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Sample records for coral reef metabolism

  1. Measuring coral reef community metabolism using new benthic chamber technology

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Yates, K.K.; Halley, R.B.

    2003-01-01

    Accurate measurement of coral reef community metabolism is a necessity for process monitoring and in situ experimentation on coral reef health. Traditional methodologies used for these measurements are effective but limited by location and scale constraints. We present field trial results for a new benthic chamber system called the Submersible Habitat for Analyzing Reef Quality (SHARQ). This large, portable incubation system enables in situ measurement and experimentation on community- scale metabolism. Rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification were measured using the SHARQ for a variety of coral reef substrate types on the reef flat of South Molokai, Hawaii, and in Biscayne National Park, Florida. Values for daily gross production, 24-h respiration, and net calcification ranged from 0.26 to 6.45 g O2 m-2 day-1, 1.96 to 8.10 g O2 m-2 24 h-1, and 0.02 to 2.0 g CaCO3 m -2 day-1, respectively, for all substrate types. Field trials indicate that the SHARQ incubation chamber is an effective tool for in situ isolation of a water mass over a variety of benthic substrate types for process monitoring, experimentation, and other applications.

  2. Coral reef metabolism and carbon chemistry dynamics of a coral reef flat

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Albright, Rebecca; Benthuysen, Jessica; Cantin, Neal; Caldeira, Ken; Anthony, Ken

    2015-05-01

    Global carbon emissions continue to acidify the oceans, motivating growing concern for the ability of coral reefs to maintain net positive calcification rates. Efforts to develop robust relationships between coral reef calcification and carbonate parameters such as aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) aim to facilitate meaningful predictions of how reef calcification will change in the face of ocean acidification. Here we investigate natural trends in carbonate chemistry of a coral reef flat over diel cycles and relate these trends to benthic carbon fluxes by quantifying net community calcification and net community production. We find that, despite an apparent dependence of calcification on Ωarag seen in a simple pairwise relationship, if the dependence of net calcification on net photosynthesis is accounted for, knowing Ωarag does not add substantial explanatory value. This suggests that, over short time scales, the control of Ωarag on net calcification is weak relative to factors governing net photosynthesis.

  3. Coral reefs and carbon dioxide

    SciTech Connect

    Buddemeier, R.W.

    1996-03-01

    This commentary argues the conclusion from a previous article, which investigates diurnal changes in carbon dioxide partial pressure and community metabolism on coral reefs, that coral `reefs might serve as a sink, not a source, for atmospheric carbon dioxide.` Commentaries from two groups are given along with the response by the original authors, Kayanne et al. 27 refs.

  4. Influence of coral and algal exudates on microbially mediated reef metabolism

    PubMed Central

    Nelson, Craig E.; Rohwer, Forest; Wegley-Kelly, Linda; Quistad, Steven D.; Carlson, Craig A.; Leichter, James J.; Hatay, Mark; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2013-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in tropical reef ecosystems can alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in the surrounding seawater. In order to quantify these influences, we measured rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exudate release by the dominant benthic primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying macroalgae, turf-algae and corals) on reefs of Mo‘orea French Polynesia. Subsequently, we examined planktonic and benthic microbial community response to these dissolved exudates by measuring bacterial growth rates and oxygen and DOC fluxes in dark and daylight incubation experiments. All benthic primary producers exuded significant quantities of DOC (roughly 10% of their daily fixed carbon) into the surrounding water over a diurnal cycle. The microbial community responses were dependent upon the source of the exudates and whether the inoculum of microbes included planktonic or planktonic plus benthic communities. The planktonic and benthic microbial communities in the unamended control treatments exhibited opposing influences on DO concentration where respiration dominated in treatments comprised solely of plankton and autotrophy dominated in treatments with benthic plus plankon microbial communities. Coral exudates (and associated inorganic nutrients) caused a shift towards a net autotrophic microbial metabolism by increasing the net production of oxygen by the benthic and decreasing the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community. In contrast, the addition of algal exudates decreased the net primary production by the benthic communities and increased the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community thereby resulting in a shift towards net heterotrophic community metabolism. When scaled up to the reef habitat, exudate-induced effects on microbial respiration did not outweigh the high oxygen production rates of benthic algae, such that reef areas dominated with benthic primary

  5. Influence of coral and algal exudates on microbially mediated reef metabolism.

    PubMed

    Haas, Andreas F; Nelson, Craig E; Rohwer, Forest; Wegley-Kelly, Linda; Quistad, Steven D; Carlson, Craig A; Leichter, James J; Hatay, Mark; Smith, Jennifer E

    2013-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in tropical reef ecosystems can alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in the surrounding seawater. In order to quantify these influences, we measured rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exudate release by the dominant benthic primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying macroalgae, turf-algae and corals) on reefs of Mo'orea French Polynesia. Subsequently, we examined planktonic and benthic microbial community response to these dissolved exudates by measuring bacterial growth rates and oxygen and DOC fluxes in dark and daylight incubation experiments. All benthic primary producers exuded significant quantities of DOC (roughly 10% of their daily fixed carbon) into the surrounding water over a diurnal cycle. The microbial community responses were dependent upon the source of the exudates and whether the inoculum of microbes included planktonic or planktonic plus benthic communities. The planktonic and benthic microbial communities in the unamended control treatments exhibited opposing influences on DO concentration where respiration dominated in treatments comprised solely of plankton and autotrophy dominated in treatments with benthic plus plankon microbial communities. Coral exudates (and associated inorganic nutrients) caused a shift towards a net autotrophic microbial metabolism by increasing the net production of oxygen by the benthic and decreasing the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community. In contrast, the addition of algal exudates decreased the net primary production by the benthic communities and increased the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community thereby resulting in a shift towards net heterotrophic community metabolism. When scaled up to the reef habitat, exudate-induced effects on microbial respiration did not outweigh the high oxygen production rates of benthic algae, such that reef areas dominated with benthic primary

  6. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

    Microbialization refers to the observed shift in ecosystem trophic structure towards higher microbial biomass and energy use. On coral reefs, the proximal causes of microbialization are overfishing and eutrophication, both of which facilitate enhanced growth of fleshy algae, conferring a competitive advantage over calcifying corals and coralline algae. The proposed mechanism for this competitive advantage is the DDAM positive feedback loop (dissolved organic carbon (DOC), disease, algae, microorganism), where DOC released by ungrazed fleshy algae supports copiotrophic, potentially pathogenic bacterial communities, ultimately harming corals and maintaining algal competitive dominance. Using an unprecedented data set of >400 samples from 60 coral reef sites, we show that the central DDAM predictions are consistent across three ocean basins. Reef algal cover is positively correlated with lower concentrations of DOC and higher microbial abundances. On turf and fleshy macroalgal-rich reefs, higher relative abundances of copiotrophic microbial taxa were identified. These microbial communities shift their metabolic potential for carbohydrate degradation from the more energy efficient Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway on coral-dominated reefs to the less efficient Entner-Doudoroff and pentose phosphate pathways on algal-dominated reefs. This 'yield-to-power' switch by microorganism directly threatens reefs via increased hypoxia and greater CO2 release from the microbial respiration of DOC. PMID:27572833

  7. Benthic metabolic feedbacks to carbonate chemistry on coral reefs:implications for ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Price, N.; Rohwer, F. L.; Stuart, S. A.; Andersson, A.; Smith, J.

    2012-12-01

    The metabolic activity of resident organisms can cause spatio-temporal variability in carbonate chemistry within the benthic boundary layer, and thus potentially buffer the global impacts of ocean acidification. But, little is known about the capacity for particular species assemblages to contribute to natural daily variability in carbonate chemistry. We encapsulated replicate areas (~3m2) of reef across six Northern Line Islands in the central Pacific for 24 hrs to quantify feedbacks to carbonate chemistry within the benthic boundary layer from community metabolism. Underneath each 'tent', we quantified relative abundance and biomass of each species of corals and algae. We coupled high temporal resolution time series data on the natural diurnal variability in pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature (using autonomous sensors) with resident organisms' net community calcification and productivity rates (using change in total dissolved carbon and total alkalinity over time) to examine feedbacks from reef metabolism to boundary layer carbonate chemistry. These reefs experienced large ranges in pH (> 0.2 amplitude) each day, similar to the magnitude of 'acidification' expected over the next century. Daily benthic pH, pCO2, and aragonite saturation state (Ωaragonite) were contrasted with seasonal threshold values estimated from open ocean climatological data extrapolated at each island to determine relative inter-island feedbacks. Diurnal amplitude in pH, pCO2, and Ωaragonite at each island was dependent upon the resident species assemblage of the benthos and was particularly reliant upon the biomass, productivity, and calcification rate of Halimeda. Net primary productivity of fleshy algae (algal turfs and Lobophora spp.) predominated on degraded, inhabited islands where net community calcification was negligible. In contrast, the chemistry over reefs on 'pristine', uninhabited islands was driven largely by net calcification of calcareous algae and stony

  8. Coral reefs: Turning back time

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, Janice M.

    2016-03-01

    An in situ experiment finds that reducing the acidity of the seawater surrounding a natural coral reef significantly increases reef calcification, suggesting that ocean acidification may already be slowing coral growth. See Letter p.362

  9. Community metabolism in shallow coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, lower Florida Keys

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Turk, Daniela; Yates, Kimberly K.; Vega-Rodriguez, Maria; Toro-Farmer, Gerardo; L'Esperance, Chris; Melo, Nelson; Ramsewak, Deanesch; Estrada, S. Cerdeira; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Herwitz, Stan R.; McGillis, Wade

    2016-01-01

    Diurnal variation of net community production (NEP) and net community calcification (NEC) were measured in coral reef and seagrass biomes during October 2012 in the lower Florida Keys using a mesocosm enclosure and the oxygen gradient flux technique. Seagrass and coral reef sites showed diurnal variations of NEP and NEC, with positive values at near-seafloor light levels >100–300 µEinstein m-2 s-1. During daylight hours, we detected an average NEP of 12.3 and 8.6 mmol O2 m-2 h-1 at the seagrass and coral reef site, respectively. At night, NEP at the seagrass site was relatively constant, while on the coral reef, net respiration was highest immediately after dusk and decreased during the rest of the night. At the seagrass site, NEC values ranged from 0.20 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 during daylight to -0.15 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at night, and from 0.17 to -0.10 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at the coral reef site. There were no significant differences in pH and aragonite saturation states (Ωar) between the seagrass and coral reef sites. Decrease in light levels during thunderstorms significantly decreased NEP, transforming the system from net autotrophic to net heterotrophic.

  10. Coral Reef Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yap, Helen T.

    Coral reefs are geological structures of significant dimensions, constructed over millions of years by calcifying organisms. The present day reef-builders are hard corals belonging to the order Scleractinia, phylum Cnidaria. The greatest concentrations of coral reefs are in the tropics, with highest levels of biodiversity situated in reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region. These ecosystems have provided coastal protection and livelihood to human populations over the millennia. Human activities have caused destruction of these habitats, the intensity of which has increased alarmingly since the latter decades of the twentieth century. The severity of this impact is directly related to exponential growth rates of human populations especially in the coastal areas of the developing world. However, a more recently recognized phenomenon concerns disturbances brought about by the changing climate, manifested mainly as rising sea surface temperatures, and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to greater drawdown of higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Management efforts have so far not kept pace with the rates of degradation, so that the spatial extent of damaged reefs and the incidences of localized extinction of reef species are increasing year after year. The major management efforts to date consist of establishing marine protected areas and promoting the active restoration of coral habitats.

  11. Community metabolism in shallow coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, Lower Florida Keys

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Turk, Daniela; Yates, Kimberly; Vega-Rodriguez, Maria; Toro-Farmer, Gerardo; L'Esperance, Chris; Melo, Nelson; Ramsevak, Deanesh; Cerdeira-Estrada, Sergio; Muller-Karger, Frank; Herwitz, Stanley; McGillis, Wade

    2015-04-01

    Diurnal variation of net community production (NEP) and net community calcification (NEC) were measured in coral reef and seagrass biomes during October 2012 in the lower Florida Keys using a mesocosm enclosure and the oxygen gradient flux technique. Seagrass and coral reef sites showed diurnal variations of NEP and NEC with positive values at near-bottom light levels above 100-300 μEinstein m-2 s-1. During daylight hours, seagrasses showed an average NEP of 12.3 mmol O2 m-2 h-1 compared to daylight coral reef NEP of 8.6 mmol O2 m-2 h-1. At night, NEP at the seagrass was relatively constant, while in the coral reef, net respiration was highest immediately after dusk and decreasing during the rest of the night. NEC values were ranging from 0.20 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 during daylight to -0.15 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at night at the seagrass site, and from 0.17 to -0.10 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at the coral reef site. Similar NEC:NEP ratios were observed at the seagrass site and the coral site at the time of maximum daily irradiance. Average photosynthetic quotient (PQ) at the seagrass site was slightly lower in the morning and early afternoon than at the coral reef site, and higher at the seagrass site in the late afternoon. There were no significant differences in pH and aragonite saturation states (Ωar) between the seagrass and coral reef sites. Decrease in light levels during thunderstorms significantly decreased NEP, transforming the system from net autotrophic to net heterotrophic.

  12. CORAL REEF BIOCRITERIA

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs worldwide are experiencing the greatest decline of their known existence and few tools are available to offset the growing impacts of human coastal and watershed activities. Biocriteria are a potentially effective means to evaluate and restore impaired waters, but are...

  13. Coral Reef Biological Criteria

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs worldwide are experiencing decline from a variety of stressors. Some important stressors are land-based sources of pollution and human activities in the coastal zone. However, few tools are available to offset the impact of these stressors. The Clean Water Act (CWA...

  14. Ecological intereactions of reef building corals

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs are very important marine ecosystems because they support tremendous biodiversity and reefs are critical economic resources many coastal nations. Tropical reef structures are largely built by stony corals. This presentation provides background on basic coral biology t...

  15. Parameters of productivity and metabolism of coral reef ecosystems off central Vietnam

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sorokin, Yu. I.

    1991-09-01

    Primary production of phytoplankton in coastal waters off central Vietnam (20-100 mg C m -2 day -1) was depleted over the shallow coral reefs (1-5 mg C m -3 day -1). Planktonic bacteria totalled 0·2-2 × 10 6 cells ml -1, wet biomass was 50-1250 mg m -3, and productivity was 50-200 mg m -3 day -1 of wet biomass (or 10-40 mg C m -3 day -1). The biomass of planktonic protozoa (ciliates and zooflagellates) in waters off the reefs was 100-300 mg m -3 with depletion by grazing over the reefs being 1-5 mg m -3. Total respiration rates of microplankton were within the range 0·2-1 mg O 2l -1 day -1, respiration of bacteria comprising 80-90% of the total. The stock of labile (potentially utilizable by planktonic microflora) organic matter in coastal waters varied from 0·3 to 3 mg C l -1, higher values corresponding with waters over the active coral reef. The excretion of organic matter by corals as well as the respiration and photosynthesis rates in different components of bottom biotopes were measured. The roles of bacteria, algae and planktonic protozoa in coral reef trophodynamics are discussed.

  16. Coral reef resilience through biodiversity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2013-01-01

    Irrefutable evidence of coral reef degradation worldwide and increasing pressure from rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification associated with climate change have led to a focus on reef resilience and a call to “manage” coral reefs for resilience. Ideally, global action to reduce emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be accompanied by local action. Effective management requires reduction of local stressors, identification of the characteristics of resilient reefs, and design of marine protected area networks that include potentially resilient reefs. Future research is needed on how stressors interact, on how climate change will affect corals, fish, and other reef organisms as well as overall biodiversity, and on basic ecological processes such as connectivity. Not all reef species and reefs will respond similarly to local and global stressors. Because reef-building corals and other organisms have some potential to adapt to environmental changes, coral reefs will likely persist in spite of the unprecedented combination of stressors currently affecting them. The biodiversity of coral reefs is the basis for their remarkable beauty and for the benefits they provide to society. The extraordinary complexity of these ecosystems makes it both more difficult to predict their future and more likely they will have a future.

  17. Coral reef protection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the establishment on 13 November of the first U.S. zone to protect a sensitive coral reef area from potential damage by ships.The Florida Keys' Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, just one of a handful of such areas globally, has been designated by the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The area protects a zone of more than 3,000 square nautical miles stretching from the Biscayne National Park to the Dry Tortugas.

  18. Effect of elevated CO2 on the community metabolism of an experimental coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Langdon, C.; Broecker, W.; Hammond, D.; Glenn, E.; Fitzsimmons, K.; Nelson, S. G.; Peng, T.-S.; Hadjas, I.; Bonani, G.

    2003-04-01

    The effect of elevated pCO_2 on the metabolism of a coral reef community dominated by macroalgae has been investigated utilizing the large 2650 m^3 coral reef mesocosm at the Biosphere-2 facility near Tucson, Arizona. The carbonate chemistry of the water was manipulated to simulate present day and a doubled CO_2 future condition. Each experiment consisted of a 1-2 month preconditioning period followed by a 7-9 day observational period. The pCO_2 was 404om63 μatm during the present day pCO_2 experiment and 658±59 µatm during the elevated pCO_2 experiment. Nutrient levels were low and typical of natural reefs waters (NO_3^- 0.5-0.9 μM, NH_4^+ 0.4 μM, PO_43- 0.07-0.09 μM). The temperature and salinity of the water were held constant at 26.5±0.2^oC and 34.4±0.2 ppt. Photosynthetically available irradiance was 10±2 during the present day experiment and 7.4±0.5 mol photons m-2 d-1 during the elevated pCO_2 experiment. The primary producer biomass in the mesocosm was dominated by four species of macroalgae; Haptilon cubense, Amphiroa fragillisima, Gelidiopsis intricata and Chondria dasyphylla. Algal biomass was 10.4 mol C m-2 during the present day and 8.7 mol C m-2 and during the elevated pCO2 experiments. As previously observed, the increase in pCO_2 resulted in a decrease in calcification from 0.041± 0.007 to 0.006 ± 0.003 mol CaCO_3 m-2 d-1. Net community production (NCP) and dark respiration did not change in response to elevated pCO_2. Light respiration measured by a new radiocarbon isotope dilution method exceeded dark respiration by a factor of 1.2±0.3 to 2.1±0.4 on a daily basis and by 2.2±0.6 to 3.9±0.8 on an hourly basis. The 1.8-fold increase with increasing pCO2 indicates that the enhanced respiration in the light was not due to photorespiration. Gross production (GPP) computed as the sum of NCP plus daily respiration (light+dark) increased significantly (0.24±0.03 vs. 0.32±0.04 mol C m-2 d-1). However, the conventional calculation of GPP

  19. Effect of elevated CO2 on the community metabolism of an experimental coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Langdon, Chris; Broecker, Wallace S.; Hammond, Douglas E.; Glenn, Edward; Fitzsimmons, Kevin; Nelson, Steven G.; Peng, Tsung-Hung; Hajdas, Irka; Bonani, Georges

    2003-03-01

    The effect of elevated pCO2 on the metabolism of a coral reef community dominated by macroalgae has been investigated utilizing the large 2650 m3 coral reef mesocosm at the Biosphere-2 facility near Tucson, Arizona. The carbonate chemistry of the water was manipulated to simulate present-day and a doubled CO2 future condition. Each experiment consisted of a 1-2 month preconditioning period followed by a 7-9 day observational period. The pCO2 was 404 ± 63 μatm during the present-day pCO2 experiment and 658 ± 59 μatm during the elevated pCO2 experiment. Nutrient levels were low and typical of natural reefs waters (NO3- 0.5-0.9 μM, NH4+ 0.4 μM, PO43- 0.07-0.09 μM). The temperature and salinity of the water were held constant at 26.5 ± 0.2°C and 34.4 ± 0.2 ppt. Photosynthetically available irradiance was 10 ± 2 during the present-day experiment and 7.4 ± 0.5 mol photons m-2 d-1 during the elevated pCO2 experiment. The primary producer biomass in the mesocosm was dominated by four species of macroalgae; Haptilon cubense, Amphiroa fragillisima, Gelidiopsis intricata and Chondria dasyphylla. Algal biomass was 10.4 mol C m-2 during the present-day and 8.7 mol C m-2 and during the elevated pCO2 experiments. As previously observed, the increase in pCO2 resulted in a decrease in calcification from 0.041 ± 0.007 to 0.006 ± 0.003 mol CaCO3 m-2 d-1. Net community production (NCP) and dark respiration did not change in response to elevated pCO2. Light respiration measured by a new radiocarbon isotope dilution method exceeded dark respiration by a factor of 1.2 ± 0.3 to 2.1 ± 0.4 on a daily basis and by 2.2 ± 0.6 to 3.9 ± 0.8 on an hourly basis. The 1.8-fold increase with increasing pCO2 indicates that the enhanced respiration in the light was not due to photorespiration. Gross production (GPP) computed as the sum of NCP plus daily respiration (light + dark) increased significantly (0.24 ± 0.03 vs. 0.32 ± 0.04 mol C m-2 d-1). However, the conventional

  20. Disease of coral and coral reef fishes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Panek, Frank

    2008-01-01

    The Department of the Interior protects sensitive habitats amounting to about 3,600,000 acres of coral reefs and other submerged lands. These reefs are important ecosystems in 13 National Wildlife Refuges, 10 National Parks and in certain territorial waters such as the Wake Atoll.

  1. Coral reef bleaching: ecological perspectives

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glynn, P. W.

    1993-03-01

    Coral reef bleaching, the whitening of diverse invertebrate taxa, results from the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae and/or a reduction in photosynthetic pigment concentrations in zooxanthellae residing within the gastrodermal tissues of host animals. Of particular concern are the consequences of bleaching of large numbers of reef-building scleractinian corals and hydrocorals. Published records of coral reef bleaching events from 1870 to the present suggest that the frequency (60 major events from 1979 to 1990), scale (co-occurrence in many coral reef regions and often over the bathymetric depth range of corals) and severity (>95% mortality in some areas) of recent bleaching disturbances are unprecedented in the scientific literature. The causes of small scale, isolated bleaching events can often be explained by particular stressors (e.g., temperature, salinity, light, sedimentation, aerial exposure and pollutants), but attempts to explain large scale bleaching events in terms of possible global change (e.g., greenhouse warming, increased UV radiation flux, deteriorating ecosystem health, or some combination of the above) have not been convincing. Attempts to relate the severity and extent of large scale coral reef bleaching events to particular causes have been hampered by a lack of (a) standardized methods to assess bleaching and (b) continuous, long-term data bases of environmental conditions over the periods of interest. An effort must be made to understand the impact of bleaching on the remainder of the reef community and the long-term effects on competition, predation, symbioses, bioerosion and substrate condition, all factors that can influence coral recruitment and reef recovery. If projected rates of sea warming are realized by mid to late AD 2000, i.e. a 2°C increase in high latitude coral seas, the upper thermal tolerance limits of many reef-building corals could be exceeded. Present evidence suggests that many corals would be unable to adapt

  2. Wave transformation over coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Young, Ian R.

    1989-07-01

    Ocean wave attenuation on coral reefs is discussed using data obtained from a preliminary field experiment and from the Seasat altimeter. Marked attenuation of the waves is observed, the rate being consistent with existing theories of bottom friction and wave breaking decay. In addition, there is a significant broadening of the spectrum during propagation across reefs. Three-dimensional effects, such as refraction and defraction, can also lead to substantial wave height reduction for significant distances adjacent to coral reefs. As a result, a matrix of such reefs provides significantly more wave attenuation than may initially be expected.

  3. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 26 2012-07-01 2011-07-01 true Coral reefs. 230.44 Section 230.44... Aquatic Sites § 230.44 Coral reefs. (a) Coral reefs consist of the skeletal deposit, usually of calcareous... organisms present in growing portions of the reef. (b) Possible loss of values: The discharge of dredged...

  4. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-07-01

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

  5. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 26 2013-07-01 2013-07-01 false Coral reefs. 230.44 Section 230.44... Aquatic Sites § 230.44 Coral reefs. (a) Coral reefs consist of the skeletal deposit, usually of calcareous... organisms present in growing portions of the reef. (b) Possible loss of values: The discharge of dredged...

  6. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 25 2014-07-01 2014-07-01 false Coral reefs. 230.44 Section 230.44... Aquatic Sites § 230.44 Coral reefs. (a) Coral reefs consist of the skeletal deposit, usually of calcareous... organisms present in growing portions of the reef. (b) Possible loss of values: The discharge of dredged...

  7. The future of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Knowlton, Nancy

    2001-05-01

    Coral reefs, with their millions of species, have changed profoundly because of the effects of people, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Reefs are subject to many of the same processes that affect other human-dominated ecosystems, but some special features merit emphasis: (i) Many dominant reef builders spawn eggs and sperm into the water column, where fertilization occurs. They are thus particularly vulnerable to Allee effects, including potential extinction associated with chronic reproductive failure. (ii) The corals likely to be most resistant to the effects of habitat degradation are small, short-lived "weedy" corals that have limited dispersal capabilities at the larval stage. Habitat degradation, together with habitat fragmentation, will therefore lead to the establishment of genetically isolated clusters of inbreeding corals. (iii) Increases in average sea temperatures by as little as 1°C, a likely result of global climate change, can cause coral "bleaching" (the breakdown of coral-algal symbiosis), changes in symbiont communities, and coral death. (iv) The activities of people near reefs increase both fishing pressure and nutrient inputs. In general, these processes favor more rapidly growing competitors, often fleshy seaweeds, and may also result in explosions of predator populations. (v) Combinations of stress appear to be associated with threshold responses and ecological surprises, including devastating pathogen outbreaks. (vi) The fossil record suggests that corals as a group are more likely to suffer extinctions than some of the groups that associate with them, whose habitat requirements may be less stringent.

  8. Miocene reef corals: A review

    SciTech Connect

    Frost, S.H.

    1988-01-01

    Tectonic blockage in the Middle East of westward-flowing Tethys surface circulation during the latest Oligocene led to creation in the earliest Miocene of endemic Mediterranean, Western Atlantic-Caribbean, and Indo-Pacific realms. A great reduction in reef coral diversity from 60-80 Oligocene species to 25-35 early Miocene species occurred in the Western Atlantic-Caribbean and Mediterranean areas accompanied by a decrease in reef growth. A slower and less drastic change apparently occurred in the Indo-Pacific area. Early Miocene reef corals of the Western Atlantic-Caribbean comprise a transition between the cosmopolitan Oligocene fauna and its endemic mid-Miocene to modern counterpart. Although early Miocene reefs were dominated by a Porites-Montastrea assemblage, eastward flow of Pacific circulation brought with it ''exotic'' corals such as Coscinaraea and Pseudocolumnastrea. Also, many cosmopolitan genera persisted from the Oligocene. During the middle to late Miocene, most of the species still living on Holocene reefs evolved. As the Mediterranean basin became more restricted, there was a slow decline in reef corals from 20 - 25 species in the Aquitainian to less than five species in the Messinian. Eustatic lowstand led to the extinction of reef-building corals in the late Messinian. In the Indo-Pacific, Neogene evolution of reef corals was conservative. Excluding the Acroporidae and Seriatoporidae, most Holocene framework species had evolved by the middle Miocene. Interplay between regional tectonics and eustatic sea level changes led to extensive development of middle to late Miocene pinnacle reefs over the southwestern Pacific.

  9. Ocean acidification worse in coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Betz, Eric O.

    2014-12-01

    The rate of ocean acidification in coral reefs outpaces the rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere, indicating that anthropogenic carbon emissions alone are not to blame for the threat to coral reefs, a new study shows.

