tested fertilization, settlement, and postsettlement growth of Acropora palmata at pCO(2) levels that represent average ambient conditions during coral spawning (∼400 μatm) and the range of pCO(2) increases that are expected to occur in this century [∼560 μatm (mid-CO(2)) and ∼800 μatm (high-CO(2))]. Fertilization, settlement, and growth were all negatively impacted by increasing pCO(2), and impairment of fertilization was exacerbated at lower sperm concentrations. The cumulative impact of OA on fertilization and settlement success is an estimated 52% and 73% reduction in the number of larval settlers on the reef under pCO(2) conditions projected for the middle and the end of this century, respectively. Additional declines of 39% (mid-CO(2)) and 50% (high-CO(2)) were observed in postsettlement linear extension rates relative to controls. These results suggest that OA has the potential to impact multiple, sequential early life history stages, thereby severely compromising sexual recruitment and the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance.

  2. Genetic variation within Symbiodinium clade B from the coral genus Madracis in the Caribbean (Netherlands Antilles)

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Diekmann, O.E.; Olsen, J.L.; Stam, W.T.; Bak, R.P M

    The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region was sequenced in symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae) from five morphospecies in the genus Madracis. The phylogeny of the symbionts is congruent with a companion phylogeny of the coral host. Comparison with known clade B symbiont ITS types reveals

  3. Effect of light availability on dissolved organic carbon release by Caribbean reef algae and corals

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Mueller, B.; van der Zande, R.M.; van Leent, P.J.M.; Meesters, E.H.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; van Duyl, F.C.

    2014-01-01

    Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release of three algal and two coral species was determined at three light intensities (0, 30–80, and 200–400 µmol photons m–2 s–1) in ex situ incubations to quantify the effect of light availability on DOC release by reef primary producers. DOC release of three

  4. Host population genetic structure and zooxanthellae diversity of two reef-building coral species along the Florida Reef Tract and wider Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, I. B.; Johnson, M. E.; Devlin-Durante, M. K.; Miller, M. W.

    2010-12-01

    In preparation for a large-scale coral restoration project, we surveyed host population genetic structure and symbiont diversity of two reef-building corals in four reef zones along the Florida reef tract (FRT). There was no evidence for coral population subdivision along the FRT in Acropora cervicornis or Montastraea faveolata based on microsatellite markers. However, in A. cervicornis, significant genetic differentiation was apparent when extending the analysis to broader scales (Caribbean). Clade diversity of the zooxanthellae differed along the FRT. A. cervicornis harbored mostly clade A with clade D zooxanthellae being prominent in colonies growing inshore and in the mid-channel zones that experience greater temperature fluctuations and receive significant nutrient and sediment input. M. faveolata harbored a more diverse array of symbionts, and variation in symbiont diversity among four habitat zones was more subtle but still significant. Implications of these results are discussed for ongoing restoration and conservation work.

  5. Snapping shrimp sound production patterns on Caribbean coral reefs: relationships with celestial cycles and environmental variables

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lillis, Ashlee; Mooney, T. Aran

    2018-06-01

    The rich acoustic environment of coral reefs, including the sounds of a variety of fish and invertebrates, is a reflection of the structural complexity and biological diversity of these habitats. Emerging interest in applying passive acoustic monitoring and soundscape analysis to measure coral reef habitat characteristics and track ecological patterns is hindered by a poor understanding of the most common and abundant sound producers on reefs—the snapping shrimp. Here, we sought to address several basic biophysical drivers of reef sound by investigating acoustic activity patterns of snapping shrimp populations on two adjacent coral reefs using a detailed snap detection analysis routine to a high-resolution 2.5-month acoustic dataset from the US Virgin Islands. The reefs exhibited strong diel and lunar periodicity in snap rates and clear spatial differences in snapping levels. Snap rates peaked at dawn and dusk and were higher overall during daytime versus nighttime, a seldom-reported pattern in earlier descriptions of diel snapping shrimp acoustic activity. Small differences between the sites in snap rate rhythms were detected and illustrate how analyses of specific soundscape elements might reveal subtle between-reef variation. Snap rates were highly correlated with environmental variables, including water temperature and light, and were found to be sensitive to changes in oceanographic forcing. This study further establishes snapping shrimp as key players in the coral reef chorus and provides evidence that their acoustic output reflects a combination of environmental conditions, celestial influences, and spatial habitat variation. Effective application of passive acoustic monitoring in coral reef habitats using snap rates or snapping-influenced acoustic metrics will require a mechanistic understanding of the underlying spatial and temporal variation in snapping shrimp sound production across multiple scales.

  6. A survey of cellular reactions to environmental stress and disease in Caribbean scleractinian corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Peters, Esther C.

    1984-03-01

    Despite growing concern about the demise of coral reefs in many areas of the world, few studies have investigated the possibility that bacteria- or virus-caused diseases may be important agents in the disappearance of living coral tissue from reefs, and that their occurrence and transmission may be influenced by natural or man-made changes in water quality, particularly increased sedimentation and turbidity. One forereef site off St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands, and three shallow-water reef sites off Puerto Rico were examined for variations in coral composition, local environmental conditions, and the presence of possible diseases in the stony corals. Visual observations were supplemented with standard histopathological examination under the light microscope of tissues from 257 specimens (representing 9 genera and 13 species), along with additional samples obtained from the Netherlands Antilles, the Grenadines, the Florida Keys and the Smithsonian Coral Reef Microcosm. This procedure proved to be necessary to accurately determine the condition of the colony, to detect the presence of microorganisms, and to correlate tissue health and microparasite infestations with apparent symptoms. These lesions varied with the species and the site. For example, off Guayanilla Bay, three species showed increased or decreased mucosecretory cell development, and another exhibited an unusual microparasite, which may be related to the chronic sedimentation at this site. Although colonies of several species showed signs of “white band disease” at five locations, bacterial colonies composed of Gram-negative rods were present only in acroporid tissues from the relatively pristine St. Croix site and the Netherlands Antilles. The distribution and possible mode of occurrence of these and other diseases and microparasite infestations suggest that acute changes in microhabitat conditions or injuries to individual colonies may be as important to the development of some of these lesions as

  7. Preserving and using germplasm and dissociated embryonic cells for conserving Caribbean and Pacific coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hagedorn, Mary; Carter, Virginia; Martorana, Kelly; Paresa, Malia K; Acker, Jason; Baums, Iliana B; Borneman, Eric; Brittsan, Michael; Byers, Michael; Henley, Michael; Laterveer, Michael; Leong, Jo-Ann; McCarthy, Megan; Meyers, Stuart; Nelson, Brian D; Petersen, Dirk; Tiersch, Terrence; Uribe, Rafael Cuevas; Woods, Erik; Wildt, David

    2012-01-01

    Coral reefs are experiencing unprecedented degradation due to human activities, and protecting specific reef habitats may not stop this decline, because the most serious threats are global (i.e., climate change), not local. However, ex situ preservation practices can provide safeguards for coral reef conservation. Specifically, modern advances in cryobiology and genome banking could secure existing species and genetic diversity until genotypes can be introduced into rehabilitated habitats. We assessed the feasibility of recovering viable sperm and embryonic cells post-thaw from two coral species, Acropora palmata and Fungia scutaria that have diffferent evolutionary histories, ecological niches and reproductive strategies. In vitro fertilization (IVF) of conspecific eggs using fresh (control) spermatozoa revealed high levels of fertilization (>90% in A. palmata; >84% in F. scutaria; P>0.05) that were unaffected by tested sperm concentrations. A solution of 10% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) at cooling rates of 20 to 30°C/min most successfully cryopreserved both A. palmata and F. scutaria spermatozoa and allowed producing developing larvae in vitro. IVF success under these conditions was 65% in A. palmata and 53% in F. scutaria on particular nights; however, on subsequent nights, the same process resulted in little or no IVF success. Thus, the window for optimal freezing of high quality spermatozoa was short (∼5 h for one night each spawning cycle). Additionally, cryopreserved F. scutaria embryonic cells had∼50% post-thaw viability as measured by intact membranes. Thus, despite some differences between species, coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells are viable after low temperature (-196°C) storage, preservation and thawing. Based on these results, we have begun systematically banking coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells on a large-scale as a support approach for preserving existing bio- and genetic diversity found in reef systems.

  8. Preserving and using germplasm and dissociated embryonic cells for conserving Caribbean and Pacific coral.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mary Hagedorn

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are experiencing unprecedented degradation due to human activities, and protecting specific reef habitats may not stop this decline, because the most serious threats are global (i.e., climate change, not local. However, ex situ preservation practices can provide safeguards for coral reef conservation. Specifically, modern advances in cryobiology and genome banking could secure existing species and genetic diversity until genotypes can be introduced into rehabilitated habitats. We assessed the feasibility of recovering viable sperm and embryonic cells post-thaw from two coral species, Acropora palmata and Fungia scutaria that have diffferent evolutionary histories, ecological niches and reproductive strategies. In vitro fertilization (IVF of conspecific eggs using fresh (control spermatozoa revealed high levels of fertilization (>90% in A. palmata; >84% in F. scutaria; P>0.05 that were unaffected by tested sperm concentrations. A solution of 10% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO at cooling rates of 20 to 30°C/min most successfully cryopreserved both A. palmata and F. scutaria spermatozoa and allowed producing developing larvae in vitro. IVF success under these conditions was 65% in A. palmata and 53% in F. scutaria on particular nights; however, on subsequent nights, the same process resulted in little or no IVF success. Thus, the window for optimal freezing of high quality spermatozoa was short (∼5 h for one night each spawning cycle. Additionally, cryopreserved F. scutaria embryonic cells had∼50% post-thaw viability as measured by intact membranes. Thus, despite some differences between species, coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells are viable after low temperature (-196°C storage, preservation and thawing. Based on these results, we have begun systematically banking coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells on a large-scale as a support approach for preserving existing bio- and genetic diversity found in reef systems.

  9. Dominance of Endozoicomonas bacteria throughout coral bleaching and mortality suggests structural inflexibility of the Pocillopora verrucosa microbiome.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pogoreutz, Claudia; Rädecker, Nils; Cárdenas, Anny; Gärdes, Astrid; Wild, Christian; Voolstra, Christian R

    2018-02-01

    The importance of Symbiodinium algal endosymbionts and a diverse suite of bacteria for coral holobiont health and functioning are widely acknowledged. Yet, we know surprisingly little about microbial community dynamics and the stability of host-microbe associations under adverse environmental conditions. To gain insight into the stability of coral host-microbe associations and holobiont structure, we assessed changes in the community structure of Symbiodinium and bacteria associated with the coral Pocillopora verrucosa under excess organic nutrient conditions. Pocillopora -associated microbial communities were monitored over 14 days in two independent experiments. We assessed the effect of excess dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) and excess dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Exposure to excess nutrients rapidly affected coral health, resulting in two distinct stress phenotypes: coral bleaching under excess DOC and severe tissue sloughing (>90% tissue loss resulting in host mortality) under excess DON. These phenotypes were accompanied by structural changes in the Symbiodinium community. In contrast, the associated bacterial community remained remarkably stable and was dominated by two Endozoicomonas phylotypes, comprising on average 90% of 16S rRNA gene sequences. This dominance of Endozoicomonas even under conditions of coral bleaching and mortality suggests the bacterial community of P. verrucosa may be rather inflexible and thereby unable to respond or acclimatize to rapid changes in the environment, contrary to what was previously observed in other corals. In this light, our results suggest that coral holobionts might occupy structural landscapes ranging from a highly flexible to a rather inflexible composition with consequences for their ability to respond to environmental change.

  10. Dominance of Endozoicomonas bacteria throughout coral bleaching and mortality suggests structural inflexibility of the Pocillopora verrucosa microbiome

    KAUST Repository

    Pogoreutz, Claudia

    2018-01-25

    The importance of Symbiodinium algal endosymbionts and a diverse suite of bacteria for coral holobiont health and functioning are widely acknowledged. Yet, we know surprisingly little about microbial community dynamics and the stability of host-microbe associations under adverse environmental conditions. To gain insight into the stability of coral host-microbe associations and holobiont structure, we assessed changes in the community structure of Symbiodinium and bacteria associated with the coral Pocillopora verrucosa under excess organic nutrient conditions. Pocillopora-associated microbial communities were monitored over 14 days in two independent experiments. We assessed the effect of excess dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) and excess dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Exposure to excess nutrients rapidly affected coral health, resulting in two distinct stress phenotypes: coral bleaching under excess DOC and severe tissue sloughing (>90% tissue loss resulting in host mortality) under excess DON. These phenotypes were accompanied by structural changes in the Symbiodinium community. In contrast, the associated bacterial community remained remarkably stable and was dominated by two Endozoicomonas phylotypes, comprising on average 90% of 16S rRNA gene sequences. This dominance of Endozoicomonas even under conditions of coral bleaching and mortality suggests the bacterial community of P. verrucosa may be rather inflexible and thereby unable to respond or acclimatize to rapid changes in the environment, contrary to what was previously observed in other corals. In this light, our results suggest that coral holobionts might occupy structural landscapes ranging from a highly flexible to a rather inflexible composition with consequences for their ability to respond to environmental change.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jessica Melbourne-Thomas

    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.

  12. Allelochemicals Produced by Brown Macroalgae of the Lobophora Genus Are Active against Coral Larvae and Associated Bacteria, Supporting Pathogenic Shifts to Vibrio Dominance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Morrow, Kathleen M; Bromhall, Katrina; Motti, Cherie A; Munn, Colin B; Bourne, David G

    2017-01-01

    Pervasive environmental stressors on coral reefs are attributed with shifting the competitive balance in favor of alternative dominants, such as macroalgae. Previous studies have demonstrated that macroalgae compete with corals via a number of mechanisms, including the production of potent primary and secondary metabolites that can influence coral-associated microbial communities. The present study investigates the effects of the Pacific brown macroalga Lobophora sp. (due to the shifting nature of the Lobophora species complex, it will be referred to here as Lobophora sp.) on coral bacterial isolates, coral larvae, and the microbiome associated with the coral Porites cylindrica. Crude aqueous and organic macroalgal extracts were found to inhibit the growth of coral-associated bacteria. Extracts and fractions were also shown to inhibit coral larval settlement and cause mortality at concentrations lower (pathogenic. Macroalgae (e.g., seaweeds) can physically and chemically interact with corals, causing abrasion, bleaching, and overall stress. This study contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that macroalgae play a critical role in shifting the coral holobiont equilibrium, which may promote the invasion of opportunistic pathogens and cause coral mortality, facilitating additional macroalgal growth and invasion in the reef. Thus, macroalgae not only contribute to a decline in coral fitness but also influence coral reef ecosystem structure. © Crown copyright 2016.

  13. The role of competition in the phase shift to dominance of the zoanthid Palythoa cf. variabilis on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cruz, Igor Cristino Silva; Meira, Verena Henschen; de Kikuchi, Ruy Kenji Papa; Creed, Joel Christopher

    2016-04-01

    Phase shift phenomena are becoming increasingly common. However, they are also opportunities to better understand how communities are structured. In Southwest Atlantic coral reefs, a shift to the zoanthid Palythoa cf. variabilis dominance has been described. To test if competition drove this process, we carried out a manipulative experiment with three coral species. To estimate the natural frequency of encounters we assess the relationship between the proportion of encounters and this zoanthids coverage. The contact causes necrosis in 78% of coral colonies (6.47 ± SD 7.92 cm(2)) in 118 days. We found a logarithmic relationship between the proportion of these encounters and the cover of P. cf. variabilis, where 5.5% coverage of this zoanthid is enough to put 50% of coral colonies in contact, increasing their partial mortality. We demonstrate that zoanthid coverage increase followed by coral mortality increase will reduce coral cover and that competition drives the phase shift process. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  14. Land-Sourced Pollution with an Emphasis on Domestic Sewage: Lessons from the Caribbean and Implications for Coastal Development on Indian Ocean and Pacific Coral Reefs

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andre DeGeorges

    2010-09-01

    Full Text Available This paper discusses land-sourced pollution with an emphasis on domestic sewage in the Caribbean in relation to similar issues in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. Starting on a large-scale in the 1980s, tropical Atlantic coastlines of Florida and Caribbean islands were over-developed to the point that traditional sewage treatment and disposal were inadequate to protect fragile coral reefs from eutrophication by land-sourced nutrient pollution. This pollution caused both ecological and public health problems. Coral reefs were smothered by macro-algae and died, becoming rapidly transformed into weedy algal lawns, which resulted in beach erosion, and loss of habitat that added to fisheries collapse previously caused by over-fishing. Barbados was one of the first countries to recognize this problem and to begin implementation of effective solutions. Eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, Pacific Islands, and South East Asia, are now starting to develop their coastlines for ecotourism, like the Caribbean was in the 1970s. Tourism is an important and increasing component of the economies of most tropical coastal areas. There are important lessons to be learned from this Caribbean experience for coastal zone planners, developers, engineers, coastal communities and decision makers in other parts of the world to assure that history does not repeat itself. Coral reef die-off from land-sourced pollution has been eclipsed as an issue since the ocean warming events of 1998, linked to global warming. Addressing ocean warming will take considerable international cooperation, but much of the land-sourced pollution issue, especially sewage, can be dealt with on a watershed by watershed basis by Indian Ocean and Pacific countries. Failure to solve this critical issue can adversely impact both coral reef and public health with dire economic consequences, and will prevent coral reef recovery from extreme high temperature events. Sewage treatment, disposal options

  15. DOC concentrations across a depth-dependent light gradient on a Caribbean coral reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mueller, Benjamin; Meesters, Erik H; van Duyl, Fleur C

    2017-01-01

    Photosynthates released by benthic primary producers (BPP), such as reef algae and scleractinian corals, fuel the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) production on tropical coral reefs. DOC concentrations near BPP have repeatedly been observed to be elevated compared to those in the surrounding water column. As the DOC release of BPP increases with increasing light availability, elevated DOC concentrations near them will, in part, also depend on light availability. Consequently, DOC concentrations are likely to be higher on the shallow, well-lit reef terrace than in deeper sections on the fore reef slope. We measured in situ DOC concentrations and light intensity in close proximity to the reef alga Dictyota sp. and the scleractinian coral Orbicella faveolata along a depth-dependent light gradient from 5 to 20 m depth and compared these to background concentrations in the water column. At 10 m (intermediate light), DOC concentrations near Dictyota sp. were elevated by 15 µmol C L -1 compared to background concentrations in the water column, but not at 5 and 20 m (high and low light, respectively), or near O. faveolata at any of the tested depths. DOC concentrations did not differ between depths and thereby light environments for any of the tested water types. However, water type and depth appear to jointly affect in situ DOC concentrations across the tested depth-dependent light gradient. Corroborative ex situ measurements of excitation pressure on photosystem II suggest that photoinhibition in Dictyota sp. is likely to occur at light intensities that are commonly present on Curaçaoan coral reefs under high light levels at 5 m depth during midday. Photoinhibition may have thereby reduced the DOC release of Dictyota sp. and DOC concentrations in its close proximity. Our results indicate that the occurrence of elevated DOC concentrations did not follow a natural light gradient across depth. Instead, a combination of multiple factors, such as water type, light

  16. DOC concentrations across a depth-dependent light gradient on a Caribbean coral reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Benjamin Mueller

    2017-06-01

    Full Text Available Photosynthates released by benthic primary producers (BPP, such as reef algae and scleractinian corals, fuel the dissolved organic carbon (DOC production on tropical coral reefs. DOC concentrations near BPP have repeatedly been observed to be elevated compared to those in the surrounding water column. As the DOC release of BPP increases with increasing light availability, elevated DOC concentrations near them will, in part, also depend on light availability. Consequently, DOC concentrations are likely to be higher on the shallow, well-lit reef terrace than in deeper sections on the fore reef slope. We measured in situ DOC concentrations and light intensity in close proximity to the reef alga Dictyota sp. and the scleractinian coral Orbicella faveolata along a depth-dependent light gradient from 5 to 20 m depth and compared these to background concentrations in the water column. At 10 m (intermediate light, DOC concentrations near Dictyota sp. were elevated by 15 µmol C L−1 compared to background concentrations in the water column, but not at 5 and 20 m (high and low light, respectively, or near O. faveolata at any of the tested depths. DOC concentrations did not differ between depths and thereby light environments for any of the tested water types. However, water type and depth appear to jointly affect in situ DOC concentrations across the tested depth-dependent light gradient. Corroborative ex situ measurements of excitation pressure on photosystem II suggest that photoinhibition in Dictyota sp. is likely to occur at light intensities that are commonly present on Curaçaoan coral reefs under high light levels at 5 m depth during midday. Photoinhibition may have thereby reduced the DOC release of Dictyota sp. and DOC concentrations in its close proximity. Our results indicate that the occurrence of elevated DOC concentrations did not follow a natural light gradient across depth. Instead, a combination of multiple factors, such as water type

  17. Algae as reservoirs for coral pathogens.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Michael J Sweet

    Full Text Available Benthic algae are associated with coral death in the form of stress and disease. It's been proposed that they release exudates, which facilitate invasion of potentially pathogenic microbes at the coral-algal interface, resulting in coral disease. However, the original source of these pathogens remains unknown. This study examined the ability of benthic algae to act as reservoirs of coral pathogens by characterizing surface associated microbes associated with major Caribbean and Indo-Pacific algal species/types and by comparing them to potential pathogens of two dominant coral diseases: White Syndrome (WS in the Indo-Pacific and Yellow Band Disease (YBD in the Caribbean. Coral and algal sampling was conducted simultaneously at the same sites to avoid spatial effects. Potential pathogens were defined as those absent or rare in healthy corals, increasing in abundance in healthy tissues adjacent to a disease lesion, and dominant in disease lesions. Potentially pathogenic bacteria were detected in both WS and YBD and were also present within the majority of algal species/types (54 and 100% for WS and YBD respectively. Pathogenic ciliates were associated only with WS and not YBD lesions and these were also present in 36% of the Indo-Pacific algal species. Although potential pathogens were associated with many algal species, their presence was inconsistent among replicate algal samples and detection rates were relatively low, suggestive of low density and occurrence. At the community level, coral-associated microbes irrespective of the health of their host differed from algal-associated microbes, supporting that algae and corals have distinctive microbial communities associated with their tissue. We conclude that benthic algae are common reservoirs for a variety of different potential coral pathogens. However, algal-associated microbes alone are unlikely to cause coral death. Initial damage or stress to the coral via other competitive mechanisms is

  18. Akumal ’s reefs: Stony coral communities along the developing Mexican Caribbean coastline

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Roshan E Roy

    2004-12-01

    Full Text Available Fringing coral reefs along coastlines experiencing rapid development and human population growth have declined worldwide because of human activity and of natural causes.The "Mayan Riviera "in Quintana Roo,México,attracts large numbers of tourists in part because it still retains some of the natural diversity and it is important to obtain baseline information to monitor changes over time in the area.In this paper,the condition of the stony corals in the developing coastline of the Akumal-area fore reefs is characterized at the start of the new millennium at two depths,and along an inferred sedimentation gradient.Transect surveys were conducted in five fringing reefs starting at haphazardly chosen points.with respect to species composition,live cover,colony density,relative exposure to TAS mats and,for one species (Diploria strigosa ,Dana,1848,tissue regression rates in the presence of TAS mats.Fish population density and herbivory rates are also assessed.Data from line intercept transects (n=74show that live stony coral cover,density and relative peripheral exposure of colonies to turf algal/sediment (TASmats were inversely related to an inferred sediment stress gradient at 13m.In 2000, live stony coral cover had decreased by 40-50%at two sites studied in 1990 by Muñoz-Chagín and de la Cruz- Agüero (1993.About half of this loss apparently occurred between 1998 and 2000 during an outbreak of white plague disease that mostly affected Montastraea faveolata ,and M.annularis .At a 13 m site,where inferred sedimentation rates are relatively high,time series photography of tagged Diploria strigosa ,(n=38showed an average loss of 70 cm 2 of live tissue/coral/year to encroachment by TAS mats during the same period.Whereas densities of carnivorous fishes and herbivores (echinoids,scarids,acanthurids and Microspathodon chrysurus in 2000 were low in belt transects at 10-19 m (n=106,turf-algal gardening pomacentrids were relatively common on these reefs

  19. Northern tropical Atlantic climate since late Medieval times from Northern Caribbean coral geochemistry

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kilbourne, K. H.; Xu, Y.

    2015-12-01

    Paleoclimate reconstructions of different global climate modes over the last 1000 years provide the basis for testing the relative roles of forced and unforced variability climate system, which can help us improve projections of future climate change. The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) has been characterized by a combination of persistent La Niña-like conditions, a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (+NAO), and increased Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The northern tropical Atlantic is sensitive to each of these climate patterns, but not all of them have the same regional fingerprint in the modern northern tropical Atlantic. The relative influence of different processes related to these climate patterns can help us better understand regional responses to climate change. The regional response of the northern tropical Atlantic is important because the tropical Atlantic Ocean is a large source of heat and moisture to the global climate system that can feedback onto global climate patterns. This study presents new coral Sr/Ca and δ18O data from the northern tropical Atlantic (Anegada, British Virgin Islands). Comparison of the sub-fossil corals that grew during the 13th and 14th Centuries with modern coral geochemical data from this site indicates relatively cooler mean conditions with a decrease in the oxygen isotopic composition of the water consistent with lower salinities. Similar average annual cycles between modern and sub-fossil Sr/Ca indicate no change in seasonal temperature range, but a difference in the relative phasing of the δ18O seasonal cycles indicates that the fresher mean conditions may be due to a more northerly position of the regional salinity front. This localized response is consistent with some, but not all of the expected regional responses to a La Niña-like state, a +NAO state, and increased AMOC. Understanding these differences can provide insight into the relative importance of advection versus surface fluxes for

  20. Evidence of a dominance hierarchy in captive Caribbean flamingos and its relation to pair bonding and physiological measures of health.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Royer, Erica A; Anderson, Matthew J

    2014-06-01

    Caribbean flamingo social structure, how pair bonds affect the structure of the flock, and how social stress affects health measured by heterophil to lymphocyte ratios (H/L) were investigated at the Philadelphia Zoo. It was hypothesized that a hierarchy may become apparent by analyzing agonistic interactions and that paired individuals would share similar places within the hierarchy. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that a negative relationship between H/L ratio and dominance would exist. Forty observations were conducted and in 70% of interactions instigating bird(s) won the encounter, suggesting either some advantage for instigating birds or a prior expectation of an encounter's outcome based upon an understanding of the flock's hierarchy. The flock possessed a semi-linear hierarchy (in terms of wins/losses) and birds with higher pair-bond strengths maintained dominant positions, suggesting that pair-bonding may help individuals become more successful in agonistic encounters. Birds who won more often had higher lymphocytes percentages and analyses suggested a trend indicating dominant birds may be less stressed. A semi-linear hierarchy was also found in terms of initiation/being targeted, and a bird's rank on the dominance (wins/losses) and initiate/target hierarchies were positively correlated, suggesting that subdominant birds were targeted by dominant birds more frequently than vice versa. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  1. Sea-level standstill and dominant hermatypic coral from the holocene raised reef terraces at the Kikai Island, Ryukyu Islands

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Hongo, Chuki

    2010-01-01

    Coral reef terraces are one of the best recorders of biological response to environmental change events (e.g., sea-level changes). Kikai Island provides a rare opportunity to show biological and ecological frameworks (e.g., competition, coexistence, and succession) during a recent geological period. The island is fringed by raised Holocene raised reef terraces, which formed as a result of periodic tectonic uplifts. This study aims to characterize the spatial and temporal changes of corals at this island during the Holocene. The analysis is based on topographical and biological data obtained for the three sites (Shidooke, Kadon, and Nakugama reefs). Three raised reef terraces (Terrace II, III, and IV) grew from 7300 to 4500 years ago (during 2800 years), from 4500 to 2900 years ago (during 1600 years), and from 2900 to 1800 years ago (during 1100 years), respectively. Terrace II and III were uplifted 1-2 m around 4500 years ago and around 2900 years ago. Terrace IV was uplifted 1-2 m around 1800 years ago. The modern reef has been composed of corals for 1800 years. Sixteen coral genera and 53 species were recorded from the reef terraces. Terrace III and IV were dominated by four coral species (A. digitifera, A. robusta, G. retiformis, and F. stelligera), but Terrace II was predominantly composed of A. digitifera and A. robusta. These biological and ecological variations between the terraces represent a growth strategy responding to differences of reef growth time and/or insolation. (author)

  2. Effects of warming, acidification, and reef-zone on the calcification of four Caribbean scleractinian corals of the Belize Barrier Reef System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bove, C. B.; Ries, J. B.; Davies, S. W.; Westfield, I. T.; Castillo, K.

    2016-02-01

    Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) has caused ocean temperature to increase and ocean pH to decrease, raising concerns about the health of marine organisms. Previous studies have shown that corals are particularly vulnerable to these stressors, most likely due to their narrow thermal tolerance and use of carbonate ions in calcification, although response patterns vary across taxa. We conducted laboratory experiments for 95 days to investigate the independent and interactive effects of ocean warming (28, 31 °C) and acidification on the calcification rate and skeletal properties of four abundant and ubiquitously distributed Caribbean coral species (Pseudodiploria strigosa, Siderastrea siderea, Porites astreoides, Undaria tenuifolia) collected from nearshore and forereef environments of the Belize Barrier Reef. Aragonite saturation states of 3.9, 3.2, 2.2, and 0.7, constrained by total alkalinity measured via closed-cell potentiometric titration and dissolved inorganic carbon measured via coulometry, were attained by sparging natural seawater with air-CO2 mixtures formulated at 280, 400, 700, and 2800 ppmv pCO2, respectively. Temperature and pCO2 were fully crossed (N=3 tanks per treatment) and corals were gradually exposed to treatment conditions over a 30-day period, followed by an additional 30-day acclimation. Rates of linear skeletal extension were measured relative to a calcein spike emplaced in the coral skeletons at the start of the experiment, and net calcification rates were determined from coral buoyant weights obtained every 30 days. Initial results show that corals in all treatments continued to calcify on a net basis, however, the effect of warming on net calcification rates of P. asteroids and U. tenuifolia became more negative at lower saturation states. In addition, nearshore U. tenuifolia calcified faster than forereef conspecifics in all treatments.

  3. Composition and biological activities of the aqueous extracts of three scleractinian corals from the Mexican Caribbean: Pseudodiploria strigosa, Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    García-Arredondo, Alejandro; Rojas-Molina, Alejandra; Ibarra-Alvarado, César; Lazcano-Pérez, Fernando; Arreguín-Espinosa, Roberto; Sánchez-Rodríguez, Judith

    2016-01-01

    Scleractinian corals (stony corals) are the most abundant reef-forming cnidarians found in coral reefs throughout the world. Despite their abundance and ecological importance, information about the diversity of their toxins and their biological activities is very scarce. In this study, the chemical composition and the biological activities of the aqueous extracts of Pseudodiploria strigosa , Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea , three scleractinian corals from the Mexican Caribbean, have been assessed for the first time. Toxicity of the extracts was assessed in crickets; the presence of cytolysins was detected by the hemolysis assay; the vasoconstrictor activity was determined by the isolated rat aortic ring assay; the nociceptive activity was evaluated by the formalin test. The presence of phospholipases A 2 (PLA 2 ), serine proteases, and hyaluronidases was determined by enzymatic methods. Low-molecular-weight fractions were obtained by gel filtration chromatography and ultrafiltration. Extracts from the three species were toxic to crickets, induced hemolysis in human and rat erythrocytes, produced vasoconstriction on isolated rat aortic rings, and presented phospholipase A 2 and serine-protease activity. Despite the fact that these corals are not considered to be harmless to humans, the extracts generated significant nociceptive responses. The matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry analysis of the low-molecular-weight fractions revealed the presence of peptides within a mass range of 3000 to 6000 Da. These fractions were toxic to crickets and two of them induced a transitory vasoconstrictor effect on isolated rat aortic rings. This study suggests that scleractinian corals produce low-molecular-weight peptides that are lethal to crickets and induce vasoconstriction.

  4. Can you hear me now? Range-testing a submerged passive acoustic receiver array in a Caribbean coral reef habitat

    Science.gov (United States)

    Selby, Thomas H.; Hart, Kristen M.; Fujisaki, Ikuko; Smith, Brian J.; Pollock, Clayton J; Hillis-Star, Zandy M; Lundgren, Ian; Oli, Madan K.

    2016-01-01

    Submerged passive acoustic technology allows researchers to investigate spatial and temporal movement patterns of many marine and freshwater species. The technology uses receivers to detect and record acoustic transmissions emitted from tags attached to an individual. Acoustic signal strength naturally attenuates over distance, but numerous environmental variables also affect the probability a tag is detected. Knowledge of receiver range is crucial for designing acoustic arrays and analyzing telemetry data. Here, we present a method for testing a relatively large-scale receiver array in a dynamic Caribbean coastal environment intended for long-term monitoring of multiple species. The U.S. Geological Survey and several academic institutions in collaboration with resource management at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM), off the coast of St. Croix, recently deployed a 52 passive acoustic receiver array. We targeted 19 array-representative receivers for range-testing by submersing fixed delay interval range-testing tags at various distance intervals in each cardinal direction from a receiver for a minimum of an hour. Using a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), we estimated the probability of detection across the array and assessed the effect of water depth, habitat, wind, temperature, and time of day on the probability of detection. The predicted probability of detection across the entire array at 100 m distance from a receiver was 58.2% (95% CI: 44.0–73.0%) and dropped to 26.0% (95% CI: 11.4–39.3%) 200 m from a receiver indicating a somewhat constrained effective detection range. Detection probability varied across habitat classes with the greatest effective detection range occurring in homogenous sand substrate and the smallest in high rugosity reef. Predicted probability of detection across BIRNM highlights potential gaps in coverage using the current array as well as limitations of passive acoustic technology within a complex coral reef

  5. Symbiodinium biogeography tracks environmental patterns rather than host genetics in a key Caribbean reef-builder, Orbicella annularis

    OpenAIRE

    Kennedy, EV; Tonk, L; Foster, NL; Chollett, I; Ortiz, J-C; Dove, S; Hoegh-Guldberg, O; Mumby, PJ; Stevens, JR

    2016-01-01

    The physiological performance of a reef-building coral is a combined outcome of both the coral host and its algal endosymbionts, Symbiodinium. While Orbicella annularis?a dominant reef-building coral in the Wider Caribbean?is known to be a flexible host in terms of the diversity of Symbiodinium types it can associate with, it is uncertain how this diversity varies across the Caribbean, and whether spatial variability in the symbiont community is related to either O. annularis genotype or envi...

  6. Density dependence drives habitat production and survivorship of Acropora cervicornis used for restoration on a Caribbean coral reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mark C Ladd

    2016-12-01

    Full Text Available AbstractCoral restoration is gaining traction as a viable strategy to help restore degraded reefs. While the nascent field of coral restoration has rapidly progressed in the past decade, significant knowledge gaps remain regarding the drivers of restoration success that may impede our ability to effectively restore coral reef communities. Here, we conducted a field experiment to investigate the influence of coral density on the growth, habitat production, and survival of corals outplanted for restoration. We used nursery-raised colonies of Acropora cervicornis to experimentally establish populations of corals with either 3, 6, 12, or 24 corals within 4m2 plots, generating a gradient of coral densities ranging from 0.75 corals m-2 to 12 corals m-2. After 13 months we found that density had a significant effect on the growth, habitat production, and survivorship of restored corals. We found that coral survivorship increased as colony density decreased. Importantly, the signal of density dependent effects was context dependent. Our data suggest that positive density dependent effects influenced habitat production at densities of 3 corals m-2, but further increases in density resulted in negative density dependent effects with decreasing growth and survivorship of corals. These findings highlight the importance of density dependence for coral restoration planning and demonstrate the need to evaluate the influence of density for other coral species used for restoration. Further work focused on the mechanisms causing density dependence such as increased herbivory, rapid disease transmission, or altered predation rates are important next steps to advance our ability to effectively restore coral reefs.

