higher coral cover: Topics by Science.gov

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    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).

  • Localised hydrodynamics influence vulnerability of coral communities to environmental disturbances

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    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.

  • Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns.

    PubMed

    Williams, Gareth J; Smith, Jennifer E; Conklin, Eric J; Gove, Jamison M; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A

    2013-01-01

    Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54-86% cover), namely hard corals (20-74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10-36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8-22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (coral cover was higher, but with low diversity, in more sheltered habitats such as Palmyra’s backreef and Kingman’s patch reefs. Almost exclusive dominance by slow-growing Porites on Kingman’s patch reefs provides indirect evidence of competitive exclusion, probably late in a successional sequence. In contrast, the more exposed forereef habitats at both Kingman and Palmyra had higher coral diversity and were characterized by fast-growing corals (e.g., Acropora and Pocillopora), indicative of more dynamic environments. In general at both locations, soft coral cover increased with depth, likely reflecting increasingly efficient heterotrophic abilities. CCA and fleshy macroalgae cover decreased with depth, likely due to reduced light. Cover of other calcified macroalgae, predominantly Halimeda, increased with depth. This likely reflects the ability of many calcifying macroalgae to efficiently harvest light at deeper depths, in combination with an increased nutrient supply from upwelling promoting growth. At Palmyra, patterns of hard coral cover with depth were inconsistent, but cover peaked at mid-depths at Kingman. On Kingman’s forereef, benthic community composition was strongly related to wave energy, with hard coral cover decreasing and becoming more spatially clustered with increased wave energy, likely as a result of physical damage leading to patches of coral in localized

  • How cold-water coral mounds modify their physical environment and therefore influence reef development

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mienis, F.; Duineveld, G.; Lavaleye, M.; van Haren, H.; Mohn, C.; Cyr, F.

    2015-12-01

    Cold-water coral framework acts as a sediment trap and as a result kilometres long and up to 360m high mound structures have formed on the SE Rockall Bank. Earlier observations showed that most of the mounds have their summits around 550 m water depth and summits have been reported as being covered with living coral. Pelagia cruises in 2012 and 2013 revealed completely new insights in mound development. Video transects across mounds with different morphology showed that summits of the highest and largest mounds are presently not covered by living coral as opposed to smaller and lower mounds which are covered with a thriving living coral framework. Measurements in the water column with CTD and near-bottom with benthic landers and thermistor string showed that turbulence is likely the most important factor influencing nutrient and food supply and thus coral growth. It seems that the large mounds have outgrown themselves and that their relatively large size and flat summits are limiting turbulence, thereby limiting oxygen, nutrient and food replenishment. Redistribution of nutrients, oxygen and food is vital for ecosystem functioning and reef development. The presence of a healthy coral cover on the summits of the small mounds was also shown by the vertical mound growth rate measured in sediment cores. These showed fourfold higher sedimentation rates during the Holocene on small mounds compared to highest mounds.

  • Monitoring Growth of Hard Corals as Performance Indicators for Coral Reefs

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Crabbe, M. James; Karaviotis, Sarah; Smith, David J.

    2004-01-01

    Digital videophotography, computer image analysis and physical measurements have been used to monitor sedimentation rates, coral cover, genera richness, rugosity, and estimated recruitment dates of massive corals at three different sites in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia, and on the reefs around Discovery Bay, Jamaica.…

  • Heavy metals distribution in the coral reef ecosystems of the Northern Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ali, Abdel-Hamid A. M.; Hamed, Mohamed A.; Abd El-Azim, Hoda