  10. Evidence that high pCO2 affects protein metabolism in tropical reef corals.

    PubMed

    Edmunds, Peter J; Wall, Christopher B

    2014-08-01

    Early life stages of the coral Seriatopora caliendrum were used to test the hypothesis that the depression of dark respiration in coral recruits by high pCO2 is caused by perturbed protein metabolism. First, the contribution of protein anabolism to respiratory costs under high pCO2 was evaluated by measuring the aerobic respiration of S. caliendrum recruits with and without the protein synthesis inhibitor emetine following 1 to 4 days at 45 Pa versus 77 Pa pCO2. Second, protein catabolism under high pCO2 was evaluated by measuring the flux of ammonium (NH4 (+)) from juvenile colonies of S. caliendrum incubated in darkness at 47 Pa and 90 Pa pCO2. Two days after settlement, respiration of recruits was affected by an interaction between emetine and pCO2, with emetine reducing respiration 63% at 45 Pa pCO2 and 27% at 77 Pa pCO2. The interaction disappeared 5 days after settlement, when respiration was reduced 27% by emetine under both pCO2 conditions. These findings suggest that protein anabolism accounted for a large proportion of metabolic costs in coral recruits and was affected by high pCO2, with consequences detected in aerobic respiration. Juvenile S. caliendrum showed net uptake of NH4 (+) at 45 Pa pCO2 but net release of NH4 (+) at 90 Pa pCO2, indicating that protein catabolism, NH4 (+) recycling, or both were affected by high pCO2. Together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that high pCO2 affects protein metabolism in corals. PMID:25216504

  11. Niche specialization of reef-building corals in the mesophotic zone: metabolic trade-offs between divergent Symbiodinium types

    PubMed Central

    Cooper, Timothy F.; Ulstrup, Karin E.; Dandan, Sana S.; Heyward, Andrew J.; Kühl, Michael; Muirhead, Andrew; O'Leary, Rebecca A.; Ziersen, Bibi E. F.; Van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.

    2011-01-01

    The photobiology of two reef corals and the distribution of associated symbiont types were investigated over a depth gradient of 0–60 m at Scott Reef, Western Australia. Pachyseris speciosa hosted mainly the same Symbiodinium C type similar to C3 irrespective of sampling depth. By contrast, Seriatopora hystrix hosted predominantly Symbiodinium type D1a or D1a-like at shallow depths while those in deeper water were dominated by a Symbiodinium C type closely related to C1. The photosynthesis/respiration (P/R) ratio increased consistently with depth at the two sampling times (November 2008 and April 2009) for P. speciosa and in November 2008 only for S. hystrix, suggesting a reduction in metabolic energy expended for every unit of energy obtained from photosynthesis. However, in April 2009, shallow colonies of S. hystrix exhibited decreased P/R ratios down to depths of approximately 23 m, below which the ratio increased towards the maximum depth sampled. This pattern was mirrored by changes in tissue biomass determined as total protein content. The depth of change in the direction of the P/R ratio correlated with a shift from Symbiodinium D to C-dominated colonies. We conclude that while photobiological flexibility is vital for persistence in contrasting light regimes, a shift in Symbiodinium type may also confer a functional advantage albeit at a metabolic cost with increased depth. PMID:21106586

  12. Ecology of the south Florida coral reefs: a community profile

    SciTech Connect

    Jaap, W.C.

    1984-08-01

    An overview of coral reef research in southern Florida is provided as a prelude to a genuine description of the coral reef ecosystem in the Florida Keys and surrounding environments. Coral reef community types, reef benthos, plankton and reef fish are given specific treatment. Coral reef ecology and management are described. 27 figs., 31 tabs.

  13. Physical and biological controls on the carbonate chemistry of coral reef waters: effects of metabolism, wave forcing, sea level, and geomorphology.

    PubMed

    Falter, James L; Lowe, Ryan J; Zhang, Zhenlin; McCulloch, Malcolm

    2013-01-01

    We present a three-dimensional hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model of a wave-driven coral-reef lagoon system using the circulation model ROMS (Regional Ocean Modeling System) coupled with the wave transformation model SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore). Simulations were used to explore the sensitivity of water column carbonate chemistry across the reef system to variations in benthic reef metabolism, wave forcing, sea level, and system geomorphology. Our results show that changes in reef-water carbonate chemistry depend primarily on the ratio of benthic metabolism to the square root of the onshore wave energy flux as well as on the length and depth of the reef flat; however, they are only weakly dependent on channel geometry and the total frictional resistance of the reef system. Diurnal variations in pCO(2), pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ω(ar)) are primarily dependent on changes in net production and are relatively insensitive to changes in net calcification; however, net changes in pCO(2), pH, and Ω(ar) are more strongly influenced by net calcification when averaged over 24 hours. We also demonstrate that a relatively simple one-dimensional analytical model can provide a good description of the functional dependence of reef-water carbonate chemistry on benthic metabolism, wave forcing, sea level, reef flat morphology, and total system frictional resistance. Importantly, our results indicate that any long-term (weeks to months) net offsets in reef-water pCO(2) relative to offshore values should be modest for reef systems with narrow and/or deep lagoons. Thus, the long-term evolution of water column pCO(2) in many reef environments remains intimately connected to the regional-scale oceanography of offshore waters and hence directly influenced by rapid anthropogenically driven increases in pCO(2). PMID:23326411

  14. Physical and Biological Controls on the Carbonate Chemistry of Coral Reef Waters: Effects of Metabolism, Wave Forcing, Sea Level, and Geomorphology

    PubMed Central

    Falter, James L.; Lowe, Ryan J.; Zhang, Zhenlin; McCulloch, Malcolm

    2013-01-01

    We present a three-dimensional hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model of a wave-driven coral-reef lagoon system using the circulation model ROMS (Regional Ocean Modeling System) coupled with the wave transformation model SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore). Simulations were used to explore the sensitivity of water column carbonate chemistry across the reef system to variations in benthic reef metabolism, wave forcing, sea level, and system geomorphology. Our results show that changes in reef-water carbonate chemistry depend primarily on the ratio of benthic metabolism to the square root of the onshore wave energy flux as well as on the length and depth of the reef flat; however, they are only weakly dependent on channel geometry and the total frictional resistance of the reef system. Diurnal variations in pCO2, pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ωar) are primarily dependent on changes in net production and are relatively insensitive to changes in net calcification; however, net changes in pCO2, pH, and Ωar are more strongly influenced by net calcification when averaged over 24 hours. We also demonstrate that a relatively simple one-dimensional analytical model can provide a good description of the functional dependence of reef-water carbonate chemistry on benthic metabolism, wave forcing, sea level, reef flat morphology, and total system frictional resistance. Importantly, our results indicate that any long-term (weeks to months) net offsets in reef-water pCO2 relative to offshore values should be modest for reef systems with narrow and/or deep lagoons. Thus, the long-term evolution of water column pCO2 in many reef environments remains intimately connected to the regional-scale oceanography of offshore waters and hence directly influenced by rapid anthropogenically driven increases in pCO2. PMID:23326411

  15. Quantifying Coral Reef Ecosystem Services

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs have been declining during the last four decades as a result of both local and global anthropogenic stresses. Numerous research efforts to elucidate the nature, causes, magnitude, and potential remedies for the decline have led to the widely held belief that the recov...

  16. REEF MANAGER'S GUIDE TO CORAL BLEACHING

    EPA Science Inventory

    A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching is the result of a collaborative effort by over 50 scientists and managers to: (1) engage in information-sharing in the areas of coral reef science and management for climate change and coral bleaching; and (2) compile a management tool ...

  17. A novel reef coral symbiosis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pantos, O.; Bythell, J. C.

    2010-09-01

    Reef building corals form close associations with unicellular microalgae, fungi, bacteria and archaea, some of which are symbiotic and which together form the coral holobiont. Associations with multicellular eukaryotes such as polychaete worms, bivalves and sponges are not generally considered to be symbiotic as the host responds to their presence by forming physical barriers with an active growth edge in the exoskeleton isolating the invader and, at a subcellular level, activating innate immune responses such as melanin deposition. This study describes a novel symbiosis between a newly described hydrozoan ( Zanclea margaritae sp. nov.) and the reef building coral Acropora muricata (= A. formosa), with the hydrozoan hydrorhiza ramifying throughout the coral tissues with no evidence of isolation or activation of the immune systems of the host. The hydrorhiza lacks a perisarc, which is typical of symbiotic species of this and related genera, including species that associate with other cnidarians such as octocorals. The symbiosis was observed at all sites investigated from two distant locations on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and appears to be host species specific, being found only in A. muricata and in none of 30 other species investigated at these sites. Not all colonies of A. muricata host the hydrozoans and both the prevalence within the coral population (mean = 66%) and density of emergent hydrozoan hydranths on the surface of the coral (mean = 4.3 cm-2, but up to 52 cm-2) vary between sites. The form of the symbiosis in terms of the mutualism-parasitism continuum is not known, although the hydrozoan possesses large stenotele nematocysts, which may be important for defence from predators and protozoan pathogens. This finding expands the known A. muricata holobiont and the association must be taken into account in future when determining the corals’ abilities to defend against predators and withstand stress.

  18. Coral reef hydrogeology

    SciTech Connect

    Buddemeier, R.W.; Oberdorfer, J.A.

    1985-05-21

    Knowledge of internal flow velocities and pore water residence time is important in understanding pore water geochemistry, nutrient fluxes at the benthic boundary, reef diagenesis, and fresh water resources in reef islands. Hydrogeologic studies of Pacific and Indian Ocean reef and atoll islands indicate a dual aquifer systems; the major Pleistocene aquifer has hydraulic conductivities on the order of 1000 m/d, while the overlying Holocene aquifer of unconsolidated sediments is at least an order of magnitude less permeable. The high permeability in the Pleistocene formation is the result of large voids, both constructional and from subaerial solution during low stands of the sea. Wind, wave and tide induced head differences ranging from a few centimeters to several tens of centimeters provide the driving force for internal flow. Pore water residence times and geochemistry will vary greatly, depending on whether the water is in a major flow channel or in more restricted pores. Studies of both submerged reefs and atoll islands give bulk pore water residence times on the order of months to a few years. Chemical analyses of pore water indicate that both carbonate solution and precipitation are taking place, which will alter porosity and permeability with time. The dual aquifer model also suggests that the Ghyben-Herzberg lens approach to reef island fresh water resources is inaccurate and can lead to a gross overestimation of the potable resource. 18 refs., 5 figs.

  19. Modeling Reef Hydrodynamics to Predict Coral Bleaching

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bird, James; Steinberg, Craig; Hardy, Tom

    2005-11-01

    The aim of this study is to use environmental physics to predict water temperatures around and within coral reefs. Anomalously warm water is the leading cause for mass coral bleaching; thus a clearer understanding of the oceanographic mechanisms that control reef water temperatures will enable better reef management. In March 1998 a major coral bleaching event occurred at Scott Reef, a 40 km-wide lagoon 300 km off the northwest coast of Australia. Meteorological and coral cover observations were collected before, during, and after the event. In this study, two hydrodynamic models are applied to Scott Reef and validated against oceanographic data collected between March and June 2003. The models are then used to hindcast the reef hydrodynamics that led up to the 1998 bleaching event. Results show a positive correlation between poorly mixed regions and bleaching severity.

  20. Astronaut Photography of Coral Reefs

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Robinson, Julie A.; Noordeloos, Marco

    2001-01-01

    Astronaut photographs of tropical coastal areas may contain information on submerged features, including coral reefs, up to depths of about 15 m in clear waters. Previous research efforts have shown that astronaut photographs can aid in estimating coral reef locations and extent on national, regional and global scales, and allow characterization of major geomorphological rim and lagoon features (Andrefouet et al. 2000, in preparation). They can be combined with traditional satellite data to help distinguish between clouds and lagoon features such as pinnacles (Andrefouet and Robinson, in review). Furthermore, astronaut photographs may provide reef scientists and managers with information on the location and extent of river plumes and sediment run off, or facilitate identification of land cover types, including mangroves (Webb et al., in press). Photographs included in the section were selected based on several criteria. The primary consideration of the editors was that the photographs represent a worldwide distribution of coral reefs, have extremely low visual interference by cloud cover, and display a spatial scale reasonable for examining reef-related features. Once photographs were selected, they were digitized from 2nd generation copies. The color and contrast were hand corrected to an approximation of natural color (required to account for spectral differences between photographs due to the color sensitivities of films used, and differences in sun angle and exposure of the photographs). None of the photographs shown here have been georeferenced to correct them to a map projection and scale. Any distortions in features due to slightly oblique look angles when the photographs were taken through spacecraft windows remain. When feasible, near vertical photographs have been rotated so that north is toward the top. An approximate scale bar and north arrow have added using distinctive features on each photograph with reference to a 1:1,000,000 scale navigation chart

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-27

    Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems on the Earth. They are also particularly sensitive to changing energetic requirements by different trophic levels. Microbialization specifically refers to the increase in the energetic metabolic demands of microbes relative to macrobes and is significantly correlated with increasing human influence on coral reefs. In this study, metabolic theory of ecology is used to quantify the relative contributions of two broad bacterioplankton groups, autotrophs and heterotrophs, to energy flux on 27 Pacific coral reef ecosystems experiencing human impact to varying degrees. The effective activation energy required for photosynthesis is lower than the average energy of activation for the biochemical reactions of the Krebs cycle, and changes in the proportional abundance of these two groups can greatly affect rates of energy and materials cycling. We show that reef-water communities with a higher proportional abundance of microbial autotrophs expend more metabolic energy per gram of microbial biomass. Increased energy and materials flux through fast energy channels (i.e. water-column associated microbial autotrophs) may dampen the detrimental effects of increased heterotrophic loads (e.g. coral disease) on coral reef systems experiencing anthropogenic disturbance. PMID:27097927

  2. Photography of Coral Reefs from ISS

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Robinson, Julie A.

    2009-01-01

    This viewgraph presentation reviews the uses of photography from the International Space Station (ISS) in studying Earth's coral reefs. The photographs include reefs in various oceans . The photographs have uses for science in assisting NASA mapping initiatives, distribution worldwide through ReefBase, and by biologist in the field.

  3. Past corals and recent reefs in Indonesia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Boekschoten, G. J.; Best, Maya Borel; Oosterbaan, A.; Molenkamp, F. M.

    During the Snellius-II Expedition Lower Pilocene coral material was collected near Salayer, and Quaternary reefs were sampled on Ambon and Sumba. Coral collections from the Pliocene of Nias were also available for study. This new material is presented together with earlier data. Preservation potentials of different coral growth forms are reviewed. The absence of Acropora and Montipora from Quaternary coral faunae is striking. This is interpreted with the model of POTTS (1983), on the disturbance by Pleistocene sea level fluctuations in the reef coral fauna. Diversification within both genera is apparently very recent, which may explain their complex taxonomy. Given the dominant role of Acropora and Montipora in many present day Indonesian reefs, these are better described as transitional assemblages of corals than as established coral communities.

  4. Coral bleaching: Thermal adaptation in reef coral symbionts

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rowan, Rob

    2004-08-01

    Many corals bleach as a result of increased seawater temperature, which causes them to lose their vital symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium spp.) - unless these symbioses are able to adapt to global warming, bleaching threatens coral reefs worldwide. Here I show that some corals have adapted to higher temperatures, at least in part, by hosting specifically adapted Symbiodinium. If other coral species can host these or similar Symbiodinium taxa, they might adapt to warmer habitats relatively easily.

  5. Digital Reef Rugosity Estimates Coral Reef Habitat Complexity

    PubMed Central

    Dustan, Phillip; Doherty, Orla; Pardede, Shinta

    2013-01-01

    Ecological habitats with greater structural complexity contain more species due to increased niche diversity. This is especially apparent on coral reefs where individual coral colonies aggregate to give a reef its morphology, species zonation, and three dimensionality. Structural complexity is classically measured with a reef rugosity index, which is the ratio of a straight line transect to the distance a flexible chain of equal length travels when draped over the reef substrate; yet, other techniques from visual categories to remote sensing have been used to characterize structural complexity at scales from microhabitats to reefscapes. Reef-scale methods either lack quantitative precision or are too time consuming to be routinely practical, while remotely sensed indices are mismatched to the finer scale morphology of coral colonies and reef habitats. In this communication a new digital technique, Digital Reef Rugosity (DRR) is described which utilizes a self-contained water level gauge enabling a diver to quickly and accurately characterize rugosity with non-invasive millimeter scale measurements of coral reef surface height at decimeter intervals along meter scale transects. The precise measurements require very little post-processing and are easily imported into a spreadsheet for statistical analyses and modeling. To assess its applicability we investigated the relationship between DRR and fish community structure at four coral reef sites on Menjangan Island off the northwest corner of Bali, Indonesia and one on mainland Bali to the west of Menjangan Island; our findings show a positive relationship between DRR and fish diversity. Since structural complexity drives key ecological processes on coral reefs, we consider that DRR may become a useful quantitative community-level descriptor to characterize reef complexity. PMID:23437380

  6. USGS research on Atlantic coral reef ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Richey, Julie N.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Toth, Lauren T.

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are massive, biomineralized structures that protect coastal communities by acting as barriers to hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis. They provide sand for beaches through the natural process of erosion, support tourism and recreational industries, and provide essential habitat for fisheries. The continuing global degradation of coral reef ecosystems is well documented. There is a need for focused, coordinated science to understand the complex physical and biological processes and interactions that are impacting the condition of coral reefs and their ability to respond to a changing environment.

  7. MANGROVE-DERIVED NUTRIENTS AND CORAL REEFS

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  8. EPA Field Manual for Coral Reef Assessments

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  9. Mass Spawning in Tropical Reef Corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harrison, Peter L.; Babcock, Russell C.; Bull, Gordon D.; Oliver, James K.; Wallace, Carden C.; Willis, Bette L.

    1984-03-01

    Synchronous multispecific spawning by a total of 32 coral species occurred a few nights after late spring full moons in 1981 and 1982 at three locations on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The data invalidate the generalization that most corals have internally fertilized, brooded planula larvae. In every species observed, gametes were released; external fertilization and development then followed. The developmental rates of externally fertilized eggs and longevities of planulae indicate that planulae may be dispersed between reefs.

  10. 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 <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km(2)). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. PMID:21881615

  11. New directions in coral reef microbial ecology.

    PubMed

    Garren, Melissa; Azam, Farooq

    2012-04-01

    Microbial processes largely control the health and resilience of coral reef ecosystems, and new technologies have led to an exciting wave of discovery regarding the mechanisms by which microbial communities support the functioning of these incredibly diverse and valuable systems. There are three questions at the forefront of discovery: What mechanisms underlie coral reef health and resilience? How do environmental and anthropogenic pressures affect ecosystem function? What is the ecology of microbial diseases of corals? The goal is to understand the functioning of coral reefs as integrated systems from microbes and molecules to regional and ocean-basin scale ecosystems to enable accurate predictions of resilience and responses to perturbations such as climate change and eutrophication. This review outlines recent discoveries regarding the microbial ecology of different microenvironments within coral ecosystems, and highlights research directions that take advantage of new technologies to build a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of how coral health is connected through microbial processes to its surrounding environment. The time is ripe for natural resource managers and microbial ecologists to work together to create an integrated understanding of coral reef functioning. In the context of long-term survival and conservation of reefs, the need for this work is immediate. PMID:21955796

  12. Evaluation of Stony Coral Indicators for Coral Reef Management.

    EPA Science Inventory

    Colonies of reef-building stony corals at 57 stations around St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were characterized by species, size and percentage of living tissue. Taxonomic, biological and physical indicators of coral condition were derived from these measurements and assessed for ...

  13. CORAL REEF RESPONSES TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

    EPA Science Inventory

    Increased emissions of greenhouse gases and synthetic compounds are related to rising sea temperatures and increased penetration of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), two factors that are consistently linked to bleaching and disease of corals. Coral reefs play a major role in the envir...

  14. Coral reef formation theory may apply to oil, gas exploration

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1990-12-10

    This paper reports a coral reef formation theory that has implications for hydrocarbon exploration. The theory states that many coral reefs and carbonate buildups from at and are dependent upon nutrient rich fluids seeping through the seabed.

  15. New protection initiatives announced for coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

    Off the coasts of some of the South Pacific's most idyllic-sounding atolls, Austin Bowden-Kerby has seen first-hand the heavy damage to coral reefs from dynamite and cyanide fishing. For instance, while snorkeling near Chuuk, an island in Micronesia, he has observed craters and rubble beds of coral, which locals have told him date to World War II ordnance.A marine biologist and project scientist for the Coral Gardens Initiative of the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, Bowden-Kerby has also identified what he says are some public health effects related to destroyed coral reefs and their dying fisheries. These problems include protein and vitamin A deficiency and blindness, all of which may—in some instances—be linked to poor nutrition resulting from lower reef fish consumption by islanders, according to Bowden-Kerby.

  16. Seasonal coupling and de-coupling of net calcification rates from coral reef metabolism and carbonate chemistry at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Falter, James L.; Lowe, Ryan J.; Atkinson, Marlin J.; Cuet, Pascale

    2012-05-01

    Rates of net production, net calcification, and nutrient uptake were measured in a coral-dominated reef flat community on Ningaloo Reef in northwestern Australia under seasonally minimum and maximum light levels. Daily integrated light decreased twofold while water temperatures remained relatively constant increasing by only 1°C on average from summer to winter. Rates of daily community gross primary production (GPP) were only 33% ± 9% higher in summer than in winter (1400 ± 70 versus 1050 ± 60 mmol C m-2 d-1), far less than the twofold seasonal changes reported for most shallow reef communities. Rates of daily community net calcification (Gnet) were not significantly different between seasons (190 ± 40 mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1 in summer versus 200 ± 10 mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1 in winter). The average rate of total nitrogen uptake (dissolved + particulate) was also not significantly different between summer and winter (8.3 ± 3.8 versus 6.6 ± 3.4 mmol N m-2 d-1, respectively), despite evidence of sporadically high nitrate uptake in both seasons. In summer, rates of hourly net calcification (gnet) were linearly correlated with diurnal changes in net production, pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ωar); and were mostly correlated with light except at mid-day under heavy cloud cover. However, in winter,gnet was independent of diurnal changes in light, net production, pH, and Ωar indicating that the reef flat community had possibly reached a threshold above which rates of net calcification were insensitive to diurnal changes in their environment.

  17. Trapping and dispersion of coral eggs around Bowden Reef, Great Barrier Reef, following mass coral spawning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wolanski, Eric; Burrage, Derek; King, Brian

    1989-05-01

    Bowden Reef is a 5 km long kidney-shaped coral reef with a lagoon, located on the mid-shelf of the central region of the Great Barrier Reef. Field studies were carried out, in November 1986, at the time of mass coral spawning, of the water circulation around Bowden Reef and in the surrounding inter-reefal waters. The near-reef water circulation was strongly three-dimensional although the stratification was weak. In calm weather, coral eggs were aggregated in slicks along topographically controlled fronts. In the absence of a longshore current, water and coral eggs were trapped in the lagoon and in a boundary layer around Bowden Reef, by tidally driven recirculating motions. In the presence of a longshore current, some trapping occurred in the lagoon, but the bulk of the coral eggs was advected away from Bowden Reef and reached downstream reefs in a few days. This implies a likelihood of both self-seeding of reefs, and connectivity between reefs.

  18. Developing a multi-stressor gradient for coral reefs

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs are often found near coastal waters where multiple anthropogenic stressors co-occur at areas of human disturbance. Developing coral reef biocriteria under the U.S. Clean Water Act requires relationships between anthropogenic stressors and coral reef condition to be es...

  19. 78 FR 67128 - Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-08

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting AGENCY: Coral Reef... of public comment. SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given of a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task.../uscrtf-registration-form . Commenters may address the meeting, the role of the USCRTF, or general...

  20. Coral Reefs: A Gallery Program, Grades 7-12.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. Dept. of Education.

    Gallery classes at the National Aquarium in Baltimore give the opportunity to study specific aquarium exhibits which demonstrate entire natural habitats. The coral reef gallery class features the gigantic western Atlantic coral reef (325,000 gallons) with over 1,000 fish. The exhibit simulates a typical Caribbean coral reef and nearby sandy…

  1. Variability in microbial community composition and function between different niches within a coral reef.

    PubMed

    Tout, Jessica; Jeffries, Thomas C; Webster, Nicole S; Stocker, Roman; Ralph, Peter J; Seymour, Justin R

    2014-04-01

    To explore how microbial community composition and function varies within a coral reef ecosystem, we performed metagenomic sequencing of seawater from four niches across Heron Island Reef, within the Great Barrier Reef. Metagenomes were sequenced from seawater samples associated with (1) the surface of the coral species Acropora palifera, (2) the surface of the coral species Acropora aspera, (3) the sandy substrate within the reef lagoon and (4) open water, outside of the reef crest. Microbial composition and metabolic function differed substantially between the four niches. The taxonomic profile showed a clear shift from an oligotroph-dominated community (e.g. SAR11, Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus) in the open water and sandy substrate niches, to a community characterised by an increased frequency of copiotrophic bacteria (e.g. Vibrio, Pseudoalteromonas, Alteromonas) in the coral seawater niches. The metabolic potential of the four microbial assemblages also displayed significant differences, with the open water and sandy substrate niches dominated by genes associated with core house-keeping processes such as amino acid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism as well as DNA and RNA synthesis and metabolism. In contrast, the coral surface seawater metagenomes had an enhanced frequency of genes associated with dynamic processes including motility and chemotaxis, regulation and cell signalling. These findings demonstrate that the composition and function of microbial communities are highly variable between niches within coral reef ecosystems and that coral reefs host heterogeneous microbial communities that are likely shaped by habitat structure, presence of animal hosts and local biogeochemical conditions. PMID:24477921

  2. Coral reef evolution on rapidly subsiding margins

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Webster, J.M.; Braga, J.C.; Clague, D.A.; Gallup, C.; Hein, J.R.; Potts, D.C.; Renema, W.; Riding, R.; Riker-Coleman, K.; Silver, E.; Wallace, L.M.

