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Sample records for coral reef ecosystem

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. USGS research on Atlantic coral reef ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2015-01-01

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

  4. 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...

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  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. 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

  10. 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 ]...

  11. 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...

  12. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-08-13

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

  13. 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...

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  16. 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...

  17. Comparison of coral reef ecosystems along a fishing pressure gradient.

    PubMed

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Parrish, Frank A

    2013-01-01

    Three trophic mass-balance models representing coral reef ecosystems along a fishery gradient were compared to evaluate ecosystem effects of fishing. The majority of the biomass estimates came directly from a large-scale visual survey program; therefore, data were collected in the same way for all three models, enhancing comparability. Model outputs-such as net system production, size structure of the community, total throughput, production, consumption, production-to-respiration ratio, and Finn's cycling index and mean path length-indicate that the systems around the unpopulated French Frigate Shoals and along the relatively lightly populated Kona Coast of Hawai'i Island are mature, stable systems with a high efficiency in recycling of biomass. In contrast, model results show that the reef system around the most populated island in the State of Hawai'i, O'ahu, is in a transitional state with reduced ecosystem resilience and appears to be shifting to an algal-dominated system. Evaluation of the candidate indicators for fishing pressure showed that indicators at the community level (e.g., total biomass, community size structure, trophic level of the community) were most robust (i.e., showed the clearest trend) and that multiple indicators are necessary to identify fishing perturbations. These indicators could be used as performance indicators when compared to a baseline for management purposes. This study shows that ecosystem models can be valuable tools in identification of the system state in terms of complexity, stability, and resilience and, therefore, can complement biological metrics currently used by monitoring programs as indicators for coral reef status. Moreover, ecosystem models can improve our understanding of a system's internal structure that can be used to support management in identification of approaches to reverse unfavorable states.

  18. Comparison of Coral Reef Ecosystems along a Fishing Pressure Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Parrish, Frank A.

    2013-01-01

    Three trophic mass-balance models representing coral reef ecosystems along a fishery gradient were compared to evaluate ecosystem effects of fishing. The majority of the biomass estimates came directly from a large-scale visual survey program; therefore, data were collected in the same way for all three models, enhancing comparability. Model outputs–such as net system production, size structure of the community, total throughput, production, consumption, production-to-respiration ratio, and Finn’s cycling index and mean path length–indicate that the systems around the unpopulated French Frigate Shoals and along the relatively lightly populated Kona Coast of Hawai’i Island are mature, stable systems with a high efficiency in recycling of biomass. In contrast, model results show that the reef system around the most populated island in the State of Hawai’i, O’ahu, is in a transitional state with reduced ecosystem resilience and appears to be shifting to an algal-dominated system. Evaluation of the candidate indicators for fishing pressure showed that indicators at the community level (e.g., total biomass, community size structure, trophic level of the community) were most robust (i.e., showed the clearest trend) and that multiple indicators are necessary to identify fishing perturbations. These indicators could be used as performance indicators when compared to a baseline for management purposes. This study shows that ecosystem models can be valuable tools in identification of the system state in terms of complexity, stability, and resilience and, therefore, can complement biological metrics currently used by monitoring programs as indicators for coral reef status. Moreover, ecosystem models can improve our understanding of a system’s internal structure that can be used to support management in identification of approaches to reverse unfavorable states. PMID:23737951

  19. Management Strategy Evaluation Applied to Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of Ecosystem-Based Management.

    PubMed

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Brainard, Russell E

    2016-01-01

    Ecosystem modelling is increasingly used to explore ecosystem-level effects of changing environmental conditions and management actions. For coral reefs there has been increasing interest in recent decades in the use of ecosystem models for evaluating the effects of fishing and the efficacy of marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis) to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings) and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated 'full regulation' scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

  20. Management Strategy Evaluation Applied to Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of Ecosystem-Based Management.

    PubMed

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Brainard, Russell E

    2016-01-01

    Ecosystem modelling is increasingly used to explore ecosystem-level effects of changing environmental conditions and management actions. For coral reefs there has been increasing interest in recent decades in the use of ecosystem models for evaluating the effects of fishing and the efficacy of marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis) to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings) and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated 'full regulation' scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario. PMID:27023183

  1. Management Strategy Evaluation Applied to Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of Ecosystem-Based Management

    PubMed Central

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Brainard, Russell E.

    2016-01-01

    Ecosystem modelling is increasingly used to explore ecosystem-level effects of changing environmental conditions and management actions. For coral reefs there has been increasing interest in recent decades in the use of ecosystem models for evaluating the effects of fishing and the efficacy of marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis) to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings) and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated ‘full regulation’ scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario. PMID:27023183

  2. Critical research needs for identifying future changes in Gulf coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Feary, David A.; Burt, John A.; Bauman, Andrew G.; Al Hazeem, Shaker; Abdel-Moati, Mohamed A.; Al-Khalifa, Khalifa A.; Anderson, Donald M.; Amos, Carl; Baker, Andrew; Bartholomew, Aaron; Bento, Rita; Cavalcante, Geórgenes H.; Chen, Chaolun Allen; Coles, Steve L.; Dab, Koosha; Fowler, Ashley M.; George, David; Grandcourt, Edwin; Hill, Ross; John, David M.; Jones, David A.; Keshavmurthy, Shashank; Mahmoud, Huda; Moradi Och Tapeh, Mahdi; Mostafavi, Pargol Ghavam; Naser, Humood; Pichon, Michel; Purkis, Sam; Riegl, Bernhard; Samimi-Namin, Kaveh; Sheppard, Charles; Vajed Samiei, Jahangir; Voolstra, Christian R.; Wiedenmann, Joerg

    2014-01-01

    Expert opinion was assessed to identify current knowledge gaps in determining future changes in Arabian/ Persian Gulf (thereafter ‘Gulf’) coral reefs. Thirty-one participants submitted 71 research questions that were peer-assessed in terms of scientific importance (i.e., filled a knowledge gap and was a research priority) and efficiency in resource use (i.e., was highly feasible and ecologically broad). Ten research questions, in six major research areas, were highly important for both understanding Gulf coral reef ecosystems and also an efficient use of limited research resources. These questions mirrored global evaluations of the importance of understanding and evaluating biodiversity, determining the potential impacts of climate change, the role of anthropogenic impacts in structuring coral reef communities, and economically evaluating coral reef communities. These questions provide guidance for future research on coral reef ecosystems within the Gulf, and enhance the potential for assessment and management of future changes in this globally significant region. PMID:23643407

  3. 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...

  4. Human activity selectively impacts the ecosystem roles of parrotfishes on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

    Bellwood, David R.; Hoey, Andrew S.; Hughes, Terence P.

    2012-01-01

    Around the globe, coral reefs and other marine ecosystems are increasingly overfished. Conventionally, studies of fishing impacts have focused on the population size and dynamics of targeted stocks rather than the broader ecosystem-wide effects of harvesting. Using parrotfishes as an example, we show how coral reef fish populations respond to escalating fishing pressure across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Based on these fish abundance data, we infer the potential impact on four key functional roles performed by parrotfishes. Rates of bioerosion and coral predation are highly sensitive to human activity, whereas grazing and sediment removal are resilient to fishing. Our results offer new insights into the vulnerability and resilience of coral reefs to the ever-growing human footprint. The depletion of fishes causes differential decline of key ecosystem functions, radically changing the dynamics of coral reefs and setting the stage for future ecological surprises. PMID:22090383

  5. 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...

  6. Small change, big difference: Sea surface temperature distributions for tropical coral reef ecosystems, 1950-2011

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, J. M.

    2012-09-01

    Changes in tropical sea surface temperature (SST) are examined over the period 1950-2011 during which global average temperature warmed by 0.4°C. Average tropical SST is warming about 70% of the global average rate. Spatially, significant warming between the two time periods, 1950-1980 and 1981-2011, has occurred across 65% of the tropical oceans. Coral reef ecosystems occupy 10% of the tropical oceans, typically in regions of warmer (+1.8°C) and less variable SST (80% of months within 3.3°C range) compared to non-reef areas (80% of months within 7.0°C range). SST is a primary controlling factor of coral reef distribution and coral reef organisms have already shown their sensitivity to the relatively small amount of warming observed so far through, for example, more frequent coral bleaching events and outbreaks of coral disease. Experimental evidence is also emerging of possible thermal thresholds in the range 30°C-32°C for some physiological processes of coral reef organisms. Relatively small changes in SST have already resulted in quite large differences in SST distribution with a maximum ‘hot spot’ of change in the near-equatorial Indo-Pacific which encompasses both the Indo-Pacific warm pools and the center of coral reef biodiversity. Identification of this hot spot of SST change is not new but this study highlights its significance with respect to tropical coral reef ecosystems. Given the modest amount of warming to date, changes in SST distribution are of particular concern for coral reefs given additional local anthropogenic stresses on many reefs and ongoing ocean acidification likely to increasingly compromise coral reef processes.

  7. Spatial Scales of Bacterial Diversity in Cold-Water Coral Reef Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Schöttner, Sandra; Wild, Christian; Hoffmann, Friederike; Boetius, Antje; Ramette, Alban

    2012-01-01

    Background Cold-water coral reef ecosystems are recognized as biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea, but insights into their associated bacterial communities are still limited. Deciphering principle patterns of bacterial community variation over multiple spatial scales may however prove critical for a better understanding of factors contributing to cold-water coral reef stability and functioning. Methodology/Principal Findings Bacterial community structure, as determined by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA), was investigated with respect to (i) microbial habitat type and (ii) coral species and color, as well as the three spatial components (iii) geomorphologic reef zoning, (iv) reef boundary, and (v) reef location. Communities revealed fundamental differences between coral-generated (branch surface, mucus) and ambient microbial habitats (seawater, sediments). This habitat specificity appeared pivotal for determining bacterial community shifts over all other study levels investigated. Coral-derived surfaces showed species-specific patterns, differing significantly between Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, but not between L. pertusa color types. Within the reef center, no community distinction corresponded to geomorphologic reef zoning for both coral-generated and ambient microbial habitats. Beyond the reef center, however, bacterial communities varied considerably from local to regional scales, with marked shifts toward the reef periphery as well as between different in- and offshore reef sites, suggesting significant biogeographic imprinting but weak microbe-host specificity. Conclusions/Significance This study presents the first multi-scale survey of bacterial diversity in cold-water coral reefs, spanning a total of five observational levels including three spatial scales. It demonstrates that bacterial communities in cold-water coral reefs are structured by multiple factors acting at different spatial scales, which has fundamental

  8. 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

  9. Coral mucus functions as an energy carrier and particle trap in the reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Wild, Christian; Huettel, Markus; Klueter, Anke; Kremb, Stephan G; Rasheed, Mohammed Y M; Jørgensen, Bo B

    2004-03-01

    Zooxanthellae, endosymbiotic algae of reef-building corals, substantially contribute to the high gross primary production of coral reefs, but corals exude up to half of the carbon assimilated by their zooxanthellae as mucus. Here we show that released coral mucus efficiently traps organic matter from the water column and rapidly carries energy and nutrients to the reef lagoon sediment, which acts as a biocatalytic mineralizing filter. In the Great Barrier Reef, the dominant genus of hard corals, Acropora, exudes up to 4.8 litres of mucus per square metre of reef area per day. Between 56% and 80% of this mucus dissolves in the reef water, which is filtered through the lagoon sands. Here, coral mucus is degraded at a turnover rate of at least 7% per hour. Detached undissolved mucus traps suspended particles, increasing its initial organic carbon and nitrogen content by three orders of magnitude within 2 h. Tidal currents concentrate these mucus aggregates into the lagoon, where they rapidly settle. Coral mucus provides light energy harvested by the zooxanthellae and trapped particles to the heterotrophic reef community, thereby establishing a recycling loop that supports benthic life, while reducing loss of energy and nutrients from the reef ecosystem.

