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Sample records for affecting coral reef

  1. Hydrodynamic Regimes Affect Coral Reef Resilience to Ocean Acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Teneva, L. T.; Dunbar, R. B.; Koseff, J. R.; Fleischfresser, J. D.; Koweek, D.

    2013-05-01

    Caribbean reefs hold tremendous value as sources of food, income, coastal protection, in addition to their cultural significance. Recently, studies showed that Caribbean reef growth has been surpassed in places by excessive rates of erosion due to climate change. The rates of coral reef response to ocean pH changes and warming and the implications for ecosystem resilience remain largely unknown. One way to investigate the potential structural resilience of reefs to climate change is to measure the physical oceanographic conditions in the area. Determining the hydrodynamic regimes and residence time of water in a particular reef environment is crucial to understanding the rates of future warming and acidification a reef site would experience. Our work on Pacific Islands' hydrodynamics - Central Equatorial Pacific, Great Barrier Reef, and Western Pacific -- would be of interest to Caribbean physical oceanographers and coral reef scientists. We use a combination of Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters, temperature and salinity sensors, and pressure sensors to characterize reef hydrodynamic regimes. Our work indicates that shallower, more protected reef habitats are characterized by longer residence times, their biological signals are strongly tidally modulated, essentially subjecting such habitats to higher rates of warming and acidification in the future. Reef crest environments and fore reef habitats, on the other hand, are well-mixed with open-ocean water. The hydrodynamic regimes there condition such reef sites to more attenuated temperature and pH ranges, conditions more typical of the open ocean. Our work suggests that investigating the geomorphology and resulting localized hydrodynamics in a reef area can provide insights into the relative rates at which a reef could resist or succumb to impacts of ocean acidification. Such information for different reef islands, in the Pacific or Caribbean basins, could provide helpful insights

  2. Boring sponges, an increasing threat for coral reefs affected by bleaching events.

    PubMed

    Carballo, José L; Bautista, Eric; Nava, Héctor; Cruz-Barraza, José A; Chávez, Jesus A

    2013-04-01

    Coral bleaching is a stress response of corals induced by a variety of factors, but these events have become more frequent and intense in response to recent climate-change-related temperature anomalies. We tested the hypothesis that coral reefs affected by bleaching events are currently heavily infested by boring sponges, which are playing a significant role in the destruction of their physical structure. Seventeen reefs that cover the entire distributional range of corals along the Mexican Pacific coast were studied between 2005/2006, and later between 2009/2010. Most of these coral reefs were previously impacted by bleaching events, which resulted in coral mortalities. Sponge abundance and species richness was used as an indicator of bioerosion, and coral cover was used to describe the present condition of coral reefs. Coral reefs are currently highly invaded (46% of the samples examined) by a very high diversity of boring sponges (20 species); being the coral reef framework the substrate most invaded (56%) followed by the rubbles (45%), and the living colonies (36%). The results also indicated that boring sponges are promoting the dislodgment of live colonies and large fragments from the framework. In summary, the eastern coral reefs affected by bleaching phenomena, mainly provoked by El Niño, present a high diversity and abundance of boring sponges, which are weakening the union of the colony with the reef framework and promoting their dislodgment. These phenomena will probably become even more intense and severe, as temperatures are projected to continue to rise under the scenarios for future climate change, which could place many eastern coral reefs beyond their survival threshold.

  3. Boring sponges, an increasing threat for coral reefs affected by bleaching events

    PubMed Central

    Carballo, José L; Bautista, Eric; Nava, Héctor; Cruz-Barraza, José A; Chávez, Jesus A

    2013-01-01

    Coral bleaching is a stress response of corals induced by a variety of factors, but these events have become more frequent and intense in response to recent climate-change-related temperature anomalies. We tested the hypothesis that coral reefs affected by bleaching events are currently heavily infested by boring sponges, which are playing a significant role in the destruction of their physical structure. Seventeen reefs that cover the entire distributional range of corals along the Mexican Pacific coast were studied between 2005/2006, and later between 2009/2010. Most of these coral reefs were previously impacted by bleaching events, which resulted in coral mortalities. Sponge abundance and species richness was used as an indicator of bioerosion, and coral cover was used to describe the present condition of coral reefs. Coral reefs are currently highly invaded (46% of the samples examined) by a very high diversity of boring sponges (20 species); being the coral reef framework the substrate most invaded (56%) followed by the rubbles (45%), and the living colonies (36%). The results also indicated that boring sponges are promoting the dislodgment of live colonies and large fragments from the framework. In summary, the eastern coral reefs affected by bleaching phenomena, mainly provoked by El Niño, present a high diversity and abundance of boring sponges, which are weakening the union of the colony with the reef framework and promoting their dislodgment. These phenomena will probably become even more intense and severe, as temperatures are projected to continue to rise under the scenarios for future climate change, which could place many eastern coral reefs beyond their survival threshold. PMID:23610632

  4. CoBOP Coral Reefs: Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field

    DTIC Science & Technology

    1999-09-30

    CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field Charles S. Yentsch Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences 180 McKown Point W...REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED 00-00-1999 to 00-00-1999 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine...affecting the decline of coral reefs is change in water transparency driven by anthropogenic rather than natural processes. Corals are known to

  5. 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.

  6. Environmental Factors Affecting Large-Bodied Coral Reef Fish Assemblages in the Mariana Archipelago

    PubMed Central

    Richards, Benjamin L.; Williams, Ivor D.; Vetter, Oliver J.; Williams, Gareth J.

    2012-01-01

    Large-bodied reef fishes represent an economically and ecologically important segment of the coral reef fish assemblage. Many of these individuals supply the bulk of the reproductive output for their population and have a disproportionate effect on their environment (e.g. as apex predators or bioeroding herbivores). Large-bodied reef fishes also tend to be at greatest risk of overfishing, and their loss can result in a myriad of either cascading (direct) or indirect trophic and other effects. While many studies have investigated habitat characteristics affecting populations of small-bodied reef fishes, few have explored the relationship between large-bodied species and their environment. Here, we describe the distribution of the large-bodied reef fishes in the Mariana Archipelago with an emphasis on the environmental factors associated with their distribution. Of the factors considered in this study, a negative association with human population density showed the highest relative influence on the distribution of large-bodied reef fishes; however, depth, water temperature, and distance to deep water also were important. These findings provide new information on the ecology of large-bodied reef fishes can inform discussions concerning essential fish habitat and ecosystem-based management for these species and highlight important knowledge gaps worthy of additional research. PMID:22384014

  7. Habitat characteristics affecting fish assemblages on a Hawaiian coral reef

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Friedlander, A.M.; Parrish, J.D.

    1998-01-01

    Habitat characteristics of a reef were examined as potential influences on fish assemblage structure, using underwater visual census to estimate numbers and biomass of all fishes visible on 42 benthic transects and making quantitative measurements of 13 variables of the corresponding physical habitat and sessile biota. Fish assemblages in the diverse set of benthic habitats were grouped by detrended correspondence analysis, and associated with six major habitat types. Statistical differences were shown between a number of these habitat types for various ensemble variables of the fish assemblages. Overall, both for complete assemblages and for component major trophic and mobility guilds, these variables tended to have higher values where reef substratum was more structurally or topographically complex, and closer to reef edges. When study sites were separately divided into five depth strata, the deeper strata tended to have statistically higher values of ensemble variables for the fish assemblages. Patterns with depth varied among the various trophic and mobility guilds. Multiple linear regression models indicated that for the complete assemblages and for most trophic and mobility guilds, a large part of the variability for most ensemble variables was explained by measures of holes in the substratum, with important contributions from measured substratum rugosity and depth. A strong linear relationship found by regression of mean fish length on mean volume of holes in the reef surface emphasized the importance of shelter for fish assemblages. Results of this study may have practical applications in designing reserve areas as well as theoretical value in helping to explain the organization of reef fish assemblages.

  8. 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.

  9. The future of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Knowlton, N

    2001-05-08

    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 degrees 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.

  10. Regional-scale dominance of non-framework building corals on Caribbean reefs affects carbonate production and future reef growth.

    PubMed

    Perry, Chris T; Steneck, Robert S; Murphy, Gary N; Kench, Paul S; Edinger, Evan N; Smithers, Scott G; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-03-01

    Coral cover on Caribbean reefs has declined rapidly since the early 1980's. Diseases have been a major driver, decimating communities of framework building Acropora and Orbicella coral species, and reportedly leading to the emergence of novel coral assemblages often dominated by domed and plating species of the genera Agaricia, Porites and Siderastrea. These corals were not historically important Caribbean framework builders, and typically have much smaller stature and lower calcification rates, fuelling concerns over reef carbonate production and growth potential. Using data from 75 reefs from across the Caribbean we quantify: (i) the magnitude of non-framework building coral dominance throughout the region and (ii) the contribution of these corals to contemporary carbonate production. Our data show that live coral cover averages 18.2% across our sites and coral carbonate production 4.1 kg CaCO3  m(-2)  yr(-1) . However, non-framework building coral species dominate and are major carbonate producers at a high proportion of sites; they are more abundant than Acropora and Orbicella at 73% of sites; contribute an average 68% of the carbonate produced; and produce more than half the carbonate at 79% of sites. Coral cover and carbonate production rate are strongly correlated but, as relative abundance of non-framework building corals increases, average carbonate production rates decline. Consequently, the use of coral cover as a predictor of carbonate budget status, without species level production rate data, needs to be treated with caution. Our findings provide compelling evidence for the Caribbean-wide dominance of non-framework building coral taxa, and that these species are now major regional carbonate producers. However, because these species typically have lower calcification rates, continued transitions to states dominated by non-framework building coral species will further reduce carbonate production rates below 'predecline' levels, resulting in shifts

  11. Shifts in bacterial communities of two caribbean reef-building coral species affected by white plague disease

    PubMed Central

    Cárdenas, Anny; Rodriguez-R, Luis M; Pizarro, Valeria; Cadavid, Luis F; Arévalo-Ferro, Catalina

    2012-01-01

    Coral reefs are deteriorating at an alarming rate mainly as a consequence of the emergence of coral diseases. The white plague disease (WPD) is the most prevalent coral disease in the southwestern Caribbean, affecting dozens of coral species. However, the identification of a single causal agent has proved problematic. This suggests more complex etiological scenarios involving alterations in the dynamic interaction between environmental factors, the coral immune system and the symbiotic microbial communities. Here we compare the microbiome of healthy and WPD-affected corals from the two reef-building species Diploria strigosa and Siderastrea siderea collected at the Tayrona National Park in the Caribbean of Colombia. Microbiomes were analyzed by combining culture-dependent methods and pyrosequencing of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) V5-V6 hypervariable regions. A total of 20 410 classifiable 16S rDNA sequences reads were obtained including all samples. No significant differences in operational taxonomic unit diversity were found between healthy and affected tissues; however, a significant increase of Alphaproteobacteria and a concomitant decrease in the Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria was observed in WPD-affected corals of both species. Significant shifts were also observed in the orders Rhizobiales, Caulobacteriales, Burkholderiales, Rhodobacterales, Aleteromonadales and Xanthomonadales, although they were not consistent between the two coral species. These shifts in the microbiome structure of WPD-affected corals suggest a loss of community-mediated growth control mechanisms on bacterial populations specific for each holobiont system. PMID:21955993

  12. Long-term cleaner fish presence affects growth of a coral reef fish

    PubMed Central

    Clague, Gillian E.; Cheney, Karen L.; Goldizen, Anne W.; McCormick, Mark I.; Waldie, Peter A.; Grutter, Alexandra S.

    2011-01-01

    Cleaning behaviour is considered to be a classical example of mutualism. However, no studies, to our knowledge, have measured the benefits to clients in terms of growth. In the longest experimental study of its kind, over an 8 year period, cleaner fish Labroides dimidiatus were consistently removed from seven patch reefs (61–285 m2) and left undisturbed on nine control reefs, and the growth and parasite load of the damselfish Pomacentrus moluccensis determined. After 8 years, growth was reduced and parasitic copepod abundance was higher on fish from removal reefs compared with controls, but only in larger individuals. Behavioural observations revealed that P. moluccensis cleaned by L. dimidiatus were 27 per cent larger than nearby conspecifics. The selective cleaning by L. dimidiatus probably explains why only larger P. moluccensis individuals benefited from cleaning. This is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that cleaners affect the growth rate of client individuals; a greater size for a given age should result in increased fecundity at a given time. The effect of the removal of so few small fish on the size of another fish species is unprecedented on coral reefs. PMID:21733872

  13. 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.

  14. 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...

  15. 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...

  16. Climate change affects key nitrogen-fixing bacterial populations on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Santos, Henrique F; Carmo, Flávia L; Duarte, Gustavo; Dini-Andreote, Francisco; Castro, Clovis B; Rosado, Alexandre S; van Elsas, Jan Dirk; Peixoto, Raquel S

    2014-11-01

    Coral reefs are at serious risk due to events associated with global climate change. Elevated ocean temperatures have unpredictable consequences for the ocean's biogeochemical cycles. The nitrogen cycle is driven by complex microbial transformations, including nitrogen fixation. This study investigated the effects of increased seawater temperature on bacteria able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs) that live in association with the mussid coral Mussismilia harttii. Consistent increases in diazotroph abundances and diversities were found at increased temperatures. Moreover, gradual shifts in the dominance of particular diazotroph populations occurred as temperature increased, indicating a potential future scenario of climate change. The temperature-sensitive diazotrophs may provide useful bioindicators of the effects of thermal stress on coral reef health, allowing the impact of thermal anomalies to be monitored. In addition, our findings support the development of research on different strategies to improve the fitness of corals during events of thermal stress, such as augmentation with specific diazotrophs.

  17. Climate change affects key nitrogen-fixing bacterial populations on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

    Santos, Henrique F; Carmo, Flávia L; Duarte, Gustavo; Dini-Andreote, Francisco; Castro, Clovis B; Rosado, Alexandre S; van Elsas, Jan Dirk; Peixoto, Raquel S

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are at serious risk due to events associated with global climate change. Elevated ocean temperatures have unpredictable consequences for the ocean's biogeochemical cycles. The nitrogen cycle is driven by complex microbial transformations, including nitrogen fixation. This study investigated the effects of increased seawater temperature on bacteria able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs) that live in association with the mussid coral Mussismilia harttii. Consistent increases in diazotroph abundances and diversities were found at increased temperatures. Moreover, gradual shifts in the dominance of particular diazotroph populations occurred as temperature increased, indicating a potential future scenario of climate change. The temperature-sensitive diazotrophs may provide useful bioindicators of the effects of thermal stress on coral reef health, allowing the impact of thermal anomalies to be monitored. In addition, our findings support the development of research on different strategies to improve the fitness of corals during events of thermal stress, such as augmentation with specific diazotrophs. PMID:24830827

  18. 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...

  19. ELEVATED TEMPERATURE AND ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT AFFECT CONDITION OF REEF BUILDING CORALS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Abstract and Poster for the EPA Science Forum.

    Reef-building corals are declining throughout the world, even at locations with low human populations. Declines have been linked to global changes in land use and climate change. EPA's Office of Research and Development is inv...

  20. From Reef to Table: Social and Ecological Factors Affecting Coral Reef Fisheries, Artisanal Seafood Supply Chains, and Seafood Security

    PubMed Central

    Kittinger, John N.; Teneva, Lida T.; Koike, Haruko; Stamoulis, Kostantinos A.; Kittinger, Daniela S.; Oleson, Kirsten L. L.; Conklin, Eric; Gomes, Mahana; Wilcox, Bart; Friedlander, Alan M.

    2015-01-01

    Ocean and coastal ecosystems provide critical fisheries, coastal protection, and cultural benefits to communities worldwide, but these services are diminishing due to local and global threats. In response, place-based strategies involve communities and resource users in management have proliferated. Here, we present a transferable community-based approach to assess the social and ecological factors affecting resource sustainability and food security in a small-scale, coral reef fishery. Our results show that this small-scale fishery provides large-scale benefits to communities, including 7,353 ± 1547 kg yr-1 (mean ± SE) of seafood per year, equating to >30,000 meals with an economic value of $78,432. The vast majority of the catch is used for subsistence, contributing to community food security: 58% is kept, 33.5% is given away, and 8.5% is sold. Our spatial analysis assesses the geographic distribution of community beneficiaries from the fishery (the “food shed” for the fishery), and we document that 20% of seafood procured from the fishery is used for sociocultural events that are important for social cohesion. This approach provides a method for assessing social, economic, and cultural values provided by small-scale food systems, as well as important contributions to food security, with significant implications for conservation and management. This interdisciplinary effort aims to demonstrate a transferable participatory research approach useful for resource-dependent communities as they cope with socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental change. PMID:26244910

  1. From Reef to Table: Social and Ecological Factors Affecting Coral Reef Fisheries, Artisanal Seafood Supply Chains, and Seafood Security.

    PubMed

    Kittinger, John N; Teneva, Lida T; Koike, Haruko; Stamoulis, Kostantinos A; Kittinger, Daniela S; Oleson, Kirsten L L; Conklin, Eric; Gomes, Mahana; Wilcox, Bart; Friedlander, Alan M

    2015-01-01

    Ocean and coastal ecosystems provide critical fisheries, coastal protection, and cultural benefits to communities worldwide, but these services are diminishing due to local and global threats. In response, place-based strategies involve communities and resource users in management have proliferated. Here, we present a transferable community-based approach to assess the social and ecological factors affecting resource sustainability and food security in a small-scale, coral reef fishery. Our results show that this small-scale fishery provides large-scale benefits to communities, including 7,353 ± 1547 kg yr(-1) (mean ± SE) of seafood per year, equating to >30,000 meals with an economic value of $78,432. The vast majority of the catch is used for subsistence, contributing to community food security: 58% is kept, 33.5% is given away, and 8.5% is sold. Our spatial analysis assesses the geographic distribution of community beneficiaries from the fishery (the "food shed" for the fishery), and we document that 20% of seafood procured from the fishery is used for sociocultural events that are important for social cohesion. This approach provides a method for assessing social, economic, and cultural values provided by small-scale food systems, as well as important contributions to food security, with significant implications for conservation and management. This interdisciplinary effort aims to demonstrate a transferable participatory research approach useful for resource-dependent communities as they cope with socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental change.

  2. 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.

  3. 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...

  4. Bioindication in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Yap, H T

    1986-01-01

    The concept of bioindication in the sense of the use of organisms for detecting environmental stress has been employed in coral reef conservation and management for the past several years. Important tools are coral growth rates and various community parameters, notably hard coral cover. The present need is the optimal coordination of international efforts for the earliest possible institution of an effective monitoring system.

  5. How does the proliferation of the coral-killing sponge Terpios hoshinota affect benthic community structure on coral reefs?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elliott, Jennifer; Patterson, Mark; Summers, Natalie; Miternique, Céline; Montocchio, Emma; Vitry, Eugene

    2016-09-01

    Terpios hoshinota is an encrusting sponge and a fierce space competitor. It kills stony corals by overgrowing them and can impact reefs on the square kilometer scale. We investigated an outbreak of T. hoshinota in 2014 at the island of Mauritius to determine its impacts on coral community structure. Surveys were conducted at the putative outbreak center, an adjacent area, and around the island to determine the extent of spread of the sponge and which organisms it impacted. In addition, quadrats were monitored for 5 months (July-December) to measure the spreading rates of T. hoshinota and Acropora austera in areas both with and without T. hoshinota. The photosynthetic capabilities of T. hoshinota and A. austera were also measured. Terpios hoshinota was well established, covering 13% of an estimated 416 m2 of available hard coral substrate at the putative outbreak center, and 10% of an estimated 588 m2 of available hard coral substrate at the adjacent area. The sponge was observed at only one other site around Mauritius. Terpios hoshinota and A. austera increased their planar areas by 26.9 and 13.9%, respectively, over five months. No new colonies of T. hoshinota were recorded in adjacent sponge-free control areas, suggesting that sponge recruitment is very low during austral winter and spring. The sponge was observed to overgrow five stony corals; however, it showed a preference for branching corals, especially A. austera. This is the first time that a statistically significant coral substrate preference by T. hoshinota has been reported. Terpios hoshinota also had a significantly higher photosynthetic capacity than A. austera at irradiance >500 μmol photons m-2 s-1, a possible explanation for its high spreading rate. We discuss the long-term implications of the proliferation of T. hoshinota on community structure and dynamics of our study site.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Maintenance of fish diversity on disturbed coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wilson, S. K.; Dolman, A. M.; Cheal, A. J.; Emslie, M. J.; Pratchett, M. S.; Sweatman, H. P. A.

    2009-03-01

    Habitat perturbations play a major role in shaping community structure; however, the elements of disturbance-related habitat change that affect diversity are not always apparent. This study examined the effects of habitat disturbances on species richness of coral reef fish assemblages using annual surveys of habitat and 210 fish species from 10 reefs on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Over a period of 11 years, major disturbances, including localised outbreaks of crown-of-thorns sea star ( Acanthaster planci), severe storms or coral bleaching, resulted in coral decline of 46-96% in all the 10 reefs. Despite declines in coral cover, structural complexity of the reef framework was retained on five and species richness of coral reef fishes maintained on nine of the disturbed reefs. Extensive loss of coral resulted in localised declines of highly specialised coral-dependent species, but this loss of diversity was more than compensated for by increases in the number of species that feed on the epilithic algal matrix (EAM). A unimodal relationship between areal coral cover and species richness indicated species richness was greatest at approximately 20% coral cover declining by 3-4 species (6-8% of average richness) at higher and lower coral cover. Results revealed that declines in coral cover on reefs may have limited short-term impact on the diversity of coral reef fishes, though there may be fundamental changes in the community structure of fishes.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 25 2011-07-01 2011-07-01 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...

  13. 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...

  14. 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...

  15. 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...

  16. Confronting the coral reef crisis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bellwood, D. R.; Hughes, T. P.; Folke, C.; Nyström, M.

    2004-06-01

    The worldwide decline of coral reefs calls for an urgent reassessment of current management practices. Confronting large-scale crises requires a major scaling-up of management efforts based on an improved understanding of the ecological processes that underlie reef resilience. Managing for improved resilience, incorporating the role of human activity in shaping ecosystems, provides a basis for coping with uncertainty, future changes and ecological surprises. Here we review the ecological roles of critical functional groups (for both corals and reef fishes) that are fundamental to understanding resilience and avoiding phase shifts from coral dominance to less desirable, degraded ecosystems. We identify striking biogeographic differences in the species richness and composition of functional groups, which highlight the vulnerability of Caribbean reef ecosystems. These findings have profound implications for restoration of degraded reefs, management of fisheries, and the focus on marine protected areas and biodiversity hotspots as priorities for conservation.

  17. 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.

  18. CoBOP Coral Reefs: Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2001-09-30

    CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field Dr. Charles S. Yentsch Bigelow Laboratory McKown Point Road West...2001 to 00-00-2001 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT

  19. 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.

  20. Coral reefs. Limited scope for latitudinal extension of reef corals.

    PubMed

    Muir, Paul R; Wallace, Carden C; Done, Terence; Aguirre, J David

    2015-06-05

    An analysis of present-day global depth distributions of reef-building corals and underlying environmental drivers contradicts a commonly held belief that ocean warming will promote tropical coral expansion into temperate latitudes. Using a global data set of a major group of reef corals, we found that corals were confined to shallower depths at higher latitudes (up to 0.6 meters of predicted shallowing per additional degree of latitude). Latitudinal attenuation of the most important driver of this phenomenon-the dose of photosynthetically available radiation over winter-would severely constrain latitudinal coral range extension in response to ocean warming. Latitudinal gradients in species richness for the group also suggest that higher winter irradiance at depth in low latitudes allowed a deep-water fauna that was not viable at higher latitudes.

  1. Histological observations in the Hawaiian reef coral, Porites compressa, affected by Porites bleaching with tissue loss.

    PubMed

    Sudek, M; Work, T M; Aeby, G S; Davy, S K

    2012-10-01

    The scleractinian finger coral Porites compressa is affected by the coral disease Porites bleaching with tissue loss (PBTL). This disease initially manifests as bleaching of the coenenchyme (tissue between polyps) while the polyps remain brown with eventual tissue loss and subsequent algal overgrowth of the bare skeleton. Histopathological investigation showed a loss of symbiont and melanin-containing granular cells which was more pronounced in the coenenchyme than the polyps. Cell counts confirmed a 65% reduction in symbiont density. Tissue loss was due to tissue fragmentation and necrosis in affected areas. In addition, a reduction in putative bacterial aggregate densities was found in diseased samples but no potential pathogens were observed.

  2. Histological observations in the Hawaiian reef coral, Porites compressa, affected by Porites bleaching with tissue loss

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sudek, M.; Work, T.M.; Aeby, G.S.; Davy, S.K.

    2012-01-01

    The scleractinian finger coral Porites compressa is affected by the coral disease Porites bleaching with tissue loss (PBTL). This disease initially manifests as bleaching of the coenenchyme (tissue between polyps) while the polyps remain brown with eventual tissue loss and subsequent algal overgrowth of the bare skeleton. Histopathological investigation showed a loss of symbiont and melanin-containing granular cells which was more pronounced in the coenenchyme than the polyps. Cell counts confirmed a 65% reduction in symbiont density. Tissue loss was due to tissue fragmentation and necrosis in affected areas. In addition, a reduction in putative bacterial aggregate densities was found in diseased samples but no potential pathogens were observed.

  3. CoBOP Coral Reefs: Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2002-09-30

    CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field Dr. Charles S. Yentsch Bigelow Laboratory McKown Point Road West...TYPE 3. DATES COVERED 00-00-2002 to 00-00-2002 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field...remote assessment of salinity and ocean color in Florida Bay. In: The Everglades, Florida Bay and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys: An Ecosystem

  4. 10th Anniversary Review: a changing climate for coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Lough, Janice M

    2008-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs are charismatic ecosystems that house a significant proportion of the world's marine biodiversity. Their valuable goods and services are fundamental to the livelihood of large coastal populations in the tropics. The health of many of the world's coral reefs, and the goods and services they provide, have already been severely compromised, largely due to over-exploitation by a range of human activities. These local-scale impacts, with the appropriate government instruments, support and management actions, can potentially be controlled and even ameliorated. Unfortunately, other human actions (largely in countries outside of the tropics), by changing global climate, have added additional global-scale threats to the continued survival of present-day coral reefs. Moderate warming of the tropical oceans has already resulted in an increase in mass coral bleaching events, affecting nearly all of the world's coral reef regions. The frequency of these events will only increase as global temperatures continue to rise. Weakening of coral reef structures will be a more insidious effect of changing ocean chemistry, as the oceans absorb part of the excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. More intense tropical cyclones, changed atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns will all affect coral reef ecosystems and the many associated plants and animals. Coral reefs will not disappear but their appearance, structure and community make-up will radically change. Drastic greenhouse gas mitigation strategies are necessary to prevent the full consequences of human activities causing such alterations to coral reef ecosystems.

  5. 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.

  6. Larval traits carry over to affect post-settlement behaviour in a common coral reef fish.

    PubMed

    Dingeldein, Andrea L; White, J Wilson

    2016-07-01

    Most reef fishes begin life as planktonic larvae before settling to the reef, metamorphosing and entering the benthic adult population. Different selective forces determine survival in the planktonic and benthic life stages, but traits established in the larval stage may carry over to affect post-settlement performance. We tested the hypothesis that larval traits affect two key post-settlement fish behaviours: social group-joining and foraging. Certain larval traits of reef fishes are permanently recorded in the rings in their otoliths. In the bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum), prior work has shown that key larval traits recorded in otoliths (growth rate, energetic condition at settlement) carry over to affect post-settlement survival on the reef, with higher-larval-condition fish experiencing less post-settlement mortality. We hypothesized that this selective mortality is mediated by carry-over effects on post-settlement antipredator behaviours. We predicted that better-condition fish would forage less and be more likely to join groups, both behaviours that would reduce predation risk. We collected 550 recently settled bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum) from three reef sites off St. Croix (USVI) and performed two analyses. First, we compared each settler's larval traits to the size of its social group to determine whether larval traits influenced group-joining behaviour. Secondly, we observed foraging behaviour in a subset of grouped and solitary fish (n = 14) for 1-4 days post-settlement. We then collected the fish and tested whether larval traits influenced the proportion of time spent foraging. Body length at settlement, but not condition, affected group-joining behaviour; smaller fish were more likely to remain solitary or in smaller groups. However, both greater length and better condition were associated with greater proportions of time spent foraging over four consecutive days post-settlement. Larval traits carry over to affect post

  7. Global warming may disproportionately affect larger adults in a predatory coral reef fish.

    PubMed

    Messmer, Vanessa; Pratchett, Morgan S; Hoey, Andrew S; Tobin, Andrew J; Coker, Darren J; Cooke, Steven J; Clark, Timothy D

    2016-11-03

    Global warming is expected to reduce body sizes of ectothermic animals. Although the underlying mechanisms of size reductions remain poorly understood, effects appear stronger at latitudinal extremes (poles and tropics) and in aquatic rather than terrestrial systems. To shed light on this phenomenon, we examined the size dependence of critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and aerobic metabolism in a commercially important tropical reef fish, the leopard coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus) following acclimation to current-day (28.5 °C) vs. projected end-of-century (33 °C) summer temperatures for the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR). CTmax declined from 38.3 to 37.5 °C with increasing body mass in adult fish (0.45-2.82 kg), indicating that larger individuals are more thermally sensitive than smaller conspecifics. This may be explained by a restricted capacity for large fish to increase mass-specific maximum metabolic rate (MMR) at 33 °C compared with 28.5 °C. Indeed, temperature influenced the relationship between metabolism and body mass (0.02-2.38 kg), whereby the scaling exponent for MMR increased from 0.74 ± 0.02 at 28.5 °C to 0.79 ± 0.01 at 33 °C, and the corresponding exponents for standard metabolic rate (SMR) were 0.75 ± 0.04 and 0.80 ± 0.03. The increase in metabolic scaling exponents at higher temperatures suggests that energy budgets may be disproportionately impacted in larger fish and contribute to reduced maximum adult size. Such climate-induced reductions in body size would have important ramifications for fisheries productivity, but are also likely to have knock-on effects for trophodynamics and functioning of ecosystems.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Data-driven models for regional coral-reef dynamics.

    PubMed

    Żychaluk, Kamila; Bruno, John F; Clancy, Damian; McClanahan, Tim R; Spencer, Matthew

    2012-02-01

    Coral reefs have been affected by natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Coral cover has declined on many reefs, and macroalgae have increased on some. The existence of alternative stable states with high or low coral cover has been widely debated, but not clearly established. We evaluate the evidence for alternative stable states in benthic coral-reef dynamics in the Caribbean, Kenya and Great Barrier Reef (GBR), using stochastic semi-parametric models based on large numbers of time series of cover of hard corals, macroalgae and other components. Only the GBR showed a consistent short-term regional decline in coral cover. There was no evidence for regional increases in macroalgae. The equilibrium distributions of our models were close to recently observed distributions, and differed among regions. In all three regions, the equilibrium distributions were unimodal rather than bimodal, and thus did not suggest the existence of alternative stable states on a regional scale, under current conditions.

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. New tool to manage coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is making available a new tool for coral reef managers to monitor the cumulative thermal stress of several coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, and reefs by the Galapagos Islands, the agency announced on 25 February.The agency's "Degree Heating Weeks" product uses satellite-derived information to allow continuous monitoring of the extent and acuteness of thermal stress, which are key predictors of coral bleaching, and which contribute to coral reef degradation.

  14. Climate change and coral reef connectivity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Munday, P. L.; Leis, J. M.; Lough, J. M.; Paris, C. B.; Kingsford, M. J.; Berumen, M. L.; Lambrechts, J.

    2009-06-01

    This review assesses and predicts the impacts that rapid climate change will have on population connectivity in coral reef ecosystems, using fishes as a model group. Increased ocean temperatures are expected to accelerate larval development, potentially leading to reduced pelagic durations and earlier reef-seeking behaviour. Depending on the spatial arrangement of reefs, the expectation would be a reduction in dispersal distances and the spatial scale of connectivity. Small increase in temperature might enhance the number of larvae surviving the pelagic phase, but larger increases are likely to reduce reproductive output and increase larval mortality. Changes to ocean currents could alter the dynamics of larval supply and changes to planktonic productivity could affect how many larvae survive the pelagic stage and their condition at settlement; however, these patterns are likely to vary greatly from place-to-place and projections of how oceanographic features will change in the future lack sufficient certainty and resolution to make robust predictions. Connectivity could also be compromised by the increased fragmentation of reef habitat due to the effects of coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Changes to the spatial and temporal scales of connectivity have implications for the management of coral reef ecosystems, especially the design and placement of marine-protected areas. The size and spacing of protected areas may need to be strategically adjusted if reserve networks are to retain their efficacy in the future.

  15. 75 FR 48934 - Coral Reef Conservation Program Implementation Guidelines

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-08-12

    ... National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-ZC19 Coral Reef Conservation Program... Implementation Guidelines for the Coral Reef Conservation Program. SUMMARY: This document provides NOAA's revised Grant Program Implementation Guidelines (Guidelines) for the Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP...

  16. Response of coral reefs to climate change: Expansion and demise of the southernmost Pacific coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Woodroffe, Colin D.; Brooke, Brendan P.; Linklater, Michelle; Kennedy, David M.; Jones, Brian G.; Buchanan, Cameron; Mleczko, Richard; Hua, Quan; Zhao, Jian-xin

    2010-08-01

    Coral reefs track sea level and are particularly sensitive to changes in climate. Reefs are threatened by global warming, with many experiencing increased coral bleaching. Warmer sea surface temperatures might enable reef expansion into mid latitudes. Here we report multibeam sonar and coring that reveal an extensive relict coral reef around Lord Howe Island, which is fringed by the southernmost reef in the Pacific Ocean. The relict reef, in water depths of 25-50 m, flourished in early Holocene and covered an area more than 20 times larger than the modern reef. Radiocarbon and uranium-series dating indicates that corals grew between 9000 and 7000 years ago. The reef was subsequently drowned, and backstepped to its modern limited extent. This relict reef, with localised re-establishment of corals in the past three millennia, could become a substrate for reef expansion in response to warmer temperatures, anticipated later this century and beyond, if corals are able to recolonise its surface.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Sediment suppresses herbivory across a coral reef depth gradient.