    2009-01-01

    A series of well-developed submerged coral reefs are preserved in the Huon Gulf (Papua New Guinea) and around Hawaii. Despite different tectonics settings, both regions have experienced rapid subsidence (2-6??m/ka) over the last 500??ka. Rapid subsidence, combined with eustatic sea-level changes, is responsible for repeated drowning and backstepping of coral reefs over this period. Because we can place quantitative constraints on these systems (i.e., reef drowning age, eustatic sea-level changes, subsidence rates, accretion rates, basement substrates, and paleobathymetry), these areas represent unique natural laboratories for exploring the roles of tectonics, reef accretion, and eustatic sea-level changes in controlling the evolution of individual reefs, as well as backstepping of the entire system. A review of new and existing bathymetric, radiometric, sedimentary facies and numerical modeling data indicate that these reefs have had long, complex growth histories and that they are highly sensitive, recording drowning not only during major deglaciations, but also during high-frequency, small-amplitude interstadial and deglacial meltwater pulse events. Analysis of five generalized sedimentary facies shows that reef drowning is characterized by a distinct biological and sedimentary sequence. Observational and numerical modeling data indicate that on precessional (20??ka) and sub-orbital timescales, the rate and amplitude of eustatic sea-level changes are critical in controlling initiation, growth, drowning or sub-aerial exposure, subsequent re-initiation, and final drowning. However, over longer timescales (> 100-500??ka) continued tectonic subsidence and basement substrate morphology influence broad scale reef morphology and backstepping geometries. Drilling of these reefs will yield greatly expanded stratigraphic sections compared with similar reefs on slowly subsiding, stable and uplifting margins, and thus they represent a unique archive of sea-level and climate

  3. Fungi and their role in corals and coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Raghukumar, Chandralata; Ravindran, J

    2012-01-01

    Fungi in coral reefs exist as endoliths, endobionts, saprotrophs and as pathogens. Although algal and fungal endoliths in corals were described way back in 1973, their role in microboring, carbonate alteration, discoloration, density banding, symbiotic or parasitic association was postulated almost 25 years later. Fungi, as pathogens in corals, have become a much discussed topic in the last 10 years. It is either due to the availability of better tools for investigations or greater awareness among the research communities. Fungi which are exclusive as endoliths (endemic) in corals or ubiquitous forms seem to play a role in coral reef system. Fungi associated with sponges and their role in production or induction of secondary metabolites in their host is of primary interest to various pharmaceutical industries and funding agencies. Fungal enzymes in degradation of coral mucus, and plant detritus hold great promise in biotechnological applications. Unravelling fungal diversity in corals and associated reef organisms using culture and culture-independent approaches is a subject gaining attention from research community world over. PMID:22222828

  4. Coral larvae move toward reef sounds.

    PubMed

    Vermeij, Mark J A; Marhaver, Kristen L; Huijbers, Chantal M; Nagelkerken, Ivan; Simpson, Stephen D

    2010-01-01

    Free-swimming larvae of tropical corals go through a critical life-phase when they return from the open ocean to select a suitable settlement substrate. During the planktonic phase of their life cycle, the behaviours of small coral larvae (<1 mm) that influence settlement success are difficult to observe in situ and are therefore largely unknown. Here, we show that coral larvae respond to acoustic cues that may facilitate detection of habitat from large distances and from upcurrent of preferred settlement locations. Using in situ choice chambers, we found that settling coral larvae were attracted to reef sounds, produced mainly by fish and crustaceans, which we broadcast underwater using loudspeakers. Our discovery that coral larvae can detect and respond to sound is the first description of an auditory response in the invertebrate phylum Cnidaria, which includes jellyfish, anemones, and hydroids as well as corals. If, like settlement-stage reef fish and crustaceans, coral larvae use reef noise as a cue for orientation, the alleviation of noise pollution in the marine environment may gain further urgency. PMID:20498831

  5. Coral Larvae Move toward Reef Sounds

    PubMed Central

    Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Marhaver, Kristen L.; Huijbers, Chantal M.; Nagelkerken, Ivan; Simpson, Stephen D.

    2010-01-01

    Free-swimming larvae of tropical corals go through a critical life-phase when they return from the open ocean to select a suitable settlement substrate. During the planktonic phase of their life cycle, the behaviours of small coral larvae (<1 mm) that influence settlement success are difficult to observe in situ and are therefore largely unknown. Here, we show that coral larvae respond to acoustic cues that may facilitate detection of habitat from large distances and from upcurrent of preferred settlement locations. Using in situ choice chambers, we found that settling coral larvae were attracted to reef sounds, produced mainly by fish and crustaceans, which we broadcast underwater using loudspeakers. Our discovery that coral larvae can detect and respond to sound is the first description of an auditory response in the invertebrate phylum Cnidaria, which includes jellyfish, anemones, and hydroids as well as corals. If, like settlement-stage reef fish and crustaceans, coral larvae use reef noise as a cue for orientation, the alleviation of noise pollution in the marine environment may gain further urgency. PMID:20498831

  6. Quaternary coral reef refugia preserved fish diversity.

    PubMed

    Pellissier, Loïc; Leprieur, Fabien; Parravicini, Valeriano; Cowman, Peter F; Kulbicki, Michel; Litsios, Glenn; Olsen, Steffen M; Wisz, Mary S; Bellwood, David R; Mouillot, David

    2014-05-30

    The most prominent pattern in global marine biogeography is the biodiversity peak in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Yet the processes that underpin this pattern are still actively debated. By reconstructing global marine paleoenvironments over the past 3 million years on the basis of sediment cores, we assessed the extent to which Quaternary climate fluctuations can explain global variation in current reef fish richness. Comparing global historical coral reef habitat availability with the present-day distribution of 6316 reef fish species, we find that distance from stable coral reef habitats during historical periods of habitat loss explains 62% of the variation in fish richness, outweighing present-day environmental factors. Our results highlight the importance of habitat persistence during periods of climate change for preserving marine biodiversity. PMID:24876495

  7. Coral chronometers: seasonal growth bands in reef corals.

    PubMed

    Knutson, D W; Buddemeier, R W; Smith, S V

    1972-07-21

    Autoradiagraphs and x-radiographs have been made of vertical sections through the centers of reef corals from Eniwetok. Radioactivity bands in the coral structure are caused by strontium-90 and are related to specific series of nuclear tests, thus making possible calculation of long-term growth rates. These data indicate that the cyclic variations in radial density revealed by x-radiography are annual. PMID:17815626

  8. NOAA Coral Reef Watch: Decision Support Tools for Coral Reef Managers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

    A multitude of natural and anthropogenic stressors exert substantial influence on coral reef ecosystems and contribute to bleaching events, slower coral growth, infectious disease outbreaks, and mortality. Satellite-based observations can monitor, at a global scale, environmental conditions that influence both short-term and long-term coral reef ecosystem health. From research to operations, NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) incorporates paleoclimatic, in situ, and satellite-based biogeophysical data to provide near-real-time and forecast information and tools to help managers, researchers, and other stakeholders interpret coral health and stress. CRW has developed an operational, near-real-time product suite that includes sea surface temperature (SST), SST time series data, SST anomaly charts, coral bleaching HotSpots, and Degree Heating Weeks (DHW). Bi-weekly global SST analyses are based on operational nighttime-only SST at 50-km resolution. CRW is working to develop high-resolution products to better address thermal stress on finer scales and is applying climate models to develop seasonal outlooks of coral bleaching. Automated Satellite Bleaching Alerts (SBAs), available at Virtual Stations worldwide, provide the only global early-warning system to notify managers of changing reef environmental conditions. Currently, CRW is collaborating with numerous domestic and international partners to develop new tools to address ocean acidification, infectious diseases of corals, combining light and temperature to detect coral photosystem stress, and other parameters.

  9. Coral Reefs: An English Compilation of Activities for Middle School Students.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Walker, Sharon H.; Newton, R. Amanda; Ortiz, Alida

    This activity book on coral reefs for middle school students is divided into 10 sections. Section 1 contains the introduction. Section 2 describes what coral reefs are while section 3 describes how coral reefs reproduce and grow. Section 4 discusses where coral reefs are found and section 5 describes life on a coral reef. Section 6 discusses the…

  10. Dietary shift in juvenile coral trout ( Plectropomus maculatus) following coral reef degradation from a flood plume disturbance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wen, Colin K. C.; Bonin, Mary C.; Harrison, Hugo B.; Williamson, David H.; Jones, Geoffrey P.

    2016-06-01

    Acute environmental disturbances impact on habitat quality and resource availability, which can reverberate through trophic levels and become apparent in species' dietary composition. In this study, we observed a distinct dietary shift of newly settled and juvenile coral trout ( Plectropomus maculatus) following severe coral reef habitat degradation after a river flood plume affected the Keppel Islands, Australia. Hard coral cover declined by ~28 % in the 2 yr following the 2010-2011 floods, as did the abundance of young coral trout. Gut contents analysis revealed that diets had shifted from largely crustacean-based to non-preferred prey fishes following the disturbances. These results suggest that newly settled and juvenile coral trout modify their diet and foraging strategy in response to coral habitat degradation. This bottom-up effect of habitat degradation on the diet of a top coral reef predator may incur a metabolic cost, with subsequent effects on growth and survival.

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-05-01

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

  12. The Global Coral Reef Crisis: Trends and Solutions (Coral Reefs: Values, Threats, and the Marine Aquarium Trade)

    SciTech Connect

    Shuman, Craig S.

    2003-02-05

    Second only to tropical rainforests, coral reefs support one of the world's most diverse natural habitats. Over 350 million individuals depend on coral reef resources for food and income. Unfortunately, the Earth is in the midst of a coral reef crisis. Anthropogenic impacts including overfishing, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation and pollution, as well as global climate change, have served to disrupt the natural processes that maintain the health of these ecosystems. Until recently, however, the global extent of the coral reef crisis was unknown. Reef Check was developed in 1996 as a volunteer, community-based monitoring protocol designed to measure the health of coral reefs on a global scale. With goals of education, monitoring, and management, Reef Check has activities in over 60 countries and territories. They have not only provided scientific evidence of the global extent of the coral reef crisis, but have provided the first community based steps to alleviate this urgent situation.

  13. A Global Estimate of the Number of Coral Reef Fishers.

    PubMed

    Teh, Louise S L; Teh, Lydia C L; Sumaila, U Rashid

    2013-01-01

    Overfishing threatens coral reefs worldwide, yet there is no reliable estimate on the number of reef fishers globally. We address this data gap by quantifying the number of reef fishers on a global scale, using two approaches - the first estimates reef fishers as a proportion of the total number of marine fishers in a country, based on the ratio of reef-related to total marine fish landed values. The second estimates reef fishers as a function of coral reef area, rural coastal population, and fishing pressure. In total, we find that there are 6 million reef fishers in 99 reef countries and territories worldwide, of which at least 25% are reef gleaners. Our estimates are an improvement over most existing fisher population statistics, which tend to omit accounting for gleaners and reef fishers. Our results suggest that slightly over a quarter of the world's small-scale fishers fish on coral reefs, and half of all coral reef fishers are in Southeast Asia. Coral reefs evidently support the socio-economic well-being of numerous coastal communities. By quantifying the number of people who are employed as reef fishers, we provide decision-makers with an important input into planning for sustainable coral reef fisheries at the appropriate scale. PMID:23840327

  14. A Global Estimate of the Number of Coral Reef Fishers

    PubMed Central

    Teh, Louise S. L.; Teh, Lydia C. L.; Sumaila, U. Rashid

    2013-01-01

    Overfishing threatens coral reefs worldwide, yet there is no reliable estimate on the number of reef fishers globally. We address this data gap by quantifying the number of reef fishers on a global scale, using two approaches - the first estimates reef fishers as a proportion of the total number of marine fishers in a country, based on the ratio of reef-related to total marine fish landed values. The second estimates reef fishers as a function of coral reef area, rural coastal population, and fishing pressure. In total, we find that there are 6 million reef fishers in 99 reef countries and territories worldwide, of which at least 25% are reef gleaners. Our estimates are an improvement over most existing fisher population statistics, which tend to omit accounting for gleaners and reef fishers. Our results suggest that slightly over a quarter of the world’s small-scale fishers fish on coral reefs, and half of all coral reef fishers are in Southeast Asia. Coral reefs evidently support the socio-economic well-being of numerous coastal communities. By quantifying the number of people who are employed as reef fishers, we provide decision-makers with an important input into planning for sustainable coral reef fisheries at the appropriate scale. PMID:23840327

  15. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

    Allgeier, Jacob E.; Valdivia, Abel; Cox, Courtney; Layman, Craig A.

    2016-01-01

    Fishing is widely considered a leading cause of biodiversity loss in marine environments, but the potential effect on ecosystem processes, such as nutrient fluxes, is less explored. Here, we test how fishing on Caribbean coral reefs influences biodiversity and ecosystem functions provided by the fish community, that is, fish-mediated nutrient capacity. Specifically, we modelled five processes of nutrient storage (in biomass) and supply (via excretion) of nutrients, as well as a measure of their multifunctionality, onto 143 species of coral reef fishes across 110 coral reef fish communities. These communities span a gradient from extreme fishing pressure to protected areas with little to no fishing. We find that in fished sites fish-mediated nutrient capacity is reduced almost 50%, despite no substantial changes in the number of species. Instead, changes in community size and trophic structure were the primary cause of shifts in ecosystem function. These findings suggest that a broader perspective that incorporates predictable impacts of fishing pressure on ecosystem function is imperative for effective coral reef conservation and management. PMID:27529748

  16. Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection

    EPA Science Inventory

    The U.S. Clean Water Act provides a legal framework to protect coastal biological resources such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows from the damaging effects of human activities. Even though many resources are protected under this authority, water quality stan...

  17. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Allgeier, Jacob E; Valdivia, Abel; Cox, Courtney; Layman, Craig A

    2016-01-01

    Fishing is widely considered a leading cause of biodiversity loss in marine environments, but the potential effect on ecosystem processes, such as nutrient fluxes, is less explored. Here, we test how fishing on Caribbean coral reefs influences biodiversity and ecosystem functions provided by the fish community, that is, fish-mediated nutrient capacity. Specifically, we modelled five processes of nutrient storage (in biomass) and supply (via excretion) of nutrients, as well as a measure of their multifunctionality, onto 143 species of coral reef fishes across 110 coral reef fish communities. These communities span a gradient from extreme fishing pressure to protected areas with little to no fishing. We find that in fished sites fish-mediated nutrient capacity is reduced almost 50%, despite no substantial changes in the number of species. Instead, changes in community size and trophic structure were the primary cause of shifts in ecosystem function. These findings suggest that a broader perspective that incorporates predictable impacts of fishing pressure on ecosystem function is imperative for effective coral reef conservation and management. PMID:27529748

  18. GLOBAL CHANGE EFFECTS ON CORAL REEF CONDITION

    EPA Science Inventory

    Fisher, W., W. Davis, J. Campbell, L. Courtney, P. Harris, B. Hemmer, M. Parsons, B. Quarles and D. Santavy. In press. Global Change Effects on Coral Reef Condition (Abstract). To be presented at the EPA Science Forum: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, 1-3 June 2004, Washington...

  19. Linking Wave Forcing to Coral Cover and Structural Complexity Across Coral Reef Flats

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harris, D. L.; Rovere, A.; Parravicini, V.; Casella, E.

    2015-12-01

    The hydrodynamic regime is a significant component in the geomorphic and ecological development of coral reefs. The energy gradients and flow conditions generated by the breaking and transformation of waves across coral reef crests and flats drive changes in geomorphic structure, and coral growth form and distribution. One of the key aspects in regulating the wave energy propagating across reef flats is the rugosity or roughness of the benthic substrate. Rugosity and structural complexity of coral reefs is also a key indicator of species diversity, ecological functioning, and reef health. However, the links between reef rugosity, coral species distribution and abundance, and hydrodynamic forcing are poorly understood. In this study we examine this relationship by using high resolution measurement of waves in the surf zone and coral reef benthic structure.Pressure transducers (logging at 4 Hz) were deployed in cross reef transects at two sites (Tiahura and Ha'apiti reef systems) in Moorea, French Polynesia with wave characteristics determined on a wave by wave basis. A one dimensional hydrodynamic model (XBeach) was calibrated from this data to determine wave processes on the reef flats under average conditions. Transects of the reef benthic structure were conducted using photographic analysis and the three dimensional reef surface was constructed using structure from motion procedures. From this analysis reef rugosity, changes in coral genus and growth form, and across reef shifts in benthic community were determined. The results show clear changes in benthic assemblages along wave energy gradients with some indication of threshold values of wave induced bed shear stress above which live coral cover was reduced. Reef rugosity was shown to be significantly along the cross-reef transect which has important implications for accurate assessment of wave dissipation across coral reef flats. Links between reef rugosity and coral genus were also observed and may indicate

  20. Can coral reefs be monitored from space?

    PubMed

    Philipson, Petra; Lindell, Tommy

    2003-12-01

    The dramatic bleaching events on the coral reefs recently have enhanced the need for environmental monitoring. Remote sensing is an important constituent for monitoring of reefs, and an invaluable complement to field observations. This paper discusses the possibilities and limitations of present high resolution satellites for mapping and monitoring coral reefs. The sensors with the best spatial and radiometric resolution available today, e.g. IKONOS, can be useful for mapping and monitoring of reefs, but they are too costly for global surveys. However, our coral bleaching studies indicate that massive bleaching could be detected even from satellites with lower resolution, like Landsat, SPOT, and IRS. They could also be useful for coarser, from a spatial and thematic point of view, global mapping and updating purposes. A more detailed monitoring requires both better spatial resolution and spectral resolution than today's sensors. In the future, it is necessary to construct a more reef specific sensor with a few specially selected narrow bands and a good spatial, radiometric and temporal resolution. PMID:15049357

  1. Population trends among Jamaican reef corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Porter, James W.; Woodley, Jeremy D.; Jason Smith, G.; Neigel, Joseph E.; Battey, James F.; Dallmeyer, Dorinda G.

    1981-11-01

    Disturbance has been cited as a potentially important agent in structuring ecological communities by modifying the effects of competition1-5. Catastrophic disturbance has also been proposed as a factor promoting the coexistence of competing species in highly diverse tropical ecosystems such as rain forests and coral reefs2,6-11. Here we describe patterns of recruitment and mortality among reef corals over 4 yr at several depths on the reefs of Discovery Bay, Jamaica, which were struck by Hurricane Alien on 6 August 198012. Photographic quadrats monitored since 1976 on a shallow water reef showed a negative correlation between coral abundance and mortality which was not offset by compensatory patterns of recruitment. This slow trend in the disproportionate reduction of rarer, competitively inferior species was reversed by Hurricane Alien, with storm-induced mortality being greatest in the most abundant species. On deeper reef stations, undisturbed by the storm, slower rates of colony loss were compensated for by commensurate rates of colony recruitment. Thus, patterns of differential mortality and recruitment contribute to the maintenance of high species diversity in this tropical marine ecosystem.

  2. Geochemical consequences of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kleypas, J.A.; Buddemeier, R.W.; Archer, D.; Gattuso, J.-P.; Langdon, C.; Opdyke, B.N.

    1999-01-01

    A coral reef represents the net accumulation of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) produced by corals and other calcifying organisms. If calcification declines, then reef-building capacity also declines. Coral reef calcification depends on the saturation state of the carbonate mineral aragonite of surface waters. By the middle of the next century, an increased concentration of carbon dioxide will decrease the aragonite saturation state in the tropics by 30 percent and biogenic aragonite precipitation by 14 to 30 percent. Coral reefs are particularly threatened, because reef-building organisms secrete metastable forms of CaCO3, but the biogeochemical consequences on other calcifying marine ecosystems may be equally severe.

  3. An observational heat budget analysis of a coral reef, Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    MacKellar, Mellissa C.; McGowan, Hamish A.; Phinn, Stuart R.

    2013-03-01

    Measurements of the surface energy balance, the structure and evolution of the convective atmospheric reef layer (CARL), and local meteorology and hydrodynamics were made during June 2009 and February 2010 at Heron Reef, Australia, to establish the relative partitioning of heating within the water and atmosphere. Horizontal advection was shown to moderate temperature in the CARL and the water, having a cooling influence on the atmosphere, and providing an additional source or sink of energy to the water overlying the reef, depending on tide. The key driver of atmospheric heating was surface sensible heat flux, while heating of the reef water was primarily due to solar radiation, and thermal conduction and convection from the reef substrate. Heating and cooling processes were more defined during winter due to higher sensible and latent heat fluxes and strong diurnal evolution of the CARL. Sudden increases in water temperature were associated with inundation of warmer oceanic water during the flood tide, particularly in winter due to enhanced nocturnal cooling of water overlying the reef. Similarly, cooling of the water over the reef occurred during the ebb tide as heat was transported off the reef to the surrounding ocean. While these results are the first to shed light on the heat budget of a coral reef and overlying CARL, longer-term, systematic measurements of reef thermal budgets are needed under a range of meteorological and hydrodynamic conditions, and across various reef types to elucidate the influence on larger-scale oceanic and atmospheric processes. This is essential for understanding the role of coral reefs in tropical and sub-tropical meteorology; the physical processes that take place during coral bleaching events, and coral and algal community dynamics on coral reefs.

  4. Coral Reef Education and Australian High School Students

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Stepath, Carl M.

    2004-01-01

    Educational programs that focus on humans and their relationship to coral reefs are becoming necessary, as reef structures along the Queensland coast come under mounting ecological pressure. This paper reports on a PhD research project which investigated marine education and learning with high school students in coral reef environments along the…

  5. Key Ecological Interactions of Reef Building Corals - 11-16-2011

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs are very important marine ecosystems because they support tremendous biodiversity and reefs are critical economic resources many coastal nations. Tropical reef structures are largely built by stony corals. This presentation provides background on basic coral biology t...

  6. 75 FR 21650 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-04-26

    ... National Park Service Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement... Availability of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan... Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan for Biscayne National Park,...

  7. Coral reef crisis in deep and shallow reefs: 30 years of constancy and change in reefs of Curacao and Bonaire

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bak, Rolf P. M.; Nieuwland, Gerard; Meesters, Erik H.

    2005-11-01

    Coral reefs are thought to be in worldwide decline but available data are practically limited to reefs shallower than 25 m. Zooxanthellate coral communities in deep reefs (30-40 m) are relatively unstudied. Our question is: what is happening in deep reefs in terms of coral cover and coral mortality? We compare changes in species composition, coral mortality, and coral cover at Caribbean (Curacao and Bonaire) deep (30-40 m) and shallow reefs (10-20 m) using long-term (1973-2002) data from permanent photo quadrats. About 20 zooxanthellate coral species are common in the deep-reef communities, dominated by Agaricia sp., with coral cover up to 60%. In contrast with shallow reefs, there is no decrease in coral cover or number of coral colonies in deep reefs over the last 30 years. In deep reefs, non-agaricid species are decreasing but agaricid domination will be interrupted by natural catastrophic mortality such as deep coral bleaching and storms. Temperature is a vastly fluctuating variable in the deep-reef environment with extremely low temperatures possibly related to deep-reef bleaching.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kok, Judith E.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Hoogenboom, Mia O.

    2016-06-01

    Globally, habitat degradation is altering the abundance and diversity of species in a variety of ecosystems. This study aimed to determine how habitat degradation, in terms of changing coral composition under climate change, affected abundance, species richness and aggressive behaviour of juveniles of three damselfishes ( Pomacentrus moluccensis, P. amboinensis and Dischistodus perspicillatus, in order of decreasing reliance on coral). Patch reefs were constructed to simulate two types of reefs: present-day reefs that are vulnerable to climate-induced coral bleaching, and reefs with more bleaching-robust coral taxa, thereby simulating the likely future of coral reefs under a warming climate. Fish communities were allowed to establish naturally on the reefs during the summer recruitment period. Climate-robust reefs had lower total species richness of coral-reef fishes than climate-vulnerable reefs, but total fish abundance was not significantly different between reef types (pooled across all species and life-history stages). The nature of aggressive interactions, measured as the number of aggressive chases, varied according to coral composition; on climate-robust reefs, juveniles used the substratum less often to avoid aggression from competitors, and interspecific aggression became relatively more frequent than intraspecific aggression for juveniles of the coral-obligate P. moluccensis. This study highlights the importance of coral composition as a determinant of behaviour and diversity of coral-reef fishes.

  9. Vertical variations of coral reef drag forces

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Asher, Shai; Niewerth, Stephan; Koll, Katinka; Shavit, Uri

    2016-05-01

    Modeling flow in a coral reef requires a closure model that links the local drag force to the local mean velocity. However, the spatial flow variations make it difficult to predict the distribution of the local drag. Here we report on vertical profiles of measured drag and velocity in a laboratory reef that was made of 81 Pocillopora Meandrina colony skeletons, densely arranged along a tilted flume. Two corals were CT-scanned, sliced horizontally, and printed using a 3-D printer. Drag was measured as a function of height above the bottom by connecting the slices to drag sensors. Profiles of velocity were measured in-between the coral branches and above the reef. Measured drag of whole colonies shows an excellent agreement with previous field and laboratory studies; however, these studies never showed how drag varies vertically. The vertical distribution of drag is reported as a function of flow rate and water level. When the water level is the same as the reef height, Reynolds stresses are negligible and the drag force per unit fluid mass is nearly constant. However, when the water depth is larger, Reynolds stress gradients become significant and drag increases with height. An excellent agreement was found between the drag calculated by a momentum budget and the measured drag of the individual printed slices. Finally, we propose a modified formulation of the drag coefficient that includes the normal dispersive stress term and results in reduced variations of the drag coefficient at the cost of introducing an additional coefficient.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

    Consumer-mediated indirect effects at the community level are difficult to demonstrate empirically. Here, we show an explicit indirect effect of overfishing on competition between sponges and reef-building corals from surveys of 69 sites across the Caribbean. Leveraging the large-scale, long-term removal of sponge predators, we selected overfished sites where intensive methods, primarily fish-trapping, have been employed for decades or more, and compared them to sites in remote or marine protected areas (MPAs) with variable levels of enforcement. Sponge-eating fishes (angelfishes and parrotfishes) were counted at each site, and the benthos surveyed, with coral colonies scored for interaction with sponges. Overfished sites had >3 fold more overgrowth of corals by sponges, and mean coral contact with sponges was 25.6%, compared with 12.0% at less-fished sites. Greater contact with corals by sponges at overfished sites was mostly by sponge species palatable to sponge predators. Palatable species have faster rates of growth or reproduction than defended sponge species, which instead make metabolically expensive chemical defenses. These results validate the top-down conceptual model of sponge community ecology for Caribbean reefs, as well as provide an unambiguous justification for MPAs to protect threatened reef-building corals. An unanticipated outcome of the benthic survey component of this study was that overfished sites had lower mean macroalgal cover (23.1% vs. 38.1% for less-fished sites), a result that is contrary to prevailing assumptions about seaweed control by herbivorous fishes. Because we did not quantify herbivores for this study, we interpret this result with caution, but suggest that additional large-scale studies comparing intensively overfished and MPA sites are warranted to examine the relative impacts of herbivorous fishes and urchins on Caribbean reefs. PMID:25945305

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

    PubMed Central

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E.; Henkel, Timothy P.; Vicente, Jan

    2015-01-01

    Consumer-mediated indirect effects at the community level are difficult to demonstrate empirically. Here, we show an explicit indirect effect of overfishing on competition between sponges and reef-building corals from surveys of 69 sites across the Caribbean. Leveraging the large-scale, long-term removal of sponge predators, we selected overfished sites where intensive methods, primarily fish-trapping, have been employed for decades or more, and compared them to sites in remote or marine protected areas (MPAs) with variable levels of enforcement. Sponge-eating fishes (angelfishes and parrotfishes) were counted at each site, and the benthos surveyed, with coral colonies scored for interaction with sponges. Overfished sites had >3 fold more overgrowth of corals by sponges, and mean coral contact with sponges was 25.6%, compared with 12.0% at less-fished sites. Greater contact with corals by sponges at overfished sites was mostly by sponge species palatable to sponge predators. Palatable species have faster rates of growth or reproduction than defended sponge species, which instead make metabolically expensive chemical defenses. These results validate the top-down conceptual model of sponge community ecology for Caribbean reefs, as well as provide an unambiguous justification for MPAs to protect threatened reef-building corals. An unanticipated outcome of the benthic survey component of this study was that overfished sites had lower mean macroalgal cover (23.1% vs. 38.1% for less-fished sites), a result that is contrary to prevailing assumptions about seaweed control by herbivorous fishes. Because we did not quantify herbivores for this study, we interpret this result with caution, but suggest that additional large-scale studies comparing intensively overfished and MPA sites are warranted to examine the relative impacts of herbivorous fishes and urchins on Caribbean reefs. PMID:25945305

  12. Commencement on a Coral Reef

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Webster, Steven K.

