corals coral reefs: Topics by Science.gov

  • Closing the circle: is it feasible to rehabilitate reefs with sexually propagated corals?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guest, J. R.; Baria, M. V.; Gomez, E. D.; Heyward, A. J.; Edwards, A. J.

    2014-03-01

    Sexual propagation of corals specifically for reef rehabilitation remains largely experimental. In this study, we refined low technology culture and transplantation approaches and assessed the role of colony size and age, at time of transfer from nursery to reef, on subsequent survival. Larvae from Acropora millepora were reared from gametes and settled on engineered substrates, called coral plug-ins, that were designed to simplify transplantation to areas of degraded reef. Plug-ins, with laboratory spawned and settled coral recruits attached, were maintained in nurseries until they were at least 7 months old before being transplanted to replicate coral limestone outcrops within a marine protected area until they were 31 months old. Survival rates of transplanted corals that remained at the protected in situ nursery the longest were 3.9-5.6 times higher than corals transplanted to the reef earlier, demonstrating that an intermediate ocean nursery stage is critical in the sexual propagation of corals for reef rehabilitation. 3 years post-settlement, colonies were reproductively mature, making this one of few published studies to date to rear a broadcasting scleractinian from eggs to spawning adults. While our data show that it is technically feasible to transplant sexually propagated corals and rear them until maturity, producing a single 2.5-year-old coral on the reef cost at least US60. `What if’ scenarios indicate that the cost per transplantable coral could be reduced by almost 80 %, nevertheless, it is likely that the high cost per coral using sexual propagation methods would constrain delivery of new corals to relatively small scales in many countries with coral reefs.

  • The contribution of microbial biotechnology to mitigating coral reef degradation.

    PubMed

    Damjanovic, Katarina; Blackall, Linda L; Webster, Nicole S; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2017-09-01

    The decline of coral reefs due to anthropogenic disturbances is having devastating impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here we highlight the potential and challenges of microbial manipulation strategies to enhance coral tolerance to stress and contribute to coral reef restoration and protection. © 2017 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.

  • Dynamic Stability of Coral Reefs on the West Australian Coast

    PubMed Central

    Speed, Conrad W.; Babcock, Russ C.; Bancroft, Kevin P.; Beckley, Lynnath E.; Bellchambers, Lynda M.; Depczynski, Martial; Field, Stuart N.; Friedman, Kim J.; Gilmour, James P.; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A.; Kobryn, Halina T.; Moore, James A. Y.; Nutt, Christopher D.; Shedrawi, George; Thomson, Damian P.; Wilson, Shaun K.

    2013-01-01

    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. PMID:23922829

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

    PubMed

    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.

  • Using virtual reality to estimate aesthetic values of coral reefs

    PubMed Central

    Clifford, Sam; Caley, M. Julian; Pearse, Alan R.; Brown, Ross; James, Allan; Christensen, Bryce; Bednarz, Tomasz; Anthony, Ken; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mengersen, Kerrie; Peterson, Erin E.

    2018-01-01

    Aesthetic value, or beauty, is important to the relationship between humans and natural environments and is, therefore, a fundamental socio-economic attribute of conservation alongside other ecosystem services. However, beauty is difficult to quantify and is not estimated well using traditional approaches to monitoring coral-reef aesthetics. To improve the estimation of ecosystem aesthetic values, we developed and implemented a novel framework used to quantify features of coral-reef aesthetics based on people’s perceptions of beauty. Three observer groups with different experience to reef environments (Marine Scientist, Experienced Diver and Citizen) were virtually immersed in Australian’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) using 360° images. Perceptions of beauty and observations were used to assess the importance of eight potential attributes of reef-aesthetic value. Among these, heterogeneity, defined by structural complexity and colour diversity, was positively associated with coral-reef-aesthetic values. There were no group-level differences in the way the observer groups perceived reef aesthetics suggesting that past experiences with coral reefs do not necessarily influence the perception of beauty by the observer. The framework developed here provides a generic tool to help identify indicators of aesthetic value applicable to a wide variety of natural systems. The ability to estimate aesthetic values robustly adds an important dimension to the holistic conservation of the GBR, coral reefs worldwide and other natural ecosystems. PMID:29765676