    PubMed

    Goatley, Christopher H R; Bellwood, David R

    2012-12-23

    Sediments are a ubiquitous feature of all coral reefs, yet our understanding of how they affect complex ecological processes on coral reefs is limited. Sediment in algal turfs has been shown to suppress herbivory by coral reef fishes on high-sediment, low-herbivory reef flats. Here, we investigate the role of sediment in suppressing herbivory across a depth gradient (reef base, crest and flat) by observing fish feeding following benthic sediment reductions. We found that sediment suppresses herbivory across all reef zones. Even slight reductions on the reef crest, which has 35 times less sediment than the reef flat, resulted in over 1800 more herbivore bites (h(-1) m(-2)). The Acanthuridae (surgeonfishes) were responsible for over 80 per cent of all bites observed, and on the reef crest and flat took over 1500 more bites (h(-1) m(-2)) when sediment load was reduced. These findings highlight the role of natural sediment loads in shaping coral reef herbivory and suggest that changes in benthic sediment loads could directly impair reef resilience.

  20. 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.

  1. Macroalgal terpenes function as allelopathic agents against reef corals.

    PubMed

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

    2011-10-25

    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.

  2. Coral Reef Remote Sensing Database and Monitoring of Coral Reefs by ASTER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kayanne, H.; Matsunaga, T.; Kanbara, H.; Kato, M.

    2001-05-01

    Coral reefs in the world are under the crisis of degradation both by increasing human activities in coastal zone and by the global changes. All the factors of the global change scenario would bring serious impact on coral reefs. Increase in CO2 suppress calcification in coral reefs. The world-wide bleaching event in 1997-1998 was supposed to be at least partly resulted from global warming. Coral reefs would submerge by sea level rise in this century. To conserve and manage coral reefs against these threats, monitoring of coral reef by satellite remote sensing is important. ASTER has provided effective data for mapping coral reef landforms and benthic communities. The most basic geomorphological and ecological zonation was successfully classified using ASTER data. For example, coral reef flat with its zonation of algai rim, rubble bank, back reef was clearly identified by ASTER by decision tree method and bottom index using VNIR bands data. For the basis of effective monitoring of coral reefs, we have constructed coral reef remote sensing database, which contains more than 1,100,000 data. Tropical and subtropical oceans (40N-40S) were gridded by 0.5 x 0.5 degrees and the grids with coral reefs were identified. The grids with coral reefs correspond to path/rows of the satellite (MOS1, JERS-1, ADEOS, LANDSAT, SPOT and TERRA) and basic information (existence of data, satellite and sensor, path/row, lat/log, aquisition date, cloud cover, type of coral reef) of so-far obtained satellite data until 2000 was input in the database. Status of data aquisition at specific coral reefs can be listed up by this database.

  3. 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.

  4. Geological Approaches to Coral Reef Ecology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kench, Paul

    2008-09-01

    Tropical coral reef systems cover an estimated 284,300 square kilometers of the Earth's surface and are considered among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. The reef systems are zones of high biological diversity, habitat for about one quarter of all known marine species, and important components of the global carbon cycle. In addition, they provide the physical foundation for a number of mid-ocean nation states. Coral reefs worldwide are considered to be in serious ecological decline due to anthropogenic impacts, natural stresses, and climate change. However, these gloomy projections for coral reefs are based largely on analysis of short-term changes in their ecological condition.

  5. Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

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

    2006-01-01

    As one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems known, and one of the first ecosystems to exhibit major climate-warming impacts (coral bleaching), coral reefs have drawn much scientific attention to what may prove to be their Achilles heel, the thermal sensitivity of reef-building corals. Here we show that climate change-driven loss of live coral, and ultimately structural complexity, in the Seychelles results in local extinctions, substantial reductions in species richness, reduced taxonomic distinctness, and a loss of species within key functional groups of reef fish. The importance of deteriorating physical structure to these patterns demonstrates the longer-term impacts of bleaching on reefs and raises questions over the potential for recovery. We suggest that isolated reef systems may be more susceptible to climate change, despite escaping many of the stressors impacting continental reefs. PMID:16709673

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. CORAL REEF BIOLOGICAL CRITERIA: USING THE CLEAN ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    Coral reefs are declining at unprecedented rates worldwide due to multiple interactive stressors including climate change and land-based sources of pollution. The Clean Water Act (CWA) can be a powerful legal instrument for protecting water resources, including the biological inhabitants of coral reefs. The objective of the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of water resources. Coral reef protection and restoration under the Clean Water Act begins with water quality standards - provisions of state or Federal law that consist of a designated use(s) for the waters of the United States and water quality criteria sufficient to protect the uses. Aquatic life use is the designated use that is measured by biological criteria (biocriteria). Biocriteria are expectations set by a jurisdiction for the quality and quantity of living aquatic resources in a defined waterbody. Biocriteria are an important addition to existing management tools for coral reef ecosystems. The Technical Support Document “Coral Reef Biological Criteria: Using the Clean Water Act to Protect a National Treasure” will provide a framework to aid States and Territories in their development, adoption, and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in their respective water quality standards. The Technical Support Document “Coral Reef Biological Criteria: Using the Clean Water Act to Protect a National Treasure” will provide a framework for coral re

  9. Nitrogen fixation in a coral reef community.

    PubMed

    Wiebe, W J; Johannes, R E; Webb, K L

    1975-04-18

    Algal reef flats at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands, fix atmospheric nitrogen at rates comparable to those in managed agriculture. The dominant nitrogen fixer appears to be the blue-green alga Calothrix crustacea. Since this nutrient enrichment contributes to the high productivity of adjacent coral reefs and undoubtedly to atoll lagoons, it is recommended that the algal reef flats receive increased conservation priority.

  10. 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.

  11. U.S. coral reefs; imperiled national treasures

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Field, M.E.; Cochran, S.A.; Evans, K.R.

    2002-01-01

    Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine species. However, the tiny colonial animals that build these intricate limestone masses are dying at alarming rates. If this trend continues, in 20 years the living corals on many of the world's reefs will be dead and the ecosystems that depend on them severely damaged. As part of the effort to protect our Nation's extensive reefs, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are working to better understand the processes that affect the health of these ecologically and economically important ecosystems.

  12. Habitat complexity and fish size affect the detection of Indo-Pacific lionfish on invaded coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Green, S. J.; Tamburello, N.; Miller, S. E.; Akins, J. L.; Côté, I. M.

    2013-06-01

    A standard approach to improving the accuracy of reef fish population estimates derived from underwater visual censuses (UVCs) is the application of species-specific correction factors, which assumes that a species' detectability is constant under all conditions. To test this assumption, we quantified detection rates for invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish ( Pterois volitans and P. miles), which are now a primary threat to coral reef conservation throughout the Caribbean. Estimates of lionfish population density and distribution, which are essential for managing the invasion, are currently obtained through standard UVCs. Using two conventional UVC methods, the belt transect and stationary visual census (SVC), we assessed how lionfish detection rates vary with lionfish body size and habitat complexity (measured as rugosity) on invaded continuous and patch reefs off Cape Eleuthera, the Bahamas. Belt transect and SVC surveys performed equally poorly, with both methods failing to detect the presence of lionfish in >50 % of surveys where thorough, lionfish-focussed searches yielded one or more individuals. Conventional methods underestimated lionfish biomass by ~200 %. Crucially, detection rate varied significantly with both lionfish size and reef rugosity, indicating that the application of a single correction factor across habitats and stages of invasion is unlikely to accurately characterize local populations. Applying variable correction factors that account for site-specific lionfish size and rugosity to conventional survey data increased estimates of lionfish biomass, but these remained significantly lower than actual biomass. To increase the accuracy and reliability of estimates of lionfish density and distribution, monitoring programs should use detailed area searches rather than standard visual survey methods. Our study highlights the importance of accounting for sources of spatial and temporal variation in detection to increase the accuracy of survey data from

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    2015-10-23

    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.

  15. 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

  16. Digital reef rugosity estimates coral reef habitat complexity.

    PubMed

    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.

  17. CoBOP Coral Reefs: Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-30

    CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field Dr. Charles S. Yentsch Bigelow Laboratory McKown Point Road West...number. 1. REPORT DATE 30 SEP 2003 2. REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED 00-00-2003 to 00-00-2003 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE CoBOP Coral Reefs : Optical...Closure of a Coral Reef Submarine Light Field 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT NUMBER 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER 6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e

  18. 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

  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.

  20. Natural bounds on herbivorous coral reef fishes

    PubMed Central

    Hoey, Andrew S.; Williams, Gareth J.; Williams, Ivor D.

    2016-01-01

    Humans are an increasingly dominant driver of Earth's biological communities, but differentiating human impacts from natural drivers of ecosystem state is crucial. Herbivorous fish play a key role in maintaining coral dominance on coral reefs, and are widely affected by human activities, principally fishing. We assess the relative importance of human and biophysical (habitat and oceanographic) drivers on the biomass of five herbivorous functional groups among 33 islands in the central and western Pacific Ocean. Human impacts were clear for some, but not all, herbivore groups. Biomass of browsers, large excavators, and of all herbivores combined declined rapidly with increasing human population density, whereas grazers, scrapers, and detritivores displayed no relationship. Sea-surface temperature had significant but opposing effects on the biomass of detritivores (positive) and browsers (negative). Similarly, the biomass of scrapers, grazers, and detritivores correlated with habitat structural complexity; however, relationships were group specific. Finally, the biomass of browsers and large excavators was related to island geomorphology, both peaking on low-lying islands and atolls. The substantial variability in herbivore populations explained by natural biophysical drivers highlights the need for locally appropriate management targets on coral reefs. PMID:27881745

  1. Natural bounds on herbivorous coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

    Heenan, Adel; Hoey, Andrew S; Williams, Gareth J; Williams, Ivor D

    2016-11-30

    Humans are an increasingly dominant driver of Earth's biological communities, but differentiating human impacts from natural drivers of ecosystem state is crucial. Herbivorous fish play a key role in maintaining coral dominance on coral reefs, and are widely affected by human activities, principally fishing. We assess the relative importance of human and biophysical (habitat and oceanographic) drivers on the biomass of five herbivorous functional groups among 33 islands in the central and western Pacific Ocean. Human impacts were clear for some, but not all, herbivore groups. Biomass of browsers, large excavators, and of all herbivores combined declined rapidly with increasing human population density, whereas grazers, scrapers, and detritivores displayed no relationship. Sea-surface temperature had significant but opposing effects on the biomass of detritivores (positive) and browsers (negative). Similarly, the biomass of scrapers, grazers, and detritivores correlated with habitat structural complexity; however, relationships were group specific. Finally, the biomass of browsers and large excavators was related to island geomorphology, both peaking on low-lying islands and atolls. The substantial variability in herbivore populations explained by natural biophysical drivers highlights the need for locally appropriate management targets on coral reefs.

  2. 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

  3. 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 ...

  4. 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...

  5. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Horwitz, Rael; Hoogenboom, Mia O; Fine, Maoz

    2017-01-09

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities.

  6. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Horwitz, Rael; Hoogenboom, Mia O.; Fine, Maoz

    2017-01-01

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities.

  7. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    PubMed Central

    Horwitz, Rael; Hoogenboom, Mia O.; Fine, Maoz

    2017-01-01

    Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities. PMID:28067281

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ...

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-04-09

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. Ecological Risk Assessment of Munitions Compounds on Coral and Coral Reef Health

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2014-01-01

    FINAL REPORT Ecological Risk Assessment of Munitions Compounds on Coral and Coral Reef Health SERDP Project ER-2125 January 2014...COVERED 00-10-2011 to 00-01-2014 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Ecological Risk Assessment of Munitions Compounds on Coral and Coral Reef Health 5a. CONTRACT...impact corals , and to determine the ecological risk they may pose to coral and coral reef health. At the outset of this project, we were asked by the

  14. Identification and prevalence of coral diseases on three Western Indian Ocean coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Séré, Mathieu G; Chabanet, Pascale; Turquet, Jean; Quod, Jean-Pascal; Schleyer, Michael H

    2015-06-03

    Coral diseases have caused a substantial decline in the biodiversity and abundance of reef-building corals. To date, more than 30 distinct diseases of scleractinian corals have been reported, which cause progressive tissue loss and/or affect coral growth, reproductive capacity, recruitment, species diversity and the abundance of reef-associated organisms. While coral disease research has increased over the last 4 decades, very little is known about coral diseases in the Western Indian Ocean. Surveys conducted at multiple sites in Reunion, South Africa and Mayotte between August 2010 and June 2012 revealed the presence of 6 main coral diseases: black band disease (BBD), white syndrome (WS), pink line syndrome (PLS), growth anomalies (GA), skeleton eroding band (SEB) and Porites white patch syndrome (PWPS). Overall, disease prevalence was higher in Reunion (7.5 ± 2.2%; mean ± SE) compared to South Africa (3.9 ± 0.8%) and Mayotte (2.7 ± 0.3%). Across locations, Acropora and Porites were the genera most susceptible to disease. Spatial variability was detected in both Reunion and South Africa, with BBD and WS more prevalent on shallow than deep reefs. There was also evidence of seasonality in 2 diseases: the prevalence of BBD and WS was higher in summer than winter. This was the first study to investigate the ecology of coral diseases, providing both qualitative and quantitative data, on Western Indian Ocean reefs, and surveys should be expanded to confirm these patterns.

  15. Thresholds and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Hastings, Alan; Edwards, Helen J

    2007-11-01

    The deteriorating health of the world's coral reefs threatens global biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the livelihoods of millions of people living in tropical coastal regions. Reefs in the Caribbean are among the most heavily affected, having experienced mass disease-induced mortality of the herbivorous urchin Diadema antillarum in 1983 and two framework-building species of coral. Declining reef health is characterized by increases in macroalgae. A critical question is whether the observed macroalgal bloom on Caribbean reefs is easily reversible. To answer this question, we must resolve whether algal-dominated reefs are an alternative stable state of the ecosystem or simply the readily reversible result of a phase change along a gradient of some environmental or ecological parameter. Here, using a fully parameterized simulation model in combination with a simple analytical model, we show that Caribbean reefs became susceptible to alternative stable states once the urchin mortality event of 1983 confined the majority of grazing to parrotfishes. We reveal dramatic hysteresis in a natural system and define critical thresholds of grazing and coral cover beyond which resilience is lost. Most grazing thresholds lie near the upper level observed for parrotfishes in nature, suggesting that reefs are highly sensitive to parrotfish exploitation. Ecosystem thresholds can be combined with stochastic models of disturbance to identify targets for the restoration of ecosystem processes. We illustrate this principle by estimating the relationship between current reef state (coral cover and grazing) and the probability that the reef will withstand moderate hurricane intensity for two decades without becoming entrained in a shift towards a stable macroalgal-dominated state. Such targets may help reef managers face the challenge of addressing global disturbance at local scales.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change?

    PubMed

    Gurney, Georgina G; Melbourne-Thomas, Jessica; Geronimo, Rollan C; Aliño, Perry M; Johnson, Craig R

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has emerged as a principal threat to coral reefs, and is expected to exacerbate coral reef degradation caused by more localised stressors. Management of local stressors is widely advocated to bolster coral reef resilience, but the extent to which management of local stressors might affect future trajectories of reef state remains unclear. This is in part because of limited understanding of the cumulative impact of multiple stressors. Models are ideal tools to aid understanding of future reef state under alternative management and climatic scenarios, but to date few have been sufficiently developed to be useful as decision support tools for local management of coral reefs subject to multiple stressors. We used a simulation model of coral reefs to investigate the extent to which the management of local stressors (namely poor water quality and fishing) might influence future reef state under varying climatic scenarios relating to coral bleaching. We parameterised the model for Bolinao, the Philippines, and explored how simulation modelling can be used to provide decision support for local management. We found that management of water quality, and to a lesser extent fishing, can have a significant impact on future reef state, including coral recovery following bleaching-induced mortality. The stressors we examined interacted antagonistically to affect reef state, highlighting the importance of considering the combined impact of multiple stressors rather than considering them individually. Further, by providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, such as which course of management action will most likely to be effective over what time scales and at which sites, we demonstrated the utility of simulation models for supporting management. Aside from providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, our study offers insights which could inform reef management more broadly, as well as general understanding of reef

  1. Resetting predator baselines in coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Bradley, Darcy; Conklin, Eric; Papastamatiou, Yannis P.; McCauley, Douglas J.; Pollock, Kydd; Pollock, Amanda; Kendall, Bruce E.; Gaines, Steven D.; Caselle, Jennifer E.

    2017-01-01

    What did coral reef ecosystems look like before human impacts became pervasive? Early efforts to reconstruct baselines resulted in the controversial suggestion that pristine coral reefs have inverted trophic pyramids, with disproportionally large top predator biomass. The validity of the coral reef inverted trophic pyramid has been questioned, but until now, was not resolved empirically. We use data from an eight-year tag-recapture program with spatially explicit, capture-recapture models to re-examine the population size and density of a key top predator at Palmyra atoll, the same location that inspired the idea of inverted trophic biomass pyramids in coral reef ecosystems. Given that animal movement is suspected to have significantly biased early biomass estimates of highly mobile top predators, we focused our reassessment on the most mobile and most abundant predator at Palmyra, the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos). We estimated a density of 21.3 (95% CI 17.8, 24.7) grey reef sharks/km2, which is an order of magnitude lower than the estimates that suggested an inverted trophic pyramid. Our results indicate that the trophic structure of an unexploited reef fish community is not inverted, and that even healthy top predator populations may be considerably smaller, and more precarious, than previously thought. PMID:28220895

  2. Resetting predator baselines in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Bradley, Darcy; Conklin, Eric; Papastamatiou, Yannis P; McCauley, Douglas J; Pollock, Kydd; Pollock, Amanda; Kendall, Bruce E; Gaines, Steven D; Caselle, Jennifer E

    2017-02-21

    What did coral reef ecosystems look like before human impacts became pervasive? Early efforts to reconstruct baselines resulted in the controversial suggestion that pristine coral reefs have inverted trophic pyramids, with disproportionally large top predator biomass. The validity of the coral reef inverted trophic pyramid has been questioned, but until now, was not resolved empirically. We use data from an eight-year tag-recapture program with spatially explicit, capture-recapture models to re-examine the population size and density of a key top predator at Palmyra atoll, the same location that inspired the idea of inverted trophic biomass pyramids in coral reef ecosystems. Given that animal movement is suspected to have significantly biased early biomass estimates of highly mobile top predators, we focused our reassessment on the most mobile and most abundant predator at Palmyra, the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos). We estimated a density of 21.3 (95% CI 17.8, 24.7) grey reef sharks/km(2), which is an order of magnitude lower than the estimates that suggested an inverted trophic pyramid. Our results indicate that the trophic structure of an unexploited reef fish community is not inverted, and that even healthy top predator populations may be considerably smaller, and more precarious, than previously thought.

  3. Coral bleaching and habitat effects on colonisation of reef fish assemblages: An experimental study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yahya, Saleh A. S.; Gullström, Martin; Öhman, Marcus C.; Jiddawi, Narriman S.; Andersson, Mathias H.; Mgaya, Yunus D.; Lindahl, Ulf

    2011-07-01

    Degradation and mortality of corals is increasing worldwide and is expected to have significant effects on coral reef fish; hence studies on these effects are essential. In the present study, a field experiment was set up within Mafia Island Marine Park in Tanzania (East Africa) to examine the effects of bleaching and habitat structure on colonisation of coral reef fish assemblages. Live and bleached staghorn coral Acropora formosa was transplanted onto plots in a site dominated by sand and rubble, and the experimental design comprised of three treatments: live coral, bleached coral and eroded coral rubble. There was an immediate increase (within 24 h) in fish abundance and diversity in the two treatments with standing corals. Overall, live and bleached coral plots showed similar effects, but differed from the eroded coral plots which had a much lower abundance and diversity of fish. In general, fish species diversity changed with time over the study period while fish abundance did not. Multivariate analyses showed that while there were differences in fish assemblage structure between standing corals and the eroded coral treatment, there was neither a difference between live and bleached coral treatments nor any temporal effects on fish assemblage structure. Our findings suggest that physical structure and complexity of habitat have stronger effects on colonisation of reef fish assemblages than changes in coral health (such as bleaching) which do not affect coral structure. This may have important implications for appropriate coral reef management.

  4. Marine reserves enhance the recovery of corals on Caribbean reefs.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Harborne, Alastair R

    2010-01-11

    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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Jantzen, Carin; Kremb, Stephan Georg

    2014-01-01

    Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12–70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26–29%) when compared to the other sites (4–19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs. PMID:25276504

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

  7. 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...

  8. 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...

  9. 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…

  10. A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Kuffner, Ilsa B; Toth, Lauren T

    2016-08-01

    Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a geological perspective. The importance of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs-as breakwaters that dissipate wave energy and protect shorelines and as providers of habitat for innumerable species-cannot be overstated. However, the few coral species responsible for reef building in the western Atlantic during the last approximately 1.5 million years are not thriving in the 21st century. These species are highly sensitive to abrupt temperature extremes, prone to disease infection, and have low sexual reproductive potential. Their vulnerability and the low functional redundancy of branching corals have led to the low resilience of western Atlantic reef ecosystems. The decrease in live coral cover over the last 50 years highlights the need for study of relict (senescent) reefs, which, from the perspective of coastline protection and habitat structure, may be just as important to conserve as the living coral veneer. Research is needed to characterize the geological processes of bioerosion, reef cementation, and sediment transport as they relate to modern-day changes in reef elevation. For example, although parrotfish remove nuisance macroalgae, possibly promoting coral recruitment, they will not save Atlantic reefs from geological degradation. In fact, these fish are quickly nibbling away significant quantities of Holocene reef framework. The question of how different biota covering dead reefs affect framework resistance to biological and physical erosion needs to be addressed. Monitoring and managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of resources

  11. 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.

  12. Coral bleaching: one disturbance too many for near-shore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thompson, A. A.; Dolman, A. M.

    2010-09-01

    The dynamic nature of coral communities can make it difficult to judge whether a reef system is resilient to the current disturbance regime. To address this question of resilience for near-shore coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) a data set consisting of 350 annual observations of benthic community change was compiled from existing monitoring data. These data spanned the period 1985-2007 and were derived from coral reefs within 20 km of the coast. During years without major disturbance events, cover increase of the Acroporidae was much faster than it was for other coral families; a median of 11% per annum compared to medians of less than 4% for other coral families. Conversely, Acroporidae were more severely affected by cyclones and bleaching events than most other families. A simulation model parameterised with these observations indicated that while recovery rates of hard corals were sufficient to compensate for impacts associated with cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish, the advent of mass bleaching has lead to a significant change in the composition of the community and a rapid decline in hard coral cover. Furthermore, if bleaching events continue to occur with the same frequency and severity as in the recent past, the model predicts that the cover of Acroporidae will continue to decline. Although significant cover of live coral remains on near-shore reefs, and recovery is observed during inter-disturbance periods, it appears that this system will not be resilient to the recent disturbance regime over the long term. Conservation strategies for coral reefs should focus on both mitigating local factors that act synergistically to increase the susceptibility of Acroporidae to climate change while promoting initiatives that maximise the recovery potential from inevitable disturbances.

  13. 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

  14. Pattern and intensity of human impact on coral reefs depend on depth along the reef profile and on the descriptor adopted

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nepote, Ettore; Bianchi, Carlo Nike; Chiantore, Mariachiara; Morri, Carla; Montefalcone, Monica

    2016-09-01

    Coral reefs are threatened by multiple global and local disturbances. The Maldives, already heavily hit by the 1998 mass bleaching event, are currently affected also by growing tourism and coastal development that may add to global impacts. Most of the studies investigating effects of local disturbances on coral reefs assessed the response of communities along a horizontal distance from the impact source. This study investigated the status of a Maldivian coral reef around an island where an international touristic airport has been recently (2009-2011) built, at different depths along the reef profile (5-20 m depth) and considering the change in the percentage of cover of five different non-taxonomic descriptors assessed through underwater visual surveys: hard corals, soft corals, other invertebrates, macroalgae and abiotic attributes. Eight reefs in areas not affected by any coastal development were used as controls and showed a reduction of hard coral cover and an increase of abiotic attributes (i.e. sand, rock, coral rubble) at the impacted reef. However, hard coral cover, the most widely used descriptor of coral reef health, was not sufficient on its own to detect subtle indirect effects that occurred down the reef profile. Selecting an array of descriptors and considering different depths, where corals may find a refuge from climate impacts, could guide the efforts of minimising local human pressures on coral reefs.

  15. A geological perspective on the degradation and conservation of western Atlantic coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren T.

    2016-01-01

    Continuing coral-reef degradation in the western Atlantic is resulting in loss of ecological and geologic functions of reefs. With the goal of assisting resource managers and stewards of reefs in setting and measuring progress toward realistic goals for coral-reef conservation and restoration, we examined reef degradation in this region from a geological perspective. The importance of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs—as breakwaters that dissipate wave energy and protect shorelines and as providers of habitat for innumerable species—cannot be overstated. However, the few coral species responsible for reef building in the western Atlantic during the last approximately 1.5 million years are not thriving in the 21st century. These species are highly sensitive to abrupt temperature extremes, prone to disease infection, and have low sexual reproductive potential. Their vulnerability and the low functional redundancy of branching corals have led to the low resilience of western Atlantic reef ecosystems. The decrease in live coral cover over the last 50 years highlights the need for study of relict (senescent) reefs, which, from the perspective of coastline protection and habitat structure, may be just as important to conserve as the living coral veneer. Research is needed to characterize the geological processes of bioerosion, reef cementation, and sediment transport as they relate to modern-day changes in reef elevation. For example, although parrotfish remove nuisance macroalgae, possibly promoting coral recruitment, they will not save Atlantic reefs from geological degradation. In fact, these fish are quickly nibbling away significant quantities of Holocene reef framework. The question of how different biota covering dead reefs affect framework resistance to biological and physical erosion needs to be addressed. Monitoring and managing reefs with respect to physical resilience, in addition to ecological resilience, could optimize the expenditure of

  16. 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.

  17. Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes

    PubMed Central

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Chabanet, Pascale; Evans, Richard D; Jennings, Simon; Letourneur, Yves; Aaron MacNeil, M; McClanahan, Tim R; Öhman, Marcus C; Polunin, Nicholas V C; Wilson, Shaun K

    2011-01-01

    With rapidly increasing rates of contemporary extinction, predicting extinction vulnerability and identifying how multiple stressors drive non-random species loss have become key challenges in ecology. These assessments are crucial for avoiding the loss of key functional groups that sustain ecosystem processes and services. We developed a novel predictive framework of species extinction vulnerability and applied it to coral reef fishes. Although relatively few coral reef fishes are at risk of global extinction from climate disturbances, a negative convex relationship between fish species locally vulnerable to climate change vs. fisheries exploitation indicates that the entire community is vulnerable on the many reefs where both stressors co-occur. Fishes involved in maintaining key ecosystem functions are more at risk from fishing than climate disturbances. This finding is encouraging as local and regional commitment to fisheries management action can maintain reef ecosystem functions pending progress towards the more complex global problem of stabilizing the climate. PMID:21320260

  18. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Dell, Claire L. A.; Longo, Guilherme O.

    2016-01-01

    Many reefs have shifted from coral and fish dominated habitats to less productive macroalgal dominated habitats, and current research is investigating means of reversing this phase shift. In the tropical Pacific, overfished reefs with inadequate herbivory can become dominated by the brown alga Sargassum polycystum. This alga suppresses recruitment and survival of corals and fishes, thus limiting the potential for reef recovery. Here we investigate the mechanisms that reinforce S. polycystum dominance and show that in addition to negatively affecting other species, this species acts in a self-reinforcing manner, positively promoting survival and growth of conspecifics. We found that survival and growth of both recruit-sized and mature S. polycystum fronds were higher within Sargassum beds than outside the beds and these results were found in both protected and fished reefs. Much of this benefit resulted from reduced herbivory within the Sargassum beds, but adult fronds also grew ~50% more within the beds even when herbivory did not appear to be occurring, suggesting some physiological advantage despite the intraspecific crowding. Thus via positive feedbacks, S. polycystum enhances its own growth and resistance to herbivores, facilitating its dominance (perhaps also expansion) and thus its resilience on degraded reefs. This may be a key feedback mechanism suppressing the recovery of coral communities in reefs dominated by macroalgal beds. PMID:27186979

  19. Assessing environmental correlates of fish movement on a coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Currey, Leanne M.; Heupel, Michelle R.; Simpfendorfer, Colin A.; Williams, Ashley J.

    2015-12-01

    Variation in dispersal and movement patterns of coral reef fishes is likely linked to changes in environmental conditions. Monitoring in situ environmental parameters on coral reefs in conjunction with the movements of fishes can help explain the relationship between exploited populations and their environment. Sixty adult Lethrinus miniatus were acoustically tagged and monitored along a coral reef slope for up to 1 yr. Individuals occurred more often on the reef slope during days of cooler temperatures, suggesting a thermal tolerance threshold may exist. Results indicate that individuals responded to elevated temperatures by moving away from the reef slope to deeper adjacent habitats, thus shifting their position in the water column to remain at a preferred temperature. Space use within the water column (vertical activity space) was not influenced by environmental parameters or fish size, but this result was possibly influenced by use of deeper habitat outside the acoustic array that was not monitored. With elevation of ocean temperature, L. miniatus may need to adapt to warmer waters or disperse into cooler habitats, by either shifting their distribution deeper or towards higher latitudes. Identifying key environmental drivers that affect the distribution of reef fishes is important, and may allow managers to predict the effect of these changes on exploited species.

  20. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

    Dell, Claire L A; Longo, Guilherme O; Hay, Mark E

    2016-01-01

    Many reefs have shifted from coral and fish dominated habitats to less productive macroalgal dominated habitats, and current research is investigating means of reversing this phase shift. In the tropical Pacific, overfished reefs with inadequate herbivory can become dominated by the brown alga Sargassum polycystum. This alga suppresses recruitment and survival of corals and fishes, thus limiting the potential for reef recovery. Here we investigate the mechanisms that reinforce S. polycystum dominance and show that in addition to negatively affecting other species, this species acts in a self-reinforcing manner, positively promoting survival and growth of conspecifics. We found that survival and growth of both recruit-sized and mature S. polycystum fronds were higher within Sargassum beds than outside the beds and these results were found in both protected and fished reefs. Much of this benefit resulted from reduced herbivory within the Sargassum beds, but adult fronds also grew ~50% more within the beds even when herbivory did not appear to be occurring, suggesting some physiological advantage despite the intraspecific crowding. Thus via positive feedbacks, S. polycystum enhances its own growth and resistance to herbivores, facilitating its dominance (perhaps also expansion) and thus its resilience on degraded reefs. This may be a key feedback mechanism suppressing the recovery of coral communities in reefs dominated by macroalgal beds.

  1. Can biological invasions save Caribbean coral reefs?

    PubMed

    Bellwood, David Roy; Robert Goatley, Christopher Harry

    2017-01-09

    It is widely accepted that coral reefs are in decline globally, due to climate change as well as more direct human impacts such as poor water quality and overharvesting [1-3]. Biological invasions are also seen as a major threat [4-6]; however, they may not all be negative. An invasion of Red Sea rabbitfishes is disrupting Mediterranean ecosystems by removing macro-algae - meanwhile, in contrast, the Caribbean is suffering from excess macro-algal growth. We suggest that an invasion of the Caribbean by rabbitfishes may prove beneficial, and that the future of Caribbean coral reefs may depend upon a rabbitfish invasion.

  2. Forecasting decadal changes in sea surface temperatures and coral bleaching within a Caribbean coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Li, Angang; Reidenbach, Matthew A.

    2014-09-01

    Elevated sea surface temperature (SST) caused by global warming is one of the major threats to coral reefs. While increased SST has been shown to negatively affect the health of coral reefs by increasing rates of coral bleaching, how changes to atmospheric heating impact SST distributions, modified by local flow environments, has been less understood. This study aimed to simulate future water flow patterns and water surface heating in response to increased air temperature within a coral reef system in Bocas del Toro, Panama, located within the Caribbean Sea. Water flow and SST were modeled using the Delft3D-FLOWcomputer simulation package. Locally measured physical parameters, including bathymetry, astronomic tidal forcing, and coral habitat distribution were input into the model and water flow, and SST was simulated over a four-month period under present day, as well as projected warming scenarios in 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s. Changes in SST, and hence the thermal stress to corals, were quantified by degree heating weeks. Results showed that present-day reported bleaching sites were consistent with localized regions of continuous high SST. Regions with highest SST were located within shallow coastal sites adjacent to the mainland or within the interior of the bay, and characterized by low currents with high water retention times. Under projected increases in SSTs, shallow reef areas in low flow regions were found to be hot spots for future bleaching.

  3. Colour thresholds in a coral reef fish

    PubMed Central

    Vorobyev, M.; Marshall, N. J.