    1973-01-01

    Describes an environmental program in which sixteen students and three biology teachers from Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts spent two weeks examining the ecology of a Caribbean reef.. (JR)

  13. African and Asian dust: from desert soils to coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Garrison, Virginia H.; Shinn, Eugene A.; Foreman, William T.; Griffin, Dale W.; Holmes, Charles W.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Majewski, Michael S.; Richardson, Laurie L.; Ritchie, Kim B.; Smith, Garriet W.

    2003-01-01

    Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the decline of coral reefs throughout the world, but none adequately accounts for the lack of recovery of reefs or the wide geographical distribution of coral diseases. The processes driving the decline remain elusive. Hundreds of millions of tons of dust transported annually from Africa and Asia to the Americas may be adversely affecting coral reefs and other downwind ecosystems. Viable microorganisms, macro- and micronutrients, trace metals, and an array of organic contaminants carried in the dust air masses and deposited in the oceans and on land may play important roles in the complex changes occurring on coral reefs worldwide.

  14. Warm-water coral reefs and climate change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spalding, Mark D.; Brown, Barbara E.

    2015-11-01

    Coral reefs are highly dynamic ecosystems that are regularly exposed to natural perturbations. Human activities have increased the range, intensity, and frequency of disturbance to reefs. Threats such as overfishing and pollution are being compounded by climate change, notably warming and ocean acidification. Elevated temperatures are driving increasingly frequent bleaching events that can lead to the loss of both coral cover and reef structural complexity. There remains considerable variability in the distribution of threats and in the ability of reefs to survive or recover from such disturbances. Without significant emissions reductions, however, the future of coral reefs is increasingly bleak.

  15. Warm-water coral reefs and climate change.

    PubMed

    Spalding, Mark D; Brown, Barbara E

    2015-11-13

    Coral reefs are highly dynamic ecosystems that are regularly exposed to natural perturbations. Human activities have increased the range, intensity, and frequency of disturbance to reefs. Threats such as overfishing and pollution are being compounded by climate change, notably warming and ocean acidification. Elevated temperatures are driving increasingly frequent bleaching events that can lead to the loss of both coral cover and reef structural complexity. There remains considerable variability in the distribution of threats and in the ability of reefs to survive or recover from such disturbances. Without significant emissions reductions, however, the future of coral reefs is increasingly bleak. PMID:26564846

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2003-08-01

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

  17. Climate change, human impacts, and the resilience of coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2003-08-15

    The diversity, frequency, and scale of human impacts on coral reefs are increasing to the extent that reefs are threatened globally. Projected increases in carbon dioxide and temperature over the next 50 years exceed the conditions under which coral reefs have flourished over the past half-million years. However, reefs will change rather than disappear entirely, with some species already showing far greater tolerance to climate change and coral bleaching than others. International integration of management strategies that support reef resilience need to be vigorously implemented, and complemented by strong policy decisions to reduce the rate of global warming. PMID:12920289

  18. Rising to the challenge of sustaining coral reef resilience.

    PubMed

    Hughes, Terry P; Graham, Nicholas A J; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Mumby, Peter J; Steneck, Robert S

    2010-11-01

    Phase-shifts from one persistent assemblage of species to another have become increasingly commonplace on coral reefs and in many other ecosystems due to escalating human impacts. Coral reef science, monitoring and global assessments have focused mainly on producing detailed descriptions of reef decline, and continue to pay insufficient attention to the underlying processes causing degradation. A more productive way forward is to harness new theoretical insights and empirical information on why some reefs degrade and others do not. Learning how to avoid undesirable phase-shifts, and how to reverse them when they occur, requires an urgent reform of scientific approaches, policies, governance structures and coral reef management. PMID:20800316

  19. Live coral repels a common reef fish ectoparasite

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Artim, J. M.; Sikkel, P. C.

    2013-06-01

    Coral reefs are undergoing rapid changes as living corals give way to dead coral on which other benthic organisms grow. This decline in live coral could influence habitat availability for fish parasites with benthic life stages. Gnathiid isopod larvae live in the substratum and are common blood-feeding parasites of reef fishes. We examined substrate associations and preferences of a common Caribbean gnathiid, Gnathia marleyi. Emergence traps set over predominantly live coral substrata captured significantly fewer gnathiids than traps set over dead coral substrata. In laboratory experiments, gnathiids preferred dead coral and sponge and tended to avoid contact with live coral. When live gnathiids were added to containers with dead or live coral, significantly fewer were recovered from the latter after 24 h. Our data therefore suggest that live coral is not suitable microhabitat for parasitic gnathiid isopods and that a decrease in live coral cover increases available habitat for gnathiids.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

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

  1. Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution

    PubMed Central

    van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.; Oliver, James K.; Putnam, Hollie M.; Gates, Ruth D.

    2015-01-01

    The genetic enhancement of wild animals and plants for characteristics that benefit human populations has been practiced for thousands of years, resulting in impressive improvements in commercially valuable species. Despite these benefits, genetic manipulations are rarely considered for noncommercial purposes, such as conservation and restoration initiatives. Over the last century, humans have driven global climate change through industrialization and the release of increasing amounts of CO2, resulting in shifts in ocean temperature, ocean chemistry, and sea level, as well as increasing frequency of storms, all of which can profoundly impact marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems that have suffered massive declines in health and abundance as a result of these and other direct anthropogenic disturbances. There is great concern that the high rates, magnitudes, and complexity of environmental change are overwhelming the intrinsic capacity of corals to adapt and survive. Although it is important to address the root causes of changing climate, it is also prudent to explore the potential to augment the capacity of reef organisms to tolerate stress and to facilitate recovery after disturbances. Here, we review the risks and benefits of the improvement of natural and commercial stocks in noncoral reef systems and advocate a series of experiments to determine the feasibility of developing coral stocks with enhanced stress tolerance through the acceleration of naturally occurring processes, an approach known as (human)-assisted evolution, while at the same time initiating a public dialogue on the risks and benefits of this approach. PMID:25646461

  2. Grazing pressure of herbivorous coral reef fishes on low coral-cover reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paddack, Michelle J.; Cowen, Robert K.; Sponaugle, Su

    2006-08-01

    The impact of grazing by herbivorous fishes (Acanthuridae, Scaridae, and Pomacentridae) on low coral-cover reefs was assessed by measuring rates of benthic algal production and consumption on inshore and offshore reefs in the upper Florida Keys. Algal production rates, determined in situ with caged and uncaged experimental plates, were low (mean 1.05gCm-2 day-1) and similar among reef types. Algal consumption rates were estimated using two different models, a detailed model incorporating fish bite rates and algal yield-per-bite for one species extrapolated to a guild-wide value, and a general regression relating fish biomass to algal consumption. Algal consumption differed among reef types: a majority of algal production was consumed on offshore reefs (55-100%), whereas consumption on inshore patch reefs was 31-51%. Spatial variation in algal consumption was driven by differences in herbivorous fish species composition, density, and size-structure among reef types. Algal consumption rates also varied temporally due to seasonal declines in bite rates and intermittent presence of large-bodied, vagile, schooling species. Spatial coherence of benthic community structure and temporal stability of algal turf over 3 years suggests that grazing intensity is currently sufficient to limit further spread of macroalgal cover on these low coral-cover reefs, but not to exclude it from the system.

  3. Microbial photosynthesis in coral reef sediments (Heron Reef, Australia)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Werner, Ursula; Blazejak, Anna; Bird, Paul; Eickert, Gabriele; Schoon, Raphaela; Abed, Raeid M. M.; Bissett, Andrew; de Beer, Dirk

    2008-03-01

    We investigated microphytobenthic photosynthesis at four stations in the coral reef sediments at Heron Reef, Australia. The microphytobenthos was dominated by diatoms, dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria, as indicated by biomarker pigment analysis. Conspicuous algae firmly attached to the sand grains (ca. 100 μm in diameter, surrounded by a hard transparent wall) were rich in peridinin, a marker pigment for dinoflagellates, but also showed a high diversity based on cyanobacterial 16S rDNA gene sequence analysis. Specimens of these algae that were buried below the photic zone exhibited an unexpected stimulation of respiration by light, resulting in an increase of local oxygen concentrations upon darkening. Net photosynthesis of the sediments varied between 1.9 and 8.5 mmol O 2 m -2 h -1 and was strongly correlated with Chl a content, which lay between 31 and 84 mg m -2. An estimate based on our spatially limited dataset indicates that the microphytobenthic production for the entire reef is in the order of magnitude of the production estimated for corals. Photosynthesis stimulated calcification at all investigated sites (0.2-1.0 mmol Ca 2+ m -2 h -1). The sediments of at least three stations were net calcifying. Sedimentary N 2-fixation rates (measured by acetylene reduction assays at two sites) ranged between 0.9 to 3.9 mmol N 2 m -2 h -1 and were highest in the light, indicating the importance of heterocystous cyanobacteria. In coral fingers no N 2-fixation was measurable, which stresses the importance of the sediment compartment for reef nitrogen cycling.

  4. Perturbation and change in coral reef communities.

    PubMed

    Porter, J W; Battey, J F; Smith, G J

    1982-03-01

    Ninety-six percent of surveyed shallow-water Dry Tortugas reef corals died during the severe winter of 1976-1977. Data from skeletal stains indicate that death occurred during the mid-January intrusion of 14 degrees C water onto the reef. In deeper water, community parameters such as percent cover, species number, and relative abundance showed no significant change. However, an analysis of competitive interactions at the growing edges of adjacent colonies reveals a 70% reduction in space competition during this environmental disturbance. These results can explain high variability in the growth rate of Floridian reefs and demonstrate the importance of obtaining long-term spatial information to interpret successional dynamics of complex communities. PMID:16578761

  5. Coral reef community composition in the context of disturbance history on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    PubMed

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Chong-Seng, Karen M; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A; Nash, Kirsty L

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  6. Coral Reef Community Composition in the Context of Disturbance History on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    PubMed Central

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  7. CORAL REEFS. Genomic determinants of coral heat tolerance across latitudes.

    PubMed

    Dixon, Groves B; Davies, Sarah W; Aglyamova, Galina A; Meyer, Eli; Bay, Line K; Matz, Mikhail V

    2015-06-26

    As global warming continues, reef-building corals could avoid local population declines through "genetic rescue" involving exchange of heat-tolerant genotypes across latitudes, but only if latitudinal variation in thermal tolerance is heritable. Here, we show an up-to-10-fold increase in odds of survival of coral larvae under heat stress when their parents come from a warmer lower-latitude location. Elevated thermal tolerance was associated with heritable differences in expression of oxidative, extracellular, transport, and mitochondrial functions that indicated a lack of prior stress. Moreover, two genomic regions strongly responded to selection for thermal tolerance in interlatitudinal crosses. These results demonstrate that variation in coral thermal tolerance across latitudes has a strong genetic basis and could serve as raw material for natural selection. PMID:26113720

  8. The Ecological Role of Sharks on Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

    Roff, George; Doropoulos, Christopher; Rogers, Alice; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Krueck, Nils C; Aurellado, Eleanor; Priest, Mark; Birrell, Chico; Mumby, Peter J

    2016-05-01

    Sharks are considered the apex predator of coral reefs, but the consequences of their global depletion are uncertain. Here we explore the ecological roles of sharks on coral reefs and, conversely, the importance of reefs for sharks. We find that most reef-associated shark species do not act as apex predators but instead function as mesopredators along with a diverse group of reef fish. While sharks perform important direct and indirect ecological roles, the evidence to support hypothesised shark-driven trophic cascades that benefit corals is weak and equivocal. Coral reefs provide some functional benefits to sharks, but sharks do not appear to favour healthier reef environments. Restoring populations of sharks is important and can yet deliver ecological surprise. PMID:26975420

  9. The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    Herbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood. PMID:22768189

  10. Community dynamics of Pleistocene coral reefs during alternative climatic regimes.

    PubMed

    Tager, Danika; Webster, Jody M; Potts, Donald C; Renema, Willem; Braga, Juan C; Pandolfi, John M

    2010-01-01

    Reef ecosystems built during successive periods of Pleistocene sea level rise have shown remarkable persistence in coral community structure, but little is known of the ecological characteristics of reef communities during periods of low sea stands or sea level falls. We sampled the relative species abundance of coral, benthic foraminifera, and calcareous red algae communities from eight submerged coral reefs in the Huon Gulf, Papua New Guinea, which formed during successive sea level fall and lowstand periods over the past approximately kyr. We found that dissimilarity in coral species composition increased significantly with increasing time between reef-building events. However, neither coral diversity nor the taxonomic composition of benthic foraminifera and calcareous red algae assemblages varied significantly over time. The taxonomic composition of coral communities from lowstand reefs was significantly different from that of highstand reefs previously reported from the nearby Huon Peninsula. We interpret the community composition and temporal dynamics of lowstand reefs as a result of shifting energy regimes in the Huon Gulf, and differences between low and highstand reefs as a result of differences in the interaction between biotic and environmental factors between the Huon Gulf and Huon Peninsula. Regardless of the exact processes driving these trends, our study represents the first glimpse into the ecological dynamics of coral reefs during low sea level stands when climatic conditions for reef growth were much different and less optimal than during previously studied highstand periods. PMID:20380208

  11. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

    PubMed

    Renema, Willem; Pandolfi, John M; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Bosellini, Francesca R; Klaus, James S; Korpanty, Chelsea; Rosen, Brian R; Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Wallace, Carden C; Webster, Jody M; Johnson, Kenneth G

    2016-04-01

    As one of the most prolific and widespread reef builders, the staghorn coral Acropora holds a disproportionately large role in how coral reefs will respond to accelerating anthropogenic change. We show that although Acropora has a diverse history extended over the past 50 million years, it was not a dominant reef builder until the onset of high-amplitude glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations 1.8 million years ago. High growth rates and propagation by fragmentation have favored staghorn corals since this time. In contrast, staghorn corals are among the most vulnerable corals to anthropogenic stressors, with marked global loss of abundance worldwide. The continued decline in staghorn coral abundance and the mounting challenges from both local stress and climate change will limit the coral reefs' ability to provide ecosystem services. PMID:27152330

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brook, John; Yates, Kimberly; Halley, Robert

    2006-01-01

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

  13. Persistence of coral-rudist reefs into the Late Cretaceous

    SciTech Connect

    Scott, R.W. ); Fernandez-Mendiola, P.A. ); Gili, E. ); Simo, A. )

    1990-04-01

    During the Early Cretaceous, coral-algal communities occupied deeper water habitats in the reef ecosystem, and rudist communities generally populated the shallow-water, carbonate-sand substrates. During the middle Cretaceous, however, coral-algal communities became less common, and Late Cretaceous reef communities consisted of both rudist-dominated and rudist-coral communities. In the Pyrenean basins and other basins in the Mediterranean, coral associations co-existed with rudists forming complex buildups at the shelf-edge. In some parts of these buildups corals were nearly as abundant as rudists; in some complex buildups large coral colonies encrusted the rudists. Behind the shelf margin cylindrical, elevator rudists dominated the lenticular thickets that were interspersed with carbonate sands. Global changes in oceanic conditions, such as marine productivity and oxygen content, may have stressed the deeper coral-algal reef communities leaving rudists as the major shallow reef biota in Caribbean reefs. However, the co-occurrence of corals with rudists in these Pyrenean complex buildups suggests that corals were able to compete with rudists for resources. The corals in the complex buildups generally belong to genera different from those in the coral-algal communities. Perhaps this ecological stress in the mid-Cretaceous resulted in the evolution of new coral taxa.

  14. Wave transformation across coral reefs under changing sea levels

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harris, Daniel; Power, Hannah; Vila-Conejo, Ana; Webster, Jody

    2015-04-01

    The transformation of swell waves from deep water across reef flats is the primary process regulating energy regimes in coral reef systems. Coral reefs are effective barriers removing up to 99% of wave energy during breaking and propagation across reef flats. Consequently back-reef environments are often considered low energy with only limited sediment transport and geomorphic change during modal conditions. Coral reefs, and specifically reef flats, therefore provide important protection to tropical coastlines from coastal erosion and recession. However, changes in sea level could lead to significant changes in the dissipation of swell wave energy in coral reef systems with wave heights dependent on the depth over the reef flat. This suggests that a rise in sea level would also lead to significantly higher energy conditions exacerbating the transgressive effects of sea level rise on tropical beaches and reef islands. This study examines the potential implications of different sea level scenarios on the transformation of waves across the windward reef flats of One Tree Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef. Waves were measured on the reef flats and back-reef sand apron of One Tree Reef. A one-dimensional wave model was calibrated and used to investigate wave processes on the reef flats under different mean sea level (MSL) scenarios (present MSL, +1 m MSL, and +2 m MSL). These scenarios represent both potential future sea level states and also the paleo sea level of the late Holocene in the southern Great Barrier Reef. Wave heights were shown to increase under sea level rise, with greater wave induced orbital velocities affecting the bed under higher sea levels. In general waves were more likely to entrain and transport sediment both on the reef flat and in the back reef environment under higher sea levels which has implications for not only forecasted climate change scenarios but also for interpreting geological changes during the late Holocene when sea levels were 1

  15. The wicked problem of China's disappearing coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Hughes, Terry P; Huang, Hui; Young, Matthew A L

    2013-04-01

    We examined the development of coral reef science and the policies, institutions, and governance frameworks for management of coral reefs in China in order to highlight the wicked problem of preserving reefs while simultaneously promoting human development and nation building. China and other sovereign states in the region are experiencing unprecedented economic expansion, rapid population growth, mass migration, widespread coastal development, and loss of habitat. We analyzed a large, fragmented literature on the condition of coral reefs in China and the disputed territories of the South China Sea. We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80% over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island. On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by 6 countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of >60% to around 20% within the past 10-15 years. Climate change has affected these reefs far less than coastal development, pollution, overfishing, and destructive fishing practices. Ironically, these widespread declines in the condition of reefs are unfolding as China's research and reef-management capacity are rapidly expanding. Before the loss of corals becomes irreversible, governance of China's coastal reefs could be improved by increasing public awareness of declining ecosystem services, by providing financial support for training of reef scientists and managers, by improving monitoring of coral reef dynamics and condition to better inform policy development, and by enforcing existing regulations that could protect coral reefs. In the South China Sea, changes in policy and legal frameworks, refinement of governance structures, and cooperation among neighboring countries are urgently needed to develop cooperative management of contested offshore reefs. PMID:23140101

  16. 77 FR 12567 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-01

    ... Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems Logbook and Reporting AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric... Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit (authorized under the Fishery Management Plan for Coral Reef... the logbooks is used to obtain fish catch/fishing effort data on coral reef fishes and...

  17. Arrecifes de Coral: Una Coleccion de Actividades en Espanol para Estudiantes de Escuela Intermedia (Coral Reefs: A Spanish Compilation of Activities for Middle School Students).

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Walker, Sharon H.; Newton, R. Amanda; Ortiz, Alida

    This activity book for middle school students on coral reefs is divided into 10 sections. Section 1 is the introduction. Section 2 describes what coral reefs are while section 3 describes how coral reefs reproduce and grow. Section 4 describes where coral reefs are found, and section 5 describes life on a coral reef. Section 6 describes the…

  18. Coral reef ecosystem decline: changing dynamics of coral reef carbonate production and implications for reef growth potential

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Chris

    2016-04-01

    Global-scale deteriorations in coral reef health have caused major shifts in species composition and are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. It has been suggested that one effect of these ecological changes will be to lower reef carbonate production rates, which will impair reef growth potential and, ultimately, may lead to states of net reef erosion. However, quantitative data to support such assertions are limited, and linkages between the ecological state of coral reefs and their past and present geomorphic performance (in other words their growth potential) are poorly resolved. Using recently collected data from sites in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, and which have undergone very different post-disturbance ecological trajectories over the last ~20-30 years, the differential impacts of disturbance on contemporary carbonate production regimes and on reef growth potential can be explored. In the Caribbean, a region which has been severely impacted ecological over the last 30+ years, our datasets show that average carbonate production rates on reefs are now less than 50% of pre-disturbance rates, and that calculated accretion rates (mm yr-1) are an about order of magnitude lower within shallow water habitats compared to Holocene averages. Collectively, these data suggest that recent ecological declines are now propagating through the system to impact on the geomorphic performance of Caribbean reefs and will impair their future growth potential. In contrast, the carbonate budgets of most reefs across the Chagos archipelago (central Indian Ocean), which is geographically remote and largely isolated from direct human disturbances, have recovered rapidly from major past disturbances (specifically the 1998 coral bleaching event). The carbonate budgets on these remote reefs now average +3.7 G (G = kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1). Most significantly the production rates on Acropora-dominated reefs, which were most severely impacted by the 1998 bleaching event, average +8.4 G

  19. Herbivore space use influences coral reef recovery.

    PubMed

    Eynaud, Yoan; McNamara, Dylan E; Sandin, Stuart A

    2016-06-01

    Herbivores play an important role in marine communities. On coral reefs, the diversity and unique feeding behaviours found within this functional group can have a comparably diverse set of impacts in structuring the benthic community. Here, using a spatially explicit model of herbivore foraging, we explore how the spatial pattern of grazing behaviours impacts the recovery of a reef ecosystem, considering movements at two temporal scales-short term (e.g. daily foraging patterns) and longer term (e.g. monthly movements across the landscape). Model simulations suggest that more spatially constrained herbivores are more effective at conferring recovery capability by providing a favourable environment to coral recruitment and growth. Results also show that the composition of food available to the herbivore community is linked directly to the pattern of space use by herbivores. To date, most studies of variability among the impacts of herbivore species have considered the diversity of feeding modes and mouthparts. Our work provides a complementary view of spatial patterns of foraging, revealing that variation in movement behaviours alone can affect patterns of benthic change, and thus broadens our view of realized links between herbivore diversity and reef recovery. PMID:27429784

  20. Herbivore space use influences coral reef recovery

    PubMed Central

    Eynaud, Yoan; McNamara, Dylan E.; Sandin, Stuart A.

    2016-01-01

    Herbivores play an important role in marine communities. On coral reefs, the diversity and unique feeding behaviours found within this functional group can have a comparably diverse set of impacts in structuring the benthic community. Here, using a spatially explicit model of herbivore foraging, we explore how the spatial pattern of grazing behaviours impacts the recovery of a reef ecosystem, considering movements at two temporal scales—short term (e.g. daily foraging patterns) and longer term (e.g. monthly movements across the landscape). Model simulations suggest that more spatially constrained herbivores are more effective at conferring recovery capability by providing a favourable environment to coral recruitment and growth. Results also show that the composition of food available to the herbivore community is linked directly to the pattern of space use by herbivores. To date, most studies of variability among the impacts of herbivore species have considered the diversity of feeding modes and mouthparts. Our work provides a complementary view of spatial patterns of foraging, revealing that variation in movement behaviours alone can affect patterns of benthic change, and thus broadens our view of realized links between herbivore diversity and reef recovery. PMID:27429784

  1. Reproductive ecology of Caribbean reef corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Szmant, Alina M.

    1986-08-01

    The last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in the processes of sexual reproduction by scleractinian reef corals. Earlier investigations had focused fortuitously on brooding (planulating) species, which resulted in the general misconception that brooding was the main form of larval development of reef corals. More recent work on Indo-Pacific species has shown broadcast spawning and short annual reproductive periods to predominate. This report presents the reproductive patterns of eleven Caribbean coral species and attempts to explain the adaptive features and selective pressures that have led to the evolution of the four reproductive patterns described to date: (a) hermaphroditic broadcasters; (b) gonochoric broadcasters; (c) hermaphroditic broadcasters; (b) gonochoric brooders. Both (a) and (b) correlate with large colony size and short annual spawning periods; and (c) and (d) correlate with small colony size, multiple planulating cycles per year, and occupation of unstable habitats. Selection for outcrossing between long-lived individuals is proposed as the reason for gonochorism and for synchronous spawning of hermaphroditic broadcasters, and also for the large amount of sperm produced by hermaphroditic brooders. Selection for high rates of local recruitment is proposed as the force behind the evolution of brooding by species inhabiting unstable habitats and suffering high rates of adult mortality.

  2. Threatened Reef Corals of the World

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Danwei

    2012-01-01

    A substantial proportion of the world's living species, including one-third of the reef-building corals, are threatened with extinction and in pressing need of conservation action. In order to reduce biodiversity loss, it is important to consider species' contribution to evolutionary diversity along with their risk of extinction for the purpose of setting conservation priorities. Here I reconstruct the most comprehensive tree of life for the order Scleractinia (1,293 species) that includes all 837 living reef species, and employ a composite measure of phylogenetic distinctiveness and extinction risk to identify the most endangered lineages that would not be given top priority on the basis of risk alone. The preservation of these lineages, not just the threatened species, is vital for safeguarding evolutionary diversity. Tests for phylogeny-associated patterns show that corals facing elevated extinction risk are not clustered on the tree, but species that are susceptible, resistant or resilient to impacts such as bleaching and disease tend to be close relatives. Intensification of these threats or extirpation of the endangered lineages could therefore result in disproportionate pruning of the coral tree of life. PMID:22479633

  3. Simulated NASA Satellite Data Products for the NOAA Integrated Coral Reef Observation Network/Coral Reef Early Warning System

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Estep, Leland; Spruce, Joseph P.

    2007-01-01

    This RPC (Rapid Prototyping Capability) experiment will demonstrate the use of VIIRS (Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite) and LDCM (Landsat Data Continuity Mission) sensor data as significant input to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) ICON/ CREWS (Integrated Coral Reef Observation System/Coral Reef Early Warning System). The project affects the Coastal Management Program Element of the Applied Sciences Program.

  4. The ecological research on coral reefs of the Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mergner, Hans

    Klunzinger (1872) characterised the zonation of the coral reef near Al-Qusayr, Egypt with the help of indicator species. He identified a Stylophora-zone among other zones and established the first biophysiographic zonation of a coral reef which is, in many respects, still valid today. Since then, ecological research work on coral reefs has developed to its present understanding of one of the most complicated and densely populated ecosystems on Earth. Much biological and ecological work has been done on the coral reefs along the Red Sea coasts. This is not surrising, because the Red Sea is the coral sea closest to Europe and has attracted the interest of European investigators for over 200 years. With few exceptions, this interest has been concentrated on a limited number of coastal sites: Jeddah, Al-Qunfudhah, Al-Luhayyah and Al-Mukha along the east coast, and Assab, Mesewa, Al-Qusayr and As-Suways along the west coast. Although the early coral reef workers were primarily interested in collecting animals, they also made some informal observations on the habitats of the species they collected. However, full ecological statements were rare — with the exception of those of Klunzinger (1872). Research centres have been established and active programmes continue on the Sudanese coast at Dungunab (since 1907), Sawakin and Bur Sudan (since 1963 when the first ecological investigations on Bur Sudan coral reefs occured (Mergner, 1967), and in 1974 and 1976 respectively the biological stations at Sawakin and Bur Sudan were established), on the Egyptian coast at Al-Ghardaga (since 1930), on the Sinai coast at Eilat (since 1968) and on the Jordan coast at Al-Aqabah (since 1972). New research centres continue to open, such as aong the east coast at Jeddah. The special interest of the ecology of Red Sea coral reefs is that it encompasses a broad range of problems: the influence of abiotic factors on the community structure, distribution and species diversity of corals and the

  5. THE CONDITION OF CORAL REEFS IN SOUTH FLORIDA (2000) USING CORAL DISEASE AND BLEACHING AS INDICATORS

    EPA Science Inventory

    The destruction for coral reef habitats is occurring at unprecedented levels. Coral disease epizootics in the Southwestern Atlantic have lead to coral replacement by turf algae, prompting a call to classify some coral species as endangered. In addition, a massive bleaching event ...