  • Using virtual reality to estimate aesthetic values of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Vercelloni, Julie; Clifford, Sam; Caley, M Julian; Pearse, Alan R; Brown, Ross; James, Allan; Christensen, Bryce; Bednarz, Tomasz; Anthony, Ken; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mengersen, Kerrie; Peterson, Erin E

    2018-04-01

    Aesthetic value, or beauty, is important to the relationship between humans and natural environments and is, therefore, a fundamental socio-economic attribute of conservation alongside other ecosystem services. However, beauty is difficult to quantify and is not estimated well using traditional approaches to monitoring coral-reef aesthetics. To improve the estimation of ecosystem aesthetic values, we developed and implemented a novel framework used to quantify features of coral-reef aesthetics based on people’s perceptions of beauty. Three observer groups with different experience to reef environments (Marine Scientist, Experienced Diver and Citizen) were virtually immersed in Australian’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) using 360° images. Perceptions of beauty and observations were used to assess the importance of eight potential attributes of reef-aesthetic value. Among these, heterogeneity, defined by structural complexity and colour diversity, was positively associated with coral-reef-aesthetic values. There were no group-level differences in the way the observer groups perceived reef aesthetics suggesting that past experiences with coral reefs do not necessarily influence the perception of beauty by the observer. The framework developed here provides a generic tool to help identify indicators of aesthetic value applicable to a wide variety of natural systems. The ability to estimate aesthetic values robustly adds an important dimension to the holistic conservation of the GBR, coral reefs worldwide and other natural ecosystems.

  • Quantifying Climatological Ranges and Anomalies for Pacific Coral Reef Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Gove, Jamison M.; Williams, Gareth J.; McManus, Margaret A.; Heron, Scott F.; Sandin, Stuart A.; Vetter, Oliver J.; Foley, David G.

    2013-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental forcings that vary on daily to decadal time scales and across spatial scales spanning from reefs to archipelagos. Environmental variability is a major determinant of reef ecosystem structure and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates, and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms. Proper characterization of environmental forcings on coral reef ecosystems is critical if we are to understand the dynamics and implications of abiotic–biotic interactions on reef ecosystems. This study combines high-resolution bathymetric information with remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a and irradiance data, and modeled wave data to quantify environmental forcings on coral reefs. We present a methodological approach to develop spatially constrained, island- and atoll-scale metrics that quantify climatological range limits and anomalous environmental forcings across U.S. Pacific coral reef ecosystems. Our results indicate considerable spatial heterogeneity in climatological ranges and anomalies across 41 islands and atolls, with emergent spatial patterns specific to each environmental forcing. For example, wave energy was greatest at northern latitudes and generally decreased with latitude. In contrast, chlorophyll-a was greatest at reef ecosystems proximate to the equator and northern-most locations, showing little synchrony with latitude. In addition, we find that the reef ecosystems with the highest chlorophyll-a concentrations; Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman are each uninhabited and are characterized by high hard coral cover and large numbers of predatory fishes. Finally, we find that scaling environmental data to the spatial footprint of individual islands and atolls is more likely to capture local environmental forcings, as chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased at relatively short distances (>7 km) from 85% of our study locations. These metrics will

  • Quantifying climatological ranges and anomalies for Pacific coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Gove, Jamison M; Williams, Gareth J; McManus, Margaret A; Heron, Scott F; Sandin, Stuart A; Vetter, Oliver J; Foley, David G