    2016-01-01

    Coral reef fishes are among the most colourful animals in the world. Given the diversity of lifestyles and habitats on the reef, it is probable that in many instances coloration is a compromise between crypsis and communication. However, human observation of this coloration is biased by our primate visual system. Most animals have visual systems that are ‘tuned’ differently to humans; optimized for different parts of the visible spectrum. To understand reef fish colours, we need to reconstruct the appearance of colourful patterns and backgrounds as they are seen through the eyes of fish. Here, the coral reef associated triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, was tested behaviourally to determine the limits of its colour vision. This is the first demonstration of behavioural colour discrimination thresholds in a coral reef species and is a critical step in our understanding of communication and speciation in this vibrant colourful habitat. Fish were trained to discriminate between a reward colour stimulus and series of non-reward colour stimuli and the discrimination thresholds were found to correspond well with predictions based on the receptor noise limited visual model and anatomy of the eye. Colour discrimination abilities of both reef fish and a variety of animals can therefore now be predicted using the parameters described here. PMID:27703704

  4. Colour thresholds in a coral reef fish.

    PubMed

    Champ, C M; Vorobyev, M; Marshall, N J

    2016-09-01

    Coral reef fishes are among the most colourful animals in the world. Given the diversity of lifestyles and habitats on the reef, it is probable that in many instances coloration is a compromise between crypsis and communication. However, human observation of this coloration is biased by our primate visual system. Most animals have visual systems that are 'tuned' differently to humans; optimized for different parts of the visible spectrum. To understand reef fish colours, we need to reconstruct the appearance of colourful patterns and backgrounds as they are seen through the eyes of fish. Here, the coral reef associated triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, was tested behaviourally to determine the limits of its colour vision. This is the first demonstration of behavioural colour discrimination thresholds in a coral reef species and is a critical step in our understanding of communication and speciation in this vibrant colourful habitat. Fish were trained to discriminate between a reward colour stimulus and series of non-reward colour stimuli and the discrimination thresholds were found to correspond well with predictions based on the receptor noise limited visual model and anatomy of the eye. Colour discrimination abilities of both reef fish and a variety of animals can therefore now be predicted using the parameters described here.

  5. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-12-01

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

  7. 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…

  8. The influence of fire-coral colony size and agonistic behaviour of territorial damselfish on associated coral reef fish communities.

    PubMed

    Leal, Isabela Carolina Silva; de Araújo, Maria Elisabeth; da Cunha, Simone Rabelo; Pereira, Pedro Henrique Cipresso

    2015-07-01

    Branching hydrocorals from the genus Millepora play an important ecological role in South Atlantic reefs, where branching scleractinian corals are absent. Previous studies have shown a high proportion of reef fish species using branching fire-coral colonies as shelter, breeding, and feeding sites. However, the effects of Millepora spp. colony size and how the agonistic behaviour of a competitive damselfish affect the associated reef fish community are still unknown. The present study examined how fire-coral colony volume and the presence of a highly territorial and aggressive damselfish (Brazilian endemic Stegastes fuscus) affects the reef fish community associated with the fire-coral Millepora alcicornis. M. alcicornis colonies were surveyed from September 2012 to April 2013 at Tamandaré Reefs off Northeast Brazil. Our results show that the abundance and richness of coral associated fish was positively correlated with M. alcicornis coral colony volume. Additionally, behaviour of S. fuscus, the most abundant reef fish species found associated with fire-coral colonies (almost 57% of the fish community), was also influenced by fire-coral colony volume. There was a clear trend of increased agonistic behaviour and feeding on coral polyps as colony volume increased. This trend was reversed for the non-occupational swimming category, which decreased as M. alcicornis colony volume increased. Behavioural ontogenetic changes were also detected for S. fuscus individuals. Juveniles mainly showed two distinct behaviours: sheltered on coral branches and feeding on coral polyps. In contrast, adults presented greater equitability among the behavioural categories, mostly non-occupational swimming around coral colonies and agonistic behaviour. Lastly, S. fuscus individuals actively defended fire-coral colonies from intruders. A large number of agonistic interactions occurred against potential food competitors, which were mainly roving herbivores, omnivores, and sessile

  9. How will coral reef fish communities respond to climate-driven disturbances? Insight from landscape-scale perturbations.

    PubMed

    Adam, Thomas C; Brooks, Andrew J; Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Washburn, Libe; Bernardi, Giacomo

    2014-09-01

    Global climate change is rapidly altering disturbance regimes in many ecosystems including coral reefs, yet the long-term impacts of these changes on ecosystem structure and function are difficult to predict. A major ecosystem service provided by coral reefs is the provisioning of physical habitat for other organisms, and consequently, many of the effects of climate change on coral reefs will be mediated by their impacts on habitat structure. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand the independent and combined effects of coral mortality and loss of physical habitat on reef-associated biota. Here, we use a unique series of events affecting the coral reefs around the Pacific island of Moorea, French Polynesia to differentiate between the impacts of coral mortality and the degradation of physical habitat on the structure of reef fish communities. We found that, by removing large amounts of physical habitat, a tropical cyclone had larger impacts on reef fish communities than an outbreak of coral-eating sea stars that caused widespread coral mortality but left the physical structure intact. In addition, the impacts of declining structural complexity on reef fish assemblages accelerated as structure became increasingly rare. Structure provided by dead coral colonies can take up to decades to erode following coral mortality, and, consequently, our results suggest that predictions based on short-term studies are likely to grossly underestimate the long-term impacts of coral decline on reef fish communities.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. 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...

  14. 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

  15. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-08-16

    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.

  16. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-08-01

    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.

  17. A magnetic compass that might help coral reef fish larvae return to their natal reef.

    PubMed

    Bottesch, Michael; Gerlach, Gabriele; Halbach, Maurits; Bally, Andreas; Kingsford, Michael J; Mouritsen, Henrik

    2016-12-19

    Many coral reef fish larvae spend days to months in the open ocean before settlement on coral reefs [1]. Early in development, larvae have limited swimming capabilities and will therefore be greatly affected by currents. This can potentially result in dispersal distances of tens of kilometers [2]. Nevertheless, up to 60 % of surviving larvae have been shown to return to their natal reefs [2]. To home, the larvae must develop strong swimming capabilities and appropriate orientation mechanisms. Most late-stage larval reef fish can, after being passively drifted for days to weeks, swim strongly [3], and Ostorhinchus doederleini larvae have been shown to use chemotaxis to identify their natal reef once in its vicinity [2] and a sun compass for longer distance orientation [4] during the day. But how do they orient at night? Here, we show that newly settled fish caught at One Tree Island (OTI) at the Capricorn Bunker Reef Group (Great Barrier Reef) can use geomagnetic compass information to keep a south-east heading. This behavior might help them return to their natal reef in the absence of any celestial cues at night.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Climate change, global warming and coral reefs: modelling the effects of temperature.

    PubMed

    Crabbe, M James C

    2008-10-01

    Climate change and global warming have severe consequences for the survival of scleractinian (reef-building) corals and their associated ecosystems. This review summarizes recent literature on the influence of temperature on coral growth, coral bleaching, and modelling the effects of high temperature on corals. Satellite-based sea surface temperature (SST) and coral bleaching information available on the internet is an important tool in monitoring and modelling coral responses to temperature. Within the narrow temperature range for coral growth, corals can respond to rate of temperature change as well as to temperature per se. We need to continue to develop models of how non-steady-state processes such as global warming and climate change will affect coral reefs.

  1. Patterns in the distribution of coral communities across the central Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Done, T. J.

    1982-10-01

    Despite the pre-eminence of the Great Barrier Reef, there has been little systematic description of its biotic communities, and in particular, of the corals themselves. Only recently have the problems of coral taxonomy been sufficiently resolved to allow a beginning to be made in rectifying this deficiency. The present study describes seventeen assemblages of corals which occupy the major habitat types found in and near the central Great Barrier Reef. The habitats studied range from the wave swept reef flats of Coral Sea atolls to the slopes of small reefs occupying sheltered, muddy conditions near the coast. These, and the array of reefs between, have characteristic suites of coral communities which provide the basis for a classification of reefs into non- Acropora reefs and various Acropora reefs. It is speculated that the faunistic differences are maintained because reefs are primarily self-seeded and because the majority of larvae from external sources are of species which are already present. The greatest diversity of both species and community types was found on reefs near the middle of the continental shelf, while the oceanic atolls and nearshore silt-affected reefs are almost equally depauperate.

  2. 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.

  3. Coral identity underpins architectural complexity on Caribbean reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2011-09-01

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

  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. 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,...

  6. 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...

  7. 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.

  8. Understanding the murky history of the Coral Triangle: Miocene corals and reef habitats in East Kalimantan (Indonesia)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Renema, Willem; Johnson, Kenneth G.

    2016-09-01

    Studies on ancient coral communities living in marginal conditions, including low light, high turbidity, extreme temperatures, or high nutrients, are important to understand the current structure of reefs and how they could potentially respond to global changes. The main goal of this study was to document the rich and well-preserved fossil coral fauna preserved in Miocene exposures of the Kutai Basin in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Our collections include almost forty thousand specimens collected from 47 outcrops. Seventy-nine genera and 234 species have been identified. Three different coral assemblages were found corresponding to small patch reefs that developed under the influence of high siliciclastic inputs from the Mahakam Delta. Coral assemblages vary in richness, structure, and composition. Platy coral assemblages were common until the Serravallian (Middle Miocene), while branching coral assemblages became dominant in the Tortonian (Late Miocene). By the late Tortonian massive coral assemblages dominated, similar to modern-style coral framework. Our results suggest that challenging habitats, such as the Miocene turbid habitats of East Kalimantan, might have played an important role during the early diversification of the Coral Triangle by hosting a pool of resilient species more likely to survive the environmental changes that have affected this region since the Cenozoic. Further research that integrates fossil and recent turbid habitats may provide a glimpse into the dynamics and future of coral reefs as "typical" clear-water reefs continue to decline in most regions.

  9. 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.

  10. Fine sediments suppress detritivory on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Tebbett, Sterling B; Goatley, Christopher H R; Bellwood, David R

    2017-01-30

    Increasing sediment inputs are recognised as an important factor leading to coral reef degradation. However, the role of sediments in ecological processes is poorly understood. This study used paired-choice trials to quantify the effects of sediment grain size and chemical composition on feeding by the abundant detritivorous reef fish, Ctenochaetus striatus. The size of sediments from algal turfs were also compared to those ingested by reef-dwelling C. striatus. Algal turfs containing coarser sediments were preferred by C. striatus, while sediment composition (reefal carbonates vs. riverine silicates) had little effect. On the reef, C. striatus ingested finer sediments than those present in algal turfs. C. striatus appears to prefer algal turfs with coarser sediments as this facilitates ingestion of fine detrital particles, while finer sediments prevent selective feeding on detritus. These findings suggest that fine sediments from terrestrial runoff or dredging may be detrimental to feeding by detritivorous species.

  11. Current and future sustainability of island coral reef fisheries.

    PubMed

    Newton, Katie; Côté, Isabelle M; Pilling, Graham M; Jennings, Simon; Dulvy, Nicholas K

    2007-04-03

    Overexploitation is one of the principal threats to coral reef diversity, structure, function, and resilience [1, 2]. Although it is generally held that coral reef fisheries are unsustainable [3-5], little is known of the overall scale of exploitation or which reefs are overfished [6]. Here, on the basis of ecological footprints and a review of exploitation status [7, 8], we report widespread unsustainability of island coral reef fisheries. Over half (55%) of the 49 island countries considered are exploiting their coral reef fisheries in an unsustainable way. We estimate that total landings of coral reef fisheries are currently 64% higher than can be sustained. Consequently, the area of coral reef appropriated by fisheries exceeds the available effective area by approximately 75,000 km(2), or 3.7 times the area of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and an extra 196,000 km(2) of coral reef may be required by 2050 to support the anticipated growth in human populations. The large overall imbalance between current and sustainable catches implies that management methods to reduce social and economic dependence on reef fisheries are essential to prevent the collapse of coral reef ecosystems while sustaining the well-being of burgeoning coastal populations.

  12. Long-term monitoring of reef corals at the Flower Garden Banks (northwest Gulf of Mexico): Reef coral population changes and historical incorporation of barium in Montastrea annularis

    SciTech Connect

    Deslarzes, K.J.P.

    1992-01-01

    Reef coral populations were monitored from 1988 to 1991 at the Flower Garden Banks located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The status of reef coral populations, and natural or man-made factors potentially affecting their well-being were determined. Man-made chronic disturbances are degrading coral reef resources on a global scale. Yet, the Flower Garden coral reefs seem to have been sheltered from the effects of regional stresses generated by population growth and increased industrial activity. Since 1974, reef coral population levels have remained unchanged in the Montastrea-Diploria Zones at the Flower Garden Banks. Live coral cover ranges between 46 and 46.5%. Montastrea annularis and Diploria strigosa comprise 80% of the coral cover on either bank. The remainder of the cover is mostly shared by eight other taxa. Coral taxa appear to be more homogeneously distributed on the West Bank. The relatively greater number of Agaricia spp., Madracis decastis, and P. astreoides colonies on the East Bank may be the source of a decreased evenness. The health of reef corals was assessed using repetitive and non-repetitive photographic methods, and accretionary growth measurements of M. annularis. Reef corals have undergone small scale changes at the Flower Gardens probably reflecting natural disturbance, predation, disease, and inter-specific competition. White mat disease (ridge disease) is shown to generate more tissue loss than any of the three bleaching events that took place at the Flower Gardens (1989, 1990, and 1991). Advance to retreat linear ratios of encrusting growth revealed a net tissue gain on the East Bank and a net tissue loss on the West Bank. Growth rates of M. annularis were highly variable. The annual barium content from 1910 in 1989 in a M. annularis colony from the West Flower Garden did not reveal trends associated with the extensive oil and gas exploration in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

  13. 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.

  14. 76 FR 82413 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-12-30

    ... Part 622 Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants... Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and... FMP), and Amendment 3 to the FMP for Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of...

  15. The effect of coral morphology on shelter selection by coral reef fishes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-06-01

    While the loss of structural complexity causes declines in coral reef fish diversity, the processes leading to this decline are largely unexplained. To explore the role of coral morphology in providing shelter for fishes, tabular, branching and massive corals were filmed with video cameras and their usage by large reef fishes compared. Tabular corals were utilised more than the other two morphologies, with at least triple the abundance, biomass and residence times of large fishes. The preference of coral reef fishes for specific structural traits of tabular corals was also examined using artificial structural units. This experimental component showed that large reef fishes preferred opaque rather than translucent canopies. It appears that large fishes cue to tabular corals because of the concealment and/or shade provided. It is suggested that a loss of tabular corals as a result of climate change would have significant ecological impacts for the coral reef fishes that use these structures for shelter.

  16. Evaluation of Stony Coral Indicators for Coral Reef ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    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 their response to gradients of human disturbance. The purpose of the study was to identify indicators that could be used for regulatory assessments under authority of the Clean Water Act--this requires that indicators distinguish anthropogenic disturbances from natural variation. Stony coral indicators were tested for correlation with human disturbance across gradients located on three different sides of the island. At the most intensely disturbed location, five of eight primary indicators were highly correlated with distance from the source of disturbance: Coral taxa richness, average colony size, the coefficient of variation of colony size (an indicator of colony size heterogeneity), total topographic coral surface area, and live coral surface area. An additional set of exploratory indicators related to rarity, reproductive and spawning mode, and taxonomic identity were also screened for association with disturbance at the same location. For the other two locations, there were no significant changes in indicator values and therefore no discernible effects of human activity. Coral indicators demonstrated sufficient precision to detect levels of change that would be applicable in a regio

  17. Cleaner fish drives local fish diversity on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Grutter, Alexandra S; Murphy, Jan Maree; Choat, J Howard

    2003-01-08

    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse habitats in the world, yet our understanding of the processes affecting their biodiversity is limited. At the local scale, cleaner fish are thought to have a disproportionate effect, in relation to their abundance and size, on the activity of many other fish species, but confirmation of this species' effect on local fish diversity has proved elusive. The cleaner fish Labroides dimidiatus has major effects on fish activity patterns and may indirectly affect fish demography through the removal of large numbers of parasites. Here we show that small reefs where L. dimidiatus had been experimentally excluded for 18 months had half the species diversity of fish and one-fourth the abundance of individuals. Only fish that move among reefs, however, were affected. These fish include large species that themselves can affect other reef organisms. In contrast, the distribution of resident fish was not affected by cleaner fish. Thus, many fish appear to choose reefs based on the presence of cleaner fish. Our findings indicate that a single small and not very abundant fish has a strong influence on the movement patterns, habitat choice, activity, and local diversity and abundance of a wide variety of reef fish species.

  18. Comparison of remote video and diver's direct observations to quantify reef fishes feeding on benthos in coral and rocky reefs.

    PubMed

    Longo, G O; Floeter, S R

    2012-10-01

    This study compared remote underwater video and traditional direct diver observations to assess reef fish feeding impact on benthos across multiple functional groups within different trophic categories (e.g. herbivores, zoobenthivores and omnivores) and in two distinct reef systems: a subtropical rocky reef and a tropical coral reef. The two techniques were roughly equivalent, both detecting the species with higher feeding impact and recording similar bite rates, suggesting that reef fish feeding behaviour at the study areas are not strongly affected by the diver's presence.

  19. 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)

  20. Detecting ecological change on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dustan, P.

    2011-12-01

    Remote sensing offers the potential to observe the response of coral reef ecosystems to environmental perturbations on a geographical scale not previously accessible. However, coral reef environments are optically, spatially, and temporally complex habitats which all present significant challenges for extracting meaningful information. Virtually every member of the reef community possesses some degree of photosynthetic capability. The community thus generates a matrix of fine scale features with bio-optical signatures that blend as the scale of observation increases. Furthermore, to have any validity, the remotely sensed signal must be "calibrated" to the bio-optics of the reef, a difficult and resource intensive process due to a convergence of photosynthetic light harvesting by green, red, and brown algal pigment systems. To make matters more complex, reefs are overlain by a seawater skin with its own set of hydrological optical challenges. Rather than concentrating on classification, my research has attempted to track change by following the variation in geo-referenced pixel brightness over time with a technique termed temporal texture. Environmental periodicities impart a phenology to the variation in brightness and departures from the norm are easily detected as statistical outliers. This opens the door to using current orbiting technology to efficiently examine large areas of sea for change. If hot spots are detected, higher resolution sensors and field studies can be focused as resources permit. While this technique does not identify the type of change, it is sensitive, simple to compute, easy to automate and grounded in ecological niche theory

  1. Disease outbreaks, bleaching and a cyclone drive changes in coral assemblages on an inshore reef of the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haapkylä, J.; Melbourne-Thomas, J.; Flavell, M.; Willis, B. L.

    2013-09-01

    Coral disease is a major threat to the resilience of coral reefs; thus, understanding linkages between disease outbreaks and disturbances predicted to increase with climate change is becoming increasingly important. Coral disease surveys conducted twice yearly between 2008 and 2011 at a turbid inshore reef in the central Great Barrier Reef spanned two disturbance events, a coral bleaching event in 2009 and a severe cyclone (cyclone `Yasi') in 2011. Surveys of coral cover, community structure and disease prevalence throughout this 4-yr study provide a unique opportunity to explore cumulative impacts of disturbance events and disease for inshore coral assemblages. The principal coral disease at the study site was atramentous necrosis (AtN), and it primarily affected the key inshore, reef-building coral Montipora aequituberculata. Other diseases detected were growth anomalies, white syndrome and brown band syndrome. Diseases affected eight coral genera, although Montipora was, by far, the genus mostly affected. The prevalence of AtN followed a clear seasonal pattern, with disease outbreaks occurring only in wet seasons. Mean prevalence of AtN on Montipora spp. (63.8 % ± 3.03) was three- to tenfold greater in the wet season of 2009, which coincided with the 2009 bleaching event, than in other years. Persistent wet season outbreaks of AtN combined with the impacts of bleaching and cyclone events resulted in a 50-80 % proportional decline in total coral cover. The greatest losses of branching and tabular acroporids occurred following the low-salinity-induced bleaching event of 2009, and the greatest losses of laminar montiporids occurred following AtN outbreaks in 2009 and in 2011 following cyclone Yasi. The shift to a less diverse coral assemblage and the concomitant loss of structural complexity are likely to have long-term consequences for associated vertebrate and invertebrate communities on Magnetic Island reefs.

  2. Nitrification on a coral reef.

    PubMed

    Webb, K L; Wiebe, W J

    1975-09-01

    We report that the algal pavement just behind the reef crest at Enewetak Atoll produces nitrate at measurable rates. In situ and in vitro incubations with N-Serve indicate that the autotrophic pathway involving two separate organisms is effective in this oxidation of ammonia to nitrate. Significant nitrification is indicated throughout the reef environment; Nitrobacter agilis has specifically been identified as at least one of the organisms responsible for the terminal oxidation of nitrite to nitrate.

  3. Symbiont diversity may help coral reefs survive moderate climate change.

    PubMed

    Baskett, Marissa L; Gaines, Steven D; Nisbet, Roger M

    2009-01-01

    Given climate change, thermal stress-related mass coral-bleaching events present one of the greatest anthropogenic threats to coral reefs. While corals and their symbiotic algae may respond to future temperatures through genetic adaptation and shifts in community compositions, the climate may change too rapidly for coral response. To test this potential for response, here we develop a model of coral and symbiont ecological dynamics and symbiont evolutionary dynamics. Model results without variation in symbiont thermal tolerance predict coral reef collapse within decades under multiple future climate scenarios, consistent with previous threshold-based predictions. However, model results with genetic or community-level variation in symbiont thermal tolerance can predict coral reef persistence into the next century, provided low enough greenhouse gas emissions occur. Therefore, the level of greenhouse gas emissions will have a significant effect on the future of coral reefs, and accounting for biodiversity and biological dynamics is vital to estimating the size of this effect.

  4. Using coral disease prevalence to assess the effects of concentrating tourism activities on offshore reefs in a tropical marine park.

    PubMed

    Lamb, Joleah B; Willis, Bette L

    2011-10-01

    Concentrating tourism activities can be an effective way to closely manage high-use parks and minimize the extent of the effects of visitors on plants and animals, although considerable investment in permanent tourism facilities may be required. On coral reefs, a variety of human-related disturbances have been associated with elevated levels of coral disease, but the effects of reef-based tourist facilities (e.g., permanent offshore visitor platforms) on coral health have not been assessed. In partnership with reef managers and the tourism industry, we tested the effectiveness of concentrating tourism activities as a strategy for managing tourism on coral reefs. We compared prevalence of brown band disease, white syndromes, black band disease, skeletal eroding band, and growth anomalies among reefs with and without permanent tourism platforms within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Coral diseases were 15 times more prevalent at reefs with offshore tourism platforms than at nearby reefs without platforms. The maximum prevalence and maximum number of cases of each disease type were recorded at reefs with permanently moored tourism platforms. Diseases affected 10 coral genera from 7 families at reefs with platforms and 4 coral genera from 3 families at reefs without platforms. The greatest number of disease cases occurred within the spatially dominant acroporid corals, which exhibited 18-fold greater disease prevalence at reefs with platforms than at reefs without platforms. Neither the percent cover of acroporids nor overall coral cover differed significantly between reefs with and without platforms, which suggests that neither factor was responsible for the elevated levels of disease. Identifying how tourism activities and platforms facilitate coral disease in marine parks will help ensure ongoing conservation of coral assemblages and tourism.

  5. Shifting paradigms in restoration of the world's coral reefs.

    PubMed

    van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Gates, Ruth D; Blackall, Linda L; Cantin, Neal; Chakravarti, Leela J; Chan, Wing Y; Cormick, Craig; Crean, Angela; Damjanovic, Katarina; Epstein, Hannah; Harrison, Peter L; Jones, Thomas A; Miller, Margaret; Pears, Rachel J; Peplow, Lesa M; Raftos, David A; Schaffelke, Britta; Stewart, Kristen; Torda, Gergely; Wachenfeld, David; Weeks, Andrew R; Putnam, Hollie M

    2017-03-01

    Many ecosystems around the world are rapidly deteriorating due to both local and global pressures, and perhaps none so precipitously as coral reefs. Management of coral reefs through maintenance (e.g., marine-protected areas, catchment management to improve water quality), restoration, as well as global and national governmental agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., the 2015 Paris Agreement) is critical for the persistence of coral reefs. Despite these initiatives, the health and abundance of corals reefs are rapidly declining and other solutions will soon be required. We have recently discussed options for using assisted evolution (i.e., selective breeding, assisted gene flow, conditioning or epigenetic programming, and the manipulation of the coral microbiome) as a means to enhance environmental stress tolerance of corals and the success of coral reef restoration efforts. The 2014-2016 global coral bleaching event has sharpened the focus on such interventionist approaches. We highlight the necessity for consideration of alternative (e.g., hybrid) ecosystem states, discuss traits of resilient corals and coral reef ecosystems, and propose a decision tree for incorporating assisted evolution into restoration initiatives to enhance climate resilience of coral reefs.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Mass spawning of corals on a high latitude coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1994-07-01

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

  11. Operationalizing resilience for adaptive coral reef management under global environmental change

    PubMed Central

    Anthony, Kenneth RN; Marshall, Paul A; Abdulla, Ameer; Beeden, Roger; Bergh, Chris; Black, Ryan; Eakin, C Mark; Game, Edward T; Gooch, Margaret; Graham, Nicholas AJ; Green, Alison; Heron, Scott F; van Hooidonk, Ruben; Knowland, Cheryl; Mangubhai, Sangeeta; Marshall, Nadine; Maynard, Jeffrey A; McGinnity, Peter; McLeod, Elizabeth; Mumby, Peter J; Nyström, Magnus; Obura, David; Oliver, Jamie; Possingham, Hugh P; Pressey, Robert L; Rowlands, Gwilym P; Tamelander, Jerker; Wachenfeld, David; Wear, Stephanie

    2015-01-01

    Cumulative pressures from global climate and ocean change combined with multiple regional and local-scale stressors pose fundamental challenges to coral reef managers worldwide. Understanding how cumulative stressors affect coral reef vulnerability is critical for successful reef conservation now and in the future. In this review, we present the case that strategically managing for increased ecological resilience (capacity for stress resistance and recovery) can reduce coral reef vulnerability (risk of net decline) up to a point. Specifically, we propose an operational framework for identifying effective management levers to enhance resilience and support management decisions that reduce reef vulnerability. Building on a system understanding of biological and ecological processes that drive resilience of coral reefs in different environmental and socio-economic settings, we present an Adaptive Resilience-Based management (ARBM) framework and suggest a set of guidelines for how and where resilience can be enhanced via management interventions. We argue that press-type stressors (pollution, sedimentation, overfishing, ocean warming and acidification) are key threats to coral reef resilience by affecting processes underpinning resistance and recovery, while pulse-type (acute) stressors (e.g. storms, bleaching events, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks) increase the demand for resilience. We apply the framework to a set of example problems for Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reefs. A combined strategy of active risk reduction and resilience support is needed, informed by key management objectives, knowledge of reef ecosystem processes and consideration of environmental and social drivers. As climate change and ocean acidification erode the resilience and increase the vulnerability of coral reefs globally, successful adaptive management of coral reefs will become increasingly difficult. Given limited resources, on-the-ground solutions are likely to focus increasingly on

  12. Operationalizing resilience for adaptive coral reef management under global environmental change.

    PubMed

    Anthony, Kenneth R N; Marshall, Paul A; Abdulla, Ameer; Beeden, Roger; Bergh, Chris; Black, Ryan; Eakin, C Mark; Game, Edward T; Gooch, Margaret; Graham, Nicholas A J; Green, Alison; Heron, Scott F; van Hooidonk, Ruben; Knowland, Cheryl; Mangubhai, Sangeeta; Marshall, Nadine; Maynard, Jeffrey A; McGinnity, Peter; McLeod, Elizabeth; Mumby, Peter J; Nyström, Magnus; Obura, David; Oliver, Jamie; Possingham, Hugh P; Pressey, Robert L; Rowlands, Gwilym P; Tamelander, Jerker; Wachenfeld, David; Wear, Stephanie

    2015-01-01

    Cumulative pressures from global climate and ocean change combined with multiple regional and local-scale stressors pose fundamental challenges to coral reef managers worldwide. Understanding how cumulative stressors affect coral reef vulnerability is critical for successful reef conservation now and in the future. In this review, we present the case that strategically managing for increased ecological resilience (capacity for stress resistance and recovery) can reduce coral reef vulnerability (risk of net decline) up to a point. Specifically, we propose an operational framework for identifying effective management levers to enhance resilience and support management decisions that reduce reef vulnerability. Building on a system understanding of biological and ecological processes that drive resilience of coral reefs in different environmental and socio-economic settings, we present an Adaptive Resilience-Based management (ARBM) framework and suggest a set of guidelines for how and where resilience can be enhanced via management interventions. We argue that press-type stressors (pollution, sedimentation, overfishing, ocean warming and acidification) are key threats to coral reef resilience by affecting processes underpinning resistance and recovery, while pulse-type (acute) stressors (e.g. storms, bleaching events, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks) increase the demand for resilience. We apply the framework to a set of example problems for Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reefs. A combined strategy of active risk reduction and resilience support is needed, informed by key management objectives, knowledge of reef ecosystem processes and consideration of environmental and social drivers. As climate change and ocean acidification erode the resilience and increase the vulnerability of coral reefs globally, successful adaptive management of coral reefs will become increasingly difficult. Given limited resources, on-the-ground solutions are likely to focus increasingly on

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution.

    PubMed

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

    2015-02-24

    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.

  16. Coral Reef Resilience, Tipping Points and the Strength of Herbivory

    PubMed Central

    Holbrook, Sally J.; Schmitt, Russell J.; Adam, Thomas C.; Brooks, Andrew J.

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs increasingly are undergoing transitions from coral to macroalgal dominance. Although the functional roles of reef herbivores in controlling algae are becoming better understood, identifying possible tipping points in the herbivory-macroalgae relationships has remained a challenge. Assessment of where any coral reef ecosystem lies in relation to the coral-to-macroalgae tipping point is fundamental to understanding resilience properties, forecasting state shifts, and developing effective management practices. We conducted a multi-year field experiment in Moorea, French Polynesia to estimate these properties. While we found a sharp herbivory threshold where macroalgae escape control, ambient levels of herbivory by reef fishes were well above that needed to prevent proliferation of macroalgae. These findings are consistent with previously observed high resilience of the fore reef in Moorea. Our approach can identify vulnerable coral reef systems in urgent need of management action to both forestall shifts to macroalgae and preserve properties essential for resilience. PMID:27804977

  17. Coral Reef Resilience, Tipping Points and the Strength of Herbivory.

    PubMed

    Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Adam, Thomas C; Brooks, Andrew J

    2016-11-02

    Coral reefs increasingly are undergoing transitions from coral to macroalgal dominance. Although the functional roles of reef herbivores in controlling algae are becoming better understood, identifying possible tipping points in the herbivory-macroalgae relationships has remained a challenge. Assessment of where any coral reef ecosystem lies in relation to the coral-to-macroalgae tipping point is fundamental to understanding resilience properties, forecasting state shifts, and developing effective management practices. We conducted a multi-year field experiment in Moorea, French Polynesia to estimate these properties. While we found a sharp herbivory threshold where macroalgae escape control, ambient levels of herbivory by reef fishes were well above that needed to prevent proliferation of macroalgae. These findings are consistent with previously observed high resilience of the fore reef in Moorea. Our approach can identify vulnerable coral reef systems in urgent need of management action to both forestall shifts to macroalgae and preserve properties essential for resilience.

  18. 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.

  19. Evidence for multiple stressor interactions and effects on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Ban, Stephen S; Graham, Nicholas A J; Connolly, Sean R

    2014-03-01

    Concern is growing about the potential effects of interacting multiple stressors, especially as the global climate changes. We provide a comprehensive review of multiple stressor interactions in coral reef ecosystems, which are widely considered to be one of the most sensitive ecosystems to global change. First, we synthesized coral reef studies that examined interactions of two or more stressors, highlighting stressor interactions (where one stressor directly influences another) and potentially synergistic effects on response variables (where two stressors interact to produce an effect that is greater than purely additive). For stressor-stressor interactions, we found 176 studies that examined at least 2 of the 13 stressors of interest. Applying network analysis to analyze relationships between stressors, we found that pathogens were exacerbated by more costressors than any other stressor, with ca. 78% of studies reporting an enhancing effect by another stressor. Sedimentation, storms, and water temperature directly affected the largest number of other stressors. Pathogens, nutrients, and crown-of-thorns starfish were the most-influenced stressors. We found 187 studies that examined the effects of two or more stressors on a third dependent variable. The interaction of irradiance and temperature on corals has been the subject of more research (62 studies, 33% of the total) than any other combination of stressors, with many studies reporting a synergistic effect on coral symbiont photosynthetic performance (n = 19). Second, we performed a quantitative meta-analysis of existing literature on this most-studied interaction (irradiance and temperature). We found that the mean effect size of combined treatments was statistically indistinguishable from a purely additive interaction, although it should be noted that the sample size was relatively small (n = 26). Overall, although in aggregate a large body of literature examines stressor effects on coral reefs and coral

  20. Perturbation and change in coral reef communities

    PubMed Central

    Porter, James W.; Battey, James F.; Smith, G. Jason

    1982-01-01

    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°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. Images PMID:16578761

  1. Rapid transition in the structure of a coral reef community: the effects of coral bleaching and physical disturbance.

    PubMed

    Ostrander, G K; Armstrong, K M; Knobbe, E T; Gerace, D; Scully, E P

    2000-05-09

    Coral reef communities are in a state of change throughout their geographical range. Factors contributing to this change include bleaching (the loss of algal symbionts), storm damage, disease, and increasing abundance of macroalgae. An additional factor for Caribbean reefs is the aftereffects of the epizootic that reduced the abundance of the herbivorous sea urchin, Diadema antillarum. Although coral reef communities have undergone phase shifts, there are few studies that document the details of such transitions. We report the results of a 40-month study that documents changes in a Caribbean reef community affected by bleaching, hurricane damage, and an increasing abundance of macroalgae. The study site was in a relatively pristine area of the reef surrounding the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. Ten transects were sampled every 3-9 months from November 1994 to February 1998. During this period, the corals experienced a massive bleaching event resulting in a significant decline in coral abundance. Algae, especially macroalgae, increased in abundance until they effectively dominated the substrate. The direct impact of Hurricane Lili in October 1996 did not alter the developing community structure and may have facilitated increasing algal abundance. The results of this study document the rapid transition of this reef community from one in which corals and algae were codominant to a community dominated by macroalgae. The relatively brief time period required for this transition illustrates the dynamic nature of reef communities.