  6. 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. PMID:21251680

  7. Could some coral reefs become sponge reefs as our climate changes?

    PubMed

    Bell, James J; Davy, Simon K; Jones, Timothy; Taylor, Michael W; Webster, Nicole S

    2013-09-01

    Coral reefs across the world have been seriously degraded and have a bleak future in response to predicted global warming and ocean acidification (OA). However, this is not the first time that biocalcifying organisms, including corals, have faced the threat of extinction. The end-Triassic mass extinction (200 million years ago) was the most severe biotic crisis experienced by modern marine invertebrates, which selected against biocalcifiers; this was followed by the proliferation of another invertebrate group, sponges. The duration of this sponge-dominated period far surpasses that of alternative stable-ecosystem or phase-shift states reported on modern day coral reefs and, as such, a shift to sponge-dominated reefs warrants serious consideration as one future trajectory of coral reefs. We hypothesise that some coral reefs of today may become sponge reefs in the future, as sponges and corals respond differently to changing ocean chemistry and environmental conditions. To support this hypothesis, we discuss: (i) the presence of sponge reefs in the geological record; (ii) reported shifts from coral- to sponge-dominated systems; and (iii) direct and indirect responses of the sponge holobiont and its constituent parts (host and symbionts) to changes in temperature and pH. Based on this evidence, we propose that sponges may be one group to benefit from projected climate change and ocean acidification scenarios, and that increased sponge abundance represents a possible future trajectory for some coral reefs, which would have important implications for overall reef functioning. PMID:23553821

  8. Classification of remote Pacific coral reefs by physical oceanographic environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Freeman, Lauren A.; Miller, Arthur J.; Norris, Richard D.; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2012-02-01

    The oceanographic environment is a key element in structuring coral reef ecosystems by setting the range of physical and chemical conditions in which coral reef-builders live. A cluster analysis of physical and chemical oceanographic data is used to classify coral habitats in the remote tropical and subtropical Pacific Ocean based on average temperature, temperature seasonal cycle, nutrient levels, salinity, aragonite saturation state, storm frequency, intense hurricane hits, and dissolved oxygen as well as temperature anomalies in degree heating weeks. The resulting seven geographic habitats are stable to perturbations in types of data used in the cluster analysis. Based on recent coral reef survey data in the area, the coral cover was related to the identified geographic regions. The habitats tend to be geographically clustered, and each is characterized by a unique combination of oceanographic conditions. Previous studies suggest coral reef habitats are associated with a uniform array of oceanographic conditions, while our results demonstrate that finer-scale variations in physical variables may control coral reef environments. The results better define the physical environment of remote coral reefs, forming a foundation for future work addressing physical habitat perturbation and anthropogenic impacts on reefs.

  9. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

    PubMed Central

    Renema, Willem; Pandolfi, John M.; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Bosellini, Francesca R.; Klaus, James S.; Korpanty, Chelsea; Rosen, Brian R.; Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Wallace, Carden C.; Webster, Jody M.; Johnson, Kenneth G.

    2016-01-01

    As one of the most prolific and widespread reef builders, the staghorn coral Acropora holds a disproportionately large role in how coral reefs will respond to accelerating anthropogenic change. We show that although Acropora has a diverse history extended over the past 50 million years, it was not a dominant reef builder until the onset of high-amplitude glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations 1.8 million years ago. High growth rates and propagation by fragmentation have favored staghorn corals since this time. In contrast, staghorn corals are among the most vulnerable corals to anthropogenic stressors, with marked global loss of abundance worldwide. The continued decline in staghorn coral abundance and the mounting challenges from both local stress and climate change will limit the coral reefs’ ability to provide ecosystem services. PMID:27152330

  10. Comparative studies on the status of Indonesian coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soekarno, R.

    Coral reefs are of great economic importance for Indonesia. Unfortunately these resources are suffering from increasing human pressure. Several factors may cause the degradation of coral reefs, including the consequences of several human activities. Activities indirectly affecting the quality of the reefs are land-based activities such as deforestation, agriculture intensification, industrialization and domestic waste disposal. Direct use of the reefs, e.g. by coral mining, fish blasting and other fishing and collecting activities, is of greater and more widespread importance. Therefore, a rational management of the reef resources is urgently needed. Management is impossible without simple means of monitoring the status of reefs. One factor, living coral cover, has been determined for several years in many areas, including those studied during the Snellius-II Expedition. This allowed a comparative study of several different areas, which showed that coral cover is often very useful as an indication of the quality of reefs. It was found that the diversity of reef fishes is correlated with the condition of reefs as determined by the percentage cover of living coral.

  11. 76 FR 38618 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Survey

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-07-01

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral... United States (U.S.) jurisdictions containing coral reefs. Specifically, NOAA is seeking information on... collection of social and economic data related to the communities affected by coral reef...

  12. Microbial and sponge loops modify fish production in phase-shifting coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Silveira, Cynthia B; Silva-Lima, Arthur W; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B; Marques, Jomar S M; Almeida, Marcelo G; Thompson, Cristiane C; Rezende, Carlos E; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Moura, Rodrigo L; Salomon, Paulo S; Thompson, Fabiano L

    2015-10-01

    Shifts from coral to algae dominance of corals reefs have been correlated to fish biomass loss and increased microbial metabolism. Here we investigated reef benthic and planktonic primary production, benthic dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release and bacterial growth efficiency in the Abrolhos Bank, South Atlantic. Benthic DOC release rates are higher while water column bacterial growth efficiency is lower at impacted reefs. A trophic model based on the benthic and planktonic primary production was able to predict the observed relative fish biomass in healthy reefs. In contrast, in impacted reefs, the observed omnivorous fish biomass is higher, while that of the herbivorous/coralivorous fish is lower than predicted by the primary production-based model. Incorporating recycling of benthic-derived carbon in the model through microbial and sponge loops explains the difference and predicts the relative fish biomass in both reef types. Increased benthic carbon release rates and bacterial carbon metabolism, but decreased bacterial growth efficiency could lead to carbon losses through respiration and account for the uncoupling of benthic and fish production in phase-shifting reefs. Carbon recycling by microbial and sponge loops seems to promote an increase of small-bodied fish productivity in phase-shifting coral reefs. PMID:25817914

  13. History of coral reefs and sea level

    SciTech Connect

    Fairbridge, R.W.

    1985-01-01

    Charles Darwin proposed crustal subsidence for atoll growth, on the Beagle, between England and Brazil, before even seeing a coral reef, on the basis of charts and discussions with Captain Fitzroy. Relative change of sea level due to crustal movements was then well-accepted from evidence of raised strandlines in Scandinavia and Scotland and sunken forests in England. Darwin added global change of sea level (tectonoeustasy) caused by remote tectonic activity, as explained by Robert Chambers (1848, p. 319). The glacioeustasy concept was mooted soon afterwards, though the term itself came later. When Suess in 1888 proposed eustatic change, he had in mind Archimedian displacement of water by sediment or lava accumulation on the sea floor. Integrated ideas of reef development also came in the 20th century. The powerful arguments against Darwin were led by Murray with his solution hypothesis, which can not be judged as good observation but from a narrow viewpoint. The Royal Society reef borings at Funafuti were heroic but at the same time misread. Subsequently came isotopic geochemistry, absolute dating, the Milankovitch insolation theory, and plate tectonics. And much more field work. The result is an integrated reef growth theory.

  14. Do tabular corals constitute keystone structures for fishes on coral reefs?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kerry, J. T.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2015-03-01

    This study examined the changes in community composition of reef fishes by experimentally manipulating the availability of shelter provided by tabular structures on a mid-shelf reef on the Great Barrier Reef. At locations where access to tabular corals ( Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora cytherea) was excluded, a rapid and sustained reduction in the abundance of large reef fishes occurred. At locations where tabular structure was added, the abundance and diversity of large reef fishes increased and the abundance of small reef fishes tended to decrease, although over a longer time frame. Based on their response to changes in the availability of tabular structures, nine families of large reef fishes were separated into three categories; designated as obligate, facultative or non-structure users. This relationship may relate to the particular ecological demands of each family, including avoidance of predation and ultraviolet radiation, access to feeding areas and reef navigation. This study highlights the importance of tabular corals for large reef fishes in shallow reef environments and provides a possible mechanism for local changes in the abundance of reef fishes following loss of structural complexity on coral reefs. Keystone structures have a distinct structure and disproportionate effect on their ecosystem relative to their abundance, as such the result of this study suggests tabular corals may constitute keystone structures on shallow coral reefs.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    Shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water corals engineer the coral reef framework and fertilize reef communities by releasing coral mucus, a source of reef dissolved organic matter (DOM). By transforming DOM into particulate detritus, sponges play a key role in transferring the energy and nutrients in DOM to higher trophic levels on Caribbean reefs via the so-called sponge loop. Coral mucus may be a major DOM source for the sponge loop, but mucus uptake by sponges has not been demonstrated. Here we used laboratory stable isotope tracer experiments to show the transfer of coral mucus into the bulk tissue and phospholipid fatty acids of the warm-water sponge Mycale fistulifera and cold-water sponge Hymedesmia coriacea, demonstrating a direct trophic link between corals and reef sponges. Furthermore, 21–40% of the mucus carbon and 32–39% of the nitrogen assimilated by the sponges was subsequently released as detritus, confirming a sponge loop on Red Sea warm-water and north Atlantic cold-water coral reefs. The presence of a sponge loop in two vastly different reef environments suggests it is a ubiquitous feature of reef ecosystems contributing to the high biogeochemical cycling that may enable coral reefs to thrive in nutrient-limited (warm-water) and energy-limited (cold-water) environments. PMID:26740019

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

    Shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water corals engineer the coral reef framework and fertilize reef communities by releasing coral mucus, a source of reef dissolved organic matter (DOM). By transforming DOM into particulate detritus, sponges play a key role in transferring the energy and nutrients in DOM to higher trophic levels on Caribbean reefs via the so-called sponge loop. Coral mucus may be a major DOM source for the sponge loop, but mucus uptake by sponges has not been demonstrated. Here we used laboratory stable isotope tracer experiments to show the transfer of coral mucus into the bulk tissue and phospholipid fatty acids of the warm-water sponge Mycale fistulifera and cold-water sponge Hymedesmia coriacea, demonstrating a direct trophic link between corals and reef sponges. Furthermore, 21-40% of the mucus carbon and 32-39% of the nitrogen assimilated by the sponges was subsequently released as detritus, confirming a sponge loop on Red Sea warm-water and north Atlantic cold-water coral reefs. The presence of a sponge loop in two vastly different reef environments suggests it is a ubiquitous feature of reef ecosystems contributing to the high biogeochemical cycling that may enable coral reefs to thrive in nutrient-limited (warm-water) and energy-limited (cold-water) environments. PMID:26740019

  17. Vortical ciliary flows actively enhance mass transport in reef corals

    PubMed Central

    Shapiro, Orr H.; Fernandez, Vicente I.; Garren, Melissa; Guasto, Jeffrey S.; Debaillon-Vesque, François P.; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Vardi, Assaf; Stocker, Roman

    2014-01-01

    The exchange of nutrients and dissolved gasses between corals and their environment is a critical determinant of the growth of coral colonies and the productivity of coral reefs. To date, this exchange has been assumed to be limited by molecular diffusion through an unstirred boundary layer extending 1–2 mm from the coral surface, with corals relying solely on external flow to overcome this limitation. Here, we present direct microscopic evidence that, instead, corals can actively enhance mass transport through strong vortical flows driven by motile epidermal cilia covering their entire surface. Ciliary beating produces quasi-steady arrays of counterrotating vortices that vigorously stir a layer of water extending up to 2 mm from the coral surface. We show that, under low ambient flow velocities, these vortices, rather than molecular diffusion, control the exchange of nutrients and oxygen between the coral and its environment, enhancing mass transfer rates by up to 400%. This ability of corals to stir their boundary layer changes the way that we perceive the microenvironment of coral surfaces, revealing an active mechanism complementing the passive enhancement of transport by ambient flow. These findings extend our understanding of mass transport processes in reef corals and may shed new light on the evolutionary success of corals and coral reefs. PMID:25192936

  18. Recovery of an isolated coral reef system following severe disturbance.

    PubMed

    Gilmour, James P; Smith, Luke D; Heyward, Andrew J; Baird, Andrew H; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2013-04-01

    Coral reef recovery from major disturbance is hypothesized to depend on the arrival of propagules from nearby undisturbed reefs. Therefore, reefs isolated by distance or current patterns are thought to be highly vulnerable to catastrophic disturbance. We found that on an isolated reef system in north Western Australia, coral cover increased from 9% to 44% within 12 years of a coral bleaching event, despite a 94% reduction in larval supply for 6 years after the bleaching. The initial increase in coral cover was the result of high rates of growth and survival of remnant colonies, followed by a rapid increase in juvenile recruitment as colonies matured. We show that isolated reefs can recover from major disturbance, and that the benefits of their isolation from chronic anthropogenic pressures can outweigh the costs of limited connectivity. PMID:23559247

  19. Unseen players shape benthic competition on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-12-01

    Recent work has shown that hydrophilic and hydrophobic organic matter (OM) from algae disrupts the function of the coral holobiont and promotes the invasion of opportunistic pathogens, leading to coral morbidity and mortality. Here we refer to these dynamics as the (3)DAM [dissolved organic matter (DOM), direct contact, disease, algae and microbes] model. There is considerable complexity in coral-algae interactions; turf algae and macroalgae promote heterotrophic microbial overgrowth of coral, macroalgae also directly harm the corals via hydrophobic OM, whereas crustose coralline algae generally encourage benign microbial communities. In addition, complex flow patterns transport OM and pathogens from algae to downstream corals, and direct algal contact enhances their delivery. These invisible players (microbes, viruses, and OM) are important drivers of coral reefs because they have non-linear responses to disturbances and are the first to change in response to perturbations, providing near real-time trajectories for a coral reef, a vital metric for conservation and restoration. PMID:22944243

  20. Assessing Coral Reefs on a Pacific-Wide Scale Using the Microbialization Score

    PubMed Central

    McDole, Tracey; Nulton, James; Barott, Katie L.; Felts, Ben; Hand, Carol; Hatay, Mark; Lee, Hochul; Nadon, Marc O.; Nosrat, Bahador; Salamon, Peter; Bailey, Barbara; Sandin, Stuart A.; Vargas-Angel, Bernardo; Youle, Merry; Zgliczynski, Brian J.; Brainard, Russell E.; Rohwer, Forest

    2012-01-01

    The majority of the world's coral reefs are in various stages of decline. While a suite of disturbances (overfishing, eutrophication, and global climate change) have been identified, the mechanism(s) of reef system decline remain elusive. Increased microbial and viral loading with higher percentages of opportunistic and specific microbial pathogens have been identified as potentially unifying features of coral reefs in decline. Due to their relative size and high per cell activity, a small change in microbial biomass may signal a large reallocation of available energy in an ecosystem; that is the microbialization of the coral reef. Our hypothesis was that human activities alter the energy budget of the reef system, specifically by altering the allocation of metabolic energy between microbes and macrobes. To determine if this is occurring on a regional scale, we calculated the basal metabolic rates for the fish and microbial communities at 99 sites on twenty-nine coral islands throughout the Pacific Ocean using previously established scaling relationships. From these metabolic rate predictions, we derived a new metric for assessing and comparing reef health called the microbialization score. The microbialization score represents the percentage of the combined fish and microbial predicted metabolic rate that is microbial. Our results demonstrate a strong positive correlation between reef microbialization scores and human impact. In contrast, microbialization scores did not significantly correlate with ocean net primary production, local chla concentrations, or the combined metabolic rate of the fish and microbial communities. These findings support the hypothesis that human activities are shifting energy to the microbes, at the expense of the macrobes. Regardless of oceanographic context, the microbialization score is a powerful metric for assessing the level of human impact a reef system is experiencing. PMID:22970122

  1. Coral reef diseases in the Atlantic-Caribbean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Weil, Ernesto

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are the jewels of the tropical oceans. They boast the highest diversity of all marine ecosystems, aid in the development and protection of other important, productive coastal marine communities, and have provided millions of people with food, building materials, protection from storms, recreation and social stability over thousands of years, and more recently, income, active pharmacological compounds and other benefits. These communities have been deteriorating rapidly in recent times. The continuous emergence of coral reef diseases and increase in bleaching events caused in part by high water temperatures among other factors underscore the need for intensive assessments of their ecological status and causes and their impact on coral reefs.

  2. 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

  3. Variability in reef connectivity in the Coral Triangle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thompson, D. M.; Kleypas, J. A.; Castruccio, F. S.; Watson, J. R.; Curchitser, E. N.

    2015-12-01

    The Coral Triangle (CT) is not only the global center of marine biodiversity, it also supports the livelihoods of millions of people. Unfortunately, it is also considered the most threatened of all reef regions, with rising temperature and coral bleaching already taking a toll. Reproductive connectivity between reefs plays a critical role in the reef's capacity to recover after such disturbances. Thus, oceanographic modeling efforts to understand patterns of reef connectivity are essential to the effective design of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve marine ecosystems in the Coral Triangle. Here, we combine a Regional Ocean Modeling System developed for the Coral Triangle (CT-ROMS) with a Lagrangian particle tracking tool (TRACMASS) to investigate the probability of coral larval transport between reefs. A 47-year hindcast simulation (1960-2006) was used to investigate the variability in larval transport of a broadcasting coral following mass spawning events in April and September. Potential connectivity between reefs was highly variable and stochastic from year to year, emphasizing the importance of decadal or longer simulations in identifying connectivity patterns, key source and sink regions, and thus marine management targets for MPAs. The influence of temperature on realized connectivity (future work) may add further uncertainty to year-to-year patterns of connectivity between reefs. Nonetheless, the potential connectivity results we present here suggest that although reefs in this region are primarily self-seeded, rare long-distance dispersal may promote recovery and genetic exchange between reefs in the region. The spatial pattern of "subpopulations" based solely on the physical drivers of connectivity between reefs closely match regional patterns of biodiversity, suggesting that physical barriers to larval dispersal may be a key driver of reef biodiversity. Finally, 21st Century simulations driven by the Community Earth System Model (CESM

  4. 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

  5. Phosphorus and nitrogen in coral reef sediments

    SciTech Connect

    Entsch, B.; Boto, K.G.; Sim, R.G.; Wellington, J.T.

    1983-05-01

    The occurrence of P and N in the sediments has been investigated on Davies Reef in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef Complex. Concentrations of inorganic P and N in the water were typical of nutrient-depleted tropical surface water. Carbonate sediments were found to contain a uniform pool of P (300 ppm by wt), principally in the form of inorganic phosphate. The interstitial water of the surface layer of sediment contained micromolar concentrations of inorganic P and even higher concentrations of inorganic N, principally as ammonium. These nutrient concentrations were considered too low to compete significantly with the uptake of available phasphate into algae. The presence of ammonium and soluble P was associated with anaerobic redox potentials in the sediments just below the surface. Soluble phosphorus was in equilibrium with a small, rapidly exchangeable fraction of the sedimentary pool of inorganic phosphate. Analyses of P in growing tips of Halimeda and corals (which supply more than half of reef sediments) suggested that the skeletons provide a biological mechanism for the replenishment of at least some of the sedimentary pool. Ratios of C:N:P for a selection of benthic algae were used as a preliminary indicator of thier N and P status.

  6. Micro-topography mediates interactions between corals, algae, and herbivorous fishes on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brandl, S. J.; Hoey, A. S.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2014-06-01

    Processes occurring during the early life stages of corals are important for the replenishment of coral assemblages and the resilience of coral reefs. However, the factors influencing early life stages of corals are not well understood, and the role of micro-topographic complexity for habitat associations of juvenile corals is largely unexplored. This study investigated the microhabitat distribution patterns of early life stages of corals and a potential macroalgal competitor ( Turbinaria ornata) across two reef zones (reef crest and outer reef flat) on Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. In both reef zones, both corals and T. ornata were significantly more abundant in concealed microhabitats than in semi-concealed or open microhabitats (GLMM: P < 0.001). The prevalence of juvenile corals and T. ornata within concealed environments suggests that they might be effective refuges from grazing by herbivorous fishes. The density of juvenile corals was positively related, and density of T. ornata negatively related to the abundance of two groups of herbivorous fishes, pairing rabbitfishes, and surgeonfishes in the genus Zebrasoma (BEST ENV-BIO: r s = 0.72, P < 0.01), which feed in concealed microhabitats. This correlative evidence suggests that crevices may be important for early life stages of both coral and macroalgae, and that a specific suite of crevice-feeding fishes may influence benthic community dynamics in these microhabitats.

  7. Research Spotlight: New method to assess coral reef health

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tretkoff, Ernie

    2011-03-01

    Coral reefs around the world are becoming stressed due to rising temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing, and other factors. Measuring community level rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and biogenic calcification is essential to assessing the health of coral reef ecosystems because the balance between these processes determines the potential for reef growth and the export of carbon. Measurements of biological productivity have typically been made by tracing changes in dissolved oxygen in seawater as it passes over a reef. However, this is a labor-intensive and difficult method, requiring repeated measurements. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046179, 2011)

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stathakopoulos, A.; Riegl, B. M.

    2015-03-01

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

  9. Anthropogenic mortality on coral reefs in Caribbean Panama predates coral disease and bleaching.

    PubMed

    Cramer, Katie L; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Angioletti, Christopher V; Leonard-Pingel, Jill; Guilderson, Thomas P

    2012-06-01

    Caribbean reef corals have declined precipitously since the 1980s due to regional episodes of bleaching, disease and algal overgrowth, but the extent of earlier degradation due to localised historical disturbances such as land clearing and overfishing remains unresolved. We analysed coral and molluscan fossil assemblages from reefs near Bocas del Toro, Panama to construct a timeline of ecological change from the 19th century-present. We report large changes before 1960 in coastal lagoons coincident with extensive deforestation, and after 1960 on offshore reefs. Striking changes include the demise of previously dominant staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and oyster Dendrostrea frons that lives attached to gorgonians and staghorn corals. Reductions in bivalve size and simplification of gastropod trophic structure further implicate increasing environmental stress on reefs. Our paleoecological data strongly support the hypothesis, from extensive qualitative data, that Caribbean reef degradation predates coral bleaching and disease outbreaks linked to anthropogenic climate change. PMID:22462739

  10. Coral Reef and Coastal Ecosystems Decision Support Workshop April 27-29, 2010 Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, La Parguera, Puerto Rico

    EPA Science Inventory

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) hosted a Coral Reef and Coastal Ecosystems Decision Support Workshop on April 27-28, 2010 at the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Forty-three participants, includin...

  11. Low calcification in corals in the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bhattacharya, Atreyee

    2012-10-01

    Reef-building coral communities in the Great Barrier Reef—the world's largest coral reef—may now be calcifying at only about half the rate that they did during the 1970s, even though live coral cover may not have changed over the past 40 years, a new study finds. In recent decades, coral reefs around the world, home to large numbers of fish and other marine species, have been threatened by such human activities as pollution, overfishing, global warming, and ocean acidification; the latter affects ambient water chemistry and availability of calcium ions, which are critical for coral communities to calcify, build, and maintain reefs. Comparing data from reef surveys during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s with present-day (2009) measurements of calcification rates in One Tree Island, a coral reef covering 13 square kilometers in the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, Silverman et al. show that the total calcification rates (the rate of calcification minus the rate of dissolution) in these coral communities have decreased by 44% over the past 40 years; the decrease appears to stem from a threefold reduction in calcification rates during nighttime.

  12. Ecological consequences of major hydrodynamic disturbances on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Madin, Joshua S; Connolly, Sean R

    2006-11-23

    A recent tsunami and an apparent increase in the frequency of severe tropical storms underscore the need to understand and predict the ecological consequences of major hydrodynamic disturbances. Reef corals provide the habitat structure that sustains the high biodiversity of tropical reefs, and thus provide the foundation for the ecosystem goods and services that are critical to many tropical societies. Here we integrate predictions from oceanographic models with engineering theory, to predict the dislodgement of benthic reef corals during hydrodynamic disturbances. This generalizes earlier work, by incorporating colonies of any shape and by explicitly examining the effects of hydrodynamic gradients on coral assemblage structure. A field test shows that this model accurately predicts changes in the mechanical vulnerability of coral colonies, and thus their size and shape, with distance from the reef crest. This work provides a general framework for understanding and predicting the effects of hydrodynamic disturbances on coral reef communities; such disturbances have a major role in determining species zonation and coexistence on coral reefs, and are critical determinants of how coral assemblages will respond to changes in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms associated with a changing climate. PMID:17122855

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

    PubMed

    Heintz, T; Haapkylä, J; Gilbert, A

    2015-07-23

    Coral health data are poorly documented in New Caledonia, particularly from reefs chronically subject to anthropogenic and natural runoff. We investigated patterns of coral disease and non-disease conditions on reefs situated downstream of mining sites off the coast of New Caledonia. Surveys were conducted in March 2013 at 2 locations along the west coast and 2 locations along the east coast of the main island. Only 2 coral diseases were detected: growth anomalies and white syndrome. The most prevalent signs of compromised health at each location were sediment damage and algal overgrowth. These results support earlier findings that sedimentation and turbidity are major threats to in-shore reefs in New Caledonia. The Poritidae-dominated west coast locations were more subject to sediment damage, algal overgrowth and growth anomalies compared to the Acroporidae-dominated east coast locations. If growth form and resistance of coral hosts influence these results, differences in environmental conditions including hydro-dynamism between locations may also contribute to these outputs. Our results highlight the importance of combining coral health surveys with measurements of coral cover when assessing the health status of a reef, as reefs with high coral cover may have a high prevalence of corals demonstrating signs of compromised health. PMID:26203888

  14. Compartment-specific transcriptomics in a reef-building coral exposed to elevated temperatures.

    PubMed

    Mayfield, Anderson B; Wang, Yu-Bin; Chen, Chii-Shiarng; Lin, Chung-Yen; Chen, Shu-Hwa

    2014-12-01

    Although rising ocean temperatures threaten scleractinian corals and the reefs they construct, certain reef corals can acclimate to elevated temperatures to which they are rarely exposed in situ. Specimens of the model Indo-Pacific reef coral Pocillopora damicornis collected from upwelling reefs of Southern Taiwan were previously found to have survived a 36-week exposure to 30°C, a temperature they encounter infrequently and one that can elicit the breakdown of the coral-dinoflagellate (genus Symbiodinium) endosymbiosis in many corals of the Pacific Ocean. To gain insight into the subcellular pathways utilized by both the coral hosts and their mutualistic Symbiodinium populations to acclimate to this temperature, mRNAs from both control (27°C) and high (30°C)-temperature samples were sequenced on an Illumina platform and assembled into a 236 435-contig transcriptome. These P. damicornis specimens were found to be ~60% anthozoan and 40% microbe (Symbiodinium, other eukaryotic microbes, and bacteria), from an mRNA-perspective. Furthermore, a significantly higher proportion of genes from the Symbiodinium compartment were differentially expressed after two weeks of exposure. Specifically, at elevated temperatures, Symbiodinium populations residing within the coral gastrodermal tissues were more likely to up-regulate the expression of genes encoding proteins involved in metabolism than their coral hosts. Collectively, these transcriptome-scale data suggest that the two members of this endosymbiosis have distinct strategies for acclimating to elevated temperatures that are expected to characterize many of Earth's coral reefs in the coming decades. PMID:25354956

  15. ReefLink Database: A decision support tool for Linking Coral Reefs and Society Through Systems Thinking

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs provide the ecological foundation for productive and diverse fish and invertebrate communities that support multibillion dollar reef fishing and tourism industries. Yet reefs are threatened by growing coastal development, climate change, and over-exploitation. A key i...