    2013-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental forcings that vary on daily to decadal time scales and across spatial scales spanning from reefs to archipelagos. Environmental variability is a major determinant of reef ecosystem structure and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates, and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms. Proper characterization of environmental forcings on coral reef ecosystems is critical if we are to understand the dynamics and implications of abiotic-biotic interactions on reef ecosystems. This study combines high-resolution bathymetric information with remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a and irradiance data, and modeled wave data to quantify environmental forcings on coral reefs. We present a methodological approach to develop spatially constrained, island- and atoll-scale metrics that quantify climatological range limits and anomalous environmental forcings across U.S. Pacific coral reef ecosystems. Our results indicate considerable spatial heterogeneity in climatological ranges and anomalies across 41 islands and atolls, with emergent spatial patterns specific to each environmental forcing. For example, wave energy was greatest at northern latitudes and generally decreased with latitude. In contrast, chlorophyll-a was greatest at reef ecosystems proximate to the equator and northern-most locations, showing little synchrony with latitude. In addition, we find that the reef ecosystems with the highest chlorophyll-a concentrations; Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman are each uninhabited and are characterized by high hard coral cover and large numbers of predatory fishes. Finally, we find that scaling environmental data to the spatial footprint of individual islands and atolls is more likely to capture local environmental forcings, as chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased at relatively short distances (>7 km) from 85% of our study locations. These metrics will help

  • Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shinn, Eugene A.

    1976-01-01

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

  • Coral reefs in crisis: reversing the biotic death spiral

    PubMed Central

    Rasher, Douglas B

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are disappearing due to global warming, overfishing, ocean acidification, pollution, and interactions of these and other stresses. Ecologically informed management of fishes that facilitate corals by suppressing seaweeds may be our best bet for bringing reefs back from the brink of extinction. PMID:21173844

  • Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2014-01-01

    This it the 9th status report since the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was founded in 1995 was the data arm of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to document the ecological condition or corral reefs, strengthen monitoring efforts, and link existing organizations and people working on reefs worldwide. The US Government provided the initial funding to help set up a global network of coral reef workers and has continued to provide core support. Since then, the series of reports have aimed to present the current status of coral reefs of the world or particular regions, the major threats to reefs and their consequences, and any initiative undertaken under the auspices of ICRI or other bodies to arrest or reverse the decline of coral reefs.IUCN assumed responsibility for hosting the global coordination of the GCRMN in 2010 under the scientific direction of Jeremy Jackson with the following objectives:1. Document quantitatively the global status and trends for corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on available data from individual scientists as well as the peer reviewed scientific literature, monitoring programs, and report.2. Bring together regional experts in a series of workshops to involve them in data compilation, analysis, and synthesis.3. Integrate coral reef status and trends with independent environmental, management, and socioeconomic data to better understand the primary factors responsible for coral reef decline, the possible synergies among factors that may further magnify their impacts, and how these stresses may be more effectively alleviated.Work with GCRMN partners to establish simple and practical standardized protocols for future monitoring and assessment.Disseminate information and results to help guide member state policy and actions.The overarching objective is to understand why some reefs are much healthier than others, to identify what kinds of actions have been particularly beneficial or harmful, and to

  • Evidence of extensive reef development and high coral cover in nearshore environments: implications for understanding coral adaptation in turbid settings

    PubMed Central

    Morgan, Kyle M.; Perry, Chris T.; Smithers, Scott G.; Johnson, Jamie A.; Daniell, James J.

    2016-01-01

    Mean coral cover has reportedly declined by over 15% during the last 30 years across the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Here, we present new data that documents widespread reef development within the more poorly studied turbid nearshore areas (coral cover on these reefs averages 38% (twice that reported on mid- and outer-shelf reefs). Of the surveyed seafloor area, 11% had distinct reef or coral community cover. Although the survey area represents a small subset of the nearshore zone (15.5 km2), this reef density is comparable to that measured across the wider GBR shelf (9%). We also show that cross-shelf coral cover declines with distance from the coast (R2 = 0.596). Identified coral taxa (21 genera) exhibited clear depth-stratification, corresponding closely to light attenuation and seafloor topography, with reefal development restricted to submarine antecedent bedforms. Data from this first assessment of nearshore reef occurrence and ecology measured across meaningful spatial scales suggests that these coral communities may exhibit an unexpected capacity to tolerate documented declines in water quality. Indeed, these shallow-water nearshore reefs may share many characteristics with their deep-water (>30 m) mesophotic equivalents and may have similar potential as refugia from large-scale disturbances. PMID:27432782

  • Effects of ocean acidification on the dissolution rates of reef-coral skeletons.