  2. Effectiveness of benthic foraminiferal and coral assemblages as water quality indicators on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Uthicke, S.; Thompson, A.; Schaffelke, B.

    2010-03-01

    Although the debate about coral reef decline focuses on global disturbances (e.g., increasing temperatures and acidification), local stressors (nutrient runoff and overfishing) continue to affect reef health and resilience. The effectiveness of foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages as indicators of changes in water quality was assessed on 27 inshore reefs along the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental variables (i.e., several water quality and sediment parameters) and the composition of both benthic foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages differed significantly between four regions (Whitsunday, Burdekin, Fitzroy, and the Wet Tropics). Grain size and organic carbon and nitrogen content of sediments, and a composite water column parameter (based on turbidity and concentrations of particulate matter) explained a significant amount of variation in the data (tested by redundancy analyses) in both assemblages. Heterotrophic species of foraminifera were dominant in sediments with high organic content and in localities with low light availability, whereas symbiont-bearing mixotrophic species were dominant elsewhere. A similar suite of parameters explained 89% of the variation in the FORAM index (a Caribbean coral reef health indicator) and 61% in foraminiferal species richness. Coral richness was not related to environmental setting. Coral assemblages varied in response to environmental variables, but were strongly shaped by acute disturbances (e.g., cyclones, Acanthaster planci outbreaks, and bleaching), thus different coral assemblages may be found at sites with the same environmental conditions. Disturbances also affect foraminiferal assemblages, but they appeared to recover more rapidly than corals. Foraminiferal assemblages are effective bioindicators of turbidity/light regimes and organic enrichment of sediments on coral reefs.

  3. The continuing decline of coral reefs in Bahrain.

    PubMed

    Burt, John A; Al-Khalifa, Khalifa; Khalaf, Ebtesam; Alshuwaikh, Bassem; Abdulwahab, Ahmed

    2013-07-30

    Historically coral reefs of Bahrain were among the most extensive in the southern basin of the Arabian Gulf. However, Bahrain's reefs have undergone significant decline in the last four decades as a result of large-scale coastal development and elevated sea surface temperature events. Here we quantitatively surveyed six sites including most major coral reef habitats around Bahrain and a reef located 72 km offshore. Fleshy and turf algae now dominate Bahrain's reefs (mean: 72% cover), and live coral cover is low (mean: 5.1%). Formerly dominant Acropora were not observed at any site. The offshore Bulthama reef had the highest coral cover (16.3%) and species richness (22 of the 23 species observed, 13 of which were exclusive to this site). All reefs for which recent and historical data are available show continued degradation, and it is unlikely that they will recover under continuing coastal development and projected climate change impacts.

  4. The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores.

    PubMed

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Monitoring the coral disease, plague type II, on coral reefs in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miller, J.; Rogers, C.; Waara, R.

    2003-01-01

    In July 1997, conspicuous white patches of necrotic tissue and bare skeleton began to appear on scleractinian corals in several bays around St. John, US Virgin Islands. Analysis of diseased coral tissue from five different species confirmed the presence of a Sphingomonas-like bacterium, the pathogen for plague type II. To date, 14 species of hard corals have been affected by plague type II around St. John. This disease was monitored at Haulover and Tektite Reefs at depths of 7-12 meters. The study site at Tektite Reef has >50% cover by scleractinian corals with 90% of hard corals being composed of Montastraea annular is. Monthly surveys at Tektite Reef from December 1997 to May 2001 documented new incidence of disease (bare white patches of skeleton) every month with associated loss of living coral and 90.5% of all disease patches occurred on M. annularis. The frequency of disease within transects ranged from 3 to 58%, and the area of disease patches ranged from 0.25 to 9000 cm2. The average percent cover by the disease within 1 m2 ranged from 0.01% (?? 0.04 SD) to 1.74% (?? 9.08 SD). Photo-monitoring of 28 diseased corals of 9 species begun in September 1997 at Haulover Reef revealed no recovery of diseased portions with all necrotic tissue being overgrown rapidly by turf algae, usually within less than one month. Most coral colonies suffered partial mortality. Very limited recruitment (e.g., of Agaricia spp., Favia spp. and sponges) has been noted on the diseased areas. This coral disease has the potential to cause more loss of live coral on St. John reefs than any other stress to date because it targets the dominant reef building species, M. annularis.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. Nutrient supply from fishes facilitates macroalgae and suppresses corals in a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Burkepile, Deron E; Allgeier, Jacob E; Shantz, Andrew A; Pritchard, Catharine E; Lemoine, Nathan P; Bhatti, Laura H; Layman, Craig A

    2013-01-01

    On coral reefs, fishes can facilitate coral growth via nutrient excretion; however, as coral abundance declines, these nutrients may help facilitate increases in macroalgae. By combining surveys of reef communities with bioenergetics modeling, we showed that fish excretion supplied 25 times more nitrogen to forereefs in the Florida Keys, USA, than all other biotic and abiotic sources combined. One apparent result was a positive relationship between fish excretion and macroalgal cover on these reefs. Herbivore biomass also showed a negative relationship with macroalgal cover, suggesting strong interactions of top-down and bottom-up forcing. Nutrient supply by fishes also showed a negative correlation with juvenile coral density, likely mediated by competition between macroalgae and corals, suggesting that fish excretion may hinder coral recovery following large-scale coral loss. Thus, the impact of nutrient supply by fishes may be context-dependent and reinforce either coral-dominant or coral-depauperate reef communities depending on initial community states.

  11. Reassessing the trophic role of reef sharks as apex predators on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Frisch, Ashley J.; Ireland, Matthew; Rizzari, Justin R.; Lönnstedt, Oona M.; Magnenat, Katalin A.; Mirbach, Christopher E.; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A.

    2016-06-01

    Apex predators often have strong top-down effects on ecosystem components and are therefore a priority for conservation and management. Due to their large size and conspicuous predatory behaviour, reef sharks are typically assumed to be apex predators, but their functional role is yet to be confirmed. In this study, we used stomach contents and stable isotopes to estimate diet, trophic position and carbon sources for three common species of reef shark ( Triaenodon obesus, Carcharhinus melanopterus and C. amblyrhynchos) from the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and evaluated their assumed functional role as apex predators by qualitative and quantitative comparisons with other sharks and large predatory fishes. We found that reef sharks do not occupy the apex of coral reef food chains, but instead have functional roles similar to those of large predatory fishes such as snappers, emperors and groupers, which are typically regarded as high-level mesopredators. We hypothesise that a degree of functional redundancy exists within this guild of predators, potentially explaining why shark-induced trophic cascades are rare or subtle in coral reef ecosystems. We also found that reef sharks participate in multiple food webs (pelagic and benthic) and are sustained by multiple sources of primary production. We conclude that large conspicuous predators, be they elasmobranchs or any other taxon, should not axiomatically be regarded as apex predators without thorough analysis of their diet. In the case of reef sharks, our dietary analyses suggest they should be reassigned to an alternative trophic group such as high-level mesopredators. This change will facilitate improved understanding of how reef communities function and how removal of predators (e.g., via fishing) might affect ecosystem properties.

  12. Effects of seawater acidification on a coral reef meiofauna community

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sarmento, V. C.; Souza, T. P.; Esteves, A. M.; Santos, P. J. P.

    2015-09-01

    Despite the increasing risk that ocean acidification will modify benthic communities, great uncertainty remains about how this impact will affect the lower trophic levels, such as members of the meiofauna. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of water acidification on a phytal meiofauna community from a coral reef. Community samples collected from the coral reef subtidal zone (Recife de Fora Municipal Marine Park, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil), using artificial substrate units, were exposed to a control pH (ambient seawater) and to three levels of seawater acidification (pH reductions of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 units below ambient) and collected after 15 and 30 d. After 30 d of exposure, major changes in the structure of the meiofauna community were observed in response to reduced pH. The major meiofauna groups showed divergent responses to acidification. Harpacticoida and Polychaeta densities did not show significant differences due to pH. Nematoda, Ostracoda, Turbellaria, and Tardigrada exhibited their highest densities in low-pH treatments (especially at the pH reduction of 0.6 units, pH 7.5), while harpacticoid nauplii were strongly negatively affected by low pH. This community-based mesocosm study supports previous suggestions that ocean acidification induces important changes in the structure of marine benthic communities. Considering the importance of meiofauna in the food web of coral reef ecosystems, the results presented here demonstrate that the trophic functioning of coral reefs is seriously threatened by ocean acidification.

  13. Predators alter community organization of coral reef cryptofauna and reduce abundance of coral mutualists

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stier, A. C.; Leray, M.

    2014-03-01

    Coral reefs are the most diverse marine systems in the world, yet our understanding of the processes that maintain such extraordinary diversity remains limited and taxonomically biased toward the most conspicuous species. Cryptofauna that live deeply embedded within the interstitial spaces of coral reefs make up the majority of reef diversity, and many of these species provide important protective services to their coral hosts. However, we know very little about the processes governing the diversity and composition of these less conspicuous but functionally important species. Here, we experimentally quantify the role of predation in driving the community organization of small fishes and decapods that live embedded within Pocillopora eydouxi, a structurally complex, reef-building coral found widely across the Indo-Pacific. We use surveys to describe the natural distribution of predators, and then, factorially manipulate two focal predator species to quantify the independent and combined effects of predator density and identity on P. eydouxi-dwelling cryptofauna. Predators reduced abundance (34 %), species richness (20 %), and modified species composition. Rarefaction revealed that observed reductions in species richness were primarily driven by changes in abundance. Additionally, the two predator species uniquely affected the beta diversity and composition of the prey assemblage. Predators reduced the abundance and modified the composition of a number of mutualist fishes and decapods, whose benefit to the coral is known to be both diversity- and density-dependent. We predict that the density and identity of predators present within P. eydouxi may substantially alter coral performance in the face of an increased frequency and intensity of natural and anthropogenic stressors.

  14. 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.

  15. Organic matter oxidation and aragonite diagenesis in a coral reef

    SciTech Connect

    Tribble, G.W. Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu )

    1993-05-01

    A combination of field and theoretical work is used to study controls on the saturation state of aragonite inside a coral-reef framework. A closed-system ion-speciation model is used to evaluate the effect of organic-matter oxidation on the saturation state of aragonite. The aragonite saturation state initially drops below 1 but becomes oversaturated during sulfate reduction. The C:N ratio of the organic matter affects the degree of oversaturation with N-poor organic material resulting in a system more corrosive to aragonite. Precipitation of sulfide as FeS strongly affects the aragonite saturation state, and systems with much FeS formation will have a stronger tendency to become oversaturated with respect to aragonite. Both precipitation and dissolution of aragonite are predicted at different stages of the organic reaction pathway if the model system is maintained at aragonite saturation. Field data from a coral-reef framework indicate that the system maintains itself at aragonite saturation, and model-predicted changes in dissolved calcium follow those observed in the interstitial waters of the reef. Aragonite probably acts as a solid-phase buffer in regulating the pH of interstitial waters. Because interstitial water in the reef has a short residence time, the observed equilibration suggests rapid kinetics.

  16. 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.

  17. Coral reefs in crisis: reversing the biotic death spiral.

    PubMed

    Hay, Mark E; Rasher, Douglas B

    2010-09-23

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

  18. Repair of Coral Reefs Following Large Vessel Groundings

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-01

    Between 1997 and 2002, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Sanctuaries Division, conducted three major coral ... reef repairs. The repairs were conducted in response to large vessel groundings on coral reefs. The purpose of the repairs was to mitigate for

  19. Biology and ecology of the hydrocoral millepora on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Lewis, John B

    2006-01-01

    a growing edge or branch tip, and by the reattachment, regeneration and repair of damaged or broken colony fragments. The physiological and ecological responses of species of millepores are similar to those of the species of scleractinian corals over a broad range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Severe damage to colonies may occur during major storms. Delicately branching species are more susceptible than massive and bladed species. The ability of broken fragments to regenerate can ameliorate the extent of damage. Widespread bleaching and mortality of millepores has been reported during mass bleaching events that have affected many coral reefs. Millepores are often the first to recover after short-term bleaching events. Harmful effects of oil spills, chronic oil pollution and oil-spill detergents have been widely reported for millepores. Although the hydrozoan coenosarc, with its fiercely stinging zooids, does not appear to be an attractive substratum for attachment and settlement of epizooans, a number of sessile and errant forms commonly occur on millepores. These include barnacles, amphipods, tanaid and alpheid crustaceans, polychaetes and gastropods. Burrowing molluscs, polychaetes and crustacea also abound. Many of these species or their close relatives also occur on scleractinian corals. A variety of predators, grazers and fouling organisms occur on millepores. These include errant polychaetes, several coral-feeding fish and a gastropod mollusc. Various invasive green, red and brown algae are widespread, growing on dead branches of millepores and overgrowing live coral tissue. Various "band diseases" associated with microorganisms that appear to cause lesions on millepores and loss of tissue have been documented but are not of widespread occurrence. Infestations of endolithic algae and fungi growing within the skeletons have been reported in a number of millepore species.

  20. Functionally diverse reef-fish communities ameliorate coral disease

    PubMed Central

    Raymundo, Laurie J.; Halford, Andrew R.; Maypa, Aileen P.; Kerr, Alexander M.

    2009-01-01

    Coral reefs, the most diverse of marine ecosystems, currently experience unprecedented levels of degradation. Diseases are now recognized as a major cause of mortality in reef-forming corals and are complicit in phase shifts of reef ecosystems to algal-dominated states worldwide. Even so, factors contributing to disease occurrence, spread, and impact remain poorly understood. Ecosystem resilience has been linked to the conservation of functional diversity, whereas overfishing reduces functional diversity through cascading, top-down effects. Hence, we tested the hypothesis that reefs with trophically diverse reef fish communities have less coral disease than overfished reefs. We surveyed reefs across the central Philippines, including well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs), and found that disease prevalence was significantly negatively correlated with fish taxonomic diversity. Further, MPAs had significantly higher fish diversity and less disease than unprotected areas. We subsequently investigated potential links between coral disease and the trophic components of fish diversity, finding that only the density of coral-feeding chaetodontid butterflyfishes, seldom targeted by fishers, was positively associated with disease prevalence. These previously uncharacterized results are supported by a second large-scale dataset from the Great Barrier Reef. We hypothesize that members of the charismatic reef-fish family Chaetodontidae are major vectors of coral disease by virtue of their trophic specialization on hard corals and their ecological release in overfished areas, particularly outside MPAs. PMID:19805081

  1. Functionally diverse reef-fish communities ameliorate coral disease.

    PubMed

    Raymundo, Laurie J; Halford, Andrew R; Maypa, Aileen P; Kerr, Alexander M

    2009-10-06

    Coral reefs, the most diverse of marine ecosystems, currently experience unprecedented levels of degradation. Diseases are now recognized as a major cause of mortality in reef-forming corals and are complicit in phase shifts of reef ecosystems to algal-dominated states worldwide. Even so, factors contributing to disease occurrence, spread, and impact remain poorly understood. Ecosystem resilience has been linked to the conservation of functional diversity, whereas overfishing reduces functional diversity through cascading, top-down effects. Hence, we tested the hypothesis that reefs with trophically diverse reef fish communities have less coral disease than overfished reefs. We surveyed reefs across the central Philippines, including well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs), and found that disease prevalence was significantly negatively correlated with fish taxonomic diversity. Further, MPAs had significantly higher fish diversity and less disease than unprotected areas. We subsequently investigated potential links between coral disease and the trophic components of fish diversity, finding that only the density of coral-feeding chaetodontid butterflyfishes, seldom targeted by fishers, was positively associated with disease prevalence. These previously uncharacterized results are supported by a second large-scale dataset from the Great Barrier Reef. We hypothesize that members of the charismatic reef-fish family Chaetodontidae are major vectors of coral disease by virtue of their trophic specialization on hard corals and their ecological release in overfished areas, particularly outside MPAs.

  2. 76 FR 59377 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-09-26

    ..., Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management... Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) for Reef Fish Resources, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Coral and Reef... and coral and reef associated plants and invertebrates species. The 2011 Caribbean ACL Amendment...

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

    PubMed Central

    Bohnenstiehl, DelWayne; Peters, Jason W.; Eggleston, David

    2016-01-01

    Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties. Differences between reef sites in the number of larvae settled in chambers isolating acoustic cues corresponded to differences in sound levels and reef characteristics, with sounds at the loudest reef generating significantly higher settlement during trials compared to the quietest site (a 29.5 % increase). These results suggest that soundscapes could be an important influence on coral settlement patterns and that acoustic cues associated with reef habitat may be related to larval settlement. This study reports an effect of soundscape variation on larval settlement for a key coral species, and adds to the growing evidence that soundscapes affect marine ecosystems by influencing early life history processes of foundational species. PMID:27761342

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  5. Climate change impacts on coral reefs: synergies with local effects, possibilities for acclimation, and management implications.

    PubMed

    Ateweberhan, Mebrahtu; Feary, David A; Keshavmurthy, Shashank; Chen, Allen; Schleyer, Michael H; Sheppard, Charles R C

    2013-09-30

    Most reviews concerning the impact of climate change on coral reefs discuss independent effects of warming or ocean acidification. However, the interactions between these, and between these and direct local stressors are less well addressed. This review underlines that coral bleaching, acidification, and diseases are expected to interact synergistically, and will negatively influence survival, growth, reproduction, larval development, settlement, and post-settlement development of corals. Interactions with local stress factors such as pollution, sedimentation, and overfishing are further expected to compound effects of climate change. Reduced coral cover and species composition following coral bleaching events affect coral reef fish community structure, with variable outcomes depending on their habitat dependence and trophic specialisation. Ocean acidification itself impacts fish mainly indirectly through disruption of predation- and habitat-associated behavior changes. Zooxanthellate octocorals on reefs are often overlooked but are substantial occupiers of space; these also are highly susceptible to bleaching but because they tend to be more heterotrophic, climate change impacts mainly manifest in terms of changes in species composition and population structure. Non-calcifying macroalgae are expected to respond positively to ocean acidification and promote microbe-induced coral mortality via the release of dissolved compounds, thus intensifying phase-shifts from coral to macroalgal domination. Adaptation of corals to these consequences of CO2 rise through increased tolerance of corals and successful mutualistic associations between corals and zooxanthellae is likely to be insufficient to match the rate and frequency of the projected changes. Impacts are interactive and magnified, and because there is a limited capacity for corals to adapt to climate change, global targets of carbon emission reductions are insufficient for coral reefs, so lower targets should be

  6. Report Evaluates Importance of Coral Reefs and Mangroves

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kumar, Mohi

    2006-02-01

    Thirty percent of the world's coral reefs are seriously damaged, and possibly no pristine reefs remain, according to a 24 January report by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued in the wake of the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. ``The Indian Ocean tsunami brought a lot of attention to coral reefs and mangroves,'' said Sue Wells, lead author of the report, In the Front Line: Shoreline Protection and other Ecosystem Services from Mangroves and Coral Reefs. ``Were they badly damaged? Did they play a role in buffering damage on shore?''

  7. 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…

  8. 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...

  9. DoD Coral Reef Protection and Management Program

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2004-08-01

    DoD Coral Reef Protection and Management Program (CRTF) goals are to 1) Ensure sustainable use of marine resources for DoD operations and training...exercises. 2) Identify and map locations of DoD coral reef ecosystems. 3) Inventory and monitor coral resources and tropical near-shore environments. 4...training for active duty DoD divers. 6) Support U.S. Coral Reef Task Force initiatives. 7) Promote interagency cooperation. 8) Promote DoD stewardship, education and public outreach.

  10. Effects of herbivory, nutrients, and reef protection on algal proliferation and coral growth on a tropical reef.

    PubMed

    Rasher, Douglas B; Engel, Sebastian; Bonito, Victor; Fraser, Gareth J; Montoya, Joseph P; Hay, Mark E

    2012-05-01

    Maintaining coral reef resilience against increasing anthropogenic disturbance is critical for effective reef management. Resilience is partially determined by how processes, such as herbivory and nutrient supply, affect coral recovery versus macroalgal proliferation following disturbances. However, the relative effects of herbivory versus nutrient enrichment on algal proliferation remain debated. Here, we manipulated herbivory and nutrients on a coral-dominated reef protected from fishing, and on an adjacent macroalgal-dominated reef subject to fishing and riverine discharge, over 152 days. On both reefs, herbivore exclusion increased total and upright macroalgal cover by 9-46 times, upright macroalgal biomass by 23-84 times, and cyanobacteria cover by 0-27 times, but decreased cover of encrusting coralline algae by 46-100% and short turf algae by 14-39%. In contrast, nutrient enrichment had no effect on algal proliferation, but suppressed cover of total macroalgae (by 33-42%) and cyanobacteria (by 71% on the protected reef) when herbivores were excluded. Herbivore exclusion, but not nutrient enrichment, also increased sediment accumulation, suggesting a strong link between herbivory, macroalgal growth, and sediment retention. Growth rates of the corals Porites cylindrica and Acropora millepora were 30-35% greater on the protected versus fished reef, but nutrient and herbivore manipulations within a site did not affect coral growth. Cumulatively, these data suggest that herbivory rather than eutrophication plays the dominant role in mediating macroalgal proliferation, that macroalgae trap sediments that may further suppress herbivory and enhance macroalgal dominance, and that corals are relatively resistant to damage from some macroalgae but are significantly impacted by ambient reef condition.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2017-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Cramer, Katie L; O'Dea, Aaron; Clark, Tara R; Zhao, Jian-Xin; Norris, Richard D

    2017-01-23

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

  14. Treatment of symptomatic coral reef aorta with an uncovered stent graft.

    PubMed

    Bosanquet, D C; Wood, A; Williams, I M

    2015-10-01

    Coral reef aorta is a rare condition characterised by extreme calcific growths affecting the juxta and suprarenal aorta. It can cause symptoms due to visceral ischaemia, lower limb hypoperfusion, and distal embolisation. We present a case of a 61-year-old man with unresponsive hypertension, who was found to have an occluded right renal artery, and an extensive coral reef aorta with a marked pressure gradient across the lesion. Renal hypoperfusion secondary to aortic coral reef aorta was thought to be the cause for his hypertension. Endovascular placement of a balloon expandable uncovered stent resolved his hypertension within one month, with no adverse effects noted at subsequent follow-up. Endovascular treatment of coral reef aorta is technically possible and avoids a major vascular procedure.

  15. Physiological plasticity related to zonation affects hsp70 expression in the reef-building coral Pocillopora verrucosa.

    PubMed

    Poli, Davide; Fabbri, Elena; Goffredo, Stefano; Airi, Valentina; Franzellitti, Silvia

    2017-01-01

    This study investigates for the first time the transcriptional regulation of a stress-inducible 70-kDa heat shock protein (hsp70) in the scleractinian coral Pocillopora verrucosa sampled at three locations and two depths (3 m and 12 m) in Bangka Island waters (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). Percentage of coral cover indicated reduced habitat suitability with depth and at the Tanjung Husi (TA) site, which also displayed relatively higher seawater temperatures. Expression of the P. verrucosa hsp70 transcript evaluated under field conditions followed a depth-related profile, with relatively higher expression levels in 3-m collected nubbins compared to the 12-m ones. Expression levels of metabolism-related transcripts ATP synthase and NADH dehydrogenase indicated metabolic activation of nubbins to cope with habitat conditions of the TA site at 3 m. After a 14-day acclimatization to common and fixed temperature conditions in the laboratory, corals were subjected for 7 days to an altered thermal regime, where temperature was elevated at 31°C during the light phase and returned to 28°C during the dark phase. Nubbins collected at 12 m were relatively more sensitive to thermal stress, as they significantly over-expressed the selected transcripts. Corals collected at 3 m appeared more resilient, as they showed unaffected mRNA expressions. The results indicated that local habitat conditions may influence transcription of stress-related genes in P. verrucosa. Corals exhibiting higher basal hsp70 levels may display enhanced tolerance towards environmental stressors.

  16. Physiological plasticity related to zonation affects hsp70 expression in the reef-building coral Pocillopora verrucosa

    PubMed Central

    Poli, Davide; Fabbri, Elena; Goffredo, Stefano; Airi, Valentina

    2017-01-01

    This study investigates for the first time the transcriptional regulation of a stress-inducible 70-kDa heat shock protein (hsp70) in the scleractinian coral Pocillopora verrucosa sampled at three locations and two depths (3 m and 12 m) in Bangka Island waters (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). Percentage of coral cover indicated reduced habitat suitability with depth and at the Tanjung Husi (TA) site, which also displayed relatively higher seawater temperatures. Expression of the P. verrucosa hsp70 transcript evaluated under field conditions followed a depth-related profile, with relatively higher expression levels in 3-m collected nubbins compared to the 12-m ones. Expression levels of metabolism-related transcripts ATP synthase and NADH dehydrogenase indicated metabolic activation of nubbins to cope with habitat conditions of the TA site at 3 m. After a 14-day acclimatization to common and fixed temperature conditions in the laboratory, corals were subjected for 7 days to an altered thermal regime, where temperature was elevated at 31°C during the light phase and returned to 28°C during the dark phase. Nubbins collected at 12 m were relatively more sensitive to thermal stress, as they significantly over-expressed the selected transcripts. Corals collected at 3 m appeared more resilient, as they showed unaffected mRNA expressions. The results indicated that local habitat conditions may influence transcription of stress-related genes in P. verrucosa. Corals exhibiting higher basal hsp70 levels may display enhanced tolerance towards environmental stressors. PMID:28199351

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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 ...

  20. Devising a Coral Reef Ocean Acidification Monitoring Portfolio

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gledhill, D. K.; Jewett, L.

    2012-12-01

    Coral reef monitoring has frequently been based only on descriptive science with limited capacity to assign specific attribution to agents of change. There is a requirement to engineer a diagnostic monitoring approach that can test predictions regarding the response of coral reef ecosystems to ocean acidification, and to identify potential areas of refugia or areas of particular concern. The approach should provide the means to detect not only changes in water chemistry but also changes in coral reef community structure and function which can be anticipated based upon our current understanding of paleo-OA events, experimental findings, process investigations, and modeling projections In August, 2012 a Coral Reef Ocean Acidification Monitoring Portfolio Workshop was hosted by the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program and the National Coral Reef Institute at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center. The workshop convened researchers and project managers from around the world engaged in coral reef ecosystems ocean acidification monitoring and research. The workshop sought to define a suite of metrics to include as part of long-term coral reef monitoring efforts that can contribute to discerning specific attribution of changes in coral reef ecosystems in response to ocean acidification. This portfolio of observations should leverage existing and proposed monitoring initiatives and would be derived from a suite of chemical, biogeochemical and ecological measurements. This talk will report out on the key findings from the workshop which should include identifying the most valuable that should be integrated into long-term coral reef ecosystem monitoring that will aid in discerning changes in coral reef ecosystems in response to ocean acidification. The outcomes should provide: recommendations of the most efficient and robust ways to monitor these metrics; identified augmentations that would be required to current ocean acidification monitoring necessary to achieve

  1. Measuring coral reef terrain roughness using 'Structure-from-Motion' close-range photogrammetry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leon, J. X.; Roelfsema, Chris M.; Saunders, Megan I.; Phinn, Stuart R.

    2015-08-01

    Our understanding of Earth surface processes is rapidly advancing as new remote sensing technologies such as LiDAR and close-range digital photogrammetry become more accessible and affordable. A very-high spatial resolution digital terrain model (DTM) and orthophoto mosaic (mm scale) were produced using close-range digital photogrammetry based on 'Structure-from-Motion' (SfM) algorithms for a 250 m transect along a shallow coral reef flat on Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef. The precise terrain data were used to characterise surface roughness, a critical factor affecting ecological and physical processes on the reef. Three roughness parameters, namely the root mean square height, tortuosity (or rugosity) and fractal dimension, were derived and compared in order to asses which one better characterises reef flat roughness. The typical relief across the shallow reef flat was 0.1 m with a maximum value of 0.42 m. Coral reef terrain roughness, as characterised by the three chosen parameters, generally increased towards the middle of the transect where live coral covers most of the reef flat and decreases towards the edges of the transect. The fractal dimension (values ranging from 2.2 to 2.59) best characterised reef roughness, as evidenced by a closer agreement with the distribution of known coral benthic substrates. This is the first study quantifying scale-independent roughness of a coral reef at benthic and biotope/patch levels (cm-m). The readily available and cost-effective methods presented are highly appropriate for data collection, processing and analysis to generate very-high spatial resolution DTMs and orthophoto mosaics of shallow and energetic coral reefs.

  2. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Maldives: waves and disaster affected by shape of coral reefs and islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kan, H.; Ali, M.; Riyaz, M.

    2005-12-01

    In Maldives, 39 islands are significantly damaged among 200 inhabited islands and nearly a third of the Maldivian people are severely affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 26 December 2004. We surveyed tsunami impact in 43 islands by measuring island topography and run-up height, interview to local people and mapping of the flooded and destructed areas. The differences in tsunami height and disaster corresponding to the atoll shape and island topography are observed. In the northern atolls, atoll rims consist of many ring-shaped reefs, i.e. miniature atolls called `faro', and interrupted many channels between them. The interrupted atoll rim may play an important role to reducing tsunami run-up height. Severe damage was not observed in the eastern coast of the islands. Beach ridge also contribute to the protection against tsunami. However, in some islands, houses beside the lagoon are damaged by backwashing floodwater from the lagoon. Water marks show the run-up height of -1.8m above MSL. The lagoon water-level seems to set-up by tsunami which permeates into the lagoon through the interrupted atoll rim. The disaster was severe at the southern atolls of Meemu, Thaa and Laamu. The higher run-up heights of up to 3.2m above MSL and enormous building damages were observed at the islands on the eastern atoll rims. The continuous atoll rim of these atolls may reinforce tsunami impact at the eastern islands. In addition, tsunami surge washed the islands totally because of low island topography without beach ridge. Significant floodwater from lagoon was not observed in these atolls. It seems the lagoon water-level was not set-up largely. The continuous atoll rim reduces the tsunami influence to the lagoon and the western side of the atolls. The continuity of atoll rim is probably the major factor to cause the difference in water movement, i.e. tsunami run-up and lagoon set-up, which affects the disaster in the islands. Beach ridge contribute to reduce the tsunami impact to

  3. 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

  4. Drivers and predictions of coral reef carbonate budget trajectories

    PubMed Central

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Jennings, Simon; Perry, Chris T.

    2017-01-01

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the long-term maintenance of coral-dominated tropical ecosystems, and has received considerable attention over the past two decades. Coral bleaching and associated mortality events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense, can alter the balance of different elements that are responsible for coral reef growth and maintenance. The geomorphic impacts of coral mass mortality have received relatively little attention, particularly questions concerning temporal recovery of reef carbonate production and the factors that promote resilience of reef growth potential. Here, we track the biological carbonate budgets of inner Seychelles reefs from 1994 to 2014, spanning the 1998 global bleaching event when these reefs lost more than 90% of coral cover. All 21 reefs had positive budgets in 1994, but in 2005 budgets were predominantly negative. By 2014, carbonate budgets on seven reefs were comparable with 1994, but on all reefs where an ecological regime shift to macroalgal dominance occurred, budgets remained negative through 2014. Reefs with higher massive coral cover, lower macroalgae cover and lower excavating parrotfish biomass in 1994 were more likely to have positive budgets post-bleaching. If mortality of corals from the 2016 bleaching event is as severe as that of 1998, our predictions based on past trends would suggest that six of eight reefs with positive budgets in 2014 would still have positive budgets by 2030. Our results highlight that reef accretion and framework maintenance cannot be assumed from the ecological state alone, and that managers should focus on conserving aspects of coral reefs that support resilient carbonate budgets. PMID:28123092

  5. Drivers and predictions of coral reef carbonate budget trajectories.

    PubMed

    Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A; Graham, Nicholas A J; Wilson, Shaun K; Jennings, Simon; Perry, Chris T

    2017-01-25

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the long-term maintenance of coral-dominated tropical ecosystems, and has received considerable attention over the past two decades. Coral bleaching and associated mortality events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense, can alter the balance of different elements that are responsible for coral reef growth and maintenance. The geomorphic impacts of coral mass mortality have received relatively little attention, particularly questions concerning temporal recovery of reef carbonate production and the factors that promote resilience of reef growth potential. Here, we track the biological carbonate budgets of inner Seychelles reefs from 1994 to 2014, spanning the 1998 global bleaching event when these reefs lost more than 90% of coral cover. All 21 reefs had positive budgets in 1994, but in 2005 budgets were predominantly negative. By 2014, carbonate budgets on seven reefs were comparable with 1994, but on all reefs where an ecological regime shift to macroalgal dominance occurred, budgets remained negative through 2014. Reefs with higher massive coral cover, lower macroalgae cover and lower excavating parrotfish biomass in 1994 were more likely to have positive budgets post-bleaching. If mortality of corals from the 2016 bleaching event is as severe as that of 1998, our predictions based on past trends would suggest that six of eight reefs with positive budgets in 2014 would still have positive budgets by 2030. Our results highlight that reef accretion and framework maintenance cannot be assumed from the ecological state alone, and that managers should focus on conserving aspects of coral reefs that support resilient carbonate budgets.

  6. Water flow modulates the response of coral reef communities to ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Comeau, S; Edmunds, P J; Lantz, C A; Carpenter, R C

    2014-10-20

    By the end of the century coral reefs likely will be affected negatively by ocean acidification (OA), but both the effects of OA on coral communities and the crossed effects of OA with other physical environmental variables are lacking. One of the least considered physical parameters is water flow, which is surprising considering its strong role in modulating the physiology of reef organisms and communities. In the present study, the effects of flow were tested on coral reef communities maintained in outdoor flumes under ambient pCO2 and high pCO2 (1300 μatm). Net calcification of coral communities, including sediments, was affected by both flow and pCO2 with calcification correlated positively with flow under both pCO2 treatments. The effect of flow was less evident for sediments where dissolution exceeded precipitation of calcium carbonate under all flow speeds at high pCO2. For corals and calcifying algae there was a strong flow effect, particularly at high pCO2 where positive net calcification was maintained at night in the high flow treatment. Our results demonstrate the importance of water flow in modulating the coral reef community response to OA and highlight the need to consider this parameter when assessing the effects of OA on coral reefs.