    2011-03-01

    Concentrations of seven heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, Co and Fe) were measured in the seawater, sediments, common scleractinian reef-building corals and soft corals (Octocorallia : Alcyonacea) at seven reef sites in the Northern Red Sea: I (Hurghada), II (Ras Za’farana), III (El-Ain Al-Sukhna), IV (El-Tur), V (Sha’b Rashdan), VI (Sharm El-Sheikh) and VII (Dahab). Levels of heavy metals were considerably elevated in seawater, sediments and corals collected from reef sites exposed to increased environmental contamination, as a result of diversified natural and anthropogenic inputs. Soft corals of genera Lithophyton, Sarcophyton and Sinularia showed higher concentrations of Zn, Pb, Cd and Ni than hard coral genera Acropora and Stylophora. Soft coral Sarcophyton trocheliophorum collected from El Ain Al-Suhkna (Gulf of Suez) had greater concentration of Cu, followed by hard corals Acropora pharaonis and Acropora hemprichi. The elevated levels of Zn, Cd and Ni were reported in the dry tissue of soft coral Sinularia spp. On the other hand, the soft coral Lithophyton arboreum displayed the highest concentration of Pb at Sha’b Rashdan (Gulf of Suez) and elevated concentration of Zn at Sharm El-Sheikh. Sediments showed significantly higher concentration of Fe than corals. The higher levels of Fe in hard corals than soft corals reflected the incorporation of Fe into the aragonite and the chelation with the organic matrix of the skeleton. The greater abundance of soft corals in metal-contaminated reef sites and the elevated levels of metals in their tissue suggesting that the soft corals could develop a tolerance mechanism to relatively high concentrations of metals. Although the effects of heavy metals on reef corals were not isolated from the possible effects of other stresses, the percentage cover of dead corals were significantly higher as the concentrations of heavy metals increased.

  • Resilience potential of an Indian Ocean reef: an assessment through coral recruitment pattern and survivability of juvenile corals to recurrent stress events.

    PubMed

    Manikandan, Balakrishnan; Ravindran, Jeyaraman; Vidya, Pottekkatt Jayabalan; Shrinivasu, Selvaraju; Manimurali, Rajagopal; Paramasivam, Kaliyaperumal

    2017-05-01

    Coral reefs are degraded by the synergistic action of climate and anthropogenic stressors. Coral cover in the Palk Bay reef at the northern Indian Ocean largely declined in the past decade due to frequent bleaching events, tsunami and increased fishing activities. In this study, we carried out a comparative assessment to assess the differences in the recovery and resilience of three spatially distant reefs viz. Vedhalai, Mandapam and Pamban along Palk Bay affected by moderate, severe and low fishing pressure respectively. The assessment was based on the juvenile coral recruitment pattern and its survivability combined with availability of hard substratum, live coral cover and herbivore reef fish stock. The Vedhalai reef has the highest coral cover (14.6 ± 6.3%), and ≥90% of the live corals in Vedhalai and Mandapam were affected by turf algal overgrowth. The density of herbivore reef fish was low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs compared to the Pamban reef with relatively few grazing species. The juvenile coral diversity and density were high in the Pamban reef and low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs despite high hard substratum cover. In total, 22 species of juvenile corals of 10 genera were recorded in Palk Bay. Comparison of the species diversity of juvenile corals with adult ones suggested that the Pamban reef is connected with other distant reefs whereas Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs were self-seeded. There was no statistically significant difference in the survivability of juvenile corals between the study sites, and in total, ≥90% of the juvenile corals survived the high sedimentation stress triggered by the northeast monsoon and bleaching stress that occurred recurrently. Our results indicated that the human activities indirectly affected the juvenile coral recruitment by degrading the live coral cover and contributed to the spatial variation in the recovery and resilience of the Palk Bay reef. Low species diversity of the juvenile corals will increase the

  • In situ observations of coral bleaching in the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea during the 2015/2016 global coral bleaching event

    PubMed Central

    Ziegler, Maren; Roik, Anna; Röthig, Till; Hardenstine, Royale S.; Emms, Madeleine A.; Jensen, Thor; Voolstra, Christian R.; Berumen, Michael L.

    2018-01-01

    Coral bleaching continues to be one of the most devastating and immediate impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems worldwide. In 2015, a major bleaching event was declared as the “3rd global coral bleaching event” by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, impacting a large number of reefs in every major ocean. The Red Sea was no exception, and we present herein in situ observations of the status of coral reefs in the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea from September 2015, following extended periods of high temperatures reaching upwards of 32.5°C in our study area. We examined eleven reefs using line-intercept transects at three different depths, including all reefs that were surveyed during a previous bleaching event in 2010. Bleaching was most prevalent on inshore reefs (55.6% ± 14.6% of live coral cover exhibited bleaching) and on shallower transects (41% ± 10.2% of live corals surveyed at 5m depth) within reefs. Similar taxonomic groups (e.g., Agariciidae) were affected in 2015 and in 2010. Most interestingly, Acropora and Porites had similar bleaching rates (~30% each) and similar relative coral cover (~7% each) across all reefs in 2015. Coral genera with the highest levels of bleaching (>60%) were also among the rarest (coral cover) in 2015. While this bodes well for the relative retention of coral cover, it may ultimately lead to decreased species richness, often considered an important component of a healthy coral reef. The resultant long-term changes in these coral reef communities remain to be seen. PMID:29672556