  7. Bacteria of the genus Endozoicomonas dominate the microbiome of the Mediterranean gorgonian coral Eunicella cavolini

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, T

    2013-04-08

    Forming dense beds that provide the structural basis of a distinct ecosystem, the gorgonian Eunicella cavolini (Octocorallia) is an important species in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the importance and prevalence of this temperate gorgonian, little is known about its microbial assemblage, although bacteria are well known to be important to hard and soft coral functioning. Here, we used massively parallel pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes to determine the composition and relative abundances of bacteria associated with E. cavolini collected from different depths at a site on the French Mediterranean coast. We found that whereas the bacterial assemblages of E. cavolini were distinct and less diverse than those of the surrounding water column, the water depth did not affect the bacterial assemblages of this gorgonian. Our data show that E. cavolini?s microbiome contains only a few shared species and that it is highly dominated by bacteria from the genus Endozoicomonas, a Gammaproteobacteria that is frequently found to associate with marine invertebrates.

  8. Bacteria of the genus Endozoicomonas dominate the microbiome of the Mediterranean gorgonian coral Eunicella cavolini

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, T; Arif, C; Ferrier-Pagè s, C; Zoccola, D; Aranda, Manuel; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2013-01-01

    Forming dense beds that provide the structural basis of a distinct ecosystem, the gorgonian Eunicella cavolini (Octocorallia) is an important species in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the importance and prevalence of this temperate gorgonian, little is known about its microbial assemblage, although bacteria are well known to be important to hard and soft coral functioning. Here, we used massively parallel pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes to determine the composition and relative abundances of bacteria associated with E. cavolini collected from different depths at a site on the French Mediterranean coast. We found that whereas the bacterial assemblages of E. cavolini were distinct and less diverse than those of the surrounding water column, the water depth did not affect the bacterial assemblages of this gorgonian. Our data show that E. cavolini?s microbiome contains only a few shared species and that it is highly dominated by bacteria from the genus Endozoicomonas, a Gammaproteobacteria that is frequently found to associate with marine invertebrates.

  9. Phage and Nucleocytoplasmic Large Viral Sequences Dominate Coral Viromes from the Arabian Gulf.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mahmoud, Huda; Jose, Liny

    2017-01-01

    Corals that naturally thrive under extreme conditions are gaining increasing attention due to their importance as living models to understand the impact of global warming on world corals. Here, we present the first metagenomic study of viral communities in corals thriving in a thermally variable water body in which the temperature fluctuates between 11 and 39°C in different seasons. The viral assemblages of two of the most abundant massive ( Porites harrisoni ) and branching ( Acropora downingi ) corals in offshore and inshore reef systems in the northern Arabian Gulf were investigated. Samples were collected from five reef systems during summer, autumn and winter of 2011/2012. The two coral viromes contain 12 viral families, including 10 dsDNA viral families [Siphoviridae, Podoviridae, Myoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Baculoviridae, Herpesviridae, Adenoviridae, Alloherpesviridae, Mimiviridae and one unclassified family], one-ssDNA viral family (Microviridae) and one RNA viral family (Retroviridae). Overall, sequences significantly similar to Podoviridae were the most abundant in the P. harrisoni and A. downingi viromes. Various morphological types of virus-like particles (VLPs) were confirmed in the healthy coral tissue by transmission electron microscopy, including large tailless VLPs and electron-dense core VLPs. Tailed bacteriophages were isolated from coral tissue using a plaque assay. Higher functional gene diversity was recorded in A. downingi than in P. harrisoni , and comparative metagenomics revealed that the Gulf viral assemblages are functionally distinct from Pacific Ocean coral viral communities.

  10. Phage and Nucleocytoplasmic Large Viral Sequences Dominate Coral Viromes from the Arabian Gulf

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Huda Mahmoud

    2017-10-01

    Full Text Available Corals that naturally thrive under extreme conditions are gaining increasing attention due to their importance as living models to understand the impact of global warming on world corals. Here, we present the first metagenomic study of viral communities in corals thriving in a thermally variable water body in which the temperature fluctuates between 11 and 39°C in different seasons. The viral assemblages of two of the most abundant massive (Porites harrisoni and branching (Acropora downingi corals in offshore and inshore reef systems in the northern Arabian Gulf were investigated. Samples were collected from five reef systems during summer, autumn and winter of 2011/2012. The two coral viromes contain 12 viral families, including 10 dsDNA viral families [Siphoviridae, Podoviridae, Myoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Baculoviridae, Herpesviridae, Adenoviridae, Alloherpesviridae, Mimiviridae and one unclassified family], one-ssDNA viral family (Microviridae and one RNA viral family (Retroviridae. Overall, sequences significantly similar to Podoviridae were the most abundant in the P. harrisoni and A. downingi viromes. Various morphological types of virus-like particles (VLPs were confirmed in the healthy coral tissue by transmission electron microscopy, including large tailless VLPs and electron-dense core VLPs. Tailed bacteriophages were isolated from coral tissue using a plaque assay. Higher functional gene diversity was recorded in A. downingi than in P. harrisoni, and comparative metagenomics revealed that the Gulf viral assemblages are functionally distinct from Pacific Ocean coral viral communities.

  11. Threatened corals provide underexplored microbial habitats.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Shinichi Sunagawa

    2010-03-01

    Full Text Available Contemporary in-depth sequencing of environmental samples has provided novel insights into microbial community structures, revealing that their diversity had been previously underestimated. Communities in marine environments are commonly composed of a few dominant taxa and a high number of taxonomically diverse, low-abundance organisms. However, studying the roles and genomic information of these "rare" organisms remains challenging, because little is known about their ecological niches and the environmental conditions to which they respond. Given the current threat to coral reef ecosystems, we investigated the potential of corals to provide highly specialized habitats for bacterial taxa including those that are rarely detected or absent in surrounding reef waters. The analysis of more than 350,000 small subunit ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA sequence tags and almost 2,000 nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that rare seawater biosphere members are highly abundant or even dominant in diverse Caribbean corals. Closely related corals (in the same genus/family harbored similar bacterial communities. At higher taxonomic levels, however, the similarities of these communities did not correlate with the phylogenetic relationships among corals, opening novel questions about the evolutionary stability of coral-microbial associations. Large proportions of OTUs (28.7-49.1% were unique to the coral species of origin. Analysis of the most dominant ribotypes suggests that many uncovered bacterial taxa exist in coral habitats and await future exploration. Our results indicate that coral species, and by extension other animal hosts, act as specialized habitats of otherwise rare microbes in marine ecosystems. Here, deep sequencing provided insights into coral microbiota at an unparalleled resolution and revealed that corals harbor many bacterial taxa previously not known. Given that two of the coral species investigated are listed as threatened under

  12. Dynamic camouflage by Nassau groupers Epinephelus striatus on a Caribbean coral reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Watson, A C; Siemann, L A; Hanlon, R T

    2014-11-01

    This field study describes the camouflage pattern repertoire, associated behaviours and speed of pattern change of Nassau groupers Epinephelus striatus at Little Cayman Island, British West Indies. Three basic camouflaged body patterns were observed under natural conditions and characterized quantitatively. The mean speed of pattern change across the entire body was 4.44 s (range = 0.97-9.87 s); the fastest pattern change as well as contrast change within a fixed pattern occurred within 1 s. Aside from apparent defensive camouflage, E. striatus used camouflage offensively to approach crustacean or fish prey, and three successful predation events were recorded. Although animal camouflage is a widespread tactic, dynamic camouflage is relatively uncommon and has been studied rarely in marine teleosts under natural conditions. The rapid changes observed in E. striatus suggest direct neural control of some skin colouration elements, and comparative studies of functional morphology and behaviour of colour change in other coral-reef teleosts are likely to reveal new mechanisms and adaptations of dynamic colouration. © 2014 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

  13. An Indo-West Pacific `zooxanthella' invasive to the western Atlantic finds its way to the Eastern Pacific via an introduced Caribbean coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    LaJeunesse, Todd C.; Forsman, Zac H.; Wham, Drew C.

    2016-06-01

    Phylogenetic evidence indicates that Siderastrea glynni, a species of coral thought to be endemic to the Eastern Pacific, is actually more likely to be Si. siderea introduced from the Atlantic. Our analyses of the endosymbionts of Si. glynni ( Symbiodinium) substantiate this as an introduced species; attempts to conserve and list Si. glynni as an endangered species are probably unwarranted. The specimens we examined harbored Symbiodinium trenchii and some also contained Sy. goreaui, symbionts that occur with Si. siderea in the Atlantic. Moreover, the genotype of Sy. trenchii (a single strain defined by ten diallelic microsatellite loci) was genetically distinct from genotypes of Sy. ` glynni,' also in Clade D, found abundantly in colonies of Pocillopora throughout the region. Furthermore, the strain of Sy. trenchii grouped with genotypes from the Greater Caribbean, an inbred population that was recently introduced from the Indo-West Pacific. This secondary introduction suggests that strains of Caribbean Sy. trenchii are capable of dispersal into new reef coral communities where this symbiont does not presently exist.

  14. Genome-wide survey of single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveals fine-scale population structure and signs of selection in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Meghann K. Devlin-Durante

    2017-11-01

    Full Text Available The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, we use genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, to reveal fine-scale population structure and infer the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The exact location of this break had been subject to discussion because two previous studies based on microsatellite data had come to differing conclusions. We investigate this contradiction by analyzing an extended set of 11 microsatellite markers including the five previously employed and discovered that one of the original microsatellite loci is apparently under selection. Exclusion of this locus reconciles the results from the SNP and the microsatellite datasets. Scans for outlier loci in the SNP data detected 13 candidate loci under positive selection, however there was no correlation between available environmental parameters and genetic distance. Together, these results suggest that reef restoration efforts should use local sources and utilize existing functional variation among geographic regions in ex situ crossing experiments to improve stress resistance of this species.

  15. Genome-wide survey of single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveals fine-scale population structure and signs of selection in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Devlin-Durante, Meghann K; Baums, Iliana B

    2017-01-01

    The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, we use genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata , to reveal fine-scale population structure and infer the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The exact location of this break had been subject to discussion because two previous studies based on microsatellite data had come to differing conclusions. We investigate this contradiction by analyzing an extended set of 11 microsatellite markers including the five previously employed and discovered that one of the original microsatellite loci is apparently under selection. Exclusion of this locus reconciles the results from the SNP and the microsatellite datasets. Scans for outlier loci in the SNP data detected 13 candidate loci under positive selection, however there was no correlation between available environmental parameters and genetic distance. Together, these results suggest that reef restoration efforts should use local sources and utilize existing functional variation among geographic regions in ex situ crossing experiments to improve stress resistance of this species.

  16. Spirochaetes dominate the microbial community associated with the red coral Corallium rubrum on a broad geographic scale

    KAUST Repository

    van de Water, Jeroen A. J. M.; Melkonian, Ré my; Junca, Howard; Voolstra, Christian R.; Reynaud, Sté phanie; Allemand, Denis; Ferrier-Pagè s, Christine

    2016-01-01

    Mass mortality events in populations of the iconic red coral Corallium rubrum have been related to seawater temperature anomalies that may have triggered microbial disease development. However, very little is known about the bacterial community associated with the red coral. We therefore aimed to provide insight into this species’ bacterial assemblages using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons generated from samples collected at five locations distributed across the western Mediterranean Sea. Twelve bacterial species were found to be consistently associated with the red coral, forming a core microbiome that accounted for 94.6% of the overall bacterial community. This core microbiome was particularly dominated by bacteria of the orders Spirochaetales and Oceanospirillales, in particular the ME2 family. Bacteria belonging to these orders have been implicated in nutrient cycling, including nitrogen, carbon and sulfur. While Oceanospirillales are common symbionts of marine invertebrates, our results identify members of the Spirochaetales as other important dominant symbiotic bacterial associates within Anthozoans.

  17. Spirochaetes dominate the microbial community associated with the red coral Corallium rubrum on a broad geographic scale

    KAUST Repository

    van de Water, Jeroen A. J. M.

    2016-06-06

    Mass mortality events in populations of the iconic red coral Corallium rubrum have been related to seawater temperature anomalies that may have triggered microbial disease development. However, very little is known about the bacterial community associated with the red coral. We therefore aimed to provide insight into this species’ bacterial assemblages using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons generated from samples collected at five locations distributed across the western Mediterranean Sea. Twelve bacterial species were found to be consistently associated with the red coral, forming a core microbiome that accounted for 94.6% of the overall bacterial community. This core microbiome was particularly dominated by bacteria of the orders Spirochaetales and Oceanospirillales, in particular the ME2 family. Bacteria belonging to these orders have been implicated in nutrient cycling, including nitrogen, carbon and sulfur. While Oceanospirillales are common symbionts of marine invertebrates, our results identify members of the Spirochaetales as other important dominant symbiotic bacterial associates within Anthozoans.

  18. Caribbean yellow band disease compromises the activity of catalase and glutathione S-transferase in the reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata exposed to anthracene.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Montilla, Luis Miguel; Ramos, Ruth; García, Elia; Cróquer, Aldo

    2016-05-03

    Healthy and diseased corals are threatened by different anthropogenic sources, such as pollution, a problem expected to become more severe in the near future. Despite the fact that coastal pollution and coral diseases might represent a serious threat to coral reef health, there is a paucity of controlled experiments showing whether the response of diseased and healthy corals to xenobiotics differs. In this study, we exposed healthy and Caribbean yellow band disease (CYBD)-affected Orbicella faveolata colonies to 3 sublethal concentrations of anthracene to test if enzymatic responses to this hydrocarbon were compromised in CYBD-affected tissues. For this, a 2-factorial fully orthogonal design was used in a controlled laboratory bioassay, using tissue condition (2 levels: apparently healthy and diseased) and pollutant concentration (4 levels: experimental control, 10, 30 and 100 ppb concentration) as fixed factors. A permutation-based ANOVA (PERMANOVA) was used to test the effects of condition and concentration on the specific activity of 3 enzymatic biomarkers: catalase, glutathione S-transferase, and glutathione peroxidase. We found a significant interaction between the concentration of anthracene and the colony condition for catalase (Pseudo-F = 3.84, df = 3, p < 0.05) and glutathione S-transferase (Pseudo-F = 3.29, df = 3, p < 0.05). Moreover, our results indicated that the enzymatic response to anthracene in CYBD-affected tissues was compromised, as the activity of these enzymes decreased 3- to 4-fold compared to healthy tissues. These results suggest that under a potential scenario of increasing hydrocarbon coastal pollution, colonies of O. faveolata affected with CYBD might become more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of chemical pollution.

  19. Intrareef variations in Li/Mg and Sr/Ca sea surface temperature proxies in the Caribbean reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fowell, Sara E.; Sandford, Kate; Stewart, Joseph A.; Castillo, Karl D.; Ries, Justin B.; Foster, Gavin L.

    2016-10-01

    Caribbean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have increased at a rate of 0.2°C per decade since 1971, a rate double that of the mean global change. Recent investigations of the coral Siderastrea siderea on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) have demonstrated that warming over the last 30 years has had a detrimental impact on calcification. Instrumental temperature records in this region are sparse, making it necessary to reconstruct longer SST records indirectly through geochemical temperature proxies. Here we investigate the skeletal Sr/Ca and Li/Mg ratios of S. siderea from two distinct reef zones (forereef and backreef) of the MBRS. Our field calibrations of S. siderea show that Li/Mg and Sr/Ca ratios are well correlated with temperature, although both ratios are 3 times more sensitive to temperature change in the forereef than in the backreef. These differences suggest that a secondary parameter also influences these SST proxies, highlighting the importance for site- and species-specific SST calibrations. Application of these paleothermometers to downcore samples reveals highly uncertain reconstructed temperatures in backreef coral, but well-matched reconstructed temperatures in forereef coral, both between Sr/Ca-SSTs and Li/Mg-SSTs, and in comparison to the Hadley Centre Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature record. Reconstructions generated from a combined Sr/Ca and Li/Mg multiproxy calibration improve the precision of these SST reconstructions. This result confirms that there are circumstances in which both Li/Mg and Sr/Ca are reliable as stand-alone and combined proxies of sea surface temperature. However, the results also highlight that high-precision, site-specific calibrations remain critical for reconstructing accurate SSTs from coral-based elemental proxies.

  20. Partial pressure (or fugacity) of carbon dioxide, salinity and other variables collected from Surface underway observations using Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas analyzer, Shower head chamber equilibrator for autonomous carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement and other instruments from RABELAIS in the Caribbean Sea, Coral Sea and others from 1991-07-27 to 1997-01-15 (NCEI Accession 0157239)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — NCEI Accession 0157239 includes Surface underway, chemical and physical data collected from RABELAIS in the Caribbean Sea, Coral Sea, English Channel, North Atlantic...

  1. Potential role of viruses in white plague coral disease.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Soffer, Nitzan; Brandt, Marilyn E; Correa, Adrienne M S; Smith, Tyler B; Thurber, Rebecca Vega

    2014-02-01

    White plague (WP)-like diseases of tropical corals are implicated in reef decline worldwide, although their etiological cause is generally unknown. Studies thus far have focused on bacterial or eukaryotic pathogens as the source of these diseases; no studies have examined the role of viruses. Using a combination of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and 454 pyrosequencing, we compared 24 viral metagenomes generated from Montastraea annularis corals showing signs of WP-like disease and/or bleaching, control conspecific corals, and adjacent seawater. TEM was used for visual inspection of diseased coral tissue. No bacteria were visually identified within diseased coral tissues, but viral particles and sequence similarities to eukaryotic circular Rep-encoding single-stranded DNA viruses and their associated satellites (SCSDVs) were abundant in WP diseased tissues. In contrast, sequence similarities to SCSDVs were not found in any healthy coral tissues, suggesting SCSDVs might have a role in WP disease. Furthermore, Herpesviridae gene signatures dominated healthy tissues, corroborating reports that herpes-like viruses infect all corals. Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) sequences, similar to those recently identified in cultures of Symbiodinium (the algal symbionts of corals), were most common in bleached corals. This finding further implicates that these NCLDV viruses may have a role in bleaching, as suggested in previous studies. This study determined that a specific group of viruses is associated with diseased Caribbean corals and highlights the potential for viral disease in regional coral reef decline.

  2. Population Genetic Structure, Abundance, and Health Status of Two Dominant Benthic Species in the Saba Bank National Park, Caribbean Netherlands: Montastraea cavernosa and Xestospongia muta.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Didier M de Bakker

    Full Text Available Saba Bank, a submerged atoll in the Caribbean Sea with an area of 2,200 km2, has attained international conservation status due to the rich diversity of species that reside on the bank. In order to assess the role of Saba Bank as a potential reservoir of diversity for the surrounding reefs, we examined the population genetic structure, abundance and health status of two prominent benthic species, the coral Montastraea cavernosa and the sponge Xestospongia muta. Sequence data were collected from 34 colonies of M. cavernosa (nDNA ITS1-5.8S-ITS2; 892 bp and 68 X. muta sponges (mtDNA I3-M11 partition of COI; 544 bp on Saba Bank and around Saba Island, and compared with published data across the wider Caribbean. Our data indicate that there is genetic connectivity between populations on Saba Bank and the nearby Saba Island as well as multiple locations in the wider Caribbean, ranging in distance from 100s-1000s km. The genetic diversity of Saba Bank populations of M. cavernosa (π = 0.055 and X. muta (π = 0.0010 was comparable to those in other regions in the western Atlantic. Densities and health status were determined along 11 transects of 50 m2 along the south-eastern rim of Saba Bank. The densities of M. cavernosa (0.27 ind. m-2, 95% CI: 0.12-0.52 were average, while the densities of X. muta (0.09 ind. m-2, 95% CI: 0.02-0.32 were generally higher with respect to other Caribbean locations. No disease or bleaching was present in any of the specimens of the coral M. cavernosa, however, we did observe partial tissue loss (77.9% of samples as well as overgrowth (48.1%, predominantly by cyanobacteria. In contrast, the majority of observed X. muta (83.5% showed signs of presumed bleaching. The combined results of apparent gene flow among populations on Saba Bank and surrounding reefs, the high abundance and unique genetic diversity, indicate that Saba Bank could function as an important buffer for the region. Either as a natural source of larvae to

  3. Monitoring an Alien Invasion: DNA Barcoding and the Identification of Lionfish and Their Prey on Coral Reefs of the Mexican Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Valdez-Moreno, Martha; Quintal-Lizama, Carolina; Gómez-Lozano, Ricardo; García-Rivas, María del Carmen

    2012-01-01

    Background In the Mexican Caribbean, the exotic lionfish Pterois volitans has become a species of great concern because of their predatory habits and rapid expansion onto the Mesoamerican coral reef, the second largest continuous reef system in the world. This is the first report of DNA identification of stomach contents of lionfish using the barcode of life reference database (BOLD). Methodology/Principal Findings We confirm with barcoding that only Pterois volitans is apparently present in the Mexican Caribbean. We analyzed the stomach contents of 157 specimens of P. volitans from various locations in the region. Based on DNA matches in the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) and GenBank, we identified fishes from five orders, 14 families, 22 genera and 34 species in the stomach contents. The families with the most species represented were Gobiidae and Apogonidae. Some prey taxa are commercially important species. Seven species were new records for the Mexican Caribbean: Apogon mosavi, Coryphopterus venezuelae, C. thrix, C. tortugae, Lythrypnus minimus, Starksia langi and S. ocellata. DNA matches, as well as the presence of intact lionfish in the stomach contents, indicate some degree of cannibalism, a behavior confirmed in this species by the first time. We obtained 45 distinct crustacean prey sequences, from which only 20 taxa could be identified from the BOLD and GenBank databases. The matches were primarily to Decapoda but only a single taxon could be identified to the species level, Euphausia americana. Conclusions/Significance This technique proved to be an efficient and useful method, especially since prey species could be identified from partially-digested remains. The primary limitation is the lack of comprehensive coverage of potential prey species in the region in the BOLD and GenBank databases, especially among invertebrates. PMID:22675470

  4. Monitoring an alien invasion: DNA barcoding and the identification of lionfish and their prey on coral reefs of the Mexican Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Valdez-Moreno, Martha; Quintal-Lizama, Carolina; Gómez-Lozano, Ricardo; García-Rivas, María Del Carmen

    2012-01-01

    In the Mexican Caribbean, the exotic lionfish Pterois volitans has become a species of great concern because of their predatory habits and rapid expansion onto the Mesoamerican coral reef, the second largest continuous reef system in the world. This is the first report of DNA identification of stomach contents of lionfish using the barcode of life reference database (BOLD). We confirm with barcoding that only Pterois volitans is apparently present in the Mexican Caribbean. We analyzed the stomach contents of 157 specimens of P. volitans from various locations in the region. Based on DNA matches in the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) and GenBank, we identified fishes from five orders, 14 families, 22 genera and 34 species in the stomach contents. The families with the most species represented were Gobiidae and Apogonidae. Some prey taxa are commercially important species. Seven species were new records for the Mexican Caribbean: Apogon mosavi, Coryphopterus venezuelae, C. thrix, C. tortugae, Lythrypnus minimus, Starksia langi and S. ocellata. DNA matches, as well as the presence of intact lionfish in the stomach contents, indicate some degree of cannibalism, a behavior confirmed in this species by the first time. We obtained 45 distinct crustacean prey sequences, from which only 20 taxa could be identified from the BOLD and GenBank databases. The matches were primarily to Decapoda but only a single taxon could be identified to the species level, Euphausia americana. This technique proved to be an efficient and useful method, especially since prey species could be identified from partially-digested remains. The primary limitation is the lack of comprehensive coverage of potential prey species in the region in the BOLD and GenBank databases, especially among invertebrates.

  5. Monitoring an alien invasion: DNA barcoding and the identification of lionfish and their prey on coral reefs of the Mexican Caribbean.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Martha Valdez-Moreno

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: In the Mexican Caribbean, the exotic lionfish Pterois volitans has become a species of great concern because of their predatory habits and rapid expansion onto the Mesoamerican coral reef, the second largest continuous reef system in the world. This is the first report of DNA identification of stomach contents of lionfish using the barcode of life reference database (BOLD. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We confirm with barcoding that only Pterois volitans is apparently present in the Mexican Caribbean. We analyzed the stomach contents of 157 specimens of P. volitans from various locations in the region. Based on DNA matches in the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD and GenBank, we identified fishes from five orders, 14 families, 22 genera and 34 species in the stomach contents. The families with the most species represented were Gobiidae and Apogonidae. Some prey taxa are commercially important species. Seven species were new records for the Mexican Caribbean: Apogon mosavi, Coryphopterus venezuelae, C. thrix, C. tortugae, Lythrypnus minimus, Starksia langi and S. ocellata. DNA matches, as well as the presence of intact lionfish in the stomach contents, indicate some degree of cannibalism, a behavior confirmed in this species by the first time. We obtained 45 distinct crustacean prey sequences, from which only 20 taxa could be identified from the BOLD and GenBank databases. The matches were primarily to Decapoda but only a single taxon could be identified to the species level, Euphausia americana. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This technique proved to be an efficient and useful method, especially since prey species could be identified from partially-digested remains. The primary limitation is the lack of comprehensive coverage of potential prey species in the region in the BOLD and GenBank databases, especially among invertebrates.

  6. Ocean acidification effects on calcification in Caribbean scleractinian coral exposed to elevated pCO2: a potential for acclimation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hankins, C.

    2016-02-01

    Ocean acidification (OA) is projected to increase the acidity of coral reef habitats 2-3 times that of present day pCO2 levels. Many studies have shown the adverse effects on scleractinian calcification when exposed to elevated pCO2 levels, however, no such effects were seen in this study whereby corals were exposed for three months to elevated pCO2 levels. In this study, all corals were kept in culture for one year prior to being used in experimental trials. Data from culture systems shows coral experience a range of pCO2 from 300-600 µatm over the course of a day. This range is attributed to respiration and photosynthesis which also naturally occurs in a reef habitat. Montastrea cavernosa, Orbicella faveolata, and Pseudodiploria clivosa were exposed to their ambient culture conditions (control) or to elevated pCO2 levels of 1000 µatm (IPCC A1F1 scenario). By combining photographic analysis of live tissue area or exposed skeleton with the buoyant weight technique, an area density of each coral fragment was obtained to infer rates of calcification or erosion of skeleton. After three months of experimental exposure, preliminary results suggest that there is no significant difference in calcification or erosion in any of the species tested. Acclimation in the elevated pCO2 culture environment may have conditioned the coral to better withstand high pCO2 levels. Long acclimation periods of coral to near term future pCO2 levels may more accurately predict calcification responses in corals of the future.

  7. ICE-6G models of postglacial relative sea-level history applied to Holocene coral reef and mangrove records of the western Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Toscano, M. A.; Peltier, W. R.; Drummond, R.; Gonzalez, J.

    2012-12-01

    Fossil coral reefs and mangrove peat accumulations at western Caribbean sites along a latitudinal gradient from the Florida Keys through Belize and Panama provide dated and interpreted 8,000 year Holocene sea-level records for comparison with RSL predictions of the ICE-6G (VM5A, VM5B; L90) models of glacio-hydro-isostatic adjustment, with and without rotational feedback. These presumably passive continental margin sites provide the means to establish a N-S spatial trend in the varying influences of GIA, eustatic components of Holocene sea level, extent of forebulge collapse and influence of rotational feedback over a 20° latitudinal range. Previous ICE6G (VM5A) model-coral data comparisons for St Croix, USVI, Antigua, Martinique and Barbados (Toscano, Peltier and Drummond, 2011, QSR) along the eastern Caribbean plate and island arc illustrated the close model-data compatibility, the influence of rotational feedback acting as a significant factor in reducing misfits, and the need for high quality in situ data to confirm the extension of the proglacial forebulge into tropical latitudes. The gradient of western Caribbean continental shelf sites comprises a much more varied range of model-data relationships based on extensive combined Acropora palmata (reef crest coral) and Rhizophora mangle (microtidal mangrove) peat datasets in all cases. Starting at the northernmost region with the Florida Keys, there exist negative model misfits to the data, suggesting the possibility of a positive tectonic overprint upon expectations related to the glacial isostatic adjustment process acting alone, even though this region is normally believed to be tectonically stable. The largest multi-proxy database from Belize supports the likelihood of increasing rates of subsidence from north to south in the Belize Lagoon, which may account for numerous positive GIA model-data misfits. The southernmost site at Panama is most similar to Belize in the possible nature of tectonic influences on

  8. Critical evaluation of branch polarity and apical dominance as dictators of colony astogeny in a branching coral.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lee Shaish

    Full Text Available The high morphological resemblance between branching corals and trees, can lead to comparative studies on pattern formation traits, best exemplified in plants and in some cnidarians. Here, 81 branches of similar size of the hermatypic coral Stylophora pistillata were lopped of three different genets, their skeletons marked with alizarin red-S, and divided haphazardly into three morphometric treatment groups: (I upright position; (II horizontal position, intact tip; and (III horizontal position, cut tip. After 1 y of in-situ growth, the 45 surviving ramets were brought to the laboratory, their tissues removed and their architectures analyzed by 22 morphological parameters (MPs. We found that within 1 y, isolated branches developed into small coral colonies by growing new branches from all branch termini, in all directions. No architectural dissimilarity was assigned among the three studied genets of treatment I colonies. However, a major architectural disparity between treatment I colonies and colonies of treatments II and III was documented as the development of mirror structures from both sides of treatments II and III settings as compared to tip-borne architectures in treatment I colonies. We did not observe apical dominance since fragments grew equally from all branch sides without documented dominant polarity along branch axis. In treatment II colonies, no MP for new branches originating either from tips or from branch bases differed significantly. In treatment III colonies, growth from the cut tip areas was significantly lower compared to the base, again, suggesting lack of apical dominance in this species. Changes in branch polarity revealed genet associated plasticity, which in one of the studied genets, led to enhanced growth. Different genets exhibited canalization flexibility of growth patterns towards either lateral growth, or branch axis extension (skeletal weight and not porosity was measured. This study revealed that colony

  9. Calcification persists with CO2-induced ocean acidification but decreases with warming for the Caribbean coral Siderastrea siderea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Castillo, K. D.; Ries, J. B.; Westfield, I. T.; Weiss, J. M.; Bruno, J. F.

    2012-12-01

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) induced ocean acidification and rising seawater temperatures are identified as two of the greatest threats to modern coral reefs. Within this century, surface seawater pH is expected to decrease by at least 0.3 units, and sea surface temperature is predicted to rise by 1 to 3 °C. However, uncertainty remains as to whether ocean acidification or ocean warming will have a more deleterious impact on coral reefs by the end of the century. Here, we present results of 95-day laboratory experiments in which we investigated the impact of CO2-induced ocean acidification and temperature on the calcification rate of the tropical reef-building zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea. We found that calcification rates for S. siderea, estimated from buoyant weighing, increased as pCO2 increased from a pre-industrial value of 324 ppm to a near-present-day value of 477 ppm, remained unchanged as pCO2 increased from 477 ppm to the predicted end-of-century value of 604 ppm, and only declined at 6-times the modern pCO2 value of 2553 ppm. Corals reared at average pCO2 of 488 ppm and at temperatures of 25 and 32 °C, approximately the lower and upper temperature extremes for this species, calcified at lower rates relative to corals reared at 28 °C under equivalent pCO2. These results support the existing evidence that scleractinian corals such as S. siderea are able to manipulate the carbonate chemistry at their calcification site, enabling them to maintain their calcification rates under elevated pCO2 levels predicted for the end of this century. However, exposure of S. siderea corals to sea surface temperatures predicted for tropical waters for the end of this century grossly impaired their rate of calcification. These findings suggest that ocean warming poses a more immediate threat to the coral S. siderea than does ocean acidification, at least under scenarios (B1, A1T, and B2) predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

  10. Janzen-Connell effects in a broadcast-spawning Caribbean coral: Distance-dependent survival of larvae and settlers.

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Marhaver, K.L.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Rohwer, F.; Sandin, S.A.

    2013-01-01

    The Janzen-Connell hypothesis states that host-specific biotic enemies (pathogens and predators) promote the coexistence of tree species in tropical forests by causing distance- or density-dependent mortality of seeds and seedlings. Although coral reefs are the aquatic analogues of tropical forests,

  11. Estimating Surface Area of Sponges and Marine Gorgonians as Indicators of Habitat Availability on Caribbean Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Surface area and topographical complexity are fundamental attributes of shallow tropical coral reefs and can be used to estimate habitat for fish and invertebrates. This study presents empirical methods for estimating surface area provided by sponges and gorgonians in the Central...

  12. Ocean acidification effects on Caribbean scleractinian coral calcification using a recirculating system: a novel approach to OA research

    Science.gov (United States)

    Projected increases in ocean pCO2 levels are likely to affect calcifying organisms more rapidly and to a greater extent than any other marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification (OA) has been documented in numerous species of corals in both laboratory and field studies....

  13. 78 FR 12703 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendment to the Corals and Reef...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-02-25

    ... Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plan of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands AGENCY... Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (Coral FMP... maritima), and one group of species, the sea vines (Halophila spp., including H. decipiens, H. baillonis, H...

  14. The spatial pattern and dominant drivers of woody cover change in Latin America and Caribbean from 2001 to 2010

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clark, M.; Aide, T.; Riner, G.; Redo, D.; Grau, H.; Bonilla-Moheno, M.; Lopez-Carr, D.; Levy, M.

    2011-12-01

    Change in woody vegetation (i.e., forests, shrublands) is a major component of global environmental change: it directly affects biodiversity, the global carbon budget, and ecosystem function. For several decades, remote sensing technology has been used to document deforestation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), although mostly at local to regional scales (e.g., moist forests of the Amazon basin). Most studies have focused on forest loss, some local-scale studies have mapped forest recovery, with contrasting forest dynamics attributed to shifting demographic and socio-economic factors. For example, local population change (rural-urban migration) can stimulate forest recovery on abandoned land, while increasing global food demand may drive regional expansion of mechanized agriculture. However, there are no studies in LAC that simultaneously map both loss and gain in woody vegetation at continental, national, and municipality scales with consistent data sources, methods and accuracy; and thus, we lack a comprehensive assessment of the spatial distribution of woody vegetation change and the relative importance of the multi-scale drivers of this change. We overcame this limitation by producing annual land-cover maps between 2001 and 2010 for each of the >16,000 municipalities in LAC. We focused on mapping municipality-scale trends in three broad classes: woody vegetation, mixed woody/plantations, and agriculture/herbaceous vegetation. Our area estimates show that woody vegetation change during the past decade was dominated by deforestation, or loss (-541,830 km2), particularly in the Amazon basin moist forest and the tropical-subtropical Cerrado and Chaco ecoregions, where large swaths of forest have been transformed to pastures and agricultural lands. Extensive areas (362,431 km2) in LAC also gained woody vegetation, particularly in regions too dry or too steep for modern agriculture, including the desert/xeric shrub biome in NE Brazil and northern Mexico, the

  15. Antibacterial Activity of Hawaiian Corals: Possible Protection from Disease?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gochfeld, D. J.; Aeby, G. S.; Miller, J. D.