  10. Holocene aggradation of the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brock, J.C.; Palaseanu-Lovejoy, M.; Poore, R.Z.; Nayegandhi, A.; Wright, C.W.

    2010-01-01

    Radiometric age dating of reef cores acquired at the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem (DTCRE) was merged with lidar topographic mapping to examine Holocene reef development linked to spatial variation in growth and erosion under the control of sea level. Analysis of variance of lidar topography confirmed the presence of three distinct terraces on all three major DTCRE banks (Loggerhead Bank, Garden Bank, and Pulaski Bank). Reef building on the middle terrace (T2) began atop Pleistocene edifices on Loggerhead Bank by 8.0 ka (thousands of years ago) and on Garden Bank by 7.2 ka at elevations of about −16.0 m and −11.9 m, respectively, relative to present mean sea level. Following this initiation at different elevations, T2 aggraded vertically on both banks at different rates during the early Holocene under foundering conditions until a highstand at 5.2 ka, resulting in a 2.21 m offset in present mean T2 elevation between these banks. Initiation of an upper terrace (T1) occurred on both Loggerhead Bank and Garden Bank in association with sea-level fall to a lowstand at near 4.8 ka. This upper terrace initiated on Garden Bank at about 5.0 ka and then grew upward at rate of 2.5 mm year−1 until approximately 3.8 ka. On Loggerhead Bank, the upper T1 terrace formed after 4.5 ka at a higher vertical aggradation rate of 4.1 mm year−1, but at a lower elevation than on Garden Bank. Terrace T1 aggraded on Loggerhead Bank below the elevation of lowstands during late Holocene sea-level oscillation, and consequently erosion on Loggerhead Bank was minimal and likely limited to the crest of the upper terrace. In contrast, after 3.8 ka terrace T1 on Garden Bank likely tracked sea level and consequently underwent erosion when sea level fell to second, third and fourth lowstands at 3.3, 1.1, and 0.3 ka.

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brook, John; Yates, Kimberly; Halley, Robert

    2006-01-01

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

  12. Satellite Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs: By Learning about Coral Reefs, Students Gain an Understanding of Ecosystems and How Cutting-Edge Technology Can Be Used to Study Ecological Change

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Palandro, David; Thoms, Kristin; Kusek, Kristen; Muller-Karger, Frank; Greely, Teresa

    2005-01-01

    Coral reefs are one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, providing sustenance to both marine organisms and humans. Yet they are also one of the most endangered ecosystems as coral reef coverage has declined dramatically in the past three decades. Researchers continually seek better ways to map coral reef coverage and monitor changes…

  13. Insights into the Coral Microbiome: Underpinning the Health and Resilience of Reef Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Bourne, David G; Morrow, Kathleen M; Webster, Nicole S

    2016-09-01

    Corals are fundamental ecosystem engineers, creating large, intricate reefs that support diverse and abundant marine life. At the core of a healthy coral animal is a dynamic relationship with microorganisms, including a mutually beneficial symbiosis with photosynthetic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.) and enduring partnerships with an array of bacterial, archaeal, fungal, protistan, and viral associates, collectively termed the coral holobiont. The combined genomes of this coral holobiont form a coral hologenome, and genomic interactions within the hologenome ultimately define the coral phenotype. Here we integrate contemporary scientific knowledge regarding the ecological, host-specific, and environmental forces shaping the diversity, specificity, and distribution of microbial symbionts within the coral holobiont, explore physiological pathways that contribute to holobiont fitness, and describe potential mechanisms for holobiont homeostasis. Understanding the role of the microbiome in coral resilience, acclimation, and environmental adaptation is a new frontier in reef science that will require large-scale collaborative research efforts.

  14. Insights into the Coral Microbiome: Underpinning the Health and Resilience of Reef Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Bourne, David G; Morrow, Kathleen M; Webster, Nicole S

    2016-09-01

    Corals are fundamental ecosystem engineers, creating large, intricate reefs that support diverse and abundant marine life. At the core of a healthy coral animal is a dynamic relationship with microorganisms, including a mutually beneficial symbiosis with photosynthetic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.) and enduring partnerships with an array of bacterial, archaeal, fungal, protistan, and viral associates, collectively termed the coral holobiont. The combined genomes of this coral holobiont form a coral hologenome, and genomic interactions within the hologenome ultimately define the coral phenotype. Here we integrate contemporary scientific knowledge regarding the ecological, host-specific, and environmental forces shaping the diversity, specificity, and distribution of microbial symbionts within the coral holobiont, explore physiological pathways that contribute to holobiont fitness, and describe potential mechanisms for holobiont homeostasis. Understanding the role of the microbiome in coral resilience, acclimation, and environmental adaptation is a new frontier in reef science that will require large-scale collaborative research efforts. PMID:27482741

  15. 50 CFR 665.220 - Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.220 Section 665.220 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral...

  16. 50 CFR 665.220 - Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 9 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.220 Section 665.220 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral...

  17. 50 CFR 665.220 - Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.220 Section 665.220 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral...

  18. 50 CFR 665.220 - Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 11 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.220 Section 665.220 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral...

  19. 50 CFR 665.220 - Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.220 Section 665.220 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral...

  20. A Decision Support System for Ecosystem-Based Management of Tropical Coral Reef Environments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Muller-Karger, F. E.; Eakin, C.; Guild, L. S.; Nemani, R. R.; Hu, C.; Lynds, S. E.; Li, J.; Vega-Rodriguez, M.; Coral Reef Watch Decision Support System Team

    2010-12-01

    We review a new collaborative program established between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to augment the NOAA Coral Reef Watch decision-support system. NOAA has developed a Decision Support System (DSS) under the Coral Reef Watch (CRW) program to forecast environmental stress in coral reef ecosystems around the world. This DSS uses models and 50 km Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) to generate “HotSpot” and Degree Heating Week coral bleaching indices. These are used by scientists and resource managers around the world. These users, including National Marine Sanctuary managers, have expressed the need for higher spatial resolution tools to understand local issues. The project will develop a series of coral bleaching products at higher spatial resolution using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and AVHRR data. We will generate and validate products at 1 km resolution for the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and test global assessments at 4 and 50 km. The project will also incorporate the Global Coral Reef Millennium Map, a 30-m resolution thematic classification of coral reefs developed by the NASA Landsat-7 Science Team, into the CRW. The Millennium Maps help understand the geomorphology of individual reefs around the world. The products will be available through the NOAA CRW and UNEP-WCMC web portals. The products will help users formulate policy options and management decisions. The augmented DSS has a global scope, yet it addresses the needs of local resource managers. The work complements efforts to map and monitor coral reef communities in the U.S. territories by NOAA, NASA, and the USGS, and is a contribution to international efforts in ecological forecasting of coral reefs under changing environments, coral reef research, resource management, and conservation. Acknowledgement: Funding is provided by the NASA Ecological Forecasting

  1. Herbivory, connectivity, and ecosystem resilience: response of a coral reef to a large-scale perturbation.

    PubMed

    Adam, Thomas C; Schmitt, Russell J; Holbrook, Sally J; Brooks, Andrew J; Edmunds, Peter J; Carpenter, Robert C; Bernardi, Giacomo

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs world-wide are threatened by escalating local and global impacts, and some impacted reefs have shifted from coral dominance to a state dominated by macroalgae. Therefore, there is a growing need to understand the processes that affect the capacity of these ecosystems to return to coral dominance following disturbances, including those that prevent the establishment of persistent stands of macroalgae. Unlike many reefs in the Caribbean, over the last several decades, reefs around the Indo-Pacific island of Moorea, French Polynesia have consistently returned to coral dominance following major perturbations without shifting to a macroalgae-dominated state. Here, we present evidence of a rapid increase in populations of herbivorous fishes following the most recent perturbation, and show that grazing by these herbivores has prevented the establishment of macroalgae following near complete loss of coral on offshore reefs. Importantly, we found the positive response of herbivorous fishes to increased benthic primary productivity associated with coral loss was driven largely by parrotfishes that initially recruit to stable nursery habitat within the lagoons before moving to offshore reefs later in life. These results underscore the importance of connectivity between the lagoon and offshore reefs for preventing the establishment of macroalgae following disturbances, and indicate that protecting nearshore nursery habitat of herbivorous fishes is critical for maintaining reef resilience.

  2. Herbivory, Connectivity, and Ecosystem Resilience: Response of a Coral Reef to a Large-Scale Perturbation

    PubMed Central

    Adam, Thomas C.; Schmitt, Russell J.; Holbrook, Sally J.; Brooks, Andrew J.; Edmunds, Peter J.; Carpenter, Robert C.; Bernardi, Giacomo

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs world-wide are threatened by escalating local and global impacts, and some impacted reefs have shifted from coral dominance to a state dominated by macroalgae. Therefore, there is a growing need to understand the processes that affect the capacity of these ecosystems to return to coral dominance following disturbances, including those that prevent the establishment of persistent stands of macroalgae. Unlike many reefs in the Caribbean, over the last several decades, reefs around the Indo-Pacific island of Moorea, French Polynesia have consistently returned to coral dominance following major perturbations without shifting to a macroalgae-dominated state. Here, we present evidence of a rapid increase in populations of herbivorous fishes following the most recent perturbation, and show that grazing by these herbivores has prevented the establishment of macroalgae following near complete loss of coral on offshore reefs. Importantly, we found the positive response of herbivorous fishes to increased benthic primary productivity associated with coral loss was driven largely by parrotfishes that initially recruit to stable nursery habitat within the lagoons before moving to offshore reefs later in life. These results underscore the importance of connectivity between the lagoon and offshore reefs for preventing the establishment of macroalgae following disturbances, and indicate that protecting nearshore nursery habitat of herbivorous fishes is critical for maintaining reef resilience. PMID:21901131

  3. Climate Warming, Marine Protected Areas and the Ocean-Scale Integrity of Coral Reef Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    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; Öhman, Marcus C.; Garpe, Kajsa C.; Edwards, Alasdair J.; Sheppard, Charles R. C.

