coral reefs affected: Topics by Science.gov

  • Historical Reconstruction Reveals Recovery in Hawaiian Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Kittinger, John N.; Pandolfi, John M.; Blodgett, Jonathan H.; Hunt, Terry L.; Jiang, Hong; Maly, Kepā; McClenachan, Loren E.; Schultz, Jennifer K.; Wilcox, Bruce A.

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are declining worldwide, yet regional differences in the trajectories, timing and extent of degradation highlight the need for in-depth regional case studies to understand the factors that contribute to either ecosystem sustainability or decline. We reconstructed social-ecological interactions in Hawaiian coral reef environments over 700 years using detailed datasets on ecological conditions, proximate anthropogenic stressor regimes and social change. Here we report previously undetected recovery periods in Hawaiian coral reefs, including a historical recovery in the MHI (∼AD 1400–1820) and an ongoing recovery in the NWHI (∼AD 1950–2009+). These recovery periods appear to be attributed to a complex set of changes in underlying social systems, which served to release reefs from direct anthropogenic stressor regimes. Recovery at the ecosystem level is associated with reductions in stressors over long time periods (decades+) and large spatial scales (>103 km2). Our results challenge conventional assumptions and reported findings that human impacts to ecosystems are cumulative and lead only to long-term trajectories of environmental decline. In contrast, recovery periods reveal that human societies have interacted sustainably with coral reef environments over long time periods, and that degraded ecosystems may still retain the adaptive capacity and resilience to recover from human impacts. PMID:21991311

  • Phytoplankton transport to coral reefs by internal solitons in the northern South China Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yu-Huai

    2016-09-01

    Evidence is presented that waters containing high concentrations of chlorophyll are transported by internal waves to the fore-reef slope of Dongsha Atoll in the northern South China Sea. High vertical resolution mooring measurements of temperature, pressure, and chlorophyll fluorescence revealed that the internal soliton cores could transport chlorophyll vertically downward and increase concentrations by an order of magnitude near the seafloor, compared to background levels. The reef areas that are potentially nourished by the pulses of phytoplankton are dominated by alcyonacean soft corals, while other reef areas that are less or not at all affected by internal waves are dominated by scleractinian hard corals. This suggests that the delivery of phytoplankton by internal solitons provides a plentiful food source that benefits the growth of soft corals.

  • River discharge reduces reef coral diversity in Palau.

    PubMed

    Golbuu, Yimnang; van Woesik, Robert; Richmond, Robert H; Harrison, Peter; Fabricius, Katharina E

    2011-04-01

    Coral community structure is often governed by a suite of processes that are becoming increasingly influenced by land-use changes and related terrestrial discharges. We studied sites along a watershed gradient to examine both the physical environment and the associated biological communities. Transplanted corals showed no differences in growth rates and mortality along the watershed gradient. However, coral cover, coral richness, and coral colony density increased with increasing distance from the mouth of the bay. There was a negative relationship between coral cover and mean suspended solids concentration. Negative relationships were also found between terrigenous sedimentation rates and the richness of adult and juvenile corals. These results have major implications not only for Pacific islands but for all countries with reef systems downstream of rivers. Land development very often leads to increases in river runoff and suspended solids concentrations that reduce coral cover and coral diversity on adjacent reefs. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-04-22

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral-CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs.

  • Coral reef sediment dissolution: Insights from chamber incubations around the globe

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cyronak, T.; Andersson, A. J.; Eyre, B.

    2016-02-01

    Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to negatively affect the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) budget of coral reefs by decreasing calcification and increasing CaCO3 dissolution rates. Sediments represent the largest reservoir of CaCO3 in coral reefs and form important habitats above and below the hide tide mark. Results from in situ benthic incubations at different coral reef locations around the world (Australia, Tahiti, Bermuda, Cook Islands, and Hawaii) reveal that there is a general trend between bulk seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωar) and net CaCO3 sediment dissolution rates. Experimental incubations also indicate that the ratio of production to respiration (P/R) in the sediments plays a significant role in CaCO3 dissolution, with high P/R ratios potentially offsetting the effects of human induced OA. This is most likely due to benthic microalgae photosynthesizing and consuming CO2, which produces conditions more favourable for CaCO3 precipitation in sediment pore waters. Despite any interactions with benthic organic metabolism, sediment dissolution could be an order of magnitude more sensitive to OA compared to the process of biogenic calcification. Increases in CaCO3 sediment dissolution under predicted CO2 emissions could shift the net ecosystem calcification (NEC) of coral reefs from net CaCO3 precipitating to net dissolving by the end of this century.

  • Balance of constructive and destructive carbonate processes on mesophotic coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weinstein, D. K.; Klaus, J. S.; Smith, T. B.; Helmle, K. P.; Marshall, D.