    2006-12-01

    Reports of coral diseases in the Caribbean have appeared with increasing frequency over the past two decades; however, records of coral diseases in the Pacific have lagged far behind. Recent surveys of coral disease in the Hawaiian Islands indicate relatively low, but consistent, levels of disease throughout the inhabited Main and uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and demonstrate variation in levels of disease among the major genera of Hawaiian corals. Although little is known about immune defense to disease in corals, one potential mechanism of defense is the production of antimicrobial compounds that protect corals from pathogens. A preliminary survey of antibacterial chemical defenses among three dominant species of Hawaiian corals was undertaken. Crude aqueous extracts of Porites lobata, Pocillopora meandrina and Montipora capitata were tested against nine strains of bacteria in a growth inhibition assay. Inhibitory extracts were further tested to determine whether their effects were cytostatic or cytotoxic. The bacteria selected included known coral pathogens, potential marine pathogens found in human waste and strains previously identified from the surfaces of Hawaiian corals. Extracts from all three species of coral exhibited a high degree of antibacterial activity, but also a high degree of selectivity against different bacterial strains. In addition, some extracts were stimulatory to some bacteria. In addition to interspecific variability, extracts also exhibited intraspecific variability, both within and between sites. Hawaiian corals have significant antibacterial activity, which may explain the relatively low prevalence of disease in these corals; however, further characterization of pathogens specifically responsible for disease in Hawaiian corals is necessary before we can conclude that antibacterial activity protects Hawaiian corals from disease.

  16. The microbiome of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata is dominated by tissue-associated Endozoicomonas bacteria.

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, Till; Neave, Matthew J.; Alsheikh Hussain, Areej Sameer; Aranda, Manuel; Yum, Lauren K; Mincer, Tracy; Hughen, Konrad; Apprill, Amy; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2013-01-01

    Endozoicomonas bacteria were found highly associated with the coral Stylophora pistillata, and these bacteria are also ubiquitously associated with diverse corals worldwide. Novel Endozoicomonas-specific probes revealed that Endozoicomonas bacteria were abundant in the endodermal tissues of S. pistillata and appear to have an intimate relationship with the coral.

  17. The microbiome of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata is dominated by tissue-associated Endozoicomonas bacteria.

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, Till

    2013-08-01

    Endozoicomonas bacteria were found highly associated with the coral Stylophora pistillata, and these bacteria are also ubiquitously associated with diverse corals worldwide. Novel Endozoicomonas-specific probes revealed that Endozoicomonas bacteria were abundant in the endodermal tissues of S. pistillata and appear to have an intimate relationship with the coral.

  18. Sharing the slope: depth partitioning of agariciid corals and associated Symbiodinium across shallow and mesophotic habitats (2-60 m) on a Caribbean reef.

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bongaerts, P.; Frade, P.R.; Ogier, J.J.; Hay, K.B.; van Bleijswijk, J.; Englebert, N.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Bak, R.P.M.; Visser, P.M.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O

    2013-01-01

    Background Scleractinian corals and their algal endosymbionts (genus Symbiodinium) exhibit distinct bathymetric distributions on coral reefs. Yet, few studies have assessed the evolutionary context of these ecological distributions by exploring the genetic diversity of closely related coral species

  19. 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.

    , also known as rainforests of the sea, are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth (Davidson 1998). The health, abundance and diversity of organisms of coral reef ecosystems are directly linked to the surrounding marine environment. Seagrass beds... to a disturbed ecosystem (Gunderson 2000). Since the health and growth of coral and seagrass are regulated by several factors, the environmental monitoring of the coral ecosystem is a challenging study (Bulthius 1983; Haynes et al. 2005; Prange et...

  20. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2014-01-01

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

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

    KAUST Repository

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

    2014-01-01

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

  3. Genetic diversity and connectivity in the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis in Florida.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elizabeth M Hemond

    2010-01-01

    Full Text Available Over the past three decades, populations of the dominant shallow water Caribbean corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have been devastated by white-band disease (WBD, resulting in the listing of both species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A key to conserving these threatened corals is understanding how their populations are genetically interconnected throughout the greater Caribbean. Genetic research has demonstrated that gene flow is regionally restricted across the Caribbean in both species. Yet, despite being an important site of coral reef research, little genetic data has been available for the Florida Acropora, especially for the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis. In this study, we present new mitochondrial DNA sequence data from 52 A. cervicornis individuals from 22 sites spread across the upper and lower Florida Keys, which suggest that Florida's A. cervicornis populations are highly genetically interconnected (F(ST = -0.081. Comparison between Florida and existing mtDNA data from six regional Caribbean populations indicates that Florida possesses high levels of standing genetic diversity (h = 0.824 relative to the rest of the greater Caribbean (h = 0.701+/-0.043. We find that the contemporary level of gene flow across the greater Caribbean, including Florida, is restricted (Phi(CT = 0.117, but evidence from shared haplotypes suggests the Western Caribbean has historically been a source of genetic variation for Florida. Despite the current patchiness of A. cervicornis in Florida, the relatively high genetic diversity and connectivity within Florida suggest that this population may have sufficient genetic variation to be viable and resilient to environmental perturbation and disease. Limited genetic exchange across regional populations of the greater Caribbean, including Florida, indicates that conservation efforts for A. cervicornis should focus on maintaining and managing populations locally rather than

  4. Genetic diversity and connectivity in the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in Florida.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hemond, Elizabeth M; Vollmer, Steven V

    2010-01-11

    Over the past three decades, populations of the dominant shallow water Caribbean corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have been devastated by white-band disease (WBD), resulting in the listing of both species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A key to conserving these threatened corals is understanding how their populations are genetically interconnected throughout the greater Caribbean. Genetic research has demonstrated that gene flow is regionally restricted across the Caribbean in both species. Yet, despite being an important site of coral reef research, little genetic data has been available for the Florida Acropora, especially for the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis. In this study, we present new mitochondrial DNA sequence data from 52 A. cervicornis individuals from 22 sites spread across the upper and lower Florida Keys, which suggest that Florida's A. cervicornis populations are highly genetically interconnected (F(ST) = -0.081). Comparison between Florida and existing mtDNA data from six regional Caribbean populations indicates that Florida possesses high levels of standing genetic diversity (h = 0.824) relative to the rest of the greater Caribbean (h = 0.701+/-0.043). We find that the contemporary level of gene flow across the greater Caribbean, including Florida, is restricted (Phi(CT) = 0.117), but evidence from shared haplotypes suggests the Western Caribbean has historically been a source of genetic variation for Florida. Despite the current patchiness of A. cervicornis in Florida, the relatively high genetic diversity and connectivity within Florida suggest that this population may have sufficient genetic variation to be viable and resilient to environmental perturbation and disease. Limited genetic exchange across regional populations of the greater Caribbean, including Florida, indicates that conservation efforts for A. cervicornis should focus on maintaining and managing populations locally rather than relying on larval

  5. Phylogenetic reconstruction using secondary structures of Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 (ITS2, rDNA: finding the molecular and morphological gap in Caribbean gorgonian corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sánchez Juan A

    2007-06-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Most phylogenetic studies using current methods have focused on primary DNA sequence information. However, RNA secondary structures are particularly useful in systematics because they include characteristics, not found in the primary sequence, that give "morphological" information. Despite the number of recent molecular studies on octocorals, there is no consensus opinion about a region that carries enough phylogenetic resolution to solve intrageneric or close species relationships. Moreover, intrageneric morphological information by itself does not always produce accurate phylogenies; intra-species comparisons can reveal greater differences than intra-generic ones. The search for new phylogenetic approaches, such as by RNA secondary structure analysis, is therefore a priority in octocoral research. Results Initially, twelve predicted RNA secondary structures were reconstructed to provide the basic information for phylogenetic analyses; they accorded with the 6 helicoidal ring model, also present in other groups of corals and eukaryotes. We obtained three similar topologies for nine species of the Caribbean gorgonian genus Eunicea (candelabrum corals with two sister taxa as outgroups (genera Plexaura and Pseudoplexaura on the basis of molecular morphometrics of ITS2 RNA secondary structures only, traditional primary sequence analyses and maximum likelihood, and a Bayesian analysis of the combined data. The latter approach allowed us to include both primary sequence and RNA molecular morphometrics; each data partition was allowed to have a different evolution rate. In addition, each helix was partitioned as if it had evolved at a distinct rate. Plexaura flexuosa was found to group within Eunicea; this was best supported by both the molecular morphometrics and combined analyses. We suggest Eunicea flexuosa (Lamouroux, 1821 comb. nov., and we present a new species description including Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM images of

  6. Mapping Prevalence and Incidence of Coral Disease in reef-building corals at two Natural Reserves of the Southwest Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sanchez Viruet, I.; Irizarry-Soto, E.; Ruiz-Valentín, I.

    2016-02-01

    Coral diseases seems to be the main cause of coral reef decline in the Caribbean. Before the bleaching event of 2005, coral reefs in Puerto Rico were dominated by the reef-building taxa: Orbicella annularis, Porites astreoides, Montastrea cavernosa, Agaricia agaracites and Colpophyllia natans. After the event, live-coral cover significantly declined and more than 90% of the scleractinian corals in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico showed signals of thermal stressors. The prevalence of coral diseases in five reef-building coral (Orbicella annularis, Orbicella franksi, Orbicella faveolata, Porites porites and Pseudiploria strigosa) species was assessed by tagging, photographing, and mapping all diseased and healthy colonies within 10 permanent 40m2 band transects at each inshore and mid-shelf reefs of Belvedere and Punta Guaniquilla Natural Reserves using a random stratified sampling method. Maximum and perpendicular diameter was used to assess coral size using Coral Point Count with Excel Extension. Corals were classified into three size class populations (class I: 0-50cm, class II: 50-100cm and class III: >100 cm). Data was used to develop a GIS-based map containing coral species, size and disease presence. Preliminary results of the inshore area showed a higher disease prevalence in Belvedere natural reserve and for P. strigosa (17.1%) and O. annularis (9.3%). Frequency distribution analysis showed a dominance of O. faveolata at Punta Guaniquilla and Belvedere (127 and 88 individuals respectively). Size class I dominates the distribution of each species within the natural reserves with a higher disease prevalence. Future work include continue prevalence surveys of the outer reef shelf on both natural reserves, monitoring and GIS-based mapping of incidence and resilience through time. This study will help in the assessment of the status of the coral reef of the southwest insular platform.

  7. Archaeal and Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus of Caribbean Corals Differ in Their Degree of Host Specificity and Community Turnover Over Reefs

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Frade, P.R.; Roll, K.; Bergauer, K.; Herndl, G.

    2016-01-01

    Comparative studies on the distribution of archaeal versus bacterial communities associatedwith the surface mucus layer of corals have rarely taken place. It has thereforeremained enigmatic whether mucus-associated archaeal and bacterial communities exhibita similar specificity towards coral hosts

  8. 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).

  9. 78 FR 57534 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-09-19

    ... requirements, South Atlantic, Virgin Islands. Dated: September 12, 2013. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant... Mexico, and South Atlantic AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and... Mexico, and South Atlantic: Caribbean coral, Caribbean reef fish, Caribbean spiny lobster, Caribbean...

  10. Temporal Sampling of White Band Disease Infected Corals Reveals Complex and Dynamic Bacterial Communities

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gignoux-Wolfsohn, S.; Vollmer, S. V.; Aronson, F. M.

    2016-02-01

    White band disease (WBD) is a coral disease that is currently decimating populations of the endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis and elkhorn coral, A. palmata across the Caribbean. Since it was first reported in 1979, WBD has killed 95% of these critical reef-building Caribbean corals. WBD is infectious; it can be transmitted through the water column or by a corallivorous snail. While previous research shows that WBD is likely caused by bacteria, identification of a specific pathogen or pathogens has remained elusive. Much of the difficulty of understanding the etiology of the disease comes from a lack of information about how existing bacterial communities respond to disease and separating initial from secondary colonizers. In order to address this lack of information, we performed a fully-crossed tank infection experiment. We exposed healthy corals from two different sites to disease and healthy (control) homogenates from both sites, replicating genotype across tanks. We sampled every coral at three time points: before inoculation with the homogenate, after inoculation, and when the coral showed signs of disease. We then performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing on the Illumina HiSeq 2000. We saw significant differences between time points and disease state. Interestingly, at the first time point (time one) we observed differences between genotypes: every fragment from some genotypes was dominated by Endozoicomonas, while other genotypes were not dominated by one family. At time two we saw an increase in abundance of Alteromonadaceae and Flavobacteriaceae in all corals, and a larger increase in disease-exposed corals. At time three, we saw another increase in Flavobacteriaceae abundance in diseased corals, as well as an introduction of Francisella to diseased corals. While Flavobacteriaceae and Francisella were proposed as potential pathogens, their increase at time three suggests they may be secondary colonizers or opportunists. In genotypes that were

  11. Draft genome sequence of Halomonas meridiana R1t3 isolated from the surface microbiota of the Caribbean Elkhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, Julie L; Dillard, Brian A; Rodgers, John M; Ritchie, Kim B; Paul, Valerie J; Teplitski, Max

    2015-01-01

    Members of the gammaproteobacterial genus Halomonas are common in marine environments. Halomonas and other members of the Oceanospirillales have recently been identified as prominent members of the surface microbiota of reef-building corals. Halomonas meridiana strain R1t3 was isolated from the surface mucus layer of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in 2005 from the Florida Keys. This strain was chosen for genome sequencing to provide insight into the role of commensal heterotrophic bacteria in the coral holobiont. The draft genome consists of 290 scaffolds, totaling 3.5 Mbp in length and contains 3397 protein-coding genes.

  12. Symbiodinium biogeography tracks environmental patterns rather than host genetics in a key Caribbean reef-builder, Orbicella annularis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kennedy, Emma V; Tonk, Linda; Foster, Nicola L; Chollett, Iliana; Ortiz, Juan-Carlos; Dove, Sophie; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Mumby, Peter J; Stevens, Jamie R

    2016-11-16

    The physiological performance of a reef-building coral is a combined outcome of both the coral host and its algal endosymbionts, Symbiodinium While Orbicella annularis-a dominant reef-building coral in the Wider Caribbean-is known to be a flexible host in terms of the diversity of Symbiodinium types it can associate with, it is uncertain how this diversity varies across the Caribbean, and whether spatial variability in the symbiont community is related to either O. annularis genotype or environment. Here, we target the Symbiodinium-ITS2 gene to characterize and map dominant Symbiodinium hosted by O. annularis at an unprecedented spatial scale. We reveal northwest-southeast partitioning across the Caribbean, both in terms of the dominant symbiont taxa hosted and in assemblage diversity. Multivariate regression analyses incorporating a suite of environmental and genetic factors reveal that observed spatial patterns are predominantly explained by chronic thermal stress (summer temperatures) and are unrelated to host genotype. Furthermore, we were able to associate the presence of specific Symbiodinium types with local environmental drivers (for example, Symbiodinium C7 with areas experiencing cooler summers, B1j with nutrient loading and B17 with turbidity), associations that have not previously been described. © 2016 The Authors.

  13. NOAA Coral Reef Watch Monthly 25 km Ocean Acidification Product Suite from 1988-01-01 to 2012-01-31 covering the Greater Caribbean Region

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The NOAA Coral Reef Watch Experimental Ocean Acidification Product Suite (OAPS) offers an important synthesis of satellite and modeled environmental datasets to...

  14. NOAA Coral Reef Watch 25km Ocean Acidification Product Suite (OAPS) for January 1988 to the present covering the Greater Caribbean Region

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The NOAA Coral Reef Watch Experimental Ocean Acidification Product Suite (OAPS) offers an important synthesis of satellite and modeled environmental datasets to...

  15. 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.

  16. Transient turbid water mass reduces temperature-induced coral bleaching and mortality in Barbados

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vallès, Henri

    2016-01-01

    Global warming is seen as one of the greatest threats to the world’s coral reefs and, with the continued rise in sea surface temperature predicted into the future, there is a great need for further understanding of how to prevent and address the damaging impacts. This is particularly so for countries whose economies depend heavily on healthy reefs, such as those of the eastern Caribbean. Here, we compare the severity of bleaching and mortality for five dominant coral species at six representative reef sites in Barbados during the two most significant warm-water events ever recorded in the eastern Caribbean, i.e., 2005 and 2010, and describe prevailing island-scale sea water conditions during both events. In so doing, we demonstrate that coral bleaching and subsequent mortality were considerably lower in 2010 than in 2005 for all species, irrespective of site, even though the anomalously warm water temperature profiles were very similar between years. We also show that during the 2010 event, Barbados was engulfed by a transient dark green turbid water mass of riverine origin coming from South America. We suggest that reduced exposure to high solar radiation associated with this transient water mass was the primary contributing factor to the lower bleaching and mortality observed in all corals. We conclude that monitoring these episodic mesoscale oceanographic features might improve risk assessments of southeastern Caribbean reefs to warm-water events in the future. PMID:27326377

  17. 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

  18. Calcification in Caribbean reef-building corals at high pCO2 levels in a recirculating ocean acidification exposure system

    Science.gov (United States)

    Projected increases in ocean pCO2 levels are anticipated to affect calcifying organisms more rapidly and to a greater extent than other marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification (OA) have been documented in numerous species of corals in laboratory studies, largely test...

  19. Calcification rates of the Caribbean reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea adversely affected by both seawater warming and CO2-induced ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horvath, K. M.; Connolly, B. D.; Westfield, I. T.; Chow, E.; Castillo, K. D.; Ries, J. B.

    2013-05-01

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that atmospheric pCO2 will increase to ca. 550-950 ppm by the end of the century, primarily due to the anthropogenic combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and cement production. This is predicted to cause SST to increase by 1-3 °C and seawater pH to decrease by 0.1-0.3 units. Laboratory studies have shown that warming depresses calcification rates of scleractinian corals and that acidification yields mixed effects on coral calcification. With both warming and ocean acidification predicted for the next century, we must constrain the interactive effects of these two CO2-induced stressors on scleractinian coral calcification. Here, we present the results of experiments designed to assess the response of the scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea to both ocean warming and acidification. Coral fragments (12/tank) were reared for 60 days under three temperatures (25.1± 0.02 °C, 28.0± 0.02 °C, 31.8± 0.02 °C) at near modern pCO2 (436 ± 7) and near the highest IPCC estimate for atmospheric pCO2 for the year 2100 AD (883 ± 16). Each temperature and pCO2 treatment was executed in triplicate and contained similarly sized S. Siderea fragments obtained from the same suite of coral colonies equitably distributed amongst the nearshore, backreef, and forereef zones of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System off the coast of southern Belize. Individual coral fragments were hand fed Artemia sp. to satiation twice weekly. Weekly seawater samples (250 ml) were collected and analyzed for dissolved inorganic carbon via coulometry and total alkalinity via closed-cell potentiometric titration. Seawater pCO2, pH, carbonate ion concentration, bicarbonate ion concentration, aqueous CO2, and aragonite saturation state (ΩA) were calculated with the program CO2SYS. Under near-modern atmospheric pCO2 of ca. 436 ± 7 ppm, seawater warming from 25 to 28 to 32°C caused coral calcification rates (estimated from change in

  20. 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…

  1. The microbial biosphere of the coral Acropora cervicornis in Northeastern Puerto Rico

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Filipa Godoy-Vitorino

    2017-08-01

    Full Text Available Background Coral reefs are the most biodiverse ecosystems in the marine realm, and they not only contribute a plethora of ecosystem services to other marine organisms, but they also are beneficial to humankind via, for instance, their role as nurseries for commercially important fish species. Corals are considered holobionts (host + symbionts since they are composed not only of coral polyps, but also algae, other microbial eukaryotes and prokaryotes. In recent years, Caribbean reef corals, including the once-common scleractinian coral Acropora cervicornis, have suffered unprecedented mortality due to climate change-related stressors. Unfortunately, our basic knowledge of the molecular ecophysiology of reef corals, particularly with respect to their complex bacterial microbiota, is currently too poor to project how climate change will affect this species. For instance, we do not know how light influences microbial communities of A. cervicornis, arguably the most endangered of all Caribbean coral species. To this end, we characterized the microbiota of A. cervicornis inhabiting water depths with different light regimes. Methods Six A. cervicornis fragments from different individuals were collected at two different depths (three at 1.5 m and three at 11 m from a reef 3.2 km off the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. We characterized the microbial communities by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene region V4 with the Illumina platform. Results A total of 173,137 good-quality sequences were binned into 803 OTUs with a 97% similarity. We uncovered eight bacterial phyla at both depths with a dominance of 725 Rickettsiales OTUs (Proteobacteria. A fewer number (38 of low dominance OTUs varied by depth and taxa enriched in shallow water corals included Proteobacteria (e.g. Rhodobacteraceae and Serratia and Firmicutes (Streptococcus. Those enriched in deeper water corals featured different Proteobacterial taxa (Campylobacterales and Bradyrhizobium and Firmicutes

  2. The Caribbean conundrum of Holocene sea level.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jackson, Luke; Mound, Jon

    2014-05-01

    In the tropics, pre-historic sea-level curve reconstruction is often problematic because it relies upon sea-level indicators whose vertical relationship to the sea surface is poorly constrained. In the Caribbean, fossil corals, mangrove peats and shell material dominate the pre-historic indicator record. The common approach to reconstruction involves the use of modern analogues to these indicators to establish a fixed vertical habitable range. The aim of these reconstructions is to find spatial variability in the Holocene sea level in an area gradually subsiding (different depths. We use the first catalogue to calibrate 14C ages to give a probabilistic age range for each indicator. We use the second catalogue to define a depth probability distribution function (pdf) for mangroves and each coral species. The Holocene indicators are grouped into 12 sub-regions around the Caribbean. For each sub-region we apply our sea-level reconstruction, which involves stepping a fixed-length time window through time and calculating the position (and rate) of sea-level (change) using a thousand realisations of the time/depth pdfs to define an envelope of probable solutions. We find that the sub-regional relative sea-level curves display spatio-temporal variability including a south-east to north-west 1500 year lag in the arrival of Holocene sea level to that of the present day. We demonstrate that these variations are primarily due to glacial-isostatic-adjustment induced sea-level change and that sub-regional variations (where sufficient data exists) are due to local uplift variability.

  3. Endolithic algae in living stony corals: algal concentrations under influence of depth-dependent light conditions and coral tissue fluorescence in Agaricia agaricites (L.) and Meandrina meandrites (L.) (Scleractinia, Anthozoa)

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Delvoye, Laurent

    1992-01-01

    DELVOYE, L., 1992. Endolithic algae in living stony corals: Algal concentrations under influence of depth-dependent light conditions and coral tissue fluorescence in Agaricia agaricites (L) and Meandrina meandrites (L.) (Sclereactinia, Anthozoa). Studies Nat. Hist. Caribbean Region 71, Amsterdam

  4. Metagenomic and ecophysiological analysis of biofilms colonizing coral substrates: "Life after death of coral"

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sanchez, A., Sr.; Cerqueda-Garcia, D.; Falcón, L. I.; Iglesias-Prieto, R., Sr.

    2015-12-01

    Coral reefs are the most productive ecosystems on the planet and are the most important carbonated structures of biological origin. However, global warming is affecting the health and functionality of these ecosystems. Specifically, most of the Acropora sp. stony corals have declined their population all over the Mexican Caribbean in more than ~80% of their original coverage, resulting in vast extensions of dead coral rubble. When the coral dies, the skeleton begins to be colonized by algae, sponges, bacteria and others, forming a highly diverse biofilm. We analyzed the metagenomes of the dead A. palmata rubbles from Puerto Morelos, in the Mexican Caribbean. Also, we quantified the elemental composition of biomass and measured nitrogen fixation and emission of greenhouse gases over 24 hrs. This works provides information on how the community is composed and functions after the death of the coral, visualizing a possible picture for a world without coral reefs.

  5. Variation in habitat soundscape characteristics influences settlement of a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lillis, Ashlee; Bohnenstiehl, DelWayne; Peters, Jason W; Eggleston, David

    2016-01-01

    Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata , was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties. Differences between reef sites in the number of larvae settled in chambers isolating acoustic cues corresponded to differences in sound levels and reef characteristics, with sounds at the loudest reef generating significantly higher settlement during trials compared to the quietest site (a 29.5 % increase). These results suggest that soundscapes could be an important influence on coral settlement patterns and that acoustic cues associated with reef habitat may be related to larval settlement. This study reports an effect of soundscape variation on larval settlement for a key coral species, and adds to the growing evidence that soundscapes affect marine ecosystems by influencing early life history processes of foundational species.

  6. Variation in habitat soundscape characteristics influences settlement of a reef-building coral

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ashlee Lillis

    2016-10-01

    Full Text Available Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties. Differences between reef sites in the number of larvae settled in chambers isolating acoustic cues corresponded to differences in sound levels and reef characteristics, with sounds at the loudest reef generating significantly higher settlement during trials compared to the quietest site (a 29.5 % increase. These results suggest that soundscapes could be an important influence on coral settlement patterns and that acoustic cues associated with reef habitat may be related to larval settlement. This study reports an effect of soundscape variation on larval settlement for a key coral species, and adds to the growing evidence that soundscapes affect marine ecosystems by influencing early life history processes of foundational species.

  7. 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. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  8. The presence of the cyanobacterial toxin microcystin in black band disease of corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richardson, Laurie L; Sekar, Raju; Myers, Jamie L; Gantar, Miroslav; Voss, Joshua D; Kaczmarsky, Longin; Remily, Elizabeth R; Boyer, Gregory L; Zimba, Paul V

    2007-07-01

    Black band disease (BBD) is a migrating, cyanobacterial dominated, sulfide-rich microbial mat that moves across coral colonies lysing coral tissue. While it is known that BBD sulfate-reducing bacteria contribute to BBD pathogenicity by production of sulfide, additional mechanisms of toxicity may be involved. Using HPLC/MS, the cyanotoxin microcystin was detected in 22 field samples of BBD collected from five coral species on nine reefs of the wider Caribbean (Florida Keys and Bahamas). Two cyanobacterial cultures isolated from BBD, Geitlerinema and Leptolyngbya sp. contained microcystin based on HPLC/MS, with toxic activity confirmed using the protein phosphatase inhibition assay. The gene mcyA from the microcystin synthesis complex was detected in two field samples and from both BBD cyanobacterial cultures. Microcystin was not detected in six BBD samples from a different area of the Caribbean (St Croix, USVI) and the Philippines, suggesting regional specificity for BBD microcystin. This is the first report of the presence of microcystin in a coral disease.

  9. A unified, long-term, Caribbean-wide initiative to identity the factors responsible for sustaining mangrove wetland, seagrass meadow, and coral reef productivity, February 1993 - October 1998 (NODC Accession 0000501)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity (CARICOMP) Program is a Caribbean-wide research and monitoring network of 27 marine laboratories, parks, and reserves in 17...

  10. NASA's Current and Next Generation Coastal Remote Sensing Missions and Coral Reef Projects.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guild, Liane S.

    2015-01-01

    The LLILAS Faculty Research Initiative presents a two-day symposium, Caribbean Coral Reefs at Risk. This international symposium examines the current state and future of coral reef conservation efforts throughout the Caribbean from the perspective of government agencies, nongovernment organizations, and academia.

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. Assessing land use, sedimentation, and water quality stressors as predictors of coral reef condition in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oliver, L M; Fisher, W S; Fore, L; Smith, A; Bradley, P

    2018-03-13

    Coral reef condition on the south shore of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was assessed at various distances from Charlotte Amalie, the most densely populated city on the island. Human influence in the area includes industrial activity, wastewater discharge, cruise ship docks, and impervious surfaces throughout the watershed. Anthropogenic activity was characterized using a landscape development intensity (LDI) index, sedimentation threat (ST) estimates, and water quality (WQ) impairments in the near-coastal zone. Total three-dimensional coral cover, reef rugosity, and coral diversity had significant negative coefficients for LDI index, as did densities of dominant species Orbicella annularis, Orbicella franksi, Montastraea cavernosa, Orbicella faveolata, and Porites porites. However, overall stony coral colony density was not significantly correlated with stressors. Positive relationships between reef rugosity and ST, between coral diversity and ST, and between coral diversity and WQ were unexpected because these stressors are generally thought to negatively influence coral growth and health. Sponge density was greater with higher disturbance indicators (ST and WQ), consistent with reports of greater resistance by sponges to degraded water quality compared to stony corals. The highest FoRAM (Foraminifera in Reef Assessment and Monitoring) indices indicating good water quality were found offshore from the main island and outside the harbor. Negative associations between stony coral metrics and LDI index have been reported elsewhere in the Caribbean and highlight LDI index potential as a spatial tool to characterize land-based anthropogenic stressor gradients relevant to coral reefs. Fewer relationships were found with an integrated stressor index but with similar trends in response direction.

  14. Caribbean Music.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dean, Kris

    1991-01-01

    The Caribbean is a rich breeding ground for African-derived music. A synopsis is given of the music of the following countries and styles: (1) Jamaica; (2) Trinidad and Tobago; (3) Calypso; (4) steel pan; (5) Haiti; (6) Dominican Republic; (7) Cuba; (8) Puerto Rico; and (9) other islands. (SLD)

  15. The results of long term coral reef monitoring at three locations in Jamaica: Monkey Island, “Gorgo City” and Southeast Cay

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Marcia Creary Ford

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available The global and regional impacts of climate change are having devastating consequences on the coral reef ecosystems of the Caribbean. Long term monitoring are important tool for assessing reef health. Monitoring was established in 2000 in the Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica. Following the pilot project, the program was institutionalized in Jamaica and monitoring was conducted on eight occasions from 2000 to 2010. Monkey Island and “Gorgo City” near Discovery Bay (both on the north coast and Southeast Cay at Port Royal on the south coast were selected. Macroalgae dominated the benthic substrate. Monkey Island and “Gorgo City” had the highest coral cover. Porites astreoides, Montastraea spp., Porites porities, Siderastrea siderea, and Agaricia agaricites were the most common species. Data from this programme have been used in local and regional coral reef assessment and management initiatives.

  16. Coral reef ecosystem

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

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

    ), on submerged banks like Gave shani bank (13°24'N; 73°45'E) (Nair and Qasim 1978) andSidere~ko Bank (13°43.5' N; 73°42'E) (Rao 1972) and as stray individual units off Visakhapatnam (Bakus, G. personal communication) and Pondicherry (Ramesh, A. personal... communication). Fossil reefs, drowned as a result of the Holocene sea level rise, occur at 92, 85, 75 and 55 m depth along .. ~ !! ":2 0. ~ Figure 3.1 Graphical Representation of the SO-Box Model of a Caribbean Coral Reef Key: 1. Benthic producers. 2. Detritus...

  17. Global gradients of coral exposure to environmental stresses and implications for local management.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joseph Maina

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: The decline of coral reefs globally underscores the need for a spatial assessment of their exposure to multiple environmental stressors to estimate vulnerability and evaluate potential counter-measures. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study combined global spatial gradients of coral exposure to radiation stress factors (temperature, UV light and doldrums, stress-reinforcing factors (sedimentation and eutrophication, and stress-reducing factors (temperature variability and tidal amplitude to produce a global map of coral exposure and identify areas where exposure depends on factors that can be locally managed. A systems analytical approach was used to define interactions between radiation stress variables, stress reinforcing variables and stress reducing variables. Fuzzy logic and spatial ordinations were employed to quantify coral exposure to these stressors. Globally, corals are exposed to radiation and reinforcing stress, albeit with high spatial variability within regions. Based on ordination of exposure grades, regions group into two clusters. The first cluster was composed of severely exposed regions with high radiation and low reducing stress scores (South East Asia, Micronesia, Eastern Pacific and the central Indian Ocean or alternatively high reinforcing stress scores (the Middle East and the Western Australia. The second cluster was composed of moderately to highly exposed regions with moderate to high scores in both radiation and reducing factors (Caribbean, Great Barrier Reef (GBR, Central Pacific, Polynesia and the western Indian Ocean where the GBR was strongly associated with reinforcing stress. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite radiation stress being the most dominant stressor, the exposure of coral reefs could be reduced by locally managing chronic human impacts that act to reinforce radiation stress. Future research and management efforts should focus on incorporating the factors that mitigate the effect of

  18. Caribbean Reef Response to Plio-Pleistocene Climate Change: Results of the Dominican Republic Drilling Project (DRDP)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Klaus, J.; McNeill, D. F.; Diaz, V.; Swart, P. K.; Pourmand, A.

    2014-12-01

    Caribbean reefs changed profoundly in taxonomic composition, diversity, and dominance structure during late Pliocene and Pleistocene climatic change. These changes coincide with protracted climatic deterioration and cooling between 2.0 to 0.8 Ma, and the onset of high amplitude sea-level fluctuations ~400 ka. The Dominican Republic Drilling Project (DRDP) was initiated to determine how climate change and global high-amplitude sea level changes influenced depositional patterns in Pliocene to Recent reef systems of the Caribbean. A transect of 7 core borings (~700 m total depth) were collected along the southern coast of the DR. New age constraints based on U/Th geochronometry and radiogenic Sr isotopes, combined with depositional lithofacies, faunal indicators, and stable isotope profiles have allowed us to correlate between wells and define the internal anatomy and stratal geometry of the individual reef sigmoids and sigmoid sets. Faunal records suggest most extinction occurred prior to ~1 Ma. Following this extinction, fringing reef margins of the Caribbean display a characteristic zonation in which Acropora palmata dominates shallow high-energy reef crests and Acropora cervicornis calmer fore-reef slopes and backreef lagoons. The dominance of acroporids across this zonation has been attributed to growth rates 5-100 times faster than other corals.

  19. Monitoring coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves in Costa Rica (CARICOMP

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jorge Cortés

    2010-10-01

    Full Text Available The coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves from the Costa Rican Caribbean coast have been monitored since 1999 using the CARICOMP protocol. Live coral cover at Meager Shoal reef bank (7 to 10m depth at the Parque Nacional Cahuita (National Park, increased from 13.3% in 1999, to 28.2% in 2003, but decreased during the next 5 years to around 17.5%. Algal cover increased significantly since 2003 from 36.6% to 61.3% in 2008. The density of Diadema antillarum oscillated between 2 and 7ind/m2, while Echinometra viridis decreased significantly from 20 to 0.6ind/m2. Compared to other CARICOMP sites, live coral cover, fish diversity and density, and sea urchin density were low, and algal cover was intermediate. The seagrass site, also in the Parque Nacional Cahuita, is dominated by Thalassia testudinum and showed an intermediate productivity (2.7±1.15 g/m2/d and biomass (822.8±391.84 g/m2 compared to other CARICOMP sites. Coral reefs and seagrasses at the Parque Nacional Cahuita continue to be impacted by high sediment loads from terrestrial origin. The mangrove forest at Gandoca, within the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo (National Wildlife Refuge, surrounds a lagoon and it is dominated by the red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle. Productivity and flower production peak was in July. Biomass (14kg/m2 and density (9.0±0.58 trees/100m2 in Gandoca were relatively low compared to other CARICOMP sites, while productivity in July in Costa Rica (4g/m2/d was intermediate, similar to most CARICOMP sites. This mangrove is expanding and has low human impact thus far. Management actions should be taken to protect and preserve these important coastal ecosystems. Rev. Biol. Trop. 58 (Suppl. 3: 1-22. Epub 2010 October 01.