  16. Coral-associated bacterial communities on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

    PubMed

    Ceh, Janja; Van Keulen, Mike; Bourne, David G

    2011-01-01

    Coral-associated microbial communities from three coral species (Pocillopora damicornis, Acropora tenuis and Favites abdita) were examined every 3 months (January, March, June, October) over a period of 1 year on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Tissue from corals was collected throughout the year and additional sampling of coral mucus and seawater samples was performed in January. Tissue samples were also obtained in October from P. damicornis coral colonies on Rottnest Island off Perth, 1200 km south of Ningaloo Reef, to provide comparisons between coral-microbial associates in different locations. The community structures of the coral-associated microorganisms were analysed using phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries, which demonstrated highly diverse microbial profiles among all the coral species sampled. Principal component analysis revealed that samples grouped according to time and not species, indicating that coral-microbial associations may be a result of environmental drivers such as oceanographic characteristics, benthic community structure and temperature. Tissue samples from P. damicornis at Rottnest Island revealed similarities in bacteria to the samples at Ningaloo Reef. This study highlights that coral-associated microbial communities are highly diverse; however, the complex interactions that determine the stability of these associations are not necessarily dependent on coral host specificity. PMID:21044100

  17. 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

  18. A nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry study of dinoflagellate functional diversity in reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Pernice, Mathieu; Dunn, Simon R; Tonk, Linda; Dove, Sophie; Domart-Coulon, Isabelle; Hoppe, Peter; Schintlmeister, Arno; Wagner, Michael; Meibom, Anders

    2015-10-01

    Nutritional interactions between corals and symbiotic dinoflagellate algae lie at the heart of the structural foundation of coral reefs. Whilst the genetic diversity of Symbiodinium has attracted particular interest because of its contribution to the sensitivity of corals to environmental changes and bleaching (i.e. disruption of coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis), very little is known about the in hospite metabolic capabilities of different Symbiodinium types. Using a combination of stable isotopic labelling and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS), we investigated the ability of the intact symbiosis between the reef-building coral Isopora palifera, and Symbiodinium C or D types, to assimilate dissolved inorganic carbon (via photosynthesis) and nitrogen (as ammonium). Our results indicate that Symbiodinium types from two clades naturally associated with I. palifera possess different metabolic capabilities. The Symbiodinium C type fixed and passed significantly more carbon and nitrogen to its coral host than the D type. This study provides further insights into the metabolic plasticity among different Symbiodinium types in hospite and strengthens the evidence that the more temperature-tolerant Symbiodinium D type may be less metabolically beneficial for its coral host under non-stressful conditions. PMID:24902979

  19. Recovery potential of the world's coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

    MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; Cinner, Joshua E; Wilson, Shaun K; Williams, Ivor D; Maina, Joseph; Newman, Steven; Friedlander, Alan M; Jupiter, Stacy; Polunin, Nicholas V C; McClanahan, Tim R

    2015-04-16

    Continuing degradation of coral reef ecosystems has generated substantial interest in how management can support reef resilience. Fishing is the primary source of diminished reef function globally, leading to widespread calls for additional marine reserves to recover fish biomass and restore key ecosystem functions. Yet there are no established baselines for determining when these conservation objectives have been met or whether alternative management strategies provide similar ecosystem benefits. Here we establish empirical conservation benchmarks and fish biomass recovery timelines against which coral reefs can be assessed and managed by studying the recovery potential of more than 800 coral reefs along an exploitation gradient. We show that resident reef fish biomass in the absence of fishing (B0) averages ∼1,000 kg ha(-1), and that the vast majority (83%) of fished reefs are missing more than half their expected biomass, with severe consequences for key ecosystem functions such as predation. Given protection from fishing, reef fish biomass has the potential to recover within 35 years on average and less than 60 years when heavily depleted. Notably, alternative fisheries restrictions are largely (64%) successful at maintaining biomass above 50% of B0, sustaining key functions such as herbivory. Our results demonstrate that crucial ecosystem functions can be maintained through a range of fisheries restrictions, allowing coral reef managers to develop recovery plans that meet conservation and livelihood objectives in areas where marine reserves are not socially or politically feasible solutions. PMID:25855298

  20. Coral Settlement on a Highly Disturbed Equatorial Reef System

    PubMed Central

    Bauman, Andrew G.; Guest, James R.; Dunshea, Glenn; Low, Jeffery; Todd, Peter A.; Steinberg, Peter D.

    2015-01-01

    Processes occurring early in the life stages of corals can greatly influence the demography of coral populations, and successful settlement of coral larvae that leads to recruitment is a critical life history stage for coral reef ecosystems. Although corals in Singapore persist in one the world’s most anthropogenically impacted reef systems, our understanding of the role of coral settlement in the persistence of coral communities in Singapore remains limited. Spatial and temporal patterns of coral settlement were examined at 7 sites in the southern islands of Singapore, using settlement tiles deployed and collected every 3 months from 2011 to 2013. Settlement occurred year round, but varied significantly across time and space. Annual coral settlement was low (~54.72 spat m-2 yr-1) relative to other equatorial regions, but there was evidence of temporal variation in settlement rates. Peak settlement occurred between March–May and September–November, coinciding with annual coral spawning periods (March–April and October), while the lowest settlement occurred from December–February during the northeast monsoon. A period of high settlement was also observed between June and August in the first year (2011/12), possibly due to some species spawning outside predicted spawning periods, larvae settling from other locations or extended larval settlement competency periods. Settlement rates varied significantly among sites, but spatial variation was relatively consistent between years, suggesting the strong effects of local coral assemblages or environmental conditions. Pocilloporidae were the most abundant coral spat (83.6%), while Poritidae comprised only 6% of the spat, and Acroporidae <1%. Other, unidentifiable families represented 10% of the coral spat. These results indicate that current settlement patterns are reinforcing the local adult assemblage structure (‘others’; i.e. sediment-tolerant coral taxa) in Singapore, but that the replenishment capacity of

  1. Novel tradable instruments in the conservation of coral reefs, based on the coral gardening concept for reef restoration.

    PubMed

    Rinkevich, Baruch

    2015-10-01

    Nearly all coral reefs bordering nations have experienced net losses in reef biodiversity, goods and services, even without considering the ever-developing global change impacts. In response, this overview wishes to reveal through prospects of active reef-restoration, the currently non-marketed or poorly marketed reef services, focusing on a single coral species (Stylophora pistillata). It is implied that the integration of equity capitals and other commodification with reef-restoration practices will improve total reef services. Two tiers of market-related activities are defined, the traditional first-tier instruments (valuating costs/gains for extracting tradable goods and services) and novel second-tier instruments (new/expanded monetary tools developed as by-products of reef restoration measures). The emerging new suite of economic mechanisms based on restoration methodologies could be served as an incentive for ecosystem conservation, enhancing the sum values of all services generated by coral reefs, where the same stocks of farmed/transplanted coral colonies will be used as market instruments. I found that active restoration measures disclose 12 classes of second-tier goods and services, which may partly/wholly finance restoration acts, bringing to light reef capitalizations that allow the expansion of markets with products that have not been considered before. The degree to which the second tier of market-related services could buffer coral-reef degradation is still unclear and would vary with different reef types and in various reef restoration scenarios; however, reducing the uncertainty associated with restoration. It is expected that the expansion of markets with the new products and the enhancement of those already existing will be materialized even if reef ecosystems will recover into different statuses. PMID:26241935

  2. Coral Reef Color: Remote and In-Situ Imaging Spectroscopy of Reef Structure and Function

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hochberg, E. J.

    2015-12-01

    Coral reefs are threatened at local to global scales by a litany of anthropogenic impacts, including overfishing, coastal development, marine and watershed pollution, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification. However, available data for the primary indicator of coral reef condition — proportional cover of living coral — are surprisingly sparse and show patterns that contradict the prevailing understanding of how environment impacts reef condition. Remote sensing is the only available tool for acquiring synoptic, uniform data on reef condition at regional to global scales. Discrimination between coral and other reef benthos relies on narrow wavebands afforded by imaging spectroscopy. The same spectral information allows non-invasive quantification of photosynthetic pigment composition, which shows unexpected phenological trends. There is also potential to link biodiversity with optical diversity, though there has been no effort in that direction. Imaging spectroscopy underlies the light-use efficiency model for reef primary production by quantifying light capture, which in turn indicates biochemical capacity for CO2 assimilation. Reef calcification is strongly correlated with primary production, suggesting the possibility for an optics-based model of that aspect of reef function, as well. By scaling these spectral models for use with remote sensing, we can vastly improve our understanding of reef structure, function, and overall condition across regional to global scales. By analyzing those remote sensing products against ancillary environmental data, we can construct secondary models to predict reef futures in the era of global change. This final point is the objective of CORAL (COral Reef Airborne Laboratory), a three-year project funded under NASA's Earth Venture Suborbital-2 program to investigate the relationship between coral reef condition at the ecosystem scale and various nominal biogeophysical forcing parameters.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-03-15

    Identifying the baseline or natural state of an ecosystem is a critical step in effective conservation and restoration. Like most marine ecosystems, coral reefs are being degraded by human activities: corals and fish have declined in abundance and seaweeds, or macroalgae, have become more prevalent. The challenge for resource managers is to reverse these trends, but by how much? Based on surveys of Caribbean reefs in the 1970s, some reef scientists believe that the average cover of seaweed was very low in the natural state: perhaps less than 3%. On the other hand, evidence from remote Pacific reefs, ecological theory, and impacts of over-harvesting in other systems all suggest that, historically, macroalgal biomass may have been higher than assumed. Uncertainties about the natural state of coral reefs illustrate the difficulty of determining the baseline condition of even well studied systems. PMID:24486044

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

    PubMed Central

    Guibert, Marine; Foerschner, Anja; Co, Tim; Calhoun, Sandi; George, Emma; Hatay, Mark; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Sandin, Stuart A.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Vermeij, Mark J.A.; Felts, Ben; Dustan, Phillip; Salamon, Peter; Rohwer, Forest

    2015-01-01

    The natural beauty of coral reefs attracts millions of tourists worldwide resulting in substantial revenues for the adjoining economies. Although their visual appearance is a pivotal factor attracting humans to coral reefs current monitoring protocols exclusively target biogeochemical parameters, neglecting changes in their aesthetic appearance. Here we introduce a standardized computational approach to assess coral reef environments based on 109 visual features designed to evaluate the aesthetic appearance of art. The main feature groups include color intensity and diversity of the image, relative size, color, and distribution of discernable objects within the image, and texture. Specific coral reef aesthetic values combining all 109 features were calibrated against an established biogeochemical assessment (NCEAS) using machine learning algorithms. These values were generated for ∼2,100 random photographic images collected from 9 coral reef locations exposed to varying levels of anthropogenic influence across 2 ocean systems. Aesthetic values proved accurate predictors of the NCEAS scores (root mean square error < 5 for N ≥ 3) and significantly correlated to microbial abundance at each site. This shows that mathematical approaches designed to assess the aesthetic appearance of photographic images can be used as an inexpensive monitoring tool for coral reef ecosystems. It further suggests that human perception of aesthetics is not purely subjective but influenced by inherent reactions towards measurable visual cues. By quantifying aesthetic features of coral reef systems this method provides a cost efficient monitoring tool that targets one of the most important socioeconomic values of coral reefs directly tied to revenue for its local population. PMID:26587350

  5. Effects of solar ultraviolet radiation on coral reef organisms.

    PubMed

    Banaszak, Anastazia T; Lesser, Michael P

    2009-09-01

    Organisms living in shallow-water tropical coral reef environments are exposed to high UVR irradiances due to the low solar zenith angles (the angle of the sun from the vertical), the natural thinness of the ozone layer over tropical latitudes, and the high transparency of the water column. The hypothesis that solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 290-400 nm) is an important factor that affects the biology and ecology of coral reef organisms dates only to about 1980. It has been previously suggested that increased levels of biologically effective ultraviolet B radiation (UVB, 290-320 nm), which is the waveband primarily affected by ozone depletion, would have relatively small effects on corals and coral reefs and that these effects might be observed as changes in the minimum depths of occurrence of important reef taxa such as corals. This conclusion was based on predictions of increases in UVR as well as its attenuation with depth using the available data on UVR irradiances, ozone levels, and optical properties of the water overlying coral reefs. Here, we review the experimental evidence demonstrating the direct and indirect effects of UVR, both UVB and ultraviolet A (UVA, 320-400 nm) on corals and other reef associated biota, with emphasis on those studies conducted since 1996. Additionally, we re-examine the predictions made in 1996 for the increase in UVB on reefs with currently available data, assess whether those predictions were reasonable, and look at what changes might occur on coral reefs in the future as the multiple effects (i.e. increased temperature, hypercapnia, and ocean acidification) of global climate change continue. PMID:19707616

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

    PubMed

    Haas, Andreas F; Guibert, Marine; Foerschner, Anja; Co, Tim; Calhoun, Sandi; George, Emma; Hatay, Mark; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Sandin, Stuart A; Smith, Jennifer E; Vermeij, Mark J A; Felts, Ben; Dustan, Phillip; Salamon, Peter; Rohwer, Forest

    2015-01-01

    The natural beauty of coral reefs attracts millions of tourists worldwide resulting in substantial revenues for the adjoining economies. Although their visual appearance is a pivotal factor attracting humans to coral reefs current monitoring protocols exclusively target biogeochemical parameters, neglecting changes in their aesthetic appearance. Here we introduce a standardized computational approach to assess coral reef environments based on 109 visual features designed to evaluate the aesthetic appearance of art. The main feature groups include color intensity and diversity of the image, relative size, color, and distribution of discernable objects within the image, and texture. Specific coral reef aesthetic values combining all 109 features were calibrated against an established biogeochemical assessment (NCEAS) using machine learning algorithms. These values were generated for ∼2,100 random photographic images collected from 9 coral reef locations exposed to varying levels of anthropogenic influence across 2 ocean systems. Aesthetic values proved accurate predictors of the NCEAS scores (root mean square error < 5 for N ≥ 3) and significantly correlated to microbial abundance at each site. This shows that mathematical approaches designed to assess the aesthetic appearance of photographic images can be used as an inexpensive monitoring tool for coral reef ecosystems. It further suggests that human perception of aesthetics is not purely subjective but influenced by inherent reactions towards measurable visual cues. By quantifying aesthetic features of coral reef systems this method provides a cost efficient monitoring tool that targets one of the most important socioeconomic values of coral reefs directly tied to revenue for its local population. PMID:26587350

  7. Forest conservation delivers highly variable coral reef conservation outcomes.

    PubMed

    Klein, Carissa J; Jupiter, Stacy D; Selig, Elizabeth R; Watts, Matthew E; Halpern, Benjamin S; Kamal, Muhammad; Roelfsema, Chris; Possingham, Hugh P

    2012-06-01

    Coral reefs are threatened by human activities on both the land (e.g., deforestation) and the sea (e.g., overfishing). Most conservation planning for coral reefs focuses on removing threats in the sea, neglecting management actions on the land. A more integrated approach to coral reef conservation, inclusive of land-sea connections, requires an understanding of how and where terrestrial conservation actions influence reefs. We address this by developing a land-sea planning approach to inform fine-scale spatial management decisions and test it in Fiji. Our aim is to determine where the protection of forest can deliver the greatest return on investment for coral reef ecosystems. To assess the benefits of conservation to coral reefs, we estimate their relative condition as influenced by watershed-based pollution and fishing. We calculate the cost-effectiveness of protecting forest and find that investments deliver rapidly diminishing returns for improvements to relative reef condition. For example, protecting 2% of forest in one area is almost 500 times more beneficial than protecting 2% in another area, making prioritization essential. For the scenarios evaluated, relative coral reef condition could be improved by 8-58% if all remnant forest in Fiji were protected rather than deforested. Finally, we determine the priority of each coral reef for implementing a marine protected area when all remnant forest is protected for conservation. The general results will support decisions made by the Fiji Protected Area Committee as they establish a national protected area network that aims to protect 20% of the land and 30% of the inshore waters by 2020. Although challenges remain, we can inform conservation decisions around the globe by tackling the complex issues relevant to integrated land-sea planning. PMID:22827132

  8. 76 FR 66273 - Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-10-26

    ... Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permit AGENCY... Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region and the FMP for Coral,...

  9. Coral Reefs on the Edge? Carbon Chemistry on Inshore Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef

    PubMed Central

    Uthicke, Sven; Furnas, Miles; Lønborg, Christian

    2014-01-01

    While increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration alters global water chemistry (Ocean Acidification; OA), the degree of changes vary on local and regional spatial scales. Inshore fringing coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are subjected to a variety of local pressures, and some sites may already be marginal habitats for corals. The spatial and temporal variation in directly measured parameters: Total Alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration, and derived parameters: partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2); pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar) were measured at 14 inshore reefs over a two year period in the GBR region. Total Alkalinity varied between 2069 and 2364 µmol kg−1 and DIC concentrations ranged from 1846 to 2099 µmol kg−1. This resulted in pCO2 concentrations from 340 to 554 µatm, with higher values during the wet seasons and pCO2 on inshore reefs distinctly above atmospheric values. However, due to temperature effects, Ωar was not further reduced in the wet season. Aragonite saturation on inshore reefs was consistently lower and pCO2 higher than on GBR reefs further offshore. Thermodynamic effects contribute to this, and anthropogenic runoff may also contribute by altering productivity (P), respiration (R) and P/R ratios. Compared to surveys 18 and 30 years ago, pCO2 on GBR mid- and outer-shelf reefs has risen at the same rate as atmospheric values (∼1.7 µatm yr−1) over 30 years. By contrast, values on inshore reefs have increased at 2.5 to 3 times higher rates. Thus, pCO2 levels on inshore reefs have disproportionately increased compared to atmospheric levels. Our study suggests that inshore GBR reefs are more vulnerable to OA and have less buffering capacity compared to offshore reefs. This may be caused by anthropogenically induced trophic changes in the water column and benthos of inshore reefs subjected to land runoff. PMID:25295864

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

    PubMed Central

    Roth, Melissa S.; Deheyn, Dimitri D.

    2013-01-01

    Widespread temperature stress has caused catastrophic coral bleaching events that have been devastating for coral reefs. Here, we evaluate whether coral fluorescence could be utilized as a noninvasive assessment for coral health. We conducted cold and heat stress treatments on the branching coral Acropora yongei, and found that green fluorescent protein (GFP) concentration and fluorescence decreased with declining coral health, prior to initiation of bleaching. Ultimately, cold-treated corals acclimated and GFP concentration and fluorescence recovered. In contrast, heat-treated corals eventually bleached but showed strong fluorescence despite reduced GFP concentration, likely resulting from the large reduction in shading from decreased dinoflagellate density. Consequently, GFP concentration and fluorescence showed distinct correlations in non-bleached and bleached corals. Green fluorescence was positively correlated with dinoflagellate photobiology, but its closest correlation was with coral growth suggesting that green fluorescence could be used as a physiological proxy for health in some corals. PMID:23478289

  11. The role of fringing coral reefs on beach morphodynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ruiz de Alegria-Arzaburu, Amaia; Mariño-Tapia, Ismael; Enriquez, Cecilia; Silva, Rodolfo; González-Leija, Mariana

    2013-09-01

    This paper examines the degree of energy dissipation provided by a fringing coral reef, and its role on the morphodynamics of adjacent beaches in terms of volumetric sediment transport. Morphological data were collected from the microtidal Mexican Caribbean beaches of Puerto Morelos, fringed by a reef, and Cancun, without a reef, from September 2007 to May 2011. Being exposed to the same offshore wave conditions, the morphodynamics of the coral reef-fronted beach were compared with those of the adjacent beach without a coral reef. Spatio-temporal changes in beach morphology were determined applying empirical orthogonal functions (EOF) to the shorelines extracted from the topographic data, and it was concluded that Puerto Morelos was considerably less dynamic than Cancun. The longshore energy fluxes were larger in Cancun, and the subaerial morphological differences in both beaches and under the same offshore conditions demonstrated that Puerto Morelos was particularly stable under shore-normal easterly waves. A calibrated phase-averaged wave model was implemented to determine the amount of wave energy dissipation across the coral reef. For energetic shore-normal waves the model determined that the semi-emerged coral reef was capable of reducing up to 85% of the incident wave height. The reef-crest height controlled the amount of wave energy dissipation, and the distance between the reef-crest and the shore determined the vulnerability of the beach to morphological changes. Reef-crest degradation by 1 m resulted in a 10% increase in incoming wave energy, which resulted in 0.9 m3/h/m of sand being mobilised along the beaches closer to the reef.

  12. Isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by bacteria associated with reef-building corals

    PubMed Central

    Tapiolas, Dianne; Motti, Cherie A.; Foret, Sylvain; Tebben, Jan; Willis, Bette L.; Bourne, David G.

    2016-01-01

    Bacterial communities associated with healthy corals produce antimicrobial compounds that inhibit the colonization and growth of invasive microbes and potential pathogens. To date, however, bacteria-derived antimicrobial molecules have not been identified in reef-building corals. Here, we report the isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by Pseudovibrio sp. P12, a common and abundant coral-associated bacterium. This strain was capable of metabolizing dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a sulfur molecule produced in high concentrations by reef-building corals and playing a role in structuring their bacterial communities. Bioassay-guided fractionation coupled with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS), identified the antimicrobial as tropodithietic acid (TDA), a sulfur-containing compound likely derived from DMSP catabolism. TDA was produced in large quantities by Pseudovibrio sp., and prevented the growth of two previously identified coral pathogens, Vibrio coralliilyticus and V. owensii, at very low concentrations (0.5 μg/mL) in agar diffusion assays. Genome sequencing of Pseudovibrio sp. P12 identified gene homologs likely involved in the metabolism of DMSP and production of TDA. These results provide additional evidence for the integral role of DMSP in structuring coral-associated bacterial communities and underline the potential of these DMSP-metabolizing microbes to contribute to coral disease prevention. PMID:27602265

  13. Isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by bacteria associated with reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Raina, Jean-Baptiste; Tapiolas, Dianne; Motti, Cherie A; Foret, Sylvain; Seemann, Torsten; Tebben, Jan; Willis, Bette L; Bourne, David G

    2016-01-01

    Bacterial communities associated with healthy corals produce antimicrobial compounds that inhibit the colonization and growth of invasive microbes and potential pathogens. To date, however, bacteria-derived antimicrobial molecules have not been identified in reef-building corals. Here, we report the isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by Pseudovibrio sp. P12, a common and abundant coral-associated bacterium. This strain was capable of metabolizing dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a sulfur molecule produced in high concentrations by reef-building corals and playing a role in structuring their bacterial communities. Bioassay-guided fractionation coupled with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS), identified the antimicrobial as tropodithietic acid (TDA), a sulfur-containing compound likely derived from DMSP catabolism. TDA was produced in large quantities by Pseudovibrio sp., and prevented the growth of two previously identified coral pathogens, Vibrio coralliilyticus and V. owensii, at very low concentrations (0.5 μg/mL) in agar diffusion assays. Genome sequencing of Pseudovibrio sp. P12 identified gene homologs likely involved in the metabolism of DMSP and production of TDA. These results provide additional evidence for the integral role of DMSP in structuring coral-associated bacterial communities and underline the potential of these DMSP-metabolizing microbes to contribute to coral disease prevention. PMID:27602265

  14. Norwegian deep-water coral reefs: cultivation and molecular analysis of planktonic microbial communities.

    PubMed

    Jensen, Sigmund; Lynch, Michael D J; Ray, Jessica L; Neufeld, Josh D; Hovland, Martin

    2015-10-01

    Deep-sea coral reefs do not receive sunlight and depend on plankton. Little is known about the plankton composition at such reefs, even though they constitute habitats for many invertebrates and fish. We investigated plankton communities from three reefs at 260-350 m depth at hydrocarbon fields off the mid-Norwegian coast using a combination of cultivation and small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene and transcript sequencing. Eight months incubations of a reef water sample with minimal medium, supplemented with carbon dioxide and gaseous alkanes at in situ-like conditions, enabled isolation of mostly Alphaproteobacteria (Sulfitobacter, Loktanella), Gammaproteobacteria (Colwellia) and Flavobacteria (Polaribacter). The relative abundance of isolates in the original sample ranged from ∼ 0.01% to 0.80%. Comparisons of bacterial SSU sequences from filtered plankton of reef and non-reef control samples indicated high abundance and metabolic activity of primarily Alphaproteobacteria (SAR11 Ia), Gammaproteobacteria (ARCTIC96BD-19), but also of Deltaproteobacteria (Nitrospina, SAR324). Eukaryote SSU sequences indicated metabolically active microalgae and animals, including codfish, at the reef sites. The plankton community composition varied between reefs and differed between DNA and RNA assessments. Over 5000 operational taxonomic units were detected, some indicators of reef sites (e.g. Flavobacteria, Cercozoa, Demospongiae) and some more active at reef sites (e.g. Gammaproteobacteria, Ciliophora, Copepoda). PMID:24911121

  15. COLLABORATIVE GUIDE: A REEF MANAGER'S GUIDE TO CORAL BLEACHING

    EPA Science Inventory

    Innovative strategies to conserve the world's coral reefs are included in a new guide released today by NOAA, and the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, with author contributions from a variety of international partners from government agencies, non-governmental...

  16. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  17. Application of 1H-NMR metabolomic profiling for reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Sogin, Emilia M; Anderson, Paul; Williams, Philip; Chen, Chii-Shiarng; Gates, Ruth D

    2014-01-01

    In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions) across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR)-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1) investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2) evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3) assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA) to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM). Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix). Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change. PMID:25354140

  18. Application of 1H-NMR Metabolomic Profiling for Reef-Building Corals

    PubMed Central

    Sogin, Emilia M.; Anderson, Paul; Williams, Philip; Chen, Chii-Shiarng; Gates, Ruth D.

    2014-01-01

    In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions) across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR)-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1) investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2) evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3) assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA) to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM). Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix). Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change. PMID:25354140

  19. The 1991 1992 rapid ecological assessment of Palau's coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Maragos, J. E.; Cook, C. W.

    1995-11-01

    At the request of the Palau and US governments, a team of 30 scientists under the leadership of the Nature Conservancy completed a rapid ecological assessment (REA) of nearshore marine resources in Palau in 1992. The REA provided ecological input to Palau's ongoing master plan for economic development and identified 45 marine sites worthy of special protection. The REA relied on previous literature, 1992 aerial photography, interviews, and field observations. A combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques were used to assess stony corals, other reef invertebrates, reef and shore fishes, macroscopic algae, seagrasses, sea turtles and other marine organisms. The REA covered a variety of coral reef habitats including beaches, seagrass beds, fringing reefs, lagoons, passes, channels, reef holes, patch and pinnacle reefs, barrier reefs, atolls, submerged reefs, mangroves, and "rock" islands. Major stresses to Palau's coral reefs include sedimentation from soil erosion, overfishing, and damage from periodic storms and waves. Minor stresses include dredge-and fill activities, sewage pollution, anchor damage, tourism use, ship groundings, aquarium fish collecting, and minor crown-of-thorns ( Acanthaster) infestations.