  7. Mid-term coral-algal dynamics and conservation status of a Gorgona Island (Tropical Eastern Pacific) coral reef.

    PubMed

    Zapata, Fernando A; Rodríguez-Ramírez, Alberto; Caro-Zambrano, Carlos; Garzón-Ferreira, Jaime

    2010-05-01

    Colombian coral reefs, as other reefs worldwide, have deteriorated significantly during the last few decades due to both natural and anthropogenic disturbances. The National Monitoring System for Coral Reefs in Colombia (SIMAC) was established in 1998 to provide long-term data bases to assess the changes of Colombian coral reefs against perturbations and to identify the factors responsible for their decline or recovery. On the Pacific coast, data on coral and algal cover have been collected yearly during seven consecutive years (1998-2004) from 20 permanent transects in two sites at La Azufrada reef, Gorgona Island. Overall, coral cover was high (55.1%-65.7%) and algal cover low (28.8%-37.5%) and both exhibited significant changes among years, most notably on shallow areas. Differences between sites in both coral and algal cover were present since the study began and may be explained by differences in sedimentation stress derived from soil runoff. Differences between depths most likely stem from the effects of low tidal sub-aerial exposures. Particularly intense sub-aerial exposures occurred repeatedly during January-March, 2001 and accounted for a decrease in coral and an increase in algal cover on shallow depths observed later that year. Additionally, the shallow area on the Northern site seems to be negatively affected by the combined effect of sedimentation and low tidal exposure. However, a decrease in coral cover and an increase of algal cover since 2001 on deep areas at both sites remain unexplained. Comparisons with previous studies suggest that the reef at La Azufrada has been more resilient than other reefs in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP), recovering pre-disturbance (1979) levels of coral cover within a 10 year period after the 1982-83 El Niño, which caused 85% mortality. Furthermore, the effects of the 1997-98 El Niño, indicated by the difference in overall live coral cover between 1998 and 1999, were minor (< 6% reduction). Despite recurrent

  8. Simplification of Caribbean Reef-Fish Assemblages over Decades of Coral Reef Degradation

    PubMed Central

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Paddack, Michelle J.; Collen, Ben; Robertson, D. Ross; Côté, Isabelle M.

    2015-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs are becoming structurally simpler, largely due to human impacts. The consequences of this trend for reef-associated communities are currently unclear, but expected to be profound. Here, we assess whether changes in fish assemblages have been non-random over several decades of declining reef structure. More specifically, we predicted that species that depend exclusively on coral reef habitat (i.e., habitat specialists) should be at a disadvantage compared to those that use a broader array of habitats (i.e., habitat generalists). Analysing 3727 abundance trends of 161 Caribbean reef-fishes, surveyed between 1980 and 2006, we found that the trends of habitat-generalists and habitat-specialists differed markedly. The abundance of specialists started to decline in the mid-1980s, reaching a low of ~60% of the 1980 baseline by the mid-1990s. Both the average and the variation in abundance of specialists have increased since the early 2000s, although the average is still well below the baseline level of 1980. This modest recovery occurred despite no clear evidence of a regional recovery in coral reef habitat quality in the Caribbean during the 2000s. In contrast, the abundance of generalist fishes remained relatively stable over the same three decades. Few specialist species are fished, thus their population declines are most likely linked to habitat degradation. These results mirror the observed trends of replacement of specialists by generalists, observed in terrestrial taxa across the globe. A significant challenge that arises from our findings is now to investigate if, and how, such community-level changes in fish populations affect ecosystem function. PMID:25875218

  9. Simplification of Caribbean reef-fish assemblages over decades of coral reef degradation.

    PubMed

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Paddack, Michelle J; Collen, Ben; Robertson, D Ross; Côté, Isabelle M

    2015-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs are becoming structurally simpler, largely due to human impacts. The consequences of this trend for reef-associated communities are currently unclear, but expected to be profound. Here, we assess whether changes in fish assemblages have been non-random over several decades of declining reef structure. More specifically, we predicted that species that depend exclusively on coral reef habitat (i.e., habitat specialists) should be at a disadvantage compared to those that use a broader array of habitats (i.e., habitat generalists). Analysing 3727 abundance trends of 161 Caribbean reef-fishes, surveyed between 1980 and 2006, we found that the trends of habitat-generalists and habitat-specialists differed markedly. The abundance of specialists started to decline in the mid-1980s, reaching a low of ~60% of the 1980 baseline by the mid-1990s. Both the average and the variation in abundance of specialists have increased since the early 2000s, although the average is still well below the baseline level of 1980. This modest recovery occurred despite no clear evidence of a regional recovery in coral reef habitat quality in the Caribbean during the 2000s. In contrast, the abundance of generalist fishes remained relatively stable over the same three decades. Few specialist species are fished, thus their population declines are most likely linked to habitat degradation. These results mirror the observed trends of replacement of specialists by generalists, observed in terrestrial taxa across the globe. A significant challenge that arises from our findings is now to investigate if, and how, such community-level changes in fish populations affect ecosystem function.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Impact Of Coral Structures On Wave Directional Spreading Across A Shallow Reef Flat - Lizard Island, Northern Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leon, J. X.; Baldock, T.; Callaghan, D. P.; Hoegh-guldberg, O.; Mumby, P.; Phinn, S. R.; Roelfsema, C. M.; Saunders, M. I.

    2013-12-01

    Coral reef hydrodynamics operate at several and overlapping spatial-temporal scales. Waves have the most important forcing function on shallow (< 5 m) reefs as they drive most ecological and biogeochemical processes by exerting direct physical stress, directly mixing water (temperature and nutrients) and transporting sediments, nutrients and plankton. Reef flats are very effective at dissipating wave energy and providing an important ecosystem service by protecting highly valued shorelines. The effectiveness of reef flats to dissipate wave energy is related to the extreme hydraulic roughness of the benthos and substrate composition. Hydraulic roughness is usually obtained empirically from frictional-dissipation calculations, as detailed field measurements of bottom roughness (e.g. chain-method or profile gauges) is a very labour and time-consuming task. In this study we measured the impact of coral structures on wave directional spreading. Field data was collected during October 2012 across a reef flat on Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Wave surface levels were measured using an array of self-logging pressure sensors. A rapid in situ close-range photogrammetric method was used to create a high-resolution (0.5 cm) image mosaic and digital elevation model. Individual coral heads were extracted from these datasets using geo-morphometric and object-based image analysis techniques. Wave propagation was modelled using a modified version of the SWAN model which includes the measured coral structures in 2m by 1m cells across the reef. The approach followed a cylinder drag approach, neglecting skin friction and inertial components. Testing against field data included bed skin friction. Our results show, for the first time, how the variability of the reef benthos structures affects wave dissipation across a shallow reef flat. This has important implications globally for coral reefs, due to the large extent of their area occupied by reef flats, particularly, as

  13. Functional versatility supports coral reef biodiversity

    PubMed Central

    Bellwood, D.R; Wainwright, P.C; Fulton, C.J; Hoey, A.S

    2005-01-01

    We explore the role of specialization in supporting species coexistence in high-diversity ecosystems. Using a novel ordination-based method to quantify specialist and generalist feeding structures and diets we examined the relationship between morphology and diet in 120 wrasses and parrotfishes from the Great Barrier Reef. We find that wrasses, despite their morphological diversity, exhibit weak links between morphology and diet and that specialist morphologies do not necessarily equate to specialized diets. The dominant pattern shows extensive overlap in morphology (functional morphospace occupation) among trophic groups; fish with a given morphology may have a number of feeding modes. Such trophic versatility may lay the foundation for both the origins and maintenance of high biodiversity on coral reefs. PMID:16519241

  14. Functional versatility supports coral reef biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Bellwood, D R; Wainwright, P C; Fulton, C J; Hoey, A S

    2006-01-07

    We explore the role of specialization in supporting species coexistence in high-diversity ecosystems. Using a novel ordination-based method to quantify specialist and generalist feeding structures and diets we examined the relationship between morphology and diet in 120 wrasses and parrotfishes from the Great Barrier Reef. We find that wrasses, despite their morphological diversity, exhibit weak links between morphology and diet and that specialist morphologies do not necessarily equate to specialized diets. The dominant pattern shows extensive overlap in morphology (functional morphospace occupation) among trophic groups; fish with a given morphology may have a number of feeding modes. Such trophic versatility may lay the foundation for both the origins and maintenance of high biodiversity on coral reefs.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 75 FR 39917 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-07-13

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit..., limited numbers of gorgonian corals from Federal waters, off the coast of North Carolina. The specimens... for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of the South Atlantic Region. The applicant...

  18. 76 FR 30110 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-05-24

    ..., and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the Southern Atlantic States; Exempted Fishing Permit... limited numbers of gorgonian corals from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), off Port Canaveral, FL, north... implementing the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitat of the...

  19. 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

    2016-01-07

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

  20. A demographic approach to monitoring the health of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Smith, L D; Devlin, M; Haynes, D; Gilmour, J P

    2005-01-01

    Inshore coral reefs adjacent to the wet tropics in North Queensland, Australia, are regularly exposed to flood plumes from coastal river systems. Changes in the nature of these plumes have been linked to the declining health of coral reefs in the region. The effect of flood plumes on the health of inshore corals was investigated by quantifying aspects of the demography of populations of corymbose and digitate Acropora at three groups of Island reefs along a gradient of exposure and decreasing water quality (High Island >Frankland's >Fitzroy). The size-structures of colonies, the rates of sexual recruitment, and the growth and survival of juveniles, all varied among the Island reefs. Juvenile and adult sized colonies were far more abundant at the Fitzroy Island reefs, than at the High or Frankland Island reefs that were more exposed to flood plumes. Additionally, there were up to eight times as many sexual recruits at the Fitzroy Island reefs, compared with the High Island reefs. However, the rates of growth and survival of the juvenile sized corals at the Fitzroy Island reefs were lower than at the more exposed reefs. The comparatively low abundance of adult corals at the exposed reefs is most likely due to their histories of disturbance from crown-of-thorns and coral bleaching, but the lack of subsequent recovery due to their low levels of larval recruitment. If a stock-recruitment relationship is typical for these groups of reefs, then the low rates of recruitment may be linked to the low density of adult colonies. Alternately, direct or indirect effects of chronic exposure to poor water quality may have resulted in less suitable substrata for larval settlement. We discuss these results and provide examples of how information about population structure and dynamics can be used in simple matrix models to quantify the current and future health of populations of corals under various scenarios.

  1. Implications of coral harvest and transplantation on reefs in northwestern Dominica.

    PubMed

    Bruckner, Andrew W; Borneman, Eric H

    2010-10-01

    In June, 2002, the government of Dominica requested assistance in evaluating the coral culture and transplantation activities being undertaken by Oceanographic Institute of Dominica (OID), a coral farm culturing both western Atlantic and Indo-Pacific corals for restoration and commercial sales. We assessed the culture facilities of OID, the condition of reefs, potential impacts of coral collection and benefits of coral transplantation. Coral reefs (9 reefs, 3-20 m depth) were characterized by 35 species of scleractinian corals and a live coral cover of 8-35%. Early colonizing, brooders such as Porites astreoides (14.8% of all corals), P. porites (14.8%), Meandrina meandrites (14.7%) and Agaricia agaricites (9.1%) were the most abundant corals, but colonies were mostly small (mean = 25 cm diameter). Montastraea annularis (complex) was the other dominant taxa (20.8% of all corals) and colonies were larger (mean = 70 cm). Corals (pooled species) were missing an average of 20% of their tissue, with a mean of 1.4% recent mortality. Coral diseases affected 6.4% of all colonies, with the highest prevalence at Cabrits West (11.0%), Douglas Bay (12.2%) and Coconut Outer reef (20.7%). White plague and yellow band disease were causing the greatest loss of tissue, especially among M. annularis (complex), with localized impacts from corallivores, overgrowth by macroalgae, storm damage and sedimentation. While the reefs appeared to be undergoing substantial decline, restoration efforts by OlD were unlikely to promote recovery. No Pacific species were identified at OID restoration sites, yet species chosen for transplantation with highest survival included short-lived brooders (Agaricia and Porites) that were abundant in restoration sites, as well as non-reef builders (Palythoa and Erythropodium) that monopolize substrates and overgrow corals. The species of highest value for restoration (massive broadcast spawners) showed low survivorship and unrestored populations of these

  2. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-05-01

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

  4. 1997-98: Unprecedented thermal stress to coral reefs?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, J. M.

    2000-12-01

    Mass bleaching is a stress response of corals subjected to warmer-than-normal seawater temperatures during the warm season. During 1997-98 there were unprecedented numbers of reports of bleaching on many of the world's coral reefs. Observational evidence suggests an increase in frequency of mass coral bleaching events since the late 1970s. Two indices of warm season sea surface temperatures (SSTs; SST maximum anomaly and degree-months) are presented for 47 reef sites where bleaching occurred during 1997-98. The level of thermal stress at the vast majority of these coral reef sites during 1997-98 was unmatched in the period 1903-99. Warm season SSTs at these coral reef sites have significantly warmed over this period and the frequency of warm season SST extremes has increased since the late 1970s. Continued warming of tropical SSTs, as is likely due to the enhanced greenhouse effect, will increase the level of thermal stress to coral reefs. Increased frequency of bleaching events will reduce corals' capacity to recover and may significantly alter the make-up of present day coral reef ecosystems.

  5. Habitat dynamics, marine reserve status, and the decline and recovery of coral reef fish communities.

    PubMed

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Evans, Richard D; Jones, Geoffrey P; Russ, Garry R

    2014-02-01

    Severe climatic disturbance events often have major impacts on coral reef communities, generating cycles of decline and recovery, and in some extreme cases, community-level phase shifts from coral-to algal-dominated states. Benthic habitat changes directly affect reef fish communities, with low coral cover usually associated with low fish diversity and abundance. No-take marine reserves (NTRs) are widely advocated for conserving biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of exploited fish populations. Numerous studies have documented positive ecological and socio-economic benefits of NTRs; however, the ability of NTRs to ameliorate the effects of acute disturbances on coral reefs has seldom been investigated. Here, we test these factors by tracking the dynamics of benthic and fish communities, including the important fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp.), over 8 years in both NTRs and fished areas in the Keppel Island group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Two major disturbances impacted the reefs during the monitoring period, a coral bleaching event in 2006 and a freshwater flood plume in 2011. Both disturbances generated significant declines in coral cover and habitat complexity, with subsequent declines in fish abundance and diversity, and pronounced shifts in fish assemblage structure. Coral trout density also declined in response to the loss of live coral, however, the approximately 2:1 density ratio between NTRs and fished zones was maintained over time. The only post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks were within the NTRs that escaped the worst effects of the disturbances. Although NTRs had little discernible effect on the temporal dynamics of benthic or fish communities, it was evident that the post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks within some NTRs may be critically important to regional-scale population persistence and recovery.

  6. Coral reef diseases in the Atlantic-Caribbean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Weil, Ernesto; Dubinsky, Zvy; Stambler, Noga

    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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Linking social and ecological systems to sustain coral reef fisheries.

    PubMed

    Cinner, Joshua E; McClanahan, Timothy R; Daw, Tim M; Graham, Nicholas A J; Maina, Joseph; Wilson, Shaun K; Hughes, Terence P

    2009-02-10

    The ecosystem goods and services provided by coral reefs are critical to the social and economic welfare of hundreds of millions of people, overwhelmingly in developing countries [1]. Widespread reef degradation is severely eroding these goods and services, but the socioeconomic factors shaping the ways that societies use coral reefs are poorly understood [2]. We examine relationships between human population density, a multidimensional index of socioeconomic development, reef complexity, and the condition of coral reef fish populations in five countries across the Indian Ocean. In fished sites, fish biomass was negatively related to human population density, but it was best explained by reef complexity and a U-shaped relationship with socioeconomic development. The biomass of reef fishes was four times lower at locations with intermediate levels of economic development than at locations with both low and high development. In contrast, average biomass inside fishery closures was three times higher than in fished sites and was not associated with socioeconomic development. Sustaining coral reef fisheries requires an integrated approach that uses tools such as protected areas to quickly build reef resources while also building capacities and capital in societies over longer time frames to address the complex underlying causes of reef degradation.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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)

  15. Community structure and coral status across reef fishing intensity gradients in Palk Bay reef, southeast coast of India.

    PubMed

    Manikandan, B; Ravindran, J; Shrinivaasu, S; Marimuthu, N; Paramasivam, K

    2014-10-01

    Coral reef fishes are exploited without the knowledge of their sustainability and their possible effect in altering the community structure of a coral reef ecosystem. Alteration of the community structure could cause a decline in the health of coral reefs and its services. We documented the coral community structure, status of live corals and reef fish assemblages in Palk Bay at the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby reef area with minimum fishing pressure and compared it with a control reef area where reef fishing was banned for more than two decades. The comparison was based on the percent cover of different forms of live corals, their diversity and the density and diversity of reef fishes. The reef fish stock in the reef fishing hotspots and its neighbouring reef was lower by 61 and 38%, respectively compared to the control reef. The herbivore fish Scarus ghobban and Siganus javus were exploited at a rate of 250 and 105 kg month(-1) fishermen(-1), respectively, relatively high comparing the small reef area. Live and dead corals colonized by turf algae were predominant in both the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby coral ecosystems. The percent cover of healthy live corals and live corals colonized by turf algae was <10 and >80%, respectively, in the intensively fished coral ecosystems. The corals were less diverse and the massive Porites and Favia colonies were abundant in the intensive reef fishing sites. Results of this study suggest that the impact of reef fish exploitation was not solely restricted to the intensively fished reefs, but also to the nearby reefs which play a critical role in the resilience of degraded reef ecosystems.

  16. Trampling on coral reefs: tourism effects on harpacticoid copepods

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sarmento, V. C.; Santos, P. J. P.

    2012-03-01

    Human trampling is a common type of disturbance associated with outdoor recreational activities in coastal ecosystems. In this study, the effect of trampling on the meiofaunal harpacticoid copepod assemblage inhabiting turfs on a coral reef was investigated. In Porto de Galinhas, northeastern Brazil, reef formations near the beach are one of the main touristic destinations in the country. To assess trampling impact, two areas were compared: a protected area and an area subject to intensive tourism. Densities of total Harpacticoida and of the most abundant harpacticoid species showed strong reductions in the trampled area. An analysis of covariance revealed that the loss of phytal habitat was not the main source of density reductions, showing that trampling affected the animals directly. In addition, multivariate analysis demonstrated differences in the structure of harpacticoid assemblages between areas. Of the 43 species identified, 12 were detected by the Indicator Species Analyses as being indicators of the protected or trampled areas. Moreover, species richness was reduced in the area open to tourism. At least 25 harpacticoids are new species for science, of these, 20 were more abundant or occurred only in the protected area, while five were more abundant or occurred only in the trampled area; thus, our results highlight the possibility of local extinction of still-unknown species as one of the potential consequences of trampling on coral reefs.

  17. 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...

  18. Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-30

    and in particular, coral reefs. Coral reef communities are coastal areas of high water transparency which make them ideal systems to study optical...signatures originating from the benthos. The scientific objectives of my project are: 1. to attain optical closure for coral reef communities 2. to

  19. 76 FR 68711 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-11-07

    ..., Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of Puerto... Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Amendment 3 to the FMP for Corals and Reef Associated Plants... framework procedures for the spiny lobster and Caribbean corals and reef associated plants and...

  20. Coral diseases on Philippine reefs: genus Porites is a dominant host.

    PubMed

    Raymundo, Laurie J; Rosell, Kathryn B; Reboton, Clarissa T; Kaczmarsky, Longin

    2005-05-20

    While it is generally assumed that Indo-Pacific reefs are not widely affected by diseases, limited data suggest a number of diseases and syndromes that appear to differ from those currently under study in the Caribbean. This report presents the results of a baseline survey of coral diseases in 2 regions in the Philippines: the Central Visayas and the Lingayen Gulf. Mean prevalence for all diseases observed was 8.3 +/- 1.2% (mean +/- SE; n = 8 reefs), with Central Visayas reefs showing higher disease prevalence (11.6 +/- 2.8%; n = 4 reefs) than those of Lingayen Gulf (5.1 +/- 1.4%; n = 4 reefs). Five diseases and syndromes were described; 3 of these-Porites ulcerative white spot disease (PUWS) (prevalence = 8.96 +/- 2.2%), tumors (prevalence = 1.0 +/- 0.5%) and pigmentation response (prevalence = 0.5 +/- 0.2%)--occurred frequently in both regions and targeted the genus Porites. Correlation between disease prevalence and number of Porites colonies was fairly strong (r2 = 43.4), though not significant, and no correlation was seen between prevalence and either the amount or diversity of hard coral. Porites is a major reef-builder in the Indo-Pacific comprising 30% of hard coral colonies on our surveyed reefs, and is generally thought to be a hardy, long-lived genus. Diseases targeting this robust group present an as yet unquantified risk to Philippine reefs and could result in major changes in reef structure.

  1. Climate change and coral reefs: Trojan horse or false prophecy?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

    2009-09-01

    Maynard et al. (Coral Reefs 27:745-749, 2008a) claim that much of the concern about the impacts of climate change on coral reefs has been “based on essentially untested assumptions regarding reefs and their capacity to cope with future climate change”. If correct, this claim has important implications for whether or not climate change represents the largest long-term threat to the sustainability of coral reefs, especially given their ad hominem argument that many coral reef scientists are guilty of “popularising worst-case scenarios” at the expense of truth. This article looks critically at the claims made by Maynard et al. (Coral Reefs 27:745-749, 2008a) and comes to a very different conclusion, with the thrust and veracity of their argument being called into question. Contrary to the fears of Grigg (Coral Reefs 11:183-186, 1992), who originally made reference to the Cassandra syndrome due to his concern about the sensationalisation of science, the proposition that coral reefs face enormous challenges from climate change and ocean acidification has and is being established through “careful experimentation, long-term monitoring and objective interpretation”. While this is reassuring, coral reef ecosystems continue to face major challenges from ocean warming and acidification. Given this, it is an imperative that scientists continue to maintain the rigour of their research and to communicate their conclusions as widely and clearly as possible. Given the shortage of time and the magnitude of the problem, there is little time to spare.

  2. Ecological limitations to the resilience of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mora, Camilo; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Nyström, Magnus

    2016-12-01

    The decline of coral reefs has been broadly attributed to human stressors being too strong and pervasive, whereas biological processes that may render coral reefs fragile have been sparsely considered. Here we review several ecological factors that can limit the ability of coral reefs to withstand disturbance. These include: (1) Many species lack the adaptive capacity to cope with the unprecedented disturbances they currently face; (2) human disturbances impact vulnerable life history stages, reducing reproductive output and the supply of recruits essential for recovery; (3) reefs can be vulnerable to the loss of few species, as niche specialization or temporal and spatial segregation makes each species unique (i.e., narrow ecological redundancy); in addition, many foundation species have similar sensitivity to disturbances, suggesting that entire functions can be lost to single disturbances; and (4) feedback loops and extinction vortices may stabilize degraded states or accelerate collapses even if stressors are removed. This review suggests that the degradation of coral reefs is due to not only the severity of human stressors but also the "fragility" of coral reefs. As such, appropriate governance is essential to manage stressors while being inclusive of ecological process and human uses across transnational scales. This is a considerable but necessary upgrade in current management if the integrity, and delivery of goods and services, of coral reefs is to be preserved.

  3. On the occurrence of a widespread contamination by herbicides of coral reef biota in French Polynesia.

    PubMed

    Salvat, Bernard; Roche, Hélène; Ramade, François

    2016-01-01

    Research has been conducted within the framework of the French Initiative for Coral Reefs (IFRECOR) to assess pesticide pollution levels in the coral reef trophic webs in French Polynesia. Unexpected widespread contamination by herbicides was found in algae, fishes and macro-invertebrates located at various levels of the reef trophic web. Concentrations in organisms investigated were for the majority below the lowest observable effect level and do not pose a dietary risk to native population who subsist on these fish. However, the widespread contamination may affect the reef ecosystem in the future as coral symbiotic algae, Symbidinium sp. (Dinophyta) are particularly sensitive to photosystem II herbicides, particularly the substituted urea and triazine derivatives.

  4. A study on the recovery of Tobago's coral reefs following the 2010 mass bleaching event.

    PubMed

    Buglass, Salome; Donner, Simon D; Alemu I, Jahson B

    2016-03-15

    In 2010, severe coral bleaching was observed across the southeastern Caribbean, including the island of Tobago, where coral reefs are subject to sedimentation and high nutrient levels from terrestrial runoff. Here we examine changes in corals' colony size distributions over time (2010-2013), juvenile abundances and sedimentation rates for sites across Tobago following the 2010 bleaching event. The results indicated that since pre-bleaching coral cover was already low due to local factors and past disturbance, the 2010 event affected only particular susceptible species' population size structure and increased the proportion of small sized colonies. The low density of juveniles (mean of 5.4±6.3 juveniles/m(-2)) suggests that Tobago's reefs already experienced limited recruitment, especially of large broadcasting species. The juvenile distribution and the response of individual species to the bleaching event support the notion that Caribbean reefs are becoming dominated by weedy non-framework building taxa which are more resilient to disturbances.

  5. Ecological solutions to reef degradation: optimizing coral reef restoration in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Reef restoration activities have proliferated in response to the need to mitigate coral declines and recover lost reef structure, function, and ecosystem services. Here, we describe the recent shift from costly and complex engineering solutions to recover degraded reef structure to more economical and efficient ecological approaches that focus on recovering the living components of reef communities. We review the adoption and expansion of the coral gardening framework in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic where practitioners now grow and outplant 10,000’s of corals onto degraded reefs each year. We detail the steps for establishing a gardening program as well as long-term goals and direct and indirect benefits of this approach in our region. With a strong scientific basis, coral gardening activities now contribute significantly to reef and species recovery, provide important scientific, education, and outreach opportunities, and offer alternate livelihoods to local stakeholders. While challenges still remain, the transition from engineering to ecological solutions for reef degradation has opened the field of coral reef restoration to a wider audience poised to contribute to reef conservation and recovery in regions where coral losses and recruitment bottlenecks hinder natural recovery. PMID:27781176

  6. Ecological solutions to reef degradation: optimizing coral reef restoration in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic.

    PubMed

    Lirman, Diego; Schopmeyer, Stephanie

    2016-01-01

    Reef restoration activities have proliferated in response to the need to mitigate coral declines and recover lost reef structure, function, and ecosystem services. Here, we describe the recent shift from costly and complex engineering solutions to recover degraded reef structure to more economical and efficient ecological approaches that focus on recovering the living components of reef communities. We review the adoption and expansion of the coral gardening framework in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic where practitioners now grow and outplant 10,000's of corals onto degraded reefs each year. We detail the steps for establishing a gardening program as well as long-term goals and direct and indirect benefits of this approach in our region. With a strong scientific basis, coral gardening activities now contribute significantly to reef and species recovery, provide important scientific, education, and outreach opportunities, and offer alternate livelihoods to local stakeholders. While challenges still remain, the transition from engineering to ecological solutions for reef degradation has opened the field of coral reef restoration to a wider audience poised to contribute to reef conservation and recovery in regions where coral losses and recruitment bottlenecks hinder natural recovery.

  7. 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.

  8. Environmental quality and preservation; reefs, corals, and carbonate sands; guides to reef-ecosystem health and environment

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lidz, Barbara H.

    2001-01-01

    Introduction In recent years, the health of the entire coral reef ecosystem that lines the outer shelf off the Florida Keys has declined markedly. In particular, loss of those coral species that are the building blocks of solid reef framework has significant negative implications for economic vitality of the region. What are the reasons for this decline? Is it due to natural change, or are human activities (recreational diving, ship groundings, farmland runoff, nutrient influx, air-borne contaminants, groundwater pollutants) a contributing factor and if so, to what extent? At risk of loss are biologic resources of the reefs, including habitats for endangered species in shoreline mangroves, productive marine and wetland nurseries, and economic fisheries. A healthy reef ecosystem builds a protective offshore barrier to catastrophic wave action and storm surges generated by tropical storms and hurricanes. In turn, a healthy reef protects the homes, marinas, and infrastructure on the Florida Keys that have been designed to capture a lucrative tourism industry. A healthy reef ecosystem also protects inland agricultural and livestock areas of South Florida whose produce and meat feed much of the United States and other parts of the world. In cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Program, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) continues longterm investigations of factors that may affect Florida's reefs. One of the first steps in distinguishing between natural change and the effects of human activities, however, is to determine how coral reefs have responded to past environmental change, before the advent of man. By so doing, accurate scientific information becomes available for Marine Sanctuary management to understand natural change and thus to assess and regulate potential human impact better. The USGS studies described here evaluate the distribution (location) and historic vitality (thickness) of Holocene

  9. 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.

  10. Spatial dynamics of benthic competition on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Sandin, Stuart A; McNamara, Dylan E

    2012-04-01

    The community structure of sedentary organisms is largely controlled by the outcome of direct competition for space. Understanding factors defining competitive outcomes among neighbors is thus critical for predicting large-scale changes, such as transitions to alternate states within coral reefs. Using a spatially explicit model, we explored the importance of variation in two spatial properties in benthic dynamics on coral reefs: (1) patterns of herbivory are spatially distinct between fishes and sea urchins and (2) there is wide variation in the areal extent into which different coral species can expand. We reveal that the size-specific, competitive asymmetry of corals versus fleshy algae highlights the significance of spatial patterning of herbivory and of coral growth. Spatial dynamics that alter the demographic importance of coral recruitment and maturation have profound effects on the emergent structure of the reef benthic community. Spatially constrained herbivory (as by sea urchins) is more effective than spatially unconstrained herbivory (as by many fish) at opening space for the time needed for corals to settle and to recruit to the adult population. Further, spatially unconstrained coral growth (as by many branching coral species) reduces the number of recruitment events needed to fill a habitat with coral relative to more spatially constrained growth (as by many massive species). Our model predicts that widespread mortality of branching corals (e.g., Acropora spp) and herbivorous sea urchins (particularly Diadema antillarum) in the Caribbean has greatly reduced the potential for restoration across the region.

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

    PubMed

    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.

  12. 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

  13. Spatial and temporal effects of port facilities expansion on the surface area of shallow coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Valadez-Rocha, V; Ortiz-Lozano, L

    2013-07-01

    There is a close relationship between ports and reef areas, mainly because reefs provide protection to vessels against extreme weather events like storms and hurricanes. This historical relationship has generated severe impacts on reef ecosystems. In order to identify the main impacts from the construction of port facilities in shallow coral reef areas, we analyzed and described the effects of land reclamation and coastal structure construction associated to port growth throughout a century in the Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano National Park, Mexico. We used aerial photographs and maps of the nineteenth and early twentieth century to assess the impacts caused by port expansion activities on shallow coral reefs. Three types of impacts were identified: (a) direct reef area loss caused by landfills and perpendicular coastal structures construction leading to the loss of nearly 50 % of the fringing reef near to the port; (b) fragmentation in short- and medium-term scale, which affects two fringing reefs, and (c) long-term modification of coastal dynamics leading to sedimentation and loss of a complete reef area. On the eve of a new expansion of Veracruz Port, we used the New Port Project Plan, long-shore net drift geomorphic indicators and the port impact typology from the 100-year period assessment to evaluate a possible future scenario. The scenario describes how the new expansion project will repeat the three types of impacts affecting a whole reef area, which is currently part of the National Park.

  14. Spatial and Temporal Effects of Port Facilities Expansion on the Surface Area of Shallow Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Valadez-Rocha, V.; Ortiz-Lozano, L.

    2013-07-01

    There is a close relationship between ports and reef areas, mainly because reefs provide protection to vessels against extreme weather events like storms and hurricanes. This historical relationship has generated severe impacts on reef ecosystems. In order to identify the main impacts from the construction of port facilities in shallow coral reef areas, we analyzed and described the effects of land reclamation and coastal structure construction associated to port growth throughout a century in the Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano National Park, Mexico. We used aerial photographs and maps of the nineteenth and early twentieth century to assess the impacts caused by port expansion activities on shallow coral reefs. Three types of impacts were identified: (a) direct reef area loss caused by landfills and perpendicular coastal structures construction leading to the loss of nearly 50 % of the fringing reef near to the port; (b) fragmentation in short- and medium-term scale, which affects two fringing reefs, and (c) long-term modification of coastal dynamics leading to sedimentation and loss of a complete reef area. On the eve of a new expansion of Veracruz Port, we used the New Port Project Plan, long-shore net drift geomorphic indicators and the port impact typology from the 100-year period assessment to evaluate a possible future scenario. The scenario describes how the new expansion project will repeat the three types of impacts affecting a whole reef area, which is currently part of the National Park.

  15. Climate warming, marine protected areas and the ocean-scale integrity of coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Graham, Nicholas A J; McClanahan, Tim R; MacNeil, M Aaron; Wilson, Shaun K; Polunin, Nicholas V C; Jennings, Simon; Chabanet, Pascale; Clark, Susan; Spalding, Mark D; Letourneur, Yves; Bigot, Lionel; Galzin, René; Ohman, Marcus C; Garpe, Kajsa C; Edwards, Alasdair J; Sheppard, Charles R C

    2008-08-27

    Coral reefs have emerged as one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate variation and change. While the contribution of a warming climate to the loss of live coral cover has been well documented across large spatial and temporal scales, the associated effects on fish have not. Here, we respond to recent and repeated calls to assess the importance of local management in conserving coral reefs in the context of global climate change. Such information is important, as coral reef fish assemblages are the most species dense vertebrate communities on earth, contributing critical ecosystem functions and providing crucial ecosystem services to human societies in tropical countries. Our assessment of the impacts of the 1998 mass bleaching event on coral cover, reef structural complexity, and reef associated fishes spans 7 countries, 66 sites and 26 degrees of latitude in the Indian Ocean. Using Bayesian meta-analysis we show that changes in the size structure, diversity and trophic composition of the reef fish community have followed coral declines. Although the ocean scale integrity of these coral reef ecosystems has been lost, it is positive to see the effects are spatially variable at multiple scales, with impacts and vulnerability affected by geography but not management regime. Existing no-take marine protected areas still support high biomass of fish, however they had no positive affect on the ecosystem response to large-scale disturbance. This suggests a need for future conservation and management efforts to identify and protect regional refugia, which should be integrated into existing management frameworks and combined with policies to improve system-wide resilience to climate variation and change.