  20. Bottlenecks to coral recovery in the Seychelles

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chong-Seng, K. M.; Graham, N. A. J.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2014-06-01

    Processes that affect recovery of coral assemblages require investigation because coral reefs are experiencing a diverse array of more frequent disturbances. Potential bottlenecks to coral recovery include limited larval supply, low rates of settlement, and high mortality of new recruits or juvenile corals. We investigated spatial variation in local abundance of scleractinian corals in the Seychelles at three distinct life history stages (recruits, juveniles, and adults) on reefs with differing benthic conditions. Following widespread coral loss due to the 1998 bleaching event, some reefs are recovering (i.e., relatively high scleractinian coral cover: `coral-dominated'), some reefs have low cover of living macrobenthos and unconsolidated rubble substrates (`rubble-dominated'), and some reefs have high cover of macroalgae (`macroalgal-dominated'). Rates of coral recruitment to artificial settlement tiles were similar across all reef conditions, suggesting that larval supply does not explain differential coral recovery across the three reef types. However, acroporid recruits were absent on macroalgal-dominated reefs (0.0 ± 0.0 recruits tile-1) in comparison to coral-dominated reefs (5.2 ± 1.6 recruits tile-1). Juvenile coral colony density was significantly lower on macroalgal-dominated reefs (2.4 ± 1.1 colonies m-2), compared to coral-dominated reefs (16.8 ± 2.4 m-2) and rubble-dominated reefs (33.1 ± 7.3 m-2), suggesting that macroalgal-dominated reefs have either a bottleneck to successful settlement on the natural substrates or a high post-settlement mortality bottleneck. Rubble-dominated reefs had very low cover of adult corals (10.0 ± 1.7 %) compared to coral-dominated reefs (33.4 ± 3.6 %) despite no statistical difference in their juvenile coral densities. A bottleneck caused by low juvenile colony survivorship on unconsolidated rubble-dominated reefs is possible, or alternatively, recruitment to rubble-dominated reefs has only recently begun. This

  1. Large-scale coral recruitment patterns on Mona Island, Puerto Rico: evidence of a transitional community trajectory after massive coral bleaching and mortality

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Edwin A. Hernández-Delgado

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs have largely declined across the northeastern Caribbean following the 2005 massive bleaching event. Climate change-related sea surface warming and coral disease outbreaks of a white plague-like syndrome and of yellow band disease (YBD have caused significant coral decline affecting massive reef building species (i.e., Orbicella annularis species complex which show no apparent signs of recovery through larval sexual recruitment. We addressed coral recruit densities across three spur and groove reef locations along the western shelf of remote Mona Island, Puerto Rico: Punta Capitán (PCA, Pasa de Las Carmelitas (PLC, and Las Carmelitas-South (LCS. Data were collected during November 2012 along 93 haphazard transects across three depth zones (<5m, 5-10m, 10-15m. A total of 32 coral species (9 octocorals, 1 hydrocoral, 22 scleractinians were documented among the recruit community. Communities had low densities and dominance by short-lived brooder species seven years after the 2005 event. Mean coral recruit density ranged from 1.2 to 10.5/m2 at PCA, 6.3 to 7.2/m² at LCS, 4.5 to 9.5/m² at PLC. Differences in coral recruit community structure can be attributed to slight variation in percent macroalgal cover and composition as study sites had nearly similar benthic spatial heterogeneity. Dominance by ephemeral coral species was widespread. Recovery of largely declining massive reef-building species such as the O. annularis species complex was limited or non-existent. The lack of recovery could be the combined result of several mechanisms involving climate change, YBD disease, macroalgae, fishing, urchins and Mona Island’s reefs limited connectivity to other reef systems. There is also for rehabilitation of fish trophic structure, with emphasis in recovering herbivore guilds and depleted populations of D. antillarum. Failing to recognize the importance of ecosystem-based management and resilience rehabilitation may deem remote coral reefs

  2. Impact of Eastern Caribbean Circulation Seasonality on two Reef Organisms

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cherubin, L. M.; Paris, C. B.; Baums, I. B.; Idrisi, N.

    2008-05-01

    The variability of the Caribbean current is under the influence of the fresh water input from the Orinoco and Amazon rivers. Sea Surface Salinity maps of the eastern Caribbean show the seasonal extension of the riverine fresh water across the Caribbean basin, from August to December (wet season). The plume is divided into two main cores: one flows into the Caribbean Sea mostly through the Grenada Passage where it merges with the Caribbean Current while the other core is formed further north by advection of the river plume by the North Brazil Current rings. Due to the presence of fresh water the Caribbean Sea mesoscale activity is strongly increased during the wet season. Therefore, both coral reef ecosystems and coastal flows are under the scope of the large scale flow seasonality. The impact of the flow mesoscale seasonality on reef organisms is studied through two reef organisms: (1) Reef-building coral: Genetic analyzes show that populations of the Caribbean reef-building coral, Acropora palmata, have experienced little or no recent genetic exchange between the western and eastern Caribbean. Western Puerto Rico is identified as an area of mixing between the two subregions. Using a bio- physical coupled model accounting for larvae life history traits, we verify the plausibility of a present day oceanographic barrier caused by the Caribbean Current seasonal variability in the vicinity of Mona Passage. (2) Grouper: Several grouper species form spawning aggregations at the shelf edge of the US Virgin Islands starting at the end of the wet season in December. Using ADCP current measurements and numerical simulations, unusual large 'dispersion' pulses are shown to be associated with the presence of sub-mesoscale coherent features more likely to be formed during the wet season. Spawning occurring during the dry season (January to April) is mostly tide driven, suggesting a limited dispersal.

  3. The threatened Atlantic elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata : population dynamics and their policy implications

    OpenAIRE

    Vardi, Tali

    2011-01-01

    Fossil data from multiple locations indicates that Atlantic elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, formed shallow reefs throughout the Caribbean Sea since the Pleistocene. Beginning in the 1980s A. palmata has declined to a small fraction of its formerly vast extent throughout the region. In 2006, elkhorn coral was the first coral, along with its sister species, staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), to be included on the U.S. Endangered Species List. We used size-based matrix mod...

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

    OpenAIRE

    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...

  5. Oceanographic data collected during the Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies (bonaire2008) on Fetch1 AUV and Gavia AUV's in Netherlands, Antilles from January 6, 2008 - January 29, 2008 (NODC Accession 0072312)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, is arguably the most pristine coral reef environment in the Caribbean. The percent coral cover is the highest and percent algal cover...

  6. Holobiont Diversity in a Reef-Building Coral over Its Entire Depth Range in the Mesophotic Zone

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fanny L. Gonzalez-Zapata

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available Mesophotic reef-building coral communities (~30–120 m depth remain largely unexplored, despite representing roughly three-quarters of the overall depth range at which tropical coral reef ecosystems occur. Although many coral species are restricted to shallow depths, several species occur across large depth ranges, including lower mesophotic depths. Yet, it remains unclear how such species can persist under extreme low-light conditions and how the different symbiotic partners associated with these corals contribute to facilitate such broad depth ranges. We assessed holobiont genetic diversity of the Caribbean coral Agaricia undata over depth in three localities of Colombia: San Andres Island (between 37 and 85 m, Cartagena (between 17 and 45 m and “Parque Nacional Natural Corales de Profundidad” (between 77 and 87 m. We used a population genomics approach (NextRAD for the coral host, and amplicon sequencing for the associated Symbiodinium (non-coding region of the plastid psbA minicircle and prokaryotic (V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene symbiont community. For the coral host, genetic structuring was only observed across geographic regions, but not between depths. Bayesian clustering and discriminant analysis of principal components revealed genetic structuring between the three regions, but not between shallow (<30 m, upper (≥30 and ≤60 m and lower mesophotic (>60 m depths. This pattern was confirmed when evaluating pairwise differentiation (FST between populations, with much higher values between regions (0.0467–0.1034 compared to between depths [within location; −0.0075–(−0.0007]. Symbiotic partners, including seven types of zooxanthellae and 325 prokaryotic OTUs, did not exhibit partitioning across depths. All samples hosted Symbiodinium clade C3 and the type C3psbA_e was present in all depths. Alpha microbial diversity was not significantly different between zones (upper vs. lower, which community composition between coral

  7. A Case Study in the Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): the Islands of Bonaire and Curacao, Dutch Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Relles, Noelle J.

    The islands of Bonaire and Curacao, Dutch Caribbean, were both mapped along their leeward coasts for dominant coral community and other benthic cover in the early 1980s. This mapping effort offers a unique baseline for comparing changes in the benthic community of the two islands since that time, particularly given the marked differences between the two islands. Bonaire is well-protected and completely surrounded by a marine protected area (MPA), which includes two no-diving marine reserves; additionally, Bonaire's population is only around 15,000. In contrast, the island of Curacao is home to 140,000 inhabitants and marine protection is limited, with a reef area of 600 ha established as a "paper" park (i.e., little enforcement). Video transects collected by SCUBA over the reefs were collected on Bonaire in January of 2008; when compared to data from 1985, coral cover had declined in the shallowest portion of the reef ( 20%), predominantly sand (> 50%) and areas where hard coral and sand were mixed with soft corals, sea whips and marine plants. These modern maps (2007-09) were groundtruthed using the video data collected on Bonaire for accuracy and then compared to the early 1980s maps of the reefs on both islands. Bonaire experienced declines in coral cover overall and the remaining coral was increasingly patchy; however, changes in patch characteristics were not significant over the time period, but status as a marine reserve and the sheltering of the shoreline did appear to buffer against coral loss. Surprisingly, the island of Curacao did not experience a decline in total coral cover, but did become increasingly patchy, significantly more so than Bonaire. The Curacao Underwater Park afforded no additional protection against coral loss or fragmentation than an adjacent unprotected area of reef. The difference between the two islands in coral loss versus fragmentation has the potential for a unique natural experiment to study the effects of habitat fragmentation

  8. Inter-domain microbial diversity within the coral holobiont Siderastrea siderea from two depth habitats

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Guido Bonthond

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available Corals host diverse microbial communities that are involved in acclimatization, pathogen defense, and nutrient cycling. Surveys of coral-associated microbes have been particularly directed toward Symbiodinium and bacteria. However, a holistic understanding of the total microbiome has been hindered by a lack of analyses bridging taxonomically disparate groups. Using high-throughput amplicon sequencing, we simultaneously characterized the Symbiodinium, bacterial, and fungal communities associated with the Caribbean coral Siderastrea siderea collected from two depths (17 and 27 m on Conch reef in the Florida Keys. S. siderea hosted an exceptionally diverse Symbiodinium community, structured differently between sampled depth habitats. While dominated at 27 m by a Symbiodinium belonging to clade C, at 17 m S. siderea primarily hosted a mixture of clade B types. Most fungal operational taxonomic units were distantly related to available reference sequences, indicating the presence of a high degree of fungal novelty within the S. siderea holobiont and a lack of knowledge on the diversity of fungi on coral reefs. Network analysis showed that co-occurrence patterns in the S. siderea holobiont were prevalent among bacteria, however, also detected between fungi and bacteria. Overall, our data show a drastic shift in the associated Symbiodinium community between depths on Conch Reef, which might indicate that alteration in this community is an important mechanism facilitating local physiological adaptation of the S. siderea holobiont. In contrast, bacterial and fungal communities were not structured differently between depth habitats.

  9. Asymmetric competition prevents the outbreak of an opportunistic species after coral reef degradation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    González-Rivero, Manuel; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Chollett, Iliana; Ferrari, Renata; Schönberg, Christine H L; Mumby, Peter J

    2016-05-01

    Disturbance releases space and allows the growth of opportunistic species, excluded by the old stands, with a potential to alter community dynamics. In coral reefs, abundances of fast-growing, and disturbance-tolerant sponges are expected to increase and dominate as space becomes available following acute coral mortality events. Yet, an increase in abundance of these opportunistic species has been reported in only a few studies, suggesting certain mechanisms may be acting to regulate sponge populations. To gain insights into mechanisms of population control, we simulated the dynamics of the common reef-excavating sponge Cliona tenuis in the Caribbean using an individual-based model. An orthogonal hypothesis testing approach was used, where four candidate mechanisms-algal competition, stock-recruitment limitation, whole and partial mortality-were incorporated sequentially into the model and the results were tested against independent field observations taken over a decade in Belize, Central America. We found that releasing space after coral mortality can promote C. tenuis outbreaks, but such outbreaks can be curtailed by macroalgal competition. The asymmetrical competitive superiority of macroalgae, given by their capacity to pre-empt space and outcompete with the sponge in a size-dependant fashion, supports their capacity to steal the opportunity from other opportunists. While multiple system stages can be expected in coral reefs following intense perturbation macroalgae may prevent the growth of other space-occupiers, such as bioeroding sponges, under low grazing pressure.

  10. Downscaled projections of Sea Surface Temperatures and Degree Heating Weeks in the wider Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Projections of the onset of annual coral bleaching conditions in the Caribbean under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 are produced using an ensemble of...

  11. Allelopathy in the tropical alga Lobophora variegata (Phaeophyceae): mechanistic basis for a phase shift on mesophotic coral reefs?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Slattery, Marc; Lesser, Michael P

    2014-06-01

    Macroalgal phase shifts on Caribbean reefs have been reported with increasing frequency, and recent reports of these changes on mesophotic coral reefs have raised questions regarding the mechanistic processes behind algal population expansions to deeper depths. The brown alga Lobophora variegata is a dominant species on many shallow and deep coral reefs of the Caribbean and Pacific, and it increased in percent cover (>50%) up to 61 m on Bahamian reefs following the invasion of the lionfish Pterois volitans. We examined the physiological and ecological constraints contributing to the spread of Lobophora on Bahamian reefs across a mesophotic depth gradient from 30 to 61 m, pre- and post-lionfish invasion. Results indicate that there were no physiological limitations to the depth distribution of Lobophora within this range prior to the lionfish invasion. Herbivory by acanthurids and scarids in algal recruitment plots at mesophotic depths was higher prior to the lionfish invasion, and Lobophora chemical defenses were ineffective against an omnivorous fish species. In contrast, Lobophora exhibited significant allelopathic activity against the coral Montastraea cavernosa and the sponge Agelas clathrodes in laboratory assays. These data indicate that when lionfish predation on herbivorous fish released Lobophora from grazing pressure at depth, Lobophora expanded its benthic cover to a depth of 61 m, where it replaced the dominant coral and sponge species. Our results suggest that this chemically defended alga may out-compete these species in situ, and that mesophotic reefs may be further impacted in the near future as Lobophora continues to expand to its compensation point. © 2013 Phycological Society of America.

  12. Status and conservation of coral reefs in Costa Rica.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cortés, Jorge; Jiménez, Carlos E; Fonseca, Ana C; Alvarado, Juan José

    2010-05-01

    Costa Rica has coral communities and reefs on the Caribbean coast and on the Pacific along the coast and off-shore islands. The Southern section of the Caribbean coast has fringing and patch reefs, carbonate banks, and an incipient algal ridge. The Pacific coast has coral communities, reefs and isolated coral colonies. Coral reefs have been seriously impacted in the last 30 years, mainly by sediments (Caribbean coast and some Pacific reefs) and by El Niño warming events (both coasts). Monitoring is being carried out at three sites on each coast. Both coasts suffered significant reductions in live coral cover in the 1980's, but coral cover is now increasing in most sites. The government of Costa Rica is aware of the importance of coral reefs and marine environments in general, and in recent years decrees have been implemented (or are in the process of approval) to protect them, but limited resources endanger their proper management and conservation, including proper outreach to reef users and the general public.

  13. Genetic Susceptibility, Colony Size, and Water Temperature Drive White-Pox Disease on the Coral Acropora palmata

    OpenAIRE

    Muller, Erinn M.; van Woesik, Robert

    2014-01-01

    Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, g...

  14. Global coral disease prevalence associated with sea temperature anomalies and local factors.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ruiz-Moreno, Diego; Willis, Bette L; Page, A Cathie; Weil, Ernesto; Cróquer, Aldo; Vargas-Angel, Bernardo; Jordan-Garza, Adán Guillermo; Jordán-Dahlgren, Eric; Raymundo, Laurie; Harvell, C Drew

    2012-09-12

    Coral diseases are taking an increasing toll on coral reef structure and biodiversity and are important indicators of declining health in the oceans. We implemented standardized coral disease surveys to pinpoint hotspots of coral disease, reveal vulnerable coral families and test hypotheses about climate drivers from 39 locations worldwide. We analyzed a 3 yr study of coral disease prevalence to identify links between disease and a range of covariates, including thermal anomalies (from satellite data), location and coral cover, using a Generalized Linear Mixed Model. Prevalence of unhealthy corals, i.e. those with signs of known diseases or with other signs of compromised health, exceeded 10% on many reefs and ranged to over 50% on some. Disease prevalence exceeded 10% on 20% of Caribbean reefs and 2.7% of Pacific reefs surveyed. Within the same coral families across oceans, prevalence of unhealthy colonies was higher and some diseases were more common at sites in the Caribbean than those in the Pacific. The effects of high disease prevalence are potentially extensive given that the most affected coral families, the acroporids, faviids and siderastreids, are among the major reef-builders at these sites. The poritids and agaricids stood out in the Caribbean as being the most resistant to disease, even though these families were abundant in our surveys. Regional warm temperature anomalies were strongly correlated with high disease prevalence. The levels of disease reported here will provide a much-needed local reference point against which to compare future change.

  15. Lithifying Microbes Associated to Coral Rubbles

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beltran, Y.

    2015-12-01

    Microbial communities taking part in calcium carbonate lithification processes are particularly relevant to coral reef formation in as much as this lithification allows the stabilization of secondary reef structure. This second framework promotes long-term permanence of the reef, favoring the establishment of macro-reef builders, including corals. The reef-bacterial crusts formed by microbial communities are composed of magnesium calcite. Although prokaryotes are not proper calcifiers, carbonate precipitation can be induced by their metabolic activity and EPS production. Coral reefs are rapidly declining due to several variables associated to environmental change. Specifically in the Caribbean, stony coral Acropora palmata have suffered damage due to diseases, bleaching and storms. Some reports show that in highly disturbed areas wide ridges of reef rubbles are formed by biological and physical lithification. In this study we explore microbial diversity associated to lithified rubbles left after the great decline of reef-building A. palmata.

  16. 75 FR 9864 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-03-04

    ...-AY32 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based... thought to be the largest distribution (>23,000 square miles) of pristine deepwater coral ecosystems in... golden crab and deepwater shrimp fisheries while extending protection for deepwater coral ecosystems. CE...

  17. Extinction rate, historical population structure and ecological role of the Caribbean monk seal.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McClenachan, Loren; Cooper, Andrew B

    2008-06-22

    The productivity and biomass of pristine coral reef ecosystems is poorly understood, particularly in the Caribbean where communities have been impacted by overfishing and multiple other stressors over centuries. Using historical data on the spatial distribution and abundance of the extinct Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis), this study reconstructs the population size, structure and ecological role of this once common predator within coral reef communities, and provides evidence that historical reefs supported biomasses of fishes and invertebrates up to six times greater than those found on typical modern Caribbean reefs. An estimated 233,000-338,000 monk seals were distributed among 13 colonies across the Caribbean. The biomass of reef fishes and invertebrates required to support historical seal populations was 732-1018 gm(-2) of reefs, which exceeds that found on any Caribbean reef today and is comparable with those measured in remote Pacific reefs. Quantitative estimates of historically dense monk seal colonies and their consumption rates on pristine reefs provide concrete data on the magnitude of decline in animal biomass on Caribbean coral reefs. Realistic reconstruction of these past ecosystems is critical to understanding the profound and long-lasting effect of human hunting on the functioning of coral reef ecosystems.

  18. Changes in Eocene-Miocene shallow marine carbonate factories along the tropical SE Circum-Caribbean responded to major regional and global environmental and tectonic events

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silva-Tamayo, Juan Carlos

    2015-04-01

    Changes in the factory of Cenozoic tropical marine carbonates have been for long attributed to major variations on climatic and environmental conditions. Although important changes on the factories of Cenozoic Caribbean carbonates seem to have followed global climatic and environmental changes, the regional impact of such changes on the factories of shallow marine carbonate along the Caribbean is not well established. Moreover, the influence of transpressional tectonics on the occurrence, distribution and stratigraphy of shallow marine carbonate factories along this area is far from being well understood. Here we report detailed stratigraphic, petrographic and Sr-isotope chemostratigraphic information of several Eocene-Miocene carbonate successions deposited along the equatorial/tropical SE Circum-Caribbean (Colombia and Panama) from which we further assess the influence of changing environmental conditions, transtentional tectonics and sea level change on the development of the shallow marine carbonate factories. Our results suggest that during the Eocene-early Oligocene interval, a period of predominant high atmospheric pCO2, coralline algae constitute the principal carbonate builders of shallow marine carbonate successions along the SE Circum-Caribbean. Detailed stratigraphic and paragenetic analyses suggest the developed of laterally continuous red algae calcareous build-ups along outer-rimmed carbonate platforms. The predominance of coralline red algae over corals on the shallow marine carbonate factories was likely related to high sea surface temperatures and high turbidity. The occurrence of such build-ups was likely controlled by pronounce changes in the basin paleotopography, i.e. the occurrence of basement highs and lows, resulting from local transpressional tectonics. The occurrence of these calcareous red algae dominated factories was also controlled by diachronic opening of different sedimentary basins along the SE Circum Caribbean resulting from

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mallela, J; Crabbe, M J C

    2009-10-01

    Knowledge of coral recruitment patterns helps us understand how reefs react following major disturbances and provides us with an early warning system for predicting future reef health problems. We have reconstructed and interpreted historical and modern-day recruitment patterns, using a combination of growth modelling and in situ recruitment experiments, in order to understand how hurricanes, storms and bleaching events have influenced coral recruitment on the Caribbean coastline of Tobago. Whilst Tobago does not lie within the main hurricane belt results indicate that regional hurricane events negatively impact coral recruitment patterns in the Southern Caribbean. In years following hurricanes, tropical storms and bleaching events, coral recruitment was reduced when compared to normal years (p=0.016). Following Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and the 2005-2006 bleaching event, coral recruitment was markedly limited with only 2% (n=6) of colonies estimated to have recruited during 2006 and 2007. Our experimental results indicate that despite multiple large-scale disturbances corals are still recruiting on Tobago's marginal reef systems, albeit in low numbers.

  20. Bacterial profiling of White Plague Disease across corals and oceans indicates a conserved and distinct disease microbiome

    KAUST Repository

    Roder, C.; Arif, C.; Daniels, C.; Weil, E.; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2014-01-01

    microarrays to assay differences in bacterial assemblages of healthy and diseased colonies displaying White Plague Disease (WPD) signs from two closely related Caribbean coral species, Orbicella faveolata and Orbicella franksi. Analysis of differentially

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    KAUST Repository

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

    2015-01-01

    White Plague Disease (WPD) is implicated in coral reef decline in the Caribbean and is characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue. Studies thus far have focused on assessing microbial communities or the identification of specific pathogens, yet few have addressed holobiont response across metaorganism compartments in coral disease. Here, we report on the first metatranscriptomic assessment of the coral host, algal symbiont, and microbial compartment in order to 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.

  5. Microbial Regulation in Gorgonian Corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Laura D. Mydlarz

    2012-06-01

    Full Text Available Gorgonian corals possess many novel natural products that could potentially mediate coral-bacterial interactions. Since many bacteria use quorum sensing (QS signals to facilitate colonization of host organisms, regulation of prokaryotic cell-to-cell communication may represent an important bacterial control mechanism. In the present study, we examined extracts of twelve species of Caribbean gorgonian corals, for mechanisms that regulate microbial colonization, such as antibacterial activity and QS regulatory activity. Ethanol extracts of gorgonians collected from Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys showed a range of both antibacterial and QS activities using a specific Pseudomonas aeruginosa QS reporter, sensitive to long chain AHLs and a short chain N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL biosensor, Chromobacterium violaceium. Overall, the gorgonian corals had higher antimicrobial activity against non-marine strains when compared to marine strains. Pseudopterogorgia americana, Pseusopterogorgia acerosa, and Pseudoplexuara flexuosa had the highest QS inhibitory effect. Interestingly, Pseudoplexuara porosa extracts stimulated QS activity with a striking 17-fold increase in signal. The stimulation of QS by P. porosa or other elements of the holobiont may encourage colonization or recruitment of specific microbial species. Overall, these results suggest the presence of novel stimulatory QS, inhibitory QS and bactericidal compounds in gorgonian corals. A better understanding of these compounds may reveal insight into coral-microbial ecology and whether a therapeutic potential exists.

  6. Permanent 'phase shifts' or reversible declines in coral cover? Lack of recovery of two coral reefs in St. John, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, C.S.; Miller, J.

    2006-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have changed dramatically in the last 3 to 4 decades, with significant loss of coral cover and increases in algae. Here we present trends in benthic cover from 1989 to 2003 at 2 reefs (Lameshur Reef and Newfound Reef) off St. John, US Virgin Islands (USVI). Coral cover has declined in the fore-reef zones at both sites, and no recovery is evident. At Lameshur Reef, Hurricane Hugo (1989) caused significant physical damage and loss of coral. We suggest that macroalgae rapidly colonized new substrate made available by this storm and have hindered or prevented growth of adult corals, as well as settlement and survival of new coral recruits. Overfishing of herbivorous fishes in the USVI and loss of shelter for these fishes because of major storms has presumably reduced the levels of herbivory that formerly controlled algal abundance. Coral cover declined at Newfound Reef from 1999 to 2000, most likely because of coral diseases. The trends that we have documented, loss of coral followed by no evidence of recovery, appear similar to findings from other studies in the Caribbean. We need to focus on functional shifts in the resilience of coral reefs that result in their inability to recover from natural and human-caused stressors. ?? Inter-Research 2006.

  7. Spectral classifying base on color of live corals and dead corals covered with algae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nurdin, Nurjannah; Komatsu, Teruhisa; Barille, Laurent; Akbar, A. S. M.; Sawayama, Shuhei; Fitrah, Muh. Nur; Prasyad, Hermansyah

    2016-05-01

    Pigments in the host tissues of corals can make a significant contribution to their spectral signature and can affect their apparent color as perceived by a human observer. The aim of this study is classifying the spectral reflectance of corals base on different color. It is expected that they can be used as references in discriminating between live corals, dead coral covered with algae Spectral reflectance data was collected in three small islands, Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia by using a hyperspectral radiometer underwater. First and second derivative analysis resolved the wavelength locations of dominant features contributing to reflectance in corals and support the distinct differences in spectra among colour existed. Spectral derivative analysis was used to determine the specific wavelength regions ideal for remote identification of substrate type. The analysis results shown that yellow, green, brown and violet live corals are spectrally separable from each other, but they are similar with dead coral covered with algae spectral.

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

    OpenAIRE

    Dalton, Steven J.; Carroll, Andrew G.

    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...

  9. Arnfried Antonius, coral diseases, and the AMLC

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Laurie L. Richardson

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available The study of coral diseases, coral pathogens, and the effects of diseases on tropical and subtropical coral reefs are all current, high-profile research areas. This interest has grown steadily since the first report of a coral disease in 1973. The author of this report was Arnfried Antonius and the publication was an abstract in the proceedings of a scientific meeting of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean, or AMLC (then known as the Association of Island Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean. Since Antonius’ pioneering communication he continued working on coral diseases on reefs throughout the world, often documenting the first observation of a novel pathology in a novel location. Each of the coral diseases Antonius first described, in particular black band disease, is the subject of current and ongoing investigations addressing pathogens, etiology, and their effects on coral reefs. Many of the points and observations he made in his early papers are highly relevant to research today. This paper reviews aspects of Antonius’ early work, highlighting contributions he made that include the first in situ experimental studies aimed at discerning coral epizootiology and the first quantitative assessments of the role of environmental factors in coral disease. Antonius’ early findings are discussed in terms of relevant current controversies in this research areaEl estudio de las enfermedades de los corales, los patogenos de los corales y los efectos de estas enfermedades sobre los arrecifes tropicales y subtropicales son actualmente areas importantes de investigacion. El interés en este tema ha crecido continuamente desde el primer informe sobre una enfermedad de coral que se publico en 1973. El autor de este informe fue Arnfried Antonius y la publicacion fue un resumen en el Libro de Programa y Resumenes de la Decima Reunion de la Asociacion de Laboratorios Marinos Islenos del Caribe (conocida ahora como la Asociacion de

  10. 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.

  11. Crowning corals

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.

    and build-awareness about the rich, diverse biological resources is warranted and a plea is made to manage the sewage, oil and thermal pollution to help preserve the biodiversity of coral and associated flora and fauna....

  12. Parrotfish grazing on coral reefs : A trophic novelty

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bruggemann, Johann Henrich

    1995-01-01

    Parrotfish (family Scaridae) are grazers that are restricted to shallow tropical marine environments, and form an important component of the herbivore assemblage on Caribbean and Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Most scarid species have fused jaw teeth with which they scrape off algae that grow on and in

  13. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-04-25

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

  14. Discordance between morphological and molecular species boundaries among Caribbean species of the reef sponge Callyspongia

    OpenAIRE

    DeBiasse, Melissa B; Hellberg, Michael E

    2015-01-01

    Sponges are among the most species-rich and ecologically important taxa on coral reefs, yet documenting their diversity is difficult due to the simplicity and plasticity of their morphological characters. Genetic attempts to identify species are hampered by the slow rate of mitochondrial sequence evolution characteristic of sponges and some other basal metazoans. Here we determine species boundaries of the Caribbean coral reef sponge genus Callyspongia using a multilocus, model-based approach...

  15. Geographic extent and variation of a coral reef trophic cascade.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McClanahan, T R; Muthiga, N A

    2016-07-01

    Trophic cascades caused by a reduction in predators of sea urchins have been reported in Indian Ocean and Caribbean coral reefs. Previous studies have been constrained by their site-specific nature and limited spatial replication, which has produced site and species-specific understanding that can potentially preclude larger community-organization nuances and generalizations. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the extent and variability of the cascade community in response to fishing across ~23° of latitude and longitude in coral reefs in the southwestern Indian Ocean. The taxonomic composition of predators of sea urchins, the sea urchin community itself, and potential effects of changing grazer abundance on the calcifying benthic organisms were studied in 171 unique coral reef sites. We found that geography and habitat were less important than the predator-prey relationships. There were seven sea urchin community clusters that aligned with a gradient of declining fishable biomass and the abundance of a key predator, the orange-lined triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus). The orange-lined triggerfish dominated where sea urchin numbers and diversity were low but the relative abundance of wrasses and emperors increased where sea urchin numbers were high. Two-thirds of the study sites had high sea urchin biomass (>2,300 kg/ha) and could be dominated by four different sea urchin species, Echinothrix diadema, Diadema savignyi, D. setosum, and Echinometra mathaei, depending on the community of sea urchin predators, geographic location, and water depth. One-third of the sites had low sea urchin biomass and diversity and were typified by high fish biomass, predators of sea urchins, and herbivore abundance, representing lightly fished communities with generally higher cover of calcifying algae. Calcifying algal cover was associated with low urchin abundance where as noncalcifying fleshy algal cover was not clearly associated with herbivore abundance. Fishing of the orange

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Budi Wiyanto

    2016-01-01

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

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Budi Wiyanto

    2016-02-01

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

  18. 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.

  19. Best-fit analysis for future coral reef survivors on Bonaire: A lifeline to the reefs' future in the region

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnson, C. C.; Elswick, E. R.; Beeker, C. D.; Kauffman, E. G.; Budziak, A. T.; Wiegand, N.

    2012-12-01

    Given the decline of Caribbean corals and increases in environmental threats and human stressors to the reef ecosystem, it is imperative to document and establish a biological and environmental baseline inventory of coral recruits and environments in which corals live. Our project investigated the association of corals and water chemistry on the leeward side of Bonaire to test for and assess the hypothesis of ocean acidification affecting one of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean. A dry island such as Bonaire, with no major river input into the leeward side of the island, provides an ideal location for such an analyses as it yields a relatively pure ocean chemistry signal. A multi-year investigation in Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) focused on corals growing on mooring buoy anchors created from cement blocks and cement filled, discarded petroleum barrels. We evaluate the persistence of corals on anchors placed in BNMP in the 1960's and 1970's, taking advantage of the maximum timeline for coral recruits. Recruits initiated in the zone occupied initially by Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, and persisted through the decline of the once dominant acroporids. Thus, our study can be taken as a natural inoculation experiment under ambient field conditions. We collected 200ml water samples at 25 sites and analyzed samples on the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer Analyst 800 and Dionex IC25 Ion Chromatograph instruments to yield elemental data for water chemistry analyses. Depth pH, temperature, salinity and turbidity were recorded per site in rainy and dry seasons over the 5-year, Nov 2007 - April 2011 study. pH measurements were taken by colorimetric and indicator strips. Biologic data collection focused on coral species identifications per site on mooring anchors but sponges, hydrozoans and algae were also noted. Our research reveals no pH changes in these shallow (12.2m) waters over the duration of the study. pH colorimetric averages were 8.0-8.5 for both April

  20. Agents of coral mortality on reef formations of the Colombian Pacific

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Raúl Navas-Camacho

    2010-05-01

    Full Text Available The National Monitoring System for Coral Reefs of Colombia (SIMAC monitors the impact of some of the most important agents of coral tissue loss (bleaching and/or disease in the Colombian Pacific coral formations since 1998. Physiological bleaching is among the main results of stress in the area. Signs of coral diseases resembling bacterial bleaching such as White Plague and White Band, were observed in Malpelo and Gorgona islands. Damage to the Pacific gorgonian Pacifigorgia spp., similar to those produced by Aspergillosis in Caribbean corals, was detected in Utría Bay. The presence of tumors in colonies of massive corals was also recorded. Even though coral diseases are globally widespread, their occurrence in American Pacific reefs has been poorly documented to date. Rev. Biol. Trop. 58 (Suppl. 1: 133-138. Epub 2010 May 01.

  1. Agents of coral mortality on reef formations of the Colombian Pacific.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Navas-Camacho, Raúl; Rodríguez-Ramírez, Alberto; Reyes-Nivia, María Catalina

    2010-05-01

    The National Monitoring System for Coral Reefs of Colombia (SIMAC) monitors the impact of some of the most important agents of coral tissue loss (bleaching and/or disease) in the Colombian Pacific coral formations since 1998. Physiological bleaching is among the main results of stress in the area. Signs of coral diseases resembling bacterial bleaching such as White Plague and White Band, were observed in Malpelo and Gorgona islands. Damage to the Pacific gorgonian Pacifigorgia spp., similar to those produced by Aspergillosis in Caribbean corals, was detected in Utria Bay. The presence of tumors in colonies of massive corals was also recorded. Even though coral diseases are globally widespread, their occurrence in American Pacific reefs has been poorly documented to date.

  2. The structure and composition of Holocene coral reefs in the Middle Florida Keys

    Science.gov (United States)

    Toth, Lauren T.; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Kuffner, Ilsa B.