  20. Macroalgal herbivory on recovering versus degrading coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chong-Seng, K. M.; Nash, K. L.; Bellwood, D. R.; Graham, N. A. J.

    2014-06-01

    Macroalgal-feeding fishes are considered to be a key functional group on coral reefs due to their role in preventing phase shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance, and potentially reversing the shift should it occur. However, assessments of macroalgal herbivory using bioassay experiments are primarily from systems with relatively high coral cover. This raises the question of whether continued functionality can be ensured in degraded systems. It is clearly important to determine whether the species that remove macroalgae on coral-dominated reefs will still be present and performing significant algal removal on macroalgal-dominated reefs. We compared the identity and effectiveness of macroalgal-feeding fishes on reefs in two conditions post-disturbance—those regenerating with high live coral cover (20-46 %) and those degrading with high macroalgal cover (57-82 %). Using filmed Sargassum bioassays, we found significantly different Sargassum biomass loss between the two conditions; mean assay weight loss due to herbivory was 27.9 ± 4.9 % on coral-dominated reefs and 2.2 ± 1.1 % on reefs with high macroalgal cover. However, once standardised for the availability of macroalgae on the reefs, the rates of removal were similar between the two reef conditions (4.8 ± 4.1 g m-2 h-1 on coral-dominated and 5.3 ± 2.1 g m-2 h-1 on macroalgal-dominated reefs). Interestingly, the Sargassum-assay consumer assemblages differed between reef conditions; nominally grazing herbivores, Siganus puelloides and Chlorurus sordidus, and the browser , Siganus sutor, dominated feeding on high coral cover reefs, whereas browsing herbivores, Naso elegans, Naso unicornis, and Leptoscarus vaigiensis, prevailed on macroalgal-dominated reefs. It appeared that macroalgal density in the surrounding habitat had a strong influence on the species driving the process of macroalgal removal. This suggests that although the function of macroalgal removal may continue, the species responsible may change

  1. Competition between corals and algae on coral reefs: a review of evidence and mechanisms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McCook, L.; Jompa, J.; Diaz-Pulido, G.

    2001-05-01

    Despite widespread acceptance that competition between scleractinian corals and benthic algae is important to the structure of coral reef communities, there is little direct experimental evidence that corals and algae do compete, and very little data on the processes and causality of their interactions. Most available evidence is observational or correlative, with intrinsic risks of confounded causality. This paper reviews and categorises the available evidence, concluding that competition between corals and algae probably is widespread on coral reefs, but also that the interaction varies considerably. Widespread replacement of corals by algae may often indicate coral mortality due to external disturbances, rather than competitive overgrowth, but may lead to competitive inhibition of coral recruitment, with consequences for reef recovery. We list eight specific processes by which corals and algae may affect each other, and suggest life history properties that will influence which of these interactions are possible. We propose a matrix for algal effects on corals, which lists the subset of processes possible for each combination of coral life form and algal functional group. This table provides a preliminary framework for improved understanding and interpretation of coral-algal interactions.

  2. Tradeoffs between fisheries harvest and the resilience of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; O'Farrell, Shay; Bruggemann, J Henrich; Luckhurst, Brian E; Mumby, Peter J

    2016-04-19

    Many countries are legally obliged to embrace ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. Reductions in bycatch and physical habitat damage are now commonplace, but mitigating more sophisticated impacts associated with the ecological functions of target fisheries species are in their infancy. Here we model the impacts of a parrotfish fishery on the future state and resilience of Caribbean coral reefs, enabling us to view the tradeoff between harvest and ecosystem health. We find that the implementation of a simple and enforceable size restriction of >30 cm provides a win:win outcome in the short term, delivering both ecological and fisheries benefits and leading to increased yield and greater coral recovery rate for a given harvest rate. However, maintaining resilient coral reefs even until 2030 requires the addition of harvest limitations (<10% of virgin fishable biomass) to cope with a changing climate and induced coral disturbances, even in reefs that are relatively healthy today. Managing parrotfish is not a panacea for protecting coral reefs but can play a role in sustaining the health of reefs and high-quality habitat for reef fisheries. PMID:27044106

  3. 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

  4. Mechanical vulnerability explains size-dependent mortality of reef corals

    PubMed Central

    Madin, Joshua S; Baird, Andrew H; Dornelas, Maria; Connolly, Sean R

    2014-01-01

    Understanding life history and demographic variation among species within communities is a central ecological goal. Mortality schedules are especially important in ecosystems where disturbance plays a major role in structuring communities, such as coral reefs. Here, we test whether a trait-based, mechanistic model of mechanical vulnerability in corals can explain mortality schedules. Specifically, we ask whether species that become increasingly vulnerable to hydrodynamic dislodgment as they grow have bathtub-shaped mortality curves, whereas species that remain mechanically stable have decreasing mortality rates with size, as predicted by classical life history theory for reef corals. We find that size-dependent mortality is highly consistent between species with the same growth form and that the shape of size-dependent mortality for each growth form can be explained by mechanical vulnerability. Our findings highlight the feasibility of predicting assemblage-scale mortality patterns on coral reefs with trait-based approaches. PMID:24894390

  5. Status of Caribbean coral reefs in seven countries in 1986.

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Clive; Nowak, Madeleine; Miller, Ian; Baker, Valonna

    2013-05-15

    There are few long-term datasets available to make reliable statements about trends in cover and structure in many coral reefs around the world. We present 27year old summary data of the cover of corals and other biota on Caribbean and Western Atlantic coral reefs in 7 countries collected in late 1985 and early 1986. These data were collected to support research on sponge populations and show relatively low coral cover on many of these reefs with particularly low cover of Acropora spp. We present these summaries to encourage other researchers to compare with current conditions or repeat the surveys to show long-term trends; the raw data will be supplied on request. PMID:23602263

  6. Avoiding coral reef functional collapse requires local and global action.

    PubMed

    Kennedy, Emma V; Perry, Chris T; Halloran, Paul R; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Schönberg, Christine H L; Wisshak, Max; Form, Armin U; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P; Fine, Maoz; Eakin, C Mark; Mumby, Peter J

    2013-05-20

    Coral reefs face multiple anthropogenic threats, from pollution and overfishing to the dual effects of greenhouse gas emissions: rising sea temperature and ocean acidification. While the abundance of coral has declined in recent decades, the implications for humanity are difficult to quantify because they depend on ecosystem function rather than the corals themselves. Most reef functions and ecosystem services are founded on the ability of reefs to maintain their three-dimensional structure through net carbonate accumulation. Coral growth only constitutes part of a reef's carbonate budget; bioerosion processes are influential in determining the balance between net structural growth and disintegration. Here, we combine ecological models with carbonate budgets and drive the dynamics of Caribbean reefs with the latest generation of climate models. Budget reconstructions using documented ecological perturbations drive shallow (6-10 m) Caribbean forereefs toward an increasingly fragile carbonate balance. We then projected carbonate budgets toward 2080 and contrasted the benefits of local conservation and global action on climate change. Local management of fisheries (specifically, no-take marine reserves) and the watershed can delay reef loss by at least a decade under "business-as-usual" rises in greenhouse gas emissions. However, local action must be combined with a low-carbon economy to prevent degradation of reef structures and associated ecosystem services. PMID:23664976

  7. 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).

  8. Contrasting rates of coral recovery and reassembly in coral communities on the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johns, K. A.; Osborne, K. O.; Logan, M.

    2014-09-01

    Changes in the relative abundances of coral taxa during recovery from disturbance may cause shifts in essential ecological processes on coral reefs. Coral cover can return to pre-disturbance levels (coral recovery) without the assemblage returning to its previous composition (i.e., without reassembly). The processes underlying such changes are not well understood due to a scarcity of long-term studies with sufficient taxonomic resolution. We assessed the trajectories and time frames for coral recovery and reassembly of coral communities following disturbances, using modeled trajectories based on data from a broad spatial and temporal monitoring program. We studied coral communities at six reefs that suffered substantial coral loss and subsequently regained at least 50 % of their pre-disturbance coral cover. Five of the six communities regained their coral cover and the rates were remarkably consistent, taking 7-10 years. Four of the six communities reassembled to their pre-disturbance composition in 8-13 years. The coral communities at three of the reefs both regained coral cover and reassembled ten years. The trajectories of two communities suggested that they were unlikely to reassemble and the remaining community did not regain pre-disturbance coral cover. The communities that regained coral cover and reassembled had high relative abundance of tabulate Acropora spp. Coral communities of this composition appear likely to persist in a regime of pulse disturbances at intervals of ten years or more. Communities that failed to either regain coral cover or reassemble were in near-shore locations and had high relative abundance of Porites spp. and soft corals. Under current disturbance regimes, these communities are unlikely to re-establish their pre-disturbance community composition.

  9. 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

  10. Macroalgal terpenes function as allelopathic agents against reef corals

    PubMed Central

    Rasher, Douglas B.; Stout, E. Paige; Engel, Sebastian; Kubanek, Julia; Hay, Mark E.

    2011-01-01

    During recent decades, many tropical reefs have transitioned from coral to macroalgal dominance. These community shifts increase the frequency of algal–coral interactions and may suppress coral recovery following both anthropogenic and natural disturbance. However, the extent to which macroalgae damage corals directly, the mechanisms involved, and the species specificity of algal–coral interactions remain uncertain. Here, we conducted field experiments demonstrating that numerous macroalgae directly damage corals by transfer of hydrophobic allelochemicals present on algal surfaces. These hydrophobic compounds caused bleaching, decreased photosynthesis, and occasionally death of corals in 79% of the 24 interactions assayed (three corals and eight algae). Coral damage generally was limited to sites of algal contact, but algae were unaffected by contact with corals. Artificial mimics for shading and abrasion produced no impact on corals, and effects of hydrophobic surface extracts from macroalgae paralleled effects of whole algae; both findings suggest that local effects are generated by allelochemical rather than physical mechanisms. Rankings of macroalgae from most to least allelopathic were similar across the three coral genera tested. However, corals varied markedly in susceptibility to allelopathic algae, with globally declining corals such as Acropora more strongly affected. Bioassay-guided fractionation of extracts from two allelopathic algae led to identification of two loliolide derivatives from the red alga Galaxaura filamentosa and two acetylated diterpenes from the green alga Chlorodesmis fastigiata as potent allelochemicals. Our results highlight a newly demonstrated but potentially widespread competitive mechanism to help explain the lack of coral recovery on many present-day reefs. PMID:22006333

  11. The condition of coral reefs in South Florida (2000) using Coral disease and bleaching as indicators.

    PubMed

    Santavy, Deborah L; Summers, J Kevin; Engle, Virginia D; Harwell, Linda C

    2005-01-01

    The destruction of coral reef habitats has occurred at unprecedented levels during the last three decades. Coral disease and bleaching in the Caribbean and South Florida have caused extensive coral mortality with limited recovery, often coral reefs are being replaced with turf algae. Acroporids were once dominant corals and have diminished to the state where they are being considered as endangered species. Our survey assessed the condition of reef corals throughout South Florida. A probability-based design produced unbiased estimates of the spatial extent of ecological condition, measured as the absence or presence and frequency or prevalence of coral diseases and bleaching intensity over large geographic regions. This approach allowed us to calculate a quantifiable level of uncertainty. Coral condition was estimated for 4100 hectares (ha) (or 41.0 km2) of coral reefs in South Florida, including reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), New Grounds, Dry Tortugas National Park (DTNP), and Biscayne National Park (BNP). The absence or presence of coral disease, 'causal' coral bleaching, partial bleaching and coral paling were not good indicators of overall coral condition. It was more useful to report the prevalence of anomalies that indicated a compromised condition at both the population and community levels. For example, 79% of the area in South Florida had less than 6% of the coral colonies diseased, whereas only 2.2% (97.15 ha) of the sampled area had a maximum prevalence of 13% diseased coral colonies at any single location. The usefulness of 'causal bleaching' might be more important when considering the prevalence of each of the three different states at a single location. For example, paling was observed over the entire area, whereas bleaching and partial bleaching occurred at 19 and 41% of the area, respectively. An index for coral reef condition might integrate the prevalence and species affected by each bleaching state at individual

  12. Coral reef invertebrate microbiomes correlate with the presence of photosymbionts

    PubMed Central

    Bourne, David G; Dennis, Paul G; Uthicke, Sven; Soo, Rochelle M; Tyson, Gene W; Webster, Nicole

    2013-01-01

    Coral reefs provide habitat for an array of marine invertebrates that host symbiotic microbiomes. Photosynthetic symbionts including Symbiodinium dinoflagellates and diatoms potentially influence the diversity of their host-associated microbiomes by releasing carbon-containing photosynthates and other organic compounds that fuel microbial metabolism. Here we used 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene amplicon pyrosequencing to characterise the microbiomes of 11 common Great Barrier Reef marine invertebrate species that host photosynthetic symbionts and five taxa in which they are absent. The presence of photosynthetic symbionts influenced the composition but not the species richness, evenness and phylogenetic diversity of invertebrate-associated microbiomes. Invertebrates without photosynthetic symbionts were dominated by Alphaproteobacteria, whereas those hosting photosynthetic symbionts were dominated by Gammaproteobacteria. Interestingly, many microbial species from photosymbiont-bearing invertebrates, including Oceanospirillales spp., Alteromonas spp., Pseudomonas spp., Halomonas spp., are implicated in the metabolism of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). DMSP is produced in high concentrations by photosynthetic dinoflagellates and is involved in climate regulation by facilitating cloud formation. Microbiomes correlated with host taxa and replicate individuals from most sampled species grouped in distance-based redundancy analysis of retrieved 16S rRNA gene sequences. This study highlights the complex nature of invertebrate holobionts and confirms the importance of photosynthetic symbionts in structuring marine invertebrate bacterial communities. PMID:23303372

  13. Punctuated Stratigraphic Appearance of Cold-Water Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eberli, G. P.; Correa, T.; Massaferro, J. L.

    2008-05-01

    Existing and new data acquired with an AUV document a high abundance of cold-water coral mounds in the bottom of the Straits of Florida (SoF). These mounds display a large variability of shapes and heights. The abundance and variability encountered in these and modern cold-water coral mounds elsewhere is in stark contrast to lack of reported ancient cold-water coral reefs. Furthermore, the stratigraphic distribution suggests that cold-water corals punctuate the stratigraphic record with times of bloom and times of near complete absence. In the Florida Bahamas region, for example, the stratigraphic distribution is non-uniform. Preliminary age dating of the modern coral mounds produce ages of a few hundred to 1300 years for corals at the surface of the mounds. Sub-bottom profiles and seismic data across the investigated mound fields reveal that the "modern" mounds root in Pleistocene strata but are absent in the Pliocene strata below. Cores taken during ODP Legs 101 and 166 in the SoF confirm the punctuated appearance as deep-water coral rubble was penetrated only in the Pleistocene and in the upper Oligocene strata. The vast occurrence of Oligocene cold-water coral mounds is also visible on a 2-D seismic line in the northern SoF and on a 3-D seismic survey in the southwestern portion of the SoF. In this latter data set a mid-Miocene and the base of Tertiary seismic horizon also image mounded features. These spikes in reef development indicate that environmental conditions were only occasionally favorable for reef growth. The punctuated appearance is surprising as the core and seismic data document continuous current activity since the late Miocene in the SoF. We speculate that the "modern" bloom of cold-water coral reefs in the Pleistocene coincides with the onset of the large barrier reef systems in the Australia and Belize.

  14. The changing dynamics of coral reef science in Arabia.

    PubMed

    Vaughan, Grace O; Burt, John A

    2016-04-30

    Six percent of the world's coral reefs occur around the Arabian Peninsula, providing a valuable ecological, economic and scientific resource for the nations bordering its shores. We provide the first region-wide assessment of the current status and historical trends in coral reef research, focusing on research in the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and Arabian Gulf. In total, 633 regional reef publications have been produced since the 1930s, covering a wide variety of themes and taxa. Our results show a great deal of commonality in regional reef research, but also highlight important differences in research among the various seas as well as knowledge gaps that represent opportunities for future research. A regionally-integrated approach to future research is essential. There is a growing need for large-scale research to guide management of reefs and their stressors, as these operate at much larger scales than the national borders within which most research currently occurs. PMID:26621575

  15. Coral-algal phase shifts on coral reefs: Ecological and environmental aspects [review article

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McManus, John W.; Polsenberg, Johanna F.

    2004-02-01

    This paper briefly reviews coral-algal phase shifts on coral reefs, with particular regard to summarizing the exogenous and endogenous factors in support of a proposed conceptual model, and to identifying critical information gaps. A phase shift occurs on a coral reef when the cover of a substrate by scleractinian corals is reduced in favor of macroalgal dominance, and resilience of the former condition is retarded because of ecological processes and/or environmental conditions. The change is often, but not always, associated with a perturbation such as coral bleaching, outbreaks of a coral-eating species, or storm damage. The new state is generally associated with some combination of reduced herbivory (from disease and/or fishing) and nutrient enrichment, although the relative importance of these factors is under debate and may vary among locations and even across single reefs. Disturbances that result in a state of generally low biotic three-dimensional structural complexity often precede a phase shift. Following such a disturbance, the system will pass to a state of higher biotic structural complexity, with either macroalgae or coral dominating. As the community progresses towards larger and more three-dimensionally complex corals or macroalgae, it exhibits greater resistance to shifting dominance from one state to the other. Studies of the phase-shift phenomena have been generally conducted at scales that are small relative to the sizes and inherent variability of whole coral reefs and systems of reefs. There is an urgent need for studies aimed at quantifying and simulating cause and effect aspects of the phase shift, including human-environment coupling, particularly in support of coral reef decision-making.

  16. Historical decline in coral reef growth after the Panama Canal.

    PubMed

    Guzman, Hector M; Cipriani, Roberto; Jackson, Jeremy B C

    2008-07-01

    The Panama Canal is near its vessel size and tonnage handling capacity, and Panamanians have decided to expand it. The expansion of the Canal may consider the historical long-lasting impacts on marine coastal habitats particularly on sensitive coral reefs. These potential impacts were discussed during the national referendum as were other equally important issues, such as its effects on forests, watersheds, and water supply. Coral growth rates provide a direct measure of coral fitness and past environmental conditions comparable to analyses of tree rings. We examined stable isotopes, metal geochemical tracers, and growth rates on a century-long (1880-1989) chronology based on 77 cores of the dominant reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea collected near the Caribbean entrance to the canal. Our results showed a gradual decline in coral growth unrelated to changes in sea surface temperature but linked to runoff and sedimentation to coastal areas resulting from the construction and operation of the Panama Canal. PMID:18828279

  17. Through bleaching and tsunami: Coral reef recovery in the Maldives.

    PubMed

    Morri, Carla; Montefalcone, Monica; Lasagna, Roberta; Gatti, Giulia; Rovere, Alessio; Parravicini, Valeriano; Baldelli, Giuseppe; Colantoni, Paolo; Bianchi, Carlo Nike

    2015-09-15

    Coral reefs are degrading worldwide, but little information exists on their previous conditions for most regions of the world. Since 1989, we have been studying the Maldives, collecting data before, during and after the bleaching and mass mortality event of 1998. As early as 1999, many newly settled colonies were recorded. Recruits shifted from a dominance of massive and encrusting corals in the early stages of recolonisation towards a dominance of Acropora and Pocillopora by 2009. Coral cover, which dropped to less than 10% after the bleaching, returned to pre-bleaching values of around 50% by 2013. The 2004 tsunami had comparatively little effect. In 2014, the coral community was similar to that existing before the bleaching. According to descriptors and metrics adopted, recovery of Maldivian coral reefs took between 6 and 15years, or may even be considered unachieved, as there are species that had not come back yet. PMID:26228070

  18. Coral reef bleaching at Agatti Island of Lakshadweep atolls, India

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vinoth, Ramar; Gopi, Mohan; Kumar, Thipramalai Thankappanpillai Ajith; Thangaradjou, Thirunavukarassu; Balasubramanian, Thangavel

    2012-03-01

    A survey on coral bleaching was carried out at Agatti Island of Lakshadweep from May to June 2010. Elevated sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of the region exceeded the seasonal average and delayed the onset of monsoon, which triggered widespread bleaching of corals. The Agatti reefs showed an average of 73% bleached corals with apparent bleaching-related mortality of sea anemones (87%) and giant clams (83%). The SST increased up to 34 °C with an average maximum SST of 32.5 during the study °C period between May and June 2010. Coral reefs on the southern side of the island are fully or partially exposed to sun light during low tide in contrast to the other side. This suggests that the mortality is more likely due to the low tide exposure than exclusively due to the elevated SST. Observations indicated a clear increase in coral bleaching during April 2010, at levels higher than that in normal summer.

  19. Connectivity, regime shifts and the resilience of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elmhirst, Toby; Connolly, Sean R.; Hughes, Terry P.

    2009-12-01

    Connectivity of larvae among metapopulations in open marine systems can be a double-edged sword, allowing for the colonization and replenishment of both desirable and undesirable elements of interacting species-rich assemblages. This article studies the effect of recruitment by coral and macroalgae on the resilience of grazed reef ecosystems. In particular, we focus on how larval connectivity affects regime shifts between alternative assemblages that are dominated either by corals or by macroalgae. Using a model with bistability dynamics, we show that recruitment of coral larvae erodes the resilience of a macroalgae-dominated ecosystem when grazing is high, but has negligible effect when grazing is low. Conversely, recruitment by macroalgae erodes the resilience of a coral-dominated ecosystem when grazing is low, leading to a regime shift to macroalgae. Thus, spillover of coral recruits from highly protected areas will not restore coral cover or prevent flips to macroalgae in the surrounding seascape if grazing levels in these areas are depleted, but may be pivotal for re-building coral populations if grazing is high. Fishing restrictions and the re-introduction of herbivores should therefore be a prime conservation objective for preventing undesirable regime shifts. Connectivity by some components of coral reef assemblages (e.g., macroalgae, pathogens, crown-of-thorns starfish) may be detrimental to sustaining reefs, especially where overfishing and other drivers have eroded their resilience, making them more vulnerable to a regime shift.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    While many studies of coral bleaching report on broad, regional scale responses, fewer examine variation in susceptibility among coral taxa and changes in community structure, before, during and after bleaching on individual reefs. Here we report in detail on the response to bleaching by a coral community on a highly disturbed reef site south of mainland Singapore before, during and after a major thermal anomaly in 2010. To estimate the capacity for resistance to thermal stress, we report on: a) overall bleaching severity during and after the event, b) differences in bleaching susceptibility among taxa during the event, and c) changes in coral community structure one year before and after bleaching. Approximately two thirds of colonies bleached, however, post-bleaching recovery was quite rapid and, importantly, coral taxa that are usually highly susceptible were relatively unaffected. Although total coral cover declined, there was no significant change in coral taxonomic community structure before and after bleaching. Several factors may have contributed to the overall high resistance of corals at this site including Symbiodinium affiliation, turbidity and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that, despite experiencing chronic anthropogenic disturbances, turbid shallow reef communities may be remarkably resilient to acute thermal stress. PMID:26876092

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

    While many studies of coral bleaching report on broad, regional scale responses, fewer examine variation in susceptibility among coral taxa and changes in community structure, before, during and after bleaching on individual reefs. Here we report in detail on the response to bleaching by a coral community on a highly disturbed reef site south of mainland Singapore before, during and after a major thermal anomaly in 2010. To estimate the capacity for resistance to thermal stress, we report on: a) overall bleaching severity during and after the event, b) differences in bleaching susceptibility among taxa during the event, and c) changes in coral community structure one year before and after bleaching. Approximately two thirds of colonies bleached, however, post-bleaching recovery was quite rapid and, importantly, coral taxa that are usually highly susceptible were relatively unaffected. Although total coral cover declined, there was no significant change in coral taxonomic community structure before and after bleaching. Several factors may have contributed to the overall high resistance of corals at this site including Symbiodinium affiliation, turbidity and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that, despite experiencing chronic anthropogenic disturbances, turbid shallow reef communities may be remarkably resilient to acute thermal stress. PMID:26876092

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-09-01

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  4. CLIMATE CHANGE AND INTERACTING STRESSORS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CORAL REEF MANAGEMENT IN AMERICAN SAMOA (Final Report)

    EPA Science Inventory

    The purpose of this report is to provide the coral reef managers of American Samoa, as well as other coral reef managers in the Pacific region, with some management options to help enhance the capacity of local coral reefs to resist the negative effects of climate change.

  5. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-08-13

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic... assessment; request for comments. SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to issue a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that would authorize Kampachi Farms, LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem...

  6. 76 FR 77779 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-12-14

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS... the following vacant seats on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory....byers@noaa.gov . SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve is a ]...

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

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-02-29

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

  8. 76 FR 24050 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-04-29

    ... National Park Service Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement... Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Biscayne National... Impact Statement for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan (Plan/FEIS) for Biscayne National Park, Florida....

  9. 77 FR 16211 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-20

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

  10. 76 FR 7579 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-02-10

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

  11. 77 FR 48504 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Economic Value of Puerto Rico's Coral Reef...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-08-14

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

  12. 75 FR 47624 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-08-06

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

  13. 77 FR 6786 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-02-09

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

  14. 76 FR 52318 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-08-22

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

  15. 77 FR 39724 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-07-05

    ... Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and... U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task... protect coral reef ecosystems. The Departments of Commerce and the Interior co-chair the USCRTF,...

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

    EPA Science Inventory

    Determining stressor-response relationships in reef building corals is a critical need for researchers because of global declines in coral reef ecosystems. A simplified recirculating coral exposure system for laboratory testing of a diversity of species and morphologies of reef b...

  17. Quaternary raised coral-reef terraces on sumba island, indonesia.

    PubMed

    Pirazzoli, P A; Radtke, U; Hantoro, W S; Jouannic, C; Hoang, C T; Causse, C; Best, M B

    1991-06-28

    A spectacular sequence of coral-reef terraces (six steps broader than 500 meters and many minor substeps) is developed near Cape Laundi, Sumba Island, between an ancient patch reef 475 meters high and sea level. Several raised reefs have been dated with the electron spin resonance and the uranium-series dating methods. The uplift trend deduced from these reefs is 0.5 millimeter per year; most terraces, although polycyclic in origin, appear to correspond to specific interglacial stages, with the oldest terrace formed 1 million years ago. This puts them among the longest and most complete mid-Quaternary terrace sequences. PMID:17753260

  18. Flexibility in Algal Endosymbioses Shapes Growth in Reef Corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Little, Angela F.; van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.; Willis, Bette L.

    2004-06-01

    The relation between corals and their algal endosymbionts has been a key to the success of scleractinian (stony) corals as modern reef-builders, but little is known about early stages in the establishment of the symbiosis. Here, we show that initial uptake of zooxanthellae by juvenile corals during natural infection is nonspecific (a potentially adaptive trait); the association is flexible and characterized by a change in (dominant) zooxanthella strains over time; and growth rates of experimentally infected coral holobionts are partly contingent on the zooxanthella strain harbored, with clade C-infected juveniles growing two to three times as fast as those infected with clade D.