    2008-01-01

    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. PMID:18728776

  4. 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.

  5. [A review of the role and function of microbes in coral reef ecosystem].

    PubMed

    Zhou, Jin; Jin, Hui; Cai, Zhong-Hua

    2014-03-01

    Coral reef is consisted with several kinds of reef-associated organisms, including coral, fish, benthos, algae and microbes, which is an important marine ecosystem. Coral reef lives in the oligotrophic environment, has very highly primary productivity and net productivity, and is called "tropical rain forest in ocean". In corals, diverse microorganisms exert a significant influence on biogeochemical and ecological processes, including food webs, organism life cycles, and nutrient cycling. With the development of molecular biology, the role of microorganisms in a coral system is becoming more outstanding. In this article, we reviewed current understanding on 1) the onset of coral-bacterial associations; 2) the characteristics of microbes in coral (specificity, plasticity and co-evolution) ; 3) the role and signal regulation of microbes in the health and disease of coral; and 4) the response mechanism of microbes for global climatic change and consequent effects, such as temperature rise, ocean acidification and eutrophication. The aims of this article were to summarize the latest theories and achievements, clear the mechanism of microbial ecology in coral reefs and provide a theoretical reference for better protection and maintaining the coral's biodiversity.

  6. 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

  7. Occurrence and distribution of antifouling biocide Irgarol-1051 in coral reef ecosystems, Zanzibar.

    PubMed

    Sheikh, Mohammed A; Juma, Fatma S; Staehr, Peter; Dahl, Karsten; Rashid, Rashid J; Mohammed, Mohammed S; Ussi, Ali M; Ali, Hassan R

    2016-08-15

    2-methythiol-4-tert-butylamino-6-cyclopropylamino-s-triazine (Irgarol-1051) has been widely used as effective alternative antifouling paint in marine structures including ships. However, it has been causing deleterious effects to marine organisms including reef building corals. The main objective of this study was to establish baseline levels of Irgarol-1051 around coral reefs and nearby ecosystems along coastline of Zanzibar Island. The levels of Irgarol-1051 ranged from 1.35ng/L around coral reefs to 15.44ng/L around harbor with average concentration of 4.11 (mean)±0.57 (SD) ng/L. This is below Environmental Risk Limit of 24ng/L as proposed by Dutch Authorities which suggests that the contamination is not alarming especially for coral reef ecosystem health. The main possible sources of the contamination are from shipping activities. This paper provides important baseline information of Irgarol-1051 around the coral reef ecosystems within the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region and may be useful for formulation of marine conservation strategies and policies. PMID:27234364

  8. Consistent nutrient storage and supply mediated by diverse fish communities in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Allgeier, Jacob E; Layman, Craig A; Mumby, Peter J; Rosemond, Amy D

    2014-08-01

    Corals thrive in low nutrient environments and the conservation of these globally imperiled ecosystems is largely dependent on mitigating the effects of anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. However, to better understand the implications of anthropogenic nutrients requires a heightened understanding of baseline nutrient dynamics within these ecosystems. Here, we provide a novel perspective on coral reef nutrient dynamics by examining the role of fish communities in the supply and storage of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). We quantified fish-mediated nutrient storage and supply for 144 species and modeled these data onto 172 fish communities (71 729 individual fish), in four types of coral reefs, as well as seagrass and mangrove ecosystems, throughout the Northern Antilles. Fish communities supplied and stored large quantities of nutrients, with rates varying among ecosystem types. The size structure and diversity of the fish communities best predicted N and P supply and storage and N : P supply, suggesting that alterations to fish communities (e.g., overfishing) will have important implications for nutrient dynamics in these systems. The stoichiometric ratio (N : P) for storage in fish mass (~8 : 1) and supply (~20 : 1) was notably consistent across the four coral reef types (but not seagrass or mangrove ecosystems). Published nutrient enrichment studies on corals show that deviations from this N : P supply ratio may be associated with poor coral fitness, providing qualitative support for the hypothesis that corals and their symbionts may be adapted to specific ratios of nutrient supply. Consumer nutrient stoichiometry provides a baseline from which to better understand nutrient dynamics in coral reef and other coastal ecosystems, information that is greatly needed if we are to implement more effective measures to ensure the future health of the world's oceans. PMID:24692262

  9. Consistent nutrient storage and supply mediated by diverse fish communities in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Allgeier, Jacob E; Layman, Craig A; Mumby, Peter J; Rosemond, Amy D

    2014-08-01

    Corals thrive in low nutrient environments and the conservation of these globally imperiled ecosystems is largely dependent on mitigating the effects of anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. However, to better understand the implications of anthropogenic nutrients requires a heightened understanding of baseline nutrient dynamics within these ecosystems. Here, we provide a novel perspective on coral reef nutrient dynamics by examining the role of fish communities in the supply and storage of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). We quantified fish-mediated nutrient storage and supply for 144 species and modeled these data onto 172 fish communities (71 729 individual fish), in four types of coral reefs, as well as seagrass and mangrove ecosystems, throughout the Northern Antilles. Fish communities supplied and stored large quantities of nutrients, with rates varying among ecosystem types. The size structure and diversity of the fish communities best predicted N and P supply and storage and N : P supply, suggesting that alterations to fish communities (e.g., overfishing) will have important implications for nutrient dynamics in these systems. The stoichiometric ratio (N : P) for storage in fish mass (~8 : 1) and supply (~20 : 1) was notably consistent across the four coral reef types (but not seagrass or mangrove ecosystems). Published nutrient enrichment studies on corals show that deviations from this N : P supply ratio may be associated with poor coral fitness, providing qualitative support for the hypothesis that corals and their symbionts may be adapted to specific ratios of nutrient supply. Consumer nutrient stoichiometry provides a baseline from which to better understand nutrient dynamics in coral reef and other coastal ecosystems, information that is greatly needed if we are to implement more effective measures to ensure the future health of the world's oceans.

  10. Sustaining Ecosystem Services in the Global Coral Reef Crisis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aronson, Richard B.; Precht, William F.

    2009-07-01

    Objective science is critical to understanding the relative impacts of the many putative causal agents in the global coral reef crisis. This paper provides an evidence-based scenario of causality leading to the current state of reef degradation. Contrary to revisionist narratives that emphasize the local-scale effects of fishing and nutrient loading, coral populations were and are degrading primarily due to regional-to global-scale factors. Most important among these large-scale factors are disease outbreaks and coral bleaching, both of which are related to climate change. Because policy recommendations and management strategies will differ depending on which cause(s) are perceived to exert the greatest influence, scientists must be explicit about when they are acting as advocates and when they are objectively conveying scientific results. Legitimate scientific debate is healthy and in no way diminishes the goal of creating cogent policy. Forced ideological unification, in contrast, risks obfuscation, undermining the scientific process. Science must move forward unfettered by political expediency; however, the situation is dire enough to warrant immediate action on local, regional, and global levels, based on the best scientific information at hand, in parallel with continuing research.

  11. Impacts of human activities on coral reef ecosystems of southern Taiwan: a long-term study.

    PubMed

    Liu, Pi-Jen; Meng, Pei-Jie; Liu, Li-Lian; Wang, Jih-Terng; Leu, Ming-Yih

    2012-06-01

    In July 2001, the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, co-sponsored by the Kenting National Park Headquarters and Taiwan's National Science Council, launched a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program to monitor anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystems of southern Taiwan, specifically the coral reefs of Kenting National Park (KNP), which are facing an increasing amount of anthropogenic pressure. We found that the seawater of the reef flats along Nanwan Bay, Taiwan's southernmost embayment, was polluted by sewage discharge at certain monitoring stations. Furthermore, the consequently higher nutrient and suspended sediment levels had led to algal blooms and sediment smothering of shallow water corals at some sampling sites. Finally, our results show that, in addition to this influx of anthropogenically-derived sewage, increasing tourist numbers are correlated with decreasing shallow water coral cover, highlighting the urgency of a more proactive management plan for KNP's coral reefs.

  12. Critical thresholds and tangible targets for ecosystem-based management of coral reef fisheries.

    PubMed

    McClanahan, Tim R; Graham, Nicholas A J; MacNeil, M Aaron; Muthiga, Nyawira A; Cinner, Joshua E; Bruggemann, J Henrich; Wilson, Shaun K

    2011-10-11

    Sustainably managing ecosystems is challenging, especially for complex systems such as coral reefs. This study develops critical reference points for sustainable management by using a large empirical dataset on the coral reefs of the western Indian Ocean to investigate associations between levels of target fish biomass (as an indicator of fishing intensity) and eight metrics of ecosystem state. These eight ecological metrics each exhibited specific thresholds along a continuum of fishable biomass ranging from heavily fished sites to old fisheries closures. Three thresholds lay above and five below a hypothesized window of fishable biomass expected to produce a maximum multispecies sustainable yield (B(MMSY)). Evaluating three management systems in nine countries, we found that unregulated fisheries often operate below the B(MMSY), whereas fisheries closures and, less frequently, gear-restricted fisheries were within or above this window. These findings provide tangible management targets for multispecies coral reef fisheries and highlight key tradeoffs required to achieve different fisheries and conservation goals.

  13. Reefs of the deep: the biology and geology of cold-water coral ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Roberts, J Murray; Wheeler, Andrew J; Freiwald, André

    2006-04-28

    Coral reefs are generally associated with shallow tropical seas; however, recent deep-ocean exploration using advanced acoustics and submersibles has revealed unexpectedly widespread and diverse coral ecosystems in deep waters on continental shelves, slopes, seamounts, and ridge systems around the world. Advances reviewed here include the use of corals as paleoclimatic archives and their biogeological functioning, biodiversity, and biogeography. Threats to these fragile, long-lived, and rich ecosystems are mounting: The impacts of deep-water trawling are already widespread, and effects of ocean acidification are potentially devastating. PMID:16645087

  14. Reefs of the deep: the biology and geology of cold-water coral ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Roberts, J Murray; Wheeler, Andrew J; Freiwald, André

    2006-04-28

    Coral reefs are generally associated with shallow tropical seas; however, recent deep-ocean exploration using advanced acoustics and submersibles has revealed unexpectedly widespread and diverse coral ecosystems in deep waters on continental shelves, slopes, seamounts, and ridge systems around the world. Advances reviewed here include the use of corals as paleoclimatic archives and their biogeological functioning, biodiversity, and biogeography. Threats to these fragile, long-lived, and rich ecosystems are mounting: The impacts of deep-water trawling are already widespread, and effects of ocean acidification are potentially devastating.

  15. 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

  16. How models can support ecosystem-based management of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Janssen, Annette B. G.; Kuiper, Jan J.; Leemans, Rik; Robson, Barbara J.; van de Leemput, Ingrid A.; Mooij, Wolf M.