    2016-07-21

    The Florida Keys reef tract (FKRT) is the largest coral-reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The modern FKRT extends for 362 kilometers along the coast of South Florida from Dry Tortugas National Park in the southwest, through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), to Fowey Rocks reef in Biscayne National Park in the northeast. Most reefs along the FKRT are sheltered by the exposed islands of the Florida Keys; however, large channels are located between the islands of the Middle Keys. These openings allow for tidal transport of water from Florida Bay onto reefs in the area. The characteristics of the water masses coming from Florida Bay, which can experience broad swings in temperature, salinity, nutrients, and turbidity over short periods of time, are generally unfavorable or “inimical” to coral growth and reef development.Although reef habitats are ubiquitous throughout most of the Upper and Lower Keys, relatively few modern reefs exist in the Middle Keys most likely because of the impacts of inimical waters from Florida Bay. The reefs that are present in the Middle Keys generally are poorly developed compared with reefs elsewhere in the region. For example, Acropora palmata has been the dominant coral on shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean over the last 1.5 million years until populations of the coral declined throughout the region in recent decades. Although A. palmata was historically abundant in the Florida Keys, it was conspicuously absent from reefs in the Middle Keys. Instead, contemporary reefs in the Middle Keys have been dominated by occasional massive (that is, boulder or head) corals and, more often, small, non-reef-building corals.Holocene reef cores have been collected from many locations along the FKRT; however, despite the potential importance of the history of reefs in the Middle Florida Keys to our understanding of the environmental controls on reef development throughout the FKRT, there are currently no published

  3. Corals Form Characteristic Associations with Symbiotic Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lema, Kimberley A.; Willis, Bette L.

    2012-01-01

    The complex symbiotic relationship between corals and their dinoflagellate partner Symbiodinium is believed to be sustained through close associations with mutualistic bacterial communities, though little is known about coral associations with bacterial groups able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs). In this study, we investigated the diversity of diazotrophic bacterial communities associated with three common coral species (Acropora millepora, Acropora muricata, and Pocillopora damicormis) from three midshelf locations of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) by profiling the conserved subunit of the nifH gene, which encodes the dinitrogenase iron protein. Comparisons of diazotrophic community diversity among coral tissue and mucus microenvironments and the surrounding seawater revealed that corals harbor diverse nifH phylotypes that differ between tissue and mucus microhabitats. Coral mucus nifH sequences displayed high heterogeneity, and many bacterial groups overlapped with those found in seawater. Moreover, coral mucus diazotrophs were specific neither to coral species nor to reef location, reflecting the ephemeral nature of coral mucus. In contrast, the dominant diazotrophic bacteria in tissue samples differed among coral species, with differences remaining consistent at all three reefs, indicating that coral-diazotroph associations are species specific. Notably, dominant diazotrophs for all coral species were closely related to the bacterial group rhizobia, which represented 71% of the total sequences retrieved from tissue samples. The species specificity of coral-diazotroph associations further supports the coral holobiont model that bacterial groups associated with corals are conserved. Our results suggest that, as in terrestrial plants, rhizobia have developed a mutualistic relationship with corals and may contribute fixed nitrogen to Symbiodinium. PMID:22344646

  4. Resilience in carbonate production despite three coral bleaching events in 5 years on an inshore patch reef in the Florida Keys.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Manzello, Derek P; Enochs, Ian C; Kolodziej, Graham; Carlton, Renée; Valentino, Lauren

    2018-01-01

    The persistence of coral reef frameworks requires that calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ) production by corals and other calcifiers outpaces CaCO 3 loss via physical, chemical, and biological erosion. Coral bleaching causes declines in CaCO 3 production, but this varies with bleaching severity and the species impacted. We conducted census-based CaCO 3 budget surveys using the established ReefBudget approach at Cheeca Rocks, an inshore patch reef in the Florida Keys, annually from 2012 to 2016. This site experienced warm-water bleaching in 2011, 2014, and 2015. In 2017, we obtained cores of the dominant calcifying coral at this site, Orbicella faveolata , to understand how calcification rates were impacted by bleaching and how they affected the reef-wide CaCO 3 budget. Bleaching depressed O. faveolata growth and the decline of this one species led to an overestimation of mean (± std. error) reef-wide CaCO 3 production by + 0.68 (± 0.167) to + 1.11 (± 0.236) kg m -2  year -1 when using the static ReefBudget coral growth inputs. During non-bleaching years, the ReefBudget inputs slightly underestimated gross production by - 0.10 (± 0.022) to - 0.43 (± 0.100) kg m -2  year -1 . Carbonate production declined after the first year of back-to-back bleaching in 2014, but then increased after 2015 to values greater than the initial surveys in 2012. Cheeca Rocks is an outlier in the Caribbean and Florida Keys in terms of coral cover, carbonate production, and abundance of O. faveolata , which is threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Given the resilience of this site to repeated bleaching events, it may deserve special management attention.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stathakopoulos, A.; Riegl, B. M.

    2015-03-01

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

  6. High macroalgal cover and low coral recruitment undermines the potential resilience of the world's southernmost coral reef assemblages

    KAUST Repository

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

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic and climate-induced stressors. The ability of reefs to reassemble and regenerate after disturbances (i.e., resilience) is largely dependent on the capacity of herbivores to prevent macroalgal expansion, and the replenishment of coral populations through larval recruitment. Currently there is a paucity of this information for higher latitude, subtropical reefs. To assess the potential resilience of the benthic reef assemblages of Lord Howe Island (31°32?S, 159°04?E), the worlds' southernmost coral reef, we quantified the benthic composition, densities of juvenile corals (as a proxy for coral recruitment), and herbivorous fish communities. Despite some variation among habitats and sites, benthic communities were dominated by live scleractinian corals (mean cover 37.4%) and fleshy macroalgae (20.9%). Live coral cover was higher than in most other subtropical reefs and directly comparable to lower latitude tropical reefs. Juvenile coral densities (0.8 ind.m -2), however, were 5-200 times lower than those reported for tropical reefs. Overall, macroalgal cover was negatively related to the cover of live coral and the density of juvenile corals, but displayed no relationship with herbivorous fish biomass. The biomass of herbivorous fishes was relatively low (204 kg.ha -1), and in marked contrast to tropical reefs was dominated by macroalgal browsing species (84.1%) with relatively few grazing species. Despite their extremely low biomass, grazing fishes were positively related to both the density of juvenile corals and the cover of bare substrata, suggesting that they may enhance the recruitment of corals through the provision of suitable settlement sites. Although Lord Howe Islands' reefs are currently coral-dominated, the high macroalgal cover, coupled with limited coral recruitment and low coral growth rates suggest these reefs may be extremely susceptible to future disturbances. © 2011 Hoey et al.

  7. High macroalgal cover and low coral recruitment undermines the potential resilience of the world's southernmost coral reef assemblages

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. Caribbean landscapes and their biodiversity

    Science.gov (United States)

    A. E. Lugo; E. H. Helmer; E. Santiago Valentín

    2012-01-01

    Both the biodiversity and the landscapes of the Caribbean have been greatly modified as a consequence of human activity. In this essay we provide an overview of the natural landscapes and biodiversity of the Caribbean and discuss how human activity has affected both. Our Caribbean geographic focus is on the insular Caribbean and the biodiversity focus is on the flora,...

  10. Transplantation experiments with Caribbean Millepora species (Hydrozoa, Coelenterata), including some ecological observations on growth forms

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weerdt, de Wallie H.

    1981-01-01

    The historical background of the taxonomic problems in the fire-coral, Millepora, is reviewed. The growth forms of the Caribbean species: Millepora alcicornis Linnaeus, M. complanata Lamarck and M. squarrosa Lamarck are investigated in relation with environmental factors: water movement, current,

  11. Reef flattening effects on total richness and species responses in the Caribbean

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Newman, Steven P.; Meesters, E.H.; Dryden, Charlie S.; Williams, Stacey M.; Sanchez, Cristina; Mumby, Peter J.; Polunin, Nicholas V.C.

    2015-01-01

    There has been ongoing flattening of Caribbean coral reefs with the loss of habitat having severe implications for these systems. Complexity and its structural components are important to fish species richness and community composition, but little is known about its role for other taxa or

  12. TBT pollution and effects in molluscs at US Virgin Islands, Caribbean Sea

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Strand, Jakob; Jørgensen, Anne; Tairova, Zhanna

    2009-01-01

    Thais deltoidea, Thais rustica and Purpura patula all seem to have potential as suitable and sensitive bioindicators for assessing levels and effects of TBT pollution in coastal areas including coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea. However, considerable interspecies differences in especially accumulation...

  13. Words matter: Recommendations for clarifying coral disease nomenclature and terminology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2010-01-01

    Coral diseases have caused significant losses on Caribbean reefs and are becoming a greater concern in the Pacific. Progress in coral disease research requires collaboration and communication among experts from many different disciplines. The lack of consistency in the use of terms and names in the recent scientific literature reflects the absence of an authority for naming coral diseases, a lack of consensus on the meaning of even some of the most basic terms as they apply to corals, and imprecision in the use of descriptive words. The lack of consensus partly reflects the complexity of this newly emerging field of research. Establishment of a nomenclature committee under the Coral Disease and Health Consortium (CDHC) could lead to more standardized definitions and could promote use of appropriate medical terminology for describing and communicating disease conditions in corals. This committee could also help to define disease terminology unique to corals where existing medical terminology is not applicable. These efforts will help scientists communicate with one another and with the general public more effectively. Scientists can immediately begin to reduce some of the confusion simply by explicitly defining the words they are using. In addition, digital photographs can be posted on the CDHC website and included in publications to document the macroscopic (gross) signs of the conditions observed on coral colonies along with precisely written characterizations and descriptions.

  14. Caribbean shallow water Corallimorpharia

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Hartog, J.C.den

    1980-01-01

    The present paper comprises a review of the Caribbean shallow water Corallimorpharia. Six species, belonging to four genera and three families are treated, including Pseudocorynactis caribbeorum gen. nov. spec. nov., a species with tentacular acrospheres containing the largest spirocysts ever

  15. Precise U-Pb dating of Cenozoic tropical reef carbonates: Linking the evolution of Cenozoic Caribbean reef carbonates to climatic and environmental changes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silva-Tamayo, J. C.; Ducea, M.; Cardona, A.; Montes, C.; Rincon, D.; Machado, A.; Flores, A.; Sial, A.; Pardo, A.; Niño, H.; Ramirez, V.; Jaramillo, C.; Zapata, P.; Barrios, L.; Rosero, S.; Bayona, G.; Zapata, V.

    2012-04-01

    rapid anthropogenic CO2 release to the atmosphere on reef areas. Here we report precise U-Pb ages of several Cenozoic Caribbean-tropical reef carbonate successions along the SE Circum-Caribbean Region from which major temporal variations in the reef carbonate factories, structure and ecology are related to major climate/environmental changes. Calcareous algae are the principal calcifying reef builders along the SE Circum-Caribbean during the Paleocene-middle Oligocene interval, a period of predominant high atmospheric pCO2 and OA. Calcareous algae persisted as the main calcifying reef builders until the late Oligocene when atmospheric pCO2 levels dropped, allowing the onset of global icehouse conditions and the appearance of corals as the main calcifying reef builders along the SE Circum-Caribbean. Coral reefs would have dominated until the middle Miocene, when a new period of calcareous algae reefs occurred along the Caribbean, coinciding with the Miocene thermal optimum in mid-latitude areas (i.e. the Mediterranean). Coral reef carbonates dominated since the Pliocene. From the data presented here we suggest that calcareous algae dominated were the main calcifying reef builders during periods of warm temperatures and pronounced environmental change in the tropical seas (i.e. OA). Corals would have conversely dominated as main calcifying reef builders during periods of optimal tropical climatic/environmental conditions. Comparisons between this geologic conditions and data for the period 1984-2006 in the Caribbean11 suggest that the transition from corals towards calcareous algae is repeating again. 1.Zachos et al., Science Mag. 292 (2001) 2.Zachos et al., Science Mag. 308 (2005) 3.Haug et al., Geology 29 (2001) 4.Jain and Collins, Marine Micropaleo. 62 (2007) 5.Merinco et al., Nature 452 (2008) 6.O'Dea et al., Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 104 (2007) 7.Jhonson et al., Palaios 24(2009) 8.Pagani et al., Nature 460 (2007) 9.Cohen et al., Journ. Geolog. Society 164 (2009) 10

  16. 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.

  17. The potential of the coral species Porites astreoides as a paleoclimate archive for the Tropical South Atlantic Ocean

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Pereira, Natan S.; Sial, Alcides N.; Frei, Robert

    2017-01-01

    , Red Sea and Caribbean, but lack for the Equatorial South Atlantic. Here we present coral-based records of Sr/Ca, δ18O and δ13C and the first δ18O–SST calibration for the scleractinian coral species Porites astreoides from the Rocas Atoll, Equatorial South Atlantic. The investigated geochemical proxies...

  18. Biology of corals and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Rajkumar, R.; Parulekar, A.H.

    on the systematic position is presented. The general structure is depicted with illustrations. Physiology part is updated to current knowledge on reproduction, nutrition and excretion of corals. The coral reefs section begins with status of world reefs...

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aurora M. Ricart

    2016-11-01

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

  20. Book review of Littler DM. Littler MM (2000) Caribbean Reef Plants An Identification Guide to the Reef Plants of the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida and Gulf of Mexico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zuschin, M.; Hohenegger, J.; Steininger, F.

    2001-09-01

    Information on spatial variability and distribution patterns of organisms in coral reef environments is necessary to evaluate the increasing anthropogenic disturbance of marine environments (Richmond 1993; Wilkinson 1993; Dayton 1994). Therefore different types of subtidal, reef-associated hard substrata (reef flats, reef slopes, coral carpets, coral patches, rock grounds), each with different coral associations, were investigated to determine the distribution pattern of molluscs and their life habits (feeding strategies and substrate relations). The molluscs were strongly dominated by taxa with distinct relations to corals, and five assemblages were differentiated. The Dendropoma maxima assemblage on reef flats is a discrete entity, strongly dominated by this encrusting and suspension-feeding gastropod. All other assemblages are arranged along a substrate gradient of changing coral associations and potential molluscan habitats. The Coralliophila neritoidea- Barbatia foliata assemblage depends on the presence of Porites and shows a dominance of gastropods feeding on corals and of bivalves associated with living corals. The Chamoidea- Cerithium spp. assemblage on rock grounds is strongly dominated by encrusting bivalves. The Drupella cornus-Pteriidae assemblage occurs on Millepora- Acropora reef slopes and is strongly dominated by bivalves associated with living corals. The Barbatia setigera- Ctenoides annulata assemblage includes a broad variety of taxa, molluscan life habits and bottom types, but occurs mainly on faviid carpets and is transitional among the other three assemblages. A predicted degradation of coral coverage to rock bottoms due to increasing eutrophication and physical damage in the study area (Riegl and Piller 2000) will result in a loss of coral-associated molluscs in favor of bivalve crevice dwellers in dead coral heads and of encrusters on dead hard substrata.

  1. A unique coral community in the mangroves of Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2017-01-01

    Corals do not typically thrive in mangrove environments. However, corals are growing on and near the prop roots of red mangrove trees in Hurricane Hole, an area within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument under the protection of the US National Park Service in St. John, US Virgin Islands. This review summarizes current knowledge of the remarkable biodiversity of this area. Over 30 scleractinian coral species, about the same number as documented to date from nearby coral reefs, grow here. No other mangrove ecosystems in the Caribbean are known to have so many coral species. This area may be a refuge from changing climate, as these corals weathered the severe thermal stress and subsequent disease outbreak that caused major coral loss on the island’s coral reefs in 2005 and 2006. Shading by the red mangrove trees reduces the stress that leads to coral bleaching. Seawater temperatures in these mangroves are more variable than those on the reefs, and some studies have shown that this variability results in corals with a greater resistance to higher temperatures. The diversity of sponges and fish is also high, and a new genus of serpulid worm was recently described. Continuing research may lead to the discovery of more new species.

  2. Severe impacts of brown tides caused by Sargassum spp. on near-shore Caribbean seagrass communities.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Tussenbroek, Brigitta I; Hernández Arana, Héctor A; Rodríguez-Martínez, Rosa E; Espinoza-Avalos, Julio; Canizales-Flores, Hazel M; González-Godoy, Carlos E; Barba-Santos, M Guadalupe; Vega-Zepeda, Alejandro; Collado-Vides, Ligia

    2017-09-15

    From mid-2014 until the end of 2015, the Mexican Caribbean coast experienced a massive influx of drifting Sargassum spp. that accumulated on the shores, resulting in build-up of decaying beach-cast material and near-shore murky brown waters (Sargassum-brown-tides, Sbt). The effects of Sbt on four near-shore waters included reduction in light, oxygen (hypoxia or anoxia) and pH. The monthly influx of nitrogen, and phosphorus by drifting Sargassum spp. was estimated at 6150 and 61kgkm -1 respectively, resulting in eutrophication. Near-shore seagrass meadows dominated by Thalassia testudinum were replaced by a community dominated by calcareous rhizophytic algae and drifting algae and/or epiphytes, resulting in 61.6-99.5% loss of below-ground biomass. Near-shore corals suffered total or partial mortality. Recovery of affected seagrass meadows may take years or even decades, or changes could be permanent if massive influxes of Sargassum spp. recur. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  3. Proceedings of the SERDP Coral Reef Monitoring and Assessment Workshop

    Science.gov (United States)

    2009-12-01

    the U.S. that have coral reefs within their jurisdictions. Biscayne National Park, the Dry Tortugas , and U.S. Virgin Island parks at St. John and...Signs Monitoring Networks Dry Tortugas NP Buck Island Reef NM Virgin Islands National Park Biscayne NP South Florida/Caribbean Network Florida/Caribbean...Buck Island, Dry Tortugas and Biscayne • Extensive sites – 4 10m permanent transects per site – 18 sites in DRTO Virgin Islands NP % l i v e c o r

  4. Life on the edge: corals in mangroves and climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Herlan, James J.

    2012-01-01

    Coral diseases have played a major role in the degradation of coral reefs in the Caribbean, including those in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). In 2005, bleaching affected reefs throughout the Caribbean, and was especially severe on USVI reefs. Some corals began to regain their color as water temperatures cooled, but an outbreak of disease (primarily white plague) led to losses of over 60% of the total live coral cover. Montastraea annularis, the most abundant coral, was disproportionately affected, and decreased in relative abundance. The threatened species Acropora palmata bleached for the first time on record in the USVI but suffered less bleaching and less mortality from disease than M. annularis. Acropora palmata and M. annularis are the two most significant species in the USVI because of their structural role in the architecture of the reefs, the large size of their colonies, and their complex morphology. The future of the USVI reefs depends largely on their fate. Acropora palmata is more likely to recover than M. annularis for many reasons, including its faster growth rate, and its lower vulnerability to bleaching and disease.

  5. Bacteria are not the primary cause of bleaching in the Mediterranean coral Oculina patagonica.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ainsworth, T D; Fine, M; Roff, G; Hoegh-Guldberg, O

    2008-01-01

    Coral bleaching occurs when the endosymbiosis between corals and their symbionts disintegrates during stress. Mass coral bleaching events have increased over the past 20 years and are directly correlated with periods of warm sea temperatures. However, some hypotheses have suggested that reef-building corals bleach due to infection by bacterial pathogens. The 'Bacterial Bleaching' hypothesis is based on laboratory studies of the Mediterranean invading coral, Oculina patagonica, and has further generated conclusions such as the coral probiotic hypothesis and coral hologenome theory of evolution. We aimed to investigate the natural microbial ecology of O. patagonica during the annual bleaching using fluorescence in situ hybridization to map bacterial populations within the coral tissue layers, and found that the coral bleaches on the temperate rocky reefs of the Israeli coastline without the presence of Vibrio shiloi or bacterial penetration of its tissue layers. Bacterial communities were found associated with the endolithic layer of bleached coral regions, and a community dominance shift from an apparent cyanobacterial-dominated endolithic layer to an algal-dominated layer was found in bleached coral samples. While bacterial communities certainly play important roles in coral stasis and health, we suggest environmental stressors, such as those documented with reef-building corals, are the primary triggers leading to bleaching of O. patagonica and suggest that bacterial involvement in patterns of bleaching is that of opportunistic colonization.

  6. Hybridization and the evolution of reef coral diversity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vollmer, Steven V; Palumbi, Stephen R

    2002-06-14

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

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Conrad W Speed

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

  8. Repercussions of embarkation wharves in Lakshadweep Islands on coral communities and their ecology

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Ravindran, J.; Manikandan, B.; Venkatesh, M.; ManiMurali, R.; Marimuthu, N.; Wafar, M.V.M.

    diversity of corals dominated by the massive reef-building corals was lost, affecting the structure and stability of the reef at these sites Resilience potential of the reef became poor due to the monospecific colonization of corals belonging to very few...

  9. New insights into the dynamics between reef corals and their associated dinoflagellate endosymbionts from population genetic studies.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, Iliana B; Devlin-Durante, Meghann K; LaJeunesse, Todd C

    2014-09-01

    The mutualistic symbioses between reef-building corals and micro-algae form the basis of coral reef ecosystems, yet recent environmental changes threaten their survival. Diversity in host-symbiont pairings on the sub-species level could be an unrecognized source of functional variation in response to stress. The Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, associates predominantly with one symbiont species (Symbiodinium 'fitti'), facilitating investigations of individual-level (genotype) interactions. Individual genotypes of both host and symbiont were resolved across the entire species' range. Most colonies of a particular animal genotype were dominated by one symbiont genotype (or strain) that may persist in the host for decades or more. While Symbiodinium are primarily clonal, the occurrence of recombinant genotypes indicates sexual recombination is the source of this genetic variation, and some evidence suggests this happens within the host. When these data are examined at spatial scales spanning the entire distribution of A. palmata, gene flow among animal populations was an order of magnitude greater than among populations of the symbiont. This suggests that independent micro-evolutionary processes created dissimilar population genetic structures between host and symbiont. The lower effective dispersal exhibited by the dinoflagellate raises questions regarding the extent to which populations of host and symbiont can co-evolve during times of rapid and substantial climate change. However, these findings also support a growing body of evidence, suggesting that genotype-by-genotype interactions may provide significant physiological variation, influencing the adaptive potential of symbiotic reef corals to severe selection. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  10. Radionuclides in corals of Costa Rica

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Loria M, L.G.; Banichevich, A.; Cortes, T.

    1998-01-01

    Using Low Level Spectrometry they have evaluated the activity (Kq/kg) of 40 K, the gamma emisor daugther of 238 U and 232 Th and the presence of arificial isotopes due to anthropogenic contamination. The probes used are coral as biodynamic captors. The results show a presence between low and mittel of natural isotopes compared to other accumulation processes like sedimentation in soil and agricultural production. The Caribbean side show a higher activity than the Pacific for 40 K and a similar for 226 Ra. Results show low activity for artificial radionuclides with short lif ( 137 Cs). (author) [es

  11. Investing in sustainability at Coral World

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Jackson, O.

    2000-01-01

    Now open and operational for several years, Coral World offers a unique environmental model for other tourism-related facilities throughout the Caribbean and beyond. The extensive energy conservation program has yielded a 40 to 50% reduction in energy use and costs. The facility's unique on-site storm water absorption system virtually eliminates silt runoff to the coastal waters. The innovative, highly cost-effective series of renewable energy installations include a photovoltaic-powered restaurant kitchen, solar hot water systems and one of the world's first hydroelectric systems that uses wastewater drainage for turbine source waters. The extensive marine environmental conservation program protects fragile local ecosystems while also protecting the owners' investment in tourism. By investing aggressively in sustainability, Coral World's owners are reaping the benefits not only in reduced operating costs and improved profitability, but also in increased visitor volume and satisfaction

  12. Recent disturbances augment community shifts in coral assemblages in Moorea, French Polynesia

    KAUST Repository

    Pratchett, Morgan S.; Trapon, Melanie L.; Berumen, Michael L.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are often subject to disturbances that can cause enduring changes in community structure and abundance of coral reef organisms. In Moorea, French Polynesia, frequent disturbances between 1979 and 2003 caused marked shifts in taxonomic composition of coral assemblages. This study explores recent changes in live cover and taxonomic structure of coral communities on the north coast of Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess whether coral assemblages are recovering (returning to a previous Acropora-dominated state) or continuing to move towards an alternative community structure. Coral cover declined by 29.7% between July 2003 and March 2009, mostly due to loss of Acropora and Montipora spp. Coral mortality varied among habitats, with highest levels of coral loss on the outer reef slope (7-20 m depth). In contrast, there was limited change in coral cover within the lagoon, and coral cover actually increased on the reef crest. Observed changes in coral cover and composition correspond closely with the known feeding preferences and observed spatial patterns of Acanthaster planci L., though observed coral loss also coincided with at least one episode of coral bleaching, as well as persistent populations of the corallivorous starfish Culcita novaeguineae Muller & Troschel. While climate change poses an important and significant threat to the future structure and dynamics coral reef communities, outbreaks of A. planci remain a significant cause of coral loss in Moorea. More importantly, these recent disturbances have followed long-term shifts in the structure of coral assemblages, and the relative abundance of both Pocillopora and Porites continue to increase due to disproportionate losses of Acropora and Montipora. Moreover, Pocillopora and Porites dominate assemblages of juvenile corals, suggesting that there is limited potential for a return to an Acropora-dominated state, last recorded in 1979. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

  13. Recent disturbances augment community shifts in coral assemblages in Moorea, French Polynesia

    KAUST Repository

    Pratchett, Morgan S.

    2010-09-19

    Coral reefs are often subject to disturbances that can cause enduring changes in community structure and abundance of coral reef organisms. In Moorea, French Polynesia, frequent disturbances between 1979 and 2003 caused marked shifts in taxonomic composition of coral assemblages. This study explores recent changes in live cover and taxonomic structure of coral communities on the north coast of Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess whether coral assemblages are recovering (returning to a previous Acropora-dominated state) or continuing to move towards an alternative community structure. Coral cover declined by 29.7% between July 2003 and March 2009, mostly due to loss of Acropora and Montipora spp. Coral mortality varied among habitats, with highest levels of coral loss on the outer reef slope (7-20 m depth). In contrast, there was limited change in coral cover within the lagoon, and coral cover actually increased on the reef crest. Observed changes in coral cover and composition correspond closely with the known feeding preferences and observed spatial patterns of Acanthaster planci L., though observed coral loss also coincided with at least one episode of coral bleaching, as well as persistent populations of the corallivorous starfish Culcita novaeguineae Muller & Troschel. While climate change poses an important and significant threat to the future structure and dynamics coral reef communities, outbreaks of A. planci remain a significant cause of coral loss in Moorea. More importantly, these recent disturbances have followed long-term shifts in the structure of coral assemblages, and the relative abundance of both Pocillopora and Porites continue to increase due to disproportionate losses of Acropora and Montipora. Moreover, Pocillopora and Porites dominate assemblages of juvenile corals, suggesting that there is limited potential for a return to an Acropora-dominated state, last recorded in 1979. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

  14. Can heterotrophic uptake of dissolved organic carbon and zooplankton mitigate carbon budget deficits in annually bleached corals?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Levas, Stephen; Grottoli, Andréa G.; Schoepf, Verena; Aschaffenburg, Matthew; Baumann, Justin; Bauer, James E.; Warner, Mark E.

    2016-06-01

    Annual coral bleaching events due to increasing sea surface temperatures are predicted to occur globally by the mid-century and as early as 2025 in the Caribbean, and severely impact coral reefs. We hypothesize that heterotrophic carbon (C) in the form of zooplankton and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a significant source of C to bleached corals. Thus, the ability to utilize multiple pools of fixed carbon and/or increase the amount of fixed carbon acquired from one or more pools of fixed carbon (defined here as heterotrophic plasticity) could underlie coral acclimatization and persistence under future ocean-warming scenarios. Here, three species of Caribbean coral— Porites divaricata, P. astreoides, and Orbicella faveolata—were experimentally bleached for 2.5 weeks in two successive years and allowed to recover in the field. Zooplankton feeding was assessed after single and repeat bleaching, while DOC fluxes and the contribution of DOC to the total C budget were determined after single bleaching, 11 months on the reef, and repeat bleaching. Zooplankton was a large C source for P. astreoides, but only following single bleaching. DOC was a source of C for single-bleached corals and accounted for 11-36 % of daily metabolic demand (CHARDOC), but represented a net loss of C in repeat-bleached corals. In repeat-bleached corals, DOC loss exacerbated the negative C budgets in all three species. Thus, the capacity for heterotrophic plasticity in corals is compromised under annual bleaching, and heterotrophic uptake of DOC and zooplankton does not mitigate C budget deficits in annually bleached corals. Overall, these findings suggest that some Caribbean corals may be more susceptible to repeat bleaching than to single bleaching due to a lack of heterotrophic plasticity, and coral persistence under increasing bleaching frequency may ultimately depend on other factors such as energy reserves and symbiont shuffling.

  15. Coral disease following massive bleaching in 2005 causes 60% decline in coral cover on reefs in the US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miller, J.; Muller, E.; Rogers, C.; Waara, R.; Atkinson, A.; Whelan, K.R.T.; Patterson, M.; Witcher, B.

    2009-01-01

    In the northeast Caribbean, doldrum-like conditions combined with elevated water temperatures in the summer/fall 2005 created the most severe coral bleaching event ever documented within this region. Video monitoring of 100 randomly chosen, permanent transects at five study sites in the US Virgin Islands revealed over 90% of the scleractinian coral cover showed signs of thermal stress by paling or becoming completely white. Lower water temperatures in October allowed some re-coloring of corals; however, a subsequent unprecedented regional outbreak of coral disease affected all sites. Five known diseases or syndromes were recorded; however, most lesions showed signs similar to white plague. Nineteen scleractinian species were affected by disease, with >90% of the disease-induced lesions occurring on the genus Montastraea. The disease outbreak peaked several months after the onset of bleaching at all sites but did not occur at the same time. The mean number of disease-induced lesions increased 51-fold and the mean area of disease-associated mortality increased 13-fold when compared with pre-bleaching disease levels. In the 12 months following the onset of bleaching, coral cover declined at all sites (average loss: 51.5%, range: 42.4-61.8%) reducing the five-site average from 21.4% before bleaching to 10.3% with most mortality caused by white plague disease, not bleaching. Continued losses through October 2007 reduced the average coral cover of the five sites to 8.3% (average 2-year loss: 61.1%, range: 53.0-79.3%). Mean cover by M. annularis (complex) decreased 51%, Colpophyllia natans 78% and Agaricia agaricites 87%. Isolated disease outbreaks have been documented before in the Virgin Islands, but never as widespread or devastating as the one that occurred after the 2005 Caribbean coral-bleaching event. This study provides insight into the effects of continued seawater warming and subsequent coral bleaching events in the Caribbean and highlights the need to

  16. 76 FR 59371 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2011-09-26

    ...-BB26 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based... Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment (CE... were established under the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1 and include Cape Lookout Coral...

  17. Lectins stain cells differentially in the coral, Montipora capitata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Farah, Yael

    2014-01-01

    A limitation in our understanding of coral disease pathology and cellular pathogenesis is a lack of reagents to characterize coral cells. We evaluated the utility of plant lectins to stain tissues of a dominant coral, Montipora capitata, from Hawaii. Of 22 lectins evaluated, nine of these stained structures in the upper or basal body wall of corals. Specific structures revealed by lectins that were not considered distinct or evident on routine hematoxylin and eosin sections of coral tissues included apical and basal granules in gastrodermis and epidermis, cnidoglandular tract and actinopharynx cell surface membranes, capsules of mature holotrichous isorhizas, and perivitelline and periseminal cells. Plant lectins could prove useful to further our understanding of coral physiology, anatomy, cell biology, and disease pathogenesis.

  18. Coral bleaching--capacity for acclimatization and adaptation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coles, S L; Brown, Barbara E

    2003-01-01

    Coral bleaching, i.e., loss of most of the symbiotic zooxanthellae normally found within coral tissue, has occurred with increasing frequency on coral reefs throughout the world in the last 20 years, mostly during periods of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Experiments and observations indicate that coral bleaching results primarily from elevated seawater temperatures under high light conditions, which increases rates of biochemical reactions associated with zooxanthellar photosynthesis, producing toxic forms of oxygen that interfere with cellular processes. Published projections of a baseline of increasing ocean temperature resulting from global warming have suggested that annual temperature maxima within 30 years may be at levels that will cause frequent coral bleaching and widespread mortality leading to decline of corals as dominant organisms on reefs. However, these projections have not considered the high variability in bleaching response that occurs among corals both within and among species. There is information that corals and their symbionts may be capable of acclimatization and selective adaptation to elevated temperatures that have already resulted in bleaching resistant coral populations, both locally and regionally, in various areas of the world. There are possible mechanisms that might provide resistance and protection to increased temperature and light. These include inducible heat shock proteins that act in refolding denatured cellular and structural proteins, production of oxidative enzymes that inactivate harmful oxygen radicals, fluorescent coral pigments that both reflect and dissipate light energy, and phenotypic adaptations of zooxanthellae and adaptive shifts in their populations at higher temperatures. Such mechanisms, when considered in conjunction with experimental and observational evidence for coral recovery in areas that have undergone coral bleaching, suggest an as yet undefined capacity in corals and zooxanthellae to adapt to

  19. IDRC in the Caribbean

    International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Digital Library (Canada)

    Since the early 1970s, IDRC has supported the efforts of researchers in the English-speaking Caribbean to reduce poverty and inequality, restore degraded coastal ecosystems, and protect communities against disease and natural disasters. Research has helped to improve farming and fishing practices and tackle.

  20. Distribution of Mysidium integrum (Tattersall) (Crustacea-mysidacea) in Venezuelan coral habitats

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Zoppi de Roa, Evelyn; Pedro Alonso, G.

    1997-01-01

    ZOPPI DE ROA, EVELYN & PEDRO ALONSO G.: Distribution of Mysidium integrum (Tattersall) (Crustacea: Mysidacea) in Venezuelan coral habitats. Studies Nat. Hist. Caribbean Region 73, Amsterdam 1997: 55-62. This paper reports the occurrence, distribution and some ecological aspects of mysids in six

  1. Is Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) making a comeback in the Virgin Islands?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2000-01-01

    White band disease (WBD) ravaged Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) on many coral reefs in the Caribbean in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, including those around St. John and St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands—USVI (Gladfelter 1982, Rogers 1985). Quantitative data, photographs, and anecdotal observations indicate WBD killed large stands of elkhorn coral in the USVI from about 1976 until sometime in the late 1980’s. Branching Acroporid species, which are most susceptible to WBD, are also the most vulnerable to storm damage (Rogers et al. 1982). Since 1979, eight hurricanes have passed near or over the USVI. Because elkhorn coral contributed most of the living coral and determined the physical structure of many shallow reef zones, its demise dramatically altered many areas. But now, some of the reefs in the Virgin Islands once again have large, actively growing colonies of this important, reef-building species.

  2. Early-phase dynamics in coral recovery following cyclone disturbance on the inshore Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sato, Yui; Bell, Sara C.; Nichols, Cassandra; Fry, Kent; Menéndez, Patricia; Bourne, David G.

    2018-06-01

    Coral recovery (the restoration of abundance and composition of coral communities) after disturbance is a key process that determines the resilience of reef ecosystems. To understand the mechanisms underlying the recovery process of coral communities, colony abundance and size distribution were followed on reefs around Pelorus Island, located in the inshore central region of the Great Barrier Reef, following a severe tropical cyclone in 2011 that caused dramatic loss of coral communities. Permanent quadrats (600 m2) were monitored biannually between 2012 and 2016, and individual coral colonies were counted, sized and categorized into morphological types. The abundance of coral recruits and coral cover were also examined using permanent quadrats and random line intercept transects, respectively. The number of colonies in the smallest size class (4-10 cm) increased substantially during the study period, driving the recovery of coral populations. The total number of coral colonies 5 yr post-cyclone reached between 73 and 122% of pre-cyclone levels though coral cover remained between 16 and 31% of pre-cyclone levels, due to the dominance of small coral colonies in the recovering communities. Temporal transitions of coral demography (i.e., colony-size distributions) illustrated that the number of recently established coral populations overtook communities of surviving colonies. Coral recruits (coral recovery. A shift in morphological composition of coral communities was also observed, with the relative abundance of encrusting corals reduced post-cyclone in contrast to their dominance prior to the disturbance. This study identifies the fine-scale processes involved in the initial recovery of coral reefs, providing insights into the dynamics of coral demography that are essential for determining coral reef resilience following major disturbance.