    PubMed

    van Woesik, Robert; van Woesik, Kelly; van Woesik, Liana; van Woesik, Sandra

    2013-01-01

    Ocean acidification threatens the foundation of tropical coral reefs. This study investigated three aspects of ocean acidification: (i) the rates at which perforate and imperforate coral-colony skeletons passively dissolve when pH is 7.8, which is predicted to occur globally by 2100, (ii) the rates of passive dissolution of corals with respect to coral-colony surface areas, and (iii) the comparative rates of a vertical reef-growth model, incorporating passive dissolution rates, and predicted sea-level rise. By 2100, when the ocean pH is expected to be 7.8, perforate Montipora coral skeletons will lose on average 15 kg CaCO3 m(-2) y(-1), which is approximately -10.5 mm of vertical reduction of reef framework per year. This rate of passive dissolution is higher than the average rate of reef growth over the last several millennia and suggests that reefs composed of perforate Montipora coral skeletons will have trouble keeping up with sea-level rise under ocean acidification. Reefs composed of primarily imperforate coral skeletons will not likely dissolve as rapidly, but our model shows they will also have trouble keeping up with sea-level rise by 2050.

  • Alternative stable states and phase shifts in coral reefs under anthropogenic stress.

    PubMed

    Fung, Tak; Seymour, Robert M; Johnson, Craig R

    2011-04-01

    Ecosystems with alternative stable states (ASS) may shift discontinuously from one stable state to another as environmental parameters cross a threshold. Reversal can then be difficult due to hysteresis effects. This contrasts with continuous state changes in response to changing environmental parameters, which are less difficult to reverse. Worldwide degradation of coral reefs, involving “phase shifts” from coral to algal dominance, highlights the pressing need to determine the likelihood of discontinuous phase shifts in coral reefs, in contrast to continuous shifts with no ASS. However, there is little evidence either for or against the existence of ASS for coral reefs. We use dynamic models to investigate the likelihood of continuous and discontinuous phase shifts in coral reefs subject to sustained environmental perturbation by fishing, nutrification, and sedimentation. Our modeling results suggest that coral reefs with or without anthropogenic stress can exhibit ASS, such that discontinuous phase shifts can occur. We also find evidence to support the view that high macroalgal growth rates and low grazing rates on macroalgae favor ASS in coral reefs. Further, our results suggest that the three stressors studied, either alone or in combination, can increase the likelihood of both continuous and discontinuous phase shifts by altering the competitive balance between corals and algae. However, in contrast to continuous phase shifts, we find that discontinuous shifts occur only in model coral reefs with parameter values near the extremes of their empirically determined ranges. This suggests that continuous shifts are more likely than discontinuous shifts in coral reefs. Our results also suggest that, for ecosystems in general, tackling multiple human stressors simultaneously maximizes resilience to phase shifts, ASS, and hysteresis, leading to improvements in ecosystem health and functioning.

  • Pulley reef: a deep photosynthetic coral reef on the West Florida Shelf, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Culter, J.K.; Ritchie, K.B.; Earle, S.A.; Guggenheim, D.E.; Halley, R.B.; Ciembronowicz, K.T.; Hine, A.C.; Jarrett, B.D.; Locker, S.D.; Jaap, W.C.

    2006-01-01

    Pulley Reef (24°50′N, 83°40′W) lies on a submerged late Pleistocene shoreline feature that formed during a sea-level stillstand from 13.8 to 14.5 ka (Jarrett et al. 2005). The reef is currently 60–75 m deep, exhibits 10–60% coral cover, and extends over approximately 160 km2 of the sea floor. Zooxanthellate corals are primarily Agaricia lamarcki, A. fragilis, Leptoseris cucullata, and less common Madracis formosa, M. pharensis, M. decactis, Montastraea cavernosa, Porites divaricata, Scolymia cubensis and Oculina tenella. Coralline algae are comparable in abundance to stony corals. Other macroalgae include Halimeda tuna, Dictyota divaricata, Lobophora variegata, Ventricatri ventricosa, Verdigelas pelas, and Kallymenia sp. Anadyomene menziesii is abundant. The reef provides a habitat for organisms typically observed at much shallower depths, and is the deepest known photosynthetic coral reef on the North America continental shelf (Fig. 1).