    2013-12-01

    Net carbonate accumulation of coral reefs is the product of both constructive and destructive processes that can ultimately influence overall reef geomorphology. Differences in these processes with depth may in part explain why the coral growth-light intensity association does no result in the traditionally theorized reef accretion decrease with depth. Until recently, physical sampling limitations had prevented the acquisition of sedimentary data needed to assess in situ carbonate accumulation in mesophotic reefs (30-150 m). Coral framework production, secondary carbonate production (calcareous encrusters), and bioerosion, the three most critical components of net carbonate accumulation, were analyzed in mesophotic reefs more than 10 km south of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands along a very gradual slope that limits sediment transport and sedimentation. Recently dead samples of the massive coral, Orbicella annularis collected from three structurally different upper mesophotic coral reef habitats (30-45 m) were cut parallel to the primary growth axis to identify density banding through standard x-radiographic techniques. Assuming annual banding, mesophotic linear extension rates were calculated on the order of 0.7-1.5 mm/yr. Weight change of experimental coral substrates exposed for 3 years indicate differing rates (1.1-17.2 g/yr) of bioerosion and secondary accretion between mesophotic sites. When correcting bioerosion rates for high mesophotic skeletal density, carbonate accumulation rates were found to vary significantly between neighboring mesophotic reefs with distinctive structures. Results imply variable rates of mesophotic reef net carbonate accretion with the potential to influence overall reef/platform morphology, including localized mesophotic reef structure.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Obura, David O.

    2005-05-01

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

  • Sewage pollution: mitigation is key for coral reef stewardship.

    PubMed

    Wear, Stephanie L; Thurber, Rebecca Vega

    2015-10-01

    Coral reefs are in decline worldwide, and land-derived sources of pollution, including sewage, are a major force driving that deterioration. This review presents evidence that sewage discharge occurs in waters surrounding at least 104 of 112 reef geographies. Studies often refer to sewage as a single stressor. However, we show that it is more accurately characterized as a multiple stressor. Many of the individual agents found within sewage, specifically freshwater, inorganic nutrients, pathogens, endocrine disrupters, suspended solids, sediments, and heavy metals, can severely impair coral growth and/or reproduction. These components of sewage may interact with each other to create as-yet poorly understood synergisms (e.g., nutrients facilitate pathogen growth), and escalate impacts of other, non-sewage-based stressors. Surprisingly few published studies have examined impacts of sewage in the field, but those that have suggest negative effects on coral reefs. Because sewage discharge proximal to sensitive coral reefs is widespread across the tropics, it is imperative for coral reef-focused institutions to increase investment in threat-abatement strategies for mitigating sewage pollution. © 2015 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals Inc. on behalf of The New York Academy of Sciences.

  • Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef.

    PubMed

    Kaplan, Maxwell B; Mooney, T Aran

    2016-08-23

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef.

  • Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef

    PubMed Central

    Kaplan, Maxwell B.; Mooney, T. Aran

    2016-01-01

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef. PMID:27550394

  • Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kaplan, Maxwell B.; Mooney, T. Aran

    2016-08-01

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef.

  • Mortality of shallow reef corals in the western Arabian Gulf following aerial exposure in winter

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fadlallah, Y. H.; Allen, K. W.; Estudillo, R. A.

    1995-05-01

    Aerial exposure of patch reef corals occurred in Tarut Bay, western Arabian Gulf, (Saudi Arabia) between December 1991 and May 1992, and coincided with extreme low spring tides (below the predicted lowest astronomical tide-LAT). Colonies of Acropora and Stylophora occurring at the highest levels on the tops of patch reef platforms were most affected by the low tides. Corals fully exposed to air suffered total mortality, whereas those not fully exposed suffered tissue damage to their upper parts. Exposure occurred during winter months when air and water temperatures are at their lowest in the gulf. Coupling of extremely low spring tides with wind-induced negative surges (below LAT) are not regular events but are not infrequent. Cold temperatures and exposure may act in concert to produce disproportionate mortalities of reef flat corals in the shallow coastal areas of eastern Saudi Arabia. It is highly unlikely that the Gulf War oil spill played any role in the observed damage to reef corals in the Gulf in 1992.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have transformed into algal-dominated habitats over recent decades, but the mechanisms of change are unresolved due to a lack of quantitative ecological data before large-scale human impacts. To understand the role of reduced herbivory in recent coral declines, we produce a high-resolution 3,000 year record of reef accretion rate and herbivore (parrotfish and urchin) abundance from the analysis of sediments and fish, coral and urchin subfossils within cores from Caribbean Panama. At each site, declines in accretion rates and parrotfish abundance were initiated in the prehistorical or historical period. Statistical tests of direct cause and effect relationships using convergent cross mapping reveal that accretion rates are driven by parrotfish abundance (but not vice versa) but are not affected by total urchin abundance. These results confirm the critical role of parrotfish in maintaining coral-dominated reef habitat and the urgent need for restoration of parrotfish populations to enable reef persistence. PMID:28112169

  • Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O; Mumby, P J; Hooten, A J; Steneck, R S; Greenfield, P; Gomez, E; Harvell, C D; Sale, P F; Edwards, A J; Caldeira, K; Knowlton, N; Eakin, C M; Iglesias-Prieto, R; Muthiga, N; Bradbury, R H; Dubi, A; Hatziolos, M E

    2007-12-14

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2 degrees C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