  16. 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

  17. Coral settlement on a highly disturbed equatorial reef system.

    PubMed

    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 Singapore

  18. 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...

  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.

  20. First frozen repository for the Great Barrier Reef coral created.

    PubMed

    Hagedorn, Mary; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Carter, Virginia; Henley, Mike; Abrego, David; Puill-Stephan, Eneour; Negri, Andrew; Heyward, Andrew; MacFarlane, Doug; Spindler, Rebecca

    2012-10-01

    To build new tools for the continued protection and propagation of coral from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), an international group of coral and cryopreservation scientists known as the Reef Recovery Initiative joined forces during the November 2011 mass-spawning event. The outcome was the creation of the first frozen bank for Australian coral from two important GBR reef-building species, Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora. Approximately 190 frozen samples each with billions of cells were placed into long-term storage. Sperm cells were successfully cryopreserved, and after thawing, samples were used to fertilize eggs, resulting in functioning larvae. Additionally, developing larvae were dissociated, and these pluripotent cells were cryopreserved and viable after thawing. Now, we are in a unique position to move our work from the laboratory to the reefs to develop collaborative, practical conservation management tools to help secure Australia's coral biodiversity.

  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.

  2. Microbiota of the major South Atlantic reef building coral Mussismilia.

    PubMed

    Fernando, Samodha C; Wang, Jia; Sparling, Kimberly; Garcia, Gizele D; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B; de Moura, Rodrigo L; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Thompson, Fabiano L; Thompson, Janelle R

    2015-02-01

    The Brazilian endemic scleractinian corals, genus Mussismilia, are among the main reef builders of the South Atlantic and are threatened by accelerating rates of disease. To better understand how holobiont microbial populations interact with corals during health and disease and to evaluate whether selective pressures in the holobiont or neutral assembly shape microbial composition, we have examined the microbiota structure of Mussismilia corals according to coral lineage, environment, and disease/health status. Microbiota of three Mussismilia species (Mussismilia harttii, Mussismilia hispida, and Mussismilia braziliensis) was compared using 16S rRNA pyrosequencing and clone library analysis of coral fragments. Analysis of biological triplicates per Mussismilia species and reef site allowed assessment of variability among Mussismilia species and between sites for M. braziliensis. From 173,487 V6 sequences, 6,733 coral- and 1,052 water-associated operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were observed. M. braziliensis microbiota was more similar across reefs than to other Mussismilia species microbiota from the same reef. Highly prevalent OTUs were more significantly structured by coral lineage and were enriched in Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria. Bacterial OTUs from healthy corals were recovered from a M. braziliensis skeleton sample at twice the frequency of recovery from water or a diseased coral suggesting the skeleton is a significant habitat for microbial populations in the holobiont. Diseased corals were enriched with pathogens and opportunists (Vibrios, Bacteroidetes, Thalassomonas, and SRB). Our study examines for the first time intra- and inter-specific variability of microbiota across the genus Mussismilia. Changes in microbiota may be useful indicators of coral health and thus be a valuable tool for coral reef management and conservation.

  3. Reef ecology. Chemically mediated behavior of recruiting corals and fishes: a tipping point that may limit reef recovery.

    PubMed

    Dixson, Danielle L; Abrego, David; Hay, Mark E

    2014-08-22

    Coral reefs are in global decline, converting from dominance by coral to dominance by seaweed. Once seaweeds become abundant, coral recovery is suppressed unless herbivores return to remove seaweeds, and corals then recruit. Variance in the recovery of fishes and corals is not well understood. We show that juveniles of both corals and fishes are repelled by chemical cues from fished, seaweed-dominated reefs but attracted to cues from coral-dominated areas where fishing is prohibited. Chemical cues of specific seaweeds from degraded reefs repulsed recruits, and cues from specific corals that are typical of healthy reefs attracted recruits. Juveniles were present at but behaviorally avoided recruiting to degraded reefs dominated by seaweeds. For recovery, degraded reefs may need to be managed to produce cues that attract, rather than repel, recruiting corals and fishes.

  4. 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.

  5. Coral reefs as buffers during the 2009 South Pacific tsunami, Upolu Island, Samoa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McAdoo, Brian G.; Ah-Leong, Joyce Samuelu; Bell, Lui; Ifopo, Pulea; Ward, Juney; Lovell, Edward; Skelton, Posa

    2011-07-01

    The coral reef bordering the coastline of Samoa affected by the 29 September 2009 tsunami provides a variety of ecosystem services — from nurseries for fisheries and inshore source of food for local communities, to aesthetics for tourists, and the width of the lagoon may have been a factor in reducing the onshore wave height. To understand the complex interactions between the onshore human population and the offshore coral, we formed an interdisciplinary survey team to document the effects the tsunami had on the nearshore coral reef, and how these changes might affect local inhabitants. The scale of reef damage varied from severe, where piles of freshly-killed coral fragments and mortality were present, to areas that exhibited little impact, despite being overrun by the tsunami. We found that many coral colonies were impacted by tsunami-entrained coral debris, which had been ripped up and deposited on the fore reef by repeated cyclones and storm waves. In other places, large surface area tabular coral sustained damage as the tsunami velocity increased as it was funneled through channels. Areas that lacked debris entrained by the waves as well as areas in the lee of islands came through relatively unscathed, with the exception of the delicate corals that lived on a sandy substrate. In the lagoon on the south coast with its steep topography, coral colonies were damaged by tsunami-generated debris from onshore entrained in the backwash. Despite the potential for severe tsunami-related damage, there were no noticeable decreases in live coral cover between successive surveys at two locations, although algal cover was higher with the increased nutrients mobilized by the tsunami. While there was an immediate decrease in fish takes in the month following the tsunami, when supporting services were likely impacted, both volume and income have rapidly increased to pre-tsunami levels. Long-term monitoring should be implemented to determine if nursery services were

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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

    PubMed

    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.

  11. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral.

    PubMed

    Pinzón, Jorge H; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A; Harvell, C Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D

    2015-04-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system. In this study, whole transcriptome analysis of the coral holobiont and each of the associate components (i.e. coral host, algal symbiont and other associated microorganisms) was used to determine changes in gene expression in corals affected by a natural bleaching event as well as during the recovery phase. The main findings include evidence that the coral holobiont and the coral host have different responses to bleaching, and the host immune system appears suppressed even a year after a bleaching event. These results support the hypothesis that coral bleaching changes the expression of innate immune genes of corals, and these effects can last even after recovery of symbiont populations. Research on the role of immunity on coral's resistance to stressors can help make informed predictions on the future of corals and coral reefs.

  12. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral

    PubMed Central

    Pinzón, Jorge H.; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A.; Harvell, C. Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D.

    2015-01-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system. In this study, whole transcriptome analysis of the coral holobiont and each of the associate components (i.e. coral host, algal symbiont and other associated microorganisms) was used to determine changes in gene expression in corals affected by a natural bleaching event as well as during the recovery phase. The main findings include evidence that the coral holobiont and the coral host have different responses to bleaching, and the host immune system appears suppressed even a year after a bleaching event. These results support the hypothesis that coral bleaching changes the expression of innate immune genes of corals, and these effects can last even after recovery of symbiont populations. Research on the role of immunity on coral's resistance to stressors can help make informed predictions on the future of corals and coral reefs. PMID:26064625

  13. Effects of changing temperatures on coral reef health: Implications for management

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Selig, Elizabeth Rose

    Human-induced climate change has already led to substantial changes in a variety of ecosystems. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to rises in ocean temperature as a result of climate change because they already live near their thermal limits. However, we know little about the spatial patterns of temperature anomalies, areas of greater than usual temperature, which cause coral mortality and increased rates of coral disease. These gaps in knowledge make it difficult to design effective management strategies for mitigating the effects of ocean warming. My dissertation research uses a combination of a new satellite ocean temperature dataset, field surveys on coral health, and data on marine protected area (MPA) boundaries to analyze how ocean temperatures are affecting coral reef health at regional and global scales. I discovered that temperature anomalies are spatially and temporally variable from 1985-2005 even during El Nino events. They are also typically less than 50 km2, smaller than the resolution of many climate models. In addition, I found a strong relationship on the Great Barrier Reef between the number of temperature anomalies and the number of cases of white syndrome, a prevalent coral disease. Results from this study suggest that temperature anomalies are playing a major role in the observed decline of coral reefs over the last 30-40 years. This decline highlights the importance of determining whether MPAs, one of the most common management tools are effective in restoring coral cover. My analyses demonstrated that MPAs can confer some ecosystem resilience through fisheries management and land management practices at regional scales. Coral cover on reefs inside of MPAs did not change over time, while unprotected reefs experienced declines in coral cover. However, MPAs do not moderate the effect of thermal stress on corals or reduce coral decline at rates that can offset losses from thermal stress and other major natural and human-caused disturbances

  14. Poorly cemented coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific: possible insights into reef development in a high-CO2 world.

    PubMed

    Manzello, Derek P; Kleypas, Joan A; Budd, David A; Eakin, C Mark; Glynn, Peter W; Langdon, Chris

    2008-07-29

    Ocean acidification describes the progressive, global reduction in seawater pH that is currently underway because of the accelerating oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO(2). Acidification is expected to reduce coral reef calcification and increase reef dissolution. Inorganic cementation in reefs describes the precipitation of CaCO(3) that acts to bind framework components and occlude porosity. Little is known about the effects of ocean acidification on reef cementation and whether changes in cementation rates will affect reef resistance to erosion. Coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) are poorly developed and subject to rapid bioerosion. Upwelling processes mix cool, subthermocline waters with elevated pCO(2) (the partial pressure of CO(2)) and nutrients into the surface layers throughout the ETP. Concerns about ocean acidification have led to the suggestion that this region of naturally low pH waters may serve as a model of coral reef development in a high-CO(2) world. We analyzed seawater chemistry and reef framework samples from multiple reef sites in the ETP and found that a low carbonate saturation state (Omega) and trace abundances of cement are characteristic of these reefs. These low cement abundances may be a factor in the high bioerosion rates previously reported for ETP reefs, although elevated nutrients in upwelled waters may also be limiting cementation and/or stimulating bioerosion. ETP reefs represent a real-world example of coral reef growth in low-Omega waters that provide insights into how the biological-geological interface of coral reef ecosystems will change in a high-CO(2) world.

  15. Poorly cemented coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific: Possible insights into reef development in a high-CO2 world

    PubMed Central

    Manzello, Derek P.; Kleypas, Joan A.; Budd, David A.; Eakin, C. Mark; Glynn, Peter W.; Langdon, Chris

    2008-01-01

    Ocean acidification describes the progressive, global reduction in seawater pH that is currently underway because of the accelerating oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2. Acidification is expected to reduce coral reef calcification and increase reef dissolution. Inorganic cementation in reefs describes the precipitation of CaCO3 that acts to bind framework components and occlude porosity. Little is known about the effects of ocean acidification on reef cementation and whether changes in cementation rates will affect reef resistance to erosion. Coral reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) are poorly developed and subject to rapid bioerosion. Upwelling processes mix cool, subthermocline waters with elevated pCO2 (the partial pressure of CO2) and nutrients into the surface layers throughout the ETP. Concerns about ocean acidification have led to the suggestion that this region of naturally low pH waters may serve as a model of coral reef development in a high-CO2 world. We analyzed seawater chemistry and reef framework samples from multiple reef sites in the ETP and found that a low carbonate saturation state (Ω) and trace abundances of cement are characteristic of these reefs. These low cement abundances may be a factor in the high bioerosion rates previously reported for ETP reefs, although elevated nutrients in upwelled waters may also be limiting cementation and/or stimulating bioerosion. ETP reefs represent a real-world example of coral reef growth in low-Ω waters that provide insights into how the biological–geological interface of coral reef ecosystems will change in a high-CO2 world. PMID:18663220

  16. 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,...

  17. Project Overview: A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    The purpose of this report is to provide the latest scientific knowledge and discuss available management options to assist local and regional managers in responding effectively to mass coral bleaching events. Background A Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching is the result of a collaborative effort by over 50 scientists and managers to: (1) share the best available scientific information on climate-related coral bleaching; and (2) compile a tool kit of currently available strategies for adaptive management of coral reefs in a changing climate. The result is a compendium of current information, tools, and practical suggestions to aid managers in their efforts to protect reefs in a way that maximizes reef resilience in the face of continuing climate change. The Guide is a joint publication of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and The World Conservation Union, with author contributions from a variety of international partners from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. EPA’s Office of Research and Development was a major contributor to the Guide through authorship and participation in the final review and editing process for the entire report. A Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching is the result of a collaborative effort by over 50 scientists and managers to: (1) share the best available scientific information on climate-related coral blea

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-04-04

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

  19. Tropical dead zones and mass mortalities on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Altieri, Andrew H; Harrison, Seamus B; Seemann, Janina; Collin, Rachel; Diaz, Robert J; Knowlton, Nancy

    2017-04-04

    Degradation of coastal water quality in the form of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) can harm biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human wellbeing. Extreme hypoxic conditions along the coast, leading to what are often referred to as "dead zones," are known primarily from temperate regions. However, little is known about the potential threat of hypoxia in the tropics, even though the known risk factors, including eutrophication and elevated temperatures, are common. Here we document an unprecedented hypoxic event on the Caribbean coast of Panama and assess the risk of dead zones to coral reefs worldwide. The event caused coral bleaching and massive mortality of corals and other reef-associated organisms, but observed shifts in community structure combined with laboratory experiments revealed that not all coral species are equally sensitive to hypoxia. Analyses of global databases showed that coral reefs are associated with more than half of the known tropical dead zones worldwide, with >10% of all coral reefs at elevated risk for hypoxia based on local and global risk factors. Hypoxic events in the tropics and associated mortality events have likely been underreported, perhaps by an order of magnitude, because of the lack of local scientific capacity for their detection. Monitoring and management plans for coral reef resilience should incorporate the growing threat of coastal hypoxia and include support for increased detection and research capacity.

  20. Deep reefs are not universal refuges: Reseeding potential varies among coral species

    PubMed Central

    Bongaerts, Pim; Riginos, Cynthia; Brunner, Ramona; Englebert, Norbert; Smith, Struan R.; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2017-01-01

    Deep coral reefs (that is, mesophotic coral ecosystems) can act as refuges against major disturbances affecting shallow reefs. It has been proposed that, through the provision of coral propagules, such deep refuges may aid in shallow reef recovery; however, this “reseeding” hypothesis remains largely untested. We conducted a genome-wide assessment of two scleractinian coral species with contrasting reproductive modes, to assess the potential for connectivity between mesophotic (40 m) and shallow (12 m) depths on an isolated reef system in the Western Atlantic (Bermuda). To overcome the pervasive issue of endosymbiont contamination associated with de novo sequencing of corals, we used a novel subtraction reference approach. We have demonstrated that strong depth-associated selection has led to genome-wide divergence in the brooding species Agaricia fragilis (with divergence by depth exceeding divergence by location). Despite introgression from shallow into deep populations, a lack of first-generation migrants indicates that effective connectivity over ecological time scales is extremely limited for this species and thus precludes reseeding of shallow reefs from deep refuges. In contrast, no genetic structuring between depths (or locations) was observed for the broadcasting species Stephanocoenia intersepta, indicating substantial potential for vertical connectivity. Our findings demonstrate that vertical connectivity within the same reef system can differ greatly between species and that the reseeding potential of deep reefs in Bermuda may apply to only a small number of scleractinian species. Overall, we argue that the “deep reef refuge hypothesis” holds for individual coral species during episodic disturbances but should not be assumed as a broader ecosystem-wide phenomenon. PMID:28246645

  1. Deep reefs are not universal refuges: Reseeding potential varies among coral species.

    PubMed

    Bongaerts, Pim; Riginos, Cynthia; Brunner, Ramona; Englebert, Norbert; Smith, Struan R; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2017-02-01

    Deep coral reefs (that is, mesophotic coral ecosystems) can act as refuges against major disturbances affecting shallow reefs. It has been proposed that, through the provision of coral propagules, such deep refuges may aid in shallow reef recovery; however, this "reseeding" hypothesis remains largely untested. We conducted a genome-wide assessment of two scleractinian coral species with contrasting reproductive modes, to assess the potential for connectivity between mesophotic (40 m) and shallow (12 m) depths on an isolated reef system in the Western Atlantic (Bermuda). To overcome the pervasive issue of endosymbiont contamination associated with de novo sequencing of corals, we used a novel subtraction reference approach. We have demonstrated that strong depth-associated selection has led to genome-wide divergence in the brooding species Agaricia fragilis (with divergence by depth exceeding divergence by location). Despite introgression from shallow into deep populations, a lack of first-generation migrants indicates that effective connectivity over ecological time scales is extremely limited for this species and thus precludes reseeding of shallow reefs from deep refuges. In contrast, no genetic structuring between depths (or locations) was observed for the broadcasting species Stephanocoenia intersepta, indicating substantial potential for vertical connectivity. Our findings demonstrate that vertical connectivity within the same reef system can differ greatly between species and that the reseeding potential of deep reefs in Bermuda may apply to only a small number of scleractinian species. Overall, we argue that the "deep reef refuge hypothesis" holds for individual coral species during episodic disturbances but should not be assumed as a broader ecosystem-wide phenomenon.

  2. 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

  3. Coral reefs on the edge? Carbon chemistry on inshore reefs of the great barrier reef.

    PubMed

    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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Obura, David O.

    2005-05-01

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

  5. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    McLean, Matthew; Cuetos-Bueno, Javier; Nedlic, Osamu; Luckymiss, Marston; Houk, Peter

    2016-01-01

    Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution. PMID:27902715

  6. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

    McLean, Matthew; Cuetos-Bueno, Javier; Nedlic, Osamu; Luckymiss, Marston; Houk, Peter

    2016-01-01

    Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution.

  7. 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...

  8. Human Disruption of Coral Reef Trophic Structure.

    PubMed

    Graham, Nicholas A J; McClanahan, Tim R; MacNeil, M Aaron; Wilson, Shaun K; Cinner, Joshua E; Huchery, Cindy; Holmes, Thomas H

    2017-01-23

    The distribution of biomass among trophic levels provides a theoretical basis for understanding energy flow and the hierarchical structure of animal communities. In the absence of energy subsidies [1], bottom-heavy trophic pyramids are expected to predominate, based on energy transfer efficiency [2] and empirical evidence from multiple ecosystems [3]. However, the predicted pyramid of biomass distribution among trophic levels may be disrupted through trophic replacement by alternative organisms in the ecosystem, trophic cascades, and humans preferentially impacting specific trophic levels [4-6]. Using empirical data spanning >250 coral reefs, we show how trophic pyramid shape varies given human-mediated gradients along two orders of magnitude in reef fish biomass. Mean trophic level of the assemblage increased modestly with decreasing biomass, contrary to predictions of fishing down the food web [7]. The mean trophic level pattern is explained by trophic replacement of herbivorous fish by sea urchins at low biomass and the accumulation of slow-growing, large-bodied, herbivorous fish at high biomass. Further, at high biomass, particularly where fishers are not selectively removing higher trophic level individuals, a concave trophic distribution emerges. The concave trophic distribution implies a more direct link between lower and upper trophic levels, which may confer greater energy efficiency. This trophic distribution emerges when community biomass exceeds ∼650 kg/ha, suggesting that fisheries for upper trophic level species will only be supported under lightly fished scenarios.

  9. Climate change and coral reef bleaching: An ecological assessment of long-term impacts, recovery trends and future outlook

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baker, Andrew C.; Glynn, Peter W.; Riegl, Bernhard

    2008-12-01

    regenerating and recovering coral reefs have originated from broadcast spawning taxa with a potential for asexual growth, relatively long distance dispersal, successful settlement, rapid growth and a capacity for framework construction. Whether or not affected reefs can continue to function as before will depend on: (1) how much coral cover is lost, and which species are locally extirpated; (2) the ability of remnant and recovering coral communities to adapt or acclimatize to higher temperatures and other climatic factors such as reductions in aragonite saturation state; (3) the changing balance between reef accumulation and bioerosion; and (4) our ability to maintain ecosystem resilience by restoring healthy levels of herbivory, macroalgal cover, and coral recruitment. Bleaching disturbances are likely to become a chronic stress in many reef areas in the coming decades, and coral communities, if they cannot recover quickly enough, are likely to be reduced to their most hardy or adaptable constituents. Some degraded reefs may already be approaching this ecological asymptote, although to date there have not been any global extinctions of individual coral species as a result of bleaching events. Since human populations inhabiting tropical coastal areas derive great value from coral reefs, the degradation of these ecosystems as a result of coral bleaching and its associated impacts is of considerable societal, as well as biological concern. Coral reef conservation strategies now recognize climate change as a principal threat, and are engaged in efforts to allocate conservation activity according to geographic-, taxonomic-, and habitat-specific priorities to maximize coral reef survival. Efforts to forecast and monitor bleaching, involving both remote sensed observations and coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, are also underway. In addition to these efforts, attempts to minimize and mitigate bleaching impacts on reefs are immediately required. If significant reductions in

  10. Variation in diversity of coral reef fish between French Polynesian atolls

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Galzin, R.; Planes, S.; Dufour, V.; Salvat, B.

    1994-07-01

    The diversity of coral reef fish in seven atolls in French Polynesia is analyzed with respect to geomorphological characteristics of the atolls. The results show that size of the lagoon is more important than confinement in affecting overall fish diversity. This result suggests that island biogeographic theory, as developed by MacArthur and Wilson for terrestrial animals, also applies to reef fish in that more area gives more habitat complexity which, in turn, supports higher fish diversity. However, species diversity within a given family appears to be affected more by ecological parameters, such as living coral cover, food diversity, and reproductive behavior, than geomorphological features.

  11. Wave- and tidally-driven flow and sediment flux across a fringing coral reef: Southern Molokai, Hawaii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Storlazzi, C.D.; Ogston, A.S.; Bothner, Michael H.; Field, M.E.; Presto, M.K.

    2004-01-01

    The fringing coral reef off the south coast of Molokai, Hawaii is currently being studied as part of a US Geological Survey (USGS) multi-disciplinary project that focuses on geologic and oceanographic processes that affect coral reef systems. For this investigation, four instrument packages were deployed across the fringing coral reef during the summer of 2001 to understand the processes governing fine-grained terrestrial sediment suspension on the shallow reef flat (h=1m) and its advection across the reef crest and onto the deeper fore reef. The time-series measurements suggest the following conceptual model of water and fine-grained sediment transport across the reef: Relatively cool, clear water flows up onto the reef flat during flooding tides. At high tide, more deep-water wave energy is able to propagate onto the reef flat and larger Trade wind-driven waves can develop on the reef flat, thereby increasing sediment suspension. Trade wind-driven surface currents and wave breaking at the reef crest cause setup of water on the reef flat, further increasing the water depth and enhancing the development of depth-limited waves and sediment suspension. As the tide ebbs, the water and associated suspended sediment on the reef flat drains off the reef flat and is advected offshore and to the west by Trade wind- and tidally- driven currents. Observations on the fore reef show relatively high turbidity throughout the water column during the ebb tide. It therefore appears that high suspended sediment concentrations on the deeper fore reef, where active coral growth is at a maximum, are dynamically linked to processes on the muddy, shallow reef flat.

  12. From Corals to Canyons: The Great Barrier Reef Margin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Webster, Jody M.; Beaman, Robin J.; Bridge, Thomas; Davies, Peter J.; Byrne, Maria; Williams, Stefan; Manning, Phil; Pizarro, Oscar; Thornborough, Kate; Woolsey, Erika; Thomas, Alex; Tudhope, Sandy

    2008-06-01

    The significance of submerged fossil coral reefs as important archives of abrupt global sea level rise and climate change has been confirmed by investigations in the Caribbean [Fairbanks, 1989] and the Indo-Pacific (see Montaggioni [2005] for a summary) and by recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) activities in Tahiti [Camoin et al., 2007]. Similar submerged (40-130 meters) reef structures are preserved along the margin of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), but they have not yet been systematically studied.

  13. 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.

  14. A continuous, real-time water quality monitoring system for the coral reef ecosystems of Nanwan Bay, Southern Taiwan.

    PubMed

    Tew, Kwee Siong; Leu, Ming-Yih; Wang, Jih-Terng; Chang, Chia-Ming; Chen, Chung-Chi; Meng, Pei-Jie

    2014-08-30

    The coral reef ecosystems of Nanwan Bay, Southern Taiwan are undergoing degradation due to anthropogenic impacts, and as such have resulted in a decline in coral cover. As a first step in preventing the continual degradation of these coral reef environments, it is important to understand how changes in water quality affect these ecosystems on a fine-tuned timescale. To this end, a real-time water quality monitoring system was implemented in Nanwan Bay in 2010. We found that natural events, such as cold water intrusion due to upwelling, tended to elicit temporal shifts in coral spawning between 2010 and 2011. In addition, Degree Heating Weeks (DHWs), a commonly utilized predictor of coral bleaching, were 0.92 and 0.59 in summer 2010 and 2011, respectively. Though this quantity of DHW was below the presumed stress-inducing value for these reefs, a rise in DHWs in the future may stress the resident corals.

  15. Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient.

    PubMed

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G; Taylor, Marc H; Husain, Aidah A A; Teichberg, Mirta C; Ferse, Sebastian C A

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  16. Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G.; Taylor, Marc H.; Husain, Aidah A. A.; Teichberg, Mirta C.; Ferse, Sebastian C. A.

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-05-01

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

  18. Multi-scale remote sensing of coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Andréfouët, Serge; Hochberg, E.J.; Chevillon, Christophe; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Brock, John C.; Hu, Chuanmin

    2005-01-01

    In this chapter we present how both direct and indirect remote sensing can be integrated to address two major coral reef applications - coral bleaching and assessment of biodiversity. This approach reflects the current non-linear integration of remote sensing for environmental assessment of coral reefs, resulting from a rapid increase in available sensors, processing methods and interdisciplinary collaborations (Andréfouët and Riegl, 2004). Moreover, this approach has greatly benefited from recent collaborations of once independent investigations (e.g., benthic ecology, remote sensing, and numerical modeling).

  19. St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center coral reef research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Poore, Richard Z.; Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Kellogg, Christina A.

    2010-01-01

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coral Reef Ecosystem STudies (CREST) Project specifically addresses priorities identified in the 'Facing tomorrow's challenges' U.S. Geological Survey science in the decade 2007-2017' document (USGS, 2007). Research includes a blend of historical, monitoring, and process studies aimed at improving our understanding of the development, current status and function, as well as likely future changes in coral ecosystems. Topics such as habitat characterization and distribution, coral disease, and trends in biogenic calcification are major focus areas. We seek to increase the understanding of reef structure, ecological integrity, and responses to global change.

  20. Coral-macroalgal phase shifts or reef resilience: links with diversity and functional roles of herbivorous fishes on the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cheal, A. J.; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Cripps, E.; Emslie, M. J.; Jonker, M.; Schaffelke, B.; Sweatman, H.

    2010-12-01

    Changes from coral to macroalgal dominance following disturbances to corals symbolize the global degradation of coral reefs. The development of effective conservation measures depends on understanding the causes of such phase shifts. The prevailing view that coral-macroalgal phase shifts commonly occur due to insufficient grazing by fishes is based on correlation with overfishing and inferences from models and small-scale experiments rather than on long-term quantitative field studies of fish communities at affected and resilient sites. Consequently, the specific characteristics of herbivorous fish communities that most promote reef resilience under natural conditions are not known, though this information is critical for identifying vulnerable ecosystems. In this study, 11 years of field surveys recorded the development of the most persistent coral-macroalgal phase shift (>7 years) yet observed on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). This shift followed extensive coral mortality caused by thermal stress (coral bleaching) and damaging storms. Comparisons with two similar reefs that suffered similar disturbances but recovered relatively rapidly demonstrated that the phase shift occurred despite high abundances of one herbivore functional group (scraping/excavating parrotfishes: Labridae). However, the shift was strongly associated with low fish herbivore diversity and low abundances of algal browsers (predominantly Siganidae) and grazers/detritivores (Acanthuridae), suggesting that one or more of these factors underpin reef resilience and so deserve particular protection. Herbivorous fishes are not harvested on the GBR, and the phase shift was not enhanced by unusually high nutrient levels. This shows that unexploited populations of herbivorous fishes cannot ensure reef resilience even under benign conditions and suggests that reefs could lose resilience under relatively low fishing pressure. Predictions of more severe and widespread coral mortality due to global

  1. Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2001-09-30

    Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote...Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats Dr. Michael P. Lesser University of New Hampshire Department of Zoology and Center for Marine Biology Durham, NH 03824... reefs . Coral reef communities are coastal areas of high water transparency which make them ideal systems to study optical signatures originating from

  2. Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2002-09-30

    Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) of Coral Reef Environments: Small Scale Fluorescent Optical Signatures and Hyperspectral Remote...Sensing of Coral Reef Habitats Dr. Michael P. Lesser University of New Hampshire Department of Zoology and Center for Marine Biology Durham, NH 03824... reefs . Coral reef communities are coastal areas of high water transparency which make them ideal systems to study optical signatures originating from

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

    PubMed Central

    Bruggemann, J. Henrich; Luckhurst, Brian E.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2016-01-01

    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

  4. Developing a multi-stressor gradient for coral reefs | Science ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    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 established. Developing stressor gradients presents challenges including: stressors which co-occur but operate at different or unknown spatial and temporal scales, inconsistent data availability measuring stressor levels, and unknown effects on exposed reef biota. We are developing a generalized stressor model using Puerto Rico as case study location, to represent the cumulative spatial/temporal co-occurrence of multiple anthropogenic stressors. Our approach builds on multi-stressor research in streams and rivers, and focuses on three high-priority stressors identified by coral reef experts: land-based sources of pollution (LBSP), global climate change (GCC) related temperature anomalies, and fishing pressure. Landscape development intensity index, based on land use/land cover data, estimates human impact in watersheds adjacent to coral reefs and is proxy for LBSP. NOAA’s retrospective daily thermal anomaly data is used to determine GCC thermal anomalies. Fishing pressure is modeled using gear-specific and fishery landings data. Stressor data was adjusted to a common scale or weighted for relative importance, buffered to account for diminished impact further from source, and compared wit

  5. 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.

  6. Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection | Science ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    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 standards have not been effectively applied to coral reefs. The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting biocriteria and other water quality standards through collaborative development of bioassessment procedures, indicators and monitoring strategies. To support regulatory action, bioassessment indicators must be biologically meaningful, relevant to management, responsive to human disturbance, and relatively immune to natural variability. A rapid bioassessment protocol for reef-building stony corals was developed and tested for regulatory applicability. Preliminary testing in the Florida Keys found indicators had sufficient precision and provided information relevant to coral reef management. Sensitivity to human disturbance was demonstrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands for five of eight indicators tested. Once established, monitoring programs using these indicators can provide valuable, long-term records of coral condition and regulatory compliance. Development of a rapid bioassement protocol for reef-building stony corals was tested for regulatory applicability.

  7. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-08-13

    ... Permit that would authorize Kampachi Farms, LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem management... Farms to culture and harvest the native coral reef ecosystem management unit fish species...

  8. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-06

    ..., LLC, to culture and harvest a coral reef ecosystem management unit fish species in a floating pen in... permit authorizes the culture and harvest of the native coral reef ecosystem management unit fish...

  9. Projecting coral reef futures under global warming and ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Pandolfi, John M; Connolly, Sean R; Marshall, Dustin J; Cohen, Anne L

    2011-07-22

    Many physiological responses in present-day coral reefs to climate change are interpreted as consistent with the imminent disappearance of modern reefs globally because of annual mass bleaching events, carbonate dissolution, and insufficient time for substantial evolutionary responses. Emerging evidence for variability in the coral calcification response to acidification, geographical variation in bleaching susceptibility and recovery, responses to past climate change, and potential rates of adaptation to rapid warming supports an alternative scenario in which reef degradation occurs with greater temporal and spatial heterogeneity than current projections suggest. Reducing uncertainty in projecting coral reef futures requires improved understanding of past responses to rapid climate change; physiological responses to interacting factors, such as temperature, acidification, and nutrients; and the costs and constraints imposed by acclimation and adaptation.

  10. Sewage impacts coral reefs at multiple levels of ecological organization.

    PubMed

    Reopanichkul, Pasinee; Schlacher, Thomas A; Carter, R W; Worachananant, Suchai

    2009-09-01

    Against a backdrop of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification which pose global threats to coral reefs, excess nutrients and turbidity continue to be significant stressors at regional and local scales. Because interventions usually require local data on pollution impacts, we measured ecological responses to sewage discharges in Surin Marine Park, Thailand. Wastewater disposal significantly increased inorganic nutrients and turbidity levels, and this degradation in water quality resulted in substantial ecological shifts in the form of (i) increased macroalgal density and species richness, (ii) lower cover of hard corals, and (iii) significant declines in fish abundance. Thus, the effects of nutrient pollution and turbidity can cascade across several levels of ecological organization to change key properties of the benthos and fish on coral reefs. Maintenance or restoration of ecological reef health requires improved wastewater management and run-off control for reefs to deliver their valuable ecosystems services.

  11. 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.