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-02-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Riegl, B; Glynn, P W; Wieters, E; Purkis, S; d’Angelo, C; Wiedenmann, J

    2015-02-05

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

  • Prioritizing Land and Sea Conservation Investments to Protect Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Klein, Carissa J.; Ban, Natalie C.; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Beger, Maria; Game, Edward T.; Grantham, Hedley S.; Green, Alison; Klein, Travis J.; Kininmonth, Stuart; Treml, Eric; Wilson, Kerrie; Possingham, Hugh P.

    2010-01-01

    Background Coral reefs have exceptional biodiversity, support the livelihoods of millions of people, and are threatened by multiple human activities on land (e.g. farming) and in the sea (e.g. overfishing). Most conservation efforts occur at local scales and, when effective, can increase the resilience of coral reefs to global threats such as climate change (e.g. warming water and ocean acidification). Limited resources for conservation require that we efficiently prioritize where and how to best sustain coral reef ecosystems. Methodology/Principal Findings Here we develop the first prioritization approach that can guide regional-scale conservation investments in land- and sea-based conservation actions that cost-effectively mitigate threats to coral reefs, and apply it to the Coral Triangle, an area of significant global attention and funding. Using information on threats to marine ecosystems, effectiveness of management actions at abating threats, and the management and opportunity costs of actions, we calculate the rate of return on investment in two conservation actions in sixteen ecoregions. We discover that marine conservation almost always trumps terrestrial conservation within any ecoregion, but terrestrial conservation in one ecoregion can be a better investment than marine conservation in another. We show how these results could be used to allocate a limited budget for conservation and compare them to priorities based on individual criteria. Conclusions/Significance Previous prioritization approaches do not consider both land and sea-based threats or the socioeconomic costs of conserving coral reefs. A simple and transparent approach like ours is essential to support effective coral reef conservation decisions in a large and diverse region like the Coral Triangle, but can be applied at any scale and to other marine ecosystems. PMID:20814570

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

    PubMed

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

    2007-10-01

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

  • Selective feeding by coral reef fishes on coral lesions associated with brown band and black band disease

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chong-Seng, K. M.; Cole, A. J.; Pratchett, M. S.; Willis, B. L.

    2011-06-01

    Recent studies have suggested that corallivorous fishes may be vectors for coral disease, but the extent to which fishes actually feed on and thereby potentially transmit coral pathogens is largely unknown. For this study, in situ video observations were used to assess the level to which fishes fed on diseased coral tissues at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Surveys conducted at multiple locations around Lizard Island revealed that coral disease prevalence, especially of brown band disease (BrB), was higher in lagoon and backreef locations than in exposed reef crests. Accordingly, video cameras were deployed in lagoon and backreef habitats to record feeding by fishes during 1-h periods on diseased sections of each of 44 different coral colonies. Twenty-five species from five fish families (Blennidae, Chaetodontidae, Gobiidae, Labridae and Pomacentridae) were observed to feed on infected coral tissues of staghorn species of Acropora that were naturally infected with black band disease (BBD) or brown band disease (BrB). Collectively, these fishes took an average of 18.6 (±5.6 SE) and 14.3 (±6.1 SE) bites per hour from BBD and BrB lesions, respectively. More than 40% (408/948 bites) and nearly 25% (314/1319 bites) of bites were observed on lesions associated with BBD and BrB, respectively, despite these bands each representing only about 1% of the substratum available. Moreover, many corallivorous fishes ( Labrichthys unilineatus, Chaetodon aureofasciatus, C. baronessa, C. lunulatus, C. trifascialis, Cheiloprion labiatus) selectively targeted disease lesions over adjacent healthy coral tissues. These findings highlight the important role that reef fishes may play in the dynamics of coral diseases, either as vectors for the spread of coral disease or in reducing coral disease progression through intensive and selective consumption of diseased coral tissues.

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