  • Vulnerability of Coral Reefs to Bioerosion From Land-Based Sources of Pollution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prouty, Nancy G.; Cohen, Anne; Yates, Kimberly K.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Swarzenski, Peter W.; White, Darla

    2017-12-01

    Ocean acidification (OA), the gradual decline in ocean pH and [CO32-] caused by rising levels of atmospheric CO2, poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems, depressing rates of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production, and enhancing rates of bioerosion and dissolution. As ocean pH and [CO32-] decline globally, there is increasing emphasis on managing local stressors that can exacerbate the vulnerability of coral reefs to the effects of OA. We show that sustained, nutrient rich, lower pH submarine groundwater discharging onto nearshore coral reefs off west Maui lowers the pH of seawater and exposes corals to nitrate concentrations 50 times higher than ambient. Rates of coral calcification are substantially decreased, and rates of bioerosion are orders of magnitude higher than those observed in coral cores collected in the Pacific under equivalent low pH conditions but living in oligotrophic waters. Heavier coral nitrogen isotope (δ15N) values pinpoint not only site-specific eutrophication, but also a sewage nitrogen source enriched in 15N. Our results show that eutrophication of reef seawater by land-based sources of pollution can magnify the effects of OA through nutrient driven-bioerosion. These conditions could contribute to the collapse of coastal coral reef ecosystems sooner than current projections predict based only on ocean acidification.Plain Language SummaryWe show that sustained, nutrient rich, lower pH submarine groundwater discharging onto nearshore coral reefs off west Maui lowers the pH of seawater and exposes corals to nitrate concentrations 50 times higher than ambient. Rates of coral calcification are substantially decreased, and rates of bioerosion are orders of magnitude higher than those observed in coral cores collected in the Pacific. With many of Maui’s coral reefs in significant decline reducing any stressors at a local scale is important to sustaining future coral reef ecosystems and

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-01-01

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

  • Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification.

    PubMed

    Albright, Rebecca; Caldeira, Lilian; Hosfelt, Jessica; Kwiatkowski, Lester; Maclaren, Jana K; Mason, Benjamin M; Nebuchina, Yana; Ninokawa, Aaron; Pongratz, Julia; Ricke, Katharine L; Rivlin, Tanya; Schneider, Kenneth; Sesboüé, Marine; Shamberger, Kathryn; Silverman, Jacob; Wolfe, Kennedy; Zhu, Kai; Caldeira, Ken

    2016-03-17

    Approximately one-quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year is absorbed by the global oceans, causing measurable declines in surface ocean pH, carbonate ion concentration ([CO3(2-)]), and saturation state of carbonate minerals (Ω). This process, referred to as ocean acidification, represents a major threat to marine ecosystems, in particular marine calcifiers such as oysters, crabs, and corals. Laboratory and field studies have shown that calcification rates of many organisms decrease with declining pH, [CO3(2-)], and Ω. Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to ocean acidification, in part because the very architecture of the ecosystem is reliant on carbonate-secreting organisms. Acidification-induced reductions in calcification are projected to shift coral reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale declines in coral, and community, calcification over recent decades, determining the contribution of ocean acidification to these changes is difficult, if not impossible, owing to the confounding effects of other environmental factors such as temperature. Here we quantify the net calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment, and show that, when ocean chemistry is restored closer to pre-industrial conditions, net community calcification increases. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment of a natural coral reef community, we provide evidence that net community calcification is depressed compared with values expected for pre-industrial conditions, indicating that ocean acidification may already be impairing coral reef growth.

  • Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Albright, Rebecca; Caldeira, Lilian; Hosfelt, Jessica; Kwiatkowski, Lester; MacLaren, Jana K.; Mason, Benjamin M.; Nebuchina, Yana; Ninokawa, Aaron; Pongratz, Julia; Ricke, Katharine L.; Rivlin, Tanya; Schneider, Kenneth; Sesboüé, Marine; Shamberger, Kathryn; Silverman, Jacob; Wolfe, Kennedy; Zhu, Kai; Caldeira, Ken

    2016-03-01

    Approximately one-quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year is absorbed by the global oceans, causing measurable declines in surface ocean pH, carbonate ion concentration ([CO32-]), and saturation state of carbonate minerals (Ω). This process, referred to as ocean acidification, represents a major threat to marine ecosystems, in particular marine calcifiers such as oysters, crabs, and corals. Laboratory and field studies have shown that calcification rates of many organisms decrease with declining pH, [CO32-], and Ω. Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to ocean acidification, in part because the very architecture of the ecosystem is reliant on carbonate-secreting organisms. Acidification-induced reductions in calcification are projected to shift coral reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale declines in coral, and community, calcification over recent decades, determining the contribution of ocean acidification to these changes is difficult, if not impossible, owing to the confounding effects of other environmental factors such as temperature. Here we quantify the net calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment, and show that, when ocean chemistry is restored closer to pre-industrial conditions, net community calcification increases. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment of a natural coral reef community, we provide evidence that net community calcification is depressed compared with values expected for pre-industrial conditions, indicating that ocean acidification may already be impairing coral reef growth.

  • Mass spawning of corals on a high latitude coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1994-07-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-12-01

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

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