  • The effect of local hydrodynamics on the spatial extent and morphology of cold-water coral habitats at Tisler Reef, Norway

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    De Clippele, L. H.; Huvenne, V. A. I.; Orejas, C.; Lundälv, T.; Fox, A.; Hennige, S. J.; Roberts, J. M.

    2018-03-01

    This study demonstrates how cold-water coral morphology and habitat distribution are shaped by local hydrodynamics, using high-definition video from Tisler Reef, an inshore reef in Norway. A total of 334 video frames collected on the north-west (NW) and south-east (SE) side of the reef were investigated for Lophelia pertusa coral cover and morphology and for the cover of the associated sponges Mycale lingua and Geodia sp. Our results showed that the SE side was a better habitat for L. pertusa (including live and dead colonies). Low cover of Geodia sp. was found on both sides of Tisler Reef. In contrast, Mycale lingua had higher percentage cover, especially on the NW side of the reef. Bush-shaped colonies of L. pertusa with elongated branches were the most abundant coral morphology on Tisler Reef. The highest abundance and density of this morphology were found on the SE side of the reef, while a higher proportion of cauliflower-shaped corals with short branches were found on the NW side. The proportion of very small L. pertusa colonies was also significantly higher on the SE side of the reef. The patterns in coral spatial distribution and morphology were related to local hydrodynamics—there were more frequent periods of downwelling currents on the SE side—and to the availability of suitable settling substrates. These factors make the SE region of Tisler Reef more suitable for coral growth. Understanding the impact of local hydrodynamics on the spatial extent and morphology of coral, and their relation to associated organisms such as sponges, is key to understanding the past and future development of the reef.

  • Living with marginal coral communities: Diversity and host-specificity in coral-associated barnacles in the northern coral distribution limit of the East China Sea.

    PubMed

    Chan, Benny K K; Xu, Guang; Kim, Hyun Kyong; Park, Jin-Ho; Kim, Won

    2018-01-01

    Corals and their associated fauna are extremely diverse in tropical waters and form major reefs. In the high-latitude temperate zone, corals living near their distribution limit are considered marginal communities because they are particularly extremely sensitive to environmental and climatic changes. In this study, we examined the diversity and host usage of coral-associated barnacles on Jeju Island, Korea, the northern coral distribution limit in the East China Sea. In this study, only three coral-associated barnacles-from two genera in two subfamilies-were collected. The Pyrgomatinid barnacles Cantellius arcuatus and Cantellius cf. euspinulosum were found only on the corals Montipora millepora and Alveopora japonica, respectively. The Megatrematinid barnacle Pyrgomina oulastreae, relatively a generalist, was found on Psammocora spp. (both profundacella and albopicta) and Oulastrea crispata corals. The host usage of these three barnacles does not overlap. DNA barcode sequences of the C. arcuatus specimens collected in the present study matched those collected in Kochi in Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, suggesting that this species has a wide geographical distribution. C. arcuatus covers a wider host range in Taiwan waters, inhabiting Montipora spp. and Porites spp., which suggests that the host specificity of coral-associated barnacles varies with host availability. C. cf. euspinulosum probably has a very narrow distribution and host usage. The sequences of C. cf. euspinulosum on Jeju Island do not match those of any known sequences of Cantellius barnacles in the Indo-Pacific region. P. oulastreae probably prefers cold water because it has been reported in temperate regions. Coral-associated barnacles in marginal communities have considerably lower diversity than their subtropical and tropical counterparts. When host availability is limited, marginal coral-associated barnacles exhibit higher host specificity than those in subtropical and tropical

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-04-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-12-01

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

  • Reef-scale failure of coral settlement following typhoon disturbance and macroalgal bloom in Palau, Western Pacific

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Roff, George; Zupan, Mirta; Nestor, Victor; Isechal, Adelle L.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2014-09-01