  12. A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Connolly, Sean R; Hughes, Terry P; Bellwood, David R

    2017-04-01

    Abundance patterns in ecological communities have important implications for biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem functioning. However, ecological theory has been largely unsuccessful at capturing multiple macroecological abundance patterns simultaneously. Here, we propose a parsimonious model that unifies widespread ecological relationships involving local aggregation, species-abundance distributions, and species associations, and we test this model against the metacommunity structure of reef-building corals and coral reef fishes across the western and central Pacific. For both corals and fishes, the unified model simultaneously captures extremely well local species-abundance distributions, interspecific variation in the strength of spatial aggregation, patterns of community similarity, species accumulation, and regional species richness, performing far better than alternative models also examined here and in previous work on coral reefs. Our approach contributes to the development of synthetic theory for large-scale patterns of community structure in nature, and to addressing ongoing challenges in biodiversity conservation at macroecological scales.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. Equatorial decline of reef corals during the last Pleistocene interglacial

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kiessling, Wolfgang; Simpson, Carl; Beck, Brian; Mewis, Heike; Pandolfi, John M.

    2012-12-01

    The Last Interglacial (LIG; ca. 125,000 y ago) resulted from rapid global warming and reached global mean temperatures exceeding those of today. The LIG thus offers the opportunity to study how life may respond to future global warming. Using global occurrence databases and applying sampling-standardization, we compared reef coral diversity and distributions between the LIG and modern. Latitudinal diversity patterns are characterized by a tropical plateau today but were characterized by a pronounced equatorial trough during the LIG. This trough is governed by substantial range shifts away from the equator. Range shifts affected both leading and trailing edges of species range limits and were much more pronounced in the Northern Hemisphere than south of the equator. We argue that interglacial warming was responsible for the loss of equatorial diversity. Hemispheric differences in insolation during the LIG may explain the asymmetrical response. The equatorial retractions are surprisingly strong given that only small temperature changes have been reported in the LIG tropics. Our results suggest that the poleward range expansions of reef corals occurring with intensified global warming today may soon be followed by equatorial range retractions.

  16. 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).

  17. 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

  18. Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality

    PubMed Central

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P.; Horta-Puga, Guillermo; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2013-01-01

    Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species. PMID:24336631

  19. Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality.

    PubMed

    Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P; Horta-Puga, Guillermo; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2013-12-12

    Coral communities are changing rapidly worldwide through loss of coral cover and shifts in species composition. Although many reef-building corals are likely to decline, some weedy opportunistic species might increase in abundance. Here we explore whether the reshuffling of species can maintain ecosystem integrity and functioning. Using four common Caribbean reef-building coral genera we modeled rates of reef construction and complexity. We show that shifting coral assemblages result in rapid losses in coral-community calcification and reef rugosity that are independent of changes in the total abundance of reef corals. These losses are considerably higher than those recently attributed to climate change. Dominance patterns of coral assemblages seem to be the most important driver of the functioning of coral reefs and thus, the future of these ecosystems might depend not only on reductions of local and global stressors, but also on the maintenance of keystone coral species.

  20. Monitoring Watershed Water Quality Impacts on Near-Shore Coral Reef Ecosystems in American Samoa using NASA Earth Observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Teaby, A.; Price, J.; Minovitz, D.; Makely, L.; Torres-Perez, J. L.; Schmidt, C.; Guild, L. S.; Palacios, S. L.

    2014-12-01

    Land use changes can greatly increase erosion and sediment loads reaching watersheds and downstream coastal waters. In coastal environments with steep terrain and small drainage basins, sedimentation directly influences water quality in near-shore marine environments. Poor water quality indicators (i.e., dissolved nutrients and high particulates) affect coral calcification, photosynthesis, and coral cover. The abundance, recruitment, and biodiversity of American Samoa's coral reefs have been heavily affected by population growth, land cover change, pollution, and sediment influx. Monitoring, managing, and protecting these fragile ecosystems remains difficult due to limited resource availability, steep terrain, and local land ownership. Despite extensive field hours, traditional field and lab-based water quality research produces temporally and spatially limited datasets. Using a 'ridge to reef' effort, this project built a management tool to assess coral reef vulnerability using land use, hydrology, water quality, and coral reef cover in American Samoa to provide local agencies and partners with spatial representation of water quality parameters and site-specific implications for coral reef vulnerability. This project used land cover classified from Landsat 7 and 8 images, precipitation data from NOAA, and physical ocean factors from Terra MODIS. Changes in land cover from 2000 to 2014 were also estimated using Landsat imagery. Final products were distributed to partners to enhance water quality management, community outreach, and coral reef conservation.

  1. Behaviourally mediated phenotypic selection in a disturbed coral reef environment.

    PubMed

    McCormick, Mark I

    2009-09-18

    Natural and anthropogenic disturbances are leading to changes in the nature of many habitats globally, and the magnitude and frequency of these perturbations are predicted to increase under climate change. Globally coral reefs are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change. Fishes often show relatively rapid declines in abundance when corals become stressed and die, but the processes responsible are largely unknown. This study explored the mechanism by which coral bleaching may influence the levels and selective nature of mortality on a juvenile damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, which associates with hard coral. Recently settled fish had a low propensity to migrate small distances (40 cm) between habitat patches, even when densities were elevated to their natural maximum. Intraspecific interactions and space use differ among three habitats: live hard coral, bleached coral and dead algal-covered coral. Large fish pushed smaller fish further from the shelter of bleached and dead coral thereby exposing smaller fish to higher mortality than experienced on healthy coral. Small recruits suffered higher mortality than large recruits on bleached and dead coral. Mortality was not size selective on live coral. Survival was 3 times as high on live coral as on either bleached or dead coral. Subtle behavioural interactions between fish and their habitats influence the fundamental link between life history stages, the distribution of phenotypic traits in the local population and potentially the evolution of life history strategies.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yu-Huai

    2016-09-01

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

  3. 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.

  4. Coral reef recovery dynamics in a changing world

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2011-06-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are degrading through multiple disturbances that are becoming more frequent and severe. The complexities of this degradation have been studied in detail, but little work has assessed characteristics that allow reefs to bounce back and recover between pulse disturbance events. We quantitatively review recovery rates of coral cover from pulse disturbance events among 48 different reef locations, testing the relative roles of disturbance characteristics, reef characteristics, connectivity and anthropogenic influences. Reefs in the western Pacific Ocean had the fastest recovery, whereas reefs in the geographically isolated eastern Pacific Ocean were slowest to recover, reflecting regional differences in coral composition, fish functional diversity and geographic isolation. Disturbances that opened up large areas of benthic space recovered quickly, potentially because of nonlinear recovery where recruitment rates were high. The type of disturbance had a limited effect on subsequent rates of reef recovery, although recovery was faster following crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. This inconsequential role of disturbance type may be in part due to the role of unaltered structural complexity in maintaining key reef processes, such as recruitment and herbivory. Few studies explicitly recorded potential ecological determinants of recovery, such as recruitment rates, structural complexity of habitat and the functional composition of reef-associated fish. There was some evidence of slower recovery rates within protected areas compared with other management systems and fished areas, which may reflect the higher initial coral cover in protected areas rather than reflecting a management effect. A better understanding of the driving role of processes, structural complexity and diversity on recovery may enable more appropriate management actions that support coral-dominated ecosystems in our changing climate.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Comment on "Coral reef calcification and climate change: The effect of ocean warming"

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kleypas, J.A.; Buddemeier, R.W.; Eakin, C.M.; Gattuso, J.-P.; Guinotte, J.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Iglesias-Prieto, R.; Jokiel, P.L.; Langdon, C.; Skirving, W.; Strong, A.E.

    2005-01-01

    McNeil et al. [2004] attempt to address an important question about the interactions of temperature and carbonate chemistry on calcification, but their projected values of reef calcification are based on assumptions that ignore critical observational and experimental literature. Certainly, more research is needed to better understand how changing temperatures and carbonate chemistry will affect not only coral reef calcification, but coral survival. As discussed above, the McNeil et al. [2004] analysis is based on assumptions that exclude potentially important factors and therefore needs to be viewed with caution. Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    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.

    2016-02-01

    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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

    2016-02-15

    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.

  14. The next step in shallow coral reef monitoring: combining remote sensing and in situ approaches.

    PubMed

    Scopélitis, Julie; Andréfouët, Serge; Phinn, Stuart; Arroyo, Lara; Dalleau, Mayeul; Cros, Annick; Chabanet, Pascale

    2010-11-01

    Most current coral reef management is supported by mapping and monitoring limited in record length and spatial extent. These deficiencies were addressed in a multidisciplinary study of cyclone impacts on Aboré Reef, New-Caledonia. Local knowledge, high thematic-resolution maps, and time-series satellite imagery complemented classical in situ monitoring methods. Field survey stations were selected from examination of pre- and post-cyclone images and their post-cyclone coral communities documented in terms of substrata, coral morphologies, live coral cover, and taxonomy. Time-series maps of hierarchically defined coral communities created at spatial scales documenting the variability among communities (29-45 classes) and suggesting the processes that affected them. The increased spatial coverage and repeatability of this approach significantly improved the recognition and interpretation of coral communities' spatio-temporal variability. It identified precise locations of impacted areas and those exhibiting coral recovery and resilience. The approach provides a comprehensive suite of information on which to base reef-scale conservation actions.

  15. 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

  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. 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,...

  18. 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...

  19. 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...

  20. 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...

  1. 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....

  2. 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...

  3. 77 FR 39724 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-07-05

    ...-123D0102DM-DS61200000] U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife.... Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force... better preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The Departments of Commerce and the Interior...

  4. 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....

  5. 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 ]...

  6. 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...

  7. 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...

  8. 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.

  9. High coral cover on a mesophotic, subtropical island platform at the limits of coral reef growth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Linklater, Michelle; Carroll, Andrew G.; Hamylton, Sarah M.; Jordan, Alan R.; Brooke, Brendan P.; Nichol, Scott L.; Woodroffe, Colin D.

    2016-11-01

    Balls Pyramid is a volcanic monolith rising 552 m from the Tasman Sea, 24 km southeast of the Pacific Ocean's southernmost modern coral reef at Lord Howe Island. High resolution seabed mapping of the shelf surrounding Balls Pyramid has revealed an extensive submerged reef structure in 30-50 m water depth, covering an area of 87 km2. Benthic community composition analysis of high-resolution still images revealed abundant scleractinian corals on the submerged reef, extending to a maximum depth of 94 m. Scleractinian coral occurred predominantly in 30-40 m depth where it comprised 13.3% of benthic cover within this depth range. Average scleractinian coral cover for all transects was 6.7±12.2%, with the highest average transect cover of 19.4±14.3% and up to 84% cover recorded for an individual still image. The remaining substrate comprised mixed benthos with veneers of carbonate sand. Benthic data were shown to significantly relate to the underlying geomorphology. BVSTEP analyses identified depth and backscatter as the strongest correlating explanatory variables driving benthic community structure. The prevalence of scleractinian corals on the submerged reef features at Balls Pyramid, and the mesophotic depths to which these corals extend, demonstrates the important role of this subtropical island shelf as habitat for modern coral communities in the southwest Pacific Ocean. As Balls Pyramid is located beyond the known latitudinal limit of coral reef formation, these findings have important implications for potential coral reef range expansion and deep reef refugia under a changing climate.

  10. Suspended sediment prolongs larval development in a coral reef fish.

    PubMed

    Wenger, Amelia S; McCormick, Mark I; Endo, Geoffrey G K; McLeod, Ian M; Kroon, Frederieke J; Jones, Geoffrey P

    2014-04-01

    Increasing sediment input into coastal environments is having a profound influence on shallow marine habitats and associated species. Coral reef ecosystems appear to be particularly sensitive, with increased sediment deposition and re-suspension being associated with declines in the abundance and diversity of coral reef fishes. While recent research has demonstrated that suspended sediment can have negative impacts on post-settlement coral reef fishes, its effect on larval development has not been investigated. In this study, we tested the effects of different levels of suspended sediment on larval growth and development time in Amphiprion percula, a coral reef damselfish. Larvae were subjected to four experimental concentrations of suspended sediment spanning the range found around coastal coral reefs (0-45 mg l(-1)). Larval duration was significantly longer in all sediment treatments (12 days) compared with the average larval duration in the control treatment (11 days). Approximately 75% of the fish in the control had settled by day 11, compared with only 40-46% among the sediment treatments. In the highest sediment treatment, some individuals had a larval duration twice that of the median duration in the control treatment. Unexpectedly, in the low sediment treatment, fish at settlement were significantly longer and heavier compared with fish in the other treatments, suggesting delayed development was independent of individual condition. A sediment-induced extension of the pelagic larval stage could significantly reduce numbers of larvae competent to settle and, in turn, have major effects on adult population dynamics.

  11. Changing carbonate chemistry in ocean waters surrounding coral reefs in the CMIP5 ensemble

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ricke, K.; Schneider, K.; Cao, L.; Caldeira, K.

    2012-12-01

    Coral reefs comprise some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Today they are threatened by a number of stressors, including pollution, bleaching from global warming and ocean acidification. In this study, we focus on the implications of ocean acidification for the open ocean chemistry surrounding coral reefs. We use results from 13 Earth System Models included in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) to examine the changing aragonite saturations (Ωa) of open ocean waters surrounding approximately 6,000 coral reefs. These 13 Earth System Models participating in CMIP5 each have interactive ocean biogeochemistry models that output state variables including DIC, alkalinity, SST, and salinity. Variation in these values were combined with values from the GLODAP database to calculate aragonite, the form of calcium carbonate that corals use to make their skeletons. We used reef locations from ReefBase that were within one degree (in latitude or longitude) of water masses represented both in the GLODAP database and in the climate models. Carbonate chemistry calculations were performed by Dr. James C. Orr (IPSL) as part of a separate study. We find that in preindustrial times, 99.9 % of coral reefs were located in regions of the ocean with aragonite saturations of 3.5 or more. The saturation threshold for viable reef ecosystems in uncertain, but the pre-industrial distribution of water chemistry surrounding coral reefs may nevertheless provide some indication of viability. We examine the fate of coral reefs in the context of several potential aragonite saturation thresholds, i.e., when Ωa_crit equals 3, 3.25, or 3.5. We show that under a business-as-usual scenario Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, the specific value of Ωa_crit does not affect the long-term fate of coral reefs -- by the end of the 21st century, no coral reef considered is surrounded by water with Ωa> 3. However, under scenarios with significant CO2 emissions

  12. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-12-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. Identification of coral reef feature using hyperspectral remote sensing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mohanty, P. C.; Panditrao, Satej; Mahendra, R. S.; Shiva Kumar, H.; Kumar, T. Srinivasa

    2016-04-01

    Present study employs reef-up approach to map coral reef zones along the Sentinel Island of Andaman using high spectral resolution offered by hyper spectral imagery by Hyperion mission of NASA. This data consisting of 242 spectral bands, provide a unique ability to identify Coral substrate based on their spectral properties. We applied atmospheric correction with the help of Fast Line-of-sight Atmospheric Analysis of Hypercubes (FLAASH) module of ENVI software. This atmospherically corrected was used to extract Coral Reef Zones (CRZ) based on specific threshold limits after subtracting data of 782.95nm band from 579.45nm band of Hyperion imagery. Both of these bands were chosen due to their property of exhibiting maximum spectral contrast that determines threshold limits to distinguish a coral area from its non-coral counterpart. These CRZs were compared with the coral reef zones base map developed using LISS-III data by INCOIS, Hyderabad and SAC, Ahmadabad under CZS project. We observed that extracted CRZ area was 85.25 m2 and 110.1 m2 using LISS-III and Hyperion Data respectively. Despite the overestimation of CRZ by Hyperion data as compared to LISS-III, the spatial distribution of CRZ showed reasonable similarity in both.

  16. 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.

  17. Paleoceanography of coral reefs in the hawaiian-emperor chain.

    PubMed

    Grigg, R W

    1988-06-24

    The fossil record of shallow marine organisms in the Hawaiian Archipelago and Emperor seamount chain indicates that reef corals were absent during the first half of the Tertiary. Their appearance during the early Oligocene, 34 million years ago, is associated with several paleoceanographic events that appear to have combined to intensify gradually gyral surface currents in the north Pacific. This association suggests that corals were absent in the early Tertiary because of isolation of the Hawaiian Archipelago from the Indo-West Pacific (IWP), the center of reef coral abundance and diversity in the Pacific. Today, the number of species of reef corals in Hawaii is less than 10 percent of the number of species in the IWP. Since their initial colonization, reef corals have been present continuously in the Hawaiian Archipelago, although not without taxonomic change. Episodes of extinction and recolonization are the most likely cause of change in species composition. Recolonization from the IWP may also explain the low rate of endemism (about 20 percent) in the present-day coral fauna.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Macroalgae in the coral reefs of Eilat (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea) as a possible indicator of reef degradation.

    PubMed

    Bahartan, Karnit; Zibdah, Mohammad; Ahmed, Yousef; Israel, Alvaro; Brickner, Itzchak; Abelson, Avigdor

    2010-05-01

    The current state of health of the coral reefs in the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea), notably the Eilat reefs, is under debate regarding both their exact condition and the causes of degradation. A dearth of earlier data and unequivocal reliable indices are the major problems hinder a clear understanding of the reef state. Our research objective was to examine coral-algal dynamics as a potential cause and an indication of reef degradation. The community structure of stony corals and algae along the northern Gulf of Aqaba reveal non-seasonal turf algae dominancy in the shallow Eilat reefs (up to 72%), while the proximate Aqaba reefs present negligible turf cover (<6%). We believe that turf dominancy can indicate degradation in these reefs, based on the reduction in essential reef components followed by proliferation of perennial turf algae. Our findings provide further evidence for the severe state of the Eilat coral reefs.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Abundance and reproductive patterns of the excavating sponge Cliona vermifera: a threat to Pacific coral reefs?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bautista-Guerrero, Eric; Carballo, José Luis; Maldonado, Manuel

    2014-03-01

    Cliona vermifera is a common excavating sponge in coral reefs from the East Pacific. Abundance and reproductive patterns of the sponge in a Mexican Pacific coral reef over a 4-year period are herein described. Sponge abundance was estimated along three transects 50 m long which were randomly placed on the reef, and along each one, a piece of coral rubble and a branch of a live coral from the Pocillopora spp. coral colony closest to the transect were collected at random, approximately every 2 m, yielding 25 pieces of each category per transect (and 75 pieces total of each category). A 2-way ANOVA revealed that invasion was significantly higher in living coral colonies (34.8 %) than in rubble (13.7 %). It also indicated that the abundance in both coralline substrates showed a temporal variation without a clear pattern of increase over the years. It was estimated that 60-85 % of sponges in the population reproduced sexually every year. The sponge proved gonochoristic, with a sex ratio strongly departing from parity (1 male: 3 females). Over the 4-year study period, at least two cohorts of oocytes with densities of up to 3.5 oocytes per mm2 tissue were observed. Spermatogenesis lasted about a month, but often producing more than a pulse from July to November, coupled with peaks of oocyte maturation. Fertilization occurred internally to produce encapsulated zygotes that were released in one or more spawning events from July to November. In the following months (December to February), which were the periods of lowest temperature (~18.5-20 °C), no gametic activity occurred in the sponges. Because anomalous temperature rises that are detrimental to corals do not appear to negatively affect the reproduction and abundance of C. vermifera, it is likely that the excavating activity of this sponge may be compromising the health of those coral reefs that are recurrently affected by episodes of thermal stress.

  4. 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...

  5. The coral reef of South Moloka'i, Hawai'i - Portrait of a sediment-threatened fringing reef

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Field, Michael E.; Cochran, Susan A.; Logan, Joshua; Storlazzi, Curt D.

    2008-01-01

    remarkably integrated approach to the reefs of Moloka‘i, combining geology, oceanography, and biology to provide an in-depth understanding of the processes that have made these reefs grow and that now limit them. They have joined old fashioned natural history of marine animals and plants with study of the geological evolution of the island, hydrology, meteorology, and land-use history, to an arsenal of new methods of remote sensing, including aerial photography, laser ranging, infrared thermal mapping, seismic reflection, in-situ instrumentation to measure chemical parameters of water quality, and direct measurements of the physical driving forces affecting them—such as wave energy, currents, sedimentation, and sediment transport. They provide a level of documentation and insight that has never been available for any reef before.A remarkable feature of this book is that it is aimed at the people of Moloka‘i to inform them of what is happening to their reef and what they might do to preserve their vital resources. The scientific data and interpretations are expressed in unusually clear and comprehensible language, free of the professional jargon that makes most technical publications impenetrable to the public that most needs to know about them, yet without loss of scientific rigor.Here readers will see clearly explained the whole path of soil loss, from the impacts of wild pigs and goats at higher elevations, deforestation of the hills for cattle pasture at lower levels, and denudation of low lands for cash crops. The resulting biological impoverishment has bared the soils, which wash away in flash storms, smothering the inshore reefs, whose growth was already limited because they had grown right up to sea level. The data in this book show that the mud doesn’t get far if it is washed into the sea during a big storm with heavy waves. Afterwards this mud keeps getting stirred up by every succeeding storm, spreading and affecting corals over wider areas until it is

  6. Modeling the beta diversity of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Harborne, Alastair R; Mumby, Peter J; Zychaluk, Kamila; Hedley, John D; Blackwell, Paul G

    2006-11-01

    Quantifying the beta diversity (species replacement along spatiotemporal gradients) of ecosystems is important for understanding and conserving patterns of biodiversity. However, virtually all studies of beta diversity focus on one-dimensional transects orientated along a specific environmental gradient that is defined a priori. By ignoring a second spatial dimension and the associated changes in species composition and environmental gradients, this approach may provide limited insight into the full pattern of beta diversity. Here, we use remotely sensed imagery to quantify beta diversity continuously, in two dimensions, and at multiple scales across an entire tropical marine seascape. We then show that beta diversity can be modeled (0.852 > or = r2 > or = 0.590) at spatial scales between 0.5 and 5.0 km2, using the environmental variables of mean and variance of depth and wave exposure. Beta diversity, quantified within a "window" of a given size, is positively correlated to the range of environmental conditions within that window. For example, beta diversity increases with increasing variance of depth. By analyzing such relationships across seascapes, this study provides a framework for a range of disparate coral reef literature including studies of zonation, diversity, and disturbance. Using supporting evidence from soft-bottom communities, we hypothesize that depth will be an important variable for modeling beta diversity in a range of marine systems. We discuss the implications of our results for the design of marine reserves.

  7. 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

  8. Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2007-12-01

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

  9. The diversity of coral reefs: what are we missing?

    PubMed

    Plaisance, Laetitia; Caley, M Julian; Brainard, Russell E; Knowlton, Nancy

    2011-01-01

    Tropical reefs shelter one quarter to one third of all marine species but one third of the coral species that construct reefs are now at risk of extinction. Because traditional methods for assessing reef diversity are extremely time consuming, taxonomic expertise for many groups is lacking, and marine organisms are thought to be less vulnerable to extinction, most discussions of reef conservation focus on maintenance of ecosystem services rather than biodiversity loss. In this study involving the three major oceans with reef growth, we provide new biodiversity estimates based on quantitative sampling and DNA barcoding. We focus on crustaceans, which are the second most diverse group of marine metazoans. We show exceptionally high numbers of crustacean species associated with coral reefs relative to sampling effort (525 species from a combined, globally distributed sample area of 6.3 m(2)). The high prevalence of rare species (38% encountered only once), the low level of spatial overlap (81% found in only one locality) and the biogeographic patterns of diversity detected (Indo-West Pacific>Central Pacific>Caribbean) are consistent with results from traditional survey methods, making this approach a reliable and efficient method for assessing and monitoring biodiversity. The finding of such large numbers of species in a small total area suggests that coral reef diversity is seriously under-detected using traditional survey methods, and by implication, underestimated.

  10. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification.

    PubMed

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

    2007-12-14

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.…

  14. 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

  15. Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats.

    PubMed

    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 in

  16. Crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

    Wilson, S K; Adjeroud, M; Bellwood, D R; Berumen, M L; Booth, D; Bozec, Y-Marie; Chabanet, P; Cheal, A; Cinner, J; Depczynski, M; Feary, D A; Gagliano, M; Graham, N A J; Halford, A R; Halpern, B S; Harborne, A R; Hoey, A S; Holbrook, S J; Jones, G P; Kulbiki, M; Letourneur, Y; De Loma, T L; McClanahan, T; McCormick, M I; Meekan, M G; Mumby, P J; Munday, P L; Ohman, M C; Pratchett, M S; Riegl, B; Sano, M; Schmitt, R J; Syms, C

    2010-03-15

    Expert opinion was canvassed to identify crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. Scientists that had published three or more papers on the effects of climate and environmental factors on reef fishes were invited to submit five questions that, if addressed, would improve our understanding of climate change effects on coral reef fishes. Thirty-three scientists provided 155 questions, and 32 scientists scored these questions in terms of: (i) identifying a knowledge gap, (ii) achievability, (iii) applicability to a broad spectrum of species and reef habitats, and (iv) priority. Forty-two per cent of the questions related to habitat associations and community dynamics of fish, reflecting the established effects and immediate concern relating to climate-induced coral loss and habitat degradation. However, there were also questions on fish demographics, physiology, behaviour and management, all of which could be potentially affected by climate change. Irrespective of their individual expertise and background, scientists scored questions from different topics similarly, suggesting limited bias and recognition of a need for greater interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Presented here are the 53 highest-scoring unique questions. These questions should act as a guide for future research, providing a basis for better assessment and management of climate change impacts on coral reefs and associated fish communities.

  17. 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.

  18. Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    De'ath, Glenn; Lough, Janice M.; Fabricius, Katharina E.

    2009-01-01

    Reef-building corals are under increasing physiological stress from a changing climate and ocean absorption of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years. Calcification increases linearly with increasing large-scale sea surface temperature but responds nonlinearly to annual temperature anomalies. The causes of the decline remain unknown; however, this study suggests that increasing temperature stress and a declining saturation state of seawater aragonite may be diminishing the ability of GBR corals to deposit calcium carbonate.

  19. Mechanisms of reef coral resistance to future climate change.

    PubMed

    Palumbi, Stephen R; Barshis, Daniel J; Traylor-Knowles, Nikki; Bay, Rachael A

    2014-05-23

    Reef corals are highly sensitive to heat, yet populations resistant to climate change have recently been identified. To determine the mechanisms of temperature tolerance, we reciprocally transplanted corals between reef sites experiencing distinct temperature regimes and tested subsequent physiological and gene expression profiles. Local acclimatization and fixed effects, such as adaptation, contributed about equally to heat tolerance and are reflected in patterns of gene expression. In less than 2 years, acclimatization achieves the same heat tolerance that we would expect from strong natural selection over many generations for these long-lived organisms. Our results show both short-term acclimatory and longer-term adaptive acquisition of climate resistance. Adding these adaptive abilities to ecosystem models is likely to slow predictions of demise for coral reef ecosystems.

  20. Coral reef aorta, emergency surgical: case report and literature review.

    PubMed

    Belczak, Sergio Quilici; Sincos, Igor Rafael; Aun, Ricardo; Costa, Kaline Viana; Araujo, Etianne Andrade

    2014-04-01

    Coral reef aorta is described as an uncommon entity characterized by the presence of coarse calcifications, which are developed in the visceral aorta. These calcifications grow toward the lumen of the artery and can result in significant stenosis, so that causing malperfusion of the lower limbs, visceral ischemia or hypertension secondary to renal involvement. We report here a case of a 54-year-old patient with coral reef aorta and symptomatic. The clinical presentation of the patient required the surgical approach. A review of literature in major databases was conducted to compare health-related aspects of the disease presentation and management. Coral reef aorta should be considered as the diagnosis for patients with visceral and limbs ischemia. The approach in our case was consistent with other studies previously published in the literature.

  1. Predicting Coral Recruitment in Palau’s Complex Reef Archipelago

    PubMed Central

    Golbuu, Yimnang; Wolanski, Eric; Idechong, Jacques Wasai; Victor, Steven; Isechal, Adelle Lukes; Oldiais, Noelle Wenty; Idip, David; Richmond, Robert H.; van Woesik, Robert

    2012-01-01

    Reproduction and recruitment are key processes that replenish marine populations. Here we use the Palau archipelago, in the western Pacific Ocean, as a case study to examine scales of connectivity and to determine whether an oceanographic model, incorporating the complex reef architecture, is a useful predictor of coral recruitment. We tested the hypothesis that the reefs with the highest retention also had the highest densities of juvenile coral density from 80 field sites. Field comparisons showed a significant correlation between the densities of juvenile Acropora colonies and total larval recruitment derived from the model (i.e., calculated as the sum of the densities of larvae that self-seeded and recruited from the other reefs in the archipelago). Long-distance larval imports may be too infrequent to sustain coral populations, but are critical for recovery in times of extreme local stress. PMID:23209842

  2. 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.

  3. Change in CO2 Flux in Coral Reefs by Bleaching

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kayanne, H.; Kayanne, H.; Watanabe, A.; Hata, H.; Kudo, S.; Nozaki, K.; Kato, K.; Negishi, A.; Saito, H.

    2001-05-01

    Coral reefs are related with carbon cycles through photosynthesis, respiration and calcification. Photosynthesis acts as sink of CO2, though respiration and calcification act as source of CO2. The role of coral reef ecosystem to atmospheric CO2 changes with balance among these community-level metabolisms. The world-wide coral reef bleaching in 1997-1998 provided us with a chance to evaluate the role of the metabolic processes of coral reefs to carbon cycles. In Ishigaki Island, Ryukyu Islands, southwest Japan and Palau Islands, west of Caroline Islands, we measured CO2 in reef water and community metabolisms by change in seawater alkalinity and total inorganic carbon. The observtion were conducted during and after bleaching in Ishigaki Island, and before and after bleaching in Palau Islands. Higher rates of community gross primary production (Pg) and respiration (R), and lower rate of net community production (Pn) were observed for the community with extensive bleaching. Calcification rate (G) was almost the same. The resultant increase in magnitude of diurnal change in CO2 were observed, and the community acted as net source of CO2. Lower rates of Pg, R, Pn, G and resultant smaller variation in diurnal CO2 change were observed for the community of dead corals and filamentous brown algae. This also resulted in shift of the community CO2 flux to net source of CO2. Bleaching shifted the function of coral reef ecosystem from sink or small source to large source of CO2. More severe and extensive bleaching is predicted to be occurred during the global warming, which acted as positive feedback to CO2 increase, and thus, global warming.

  4. 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

  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. Coral recruitment onto an experimental pulverised fuel ash-concrete artificial reef.

    PubMed

    Lam, Katherine K Y

    2003-05-01

    An experimental artificial reef was deployed in December 1993 at Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, Hong Kong. This is the first study documenting natural scleractinian coral recruitment onto a stabilised pulverised fuel ash (PFA)-concrete artificial reef. Visible recruits were first recorded 9-10 months after the placement of reef blocks, i.e., in the autumn of 1994. Two scleractinians, Oulastrea crispata and Culicia japonica, were recruited. The recruit density of the former was much greater than the latter. The spatial recruitment pattern of the corals was observed to be affected by the orientation of the attaching surface. O. crispata settled predominantly on the undersides of the reef blocks. There was an edge effect on O. crispata recruitment. C. japonica, however, had a preference for exposed surfaces. O. crispata did not show a preference for block composition whereas C. japonica favoured blocks with high (75% by volume) PFA levels. This shows that PFA-concrete is a potential substratum for artificial reef construction, especially when such reefs aim at rehabilitating corals.

  7. Status and changing patterns on coral reefs in Thailand during the last two decades

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Phongsuwan, Niphon; Chankong, Anchalee; Yamarunpatthana, Chaimongkol; Chansang, Hansa; Boonprakob, Ronnawon; Petchkumnerd, Padorn; Thongtham, Nalinee; Paokantha, Sathika; Chanmethakul, Thanongsak; Panchaiyapoom, Paitoon; Bundit, On-Anong

    2013-11-01

    A long-term survey on monitoring coral reef status using the Manta-tow technique has been carried out over approximately two decades in Thailand. This paper presents results of the survey from three off-shore areas (north, central and south) in the Andaman Sea (since 1988) and from the two near-shore areas and one off-shore area in the Gulf of Thailand (GoT, since 1995). The results revealed variations in the change of live coral cover over time between different locations. Natural and direct/indirect man-made disturbances have influenced these changes. Until early 2010, reefs in the Andaman Sea were in better condition than those in the Gulf of Thailand. The coral bleaching in mid-2010, however, greatly impacted many reefs both seas. The northern off-shore area in the Andaman Sea showed the most damage, while reefs in the lower west of the Gulf of Thailand were least affected. Long-term monitoring of changes on reefs subjected to different environmental factors and human pressures is essential for the understanding and prediction of reef recovery in the face of climate change.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. A coral reef refuge in the Red Sea.

    PubMed

    Fine, Maoz; Gildor, Hezi; Genin, Amatzia

    2013-12-01

    The stability and persistence of coral reefs in the decades to come is uncertain due to global warming and repeated bleaching events that will lead to reduced resilience of these ecological and socio-economically important ecosystems. Identifying key refugia is potentially important for future conservation actions. We suggest that the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) (Red Sea) may serve as a reef refugium due to a unique suite of environmental conditions. Our hypothesis is based on experimental detection of an exceptionally high bleaching threshold of northern Red Sea corals and on the potential dispersal of coral planulae larvae through a selective thermal barrier estimated using an ocean model. We propose that millennia of natural selection in the form of a thermal barrier at the southernmost end of the Red Sea have selected coral genotypes that are less susceptible to thermal stress in the northern Red Sea, delaying bleaching events in the GoA by at least a century.

  11. Great Barrier Reef coral luminescence reveals rainfall variability over northeastern Australia since the 17th century

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, Janice M.