    2015-11-01

    Despite the importance of coral reef ecosystems to the social and economic welfare of coastal communities, the condition of these marine ecosystems have generally degraded over the past decades. With an increased knowledge of coral reef ecosystem processes and a rise in computer power, dynamic models are useful tools in assessing the synergistic effects of local and global stressors on ecosystem functions. We review representative approaches for dynamically modeling coral reef ecosystems and categorize them as minimal, intermediate and complex models. The categorization was based on the leading principle for model development and their level of realism and process detail. This review aims to improve the knowledge of concurrent approaches in coral reef ecosystem modeling and highlights the importance of choosing an appropriate approach based on the type of question(s) to be answered. We contend that minimal and intermediate models are generally valuable tools to assess the response of key states to main stressors and, hence, contribute to understanding ecological surprises. As has been shown in freshwater resources management, insight into these conceptual relations profoundly influences how natural resource managers perceive their systems and how they manage ecosystem recovery. We argue that adaptive resource management requires integrated thinking and decision support, which demands a diversity of modeling approaches. Integration can be achieved through complimentary use of models or through integrated models that systemically combine all relevant aspects in one model. Such whole-of-system models can be useful tools for quantitatively evaluating scenarios. These models allow an assessment of the interactive effects of multiple stressors on various, potentially conflicting, management objectives. All models simplify reality and, as such, have their weaknesses. While minimal models lack multidimensionality, system models are likely difficult to interpret as they

  17. Anticipative management for coral reef ecosystem services in the 21st century.

    PubMed

    Rogers, Alice; Harborne, Alastair R; Brown, Christopher J; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Castro, Carolina; Chollett, Iliana; Hock, Karlo; Knowland, Cheryl A; Marshell, Alyssa; Ortiz, Juan C; Razak, Tries; Roff, George; Samper-Villarreal, Jimena; Saunders, Megan I; Wolff, Nicholas H; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-02-01

    Under projections of global climate change and other stressors, significant changes in the ecology, structure and function of coral reefs are predicted. Current management strategies tend to look to the past to set goals, focusing on halting declines and restoring baseline conditions. Here, we explore a complementary approach to decision making that is based on the anticipation of future changes in ecosystem state, function and services. Reviewing the existing literature and utilizing a scenario planning approach, we explore how the structure of coral reef communities might change in the future in response to global climate change and overfishing. We incorporate uncertainties in our predictions by considering heterogeneity in reef types in relation to structural complexity and primary productivity. We examine 14 ecosystem services provided by reefs, and rate their sensitivity to a range of future scenarios and management options. Our predictions suggest that the efficacy of management is highly dependent on biophysical characteristics and reef state. Reserves are currently widely used and are predicted to remain effective for reefs with high structural complexity. However, when complexity is lost, maximizing service provision requires a broader portfolio of management approaches, including the provision of artificial complexity, coral restoration, fish aggregation devices and herbivore management. Increased use of such management tools will require capacity building and technique refinement and we therefore conclude that diversification of our management toolbox should be considered urgently to prepare for the challenges of managing reefs into the 21st century. PMID:25179273

  18. Anticipative management for coral reef ecosystem services in the 21st century.

    PubMed

    Rogers, Alice; Harborne, Alastair R; Brown, Christopher J; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Castro, Carolina; Chollett, Iliana; Hock, Karlo; Knowland, Cheryl A; Marshell, Alyssa; Ortiz, Juan C; Razak, Tries; Roff, George; Samper-Villarreal, Jimena; Saunders, Megan I; Wolff, Nicholas H; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-02-01

    Under projections of global climate change and other stressors, significant changes in the ecology, structure and function of coral reefs are predicted. Current management strategies tend to look to the past to set goals, focusing on halting declines and restoring baseline conditions. Here, we explore a complementary approach to decision making that is based on the anticipation of future changes in ecosystem state, function and services. Reviewing the existing literature and utilizing a scenario planning approach, we explore how the structure of coral reef communities might change in the future in response to global climate change and overfishing. We incorporate uncertainties in our predictions by considering heterogeneity in reef types in relation to structural complexity and primary productivity. We examine 14 ecosystem services provided by reefs, and rate their sensitivity to a range of future scenarios and management options. Our predictions suggest that the efficacy of management is highly dependent on biophysical characteristics and reef state. Reserves are currently widely used and are predicted to remain effective for reefs with high structural complexity. However, when complexity is lost, maximizing service provision requires a broader portfolio of management approaches, including the provision of artificial complexity, coral restoration, fish aggregation devices and herbivore management. Increased use of such management tools will require capacity building and technique refinement and we therefore conclude that diversification of our management toolbox should be considered urgently to prepare for the challenges of managing reefs into the 21st century.

  19. 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.

  20. 50 CFR 665.120 - American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 11 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.120 Section 665.120 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120...

  1. 50 CFR 665.420 - Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 11 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.420 Section 665.420 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420...

  2. 50 CFR 665.420 - Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.420 Section 665.420 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420...

  3. 50 CFR 665.120 - American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.120 Section 665.120 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120...

  4. 50 CFR 665.620 - PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 11 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.620 Section 665.620 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Pacific Remote Island Area Fisheries § 665.620...

  5. 50 CFR 665.120 - American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.120 Section 665.120 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120...

  6. 50 CFR 665.420 - Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.420 Section 665.420 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420...

  7. 50 CFR 665.620 - PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.620 Section 665.620 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Pacific Remote Island Area Fisheries § 665.620...

  8. 50 CFR 665.620 - PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.620 Section 665.620 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Pacific Remote Island Area Fisheries § 665.620...

  9. 50 CFR 665.620 - PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.620 Section 665.620 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Pacific Remote Island Area Fisheries § 665.620...

  10. 50 CFR 665.620 - PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 9 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.620 Section 665.620 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Pacific Remote Island Area Fisheries § 665.620...

  11. 50 CFR 665.120 - American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 9 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.120 Section 665.120 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120...

  12. 50 CFR 665.420 - Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.420 Section 665.420 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420...

  13. 50 CFR 665.420 - Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 9 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.420 Section 665.420 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420...

  14. 50 CFR 665.120 - American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. [Reserved

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 13 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. 665.120 Section 665.120 Wildlife and Fisheries FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (CONTINUED) FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120...

  15. [Latest forty two years' sea surface temperature change of Weizhou Island and its influence on coral reef ecosystem].

    PubMed

    Yu, Kefu; Jiang, Mingxing; Cheng, Zhiqiang; Chen, Tegu

    2004-03-01

    Weizhou Island (109 degrees 00'-109 degrees 15'E, 21 degrees 00'-21 degrees 10'N) locates in the north coral reef distribution belt of the South China Sea. In such relatively high latitude area, sea surface temperature (SST) is an important factor affecting the development of coral reef ecosystem. Measurements of the latest 42 years' SST of Weizhou Island showed that with 3-4 years and 7-8 years fluctuating cycles, the SST almost had a synchronous increase with global warming, especially since the later 1980s. Overall, the coral reef of Weizhou Island could benefit from the SST warming, especially the cold months SST increase, because it's the north margin of tropical zone. But, the warming of the warmest month may be a thermal stress on the development of coral reef. It reaches the upper limits of coral reef development, and leads the coral reef bleaching. Mankind activities, including wide scale building, oil gas factory near the island, traveling, fishing and breeding, may be also the potential stresses on limiting the coral reef development. The combination of summer warming and mankind stress is possibly to destroy the coral reef ecosystem of Weizhou Island. Based on a detailed field investigation, the modern coral reef distribution map around Weizhou Island was described.

  16. Informing policy to protect coastal coral reefs: insight from a global review of reducing agricultural pollution to coastal ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Kroon, Frederieke J; Schaffelke, Britta; Bartley, Rebecca

    2014-08-15

    The continuing degradation of coral reefs has serious consequences for the provision of ecosystem goods and services to local and regional communities. While climate change is considered the most serious risk to coral reefs, agricultural pollution threatens approximately 25% of the total global reef area with further increases in sediment and nutrient fluxes projected over the next 50 years. Here, we aim to inform coral reef management using insights learned from management examples that were successful in reducing agricultural pollution to coastal ecosystems. We identify multiple examples reporting reduced fluxes of sediment and nutrients at end-of-river, and associated declines in nutrient concentrations and algal biomass in receiving coastal waters. Based on the insights obtained, we recommend that future protection of coral reef ecosystems demands policy focused on desired ecosystem outcomes, targeted regulatory approaches, up-scaling of watershed management, and long-term maintenance of scientifically robust monitoring programs linked with adaptive management. PMID:24975091

  17. Informing policy to protect coastal coral reefs: insight from a global review of reducing agricultural pollution to coastal ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Kroon, Frederieke J; Schaffelke, Britta; Bartley, Rebecca

    2014-08-15

    The continuing degradation of coral reefs has serious consequences for the provision of ecosystem goods and services to local and regional communities. While climate change is considered the most serious risk to coral reefs, agricultural pollution threatens approximately 25% of the total global reef area with further increases in sediment and nutrient fluxes projected over the next 50 years. Here, we aim to inform coral reef management using insights learned from management examples that were successful in reducing agricultural pollution to coastal ecosystems. We identify multiple examples reporting reduced fluxes of sediment and nutrients at end-of-river, and associated declines in nutrient concentrations and algal biomass in receiving coastal waters. Based on the insights obtained, we recommend that future protection of coral reef ecosystems demands policy focused on desired ecosystem outcomes, targeted regulatory approaches, up-scaling of watershed management, and long-term maintenance of scientifically robust monitoring programs linked with adaptive management.

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2007-10-01

    Recent episodes of coral bleaching have led to wide-scale loss of reef corals and raised concerns over the effectiveness of existing conservation and management efforts. The 1998 bleaching event was most severe in the western Indian Ocean, where coral declined by up to 90% in some locations. Using fisheries-independent data, we assessed the long-term impacts of this event on fishery target species in the Seychelles, the overall size structure of the fish assemblage, and the effectiveness of two marine protected areas (MPAs) in protecting fish communities. The biomass of fished species above the size retained in fish traps changed little between 1994 and 2005, indicating no current effect on fishery yields. Biomass remained higher in MPAs, indicating they were effective in protecting fish stocks. Nevertheless, the size structure of the fish communities, as described with size-spectra analysis, changed in both fished areas and MPAs, with a decline in smaller fish (<30 cm) and an increase in larger fish (>45 cm). We believe this represents a time-lag response to a reduction in reef structural complexity brought about because fishes are being lost through natural mortality and fishing, and are not being replaced by juveniles. This effect is expected to be greater in terms of fisheries productivity and, because congruent patterns are observed for herbivores, suggests that MPAs do not offer coral reefs long-term resilience to bleaching events. Corallivores and planktivores declined strikingly in abundance, particularly in MPAs, and this decline was associated with a similar pattern of decline in their preferred corals. We suggest that climate-mediated disturbances, such as coral bleaching, be at the fore of conservation planning for coral reefs.