  19. Coral reef environmental science: truth versus the Cassandra syndrome

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grigg, Richard W.

    1992-12-01

    In 1970, coral reef science was warned that the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, might cause the extinction of scleractinian corals in the Pacific Ocean. Now, 20 years later we can fortunately say that this alarm was almost certainly too severe. Many reefs were devastated by the starfish, but none are extinct, none have disappeared and many are in various stages of recovery. But now in the 1990's a new alarm is being sounded. This time the concern is over widespread destruction of coral reefs by elevated surface temperatures. Once again a few scientists have issued a dire warning that these events may represent a harbinger of ocean warming caused by the Greenhouse Effect. Has not Acanthaster taught coral reef science a lesson? The debate is far from over but this time the mood in general is not one of over-reaction. This time the Cassandras will be tested by the truth of careful experimentation, long-term monitoring and objective interpretation. Coral reef science appears to have come of age.

  20. 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. PMID:25959987

  1. Measuring coral reef decline through meta-analyses

    PubMed Central

    Côté, I.M; Gill, J.A; Gardner, T.A; Watkinson, A.R

    2005-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are in decline worldwide, owing to a variety of anthropogenic and natural causes. One of the most obvious signals of reef degradation is a reduction in live coral cover. Past and current rates of loss of coral are known for many individual reefs; however, until recently, no large-scale estimate was available. In this paper, we show how meta-analysis can be used to integrate existing small-scale estimates of change in coral and macroalgal cover, derived from in situ surveys of reefs, to generate a robust assessment of long-term patterns of large-scale ecological change. Using a large dataset from Caribbean reefs, we examine the possible biases inherent in meta-analytical studies and the sensitivity of the method to patchiness in data availability. Despite the fact that our meta-analysis included studies that used a variety of sampling methods, the regional estimate of change in coral cover we obtained is similar to that generated by a standardized survey programme that was implemented in 1991 in the Caribbean. We argue that for habitat types that are regularly and reasonably well surveyed in the course of ecological or conservation research, meta-analysis offers a cost-effective and rapid method for generating robust estimates of past and current states. PMID:15814352

  2. 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. PMID:22090385

  3. The importance of structural complexity in coral reef ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Graham, N. A. J.; Nash, K. L.

    2013-06-01

    The importance of structural complexity in coral reefs has come to the fore with the global degradation of reef condition; however, the limited scale and replication of many studies have restricted our understanding of the role of complexity in the ecosystem. We qualitatively and quantitatively (where sufficient standardised data were available) assess the literature regarding the role of structural complexity in coral reef ecosystems. A rapidly increasing number of publications have studied the role of complexity in reef ecosystems over the past four decades, with a concomitant increase in the diversity of methods used to quantify structure. Quantitative analyses of existing data indicate a strong negative relationship between structural complexity and algal cover, which may reflect the important role complexity plays in enhancing herbivory by reef fishes. The cover of total live coral and branching coral was positively correlated with structural complexity. These habitat attributes may be creating much of the structure, resulting in a collinear relationship; however, there is also evidence of enhanced coral recovery from disturbances where structural complexity is high. Urchin densities were negatively correlated with structural complexity; a relationship that may be driven by urchins eroding reef structure or by their gregarious behaviour when in open space. There was a strong positive relationship between structural complexity and fish density and biomass, likely mediated through density-dependent competition and refuge from predation. More variable responses were found when assessing individual fish families, with all families examined displaying a positive relationship to structural complexity, but only half of these relationships were significant. Although only corroborated with qualitative data, structural complexity also seems to have a positive effect on two ecosystem services: tourism and shoreline protection. Clearly, structural complexity is an

  4. Coral community change on a turbid-zone reef complex: developing baseline records for the central Great Barrier Reef's nearshore coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Jamie; Perry, Chris; Smithers, Scott; Morgan, Kyle; Johnson, Kenneth

    2016-04-01

    Understanding past coral community development and reef growth is crucial for placing contemporary ecological and environmental change within appropriate reef-building timescales. Coral reefs located within coastal inner-shelf zones are widely perceived to be most susceptible to declining water quality due to their proximity to modified river catchments. On the inner-shelf of Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) the impacts and magnitude of declining water quality since European settlement (c. 1850 A.D.) still remain unclear. This relates to ongoing debates concerning the significance of increased sediment yields against the naturally high background sedimentary regimes and the paucity of long-term (>decadal) ecological datasets. To provide baseline records for interpreting coral community change within the turbid inner-shelf waters of the GBR, 21 cores were recovered from five nearshore reefs spanning an evolutionary spectrum of reef development. Discrete intervals pre- and post-dating European settlement, but deposited at equivalent water depths, were identified by radiocarbon dating, enabling the discrimination of extrinsic and intrinsic driven shifts within the coral palaeo-record. We report no discernible evidence of anthropogenically-driven disturbance on the coral community records at these sites. Instead, significant transitions in coral community assemblages relating to water depth and vertical reef accretion were observed. We suggest that these records may be used to contextualise observed contemporary ecological change within similar environments on the GBR.

  5. Diversity and stability of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Thibaut, Loic M; Connolly, Sean R; Sweatman, Hugh P A

    2012-04-01

    Biodiversity may provide insurance against ecosystem collapse by stabilizing assemblages that perform particular ecological functions (the "portfolio effect"). However, the extent to which this occurs in nature and the importance of different mechanisms that generate portfolio effects remain controversial. On coral reefs, herbivory helps maintain coral dominated states, so volatility in levels of herbivory has important implications for reef ecosystems. Here, we used an extensive time series of abundances on 35 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia to quantify the strength of the portfolio effect for herbivorous fishes. Then, we disentangled the contributions of two mechanisms that underlie it (compensatory interactions and differential responses to environmental fluctuations ["response diversity"]) by fitting a community-dynamic model that explicitly includes terms for both mechanisms. We found that portfolio effects operate strongly in herbivorous fishes, as shown by nearly independent fluctuations in abundances over time. Moreover, we found strong evidence for high response diversity, with nearly independent responses to environmental fluctuations. In contrast, we found little evidence that the portfolio effect in this system was enhanced by compensatory ecological interactions. Our results show that portfolio effects are driven principally by response diversity for herbivorous fishes on coral reefs. We conclude that portfolio effects can be very strong in nature and that, for coral reefs in particular, response diversity may help maintain herbivory above the threshold levels that trigger regime shifts. PMID:22690639

  6. Florida Integrated Science Center (FISC) Coral Reef Research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Poore, D.Z.

    2008-01-01

    Coral reefs provide important ecosystem services such as shoreline protection and the support of lucrative industries including fisheries and tourism. Such ecosystem services are being compromised as reefs decline due to coral disease, climate change, overfishing, and pollution. There is a need for focused, integrated science to understand the complex ecological interactions and effects of these many stressors and to provide information that will effectively guide policies and best management practices to preserve and restore these important resources. The U.S. Geological Survey Florida Integrated Science Center (USGS-FISC) is conducting a coordinated Coral Reef Research Project beginning in 2009. Specific research topics are aimed at addressing priorities identified in the 'Strategic Science for Coral Ecosystems 2007-2011' document (U.S. Geological Survey, 2007). Planned research will include a blend of historical, monitoring, and process studies aimed at improving our understanding of the development, current status and function, and likely future changes in coral ecosystems. Topics such as habitat characterization and distribution, coral disease, and trends in biogenic calcification are major themes of understanding reef structure, ecological integrity, and responses to global change.

  7. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Danwei; Roy, Kaustuv

    2015-01-01

    One-third of the world's reef-building corals are facing heightened extinction risk from climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. Previous studies have shown that such threats are not distributed randomly across the coral tree of life, and future extinctions have the potential to disproportionately reduce the phylogenetic diversity of this group on a global scale. However, the impact of such losses on a regional scale remains poorly known. In this study, we use phylogenetic metrics in conjunction with geographical distributions of living reef coral species to model how extinctions are likely to affect evolutionary diversity across different ecoregions. Based on two measures—phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic species variability—we highlight regions with the largest losses of evolutionary diversity and hence of potential conservation interest. Notably, the projected loss of evolutionary diversity is relatively low in the most species-rich areas such as the Coral Triangle, while many regions with fewer species stand to lose much larger shares of their diversity. We also suggest that for complex ecosystems like coral reefs it is important to consider changes in phylogenetic species variability; areas with disproportionate declines in this measure should be of concern even if phylogenetic diversity is not as impacted. These findings underscore the importance of integrating evolutionary history into conservation planning for safeguarding the future diversity of coral reefs. PMID:25561671

  8. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals.

    PubMed

    Huang, Danwei; Roy, Kaustuv

    2015-02-19

    One-third of the world's reef-building corals are facing heightened extinction risk from climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. Previous studies have shown that such threats are not distributed randomly across the coral tree of life, and future extinctions have the potential to disproportionately reduce the phylogenetic diversity of this group on a global scale. However, the impact of such losses on a regional scale remains poorly known. In this study, we use phylogenetic metrics in conjunction with geographical distributions of living reef coral species to model how extinctions are likely to affect evolutionary diversity across different ecoregions. Based on two measures-phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic species variability-we highlight regions with the largest losses of evolutionary diversity and hence of potential conservation interest. Notably, the projected loss of evolutionary diversity is relatively low in the most species-rich areas such as the Coral Triangle, while many regions with fewer species stand to lose much larger shares of their diversity. We also suggest that for complex ecosystems like coral reefs it is important to consider changes in phylogenetic species variability; areas with disproportionate declines in this measure should be of concern even if phylogenetic diversity is not as impacted. These findings underscore the importance of integrating evolutionary history into conservation planning for safeguarding the future diversity of coral reefs. PMID:25561671

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-06-01

    We propose a framework for spatially estimating a proxy for coral reef resilience using remote sensing. Data spanning large areas of coral reef habitat were obtained using the commercial QuickBird satellite, and freely available imagery (NASA, Google Earth). Principles of coral reef ecology, field observation, and remote observations, were combined to devise mapped indices. These capture important and accessible components of coral reef resilience. Indices are divided between factors known to stress corals, and factors incorporating properties of the reef landscape that resist stress or promote coral growth. The first-basis for a remote sensed resilience index (RSRI), an estimate of expected reef resilience, is proposed. Developed for the Red Sea, the framework of our analysis is flexible and with minimal adaptation, could be extended to other reef regions. We aim to stimulate discussion as to use of remote sensing to do more than simply deliver habitat maps of coral reefs. PMID:22480935

  10. Direct evaluation of macroalgal removal by herbivorous coral reef fishes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mantyka, C. S.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2007-06-01

    Few studies have examined the relative functional impacts of individual herbivorous fish species on coral reef ecosystem processes in the Indo-Pacific. This study assessed the potential grazing impact of individual species within an inshore herbivorous reef fish assemblage on the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), by determining which fish species were able to remove particular macroalgal species. Transplanted multiple-choice algal assays and remote stationary underwater digital video cameras were used to quantify the impact of local herbivorous reef fish species on 12 species of macroalgae. Macroalgal removal by the fishes was rapid. Within 3 h of exposure to herbivorous reef fishes there was significant evidence of intense grazing. After 12 h of exposure, 10 of the 12 macroalgal species had decreased to less than 15% of their original mass. Chlorodesmis fastigiata (Chlorophyta) and Galaxaura sp. (Rhodophyta) showed significantly less susceptibility to herbivorous reef fish grazing than all other macroalgae, even after 24 h exposure. Six herbivorous and/or nominally herbivorous reef fish species were identified as the dominant grazers of macroalgae: Siganus doliatus, Siganus canaliculatus, Chlorurus microrhinos, Hipposcarus longiceps, Scarus rivulatus and Pomacanthus sexstriatus. The siganid S. doliatus fed heavily on Hypnea sp., while S. canaliculatus fed intensively on Sargassum sp. Variation in macroalgal susceptibility was not clearly correlated with morphological and/or chemical defenses that have been previously suggested as deterrents against herbivory. Nevertheless, the results stress the potential importance of individual herbivorous reef fish species in removing macroalgae from coral reefs.

  11. Changes to coral health and metabolic activity under oxygen deprivation.

    PubMed

    Murphy, James W A; Richmond, Robert H

    2016-01-01

    On Hawaiian reefs, the fast-growing, invasive algae Gracilaria salicornia overgrows coral heads, restricting water flow and light, thereby smothering corals. Field data shows hypoxic conditions (dissolved oxygen (DO2) < 2 mg/L) occurring underneath algal mats at night, and concurrent bleaching and partial tissue loss of shaded corals. To analyze the impact of nighttime oxygen-deprivation on coral health, this study evaluated changes in coral metabolism through the exposure of corals to chronic hypoxic conditions and subsequent analyses of lactate, octopine, alanopine, and strombine dehydrogenase activities, critical enzymes employed through anaerobic respiration. Following treatments, lactate and octopine dehydrogenase activities were found to have no significant response in activities with treatment and time. However, corals subjected to chronic nighttime hypoxia were found to exhibit significant increases in alanopine dehydrogenase activity after three days of exposure and strombine dehydrogenase activity starting after one overnight exposure cycle. These findings provide new insights into coral metabolic shifts in extremely low-oxygen environments and point to ADH and SDH assays as tools for quantifying the impact of hypoxia on coral health. PMID:27114888

  12. Changes to coral health and metabolic activity under oxygen deprivation

    PubMed Central

    Richmond, Robert H.

    2016-01-01

    On Hawaiian reefs, the fast-growing, invasive algae Gracilaria salicornia overgrows coral heads, restricting water flow and light, thereby smothering corals. Field data shows hypoxic conditions (dissolved oxygen (DO2) < 2 mg/L) occurring underneath algal mats at night, and concurrent bleaching and partial tissue loss of shaded corals. To analyze the impact of nighttime oxygen-deprivation on coral health, this study evaluated changes in coral metabolism through the exposure of corals to chronic hypoxic conditions and subsequent analyses of lactate, octopine, alanopine, and strombine dehydrogenase activities, critical enzymes employed through anaerobic respiration. Following treatments, lactate and octopine dehydrogenase activities were found to have no significant response in activities with treatment and time. However, corals subjected to chronic nighttime hypoxia were found to exhibit significant increases in alanopine dehydrogenase activity after three days of exposure and strombine dehydrogenase activity starting after one overnight exposure cycle. These findings provide new insights into coral metabolic shifts in extremely low-oxygen environments and point to ADH and SDH assays as tools for quantifying the impact of hypoxia on coral health. PMID:27114888

  13. Climate-change refugia: shading reef corals by turbidity.

    PubMed

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2016-03-01

    Coral reefs have recently experienced an unprecedented decline as the world's oceans continue to warm. Yet global climate models reveal a heterogeneously warming ocean, which has initiated a search for refuges, where corals may survive in the near future. We hypothesized that some turbid nearshore environments may act as climate-change refuges, shading corals from the harmful interaction between high sea-surface temperatures and high irradiance. We took a hierarchical Bayesian approach to determine the expected distribution of 12 coral species in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between the latitudes 37°N and 37°S, under representative concentration pathway 8.5 (W m(-2) ) by 2100. The turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study were located between latitudes 20-30°N and 15-25°S, where there was a strong coupling between turbidity and tidal fluctuations. Our model predicts that turbidity will mitigate high temperature bleaching for 9% of shallow reef habitat (to 30 m depth) - habitat that was previously considered inhospitable under ocean warming. Our model also predicted that turbidity will protect some coral species more than others from climate-change-associated thermal stress. We also identified locations where consistently high turbidity will likely reduce irradiance to <250 μmol m(-2)  s(-1) , and predict that 16% of reef-coral habitat ≤30 m will preclude coral growth and reef development. Thus, protecting the turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study, particularly in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the northern Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands (Japan), eastern Vietnam, western and eastern Australia, New Caledonia, the northern Red Sea, and the Arabian Gulf, should become part of a judicious global strategy for reef-coral persistence under climate change. PMID:26695523

  14. 76 FR 63904 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Administration

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-10-14

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral..., extension 150, or Jenny.Waddell@noaagov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract The Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 (Act) was enacted to provide a framework for conserving coral reefs. The Coral...

  15. Growth study of branching coral Acropora formosa between natural reef habitats and in situ coral nurseries

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xin, Loke Hai; Hyde, Julian; Cob, Zaidi Che; Adzis, Kee Alfian Abdul

    2013-11-01

    Being a common reef building coral in Malaysian waters, growth of Acropora Formosa in natural reef habitat and coral nursery condition had been studied in aspects of extension growth, survival and proto-branch generation. The study sites took place at two separate islands with different environment conditions. In this study, A. formosa samples of natural reefs at Pangkor Island turbid waters recorded better growth in average extension rate (0.71 ±0.48 cm/month) and higher proto-branch generation rate (up to 52% after 6 months) than Tioman Island samples (0.38 ±0.34 cm/month, highest 17% after 6 months). However, Tioman Island natural reef samples maintained 100% survival throughout the study period. Then, branch fragments or nubbins of A. formosa were transplanted into two coral nursery sites at Tioman Island. Among these two coral nurseries, the Tekek site had better growth in all three aspects than Air Batang site. This was believed due to Tekek nursery had been setup with nubbins for more than 6 months before Air Batang nursery, thus the Tekek samples were conditioned long enough for growing in the coral nursery environment. The results of this study documented the growth of this particular coral species in two islands of Peninsular Malaysia, and demonstrated the potential application of A. Formosa for coral transplant, in situ nursery and active reef restoration.

  16. Marine Reserves Enhance the Recovery of Corals on Caribbean Reefs

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    The fisheries and biodiversity benefits of marine reserves are widely recognised but there is mounting interest in exploiting the importance of herbivorous fishes as a tool to help ecosystems recover from climate change impacts. This approach might be particularly suitable for coral reefs, which are acutely threatened by climate change, yet the trophic cascades generated by reserves are strong enough that they might theoretically enhance the rate of coral recovery after disturbance. However, evidence for reserves facilitating coral recovery has been lacking. Here we investigate whether reductions in macroalgal cover, caused by recovery of herbivorous parrotfishes within a reserve, have resulted in a faster rate of coral recovery than in areas subject to fishing. Surveys of ten sites inside and outside a Bahamian marine reserve over a 2.5-year period demonstrated that increases in coral cover, including adjustments for the initial size-distribution of corals, were significantly higher at reserve sites than those in non-reserve sites. Furthermore, macroalgal cover was significantly negatively correlated with the change in total coral cover over time. Recovery rates of individual species were generally consistent with small-scale manipulations on coral-macroalgal interactions, but also revealed differences that demonstrate the difficulties of translating experiments across spatial scales. Size-frequency data indicated that species which were particularly affected by high abundances of macroalgae outside the reserve had a population bottleneck restricting the supply of smaller corals to larger size classes. Importantly, because coral cover increased from a heavily degraded state, and recovery from such states has not previously been described, similar or better outcomes should be expected for many reefs in the region. Reducing herbivore exploitation as part of an ecosystem-based management strategy for coral reefs appears to be justified. PMID:20066158

  17. Alkalinity Enrichment Enhances Net Calcification of a Coral Reef Flat

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Albright, R.; Caldeira, K.

    2015-12-01

    Ocean acidification is projected to shift reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution sometime this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale changes in coral calcification over the last several decades, it is not possible to unequivocally link these results to ocean acidification due to confounding factors of temperature and other environmental parameters. Here, we quantified the calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment to test whether reef calcification increases when ocean chemistry is restored to near pre-industrial conditions. We used sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to increase the total alkalinity of seawater flowing over a reef flat, with the aim of increasing carbonate ion concentrations [CO32-] and the aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) to values that would have been attained under pre-industrial atmospheric pCO2 levels. We developed a dual tracer regression method to estimate alkalinity uptake (i.e., calcification) in response to alkalinity enrichment. This approach uses the change in ratios between a non-conservative tracer (alkalinity) and a conservative tracer (a non-reactive dye, Rhodamine WT) to assess the fraction of added alkalinity that is taken up by the reef as a result of an induced increase in calcification rate. Using this method, we estimate that an average of 17.3% ± 2.3% of the added alkalinity was taken up by the reef community. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment performed on a natural coral reef community (without artificial confinement), we demonstrate that, upon increase of [CO32-] and Ωarag to near pre-industrial values, reef calcification increases. Thus, we conclude that, the impacts of ocean acidification are already being felt by coral reefs. This work is the culmination of years of work in the Caldeira lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science, involving many people including Jack Silverman, Kenny Schneider, and Jana Maclaren.

  18. High Macroalgal Cover and Low Coral Recruitment Undermines the Potential Resilience of the World's Southernmost Coral Reef Assemblages

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic and climate-induced stressors. The ability of reefs to reassemble and regenerate after disturbances (i.e., resilience) is largely dependent on the capacity of herbivores to prevent macroalgal expansion, and the replenishment of coral populations through larval recruitment. Currently there is a paucity of this information for higher latitude, subtropical reefs. To assess the potential resilience of the benthic reef assemblages of Lord Howe Island (31°32′S, 159°04′E), the worlds' southernmost coral reef, we quantified the benthic composition, densities of juvenile corals (as a proxy for coral recruitment), and herbivorous fish communities. Despite some variation among habitats and sites, benthic communities were dominated by live scleractinian corals (mean cover 37.4%) and fleshy macroalgae (20.9%). Live coral cover was higher than in most other subtropical reefs and directly comparable to lower latitude tropical reefs. Juvenile coral densities (0.8 ind.m−2), however, were 5–200 times lower than those reported for tropical reefs. Overall, macroalgal cover was negatively related to the cover of live coral and the density of juvenile corals, but displayed no relationship with herbivorous fish biomass. The biomass of herbivorous fishes was relatively low (204 kg.ha−1), and in marked contrast to tropical reefs was dominated by macroalgal browsing species (84.1%) with relatively few grazing species. Despite their extremely low biomass, grazing fishes were positively related to both the density of juvenile corals and the cover of bare substrata, suggesting that they may enhance the recruitment of corals through the provision of suitable settlement sites. Although Lord Howe Islands' reefs are currently coral-dominated, the high macroalgal cover, coupled with limited coral recruitment and low coral growth rates suggest these reefs may be extremely susceptible to future disturbances. PMID:21991366

  19. Linking Demographic Processes of Juvenile Corals to Benthic Recovery Trajectories in Two Common Reef Habitats

    PubMed Central

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J.

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (<50 mm) coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21–50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (<20 mm) had the highest influence on reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation

  20. CORAL CONDITION: HOW TO FATHOM THE DECLINE OF CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reefs have experienced unprecedented levels of bleaching, disease and mortality during the last three decades. The goal of EPA-ORD research is to identify the culpable stressors in different species, reefs and regions using integrated field and laboratory studies.

  1. 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.…

  2. Hysteresis in coral reefs under macroalgal toxicity and overfishing.

    PubMed

    Bhattacharyya, Joydeb; Pal, Samares

    2015-03-01

    Macroalgae and corals compete for the available space in coral reef ecosystems.While herbivorous reef fish play a beneficial role in decreasing the growth of macroalgae, macroalgal toxicity and overfishing of herbivores leads to proliferation of macroalgae. The abundance of macroalgae changes the community structure towards a macroalgae-dominated reef ecosystem. We investigate coral-macroalgal phase shifts by means of a continuous time model in a food chain. Conditions for local asymptotic stability of steady states are derived. It is observed that in the presence of macroalgal toxicity and overfishing, the system exhibits hysteresis through saddle-node bifurcation and transcritical bifurcation. We examine the effects of time lags in the liberation of toxins by macroalgae and the recovery of algal turf in response to grazing of herbivores on macroalgae by performing equilibrium and stability analyses of delay-differential forms of the ODE model. Computer simulations have been carried out to illustrate the different analytical results. PMID:25708511

  3. Marine protected areas increase resilience among coral reef communities.

    PubMed

    Mellin, Camille; Aaron MacNeil, M; Cheal, Alistair J; Emslie, Michael J; Julian Caley, M

    2016-06-01

    With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conserving non-target species and wider ecosystem functions remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of coral reef communities to natural disturbances, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, Acanthaster planci outbreaks and storms. Using a 20-year time series from Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we show that within MPAs, (1) reef community composition was 21-38% more stable; (2) the magnitude of disturbance impacts was 30% lower and (3) subsequent recovery was 20% faster that in adjacent unprotected habitats. Our results demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of marine communities to natural disturbance possibly through herbivory, trophic cascades and portfolio effects. PMID:27038889

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-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. PMID:22090385

  5. Associations among coral reef macroalgae influence feeding by herbivorous fishes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Loffler, Z.; Bellwood, D. R.; Hoey, A. S.

    2015-03-01

    Benthic macroalgae often occur in close association with other macroalgae, yet the implications of such associations on coral reefs are unclear. We selected three pairs of commonly associated macroalgae on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and exposed them, either independently or paired, to herbivore assemblages. Pairing the palatable alga Acanthophora with the calcified and chemically defended Galaxaura resulted in a 69 % reduction in the consumption of Acanthophora, but had no effect on the consumption of Galaxaura. The reduced consumption of Acanthophora was related to 53-85 % reductions in the feeding rates of two herbivorous fish species, Kyphosus vaigiensis and Siganus doliatus. Neither Acanthophora nor Sargassum were afforded protection when paired with the brown macroalga Turbinaria. Although limited to one of the three species pairings, such associations between algae may allow the ecological persistence of palatable species in the face of intense herbivory, enhancing macroalgal diversity on coral reefs.

  6. Fish-derived nutrient hotspots shape coral reef benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Shantz, Andrew A; Ladd, Mark C; Schrack, Elizabeth; Burkepile, Deron E

    2015-12-01

    Animal-derived nutrients play an important role in structuring nutrient regimes within and between ecosystems. When animals undergo repetitive, aggregating behavior through time, they can create nutrient hotspots where rates of biogeochemical activity are higher than those found in the surrounding environment. In turn, these hotspots can influence ecosystem processes and community structure. We examined the potential for reef fishes from the family Haemulidae (grunts) to create nutrient hotspots and the potential impact of these hotspots on reef communities. To do so, we tracked the schooling locations of diurnally migrating grunts, which shelter at reef sites during the day but forage off reef each night, and measured the impact of these fish schools on benthic communities. We found that grunt schools showed a high degree of site fidelity, repeatedly returning to the same coral heads. These aggregations created nutrient hotspots around coral heads where nitrogen and phosphorus delivery was roughly 10 and 7 times the respective rates of delivery to structurally similar sites that lacked schools of these fishes. In turn, grazing rates of herbivorous fishes at grunt-derived hotspots were approximately 3 times those of sites where grunts were rare. These differences in nutrient delivery and grazing led to distinct benthic communities with higher cover of crustose coralline algae and less total algal abundance at grunt aggregation sites. Importantly, coral growth was roughly 1.5 times greater at grunt hotspots, likely due to the important nutrient subsidy. Our results suggest that schooling reef fish and their nutrient subsidies play an important role in mediating community structure on coral reefs and that overfishing may have important negative consequences on ecosystem functions. As such, management strategies must consider mesopredatory fishes in addition to current protection often offered to herbivores and top-tier predators. Furthermore, our results suggest that

  7. 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. PMID:26909578

  8. 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.

  9. African dust and the demise of Caribbean Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shinn, Eugene A.; Smith, Garriet W.; Prospero, Joseph M.; Betzer, Peter; Hayes, Marshall L.; Garrison, Virginia; Barber, Richard T.

    2000-10-01

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

  10. African dust and the demise of Caribbean coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2000-01-01

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