  3. 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. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  4. 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. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  5. Coral seas in fifty years: Need for local policies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Longley, P.; Cheng, N. S.; Fontaine, R. M.; Horton, K.; Bhattacharya, A.

    2017-12-01

    Arising stressors from both global and local sources threaten coral reefs, with studies indicating that local and global sources might reduce coral resilience. Local sources include sediment stress and nutrient stress from fishing; global sources include increasing sea surface temperature and ocean acidification. Through an in-depth review and re-analysis of published work, conducted under the scope of a course in the spring of 2017 semester and follow up research over the summer of 2017 and fall of 2017, students in Environmental Studies Course, ENVS 4100: Coral reefs, at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a framework to initiate a discussion of global and local policies focused on protection of coral reefs. The research aims to assess current threats and suggest mitigation efforts. The paper uses secondary research to analyze impact of ocean acidification on aragonite saturation levels, current thermal stress, nutrient stress, and sediment factors that influence the health of coral and its surrounding ecosystem over the Common Era. Case studies in this paper include the Caribbean and Red Sea coral reefs, due to the variation of the atmosphere, temperature, and human activity in these regions. This paper intends to offer sufficient evidence that will lead to appropriate policy decisions that pertain to reef conservation.

  6. 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...

  7. Coral thermal tolerance: tuning gene expression to resist thermal stress.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Anthony J Bellantuono

    Full Text Available The acclimatization capacity of corals is a critical consideration in the persistence of coral reefs under stresses imposed by global climate change. The stress history of corals plays a role in subsequent response to heat stress, but the transcriptomic changes associated with these plastic changes have not been previously explored. In order to identify host transcriptomic changes associated with acquired thermal tolerance in the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora, corals preconditioned to a sub-lethal temperature of 3°C below bleaching threshold temperature were compared to both non-preconditioned corals and untreated controls using a cDNA microarray platform. After eight days of hyperthermal challenge, conditions under which non-preconditioned corals bleached and preconditioned corals (thermal-tolerant maintained Symbiodinium density, a clear differentiation in the transcriptional profiles was revealed among the condition examined. Among these changes, nine differentially expressed genes separated preconditioned corals from non-preconditioned corals, with 42 genes differentially expressed between control and preconditioned treatments, and 70 genes between non-preconditioned corals and controls. Differentially expressed genes included components of an apoptotic signaling cascade, which suggest the inhibition of apoptosis in preconditioned corals. Additionally, lectins and genes involved in response to oxidative stress were also detected. One dominant pattern was the apparent tuning of gene expression observed between preconditioned and non-preconditioned treatments; that is, differences in expression magnitude were more apparent than differences in the identity of genes differentially expressed. Our work revealed a transcriptomic signature underlying the tolerance associated with coral thermal history, and suggests that understanding the molecular mechanisms behind physiological acclimatization would be critical for the modeling of reefs

  8. Enhanced susceptibility to predation in corals of compromised condition

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Allan J. Bright

    2015-09-01

    Full Text Available The marine gastropod, Coralliophila abbreviata, is an obligate corallivore that causes substantial mortality in Caribbean Acropora spp. Considering the imperiled status of Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, a better understanding of ecological interactions resulting in tissue loss may enable more effective conservation strategies. We examined differences in susceptibility of A. cervicornis to C. abbreviata predation based on coral tissue condition. Coral tissue condition was a strong determinant of snail prey choice, with snails preferring A. cervicornis fragments that were diseased or mechanically damaged over healthy fragments. In addition, snails always chose fragments undergoing active predation by another snail, while showing no preference for a non-feeding snail when compared with an undisturbed prey fragment. These results indicate that the condition of A. cervicornis prey influenced foraging behavior of C. abbreviata, creating a potential feedback that may exacerbate damage from predation in coral populations compromised by other types of disturbance.

  9. Enhanced susceptibility to predation in corals of compromised condition.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bright, Allan J; Cameron, Caitlin M; Miller, Margaret W

    2015-01-01

    The marine gastropod, Coralliophila abbreviata, is an obligate corallivore that causes substantial mortality in Caribbean Acropora spp. Considering the imperiled status of Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, a better understanding of ecological interactions resulting in tissue loss may enable more effective conservation strategies. We examined differences in susceptibility of A. cervicornis to C. abbreviata predation based on coral tissue condition. Coral tissue condition was a strong determinant of snail prey choice, with snails preferring A. cervicornis fragments that were diseased or mechanically damaged over healthy fragments. In addition, snails always chose fragments undergoing active predation by another snail, while showing no preference for a non-feeding snail when compared with an undisturbed prey fragment. These results indicate that the condition of A. cervicornis prey influenced foraging behavior of C. abbreviata, creating a potential feedback that may exacerbate damage from predation in coral populations compromised by other types of disturbance.

  10. Highly heterogeneous bacterial communities associated with the South China Sea reef corals Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jie Li

    Full Text Available Coral harbor diverse and specific bacteria play significant roles in coral holobiont function. Bacteria associated with three of the common and phylogenetically divergent reef-building corals in the South China Sea, Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora, were investigated using 454 barcoded-pyrosequencing. Three colonies of each species were sampled, and 16S rRNA gene libraries were constructed individually. Analysis of pyrosequencing libraries showed that bacterial communities associated with the three coral species were more diverse than previous estimates based on corals from the Caribbean Sea, Indo-Pacific reefs and the Red Sea. Three candidate phyla, including BRC1, OD1 and SR1, were found for the first time in corals. Bacterial communities were separated into three groups: P. lutea and G. fascicular, A. millepora and seawater. P. lutea and G. fascicular displayed more similar bacterial communities, and bacterial communities associated with A. millepora differed from the other two coral species. The three coral species shared only 22 OTUs, which were distributed in Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and an unclassified bacterial group. The composition of bacterial communities within each colony of each coral species also showed variation. The relatively small common and large specific bacterial communities in these corals implies that bacterial associations may be structured by multiple factors at different scales and that corals may associate with microbes in terms of similar function, rather than identical species.

  11. Contact with turf algae alters the coral microbiome: contact versus systemic impacts

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratte, Zoe A.; Longo, Guilherme O.; Burns, Andrew S.; Hay, Mark E.; Stewart, Frank J.

    2018-03-01

    Coral reefs are degrading to algae-dominated reefs worldwide, with alterations of coral microbiomes commonly co-occurring with reef demise. The severe thermal anomaly during the 2016 El Niño event in the South Pacific killed many corals and stressed others. We examined the microbiome of turf algae and of the coral Porites sp. in contact with turf during this thermal event to investigate algal turf effects on the coral microbiome during a period of environmental stress. The microbial composition of turf did not differ between coral-contacted and non-contacted turfs. However, microbiomes of corals in direct contact with turf were similar to those of the turf microbiome, but differed significantly from coral portions 5 cm from the point of turf/coral contact and from portions of the coral that looked most healthy, regardless of location. Although the majority of significant differences occurred in coral samples at the point of contact, a small subset of microbial taxa was enriched in coral tissues taken 5 cm from turf contact compared to all other sample types, including samples from areas of the coral that appeared most healthy. These results suggest that the coral microbiome is susceptible to colonization by microbes from turf, but not vice versa. Results also suggest that algal contact elicits a subtle shift in the coral microbiome just beyond the contact site. The combination of turf microbiome stability and coral microbiome vulnerability at areas of contact may contribute to the continued decline in coral cover and increase in algal cover associated with coral-algae phase shifts.

  12. Distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, and prevalence of white-band disease at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mayor, Philippe A.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Hillis-Starr, Zandy M.

    2006-05-01

    In the 1970s and 1980s elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, declined dramatically throughout the Caribbean primarily due to white-band disease (WBD). In 2005, elkhorn coral was proposed for listing as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. WBD was first documented at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM). Together with hurricanes WBD reduced live elkhorn coral coverage by probably over 90%. In the past decade some recovery has been observed at BIRNM. This study assessed the distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral and estimated the prevalence of WBD at the monument. Within an area of 795 ha, we estimated 97,232 134,371 (95% confidence limits) elkhorn coral colonies with any dimension of connected live tissue greater than one meter, about 3% of which were infected by WBD. Despite some recovery, the elkhorn coral density remains low and WBD may continue to present a threat to the elkhorn coral population.

  13. Marine Biodiversity in the Caribbean: Regional Estimates and Distribution Patterns

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miloslavich, Patricia; Díaz, Juan Manuel; Klein, Eduardo; Alvarado, Juan José; Díaz, Cristina; Gobin, Judith; Escobar-Briones, Elva; Cruz-Motta, Juan José; Weil, Ernesto; Cortés, Jorge; Bastidas, Ana Carolina; Robertson, Ross; Zapata, Fernando; Martín, Alberto; Castillo, Julio; Kazandjian, Aniuska; Ortiz, Manuel

    2010-01-01

    This paper provides an analysis of the distribution patterns of marine biodiversity and summarizes the major activities of the Census of Marine Life program in the Caribbean region. The coastal Caribbean region is a large marine ecosystem (LME) characterized by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, but including other environments, such as sandy beaches and rocky shores. These tropical ecosystems incorporate a high diversity of associated flora and fauna, and the nations that border the Caribbean collectively encompass a major global marine biodiversity hot spot. We analyze the state of knowledge of marine biodiversity based on the geographic distribution of georeferenced species records and regional taxonomic lists. A total of 12,046 marine species are reported in this paper for the Caribbean region. These include representatives from 31 animal phyla, two plant phyla, one group of Chromista, and three groups of Protoctista. Sampling effort has been greatest in shallow, nearshore waters, where there is relatively good coverage of species records; offshore and deep environments have been less studied. Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups. Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles) and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela – Colombia), while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data. Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1) highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2) high variability among collecting methods, (3) limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4) differing levels of activity in the study of

  14. Shifting baselines and the extinction of the Caribbean monk seal.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baisre, Julio A

    2013-10-01

    The recent extinction of the Caribbean monk seal Monachus tropicalis has been considered an example of a human-caused extinction in the marine environment, and this species was considered a driver of the changes that have occurred in the structure of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems since colonial times. I searched archaeological records, historical data, and geographic names (used as a proxy of the presence of seals) and evaluated the use and quality of these data to conclude that since prehistoric times the Caribbean monk seal was always rare and vulnerable to human predation. This finding supports the hypothesis that in AD 1500, the Caribbean monk seal persisted as a small fragmented population in which individuals were confined to small keys, banks, or isolated islands in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. This hypothesis is contrary to the assumption that the species was widespread and abundant historically. The theory that the main driver of monk seal extinction was harvesting for its oil for use in the sugar cane industry of Jamaica during the 18th century is based primarily on anecdotal information and is overemphasized in the literature. An analysis of reported human encounters with this species indicates monk seal harvest was an occasional activity, rather than an ongoing enterprise. Nevertheless, given the rarity of this species and its restricted distribution, even small levels of hunting or specimen collecting must have contributed to its extinction, which was confirmed in the mid-20th century. Some sources had been overlooked or only partially reviewed, others misinterpreted, and a considerable amount of anecdotal information had been uncritically used. Critical examination of archaeological and historical records is required to infer accurate estimations of the historical abundance of a species. In reconstructing the past to address the shifting baseline syndrome, it is important to avoid selecting evidence to confirm modern prejudices. © 2013

  15. Marine biodiversity in the Caribbean: regional estimates and distribution patterns.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Patricia Miloslavich

    2010-08-01

    Full Text Available This paper provides an analysis of the distribution patterns of marine biodiversity and summarizes the major activities of the Census of Marine Life program in the Caribbean region. The coastal Caribbean region is a large marine ecosystem (LME characterized by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, but including other environments, such as sandy beaches and rocky shores. These tropical ecosystems incorporate a high diversity of associated flora and fauna, and the nations that border the Caribbean collectively encompass a major global marine biodiversity hot spot. We analyze the state of knowledge of marine biodiversity based on the geographic distribution of georeferenced species records and regional taxonomic lists. A total of 12,046 marine species are reported in this paper for the Caribbean region. These include representatives from 31 animal phyla, two plant phyla, one group of Chromista, and three groups of Protoctista. Sampling effort has been greatest in shallow, nearshore waters, where there is relatively good coverage of species records; offshore and deep environments have been less studied. Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups. Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela-Colombia, while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data. Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1 highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2 high variability among collecting methods, (3 limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4 differing levels of activity in the study

  16. An integrated ecosystem model for coral reef management where oceanography, ecology and socio-economics meet

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weijerman, M.

    2015-01-01

    Summary

    Widespread coral reef decline, including decline in reef fish populations upon which many coastal human populations depend, have led to phase-shifts from the coral-dominated systems, found desirable by humans, to algal-dominated systems that provide less ecosystem

  17. An integrated ecosystem model for coral reef management where oceanography, ecology and socio-economics meet

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Weijerman, Mariska

    2015-01-01

    Widespread coral reef decline, including decline in reef fish populations upon which many coastal human populations depend, have led to phase-shifts from the coral-dominated systems, found desirable by humans, to algal-dominated systems that provide less ecosystem services, and the loss of

  18. How a collaborative integrated taxonomic effort has trained new spongiologists and improved knowledge of Martinique Island (French Antilles, eastern Caribbean Sea marine biodiversity.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Thierry Pérez

    Full Text Available Although sponges are important components of benthic ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea, their diversity remained poorly investigated in the Lesser Antilles. By organizing a training course in Martinique, we wanted both to promote taxonomy and to provide a first inventory of the sponge diversity on this island. The course was like a naturalist expedition, with a field laboratory and a classroom nearby. Early-career scientists and environmental managers were trained in sponge taxonomy. We gathered unpublished data and conducted an inventory at 13 coastal sites. We explored only shallow water habitats (0-30 m, such as mangroves, reefs or rocky bottoms and underwater caves. According to this study, the sponge fauna of Martinique is currently represented by a minimum of 191 species, 134 of which we could assign species names. One third of the remaining non-identified sponge species we consider to be new to science. Martinique appears very remarkable because of its littoral marine fauna harboring sponge aggregations with high biomass and species diversity dominating over coral species. In mangroves, sponges cover about 10% of the surface of subtidal roots. Several submarine caves are true reservoirs of hidden and insufficiently described sponge diversity. Thanks to this new collaborative effort, the Eastern Caribbean has gained a significant increase of knowledge, with sponge diversity of this area potentially representing 40% of the total in the Caribbean Sea. We thus demonstrated the importance of developing exploratory and educational research in areas historically devoid of biodiversity inventories and systematics studies. Finally, we believe in the necessity to consider not only the number of species but their distribution in space to evaluate their putative contribution to ecosystem services and our willingness to preserve them.

  19. Coral health on reefs near mining sites in New Caledonia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Heintz, T; Haapkylä, J; Gilbert, A

    2015-07-23

    Coral health data are poorly documented in New Caledonia, particularly from reefs chronically subject to anthropogenic and natural runoff. We investigated patterns of coral disease and non-disease conditions on reefs situated downstream of mining sites off the coast of New Caledonia. Surveys were conducted in March 2013 at 2 locations along the west coast and 2 locations along the east coast of the main island. Only 2 coral diseases were detected: growth anomalies and white syndrome. The most prevalent signs of compromised health at each location were sediment damage and algal overgrowth. These results support earlier findings that sedimentation and turbidity are major threats to in-shore reefs in New Caledonia. The Poritidae-dominated west coast locations were more subject to sediment damage, algal overgrowth and growth anomalies compared to the Acroporidae-dominated east coast locations. If growth form and resistance of coral hosts influence these results, differences in environmental conditions including hydro-dynamism between locations may also contribute to these outputs. Our results highlight the importance of combining coral health surveys with measurements of coral cover when assessing the health status of a reef, as reefs with high coral cover may have a high prevalence of corals demonstrating signs of compromised health.

  20. Coral-Associated Actinobacteria: Diversity, Abundance, and Biotechnological Potentials

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mahmoud, Huda M.; Kalendar, Aisha A.

    2016-01-01

    Marine Actinobacteria, particularly coral-associated Actinobacteria, have attracted attention recently. In this study, the abundance and diversity of Actinobacteria associated with three types of coral thriving in a thermally stressed coral reef system north of the Arabian Gulf were investigated. Coscinaraea columna, Platygyra daedalea and Porites harrisoni have been found to harbor equivalent numbers of culturable Actinobacteria in their tissues but not in their mucus. However, different culturable actinobacterial communities have been found to be associated with different coral hosts. Differences in the abundance and diversity of Actinobacteria were detected between the mucus and tissue of the same coral host. In addition, temporal and spatial variations in the abundance and diversity of the cultivable actinobacterial communities were detected. In total, 19 different actinobacterial genera, namely Micrococcus, Brachybacterium, Brevibacterium, Streptomyces, Micromonospora, Renibacterium, Nocardia, Microbacterium, Dietzia, Cellulomonas, Ornithinimicrobium, Rhodococcus, Agrococcus, Kineococcus, Dermacoccus, Devriesea, Kocuria, Marmoricola, and Arthrobacter, were isolated from the coral tissue and mucus samples. Furthermore, 82 isolates related to Micromonospora, Brachybacterium, Nocardia, Micrococcus, Arthrobacter, Rhodococcus, and Streptomyces showed antimicrobial activities against representative Gram-positive and/or Gram-negative bacteria. Even though Brevibacterium and Kocuria were the most dominant actinobacterial isolates, they failed to show any antimicrobial activity, whereas less dominant genera, such as Streptomyces, did show antimicrobial activity. Focusing on the diversity of coral-associated Actinobacteria may help to understand how corals thrive under harsh environmental conditions and may lead to the discovery of novel antimicrobial metabolites with potential biotechnological applications. PMID:26973601

  1. Transplantation experiments with Caribbean Millepora species (Hydrozoa, Coelenterata), including some ecological observations on growth forms

    OpenAIRE

    Weerdt, de, Wallie H.

    1981-01-01

    The historical background of the taxonomic problems in the fire-coral, Millepora, is reviewed. The growth forms of the Caribbean species: Millepora alcicornis Linnaeus, M. complanata Lamarck and M. squarrosa Lamarck are investigated in relation with environmental factors: water movement, current, light and turbidity. Several sites on Curaçao and Bonaire were visited and all forms of Millepora collected. The localities have been divided in biotopes and the relative frequencies of the growth fo...

  2. Heterogeneous Attitudes of Tourists toward Lionfish in the Mexican Caribbean: Implications for Invasive Species Management

    OpenAIRE

    Malpica-Cruz, Luis; Haider, Wolfgang; Smith, Nicola S.; Fernández-Lozada, Sergio; Côté, Isabelle M.

    2017-01-01

    Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) are invasive predators established throughout the Wider Caribbean. They have already caused significant ecological impacts and have the potential to affect local economies that depend on coral reefs. Snorkeling and scuba diving are important activities that rely on esthetically pleasant reefs. We asked whether lionfish-invaded reefs have lower esthetic value and whether fees to help control the invasion might be acceptable to recreational ...

  3. Microbial consortia of gorgonian corals from the Aleutian islands.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gray, Michael A; Stone, Robert P; McLaughlin, Molly R; Kellogg, Christina A

    2011-04-01

    Gorgonians make up the majority of corals in the Aleutian archipelago and provide critical fish habitat in areas of economically important fisheries. The microbial ecology of the deep-sea gorgonian corals Paragorgea arborea, Plumarella superba, and Cryogorgia koolsae was examined with culture-based and 16S rRNA gene-based techniques. Six coral colonies (two per species) were collected. Samples from all corals were cultured, and clone libraries were constructed from P. superba and C. koolsae. Cultured bacteria were dominated by the Gammaproteobacteria, especially Vibrionaceae, with other phyla comprising libraries showed dramatically different bacterial communities between corals of the same species collected at different sites, with no clear pattern of conserved bacterial consortia. Two of the clone libraries (one from each coral species) were dominated by Tenericutes, with Alphaproteobacteria dominating the remaining sequences. The other libraries were more diverse and had a more even distribution of bacterial phyla, showing more similarity between genera than within coral species. Here we report the first microbiological characterization of P. arborea, P. superba, and C. koolsae. FEMS Microbiology Ecology © 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. No claim to original US government works.

  4. Corals diseases are a major cause of coral death

    Science.gov (United States)

    Corals, like humans, are susceptible to diseases. Some coral diseases are associated with pathogenic bacteria; however, the causes of most remain unknown. Some diseases trigger rapid and extensive mortality, while others slowly cause localized color changes or injure coral tiss...

  5. The recent decline of Montastraea annularis (complex coral populations in western Curaçao: a cause for concern?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    A. W Bruckner

    2006-12-01

    Full Text Available Shallow leeward reefs off the western end of Curaçao are dominated by extensive populations of M. annularis (complex. These species are larger in size (mean= 66 cm diameter than all other species, with few small colonies (10 cm observed within transects, and most exhibited low levels of partial mortality (mean= 22.5%. These species were less abundant (38% of all colonies in 2005. Partial mortality among live colonies of M. annularis and M. faveolata increased by 85% (mean = 42% partial mortality and numerous dead colonies of M. faveolata and M. annularis were observed; M. franksi colonies were generally in excellent condition (14% partial tissue mortality. A high prevalence of coral diseases (3-30% was documented among M. annularis and M. faveolata, while all other species were less frequently affected. Yellow band disease (YBD emerged shortly after the 1995 bleaching event, and rapidly spread throughout all depths, with the highest prevalence between 1997-1999. YBD caused slow rates of mortality (=1 cm/month, but multiple focal lesions appeared on individual colonies, and these progressively radiated outward as they killed the colonies. By 2005, 44% of the tagged corals were dead; the remainder exhibited active YBD infections (21% or were in remission (31.6% but were missing on average >90% of their tissue. Although the incidence of YBD has declined since 2000, white plague (WP prevalence was unusually high (4-12% in 2001 and 2005, with affected colonies exhibiting recent mortality of up to 70%. Dead Montastraea spp. surfaces are being colonized by other corals, including poritids, agaricids, and other faviids, while recruits of M. annularis (complex are absent. If diseases and other biotic stressors persist on these reefs, M. annularis and M. faveolata populations may undergo a decline similar to that observed in the 1980s among Caribbean acroporids. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54 (Suppl. 3: 45- 58. Epub 2007 Jan. 15.

  6. Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Drury, Crawford; Manzello, Derek; Lirman, Diego

    2017-01-01

    The relationship between the coral genotype and the environment is an important area of research in degraded coral reef ecosystems. We used a reciprocal outplanting experiment with 930 corals representing ten genotypes on each of eight reefs to investigate the influence of genotype and the environment on growth and survivorship in the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Coral genotype and site were strong drivers of coral growth and individual genotypes exhibited flexible, non-conserved reaction norms, complemented by ten-fold differences in growth between specific G-E combinations. Growth plasticity may diminish the influence of local adaptation, where foreign corals grew faster than native corals at their home sites. Novel combinations of environment and genotype also significantly affected disturbance response during and after the 2015 bleaching event, where these factors acted synergistically to drive variation in bleaching and recovery. Importantly, small differences in temperature stress elicit variable patterns of survivorship based on genotype and illustrate the importance of novel combinations of coral genetics and small differences between sites representing habitat refugia. In this context, acclimatization and flexibility is especially important given the long lifespan of corals coping with complex environmental change. The combined influence of site and genotype creates short-term differences in growth and survivorship, contributing to the standing genetic variation needed for adaptation to occur over longer timescales and the recovery of degraded reefs through natural mechanisms.

  7. Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Crawford Drury

    Full Text Available The relationship between the coral genotype and the environment is an important area of research in degraded coral reef ecosystems. We used a reciprocal outplanting experiment with 930 corals representing ten genotypes on each of eight reefs to investigate the influence of genotype and the environment on growth and survivorship in the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Coral genotype and site were strong drivers of coral growth and individual genotypes exhibited flexible, non-conserved reaction norms, complemented by ten-fold differences in growth between specific G-E combinations. Growth plasticity may diminish the influence of local adaptation, where foreign corals grew faster than native corals at their home sites. Novel combinations of environment and genotype also significantly affected disturbance response during and after the 2015 bleaching event, where these factors acted synergistically to drive variation in bleaching and recovery. Importantly, small differences in temperature stress elicit variable patterns of survivorship based on genotype and illustrate the importance of novel combinations of coral genetics and small differences between sites representing habitat refugia. In this context, acclimatization and flexibility is especially important given the long lifespan of corals coping with complex environmental change. The combined influence of site and genotype creates short-term differences in growth and survivorship, contributing to the standing genetic variation needed for adaptation to occur over longer timescales and the recovery of degraded reefs through natural mechanisms.

  8. Bacterial profiling of White Plague Disease across corals and oceans indicates a conserved and distinct disease microbiome

    KAUST Repository

    Roder, C.

    2014-01-29

    Coral diseases are characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue, but causes and consequences of these changes are vaguely understood due to the complexity and dynamics of coral-associated bacteria. We used 16S rRNA gene microarrays to assay differences in bacterial assemblages of healthy and diseased colonies displaying White Plague Disease (WPD) signs from two closely related Caribbean coral species, Orbicella faveolata and Orbicella franksi. Analysis of differentially abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) revealed strong differences between healthy and diseased specimens, but not between coral species. A subsequent comparison to data from two Indo-Pacific coral species (Pavona duerdeni and Porites lutea) revealed distinct microbial community patterns associated with ocean basin, coral species and health state. Coral species were clearly separated by site, but also, the relatedness of the underlying bacterial community structures resembled the phylogenetic relationship of the coral hosts. In diseased samples, bacterial richness increased and putatively opportunistic bacteria were consistently more abundant highlighting the role of opportunistic conditions in structuring microbial community patterns during disease. Our comparative analysis shows that it is possible to derive conserved bacterial footprints of diseased coral holobionts that might help in identifying key bacterial species related to the underlying etiopathology. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that similar-appearing disease phenotypes produce microbial community patterns that are consistent over coral species and oceans, irrespective of the putative underlying pathogen. Consequently, profiling coral diseases by microbial community structure over multiple coral species might allow the development of a comparative disease framework that can inform on cause and relatedness of coral diseases. 2013 The Authors Molecular Ecology John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  9. Honduras: Caribbean Coast

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Harborne, Alastair R.; Afzal, Daniel C.; Andrews, Mark J. [Coral Cay Conservation, London (United Kingdom)

    2001-07-01

    The coast of Honduras, Central America, represents the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, although its marine resources are less extensive and studied than nearby Belize and Mexico. However, the coastal zone contains mainland reef formations, mangroves, wetlands, seagrass beds and extensive fringing reefs around its offshore islands, and has a key role in the economy of the country. Like most tropical areas, this complex of benthic habitats experiences limited annual variation in climatic and oceanographic conditions but seasonal and occasional conditions, particularly coral bleaching and hurricanes, are important influences. The effects of stochastic factors on the country's coral reefs were clearly demonstrated during 1998 when Honduras experienced a major hurricane and bleaching event. Any natural or anthropogenic impacts on reef health will inevitably affect other countries in Latin America, and vice versa, since the marine resources are linked via currents and the functioning of the system transcends political boundaries. Much further work on, for example, movement of larvae and transfer of pollutants is required to delineate the full extent of these links. Anthropogenic impacts, largely driven by the increasing population and proportion of people living in coastal areas, are numerous and include key factors such as agricultural run-off, over-fishing, urban and industrial pollution (particularly sewage) and infrastructure development. Many of these threats act synergistically and, for example, poor watershed management via shifting cultivation, increases sedimentation and pesticide run-off onto coral reefs, which increases stress to corals already affected by decreasing water quality and coral bleaching. Threats from agriculture and fishing are particularly significant because of the size of both industries. The desire to generate urgently required revenue within Honduras has also led to increased tourism which provides an over

  10. Honduras: Caribbean Coast.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harborne, A R; Afzal, D C; Andrews, M J

    2001-12-01

    The coast of Honduras, Central America, represents the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, although its marine resources are less extensive and studied than nearby Belize and Mexico. However, the coastal zone contains mainland reef formations, mangroves, wetlands, seagrass beds and extensive fringing reefs around its offshore islands, and has a key role in the economy of the country. Like most tropical areas, this complex of benthic habitats experiences limited annual variation in climatic and oceanographic conditions but seasonal and occasional conditions, particularly coral bleaching and hurricanes, are important influences. The effects of stochastic factors on the country's coral reefs were clearly demonstrated during 1998 when Honduras experienced a major hurricane and bleaching event. Any natural or anthropogenic impacts on reef health will inevitably affect other countries in Latin America, and vice versa, since the marine resources are linked via currents and the functioning of the system transcends political boundaries. Much further work on, for example, movement of larvae and transfer of pollutants is required to delineate the full extent of these links. Anthropogenic impacts, largely driven by the increasing population and proportion of people living in coastal areas, are numerous and include key factors such as agricultural run-off, over-fishing, urban and industrial pollution (particularly sewage) and infrastructure development. Many of these threats act synergistically and, for example, poor watershed management via shifting cultivation, increases sedimentation and pesticide run-off onto coral reefs, which increases stress to corals already affected by decreasing water quality and coral bleaching. Threats from agriculture and fishing are particularly significant because of the size of both industries. The desire to generate urgently required revenue within Honduras has also led to increased tourism which provides an overarching stress

  11. Coral Reef Resilience, Tipping Points and the Strength of Herbivory.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Adam, Thomas C; Brooks, Andrew J

    2016-11-02

    Coral reefs increasingly are undergoing transitions from coral to macroalgal dominance. Although the functional roles of reef herbivores in controlling algae are becoming better understood, identifying possible tipping points in the herbivory-macroalgae relationships has remained a challenge. Assessment of where any coral reef ecosystem lies in relation to the coral-to-macroalgae tipping point is fundamental to understanding resilience properties, forecasting state shifts, and developing effective management practices. We conducted a multi-year field experiment in Moorea, French Polynesia to estimate these properties. While we found a sharp herbivory threshold where macroalgae escape control, ambient levels of herbivory by reef fishes were well above that needed to prevent proliferation of macroalgae. These findings are consistent with previously observed high resilience of the fore reef in Moorea. Our approach can identify vulnerable coral reef systems in urgent need of management action to both forestall shifts to macroalgae and preserve properties essential for resilience.

  12. Caribbean Sea Level Network

    Science.gov (United States)

    von Hillebrandt-Andrade, C.; Crespo Jones, H.

    2012-12-01

    Over the past 500 years almost 100 tsunamis have been observed in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, with at least 3510 people having lost their lives to this hazard since 1842. Furthermore, with the dramatic increase in population and infrastructure along the Caribbean coasts, today, millions of coastal residents, workers and visitors are vulnerable to tsunamis. The UNESCO IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunamis and other Coastal Hazards for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) was established in 2005 to coordinate and advance the regional tsunami warning system. The CARIBE EWS focuses on four areas/working groups: (1) Monitoring and Warning, (2) Hazard and Risk Assessment, (3) Communication and (4) Education, Preparedness and Readiness. The sea level monitoring component is under Working Group 1. Although in the current system, it's the seismic data and information that generate the initial tsunami bulletins, it is the data from deep ocean buoys (DARTS) and the coastal sea level gauges that are critical for the actual detection and forecasting of tsunamis impact. Despite multiple efforts and investments in the installation of sea level stations in the region, in 2004 there were only a handful of sea level stations operational in the region (Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas). Over the past 5 years there has been a steady increase in the number of stations operating in the Caribbean region. As of mid 2012 there were 7 DARTS and 37 coastal gauges with additional ones being installed or funded. In order to reach the goal of 100 operational coastal sea level stations in the Caribbean, the CARIBE EWS recognizes also the importance of maintaining the current stations. For this, a trained workforce in the region for the installation, operation and data analysis and quality control is considered to be critical. Since 2008, three training courses have been offered to the sea level station operators and data analysts. Other

  13. Biogeographical disparity in the functional diversity and redundancy of corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McWilliam, Mike; Hoogenboom, Mia O; Baird, Andrew H; Kuo, Chao-Yang; Madin, Joshua S; Hughes, Terry P

    2018-03-20

    Corals are major contributors to a range of key ecosystem functions on tropical reefs, including calcification, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, and the provision of habitat structure. The abundance of corals is declining at multiple scales, and the species composition of assemblages is responding to escalating human pressures, including anthropogenic global warming. An urgent challenge is to understand the functional consequences of these shifts in abundance and composition in different biogeographical contexts. While global patterns of coral species richness are well known, the biogeography of coral functions in provinces and domains with high and low redundancy is poorly understood. Here, we quantify the functional traits of all currently recognized zooxanthellate coral species ( n = 821) in both the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic domains to examine the relationships between species richness and the diversity and redundancy of functional trait space. We find that trait diversity is remarkably conserved (>75% of the global total) along latitudinal and longitudinal gradients in species richness, falling away only in species-poor provinces ( n < 200), such as the Persian Gulf (52% of the global total), Hawaii (37%), the Caribbean (26%), and the East-Pacific (20%), where redundancy is also diminished. In the more species-poor provinces, large and ecologically important areas of trait space are empty, or occupied by just a few, highly distinctive species. These striking biogeographical differences in redundancy could affect the resilience of critical reef functions and highlight the vulnerability of relatively depauperate, peripheral locations, which are often a low priority for targeted conservation efforts.

  14. Using X-Ray Fluorescence Technique to Quantify Metal Concentration in Coral Cores from Belize

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kingsley, C.; Bhattacharya, A.; Hangsterfer, A.; Carilli, J.; Field, D. B.