  20. An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate

    PubMed Central

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A.; Kaplan, Isaac C.; Gorton, Rebecca; Leemans, Rik; Mooij, Wolf M.; Brainard, Russell E.

    2015-01-01

    Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly considers the indirect and cumulative effects of multiple disturbances has been recommended and adopted in policies in many places around the globe. Ecosystem models give insight into complex reef dynamics and their responses to multiple disturbances and are useful tools to support planning and implementation of ecosystem-based management. We adapted the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to incorporate key dynamics for a coral reef ecosystem around Guam in the tropical western Pacific. We used this model to quantify the effects of predicted climate and ocean changes and current levels of current land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and fishing. We used the following six ecosystem metrics as indicators of ecosystem state, resilience and harvest potential: 1) ratio of calcifying to non-calcifying benthic groups, 2) trophic level of the community, 3) biomass of apex predators, 4) biomass of herbivorous fishes, 5) total biomass of living groups and 6) the end-to-start ratio of exploited fish groups. Simulation tests of the effects of each of the three drivers separately suggest that by mid-century climate change will have the largest overall effect on this suite of ecosystem metrics due to substantial negative effects on coral cover. The effects of fishing were also important, negatively influencing five out of the six metrics. Moreover, LBSP exacerbates this effect for all metrics but not quite as badly as would be expected under additive assumptions, although the magnitude of the effects of LBSP are sensitive to uncertainty associated with primary productivity. Over longer time spans (i.e., 65 year simulations), climate change impacts have a slight positive interaction with other drivers

  1. An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate.

    PubMed

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Kaplan, Isaac C; Gorton, Rebecca; Leemans, Rik; Mooij, Wolf M; Brainard, Russell E

    2015-01-01

    Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly considers the indirect and cumulative effects of multiple disturbances has been recommended and adopted in policies in many places around the globe. Ecosystem models give insight into complex reef dynamics and their responses to multiple disturbances and are useful tools to support planning and implementation of ecosystem-based management. We adapted the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to incorporate key dynamics for a coral reef ecosystem around Guam in the tropical western Pacific. We used this model to quantify the effects of predicted climate and ocean changes and current levels of current land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and fishing. We used the following six ecosystem metrics as indicators of ecosystem state, resilience and harvest potential: 1) ratio of calcifying to non-calcifying benthic groups, 2) trophic level of the community, 3) biomass of apex predators, 4) biomass of herbivorous fishes, 5) total biomass of living groups and 6) the end-to-start ratio of exploited fish groups. Simulation tests of the effects of each of the three drivers separately suggest that by mid-century climate change will have the largest overall effect on this suite of ecosystem metrics due to substantial negative effects on coral cover. The effects of fishing were also important, negatively influencing five out of the six metrics. Moreover, LBSP exacerbates this effect for all metrics but not quite as badly as would be expected under additive assumptions, although the magnitude of the effects of LBSP are sensitive to uncertainty associated with primary productivity. Over longer time spans (i.e., 65 year simulations), climate change impacts have a slight positive interaction with other drivers

  2. An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate.

    PubMed

    Weijerman, Mariska; Fulton, Elizabeth A; Kaplan, Isaac C; Gorton, Rebecca; Leemans, Rik; Mooij, Wolf M; Brainard, Russell E

    2015-01-01

    Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly considers the indirect and cumulative effects of multiple disturbances has been recommended and adopted in policies in many places around the globe. Ecosystem models give insight into complex reef dynamics and their responses to multiple disturbances and are useful tools to support planning and implementation of ecosystem-based management. We adapted the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to incorporate key dynamics for a coral reef ecosystem around Guam in the tropical western Pacific. We used this model to quantify the effects of predicted climate and ocean changes and current levels of current land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and fishing. We used the following six ecosystem metrics as indicators of ecosystem state, resilience and harvest potential: 1) ratio of calcifying to non-calcifying benthic groups, 2) trophic level of the community, 3) biomass of apex predators, 4) biomass of herbivorous fishes, 5) total biomass of living groups and 6) the end-to-start ratio of exploited fish groups. Simulation tests of the effects of each of the three drivers separately suggest that by mid-century climate change will have the largest overall effect on this suite of ecosystem metrics due to substantial negative effects on coral cover. The effects of fishing were also important, negatively influencing five out of the six metrics. Moreover, LBSP exacerbates this effect for all metrics but not quite as badly as would be expected under additive assumptions, although the magnitude of the effects of LBSP are sensitive to uncertainty associated with primary productivity. Over longer time spans (i.e., 65 year simulations), climate change impacts have a slight positive interaction with other drivers

  3. 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.

  4. Ocean acidification and coral reefs: effects on breakdown, dissolution, and net ecosystem calcification.

    PubMed

    Andersson, Andreas J; Gledhill, Dwight

    2013-01-01

    The persistence of carbonate structures on coral reefs is essential in providing habitats for a large number of species and maintaining the extraordinary biodiversity associated with these ecosystems. As a consequence of ocean acidification (OA), the ability of marine calcifiers to produce calcium carbonate (CaCO(3)) and their rate of CaCO(3) production could decrease while rates of bioerosion and CaCO(3) dissolution could increase, resulting in a transition from a condition of net accretion to one of net erosion. This would have negative consequences for the role and function of coral reefs and the eco-services they provide to dependent human communities. In this article, we review estimates of bioerosion, CaCO(3) dissolution, and net ecosystem calcification (NEC) and how these processes will change in response to OA. Furthermore, we critically evaluate the observed relationships between NEC and seawater aragonite saturation state (Ω(a)). Finally, we propose that standardized NEC rates combined with observed changes in the ratios of dissolved inorganic carbon to total alkalinity owing to net reef metabolism may provide a biogeochemical tool to monitor the effects of OA in coral reef environments. PMID:22881351

  5. Economic valuation of ecosystem services from coral reefs in the South Pacific: taking stock of recent experience.

    PubMed

    Laurans, Yann; Pascal, Nicolas; Binet, Thomas; Brander, Luke; Clua, Eric; David, Gilbert; Rojat, Dominique; Seidl, Andrew

    2013-02-15

    The economic valuation of coral reefs ecosystem services is currently seen as a promising approach to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable management of coral ecosystems to policymakers and to provide useful information for improved decisions. Most coral reefs economic studies have been conducted in the United States, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, and only a few have covered the South Pacific region. In this region, coral reefs are essential assets for small island developing states as well as for developed countries. Accordingly, a series of ecosystem services valuations has been carried out recently in the South Pacific, to try and supply decision-makers with new information. Applying ecosystem services valuation to the specific ecological, social, economic and cultural contexts of the South Pacific is however not straightforward. This paper analyses how extant valuations address the various management challenges of coral reef regions in general and more specifically for the South Pacific. Bearing in mind that economic valuation has to match policy-making contexts, we emphasize a series of specific considerations when conducting and applying ecosystem services valuation in South Pacific ecological and social contexts. Finally, the paper examines the decision-making situations in which extant valuations took place. We conclude that, although ecosystem valuations have been effectively used as a means to raise awareness with respect to coral reef conservation, methodologies will have to be further developed, with multidisciplinary inputs, if they are to provide valuable inputs in local and technical decision-making.

  6. Economic valuation of ecosystem services from coral reefs in the South Pacific: taking stock of recent experience.

    PubMed

    Laurans, Yann; Pascal, Nicolas; Binet, Thomas; Brander, Luke; Clua, Eric; David, Gilbert; Rojat, Dominique; Seidl, Andrew

    2013-02-15

    The economic valuation of coral reefs ecosystem services is currently seen as a promising approach to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable management of coral ecosystems to policymakers and to provide useful information for improved decisions. Most coral reefs economic studies have been conducted in the United States, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, and only a few have covered the South Pacific region. In this region, coral reefs are essential assets for small island developing states as well as for developed countries. Accordingly, a series of ecosystem services valuations has been carried out recently in the South Pacific, to try and supply decision-makers with new information. Applying ecosystem services valuation to the specific ecological, social, economic and cultural contexts of the South Pacific is however not straightforward. This paper analyses how extant valuations address the various management challenges of coral reef regions in general and more specifically for the South Pacific. Bearing in mind that economic valuation has to match policy-making contexts, we emphasize a series of specific considerations when conducting and applying ecosystem services valuation in South Pacific ecological and social contexts. Finally, the paper examines the decision-making situations in which extant valuations took place. We conclude that, although ecosystem valuations have been effectively used as a means to raise awareness with respect to coral reef conservation, methodologies will have to be further developed, with multidisciplinary inputs, if they are to provide valuable inputs in local and technical decision-making. PMID:23295680

  7. The origins of ambient biological sound from coral reef ecosystems in the Line Islands archipelago.

    PubMed

    Freeman, Simon E; Rohwer, Forest L; D'Spain, Gerald L; Friedlander, Alan M; Gregg, Allison K; Sandin, Stuart A; Buckingham, Michael J

    2014-04-01

    Although ambient biological underwater sound was first characterized more than 60 years ago, attributing specific components of ambient sound to their creators remains a challenge. Noise produced by snapping shrimp typically dominates the ambient spectra near tropical coasts, but significant unexplained spectral variation exists. Here, evidence is presented indicating that a discernible contribution to the ambient sound field over coral reef ecosystems in the Line Islands archipelago originates from the interaction of hard-shelled benthic macro-organisms with the coral substrate. Recordings show a broad spectral peak centered between 14.30 and 14.63 kHz, incoherently added to a noise floor typically associated with relatively "white" snapping shrimp sounds. A 4.6 to 6.2 dB increase of pressure spectral density level in the 11 to 17 kHz band occurs simultaneously with an increase in benthic invertebrate activity at night, quantified through time-lapse underwater photography. Spectral-level-filtered recordings of hermit crabs Clibanarius diugeti in quiet aquarium conditions reveal that transient sounds produced by the interaction between the crustaceans' carapace, shell, and coral substrate are spectrally consistent with Line Islands recordings. Coral reef ecosystems are highly interconnected and subtle yet important ecological changes may be detected quantitatively through passive monitoring that utilizes the acoustic byproducts of biological activity.