    Factors affecting coral recruitment are critical in influencing the scope and rate of reef recovery after disturbance. In December 2012, super-typhoon Bopha caused immense damage to the eastern reefs of Palau, resulting in near complete loss of coral cover. Within weeks following the typhoon, an ephemeral monospecific bloom of the foliose red macroalga Liagora (up to 40 % cover in February 2013) was recorded at impacted reefs with moderate wave exposure. Conversely, impacted and un-impacted reefs in areas of low wave exposure remained Liagora free. To quantify the effect of this ephemeral macroalgal bloom on coral recruitment, we installed settlement tiles during the major spawning period (March-April 2013) at forereefs with and without Liagora. Reefs ( n = 3) with Liagora (13-24 % cover in April) experienced an almost complete failure of settlement, with only two individual corals recorded on settlement tiles ( n = 90). This settlement failure was unexpected, as tiles were situated adjacent to, and not within Liagora canopies. In contrast, settlement was significantly higher on reefs that lacked macroalgae ( n = 3), ranging from an average of 0.5-2.5 and 2.7-18.9 individuals 25 cm-2 per top- and under-sided tile, respectively. Reefs with and without Liagora were in close proximity (≤8 km), and hydrodynamic models predicted that larval supply did not limit coral settlement among sites. While some differences in the community composition on the tiles were observed among sites, settlement substrate availability also did not limit coral settlement. Generalised linear mixed effects models indicated that while no settlement substrate explained more than 10 % of the variability in coral settlement, coral cover positively accounted for 26 %, and the cover of Liagora on reefs negatively accounted for more than 50 % of the observed variation. Combined, our results indicate that the typhoon induced ephemeral macroalgal bloom resulted in a reef-scale failure of coral

  • The Paradoxical Roles of Climate Stressors on Disturbance and Recovery of Coral Reef Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Manfrino, C.; Foster, G.; Camp, E.

    2013-05-01

    The geographic isolation, absence of significant anthropogenic impacts, compressed spatial scale, and habitat diversity of Little Cayman combine to make it a natural laboratory for elucidating the dualistic impacts of various climatic events. These events both impart ecosystem disturbances and aid in the subsequent recovery of coral reef habitats. Within the isolated microcosm of Little Cayman the environmental factors commonly associated with coral stress, mortality, resilience and recovery hinted at by regional-scale observations can be more clearly observed. The primary thrust of this study is to reveal the under-pinning biophysical and hydrologic factors pertinent to reef resilience and to better understand the various roles played by climatic disturbances that have led to the rapid recovery of corals at Little Cayman following a spate of high temperature anomalies. Six closely-spaced high-temperature events were recorded in the Caribbean between the years of 1987 and 2009. Of these, only the 1998 global ENSO event, with well-documented levels of elevated SST, reduced cloud cover and surface water texture with concomittant increases in UV and irradiance and reduced water velocity, resulted in significant mortality at Little Cayman. Following this event, island-wide live coral cover decreased by 40%, from 26% to 14%. Annual monitoring of live coral cover following the 1998 ENSO event revealed no significant recovery of live coral cover until 2009, at which point there was a rapid rebound to pre-disturbance levels by 2011. Such a protracted step-change in coral recovery is indicative of one or more episodic events. The proposed scenario is that the numerous thermal stress events damaged the photo-system of the zooxanthellae, limiting the scope for growth and recovery as the metabolic budgets of corals were diverted to cellular repair. It is posited that the rapid cooling effect of frequent Tropical Storms and Hurricanes between 2002 – 2008, coupled with the

  • Black reefs: iron-induced phase shifts on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to 0.75 km2). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. PMID:21881615

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-03-01

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

  • Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns

    PubMed Central

    Conklin, Eric J.; Gove, Jamison M.; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A.

    2013-01-01

    Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54–86% cover), namely hard corals (20–74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10–36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8–22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (coral cover was higher, but with low diversity, in more sheltered habitats such as Palmyra’s backreef and Kingman’s patch reefs. Almost exclusive dominance by slow-growing Porites on Kingman’s patch reefs provides indirect evidence of competitive exclusion, probably late in a successional sequence. In contrast, the more exposed forereef habitats at both Kingman and Palmyra had higher coral diversity and were characterized by fast-growing corals (e.g., Acropora and Pocillopora), indicative of more dynamic environments. In general at both locations, soft coral cover increased with depth, likely reflecting increasingly efficient heterotrophic abilities. CCA and fleshy macroalgae cover decreased with depth, likely due to reduced light. Cover of other calcified macroalgae, predominantly Halimeda, increased with depth. This likely reflects the ability of many calcifying macroalgae to efficiently harvest light at deeper depths, in combination with an increased nutrient supply from upwelling promoting growth. At Palmyra, patterns of hard coral cover with depth were inconsistent, but cover peaked at mid-depths at Kingman. On Kingman’s forereef, benthic community composition was strongly related to wave energy, with hard coral cover decreasing and becoming more spatially clustered with increased wave energy, likely as a result of physical damage leading to patches of