    2016-12-01

    Caribbean coral reefs are some of the most threatened marine ecosystems in the world. Research appears to suggest that environmental stressors of local origin, such as sediment run off, can reduce the resilience of these reefs to global threats such as ocean warming. Sedimentation can stunt coral growth, reduce its resilience, and it is possible that trapped material could render coral skeletons brittle (personal discussions). Material trapped in coral skeletons can provide information on the sources of particulate matter in the ocean ecosystem. Despite the importance of quantifying sources and types of materials trapped in corals, the research community is yet to fully develop techniques that allow accurate representation of trapped matter, which is potentially a major source of metal content in reef building coral skeletons. The dataset presented here explores the usefulness of X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), a widely used tool in environmental studies (but generally not in corals), to estimate metal content in coral cores collected from four locations near Belize, with varying degrees of impact from coastal processes. The coral cores together cover a period of 1862-2006. Trace, major, and minor metal content from these cores have been well-studied using solution-based ICP-MS, providing us with the unique opportunity to test the efficacy of XRF technique in characterizing metal content in these coral cores. We have measured more than 50 metals using XRF every two millimeters along slabs removed from the middle of a coral core to characterize materials present in coral skeletons. We compared the results from XRF to solution-based ICP-MS - that involves dissolving subsamples of coral skeleton to measure metal content. Overall, it appears that the non-destructive XRF technique is a viable supplement in determining sediment and metal content in coral cores, and may be particularly helpful for assessing resistant phases such as grains of sediment that are not fully

  15. A review of bottom-up vs. top-down control of sponges on Caribbean fore-reefs: what’s old, what’s new, and future directions

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joseph R. Pawlik

    2018-01-01

    Full Text Available Interest in the ecology of sponges on coral reefs has grown in recent years with mounting evidence that sponges are becoming dominant members of reef communities, particularly in the Caribbean. New estimates of water column processing by sponge pumping activities combined with discoveries related to carbon and nutrient cycling have led to novel hypotheses about the role of sponges in reef ecosystem function. Among these developments, a debate has emerged about the relative effects of bottom-up (food availability and top-down (predation control on the community of sponges on Caribbean fore-reefs. In this review, we evaluate the impact of the latest findings on the debate, as well as provide new insights based on older citations. Recent studies that employed different research methods have demonstrated that dissolved organic carbon (DOC and detritus are the principal sources of food for a growing list of sponge species, challenging the idea that the relative availability of living picoplankton is the sole proxy for sponge growth or abundance. New reports have confirmed earlier findings that reef macroalgae release labile DOC available for sponge nutrition. Evidence for top-down control of sponge community structure by fish predation is further supported by gut content studies and historical population estimates of hawksbill turtles, which likely had a much greater impact on relative sponge abundances on Caribbean reefs of the past. Implicit to investigations designed to address the bottom-up vs. top-down debate are appropriate studies of Caribbean fore-reef environments, where benthic communities are relatively homogeneous and terrestrial influences and abiotic effects are minimized. One recent study designed to test both aspects of the debate did so using experiments conducted entirely in shallow lagoonal habitats dominated by mangroves and seagrass beds. The top-down results from this study are reinterpreted as supporting past research

  16. Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Chamberland, V.F.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Brittsan, M.; Carl, M.; Schick, M.; Snowden, S.; Schrier, A.; Petersen, D.

    2015-01-01

    Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations provide important ecological functions on shallow Caribbean reefs, many of which were lost when a disease reduced their abundance by more than 95% beginning in the mid-1970s. Since then, a lack of significant recovery has prompted rehabilitation

  17. Molluscan assemblages on coral reefs and associated hard substrata in the northern Red Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zuschin, M.; Hohenegger, J.; Steininger, F.

    2001-09-01

    Information on spatial variability and distribution patterns of organisms in coral reef environments is necessary to evaluate the increasing anthropogenic disturbance of marine environments (Richmond 1993; Wilkinson 1993; Dayton 1994). Therefore different types of subtidal, reef-associated hard substrata (reef flats, reef slopes, coral carpets, coral patches, rock grounds), each with different coral associations, were investigated to determine the distribution pattern of molluscs and their life habits (feeding strategies and substrate relations). The molluscs were strongly dominated by taxa with distinct relations to corals, and five assemblages were differentiated. The Dendropoma maxima assemblage on reef flats is a discrete entity, strongly dominated by this encrusting and suspension-feeding gastropod. All other assemblages are arranged along a substrate gradient of changing coral associations and potential molluscan habitats. The Coralliophila neritoidea- Barbatia foliata assemblage depends on the presence of Porites and shows a dominance of gastropods feeding on corals and of bivalves associated with living corals. The Chamoidea- Cerithium spp. assemblage on rock grounds is strongly dominated by encrusting bivalves. The Drupella cornus-Pteriidae assemblage occurs on Millepora- Acropora reef slopes and is strongly dominated by bivalves associated with living corals. The Barbatia setigera- Ctenoides annulata assemblage includes a broad variety of taxa, molluscan life habits and bottom types, but occurs mainly on faviid carpets and is transitional among the other three assemblages. A predicted degradation of coral coverage to rock bottoms due to increasing eutrophication and physical damage in the study area (Riegl and Piller 2000) will result in a loss of coral-associated molluscs in favor of bivalve crevice dwellers in dead coral heads and of encrusters on dead hard substrata.

  18. National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, pH and other variables collected from surface discrete observations using infrared dissolved inorganic carbon analyzer, alkalinity titrator and other instruments from Caribbean Sea, Salt River Bay, St. Croix, St. Thomas Brewers Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands (Class II climate monitoring sites) from 2013-09-09 to 2014-07-02 (NCEI Accession 0132021)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This archival package contains data collected to monitor coral reef carbonate chemistry over time, at US affiliated coral reef sites, through quantifying key...

  19. 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.

  20. Coral reefs and eutrophication

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Stambler, N.

    1999-01-01

    Coral reefs are found in oligotrophic waters, which are poor in nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, and possibly iron. In spite of this, coral reefs exhibit high gross primary productivity rates. They thrive in oligotrophic conditions because of the symbiotic relationship between corals and dinoflagellate algae (zooxanthellae) embedded in the coral tissue. In their mutualistic symbiosis, the zooxanthellae contribute their photosynthetic capability as the basis for the metabolic energy of the whole association, and eventually of a great part of the entire reef ecosystem

  1. Microbial bioenergetics of coral-algal interactions

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ty N.F. Roach

    2017-06-01

    Full Text Available Human impacts are causing ecosystem phase shifts from coral- to algal-dominated reef systems on a global scale. As these ecosystems undergo transition, there is an increased incidence of coral-macroalgal interactions. Mounting evidence indicates that the outcome of these interaction events is, in part, governed by microbially mediated dynamics. The allocation of available energy through different trophic levels, including the microbial food web, determines the outcome of these interactions and ultimately shapes the benthic community structure. However, little is known about the underlying thermodynamic mechanisms involved in these trophic energy transfers. This study utilizes a novel combination of methods including calorimetry, flow cytometry, and optical oxygen measurements, to provide a bioenergetic analysis of coral-macroalgal interactions in a controlled aquarium setting. We demonstrate that the energetic demands of microbial communities at the coral-algal interaction interface are higher than in the communities associated with either of the macroorganisms alone. This was evident through higher microbial power output (energy use per unit time and lower oxygen concentrations at interaction zones compared to areas distal from the interface. Increases in microbial power output and lower oxygen concentrations were significantly correlated with the ratio of heterotrophic to autotrophic microbes but not the total microbial abundance. These results suggest that coral-algal interfaces harbor higher proportions of heterotrophic microbes that are optimizing maximal power output, as opposed to yield. This yield to power shift offers a possible thermodynamic mechanism underlying the transition from coral- to algal-dominated reef ecosystems currently being observed worldwide. As changes in the power output of an ecosystem are a significant indicator of the current state of the system, this analysis provides a novel and insightful means to quantify

  2. The continuing decline of coral reefs in Bahrain.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, John A; Al-Khalifa, Khalifa; Khalaf, Ebtesam; Alshuwaikh, Bassem; Abdulwahab, Ahmed

    2013-07-30

    Historically coral reefs of Bahrain were among the most extensive in the southern basin of the Arabian Gulf. However, Bahrain's reefs have undergone significant decline in the last four decades as a result of large-scale coastal development and elevated sea surface temperature events. Here we quantitatively surveyed six sites including most major coral reef habitats around Bahrain and a reef located 72 km offshore. Fleshy and turf algae now dominate Bahrain's reefs (mean: 72% cover), and live coral cover is low (mean: 5.1%). Formerly dominant Acropora were not observed at any site. The offshore Bulthama reef had the highest coral cover (16.3%) and species richness (22 of the 23 species observed, 13 of which were exclusive to this site). All reefs for which recent and historical data are available show continued degradation, and it is unlikely that they will recover under continuing coastal development and projected climate change impacts. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  3. 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.

  4. Reef fish and coral assemblages at Maptaput, Rayong Province

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Voravit Cheevaporn

    2007-06-01

    Full Text Available This study describes the structure of coral and fish assemblages of a group of small islands and pinnacles in the vicinity of Maptaput deep sea port, Rayong Province, Thailand during 2002. The coral and fish assemblages at Saket Island and nearby pinnacle, Hin-Yai, which are located less than 1 km from the deep sea port, had changed. Living coral cover in 2002 was 8% at Hin-Yai and 4% at Saket Island which decreased from 33% and 64%, respectively in the previous report in 1992. Numbers of coral species at Saket Island decreased from 41 species to 13 species. Acropora spp. that previously dominated the area had nearly disappeared. For fishes, a total of 40 species were found in 2002 the numbers decreased to only 6 species at Saket Island and 36 species at Hin-Yai. Fishes that dominated the area are small pomacentrids. After 1997, the conditions of coral and fish assemblages at Saket Island and Hin-Yai had markedly changed, whereas, the conditions found in the nearby area are much better. Sediment load from port construction was the primary cause of the degradation. This should indicate the adverse effect of sedimentation on coral and reef fish assemblages at Maptaput. Coral communities developed on rock pinnacles west of Maptaput deep-sea port are reported and described herein for the first time.

  5. Cellular responses in sea fan corals: granular amoebocytes react to pathogen and climate stressors.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Laura D Mydlarz

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Climate warming is causing environmental change making both marine and terrestrial organisms, and even humans, more susceptible to emerging diseases. Coral reefs are among the most impacted ecosystems by climate stress, and immunity of corals, the most ancient of metazoans, is poorly known. Although coral mortality due to infectious diseases and temperature-related stress is on the rise, the immune effector mechanisms that contribute to the resistance of corals to such events remain elusive. In the Caribbean sea fan corals (Anthozoa, Alcyonacea: Gorgoniidae, the cell-based immune defenses are granular acidophilic amoebocytes, which are known to be involved in wound repair and histocompatibility. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We demonstrate for the first time in corals that these cells are involved in the organismal response to pathogenic and temperature stress. In sea fans with both naturally occurring infections and experimental inoculations with the fungal pathogen Aspergillus sydowii, an inflammatory response, characterized by a massive increase of amoebocytes, was evident near infections. Melanosomes were detected in amoebocytes adjacent to protective melanin bands in infected sea fans; neither was present in uninfected fans. In naturally infected sea fans a concurrent increase in prophenoloxidase activity was detected in infected tissues with dense amoebocytes. Sea fans sampled in the field during the 2005 Caribbean Bleaching Event (a once-in-hundred-year climate event responded to heat stress with a systemic increase in amoebocytes and amoebocyte densities were also increased by elevated temperature stress in lab experiments. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The observed amoebocyte responses indicate that sea fan corals use cellular defenses to combat fungal infection and temperature stress. The ability to mount an inflammatory response may be a contributing factor that allowed the survival of even infected sea fan corals during a

  6. Short-term coral bleaching is not recorded by skeletal boron isotopes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schoepf, Verena; McCulloch, Malcolm T; Warner, Mark E; Levas, Stephen J; Matsui, Yohei; Aschaffenburg, Matthew D; Grottoli, Andréa G

    2014-01-01

    Coral skeletal boron isotopes have been established as a proxy for seawater pH, yet it remains unclear if and how this proxy is affected by seawater temperature. Specifically, it has never been directly tested whether coral bleaching caused by high water temperatures influences coral boron isotopes. Here we report the results from a controlled bleaching experiment conducted on the Caribbean corals Porites divaricata, Porites astreoides, and Orbicella faveolata. Stable boron (δ11B), carbon (δ13C), oxygen (δ18O) isotopes, Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, U/Ca, and Ba/Ca ratios, as well as chlorophyll a concentrations and calcification rates were measured on coral skeletal material corresponding to the period during and immediately after the elevated temperature treatment and again after 6 weeks of recovery on the reef. We show that under these conditions, coral bleaching did not affect the boron isotopic signature in any coral species tested, despite significant changes in coral physiology. This contradicts published findings from coral cores, where significant decreases in boron isotopes were interpreted as corresponding to times of known mass bleaching events. In contrast, δ13C and δ18O exhibited major enrichment corresponding to decreases in calcification rates associated with bleaching. Sr/Ca of bleached corals did not consistently record the 1.2°C difference in seawater temperature during the bleaching treatment, or alternatively show a consistent increase due to impaired photosynthesis and calcification. Mg/Ca, U/Ca, and Ba/Ca were affected by coral bleaching in some of the coral species, but the observed patterns could not be satisfactorily explained by temperature dependence or changes in coral physiology. This demonstrates that coral boron isotopes do not record short-term bleaching events, and therefore cannot be used as a proxy for past bleaching events. The robustness of coral boron isotopes to changes in coral physiology, however, suggests that reconstruction of

  7. Epimicrobiota associated with the decay and recovery of Orbicella corals exhibiting Dark Spot Syndrome

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Julie L Meyer

    2016-06-01

    Full Text Available Dark Spot Syndrome (DSS is one of the most common diseases of boulder corals in the Caribbean. It presents as sunken brown lesions in coral tissue, which can spread quickly over coral colonies. With this study, we tested the hypothesis that similar to other coral diseases, DSS is a dysbiosis characterized by global shifts in the coral microbiome. Because Black Band Disease (BBD was sometimes found following DSS lesions, we also tested the hypothesis that DSS is a precursor of BBD. To track disease initiation and progression 24 coral colonies were tagged. Of them five Orbicella annularis corals and three O. faveolata corals exhibited DSS lesions at tagging. Microbiota of lesions and apparently healthy tissues from DSS-affected corals over the course of 18 months were collected. Final visual assessment showed that five of eight corals incurred substantial tissue loss while two corals remained stable and one appeared to recover from DSS lesions. Illumina sequencing of the V6 region of bacterial 16S rRNA genes demonstrated no significant differences in bacterial community composition associated with healthy tissue or DSS lesions. The epimicrobiomes of both healthy tissue and DSS lesions contained high relative abundances of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs assigned to Halomonas, an unclassified gammaproteobacterial genus, Moritella, an unclassified Rhodobacteraceae genus, Renibacterium, Pseudomonas, and Acinetobacter. The relative abundance of bacterial taxa was not significantly different between samples when grouped by tissue type (healthy tissue vs. DSS lesion, coral species, collection month, or the overall outcome of DSS-affected corals (substantial tissue loss vs. stable/recovered. Two of the tagged corals with substantial tissue loss also developed BBD during the 18-month sampling period. The bacterial community of the BBD layer was distinct from both healthy tissue and DSS lesions, with high relative abundances of the presumed BBD pathogen

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Guillermo Diaz-Pulido

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

  9. Effect of light and nutrient availability on the release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) by Caribbean turf algae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mueller, Benjamin; den Haan, Joost; Visser, Petra M; Vermeij, Mark J A; van Duyl, Fleur C

    2016-03-22

    Turf algae increasingly dominate benthic communities on coral reefs. Given their abundance and high dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release rates, turf algae are considered important contributors to the DOC pool on modern reefs. The release of photosynthetically fixed carbon as DOC generally, but not always, increases with increased light availability. Nutrient availability was proposed as an additional factor to explain these conflicting observations. To address this proposed but untested hypothesis, we documented the interactive contributions of light and nutrient availability on the release of DOC by turf algae. DOC release rates and oxygen production were quantified in incubation experiments at two light levels (full and reduced light) and two nutrient treatments (natural seawater and enriched seawater). In natural seawater, DOC release at full light was four times higher than at reduced light. When nutrients were added, DOC release rates at both light levels were similar to the natural seawater treatment at full light. Our results therefore show that low light in combination with low nutrient availability reduces the release of DOC by turf algae and that light and nutrient availability interactively determine DOC release rates by this important component of Caribbean reef communities.

  10. Annual coral bleaching and the long-term recovery capacity of coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schoepf, Verena; Grottoli, Andréa G; Levas, Stephen J; Aschaffenburg, Matthew D; Baumann, Justin H; Matsui, Yohei; Warner, Mark E

    2015-11-22

    Mass bleaching events are predicted to occur annually later this century. Nevertheless, it remains unknown whether corals will be able to recover between annual bleaching events. Using a combined tank and field experiment, we simulated annual bleaching by exposing three Caribbean coral species (Porites divaricata, Porites astreoides and Orbicella faveolata) to elevated temperatures for 2.5 weeks in 2 consecutive years. The impact of annual bleaching stress on chlorophyll a, energy reserves, calcification, and tissue C and N isotopes was assessed immediately after the second bleaching and after both short- and long-term recovery on the reef (1.5 and 11 months, respectively). While P. divaricata and O. faveolata were able to recover from repeat bleaching within 1 year, P. astreoides experienced cumulative damage that prevented full recovery within this time frame, suggesting that repeat bleaching had diminished its recovery capacity. Specifically, P. astreoides was not able to recover protein and carbohydrate concentrations. As energy reserves promote bleaching resistance, failure to recover from annual bleaching within 1 year will likely result in the future demise of heat-sensitive coral species. © 2015 The Author(s).

  11. Annual coral bleaching and the long-term recovery capacity of coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schoepf, Verena; Grottoli, Andréa G.; Levas, Stephen J.; Aschaffenburg, Matthew D.; Baumann, Justin H.; Matsui, Yohei; Warner, Mark E.

    2015-01-01

    Mass bleaching events are predicted to occur annually later this century. Nevertheless, it remains unknown whether corals will be able to recover between annual bleaching events. Using a combined tank and field experiment, we simulated annual bleaching by exposing three Caribbean coral species (Porites divaricata, Porites astreoides and Orbicella faveolata) to elevated temperatures for 2.5 weeks in 2 consecutive years. The impact of annual bleaching stress on chlorophyll a, energy reserves, calcification, and tissue C and N isotopes was assessed immediately after the second bleaching and after both short- and long-term recovery on the reef (1.5 and 11 months, respectively). While P. divaricata and O. faveolata were able to recover from repeat bleaching within 1 year, P. astreoides experienced cumulative damage that prevented full recovery within this time frame, suggesting that repeat bleaching had diminished its recovery capacity. Specifically, P. astreoides was not able to recover protein and carbohydrate concentrations. As energy reserves promote bleaching resistance, failure to recover from annual bleaching within 1 year will likely result in the future demise of heat-sensitive coral species. PMID:26582020

  12. No Reef Is an Island: Integrating Coral Reef Connectivity Data into the Design of Regional-Scale Marine Protected Area Networks.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schill, Steven R; Raber, George T; Roberts, Jason J; Treml, Eric A; Brenner, Jorge; Halpin, Patrick N

    2015-01-01

    We integrated coral reef connectivity data for the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico into a conservation decision-making framework for designing a regional scale marine protected area (MPA) network that provides insight into ecological and political contexts. We used an ocean circulation model and regional coral reef data to simulate eight spawning events from 2008-2011, applying a maximum 30-day pelagic larval duration and 20% mortality rate. Coral larval dispersal patterns were analyzed between coral reefs across jurisdictional marine zones to identify spatial relationships between larval sources and destinations within countries and territories across the region. We applied our results in Marxan, a conservation planning software tool, to identify a regional coral reef MPA network design that meets conservation goals, minimizes underlying threats, and maintains coral reef connectivity. Our results suggest that approximately 77% of coral reefs identified as having a high regional connectivity value are not included in the existing MPA network. This research is unique because we quantify and report coral larval connectivity data by marine ecoregions and Exclusive Economic Zones (EZZ) and use this information to identify gaps in the current Caribbean-wide MPA network by integrating asymmetric connectivity information in Marxan to design a regional MPA network that includes important reef network connections. The identification of important reef connectivity metrics guides the selection of priority conservation areas and supports resilience at the whole system level into the future.

  13. No Reef Is an Island: Integrating Coral Reef Connectivity Data into the Design of Regional-Scale Marine Protected Area Networks.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Steven R Schill

    Full Text Available We integrated coral reef connectivity data for the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico into a conservation decision-making framework for designing a regional scale marine protected area (MPA network that provides insight into ecological and political contexts. We used an ocean circulation model and regional coral reef data to simulate eight spawning events from 2008-2011, applying a maximum 30-day pelagic larval duration and 20% mortality rate. Coral larval dispersal patterns were analyzed between coral reefs across jurisdictional marine zones to identify spatial relationships between larval sources and destinations within countries and territories across the region. We applied our results in Marxan, a conservation planning software tool, to identify a regional coral reef MPA network design that meets conservation goals, minimizes underlying threats, and maintains coral reef connectivity. Our results suggest that approximately 77% of coral reefs identified as having a high regional connectivity value are not included in the existing MPA network. This research is unique because we quantify and report coral larval connectivity data by marine ecoregions and Exclusive Economic Zones (EZZ and use this information to identify gaps in the current Caribbean-wide MPA network by integrating asymmetric connectivity information in Marxan to design a regional MPA network that includes important reef network connections. The identification of important reef connectivity metrics guides the selection of priority conservation areas and supports resilience at the whole system level into the future.

  14. Long distance dispersal and connectivity in amphi-Atlantic corals at regional and basin scales.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Flavia L D Nunes

    Full Text Available Among Atlantic scleractinian corals, species diversity is highest in the Caribbean, but low diversity and high endemism are observed in various peripheral populations in central and eastern Atlantic islands and along the coasts of Brazil and West Africa. The degree of connectivity between these distantly separated populations is of interest because it provides insight into processes at both evolutionary and ecological time scales, such as speciation, recruitment dynamics and the persistence of coral populations. To assess connectivity in broadly distributed coral species of the Atlantic, DNA sequence data from two nuclear markers were obtained for six coral species spanning their distributional ranges. At basin-wide scales, significant differentiation was generally observed among populations in the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa. Concordance of patterns in connectivity among co-distributed taxa indicates that extrinsic barriers, such as the Amazon freshwater plume or long stretches of open ocean, restrict dispersal of coral larvae from region to region. Within regions, dispersal ability appears to be influenced by aspects of reproduction and life history. Two broadcasting species, Siderastrea siderea and Montastraea cavernosa, were able to maintain gene flow among populations separated by as much as 1,200 km along the coast of Brazil. In contrast, brooding species, such as Favia gravida and Siderastrea radians, had more restricted gene flow along the Brazilian coast.

  15. Cryobiology of coral fragments.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hagedorn, Mary; Farrell, Ann; Carter, Virginia L

    2013-02-01

    Around the world, coral reefs are dying due to human influences, and saving habitat alone may not stop this destruction. This investigation focused on the biological processes that will provide the first steps in understanding the cryobiology of whole coral fragments. Coral fragments are a partnership of coral tissue and endosymbiotic algae, Symbiodinium sp., commonly called zooxanthellae. These data reflected their separate sensitivities to chilling and a cryoprotectant (dimethyl sulfoxide) for the coral Pocillopora damicornis, as measured by tissue loss and Pulse Amplitude Modulated fluorometry 3weeks post-treatment. Five cryoprotectant treatments maintained the viability of the coral tissue and zooxanthellae at control values (1M dimethyl sulfoxide at 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0h exposures, and 1.5M dimethyl sulfoxide at 1.0 and 1.5h exposures, P>0.05, ANOVA), whereas 2M concentrations did not (Pzooxanthellae. During the winter when the fragments were chilled, the coral tissue remained relatively intact (∼25% loss) post-treatment, but the zooxanthellae numbers in the tissue declined after 5min of chilling (Pzooxanthellae numbers declined in response to chilling alone (P0.05, ANOVA), but it did not protect against the loss of zooxanthellae (Pzooxanthellae are the most sensitive element in the coral fragment complex and future cryopreservation protocols must be guided by their greater sensitivity. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  16. Dopamine D1 receptor activation leads to object recognition memory in a coral reef fish.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hamilton, Trevor J; Tresguerres, Martin; Kline, David I

    2017-07-01

    Object recognition memory is the ability to identify previously seen objects and is an adaptive mechanism that increases survival for many species throughout the animal kingdom. Previously believed to be possessed by only the highest order mammals, it is now becoming clear that fish are also capable of this type of memory formation. Similar to the mammalian hippocampus, the dorsolateral pallium regulates distinct memory processes and is modulated by neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Caribbean bicolour damselfish ( Stegastes partitus ) live in complex environments dominated by coral reef structures and thus likely possess many types of complex memory abilities including object recognition. This study used a novel object recognition test in which fish were first presented two identical objects, then after a retention interval of 10 min with no objects, the fish were presented with a novel object and one of the objects they had previously encountered in the first trial. We demonstrate that the dopamine D 1 -receptor agonist (SKF 38393) induces the formation of object recognition memories in these fish. Thus, our results suggest that dopamine-receptor mediated enhancement of spatial memory formation in fish represents an evolutionarily conserved mechanism in vertebrates. © 2017 The Author(s).

  17. Satellite Teleconferencing in the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sankar, Hollis C.

    1985-01-01

    Discusses the need for, and the development, use, and future trends of, the University of the West Indies Distance Teaching Experiment, which utilizes telephone and communications satellite technology teleconferencing to extend educational opportunities to the peoples of the Caribbean. (MBR)

  18. Coral Reefs: Beyond Mortality?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Charles Sheppard

    2000-01-01

    Full Text Available The scale of the collapse of coral reef communities in 1998 following a warming episode (Wilkinson, 2000 was unprecedented, and took many people by surprise. The Indian Ocean was the worst affected with a coral mortality over 75% in many areas such as the Chagos Archipelago (Sheppard, 1999, Seychelles (Spencer et al., 2000 and Maldives (McClanahan, 2000. Several other locations were affected at least as much, with mortality reaching 100% (to the nearest whole number; this is being compiled by various authors (e.g., CORDIO, in press. For example, in the Arabian Gulf, coral mortality is almost total across many large areas of shallow water (Sheppard, unpublished; D. George and D. John, personal communication. The mortality is patchy of course, depending on currents, location inside or outside lagoons, etc., but it is now possible to swim for over 200 m and see not one remaining living coral or soft coral on some previously rich reefs.

  19. Subduction in the Southern Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Levander, A.; Schmitz, M.; Bezada, M.; Masy, J.; Niu, F.; Pindell, J.

    2012-04-01

    The southern Caribbean is bounded at either end by subduction zones: In the east at the Lesser Antilles subduction zone the Atlantic part of the South American plate subducts beneath the Caribbean. In the north and west under the Southern Caribbean Deformed Belt accretionary prism, the Caribbean subducts under South America. In a manner of speaking, the two plates subduct beneath each other. Finite-frequency teleseismic P-wave tomography confirms this, imaging the Atlantic and the Caribbean subducting steeply in opposite directions to transition zone depths under northern South America (Bezada et al, 2010). The two subduction zones are connected by the El Pilar-San Sebastian strike-slip fault system, a San Andreas scale system. A variety of seismic probes identify where the two plates tear as they begin to subduct (Niu et al, 2007; Clark et al., 2008; Miller et al. 2009; Masy et al, 2009). The El Pilar system forms at the southeastern corner of the Antilles subduction zone by the Atlantic tearing from South America. The deforming plate edges control mountain building and basin formation at the eastern end of the strike-slip system. In northwestern South America the Caribbean plate tears, its southernmost element subducting at shallow angles under northernmost Colombia and then rapidly descending to transition zone depths under Lake Maracaibo (Bezada et al., 2010). We believe that the flat slab produces the Merida Andes, the Perija, and the Santa Marta ranges. The southern edge of the nonsubducting Caribbean plate underthrusts northern Venezuela to about the width of the coastal mountains (Miller et al., 2009). We infer that the underthrust Caribbean plate supports the coastal mountains, and controls continuing deformation.

  20. Tectonic and environmental factors controlling on the evolution of Oligo-Miocene shallow marine carbonate factories along a tropical SE Circum-Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silva-Tamayo, J. C.; Lara, M. E.; Nana Yobo, L.; Erdal, Y. D.; Sanchez, J.; Zapata-Ramirez, P. A.

    2017-10-01

    The evolution of the Cenozoic Circum-Caribbean shallow marine carbonate factories and ecosystems has been for long attributed to major global climatic and environmental changes. Although temporal variations in the Cenozoic shallow marine carbonate factories in this region seem to follow global trends, the potential effects of regional processes, such tectonic activity and local environmental change, on the evolution of the shallow marine carbonate factories are not well established. Here we present detailed sedimentologic and stratigraphic information from Middle Oligocene - Middle Miocene (Chattian-Burdigalian) shallow marine carbonate successions of the Siamana Formation in the Cocinetas sub-basin, Alta Guajira Basin, Guajira Peninsula, northern Colombia. We document the potential effects of regional tectonics and local environmental deterioration on the evolution of the Oligocene-Miocene tropical shallow marine carbonate factories along the SE Circum-Caribbean. Our results show that mixed heterozoan-photozoan biotic associations dominated the shallow marine carbonate factories during the Chattian, while purely photozoan biotic associations constituted the primary carbonate factory during the Aquitanian-Burdigalian transition. The Chattian mixed heterozoan/photozoan biotic association is associated with the development of mixed carbonate/siliciclastic shelves along which detached patchy reef areas occur. The onset of the Aquitanian-Burdigalian purely photozoan biotic associations parallels the increase in coral diversity as well as the occurence of rimmed/detached carbonate platforms in the northern part of the basin. The development of the rimmed/detached platforms coincides with a time of increased basin subsidence and increased silicilcastic input along the southernmost part of the basin. A significant change in the carbonate factory occurs in the Late Burdigalian, when purely heterozoan (rodalgal) biotic associations constituted the main shallow marine

  1. 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.

  2. From Citizen Science to Policy Development on the Coral Reefs of Jamaica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    M. James C. Crabbe

    2012-01-01

    Full Text Available This paper explores the application of citizen science to help generation of scientific data and capacity-building, and so underpin scientific ideas and policy development in the area of coral reef management, on the coral reefs of Jamaica. From 2000 to 2008, ninety Earthwatch volunteers were trained in coral reef data acquisition and analysis and made over 6,000 measurements on fringing reef sites along the north coast of Jamaica. Their work showed that while recruitment of small corals is returning after the major bleaching event of 2005, larger corals are not necessarily so resilient and so need careful management if the reefs are to survive such major extreme events. These findings were used in the development of an action plan for Jamaican coral reefs, presented to the Jamaican National Environmental Protection Agency. It was agreed that a number of themes and tactics need to be implemented in order to facilitate coral reef conservation in the Caribbean. The use of volunteers and citizen scientists from both developed and developing countries can help in forging links which can assist in data collection and analysis and, ultimately, in ecosystem management and policy development.

  3. Transcriptomic responses to heat stress and bleaching in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    DeSalvo, MK

    2010-03-08

    The emergence of genomic tools for reef-building corals and symbiotic anemones comes at a time when alarming losses in coral cover are being observed worldwide. These tools hold great promise in elucidating novel and unforeseen cellular processes underlying the successful mutualism between corals and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts Symbiodinium spp. Since thermal stress triggers a breakdown in the symbiosis (coral bleaching), measuring the transcriptomic response to thermal stress-induced bleaching offers an extraordinary view of cellular processes that are specific to coral–algal symbioses. In the present study, we utilized a cDNA microarray containing 2059 genes of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral Acropora palmata to identify genes that are differentially expressed upon thermal stress. Fragments from replicate colonies were exposed to elevated temperature for 2 d, and samples were frozen for microarray analysis after 24 and 48 h. Totals of 204 and 104 genes were differentially expressed in samples that were collected 1 and 2 d after thermal stress, respectively. Analysis of the differentially expressed genes indicates a cellular stress response in A. palmata involving (1) growth arrest, (2) chaperone activity, (3) nucleic acid stabilization and repair, and (4) removal of damaged macromolecules. Other differentially expressed processes include sensory perception, metabolite transfer between host and endosymbiont, nitric oxide signaling, and modifications to the actin cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix. The results are compared with those from a previous coral microarray study of thermal stress in Montastraea faveolata, and point to an overall evolutionary conserved bleaching response in scleractinian corals.

  4. Transcriptomic responses to heat stress and bleaching in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    DeSalvo, MK; Sunagawa, S; Voolstra, Christian R.; Medina, M

    2010-01-01

    The emergence of genomic tools for reef-building corals and symbiotic anemones comes at a time when alarming losses in coral cover are being observed worldwide. These tools hold great promise in elucidating novel and unforeseen cellular processes underlying the successful mutualism between corals and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts Symbiodinium spp. Since thermal stress triggers a breakdown in the symbiosis (coral bleaching), measuring the transcriptomic response to thermal stress-induced bleaching offers an extraordinary view of cellular processes that are specific to coral–algal symbioses. In the present study, we utilized a cDNA microarray containing 2059 genes of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral Acropora palmata to identify genes that are differentially expressed upon thermal stress. Fragments from replicate colonies were exposed to elevated temperature for 2 d, and samples were frozen for microarray analysis after 24 and 48 h. Totals of 204 and 104 genes were differentially expressed in samples that were collected 1 and 2 d after thermal stress, respectively. Analysis of the differentially expressed genes indicates a cellular stress response in A. palmata involving (1) growth arrest, (2) chaperone activity, (3) nucleic acid stabilization and repair, and (4) removal of damaged macromolecules. Other differentially expressed processes include sensory perception, metabolite transfer between host and endosymbiont, nitric oxide signaling, and modifications to the actin cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix. The results are compared with those from a previous coral microarray study of thermal stress in Montastraea faveolata, and point to an overall evolutionary conserved bleaching response in scleractinian corals.

  5. Monitoring coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves in Costa Rica (CARICOMP

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jorge Cortés

    2010-10-01

    Full Text Available The coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves from the Costa Rican Caribbean coast have been monitored since 1999 using the CARICOMP protocol. Live coral cover at Meager Shoal reef bank (7 to 10m depth at the Parque Nacional Cahuita (National Park, increased from 13.3% in 1999, to 28.2% in 2003, but decreased during the next 5 years to around 17.5%. Algal cover increased significantly since 2003 from 36.6% to 61.3% in 2008. The density of Diadema antillarum oscillated between 2 and 7ind/m2, while Echinometra viridis decreased significantly from 20 to 0.6ind/m2. Compared to other CARICOMP sites, live coral cover, fish diversity and density, and sea urchin density were low, and algal cover was intermediate. The seagrass site, also in the Parque Nacional Cahuita, is dominated by Thalassia testudinum and showed an intermediate productivity (2.7±1.15 g/m2/d and biomass (822.8±391.84 g/m2 compared to other CARICOMP sites. Coral reefs and seagrasses at the Parque Nacional Cahuita continue to be impacted by high sediment loads from terrestrial origin. The mangrove forest at Gandoca, within the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo (National Wildlife Refuge, surrounds a lagoon and it is dominated by the red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle. Productivity and flower production peak was in July. Biomass (14kg/m2 and density (9.0±0.58 trees/100m2 in Gandoca were relatively low compared to other CARICOMP sites, while productivity in July in Costa Rica (4g/m2/d was intermediate, similar to most CARICOMP sites. This mangrove is expanding and has low human impact thus far. Management actions should be taken to protect and preserve these important coastal ecosystems. Rev. Biol. Trop. 58 (Suppl. 3: 1-22. Epub 2010 October 01.Los arrecifes coralinos, pastos marinos y manglares de la costa Caribe de Costa Rica han sido monitoreados desde 1999 siguiendo el protocolo de CARICOMP. La cobertura de coral vivo en el arrecife de Meager Shoal (7 a 10m de

  6. Spatial Homogeneity of Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus Layer of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora palmata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dustin W Kemp

    Full Text Available Coral surface mucus layer (SML microbiota are critical components of the coral holobiont and play important roles in nutrient cycling and defense against pathogens. We sequenced 16S rRNA amplicons to examine the structure of the SML microbiome within and between colonies of the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys. Samples were taken from three spatially distinct colony regions--uppermost (high irradiance, underside (low irradiance, and the colony base--representing microhabitats that vary in irradiance and water flow. Phylogenetic diversity (PD values of coral SML bacteria communities were greater than surrounding seawater and lower than adjacent sediment. Bacterial diversity and community composition was consistent among the three microhabitats. Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Alphaproteobacteria, and Proteobacteria, respectively were the most abundant phyla represented in the samples. This is the first time spatial variability of the surface mucus layer of A. palmata has been studied. Homogeneity in the microbiome of A. palmata contrasts with SML heterogeneity found in other Caribbean corals. These findings suggest that, during non-stressful conditions, host regulation of SML microbiota may override diverse physiochemical influences induced by the topographical complexity of A. palmata. Documenting the spatial distribution of SML microbes is essential to understanding the functional roles these microorganisms play in coral health and adaptability to environmental perturbations.