  8. Future habitat suitability for coral reef ecosystems under global warming and ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Couce, Elena; Ridgwell, Andy; Hendy, Erica J

    2013-12-01

    Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are placing spatially divergent stresses on the world's tropical coral reefs through increasing ocean surface temperatures and ocean acidification. We show how these two stressors combine to alter the global habitat suitability for shallow coral reef ecosystems, using statistical Bioclimatic Envelope Models rather than basing projections on any a priori assumptions of physiological tolerances or fixed thresholds. We apply two different modeling approaches (Maximum Entropy and Boosted Regression Trees) with two levels of complexity (one a simplified and reduced environmental variable version of the other). Our models project a marked temperature-driven decline in habitat suitability for many of the most significant and bio-diverse tropical coral regions, particularly in the central Indo-Pacific. This is accompanied by a temperature-driven poleward range expansion of favorable conditions accelerating up to 40-70 km per decade by 2070. We find that ocean acidification is less influential for determining future habitat suitability than warming, and its deleterious effects are centered evenly in both hemispheres between 5° and 20° latitude. Contrary to expectations, the combined impact of ocean surface temperature rise and acidification leads to little, if any, degradation in future habitat suitability across much of the Atlantic and areas currently considered 'marginal' for tropical corals, such as the eastern Equatorial Pacific. These results are consistent with fossil evidence of range expansions during past warm periods. In addition, the simplified models are particularly sensitive to short-term temperature variations and their projections correlate well with reported locations of bleaching events. Our approach offers new insights into the relative impact of two global environmental pressures associated with rising atmospheric CO2 on potential future habitats, but greater understanding of past and current controls on coral

  9. Future habitat suitability for coral reef ecosystems under global warming and ocean acidification

    PubMed Central

    Couce, Elena; Ridgwell, Andy; Hendy, Erica J

    2013-01-01

    Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are placing spatially divergent stresses on the world's tropical coral reefs through increasing ocean surface temperatures and ocean acidification. We show how these two stressors combine to alter the global habitat suitability for shallow coral reef ecosystems, using statistical Bioclimatic Envelope Models rather than basing projections on any a priori assumptions of physiological tolerances or fixed thresholds. We apply two different modeling approaches (Maximum Entropy and Boosted Regression Trees) with two levels of complexity (one a simplified and reduced environmental variable version of the other). Our models project a marked temperature-driven decline in habitat suitability for many of the most significant and bio-diverse tropical coral regions, particularly in the central Indo-Pacific. This is accompanied by a temperature-driven poleward range expansion of favorable conditions accelerating up to 40–70 km per decade by 2070. We find that ocean acidification is less influential for determining future habitat suitability than warming, and its deleterious effects are centered evenly in both hemispheres between 5° and 20° latitude. Contrary to expectations, the combined impact of ocean surface temperature rise and acidification leads to little, if any, degradation in future habitat suitability across much of the Atlantic and areas currently considered ‘marginal’ for tropical corals, such as the eastern Equatorial Pacific. These results are consistent with fossil evidence of range expansions during past warm periods. In addition, the simplified models are particularly sensitive to short-term temperature variations and their projections correlate well with reported locations of bleaching events. Our approach offers new insights into the relative impact of two global environmental pressures associated with rising atmospheric CO2 on potential future habitats, but greater understanding of past and current controls on

  10. 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.

  11. Holocene key coral species in the Northwest Pacific: indicators of reef formation and reef ecosystem responses to global climate change and anthropogenic stresses in the near future

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hongo, Chuki

    2012-03-01

    The geological record of key coral species that contribute to reef formation and maintenance of reef ecosystems is important for understanding the ecosystem response to global-scale climate change and anthropogenic stresses in the near future. Future responses can be predicted from accumulated data on Holocene reef species identified in drillcore and from data on raised reef terraces. The present study analyzes a dataset based on 27 drillcores, raised reef terraces, and 134 radiocarbon and U-Th ages from reefs of the Northwest Pacific, with the aim of examining the role of key coral species in reef growth and maintenance for reef ecosystem during Holocene sea-level change. The results indicate a latitudinal change in key coral species: arborescent Acropora (Acropora intermedia and Acropora muricata) was the dominant reef builder at reef crests in the tropics, whereas Porites (Porites australiensis, Porites lutea, and Porites lobata) was the dominant contributor to reef growth in the subtropics between 10,000 and 7000 cal. years BP (when the rate of sea-level rise was 10 m/ka). Acropora digitifera, Acropora hyacinthus, Acropora robusta/A. abrotanoides, Isopora palifera, Favia stelligera, and Goniastrea retiformis from the corymbose and tabular Acropora facies were the main key coral species at reef crests between 7000 and 5000 cal. years BP (when the rate of sea-level rise was 5 m/ka) and during the following period of stable sea-level. Massive Porites (P. australiensis, P. lutea, and P. lobata) contributed to reef growth in shallow lagoons during the period of stable sea level. Key coral species from the corymbose and tabular Acropora facies have the potential to build reefs and maintain ecosystems in the near future under a global sea-level rise of 2-6 m/ka, as do key coral species from the arborescent Acropora facies and massive Porites facies, which show vigorous growth and are tolerant to relatively deep-water, low-energy environments. However, these species

  12. 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.

  13. Quantifying the environmental impacts of artisanal fishing gear on Kenya's coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Mangi, S C; Roberts, C M

    2006-12-01

    The environmental impacts of artisanal fishing gear on coral reef ecosystems were studied in the multi-gear fishery of southern Kenya to evaluate which types of gear have the greatest impact on coral reef biodiversity. The gear types studied were large and small traps, gill nets, beach seines, hand lines and spear guns. Levels of coral damage, proportion of juvenile fish and discards, size and maturity stage at first capture were quantified and compared amongst the gear types. Results indicate that fishers using beach seines, spears and gill nets cause the most direct physical damage to corals. Spear fishers showed the highest number of contacts to live corals per unit catch followed by fishers using gill nets (12.6+/-1.8 and 5.9+/-2.0 coral contacts per kg fish caught per trip respectively). Apart from discarding 6.5% of their daily catch in the sea, as it was too small, beach seine fishers also landed the highest percentage of juvenile fish (68.4+/-15.7%), a proportion significantly higher (p<0.001) than in any other gear. The size and maturity stage at first capture for 150 of 195 species caught by all gear types was well below the lengths at which they mature. For example, 100% of Lethrinus xanthochilus, 99% of Lethrinus nebulosus and 94% of Lethrinus harak caught were juveniles. Across all gear types, 50.1+/-22.7% of the catch consisted of juvenile fish, indicating serious growth overfishing. Field assessment of levels of coral density showed that fishing grounds where beach seines were still in use had a significantly lower density than where beach seining was not used. This correlation is likely to arise in part because seines cannot be used in the most coral rich areas, and in part because coral loss is a consequence of seine use. On a per gear basis therefore, beach seines had the most impact on coral reef biodiversity. This study emphasizes the need to enforce restrictions on destructive gear and mesh sizes.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-05-01

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

  15. 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.

  16. Simple ecological trade-offs give rise to emergent cross-ecosystem distributions of a coral reef fish

    PubMed Central

    Grol, Monique G. G.; Rypel, Andrew L.; Layman, Craig A.

    2010-01-01

    Ecosystems are intricately linked by the flow of organisms across their boundaries, and such connectivity can be essential to the structure and function of the linked ecosystems. For example, many coral reef fish populations are maintained by the movement of individuals from spatially segregated juvenile habitats (i.e., nurseries, such as mangroves and seagrass beds) to areas preferred by adults. It is presumed that nursery habitats provide for faster growth (higher food availability) and/or low predation risk for juveniles, but empirical data supporting this hypothesis is surprisingly lacking for coral reef fishes. Here, we investigate potential mechanisms (growth, predation risk, and reproductive investment) that give rise to the distribution patterns of a common Caribbean reef fish species, Haemulon flavolineatum (French grunt). Adults were primarily found on coral reefs, whereas juvenile fish only occurred in non-reef habitats. Contrary to our initial expectations, analysis of length-at-age revealed that growth rates were highest on coral reefs and not within nursery habitats. Survival rates in tethering trials were 0% for small juvenile fish transplanted to coral reefs and 24–47% in the nurseries. As fish grew, survival rates on coral reefs approached those in non-reef habitats (56 vs. 77–100%, respectively). As such, predation seems to be the primary factor driving across-ecosystem distributions of this fish, and thus the primary reason why mangrove and seagrass habitats function as nursery habitat. Identifying the mechanisms that lead to such distributions is critical to develop appropriate conservation initiatives, identify essential fish habitat, and predict impacts associated with environmental change. PMID:21072542

  17. Simple ecological trade-offs give rise to emergent cross-ecosystem distributions of a coral reef fish.

    PubMed

    Grol, Monique G G; Nagelkerken, Ivan; Rypel, Andrew L; Layman, Craig A

    2011-01-01

    Ecosystems are intricately linked by the flow of organisms across their boundaries, and such connectivity can be essential to the structure and function of the linked ecosystems. For example, many coral reef fish populations are maintained by the movement of individuals from spatially segregated juvenile habitats (i.e., nurseries, such as mangroves and seagrass beds) to areas preferred by adults. It is presumed that nursery habitats provide for faster growth (higher food availability) and/or low predation risk for juveniles, but empirical data supporting this hypothesis is surprisingly lacking for coral reef fishes. Here, we investigate potential mechanisms (growth, predation risk, and reproductive investment) that give rise to the distribution patterns of a common Caribbean reef fish species, Haemulon flavolineatum (French grunt). Adults were primarily found on coral reefs, whereas juvenile fish only occurred in non-reef habitats. Contrary to our initial expectations, analysis of length-at-age revealed that growth rates were highest on coral reefs and not within nursery habitats. Survival rates in tethering trials were 0% for small juvenile fish transplanted to coral reefs and 24-47% in the nurseries. As fish grew, survival rates on coral reefs approached those in non-reef habitats (56 vs. 77-100%, respectively). As such, predation seems to be the primary factor driving across-ecosystem distributions of this fish, and thus the primary reason why mangrove and seagrass habitats function as nursery habitat. Identifying the mechanisms that lead to such distributions is critical to develop appropriate conservation initiatives, identify essential fish habitat, and predict impacts associated with environmental change.

  18. Bayesian decision-network modeling of multiple stakeholders for reef ecosystem restoration in the coral triangle.

    PubMed

    Varkey, Divya A; Pitcher, Tony J; McAllister, Murdoch K; Sumaila, Rashid S

    2013-06-01

    Proposals for marine conservation measures have proliferated in the last 2 decades due to increased reports of fishery declines and interest in conservation. Fishers and fisheries managers have often disagreed strongly when discussing controls on fisheries. In such situations, ecosystem-based models and fisheries-stock assessment models can help resolve disagreements by highlighting the trade-offs that would be made under alternative management scenarios. We extended the analytical framework for modeling such trade-offs by including additional stakeholders whose livelihoods and the value they place on conservation depend on the condition of the marine ecosystem. To do so, we used Bayesian decision-network models (BDNs) in a case study of an Indonesian coral reef fishery. Our model included interests of the fishers and fishery managers; individuals in the tourism industry; conservation interests of the state, nongovernmental organizations, and the local public; and uncertainties in ecosystem status, projections of fisheries revenues, tourism growth, and levels of interest in conservation. We calculated the total utility (i.e., value) of a range of restoration scenarios. Restricting net fisheries and live-fish fisheries appeared to be the best compromise solutions under several combinations of settings of modeled variables. Results of our case study highlight the implications of alternate formulations for coral reef stakeholder utility functions and discount rates for the calculation of the net benefits of alternative fisheries management options. This case study may also serve as a useful example for other decision analyses with multiple stakeholders. PMID:23530881

  19. Reefs of the Deep: Moving Toward Integrated Ocean Basin-scale Study of Cold-water Coral Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roberts, J. M.