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McGowan, Hamish; Theobald, Alison

    2017-10-01

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

  • Ecological Complexity of Coral Recruitment Processes: Effects of Invertebrate Herbivores on Coral Recruitment and Growth Depends Upon Substratum Properties and Coral Species

    PubMed Central

    Davies, Sarah W.; Matz, Mikhail V.; Vize, Peter D.

    2013-01-01

    Background The transition from planktonic planula to sessile adult corals occurs at low frequencies and post settlement mortality is extremely high. Herbivores promote settlement by reducing algal competition. This study investigates whether invertebrate herbivory might be modulated by other ecological factors such as substrata variations and coral species identity. Methodology/Principal Findings The experiment was conducted at the Flower Garden Banks, one of the few Atlantic reefs not experiencing considerable degradation. Tiles of differing texture and orientation were kept in bins surrounded by reef (24 m). Controls contained no herbivores while treatment bins contained urchins (Diadema antillarum) or herbivorous gastropods (Cerithium litteratum). Juvenile corals settling naturally were monitored by photography for 14 months to evaluate the effects of invertebrate herbivory and substratum properties. Herbivory reduced algae cover in urchin treatments. Two genera of brooding coral juveniles were observed, Agaricia and Porites, both of which are common but not dominant on adjacent reef. No broadcast spawning corals were observed on tiles. Overall, juveniles were more abundant in urchin treatments and on vertical, rough textured surfaces. Although more abundant, Agaricia juveniles were smaller in urchin treatments, presumably due to destructive overgrazing. Still, Agaricia growth increased with herbivory and substrata texture-orientation interactions were observed with reduced growth on rough tiles in control treatments and increased growth on vertical tiles in herbivore treatments. In contrast to Agaricia, Porites juveniles were larger on horizontal tiles, irrespective of herbivore treatment. Mortality was affected by substrata orientation with vertical surfaces increasing coral survival. Conclusions/Significance We further substantiate that invertebrate herbivores play major roles in early settlement processes of corals and highlight the need for deeper

  • Sediment dynamics and their potential influence on insular-slope mesophotic coral ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sherman, C.; Schmidt, W.; Appeldoorn, R.; Hutchinson, Y.; Ruiz, H.; Nemeth, M.; Bejarano, I.; Motta, J. J. Cruz; Xu, H.

    2016-10-01

    Although sediment dynamics exert a fundamental control on the character and distribution of reefs, data on sediment dynamics in mesophotic systems are scarce. In this study, sediment traps and benthic photo-transects were used to document spatial and temporal patterns of suspended-sediment and bed-load dynamics at two geomorphically distinct mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) on the upper insular slope of southwest Puerto Rico. Trap accumulation rates of suspended sediment were relatively low and spatiotemporally uniform, averaging higher than suspended-sediment accumulation rates and highly variable, by orders of magnitude, both spatially and temporally. Percent sand cover within photo-transects varied over time from 10% to more than 40% providing further evidence of downslope sediment movement. In general, the more exposed, lower gradient site had higher rates of downslope sediment movement, higher sand cover and lower coral cover than the more sheltered and steep site that exhibited lower rates of downslope sediment movement, lower sand cover and higher coral cover. In most cases, trap accumulation rates of suspended sediment and bed load varied together and peaks in trap accumulation rates correspond to peaks in SWAN-modeled wave-orbital velocities, suggesting that surface waves may influence sediment dynamics even in mesophotic settings. Though variable, off-shelf transport of sediment is a continuous process occurring even during non-storm conditions. Continuous downslope sediment movement in conjunction with degree of exposure to prevailing seas and slope geomorphology are proposed to exert an important influence on the character and distribution of insular-slope MCEs.

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