  7. Spatial Homogeneity of Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus Layer of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kemp, Dustin W; Rivers, Adam R; Kemp, Keri M; Lipp, Erin K; Porter, James W; Wares, John P

    2015-01-01

    Coral surface mucus layer (SML) microbiota are critical components of the coral holobiont and play important roles in nutrient cycling and defense against pathogens. We sequenced 16S rRNA amplicons to examine the structure of the SML microbiome within and between colonies of the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys. Samples were taken from three spatially distinct colony regions--uppermost (high irradiance), underside (low irradiance), and the colony base--representing microhabitats that vary in irradiance and water flow. Phylogenetic diversity (PD) values of coral SML bacteria communities were greater than surrounding seawater and lower than adjacent sediment. Bacterial diversity and community composition was consistent among the three microhabitats. Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Alphaproteobacteria, and Proteobacteria, respectively were the most abundant phyla represented in the samples. This is the first time spatial variability of the surface mucus layer of A. palmata has been studied. Homogeneity in the microbiome of A. palmata contrasts with SML heterogeneity found in other Caribbean corals. These findings suggest that, during non-stressful conditions, host regulation of SML microbiota may override diverse physiochemical influences induced by the topographical complexity of A. palmata. Documenting the spatial distribution of SML microbes is essential to understanding the functional roles these microorganisms play in coral health and adaptability to environmental perturbations.

  8. Widespread prevalence of cryptic Symbiodinium D in the key Caribbean reef builder, Orbicella annularis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kennedy, Emma V.; Foster, Nicola L.; Mumby, Peter J.; Stevens, Jamie R.

    2015-06-01

    Symbiodinium D, a relatively rare clade of algal endosymbiont with a global distribution, has attracted interest as some of its sub-cladal types induce increased thermal tolerance and associated trade-offs, including reduced growth rate in its coral hosts. Members of Symbiodinium D are increasingly reported to comprise low-abundance `cryptic' (30 % of corals per site found to harbour the symbiont. When the same samples were analysed using the conventional screening technique, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, Symbiodinium D1 was only detected in 12 populations and appeared to be hosted by agreement with other reported low prevalence/absences in O. annularis). Cryptic Symbiodinium D1 showed a mainly uniform distribution across the wider Caribbean region, although significantly more Mesoamerican Barrier Reef corals hosted cryptic Symbiodinium D1 than might be expected by chance, possibly as a consequence of intense warming in the region in 1998. Widespread prevalence of thermally tolerant Symbiodinium in O. annularis may potentially reflect a capacity for the coral to temporarily respond to warming events through symbiont shuffling. However, association with reduced coral calcification means that the ubiquitous nature of Symbiodinium D1 in O. annularis populations is unlikely to prevent long-term declines in reef health, at a time when maintaining reef growth is vital to sustain reef ecosystem function.

  9. Population connectivity of the plating coral Agaricia lamarcki from southwest Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hammerman, Nicholas M.; Rivera-Vicens, Ramon E.; Galaska, Matthew P.; Weil, Ernesto; Appledoorn, Richard S.; Alfaro, Monica; Schizas, Nikolaos V.

    2018-03-01

    Identifying genetic connectivity and discrete population boundaries is an important objective for management of declining Caribbean reef-building corals. A double digest restriction-associated DNA sequencing protocol was utilized to generate 321 single nucleotide polymorphisms to estimate patterns of horizontal and vertical gene flow in the brooding Caribbean plate coral, Agaricia lamarcki. Individual colonies ( n = 59) were sampled from eight locations throughout southwestern Puerto Rico from six shallow ( 10-20 m) and two mesophotic habitats ( 30-40 m). Descriptive summary statistics (fixation index, F ST), analysis of molecular variance, and analysis through landscape and ecological associations and discriminant analysis of principal components estimated high population connectivity with subtle subpopulation structure among all sampling localities.

  10. Insights Into Nitrogen Isotope Fractionation in Coral Reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lamb, K. A.; Swart, P. K.; Ellis, G. S.

    2002-12-01

    Environmental integrity in the Florida Reef tract and the Caribbean has been the center of concern for the past 15-20 years. Both the recreational and scientific communities alike have noticed an overall decline in coral reef health. This decline has manifested itself in the form of increased fleshy macroalgae growth and reduced coral cover, and in some cases, wide-scale coral mortality. Given the increasing dependence on a tourism-oriented economy in both South Florida and the Caribbean, much attention has been focused on maintaining reef longevity. A high nutrient load is believed to be the leading cause of degradation in the predominantly oligotrophic environment. Various studies have cited increased run off and input of anthropogenic wastes as the origin of these nutrients. It has also been suggested that the stable isotopes of nitrogen may provide a tracer with which to recognize the impact of anthropogenic nutrients within the coral reefs ecosystem. However, in utilizing both nitrogen and carbon stable isotopic methods on samples of particulate organic matter (POM) taken over the last three years, we find little evidence of the input of anthropogenic waste. δ15N values of POM fluctuate between +1 and +9 per mille, but usually remain in the +4 to +6 per mille range. Additionally, δ13C values are even more consistent, maintaining a balance between -19 to -21 per mille. These data are consistent with natural open-ocean values for δ15N and δ13C, indicating a lack of intense and prolonged exposure to anthropogenic wastes in the Florida Keys.

  11. Localised hydrodynamics influence vulnerability of coral communities to environmental disturbances

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shedrawi, George; Falter, James L.; Friedman, Kim J.; Lowe, Ryan J.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Simpson, Christopher J.; Speed, Conrad W.; Wilson, Shaun K.; Zhang, Zhenlin

    2017-09-01

    The movement of water can have a significant influence on the vulnerability of hermatypic corals to environmental disturbances such as cyclone damage, heat stress and anoxia. Here, we explore the relationship between small reef-scale water circulation patterns and measured differences in the abundance, composition and vulnerability of coral assemblages over decades. Changes in coral cover and community structure within Bill's Bay (Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia) over a 22-yr period, during which multiple disturbance events (including mass bleaching, anoxia, and tropical cyclones) have impacted the area, were compared with spatial variation in water residence times (WRT). We found that reef sites associated with longer water residence times (WRT >15 h) experienced higher rates of coral mortality during acute environmental disturbances compared to reef sites with shorter WRT. Shifts in coral community composition from acroporid to faviid-dominated assemblages were also more prominent at sites with long WRT compared to reef sites with shorter WRT, although shifts in community composition were also observed at sites close to shore. Interestingly, these same long-WRT sites also tended to have the fastest recovery rates so that coral cover was returned to original levels of approximately 20% over two decades. This study provides empirical evidence that spatial patterns in water circulation and flushing can influence the resilience of coral communities, thus identifying areas sensitive to emerging threats associated with global climate change.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2009-10-06

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

  13. Massive hard coral loss after a severe bleaching event in 2010 at Los Roques, Venezuela

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Carolina Bastidas

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available Thermal anomalies have become more severe, frequent and well-documented across the Caribbean for the past 30 years. This increase in temperature has caused coral bleaching resulting in reef decline. At Los Roques National Park, Venezuela, temperature has been monitored at four reef sites. In mid-September 2010, seawater temperature reached 30.85°C at 5 m depth in Los Roques, an archipelago only slightly affected by previous bleaching events. For example, bleaching in Los Roques in 2005 was mild compared to the rest of the Caribbean and to the results in this study. In 2010, seawater temperatures remained above 29.0°C from mid-August until the first week of November, resulting in +16 Degree Heating Weeks by that time. Our annual survey of four reef sites indicated that 72% of 563 scleractinian colonies were partial or totally bleached (white or pale (discolored in October 2010. In February 2011, there were still 46% of coral colonies affected; but most of them were pale and only 2% were bleached. By February, coral cover had declined 4 to 30% per transect, with a mean of 14.3%. Thus, mean coral cover dropped significantly from 45 to 31% cover (a 34% reduction. In addition to bleaching, corals showed a high prevalence (up to 16% of black band disease in October 2010 and of white plague (11% in February 2011. As a consequence, coral mortality is expected to be larger than reported here. Reef surveys since 2002 and personal observations for more than 20 years indicated that this bleaching event and its consequences in Los Roques have no precedent. Our results suggest that reef sites with no previous record of significant deterioration are more likely to become affected by thermal anomalies. However, this archipelago is relatively unaffected by local anthropogenic disturbance and has a high coral recruitment, which may contribute to its recovery

  14. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2013-05-01

    suggest the mid-Holocene (~8-5 ka) was punctuated by a transition to a more moist and warm climate and/or a potentially rapid sea-level rise. The color and texture of cements support increased freshwater input as a likely agent of reef demise. We also observed that the once-dominant Caribbean reef builder Acropora palmata was mostly present throughout the early and mid-Holocene but absent thereafter. Reef geomorphology was strongly determined by the length of presence of this species, as the thickness, size, and shape of the three linear reefs clearly reflect its declining importance during the Holocene in Florida.

  16. Coral Dominance”: A Dangerous Ecosystem Misnomer?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Peter S. Vroom

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Over 100 years ago, before threats such as global climate change and ocean acidification were issues engrossing marine scientists, numerous tropical reef biologists began expressing concern that too much emphasis was being placed on coral dominance in reef systems. These researchers believed that the scientific community was beginning to lose sight of the overall mix of calcifying organisms necessary for the healthy function of reef ecosystems and demonstrated that some reefs were naturally coral dominated with corals being the main organisms responsible for reef accretion, yet other healthy reef ecosystems were found to rely almost entirely on calcified algae and foraminifera for calcium carbonate accumulation. Despite these historical cautionary messages, many agencies today have inherited a coral-centric approach to reef management, likely to the detriment of reef ecosystems worldwide. For example, recent research has shown that crustose coralline algae, a group of plants essential for building and cementing reef systems, are in greater danger of exhibiting decreased calcification rates and increased solubility than corals in warmer and more acidic ocean environments. A shift from coral-centric views to broader ecosystem views is imperative in order to protect endangered reef systems worldwide.

  17. Electronic Government : Caribbean Pilot Project | IDRC ...

    International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Digital Library (Canada)

    Electronic Government : Caribbean Pilot Project. Caribbean countries are increasingly adopting information and communication technologies (ICTs) in ... The Government of Jamaica is willing to donate the solution to other ... Related content ...

  18. Survey report: Eastern Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yinger, N

    1991-01-01

    Over 1 million people live on 8 small islands in the Eastern Caribbean: St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Grenada, St. Vincent, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, and Dominica. Starting in 1985 the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region has carried out a series of contraceptive prevalence surveys in these countries. Current information is provided by these surveys in the areas of fertility levels and preferences, contraceptive knowledge and use. Also, socioeconomic, historical and demographic background and analysis such as fertility patterns, desire for additional children, and breastfeeding data; contraceptive awareness including family planning methods and sources; contraceptive use by method, source, and timing, satisfaction, and male attitudes are provided in the surveys, but not in the report abstracted here. The total fertility rate (TFR) and the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) for the 8 islands are as follows: St. Kitts-Nevis (1984) 2.9 TFR, 40.6 CPR; St. Vincent (1988) 2.9 TFR, 58.3 CPR; Antigua (1988) 1.8 TFR, 52.6 CPR; Barbados (1988) not given, 55.0 CPR; St. Lucia (1988) 3.2 TFR, 47.3 CPR; Dominica (1987) 3.2 TFR, 49.8 CPR. The islands have unusual demographic patterns related to extensive out-migration.

  19. Artists in and out of the Caribbean

    OpenAIRE

    Sally Price; Sally Price

    1999-01-01

    [First paragraph] Caribbean Art. VEERLE POUPEYE. London: Thames and Hudson, 1998. 224 pp. (Paper US$ 14.95) Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996. MORA J. BEAUCHAMP-BYRD & M. FRANKLIN SIRMANS (eds.). New York: Caribbean Cultural Center, 1998. 177 pp. (Paper US$ 39.95, £31.95) "Caribbean" (like "Black British") culture is (as a Dutch colleague once said of postmodernism) a bit of a slippery fish. One of the books under ...

  20. Macroalgal herbivory on recovering versus degrading coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2014-06-01

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

  1. Caribbean Crucible: History, Culture, and Globalization.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yelvington, Kevin A.

    2000-01-01

    Reconsiders the Caribbean as an origin-point of the modern global system. Discusses the conquests and colonization of the Caribbean; the slavery system and racial distinctions; the post-emancipation society; and culture, Creolization, and the concept of movement as features of Caribbean society. Provides a bibliography. (CMK)

  2. Coral Reef Guidance

    Science.gov (United States)

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

  3. All Framing Corals

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The data represent predicted habitat suitability for several taxa of deep-sea corals. Predictions were modeled using a statistical machine-learning algorithm called...

  4. Corals and Sclerosponges

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Records of past climate and ocean environment derived from stable isotope, trace metal, and other measurements made on corals and sclerosponges. Parameter keywords...

  5. 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. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

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

    2004-01-01

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

  7. The differential effects of increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme events on coral populations.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fabina, Nicholas S; Baskett, Marissa L; Gross, Kevin

    2015-09-01

    Extreme events, which have profound ecological consequences, are changing in both frequency and magnitude with climate change. Because extreme temperatures induce coral bleaching, we can explore the relative impacts of changes in frequency and magnitude of high temperature events on coral reefs. Here, we combined climate projections and a dynamic population model to determine how changing bleaching regimes influence coral persistence. We additionally explored how coral traits and competition with macroalgae mediate changes in bleaching regimes. Our results predict that severe bleaching events reduce coral persistence more than frequent bleaching. Corals with low adult mortality and high growth rates are successful when bleaching is mild, but bleaching resistance is necessary to persist when bleaching is severe, regardless of frequency. The existence of macroalgae-dominated stable states reduces coral persistence and changes the relative importance of coral traits. Building on previous studies, our results predict that management efforts may need to prioritize protection of "weaker" corals with high adult mortality when bleaching is mild, and protection of "stronger" corals with high bleaching resistance when bleaching is severe. In summary, future reef projections and conservation targets depend on both local bleaching regimes and biodiversity.

  8. Microbial aggregates within tissues infect a diversity of corals throughout the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Aeby, Greta S.

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems where symbioses play a pivotal role. Corals contain cell-associated microbial aggregates (CAMA), yet little is known about how widespread they are among coral species or the nature of the symbiotic relationship. Using histology, we found CAMA within 24 species of corals from 6 genera from Hawaii, American Samoa, Palmyra, Johnston Atoll, Guam, and Australia. Prevalence (%) of infection varied among coral genera: Acropora, Porites, and Pocillopora were commonly infected whereas Montipora were not. Acropora from the Western Pacific were significantly more likely to be infected with CAMA than those from the Central Pacific, whereas the reverse was true for Porites. Compared with apparently healthy colonies, tissues from diseased colonies were significantly more likely to have both surface and basal body walls infected. The close association of CAMA with host cells in numerous species of apparently healthy corals and lack of associated cell pathology reveals an intimate agent-host association. Furthermore, CAMA are Gram negative and in some corals may be related to chlamydia or rickettsia. We propose that CAMA in adult corals are facultative secondary symbionts that could play an important ecological role in some dominant coral genera in the Indo-Pacific. CAMA are important in the life histories of other animals, and more work is needed to understand their role in the distribution, evolution, physiology, and immunology of reef corals.

  9. Occurrence of thraustochytrid fungi in corals and coral mucus

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, S.; Balasubramanian

    Occurrence of thraustochytrid fungi in corals, fresh coral mucus and floating and attached mucus detritus from the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea was studied. Corallochytrium limacisporum Raghukumar, Thraustochytrium motivum Goldstein...

  10. Human pathogen shown to cause disease in the threatened eklhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kathryn Patterson Sutherland

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are in severe decline. Infections by the human pathogen Serratia marcescens have contributed to precipitous losses in the common Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, culminating in its listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. During a 2003 outbreak of this coral disease, called acroporid serratiosis (APS, a unique strain of the pathogen, Serratia marcescens strain PDR60, was identified from diseased A. palmata, human wastewater, the non-host coral Siderastrea siderea and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. In order to examine humans as a source and other marine invertebrates as vectors and/or reservoirs of the APS pathogen, challenge experiments were conducted with A. palmata maintained in closed aquaria to determine infectivity of strain PDR60 from reef and wastewater sources. Strain PDR60 from wastewater and diseased A. palmata caused disease signs in elkhorn coral in as little as four and five days, respectively, demonstrating that wastewater is a definitive source of APS and identifying human strain PDR60 as a coral pathogen through fulfillment of Koch's postulates. A. palmata inoculated with strain PDR60 from C. abbreviata showed limited virulence, with one of three inoculated fragments developing APS signs within 13 days. Strain PDR60 from non-host coral S. siderea showed a delayed pathogenic effect, with disease signs developing within an average of 20 days. These results suggest that C. abbreviata and non-host corals may function as reservoirs or vectors of the APS pathogen. Our results provide the first example of a marine "reverse zoonosis" involving the transmission of a human pathogen (S. marcescens to a marine invertebrate (A. palmata. These findings underscore the interaction between public health practices and environmental health indices such as coral reef survival.

  11. Human pathogen shown to cause disease in the threatened eklhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Shaban, Sameera; Joyner, Jessica L; Porter, James W; Lipp, Erin K

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are in severe decline. Infections by the human pathogen Serratia marcescens have contributed to precipitous losses in the common Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, culminating in its listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. During a 2003 outbreak of this coral disease, called acroporid serratiosis (APS), a unique strain of the pathogen, Serratia marcescens strain PDR60, was identified from diseased A. palmata, human wastewater, the non-host coral Siderastrea siderea and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. In order to examine humans as a source and other marine invertebrates as vectors and/or reservoirs of the APS pathogen, challenge experiments were conducted with A. palmata maintained in closed aquaria to determine infectivity of strain PDR60 from reef and wastewater sources. Strain PDR60 from wastewater and diseased A. palmata caused disease signs in elkhorn coral in as little as four and five days, respectively, demonstrating that wastewater is a definitive source of APS and identifying human strain PDR60 as a coral pathogen through fulfillment of Koch's postulates. A. palmata inoculated with strain PDR60 from C. abbreviata showed limited virulence, with one of three inoculated fragments developing APS signs within 13 days. Strain PDR60 from non-host coral S. siderea showed a delayed pathogenic effect, with disease signs developing within an average of 20 days. These results suggest that C. abbreviata and non-host corals may function as reservoirs or vectors of the APS pathogen. Our results provide the first example of a marine "reverse zoonosis" involving the transmission of a human pathogen (S. marcescens) to a marine invertebrate (A. palmata). These findings underscore the interaction between public health practices and environmental health indices such as coral reef survival.

  12. Primary productivity of marine macrophytes in the coral reef lagoon of the Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Dhargalkar, V.K.; Shaikh, N.

    n situ primary productivity measurements were carried out with different macrophyte species (belonging to four groups) dominating the benthic communities in the coral reef lagoon of the Kadmat Island of the Lakshadweep Archipelago...

  13. Mangroves Enhance Reef Fish Abundance at the Caribbean Regional Scale.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Serafy, Joseph E; Shideler, Geoffrey S; Araújo, Rafael J; Nagelkerken, Ivan

    2015-01-01

    Several studies conducted at the scale of islands, or small sections of continental coastlines, have suggested that mangrove habitats serve to enhance fish abundances on coral reefs, mainly by providing nursery grounds for several ontogenetically-migrating species. However, evidence of such enhancement at a regional scale has not been reported, and recently, some researchers have questioned the mangrove-reef subsidy effect. In the present study, using two different regression approaches, we pursued two questions related to mangrove-reef connectivity at the Caribbean regional scale: (1) Are reef fish abundances limited by mangrove forest area?; and (2) Are mean reef fish abundances proportional to mangrove forest area after taking human population density and latitude into account? Specifically, we tested for Caribbean-wide mangrove forest area effects on the abundances of 12 reef fishes that have been previously characterized as "mangrove-dependent". Analyzed were data from an ongoing, long-term (20-year) citizen-scientist fish monitoring program; coastal human population censuses; and several wetland forest information sources. Quantile regression results supported the notion that mangrove forest area limits the abundance of eight of the 12 fishes examined. Linear mixed-effects regression results, which considered potential human (fishing and habitat degradation) and latitudinal influences, suggested that average reef fish densities of at least six of the 12 focal fishes were directly proportional to mangrove forest area. Recent work questioning the mangrove-reef fish subsidy effect likely reflects a failure to: (1) focus analyses on species that use mangroves as nurseries, (2) consider more than the mean fish abundance response to mangrove forest extent; and/or (3) quantitatively account for potentially confounding human impacts, such as fishing pressure and habitat degradation. Our study is the first to demonstrate at a large regional scale (i.e., the Wider

  14. Mangroves Enhance Reef Fish Abundance at the Caribbean Regional Scale.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joseph E Serafy

    Full Text Available Several studies conducted at the scale of islands, or small sections of continental coastlines, have suggested that mangrove habitats serve to enhance fish abundances on coral reefs, mainly by providing nursery grounds for several ontogenetically-migrating species. However, evidence of such enhancement at a regional scale has not been reported, and recently, some researchers have questioned the mangrove-reef subsidy effect. In the present study, using two different regression approaches, we pursued two questions related to mangrove-reef connectivity at the Caribbean regional scale: (1 Are reef fish abundances limited by mangrove forest area?; and (2 Are mean reef fish abundances proportional to mangrove forest area after taking human population density and latitude into account? Specifically, we tested for Caribbean-wide mangrove forest area effects on the abundances of 12 reef fishes that have been previously characterized as "mangrove-dependent". Analyzed were data from an ongoing, long-term (20-year citizen-scientist fish monitoring program; coastal human population censuses; and several wetland forest information sources. Quantile regression results supported the notion that mangrove forest area limits the abundance of eight of the 12 fishes examined. Linear mixed-effects regression results, which considered potential human (fishing and habitat degradation and latitudinal influences, suggested that average reef fish densities of at least six of the 12 focal fishes were directly proportional to mangrove forest area. Recent work questioning the mangrove-reef fish subsidy effect likely reflects a failure to: (1 focus analyses on species that use mangroves as nurseries, (2 consider more than the mean fish abundance response to mangrove forest extent; and/or (3 quantitatively account for potentially confounding human impacts, such as fishing pressure and habitat degradation. Our study is the first to demonstrate at a large regional scale (i

  15. The reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea exhibits parabolic responses to ocean acidification and warming.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Castillo, Karl D; Ries, Justin B; Bruno, John F; Westfield, Isaac T

    2014-12-22

    Anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 over this century are predicted to cause global average surface ocean pH to decline by 0.1-0.3 pH units and sea surface temperature to increase by 1-4°C. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to investigate the impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification (pCO2 = 324, 477, 604, 2553 µatm) and warming (25, 28, 32°C) on the calcification rate of the zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea, a widespread, abundant and keystone reef-builder in the Caribbean Sea. We show that both acidification and warming cause a parabolic response in the calcification rate within this coral species. Moderate increases in pCO2 and warming, relative to near-present-day values, enhanced coral calcification, with calcification rates declining under the highest pCO2 and thermal conditions. Equivalent responses to acidification and warming were exhibited by colonies across reef zones and the parabolic nature of the corals' response to these stressors was evident across all three of the experiment's 30-day observational intervals. Furthermore, the warming projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of the twenty-first century caused a fivefold decrease in the rate of coral calcification, while the acidification projected for the same interval had no statistically significant impact on the calcification rate-suggesting that ocean warming poses a more immediate threat than acidification for this important coral species.

  16. Soundscapes from a Tropical Eastern Pacific reef and a Caribbean Sea reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Staaterman, E.; Rice, A. N.; Mann, D. A.; Paris, C. B.

    2013-06-01

    Underwater soundscapes vary due to the abiotic and biological components of the habitat. We quantitatively characterized the acoustic environments of two coral reef habitats, one in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (Panama) and one in the Caribbean (Florida Keys), over 2-day recording durations in July 2011. We examined the frequency distribution, temporal variability, and biological patterns of sound production and found clear differences. The Pacific reef exhibited clear biological patterns and high temporal variability, such as the onset of snapping shrimp noise at night, as well as a 400-Hz daytime band likely produced by damselfish. In contrast, the Caribbean reef had high sound levels in the lowest frequencies, but lacked clear temporal patterns. We suggest that acoustic measures are an important element to include in reef monitoring programs, as the acoustic environment plays an important role in the ecology of reef organisms at multiple life-history stages.

  17. Osmoadjustment in the Coral Holobiont

    KAUST Repository

    Rö thig, Till

    2017-01-01

    and amino acids to be putatively involved in the osmoadjustment. Importantly, under high salinity the osmolyte floridoside was consistently increased. This could be corroborated in the coral model Aiptasia and in corals from the Persian/Arabian Gulf, where

  18. 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

  19. Marked annual coral bleaching resilience of an inshore patch reef in the Florida Keys: A nugget of hope, aberrance, or last man standing?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gintert, Brooke E.; Manzello, Derek P.; Enochs, Ian C.; Kolodziej, Graham; Carlton, Renée; Gleason, Arthur C. R.; Gracias, Nuno

    2018-06-01

    Annual coral bleaching events, which are predicted to occur as early as the next decade in the Florida Keys, are expected to cause catastrophic coral mortality. Despite this, there is little field data on how Caribbean coral communities respond to annual thermal stress events. At Cheeca Rocks, an inshore patch reef near Islamorada, FL, the condition of 4234 coral colonies was followed over 2 yr of subsequent bleaching in 2014 and 2015, the two hottest summers on record for the Florida Keys. In 2014, this site experienced 7.7 degree heating weeks (DHW) and as a result 38.0% of corals bleached and an additional 36.6% were pale or partially bleached. In situ temperatures in summer of 2015 were even warmer, with the site experiencing 9.5 DHW. Despite the increased thermal stress in 2015, only 12.1% of corals were bleached in 2015, which was 3.1 times less than 2014. Partial mortality dropped from 17.6% of surveyed corals to 4.3% between 2014 and 2015, and total colony mortality declined from 3.4 to 1.9% between years. Total colony mortality was low over both years of coral bleaching with 94.7% of colonies surviving from 2014 to 2016. The reduction in bleaching severity and coral mortality associated with a second stronger thermal anomaly provides evidence that the response of Caribbean coral communities to annual bleaching is not strictly temperature dose dependent and that acclimatization responses may be possible even with short recovery periods. Whether the results from Cheeca Rocks represent an aberration or a true resilience potential is the subject of ongoing research.

  20. Bleaching response of coral species in the context of assemblage response

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swain, Timothy D.; DuBois, Emily; Goldberg, Scott J.; Backman, Vadim; Marcelino, Luisa A.

    2017-06-01

    Caribbean coral reefs are declining due to a mosaic of local and global stresses, including climate change-induced thermal stress. Species and assemblage responses differ due to factors that are not easily identifiable or quantifiable. We calculated a novel species-specific metric of coral bleaching response, taxon- α and - β, which relates the response of a species to that of its assemblages for 16 species over 18 assemblages. By contextualizing species responses within the response of their assemblages, the effects of environmental factors are removed and intrinsic differences among taxa are revealed. Most corals experience either a saturation response, overly sensitive to weak stress ( α > 0) but under-responsive compared to assemblage bleaching ( β bleaching ( β > 1). This metric may help reveal key factors of bleaching susceptibility and identify species as targets for conservation.

  1. Unrecognized coral species diversity masks differences in functional ecology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boulay, Jennifer N; Hellberg, Michael E; Cortés, Jorge; Baums, Iliana B

    2014-02-07

    Porites corals are foundation species on Pacific reefs but a confused taxonomy hinders understanding of their ecosystem function and responses to climate change. Here, we show that what has been considered a single species in the eastern tropical Pacific, Porites lobata, includes a morphologically similar yet ecologically distinct species, Porites evermanni. While P. lobata reproduces mainly sexually, P. evermanni dominates in areas where triggerfish prey on bioeroding mussels living within the coral skeleton, thereby generating asexual coral fragments. These fragments proliferate in marginal habitat not colonized by P. lobata. The two Porites species also show a differential bleaching response despite hosting the same dominant symbiont subclade. Thus, hidden diversity within these reef-builders has until now obscured differences in trophic interactions, reproductive dynamics and bleaching susceptibility, indicative of differential responses when confronted with future climate change.

  2. In-Situ Effects of Simulated Overfishing and Eutrophication on Benthic Coral Reef Algae Growth, Succession, and Composition in the Central Red Sea

    OpenAIRE

    Jessen, Christian; Roder, Cornelia; Villa Lizcano, Javier Felipe; Voolstra, Christian R.; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Overfishing and land-derived eutrophication are major local threats to coral reefs and may affect benthic communities, moving them from coral dominated reefs to algal dominated ones. The Central Red Sea is a highly under-investigated area, where healthy coral reefs are contending against intense coastal development. This in-situ study investigated both the independent and combined effects of manipulated inorganic nutrient enrichment (simulation of eutrophication) and herbivore exclosure (simu...

  3. Long-term impacts of coral bleaching events on the world's warmest reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, John; Al-Harthi, Suaad; Al-Cibahy, Ashraf

    2011-10-01

    The southern Arabian Gulf houses some of the most thermally tolerant corals on earth, but severe bleaching in the late 1990s caused widespread mortality. More than a decade later, corals still dominated benthos (mean: 40 ± 3% cover on 10 sites spanning > 350 km; range: 11.0-65.6%), but coral communities varied spatially. Sites to the west generally had low species richness and coral cover (mean: 3.2 species per transect, 31% cover), with Porites dominated communities (88% of coral) that are distinct from more diverse and higher cover eastern sites (mean: 10.3 species per transect, 62% cover). These patterns reflect both the more extreme bleaching to the west in the late 1990s as well as the higher faviid dominated recruitment to the east in subsequent years. There has been limited recovery of the formerly dominant Acropora, which now represents bleaching can have substantial long-term impacts on coral communities, even in areas with corals tolerant to environmental extremes. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  4. Coral lipids and environmental stress.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harriott, V J

    1993-04-01

    Environmental monitoring of coral reefs is presently limited by difficulties in recognising coral stress, other than by monitoring coral mortality over time. A recent report described an experiment demonstrating that a measured lipid index declined in shaded corals. The technique described might have application in monitoring coral health, with a decline in coral lipid index as an indicator of coral stress. The application of the technique as a practical monitoring tool was tested for two coral species from the Great Barrier Reef. Consistent with the previous results, lipid index for Pocillopora damicornis initially declined over a period of three weeks in corals maintained in filtered seawater in the dark, indicating possible utilization of lipid stored as energy reserves. However, lipid index subsequently rose to near normal levels. In contrast, lipid index of Acropora formosa increased after four weeks in the dark in filtered seawater. The results showed considerable variability in lipid content between samples from the same colony. Results were also found to be dependent on fixation times and sample weight, introducing potential error into the practical application of the technique. The method as described would be unsuitable for monitoring environmental stress in corals, but the search for a practical method to monitor coral health should continue, given its importance in coral reef management.

  5. Network analysis in the Caribbean

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    A.W. Veenstra (Albert); H.M. Mulder (Martyn); R.A. Sels

    2003-01-01

    textabstractThe Caribbean region is a cross road of international and regional container traffic. Most of the islands in the region have also adopted ambitious strategies to become prime locations for container transshipment. This paper introduces a tool that can be used to visualise and analyse the

  6. Caribbean land and development revisited

    CERN Document Server

    Dunkerley, James; Momsen, Janet

    2007-01-01

    The book is an interdisciplinary collection of fifteen essays, with an editorial introduction, on a range of territories in the Commonwealth, Francophone, and Hispanic Caribbean. The authors focus on land and development, providing fresh perspectives through a collection of international contributing authors.

  7. 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.

    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... availability for macroalgal attachment and nutrient enrichment will enhance the algal population in the coral ecosystems (McManus and Polsenberg 2004). Algal domination in a coral ecosystem has severe ecological implications including coral bleaching (Hughes...

  8. Biological Responses of the Coral Montastraea annularis to the Removal of Filamentous Turf Algae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cetz-Navarro, Neidy P.; Espinoza-Avalos, Julio; Hernández-Arana, Héctor A.; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P.

    2013-01-01

    Coral reef degradation increases coral interactions with filamentous turf algae (FTA) and macroalgae, which may result in chronic stress for the corals. We evaluated the effects of short (2.5 month) and long (10 month) periods of FTA removal on tissue thickness (TT), zooxanthellae density (ZD), mitotic index (MI), and concentration of chlorophyll a (Chl a) in Montastraea annularis at the beginning and end of gametogenesis. Ramets (individual lobes within a colony) consistently surrounded by FTA and ramets surrounded by crustose coralline algae (CCA) were used as controls. FTA removal reduced coral stress, indicated by increased TT and ZD and lower MI. The measured effects were similar in magnitude for the short and long periods of algal removal. Ramets were more stressed at the end of gametogenesis compared with the beginning, with lower ZD and Chl a cm−2, and higher MI. However, it was not possible to distinguish the stress caused by the presence of FTA from that caused by seasonal changes in seawater temperature. Ramets surrounded by CCA showed less stress in comparison with ramets surrounded by FTA: with higher TT, Chl a cm−2 and ZD, and lower MI values. Coral responses indicated that ramets with FTA suffered the most deleterious effects and contrasted with those measured in ramets surrounded by CCA. According to published studies and our observations, there could be at least six mechanisms associated to FTA in the stress caused to M. annularis by FTA. Owing to the high cover of FTA (in contrast to macroalgae and CCA) in the Caribbean, the chronic stress, the overgrowth and mortality that this functional algal group can cause on M. annularis species complex, a further decline of this important reef-building coral in the Caribbean is expected. PMID:23372774

  9. Biological responses of the coral Montastraea annularis to the removal of filamentous turf algae.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Neidy P Cetz-Navarro

    Full Text Available Coral reef degradation increases coral interactions with filamentous turf algae (FTA and macroalgae, which may result in chronic stress for the corals. We evaluated the effects of short (2.5 month and long (10 month periods of FTA removal on tissue thickness (TT, zooxanthellae density (ZD, mitotic index (MI, and concentration of chlorophyll a (Chl a in Montastraea annularis at the beginning and end of gametogenesis. Ramets (individual lobes within a colony consistently surrounded by FTA and ramets surrounded by crustose coralline algae (CCA were used as controls. FTA removal reduced coral stress, indicated by increased TT and ZD and lower MI. The measured effects were similar in magnitude for the short and long periods of algal removal. Ramets were more stressed at the end of gametogenesis compared with the beginning, with lower ZD and Chl a cm(-2, and higher MI. However, it was not possible to distinguish the stress caused by the presence of FTA from that caused by seasonal changes in seawater temperature. Ramets surrounded by CCA showed less stress in comparison with ramets surrounded by FTA: with higher TT, Chl a cm(-2 and ZD, and lower MI values. Coral responses indicated that ramets with FTA suffered the most deleterious effects and contrasted with those measured in ramets surrounded by CCA. According to published studies and our observations, there could be at least six mechanisms associated to FTA in the stress caused to M. annularis by FTA. Owing to the high cover of FTA (in contrast to macroalgae and CCA in the Caribbean, the chronic stress, the overgrowth and mortality that this functional algal group can cause on M. annularis species complex, a further decline of this important reef-building coral in the Caribbean is expected.