    2007-12-01

    Scleractinian hard corals in deep, cold waters have been known since the eighteenth century but advances in deep-ocean exploration are now revealing the true scale and distribution of cold-water coral reefs. Hundreds of tropical coral species build shallow reefs, but less than ten cold-water species form deep reef frameworks. Of these the best characterised is Lophelia pertusa which dominates in the north east Atlantic. Assemblages of octocorals and hydrocorals are found in other parts of the world's oceans, such as the north Pacific. Cold-water coral skeletons provide well-preserved, high resolution palaeoclimatic archives and recent advances have been made in interpreting geochemical proxies for seawater temperature and ocean ventilation history. The reefs form long-lived, structurally complex habitats supporting many other species. This complexity makes them vulnerable to mechanical damage from deep-water bottom trawling and modelled scenarios suggest that cold-water coral reefs may be threatened by ocean acidification. Despite these threats, our understanding of many aspects of cold-water coral ecosystems remains in its infancy and studies have been geographically limited in their scope. Here I summarise recent advances and emerging research themes and discuss the importance of moving toward integrated interdisciplinary study at the scale of an ocean basin if we are to appreciate the broad scale importance and connections between these reefs of the deep.

  20. Seasonal variations in the subsurface ultraviolet-B on an inshore Pacific coral reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Downs, Nathan J; Schouten, Peter W; Parisi, Alfio V

    2013-01-01

    Fringing coral reefs provide a unique opportunity to study shallow aquatic ecosystems. A fringing coral reef system located in close proximity to a developed region was considered in this study. In such an environment, the rate of decay of dissolved organic matter is high and the penetration of higher energy ultraviolet-B (UVB) extends a greater influence on species diversity, particularly upon shallow benthic communities. Results from a 9 month subsurface UVB exposure measurement campaign performed at a site located on the southern Queensland coast (Hervey Bay, 25°S) are presented in this research. For this, a novel dosimetric technique was utilized to measure long-term subsurface UVB exposures. The resultant data set includes exposure measurements made during the significant La Niña event of late 2010 which resulted in unprecedented high sea surface temperatures and severe flooding across eastern Australia, impacting upon the lagoon regions of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's southern estuaries, including the study site. The influence of season, diurnal tidal variation, cloud cover and solar zenith angle were analyzed over the campaign period. Mean minimum daylight water depth was found to be the most significant factor influencing subsurface UVB. PMID:23701175

  1. Call to protect all coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bridge, Tom C. L.; Hughes, Terry P.; Guinotte, John M.; Bongaerts, Pim

    2013-06-01

    The world's coral reefs are in decline, threatening the food security of millions of people. Adopting an ecosystem-scale approach that protects deep as well as shallow reefs would deliver several social and economic benefits.

  2. Thinking and managing outside the box: coalescing connectivity networks to build region-wide resilience in coral reef ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Steneck, R. S.; Paris, C. B.; Arnold, S. N.; Ablan-Lagman, M. C.; Alcala, A. C.; Butler, M. J.; McCook, L. J.; Russ, G. R.; Sale, P. F.

    2009-06-01

    As the science of connectivity evolves, so too must the management of coral reefs. It is now clear that the spatial scale of disturbances to coral reef ecosystems is larger and the scale of larval connectivity is smaller than previously thought. This poses a challenge to the current focus of coral reef management, which often centers on the establishment of no-take reserves (NTRs) that in practice are often too small, scattered, or have low stakeholder compliance. Fished species are generally larger and more abundant in protected reserves, where their reproductive potential is often greater, yet documented demographic benefits of these reproductive gains outside reserves are modest at best. Small reproductive populations and limited dispersal of larvae play a role, as does the diminished receptivity to settling larvae of degraded habitats that can limit recruitment by more than 50%. For “demographic connectivity” to contribute to the resilience of coral reefs, it must function beyond the box of no-take reserves. Specifically, it must improve nursery habitats on or near reefs and enhance the reproductive output of ecologically important species throughout coral reef ecosystems. Special protection of ecologically important species (e.g., some herbivores in the Caribbean) and size-regulated fisheries that capitalize on the benefits of NTRs and maintain critical ecological functions are examples of measures that coalesce marine reserve effects and improve the resilience of coral reef ecosystems. Important too is the necessity of local involvement in the management process so that social costs and benefits are properly assessed, compliance increased and success stories accrued.

  3. Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms mediate diverse ecosystem service benefits from coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Hicks, Christina C; Cinner, Joshua E

    2014-12-16

    Ecosystem services are supplied by nature but, by definition, are received by people. Ecosystem service assessments, intended to influence the decisions people make regarding their interactions with nature, need to understand how people benefit from different ecosystem services. A critical question is therefore, What determines the distribution of ecosystem service benefits between different sections of society? Here, we use an entitlements approach to examine how people perceive ecosystem service benefits across 28 coral reef fishing communities in four countries. In doing so, we quantitatively show that bundles of benefits are mediated by key access mechanisms (e.g., rights-based, economic, knowledge, social, and institutional). We find that specific access mechanisms influence which ecosystem services people prioritize. Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms are associated with the largest number and diversity of benefits. However, local context strongly determines whether specific access mechanisms enable or constrain benefits. Local ecological knowledge enabled people to prioritize a habitat benefit in Kenya, but constrained people from prioritizing the same benefit in Madagascar. Ecosystem service assessments, and their resultant policies, need to include the broad suite of access mechanisms that enable different people to benefit from a supply of ecosystem services. PMID:25453100

  4. Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms mediate diverse ecosystem service benefits from coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Hicks, Christina C; Cinner, Joshua E

    2014-12-16

    Ecosystem services are supplied by nature but, by definition, are received by people. Ecosystem service assessments, intended to influence the decisions people make regarding their interactions with nature, need to understand how people benefit from different ecosystem services. A critical question is therefore, What determines the distribution of ecosystem service benefits between different sections of society? Here, we use an entitlements approach to examine how people perceive ecosystem service benefits across 28 coral reef fishing communities in four countries. In doing so, we quantitatively show that bundles of benefits are mediated by key access mechanisms (e.g., rights-based, economic, knowledge, social, and institutional). We find that specific access mechanisms influence which ecosystem services people prioritize. Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms are associated with the largest number and diversity of benefits. However, local context strongly determines whether specific access mechanisms enable or constrain benefits. Local ecological knowledge enabled people to prioritize a habitat benefit in Kenya, but constrained people from prioritizing the same benefit in Madagascar. Ecosystem service assessments, and their resultant policies, need to include the broad suite of access mechanisms that enable different people to benefit from a supply of ecosystem services.

  5. 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

  6. Controls on Diel and Seasonal Aragonite Saturation State and Carbon Dioxide Variability in a Hawaiian Coral Reef Ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shamberger, K. E.; Drupp, P.; Feely, R. A.; Sabine, C. L.; Solomon, R. F.; De Carlo, E. H.; Mackenzie, F. T.; Atkinson, M. J.

    2011-12-01

    The Coral Reef Instrumented Monitoring and CO2-Platform (CRIMP-CO2) was deployed in the southern Kaneohe Bay lagoon from December 2005 through May 2008, then on the Kaneohe Bay barrier reef from June 2008 to the present. The surface water temperature, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2sw), and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) of barrier reef waters were similar to those in the southern bay lagoon on seasonal and annual time scales. The pCO2sw in Kaneohe Bay was higher in the summer than winter because temperature was also higher in summer. However, temperature and pCO2sw have opposing effects on Ωarag which resulted in a lack of seasonality in Ωarag. Deeper southern bay lagoon waters had attenuated diel cycles compared to the shallow and biogeochemically active barrier reef. Photosynthesis and respiration controlled the diel cycles of Ωarag and pCO2sw and resulted in large changes in both parameters on hourly time scales. The Ωarag levels in Kaneohe Bay were depressed, and pCO2sw levels elevated, compared to levels in the open ocean and in other coral reef systems because of high net ecosystem calcification (NEC) rates. NEC produced enough CO2 to maintain high pCO2sw levels while daily net photosynthesis consumed some CO2. As demonstrated for Kaneohe Bay, the biogeochemical cycles occurring in coral reef ecosystems strongly alter the Ωarag and pCO2sw of their open-ocean source waters. Taking into account the CO2 cycling within coral reef ecosystems may help determine which reefs will be negatively affected by ocean acidification in the near future.

  7. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  8. Global microbialization of coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-25

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

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2016-01-01

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

  10. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-04-01

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

  12. Understanding the future impacts of rapid ocean warming and acidification on the carbonate balance of coral reefs. ecosystems.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Dove, S. G.

    2011-12-01

    Marine organisms and ecosystems are undergoing fundamental changes as a consequence of ocean warming and acidification, which must be understood if we are to anticipate and respond to the resulting changes to ecosystem services and functions. We have been investigating potential changes to the calcification and bioerosion rates of coral reefs using flow-through mesocosms at Heron Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef. In these experiments, we have been manipulating the temperature and pCO2 in order to simulate future ocean conditions described by IPCC scenarios (specifically B2, A1FI). We have also created pre-industrial conditions for comparison. Importantly, our system not only provides fine control over experimental conditions but also allows temperature and pCO2 to fluctuate with daily and seasonal changes measured (integrated over 3 h) at specific locations of interest on the Heron Island Reef, which allows a more 'realistic' analysis of the combined influences of ocean warming and acidification. In our first set of experiments, we have examined the impact of IPCC scenarios (year 2100) for a range of ecosystem phenomena relating to the carbonate balance of coral reefs including (1) phototrophic microborers within the dead skeletons of two coral species; (2) calcareous coralline algae, (3) turf algal communities in the presence and absence of grazing damselfish; (4) the calcification, growth, mortality and recruitment of the reef-building corals, and (5) microbial communities associated with corals. The overall conclusion of the studies conducted to date strongly suggests rapid movement to a negative carbonate balance for shallow water tropical coral reefs even under medium (B2) climate scenarios that involve SST increases of approximately +1.5oC and +250 ppm pCO2. Our conclusion is based on observations regarding key organisms that are involved in establishing the carbonate balance of coral reef organisms, and on the observed impacts of these conditions on

  13. 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...