    2011-06-01

    Northeast tropical Queensland rainfall is concentrated in the summer half year and characterized by high interannual variability, partly related to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. This results in highly variable river flows affecting nearshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Freshwater flood events are recorded in long-lived, annually banded massive coral skeletons as luminescent lines. Quantitative measurements of luminescence intensity were made for 20 Porites coral cores from nearshore reef sites between 11°S and 23°S. Seventeen of the coral luminescence series were significantly correlated with an instrumental record of northeast Queensland summer rainfall and were used to develop seven significantly calibrated and verified rainfall reconstructions based on between 17 (starting 1891) and 1 (starting 1639) coral series. The longest reconstruction, based on more than one coral, provides insights into northeast Queensland rainfall variability from the late 17th century. Comparisons with various independent climate proxies are equivocal: the magnitude and significance of relationships with, for example, a proxy ENSO index vary through time. An extended drier period reconstructed from approximately the 1760s to the 1850s is associated with lower interannual rainfall variability. Since the late 19th century average rainfall and its variability have significantly increased, with wet and dry extremes becoming more frequent than in earlier centuries. This suggests that a warming global climate maybe associated with more variable tropical Queensland rainfall.

  12. Quantifying the impact of watershed urbanization on a coral reef: Maunalua Bay, Hawaii

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wolanski, Eric; Martinez, Jonathan A.; Richmond, Robert H.

    2009-09-01

    Human activities in the watersheds surrounding Maunalua Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, have lead to the degradation of coastal coral reefs affecting populations of marine organisms of ecological, economic and cultural value. Urbanization, stream channelization, breaching of a peninsula, seawalls, and dredging on the east side of the bay have resulted in increased volumes and residence time of polluted runoff waters, eutrophication, trapping of terrigenous sediments, and the formation of a permanent nepheloid layer. The ecosystem collapse on the east side of the bay and the prevailing westward longshore current have resulted in the collapse of the coral and coralline algae population on the west side of the bay. In turn this has lead to a decrease in carbonate sediment production through bio-erosion as well as a disintegration of the dead coral and coralline algae, leading to sediment starvation and increased wave breaking on the coast and thus increased coastal erosion. The field data and resulting coral reef ecohydrology model presented in this paper demonstrate and quantify the importance of biophysical processes leading to coral reef degradation as the result of urbanization. Coral restoration in Maunalua Bay will require an integrated ecosystem approach.

  13. Contrasting responses of coral reef fauna and foraminiferal assemblages to human influence in La Parguera, Puerto Rico

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reef biota including stony corals, sponges, gorgonians, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates and foraminifera were surveyed in coastal waters near La Parguera, in southwestern Puerto Rico. The goal was to evaluate sensitivity of coral reef biological indicators to human distur...

  14. A multiscale analysis of coral reef topographic complexity using lidar-derived bathymetry

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zawada, D.G.; Brock, J.C.

    2009-01-01

    Coral reefs represent one of the most irregular substrates in the marine environment. This roughness or topographic complexity is an important structural characteristic of reef habitats that affects a number of ecological and environmental attributes, including species diversity and water circulation. Little is known about the range of topographic complexity exhibited within a reef or between different reef systems. The objective of this study was to quantify topographic complexity for a 5-km x 5-km reefscape along the northern Florida Keys reef tract, over spatial scales ranging from meters to hundreds of meters. The underlying dataset was a 1-m spatial resolution, digital elevation model constructed from lidar measurements. Topographic complexity was quantified using a fractal algorithm, which provided a multi-scale characterization of reef roughness. The computed fractal dimensions (D) are a measure of substrate irregularity and are bounded between values of 2 and 3. Spatial patterns in D were positively correlated with known reef zonation in the area. Landward regions of the study site contain relatively smooth (D ??? 2.35) flat-topped patch reefs, which give way to rougher (D ??? 2.5), deep, knoll-shaped patch reefs. The seaward boundary contains a mixture of substrate features, including discontinuous shelf-edge reefs, and exhibits a corresponding range of roughness values (2.28 ??? D ??? 2.61). ?? 2009 Coastal Education and Research Foundation.

  15. Coral reef origins of atmospheric dimethylsulfide at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Swan, Hilton B.; Jones, Graham B.; Deschaseaux, Elisabeth S. M.; Eyre, Bradley D.

    2017-01-01

    Atmospheric dimethylsulfide (DMSa), continually derived from the world's oceans, is a feed gas for the tropospheric production of new sulfate particles, leading to cloud condensation nuclei that influence the formation and properties of marine clouds and ultimately the Earth's radiation budget. Previous studies on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, have indicated coral reefs are significant sessile sources of DMSa capable of enhancing the tropospheric DMSa burden mainly derived from phytoplankton in the surface ocean; however, specific environmental evidence of coral reef DMS emissions and their characteristics is lacking. By using on-site automated continuous analysis of DMSa and meteorological parameters at Heron Island in the southern GBR, we show that the coral reef was the source of occasional spikes of DMSa identified above the oceanic DMSa background signal. In most instances, these DMSa spikes were detected at low tide under low wind speeds, indicating they originated from the lagoonal platform reef surrounding the island, although evidence of longer-range transport of DMSa from a 70 km stretch of coral reefs in the southern GBR was also observed. The most intense DMSa spike occurred in the winter dry season at low tide when convective precipitation fell onto the aerially exposed platform reef. This co-occurrence of events appeared to biologically shock the coral resulting in a seasonally aberrant extreme DMSa spike concentration of 45.9 nmol m-3 (1122 ppt). Seasonal DMS emission fluxes for the 2012 wet season and 2013 dry season campaigns at Heron Island were 5.0 and 1.4 µmol m-2 day-1, respectively, of which the coral reef was estimated to contribute 4 % during the wet season and 14 % during the dry season to the dominant oceanic flux.

  16. Historical Reconstruction Reveals Recovery in Hawaiian Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

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

  17. The reality, use and potential for cryopreservation of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Hagedorn, Mary; Spindler, Rebecca

    2014-01-01

    Throughout the world coral reefs are being degraded at unprecedented rates. Locally, reefs are damaged by pollution, nutrient overload and sedimentation from out-dated land-use, fishing and mining practices. Globally, increased greenhouse gases are warming and acidifying oceans, making corals more susceptible to stress, bleaching and newly emerging diseases. The coupling of climate change impacts and local anthropogenic stressors has caused a widespread and well-recognized reef crisis. Although in situ conservation practices, such as the establishment and enforcement of marine protected areas, reduce these stressors and may help slow the loss of genetic diversity on reefs, the global effects of climate change will continue to cause population declines. Gamete cryopreservation has already acted as an effective insurance policy to maintain the genetic diversity of many wildlife species, but has only just begun to be explored for coral. Already we have had a great deal of success with cryopreserving sperm and larval cells from a variety of coral species. Building on this success, we have now begun to establish genetic banks using frozen samples, to help offset these threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other areas.

  18. Differential modification of seawater carbonate chemistry by major coral reef benthic communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Page, Heather N.; Andersson, Andreas J.; Jokiel, Paul L.; Rodgers, Ku'ulei S.; Lebrato, Mario; Yeakel, Kiley; Davidson, Charlie; D'Angelo, Sydney; Bahr, Keisha D.

    2016-12-01

    Ocean acidification (OA) resulting from uptake of anthropogenic CO2 may negatively affect coral reefs by causing decreased rates of biogenic calcification and increased rates of CaCO3 dissolution and bioerosion. However, in addition to the gradual decrease in seawater pH and Ω a resulting from anthropogenic activities, seawater carbonate chemistry in these coastal ecosystems is also strongly influenced by the benthic metabolism which can either exacerbate or alleviate OA through net community calcification (NCC = calcification - CaCO3 dissolution) and net community organic carbon production (NCP = primary production - respiration). Therefore, to project OA on coral reefs, it is necessary to understand how different benthic communities modify the reef seawater carbonate chemistry. In this study, we used flow-through mesocosms to investigate the modification of seawater carbonate chemistry by benthic metabolism of five distinct reef communities [carbonate sand, crustose coralline algae (CCA), corals, fleshy algae, and a mixed community] under ambient and acidified conditions during summer and winter. The results showed that different communities had distinct influences on carbonate chemistry related to the relative importance of NCC and NCP. Sand, CCA, and corals exerted relatively small influences on seawater pH and Ω a over diel cycles due to closely balanced NCC and NCP rates, whereas fleshy algae and mixed communities strongly elevated daytime pH and Ω a due to high NCP rates. Interestingly, the influence on seawater pH at night was relatively small and quite similar across communities. NCC and NCP rates were not significantly affected by short-term acidification, but larger diel variability in pH was observed due to decreased seawater buffering capacity. Except for corals, increased net dissolution was observed at night for all communities under OA, partially buffering against nighttime acidification. Thus, algal-dominated areas of coral reefs and increased

  19. Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shinn, Eugene A.

    1976-01-01

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

  20. Advancing Ocean Monitoring Near Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heron, Scott F.; Steinberg, Craig R.; Heron, Mal L.; Mantovanelli, Alessandra; Jaffrés, Jasmine B. D.; Skirving, William J.; McAllister, Felicity; Rigby, Paul; Wisdom, Daniel; Bainbridge, Scott

    2010-10-01

    Corals, the foundation of tropical marine ecosystems, exist in a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae (algae). The corals obtain much of their energy by consuming compounds derived from photosynthesis by these microorganisms; the microorganisms, which reside in the coral tissue, in turn use waste products from the corals to sustain photosynthesis. This symbiosis is very sensitive to subtle changes in environment, such as increased ocean acidity, temperature, and light. When unduly stressed, the colorful algae are expelled from the corals, causing the corals to “bleach” and potentially die [e.g., van Oppen and Lough, 2009].

  1. Specialization in habitat use by coral reef damselfishes and their susceptibility to habitat loss

    PubMed Central

    Pratchett, Morgan S; Coker, Darren J; Jones, Geoffrey P; Munday, Philip L

    2012-01-01

    While it is generally assumed that specialist species are more vulnerable to disturbance compared with generalist counterparts, this has rarely been tested in coastal marine ecosystems, which are increasingly subject to a wide range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Habitat specialists are expected to be more vulnerable to habitat loss because habitat availability exerts a greater limitation on population size, but it is also possible that specialist species may escape effects of disturbance if they use habitats that are generally resilient to disturbance. This study quantified specificity in use of different coral species by six coral-dwelling damselfishes (Chromis viridis, C. atripectoralis, Dascyllus aruanus, D. reticulatus, Pomacentrus moluccensis, and P. amboinensis) and related habitat specialization to proportional declines in their abundance following habitat degradation caused by outbreaks of the coral eating starfish, Acanthaster planci. The coral species preferred by most coral-dwelling damselfishes (e.g., Pocillopora damicornis) were frequently consumed by coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, such that highly specialized damselfishes were disproportionately affected by coral depletion, despite using a narrower range of different coral species. Vulnerability of damselfishes to this disturbance was strongly correlated with both their reliance on corals and their degree of habitat specialization. Ongoing disturbances to coral reef ecosystems are expected, therefore, to lead to fundamental shifts in the community structure of fish communities where generalists are favored over highly specialist species. PMID:23139876

  2. The preparation of the rice coral Montipora capitata nubbins for application in coral-reef ecotoxicology.

    PubMed

    Vijayavel, K; Richmond, R H

    2012-04-01

    Securing adequate and appropriate source material for coral-reef ecotoxicology studies is a significant impediment to conducting various experiments supporting the goal of conserving coral-reef ecosystems. Collecting colonies from wild stocks may be counter to protecting coral reef populations. To address this issue the rice coral Montipora capitata was used to generate sufficient genetically identical nubbins for research purposes. Growth and survival rates of these laboratory-prepared M. capitata nubbins were studied over a period of 90 days. The resulting data support the conclusion that the laboratory-prepared M. capitata nubbins showed successful growth and survival rates and are the best solution to solve the source material issue for lab experimentation. This paper describes the laboratory method used for the preparation and maintenance of these M. capitata nubbins and discusses the benefits and difficulties of using these nubbins in ecotoxicity studies.

  3. Recreational Diving Impacts on Coral Reefs and the Adoption of Environmentally Responsible Practices within the SCUBA Diving Industry.

    PubMed

    Roche, Ronan C; Harvey, Chloe V; Harvey, James J; Kavanagh, Alan P; McDonald, Meaghan; Stein-Rostaing, Vivienne R; Turner, John R

    2016-07-01

    Recreational diving on coral reefs is an activity that has experienced rapidly growing levels of popularity and participation. Despite providing economic activity for many developing coastal communities, the potential role of dive impacts in contributing to coral reef damage is a concern at heavily dived locations. Management measures to address this issue increasingly include the introduction of programmes designed to encourage environmentally responsible practices within the dive industry. We examined diver behaviour at several important coral reef dive locations within the Philippines and assessed how diver characteristics and dive operator compliance with an environmentally responsible diving programme, known as the Green Fins approach, affected reef contacts. The role of dive supervision was assessed by recording dive guide interventions underwater, and how this was affected by dive group size. Of the 100 recreational divers followed, 88 % made contact with the reef at least once per dive, with a mean (±SE) contact rate of 0.12 ± 0.01 per min. We found evidence that the ability of dive guides to intervene and correct diver behaviour in the event of a reef contact decreases with larger diver group sizes. Divers from operators with high levels of compliance with the Green Fins programme exhibited significantly lower reef contact rates than those from dive operators with low levels of compliance. The successful implementation of environmentally responsible diving programmes, which focus on influencing dive industry operations, can contribute to the management of human impacts on coral reefs.

  4. Recreational Diving Impacts on Coral Reefs and the Adoption of Environmentally Responsible Practices within the SCUBA Diving Industry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roche, Ronan C.; Harvey, Chloe V.; Harvey, James J.; Kavanagh, Alan P.; McDonald, Meaghan; Stein-Rostaing, Vivienne R.; Turner, John R.

    2016-07-01

    Recreational diving on coral reefs is an activity that has experienced rapidly growing levels of popularity and participation. Despite providing economic activity for many developing coastal communities, the potential role of dive impacts in contributing to coral reef damage is a concern at heavily dived locations. Management measures to address this issue increasingly include the introduction of programmes designed to encourage environmentally responsible practices within the dive industry. We examined diver behaviour at several important coral reef dive locations within the Philippines and assessed how diver characteristics and dive operator compliance with an environmentally responsible diving programme, known as the Green Fins approach, affected reef contacts. The role of dive supervision was assessed by recording dive guide interventions underwater, and how this was affected by dive group size. Of the 100 recreational divers followed, 88 % made contact with the reef at least once per dive, with a mean (±SE) contact rate of 0.12 ± 0.01 per min. We found evidence that the ability of dive guides to intervene and correct diver behaviour in the event of a reef contact decreases with larger diver group sizes. Divers from operators with high levels of compliance with the Green Fins programme exhibited significantly lower reef contact rates than those from dive operators with low levels of compliance. The successful implementation of environmentally responsible diving programmes, which focus on influencing dive industry operations, can contribute to the management of human impacts on coral reefs.

  5. Caribbean reef development was independent of coral diversity over 28 million years.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Kenneth G; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Budd, Ann F

    2008-03-14

    The relationship between natural variations in coral species diversity, reef development, and ecosystem function on coral reefs is poorly understood. Recent coral diversity varies 10-fold among geographic regions, but rates of reef growth are broadly similar, suggesting that diversity is unimportant for reef development. Differences in diversity may reflect regional differences in long-term biotic history in addition to environmental conditions. Using a combination of new and published fossil and stratigraphic data, we compared changes in coral diversity and reef development within the tropical western Atlantic over the past 28 million years. Reef development was unrelated to coral diversity, and the largest reef tracts formed after extinction had reduced diversity by 50%. High diversity is thus not essential for the growth and persistence of coral reefs.

  6. Modern coral reefs of western Atlantic: new geological perspective

    SciTech Connect

    MacIntyre, I.G.

    1988-11-01

    Contrary to popular belief of the late 1960s, western Atlantic Holocene reefs have a long history and are not feeble novice nearshore veneers that barely survived postglacial temperatures. Rather, the growth of these reefs kept pace with the rising seas of the Holocene transgression and their development was, for the most part, controlled by offshore wave-energy conditions and the relationship between changing sea levels and local shelf topography. Thus, the outer shelves of the eastern Caribbean in areas of high energy have relict reefs consisting predominantly of Acropora palmata, a robust shallow-water coral. The flooding of adjacent shelves during the postglacial transgression introduced stress conditions that terminated the growth of these reefs. When, about 7000 yr ago, shelf-water conditions improved, scattered deeper water coral communities reestablished themselves on these stranded shelf-edge reefs, and fringing and bank-barrier reefs began to flourish in shallow coastal areas. At the same time, the fragile and rapidly growing Acropora cervicornis and other corals flourished at greater depths on the more protected shelves of the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, late Holocene buildups more than 30 m thick developed in those areas. 7 figures.

  7. Remote sensing of coral reefs and their physical environment.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Skirving, William; Strong, Alan E; Hardy, John T; LeDrew, Ellsworth F; Hochberg, Eric J; Stumpf, Rick P; David, Laura T

    2004-02-01

    There has been a vast improvement in access to remotely sensed data in just a few recent years. This revolution of information is the result of heavy investment in new technology by governments and industry, rapid developments in computing power and storage, and easy dissemination of data over the internet. Today, remotely sensed data are available to virtually anyone with a desktop computer. Here, we review the status of one of the most popular areas of marine remote sensing research: coral reefs. Previous reviews have focused on the ability of remote sensing to map the structure and habitat composition of coral reefs, but have neglected to consider the physical environment in which reefs occur. We provide a holistic review of what can, might, and cannot be mapped using remote sensing at this time. We cover aspects of reef structure and health but also discuss the diversity of physical environmental data such as temperature, winds, solar radiation and water quality. There have been numerous recent advances in the remote sensing of reefs and we hope that this paper enhances awareness of the diverse data sources available, and helps practitioners identify realistic objectives for remote sensing in coral reef areas.

  8. Ongoing collapse of coral-reef shark populations.

    PubMed

    Robbins, William D; Hisano, Mizue; Connolly, Sean R; Choat, J Howard

    2006-12-05

    Marine ecosystems are suffering severe depletion of apex predators worldwide; shark declines are principally due to conservative life-histories and fisheries overexploitation. On coral reefs, sharks are strongly interacting apex predators and play a key role in maintaining healthy reef ecosystems. Despite increasing fishing pressure, reef shark catches are rarely subject to specific limits, with management approaches typically depending upon no-take marine reserves to maintain populations. Here, we reveal that this approach is failing by documenting an ongoing collapse in two of the most abundant reef shark species on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). We find an order of magnitude fewer sharks on fished reefs compared to no-entry management zones that encompass only 1% of reefs. No-take zones, which are more difficult to enforce than no-entry zones, offer almost no protection for shark populations. Population viability models of whitetip and gray reef sharks project ongoing steep declines in abundance of 7% and 17% per annum, respectively. These findings indicate that current management of no-take areas is inadequate for protecting reef sharks, even in one of the world's most-well-managed reef ecosystems. Further steps are urgently required for protecting this critical functional group from ecological extinction.

  9. Persistence and change in community composition of reef corals through present, past, and future climates.

    PubMed

    Edmunds, Peter J; Adjeroud, Mehdi; Baskett, Marissa L; Baums, Iliana B; Budd, Ann F; Carpenter, Robert C; Fabina, Nicholas S; Fan, Tung-Yung; Franklin, Erik C; Gross, Kevin; Han, Xueying; Jacobson, Lianne; Klaus, James S; McClanahan, Tim R; O'Leary, Jennifer K; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Pochon, Xavier; Putnam, Hollie M; Smith, Tyler B; Stat, Michael; Sweatman, Hugh; van Woesik, Robert; Gates, Ruth D

    2014-01-01

    The reduction in coral cover on many contemporary tropical reefs suggests a different set of coral community assemblages will dominate future reefs. To evaluate the capacity of reef corals to persist over various time scales, we examined coral community dynamics in contemporary, fossil, and simulated future coral reef ecosystems. Based on studies between 1987 and 2012 at two locations in the Caribbean, and between 1981 and 2013 at five locations in the Indo-Pacific, we show that many coral genera declined in abundance, some showed no change in abundance, and a few coral genera increased in abundance. Whether the abundance of a genus declined, increased, or was conserved, was independent of coral family. An analysis of fossil-reef communities in the Caribbean revealed changes in numerical dominance and relative abundances of coral genera, and demonstrated that neither dominance nor taxon was associated with persistence. As coral family was a poor predictor of performance on contemporary reefs, a trait-based, dynamic, multi-patch model was developed to explore the phenotypic basis of ecological performance in a warmer future. Sensitivity analyses revealed that upon exposure to thermal stress, thermal tolerance, growth rate, and longevity were the most important predictors of coral persistence. Together, our results underscore the high variation in the rates and direction of change in coral abundances on contemporary and fossil reefs. Given this variation, it remains possible that coral reefs will be populated by a subset of the present coral fauna in a future that is warmer than the recent past.

  10. In Situ Coral Reef Oxygen Metabolism: An Eddy Correlation Study

    PubMed Central

    Long, Matthew H.; Berg, Peter; de Beer, Dirk; Zieman, Joseph C.

    2013-01-01

    Quantitative studies of coral reefs are challenged by the three-dimensional hard structure of reefs and the high spatial variability and temporal dynamics of their metabolism. We used the non-invasive eddy correlation technique to examine respiration and photosynthesis rates, through O2 fluxes, from reef crests and reef slopes in the Florida Keys, USA. We assessed how the photosynthesis and respiration of different reef habitats is controlled by light and hydrodynamics. Numerous fluxes (over a 0.25 h period) were as high as 4500 mmol O2 m−2 d−1, which can only be explained by efficient light utilization by the phototrophic community and the complex canopy structure of the reef, having a many-fold larger surface area than its horizontal projection. Over diel cycles, the reef crest was net autotrophic, whereas on the reef slope oxygen production and respiration were balanced. The autotrophic nature of the shallow reef crests implies that the export of organics is an important source of primary production for the larger area. Net oxygen production on the reef crest was proportional to the light intensity, up to 1750 µmol photons m−2 s−1 and decreased thereafter as respiration was stimulated by high current velocities coincident with peak light levels. Nighttime respiration rates were also stimulated by the current velocity, through enhanced ventilation of the porous framework of the reef. Respiration rates were the highest directly after sunset, and then decreased during the night suggesting that highly labile photosynthates produced during the day fueled early-night respiration. The reef framework was also important to the acquisition of nutrients as the ambient nitrogen stock in the water had sufficient capacity to support these high production rates across the entire reef width. These direct measurements of complex reefs systems yielded high metabolic rates and dynamics that can only be determined through in situ, high temporal resolution measurements

  11. Measuring the coral reef distribution of Kuroshima Island by satellite remote sensing

    SciTech Connect

    Miyazaki, Tadakuni; Harashima, Akira; Nakatani, Yukihiro

    1995-12-31

    Coral reefs are the major sites for photo-synthesis and calcification in the present ocean. Estimating the production rate of calcification by the coral reefs or investigating the sink/source mechanism of CO{sub 2} by the coral reefs in the ocean, the distribution of the coral reefs in the world wide must be identified. Measuring the spectral signatures of underwater coral reefs and mapping of coral reefs by satellite remote sensing are described. The spectral signatures of different species of the coral reefs were measured using a spectroradiometer at off Kuroshima Island, Okinawa, Japan and investigated spectral difference between different species of the coral reefs. As well as the field experiments, laboratory experiments for measuring the spectral signatures of 9 different species of coral reefs were carried out with the same spectroradiometer. The spectral reflectance of each coral reef showed a significant result that a narrow absorption band exists in the spectral region between 660 and 680 nm, and very strong spectral reflectance from about 700 nm towards the longer wavelength range. On the other hand, absorption and the high reflectance region were not observed from the bottom sands or bare rocks underwater. These experiments suggested that there is a significant spectral difference between coral reefs and bottom sands or bare rocks and so the best spectral range for separating the coral reefs from other underwater objects in the ocean would be between 700 and 800 nm. As well as the basic spectral measurement either in the field or at the laboratory, SPOT satellite imageries were used to classify the underwater coral reefs. Classification methods used here were the principal component analysis, and the maximum likelihood. Finally, the evaluation of classification method for extracting the coral reefs was introduced.

  12. Response diversity can increase ecological resilience to disturbance in coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Baskett, Marissa L; Fabina, Nicholas S; Gross, Kevin

    2014-08-01

    Community-level resilience depends on the interaction between multiple populations that vary in individual responses to disturbance. For example, in tropical reefs, some corals can survive higher stress (resistance) while others exhibit faster recovery (engineering resilience) following disturbances such as thermal stress. While each type will negatively affect the other through competition, each might also benefit the other by reducing the potential for an additional competitor such as macroalgae to invade after a disturbance. To determine how community composition affects ecological resilience, we modeled coral-macroalgae interactions given either a resistant coral, a resilient coral, or both together. Having both coral types (i.e., response diversity) can lead to observable enhanced ecological resilience if (1) the resilient coral is not a superior competitor and (2) disturbance levels are high enough such that the resilient coral would collapse when considered alone. This enhanced resilience occurs through competitor-enabled rescue where each coral increases the potential for the other to recover from disturbance through external recruitment, such that both corals benefit from the presence of each other in terms of total cover and resilience. Therefore, conservation management aimed at protecting resilience under global change requires consideration of both diversity and connectivity between sites experiencing differential disturbance.

  13. Documenting Hurricane Impacts on Coral Reefs Using Two-Dimensional Video-Mosaic Technology

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2006-11-01

    SHORT COMMUNICATION Documenting hurricane impacts on coral reefs using two- dimensional video-mosaic technology Arthur C. R. Gleason1, Diego Lirman1...sequence of four hurricanes impacted the reefs of the Florida Keys. Damage patterns to coral reefs are commonly influenced by the strength, path, and...physical disturbance on coral reefs and can be used to complement existing survey methodologies. Marine Ecology. ISSN 0173-9565 254 Marine Ecology 28

  14. 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

  15. Taphonomy of coral reefs from Southern Lagoon of Belize

    SciTech Connect

    Westphall, M.J.; Ginsburg, R.N.

    1985-02-01

    The Southern Lagoon of the Belize barrier complex, an area of some 600 km/sup 2/, contains a tremendous number of lagoon reefs, which range in size from patches several meters across to rhomboidal-shaped structures several kilometers in their long dimension. These lagoon reefs are remarkable because they have Holocene sediment accumulations in excess of 13 m consisting almost entirely of coral debris and lime mud and sand, and rise up to 30 m above the surrounding lagoon floor with steeply sloping sides (50-80/sup 0/), yet are totally uncemented. The reef-building biota and their corresponding deposits were studied at a representative reef, the rhomboidal complex of Channel Cay. As with many of the reefs in this area, the steeply sloping flanks of Channel Cay are covered mainly by the branched staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and ribbonlike and platy growth of Agaricia spp. The living corals are not cemented to the substrate, but are merely intergrown. Fragmented pieces of corals accumulate with an open framework below the living community; this open framework is subsequently infilled by lime muds and sands produced mainly from bioerosion. Results from probing and coring suggest that the bafflestone fabric of coral debris and sediment extends at least 13 m into the subsurface. Radiocarbon-age estimates indicate these impressive piles of coral rubble and sediment have accumulated in the past 9000 yr (giving a minimum accumulation rate of 1.4 m/1000 yr) and illustrate the potential for significant carbonate buildups without the need for early lithification.

  16. Prioritizing key resilience indicators to support coral reef management in a changing climate.

    PubMed

    McClanahan, Tim R; Donner, Simon D; Maynard, Jeffrey A; MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; Maina, Joseph; Baker, Andrew C; Alemu I, Jahson B; Beger, Maria; Campbell, Stuart J; Darling, Emily S; Eakin, C Mark; Heron, Scott F; Jupiter, Stacy D; Lundquist, Carolyn J; McLeod, Elizabeth; Mumby, Peter J; Paddack, Michelle J; Selig, Elizabeth R; van Woesik, Robert

    2012-01-01

    Managing coral reefs for resilience to climate change is a popular concept but has been difficult to implement because the empirical scientific evidence has either not been evaluated or is sometimes unsupportive of theory, which leads to uncertainty when considering methods and identifying priority reefs. We asked experts and reviewed the scientific literature for guidance on the multiple physical and biological factors that affect the ability of coral reefs to resist and recover from climate disturbance. Eleven key factors to inform decisions based on scaling scientific evidence and the achievability of quantifying the factors were identified. Factors important to resistance and recovery, which are important components of resilience, were not strongly related, and should be assessed independently. The abundance of resistant (heat-tolerant) coral species and past temperature variability were perceived to provide the greatest resistance to climate change, while coral recruitment rates, and macroalgae abundance were most influential in the recovery process. Based on the 11 key factors, we tested an evidence-based framework for climate change resilience in an Indonesian marine protected area. The results suggest our evidence-weighted framework improved upon existing un-weighted methods in terms of characterizing resilience and distinguishing priority sites. The evaluation supports the concept that, despite high ecological complexity, relatively few strong variables can be important in influencing ecosystem dynamics. This is the first rigorous assessment of factors promoting coral reef resilience based on their perceived importance, empirical evidence, and feasibility of measurement. There were few differences between scientists' perceptions of factor importance and the scientific evidence found in journal publications but more before and after impact studies will be required to fully test the validity of all the factors. The methods here will increase the feasibility

  17. Working with, not against, coral-reef fisheries

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Birkeland, Charles

    2017-03-01

    The fisheries policies of some Pacific island nations are more appropriate to the biology of their resources than are some of the fisheries policies of more industrialized countries. Exclusive local ownership of natural resources in Palau encourages adjustive management on biologically relevant scales of time and space and promotes responsibility by reducing the tragedy of the commons. The presence of large individuals in fish populations and adequate size of spawning aggregations are more efficient and meaningful cues for timely management than are surveys of abundance or biomass. Taking fish from populations more than halfway to their carrying capacity is working favorably with the fishery because removing fish potentially increases resource stability by negative feedback between stock size and population production. Taking the same amount of fish from a population below half its carrying capacity is working against the fishery, making the population unstable, because reducing the reproductive stock potentially accelerates reduction of the population production by positive feedback. Reef fish are consumed locally, while Palauan laws ban the export of reef resources. This is consistent with the high gross primary production with little excess net production from undisturbed coral-reef ecosystems. The relatively rapid growth rates, short life spans, reliable recruitment and wide-ranging movements of open-ocean fishes such as scombrids make them much more productive than coral-reef fishes. The greater fisheries yield per square kilometer in the open ocean multiplied by well over a thousand times the area of the exclusive economic zone than that of Palau's coral reefs should encourage Palauans to keep reef fishes for subsistence and to feed tourists open-ocean fishes. Fisheries having only artisanal means should be encouraged to increase the yield and sustainability by moving away from coral reefs to bulk harvesting of nearshore pelagics.

  18. Ecological Consequences of Sediment on High-Energy Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Goatley, Christopher H. R.; Bellwood, David R.

    2013-01-01

    Sediments are widely accepted as a threat to coral reefs but our understanding of their ecological impacts is limited. Evidence has suggested that benthic sediments bound within the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) suppress reef fish herbivory, a key ecological process maintaining reef resilience. An experimental combination of caging and sediment addition treatments were used to investigate the effects of sediment pulses on herbivory and EAMs and to determine whether sediment addition could trigger a positive-feedback loop, leading to deep, sediment-rich turfs. A 1-week pulsed sediment addition resulted in rapid increases in algal turf length with effects comparable to those seen in herbivore exclusion cages. Contrary to the hypothesised positive-feedback mechanism, benthic sediment loads returned to natural levels within 3 weeks, however, the EAM turfs remained almost 60% longer for at least 3 months. While reduced herbivore density is widely understood to be a major threat to reefs, we show that acute disturbances to reef sediments elicit similar ecological responses in the EAM. With reefs increasingly threatened by both reductions in herbivore biomass and altered sediment fluxes, the development of longer turfs may become more common on coral reefs. PMID:24124619

  19. Key herbivores reveal limited functional redundancy on inshore coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johansson, C. L.; van de Leemput, I. A.; Depczynski, M.; Hoey, A. S.; Bellwood, D. R.

    2013-12-01

    Marine ecosystems are facing increasing exposure to a range of stressors and declines in critical ecological functions. The likelihood of further loss of functions and resilience is dependent, in part, on the extent of functional redundancy (i.e. the capacity of one species to functionally compensate for the loss of another species) within critical functional groups. We used multiple metrics; species richness, generic richness, abundance and reserve capacity (i.e. the relative number of individuals available to fulfil the function if the numerically dominant species is lost), as indicators to assess the potential functional redundancy of four functional groups of herbivorous fishes (browsers, excavators, grazers and scrapers) in two of the worlds' most intact coral reef ecosystems: the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. We found marked variations in potential redundancy among habitats within each reef system and functional groups. Despite negligible fishing of herbivorous fishes, coastal habitats in both reef systems had lower functional redundancy compared to offshore locations for all herbivorous fishes collectively and the four functional groups independently. This pattern was consistent in all four indicators of redundancy. The potential vulnerability of these coastal habitats is highlighted by recent shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance on several coastal reefs of the GBR. Our approach provides a simple yet revealing evaluation of potential functional redundancy. Moreover, it highlights the spatial variation in potential vulnerability and resilience of reef systems.

  20. Catastrophe and the life span of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Aronson, Richard B; Precht, William F; Macintyre, Ian G; Toth, Lauren T

    2012-02-01

    A strong earthquake in the western Caribbean in 2009 had a catastrophic impact on uncemented, unconsolidated coral reefs in the central sector of the shelf lagoon of the Belizean barrier reef. In a set of 21 reef sites that had been observed prior to the earthquake, the benthic assemblages of 10 were eradicated, and one was partially damaged, by avalanching of their slopes. Ecological dynamics that had played out over the previous 23 years, including the mass mortalities of two sequentially dominant coral species and a large increase in the cover of an encrusting sponge, were instantaneously rendered moot in the areas of catastrophic reef-slope failure. Because these prior dynamics also determined the benthic composition and resilience of adjacent sections of reef that remained intact, the history of disturbance prior to the earthquake will strongly influence decadal-scale recovery in the failed areas. Geological analysis of the reef framework yielded a minimum return time of 2000-4000 years for this type of high-amplitude event. Anthropogenic degradation of ecosystems must be viewed against the backdrop of long-period, natural catastrophes, such as the impact of strong earthquakes on uncemented, lagoonal reefs.