  14. Depleted dissolved organic carbon and distinct bacterial communities in the water column of a rapid-flushing coral reef ecosystem

    PubMed Central

    Nelson, Craig E; Alldredge, Alice L; McCliment, Elizabeth A; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A; Carlson, Craig A

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are highly productive ecosystems bathed in unproductive, low-nutrient oceanic waters, where microbially dominated food webs are supported largely by bacterioplankton recycling of dissolved compounds. Despite evidence that benthic reef organisms efficiently scavenge particulate organic matter and inorganic nutrients from advected oceanic waters, our understanding of the role of bacterioplankton and dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the interaction between reefs and the surrounding ocean remains limited. In this study, we present the results of a 4-year study conducted in a well-characterized coral reef ecosystem (Paopao Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia) where changes in bacterioplankton abundance and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were quantified and bacterial community structure variation was examined along spatial gradients of the reef:ocean interface. Our results illustrate that the reef is consistently depleted in concentrations of both DOC and bacterioplankton relative to offshore waters (averaging 79 μmol l−1 DOC and 5.5 × 108 cells l−1 offshore and 68 μmol l−1 DOC and 3.1 × 108 cells l−1 over the reef, respectively) across a 4-year time period. In addition, using a suite of culture-independent measures of bacterial community structure, we found consistent differentiation of reef bacterioplankton communities from those offshore or in a nearby embayment across all taxonomic levels. Reef habitats were enriched in Gamma-, Delta-, and Betaproteobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. Specific bacterial phylotypes, including members of the SAR11, SAR116, Flavobacteria, and Synechococcus clades, exhibited clear gradients in relative abundance among nearshore habitats. Our observations indicate that this reef system removes oceanic DOC and exerts selective pressures on bacterioplankton community structure on timescales approximating reef water residence times, observations which are notable both because

  15. Climate change, coral reef ecosystems, and management options for marine protected areas.

    PubMed

    Keller, Brian D; Gleason, Daniel F; McLeod, Elizabeth; Woodley, Christa M; Airamé, Satie; Causey, Billy D; Friedlander, Alan M; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Johnson, Johanna E; Miller, Steven L; Steneck, Robert S

    2009-12-01

    Marine protected areas (MPAs) provide place-based management of marine ecosystems through various degrees and types of protective actions. Habitats such as coral reefs are especially susceptible to degradation resulting from climate change, as evidenced by mass bleaching events over the past two decades. Marine ecosystems are being altered by direct effects of climate change including ocean warming, ocean acidification, rising sea level, changing circulation patterns, increasing severity of storms, and changing freshwater influxes. As impacts of climate change strengthen they may exacerbate effects of existing stressors and require new or modified management approaches; MPA networks are generally accepted as an improvement over individual MPAs to address multiple threats to the marine environment. While MPA networks are considered a potentially effective management approach for conserving marine biodiversity, they should be established in conjunction with other management strategies, such as fisheries regulations and reductions of nutrients and other forms of land-based pollution. Information about interactions between climate change and more "traditional" stressors is limited. MPA managers are faced with high levels of uncertainty about likely outcomes of management actions because climate change impacts have strong interactions with existing stressors, such as land-based sources of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, invasive species, and diseases. Management options include ameliorating existing stressors, protecting potentially resilient areas, developing networks of MPAs, and integrating climate change into MPA planning, management, and evaluation.

  16. Climate Change, Coral Reef Ecosystems, and Management Options for Marine Protected Areas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Keller, Brian D.; Gleason, Daniel F.; McLeod, Elizabeth; Woodley, Christa M.; Airamé, Satie; Causey, Billy D.; Friedlander, Alan M.; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Johnson, Johanna E.; Miller, Steven L.; Steneck, Robert S.

    2009-12-01

    Marine protected areas (MPAs) provide place-based management of marine ecosystems through various degrees and types of protective actions. Habitats such as coral reefs are especially susceptible to degradation resulting from climate change, as evidenced by mass bleaching events over the past two decades. Marine ecosystems are being altered by direct effects of climate change including ocean warming, ocean acidification, rising sea level, changing circulation patterns, increasing severity of storms, and changing freshwater influxes. As impacts of climate change strengthen they may exacerbate effects of existing stressors and require new or modified management approaches; MPA networks are generally accepted as an improvement over individual MPAs to address multiple threats to the marine environment. While MPA networks are considered a potentially effective management approach for conserving marine biodiversity, they should be established in conjunction with other management strategies, such as fisheries regulations and reductions of nutrients and other forms of land-based pollution. Information about interactions between climate change and more “traditional” stressors is limited. MPA managers are faced with high levels of uncertainty about likely outcomes of management actions because climate change impacts have strong interactions with existing stressors, such as land-based sources of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, invasive species, and diseases. Management options include ameliorating existing stressors, protecting potentially resilient areas, developing networks of MPAs, and integrating climate change into MPA planning, management, and evaluation.

  17. Climate change impacts on freshwater fish, coral reefs, and related ecosystem services in the United States

    EPA Science Inventory

    We analyzed the potential physical and economic impacts of climate change on freshwater fisheries and coral reefs in the United States, examining a reference scenario and two policy scenarios that limit global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We modeled shifts in suitable habitat ...

  18. Applying data fusion techniques for benthic habitat mapping and monitoring in a coral reef ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhang, Caiyun

    2015-06-01

    Accurate mapping and effective monitoring of benthic habitat in the Florida Keys are critical in developing management strategies for this valuable coral reef ecosystem. For this study, a framework was designed for automated benthic habitat mapping by combining multiple data sources (hyperspectral, aerial photography, and bathymetry data) and four contemporary imagery processing techniques (data fusion, Object-based Image Analysis (OBIA), machine learning, and ensemble analysis). In the framework, 1-m digital aerial photograph was first merged with 17-m hyperspectral imagery and 10-m bathymetry data using a pixel/feature-level fusion strategy. The fused dataset was then preclassified by three machine learning algorithms (Random Forest, Support Vector Machines, and k-Nearest Neighbor). Final object-based habitat maps were produced through ensemble analysis of outcomes from three classifiers. The framework was tested for classifying a group-level (3-class) and code-level (9-class) habitats in a portion of the Florida Keys. Informative and accurate habitat maps were achieved with an overall accuracy of 88.5% and 83.5% for the group-level and code-level classifications, respectively.

  19. Coral reefs in crisis.

    PubMed

    Hinrichsen, D

    1997-01-01

    This article reports on the crisis facing reefs throughout the world and the struggle to save them. Coral reefs, one of the biological wonders of the world, are among the largest and oldest living communities of plants and animals on earth, having been evolved between 200 and 450 million years ago. Located mostly in the Pacific region, most established coral reefs are now dead and only the upper layer is covered by a thin changeable skin of living coral. Reefs, over the years, have been the main source of animal protein for over 1 billion people in Asia. Countries near the coastlines, which relied on the seas, have resorted to dynamite fishing, poisoning and other illegal and dangerous techniques. Overpopulation and pollution has caused the deteriorating conditions of the 600,000 sq. km of coral reefs worldwide. Despite these conditions, the government has ignored this problem as they struggle to develop their economies at the expense of common resources. In addition, this article narrates the efforts that are exerted by governments in promoting coral reef protection and management of these coastal resources, setting the Apo Island in the Philippines as an example of good management and sustainability.

  20. Coral reefs: Turning back time

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, Janice M.

    2016-03-01

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

  1. Bleaching and stress in coral reef ecosystems: hsp70 expression by the giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta.

    PubMed

    López-Legentil, Susanna; Song, Bongkeun; McMurray, Steven E; Pawlik, Joseph R

    2008-04-01

    Sponges are a prominent component of coral reef ecosystems. Like reef-building corals, some sponges have been reported to bleach and die. The giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta is one of the largest and most important components of Caribbean coral reef communities. Tissues of X. muta contain cyanobacterial symbionts of the Synechococcus group. Two types of bleaching have been described: cyclic bleaching, from which sponges recover, and fatal bleaching, which usually results in sponge death. We quantified hsp70 gene expression as an indicator of stress in X. muta undergoing cyclic and fatal bleaching and in response to thermal and salinity variability in both field and laboratory settings. Chlorophyll a content of sponge tissue was estimated to determine whether hsp70 expression was related to cyanobacterial abundance. We found that fatally bleached sponge tissue presented significantly higher hsp70 gene expression, but cyclically bleached tissue did not, yet both cyclic and fatally bleached tissues had lower chlorophyll a concentrations than nonbleached tissue. These results corroborate field observations suggesting that cyclic bleaching is a temporary, nonstressful state, while fatal bleaching causes significant levels of stress, leading to mortality. Our results support the hypothesis that Synechococcus symbionts are commensals that provide no clear advantage to their sponge host. In laboratory experiments, sponge pieces incubated at 30 degrees C exhibited significantly higher hsp70 expression than control pieces after 1.5 h, with sponge mortality after less than 15 h. In contrast, sponges at different salinities were not significantly stressed after the same period of time. Stress associated with increasing seawater temperatures may result in declining sponge populations in coral reef ecosystems.

  2. The functional value of Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats to ecosystem processes.

    PubMed

    Harborne, Alastair R; Mumby, Peter J; Micheli, Fiorenza; Perry, Christopher T; Dahlgren, Craig P; Holmes, Katherine E; Brumbaugh, Daniel R

    2006-01-01

    Caribbean coral reef habitats, seagrass beds and mangroves provide important goods and services both individually and through functional linkages. A range of anthropogenic factors are threatening the ecological and economic importance of these habitats and it is vital to understand how ecosystem processes vary across seascapes. A greater understanding of processes will facilitate further insight into the effects of disturbances and assist with assessing management options. Despite the need to study processes across whole seascapes, few spatially explicit ecosystem-scale assessments exist. We review the empirical literature to examine the role of different habitat types for a range of processes. The importance of each of 10 generic habitats to each process is defined as its "functional value" (none, low, medium or high), quantitatively derived from published data wherever possible and summarised in a single figure. This summary represents the first time the importance of habitats across an entire Caribbean seascape has been assessed for a range of processes. Furthermore, we review the susceptibility of each habitat to disturbances to investigate spatial patterns that might affect functional values. Habitat types are considered at the scale discriminated by remotely-sensed imagery and we envisage that functional values can be combined with habitat maps to provide spatially explicit information on processes across ecosystems. We provide examples of mapping the functional values of habitats for populations of three commercially important species. The resulting data layers were then used to generate seascape-scale assessments of "hot spots" of functional value that might be considered priorities for conservation. We also provide an example of how the literature reviewed here can be used to parameterise a habitat-specific model investigating reef resilience under different scenarios of herbivory. Finally, we use multidimensional scaling to provide a basic analysis of the

  3. Population Genetics of an Ecosystem-Defining Reef Coral Pocillopora damicornis in the Tropical Eastern Pacific

    PubMed Central

    Combosch, David J.; Vollmer, Steven V.

    2011-01-01

    Background Coral reefs in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) are amongst the most peripheral and geographically isolated in the world. This isolation has shaped the biology of TEP organisms and lead to the formation of numerous endemic species. For example, the coral Pocillopora damicornis is a minor reef-builder elsewhere in the Indo-West Pacific, but is the dominant reef-building coral in the TEP, where it forms large, mono-specific stands, covering many hectares of reef. Moreover, TEP P. damicornis reproduces by broadcast spawning, while it broods mostly parthenogenetic larvae throughout the rest of the Indo-West Pacific. Population genetic surveys for P. damicornis from across its Indo-Pacific range indicate that gene flow (i.e. larval dispersal) is generally limited over hundreds of kilometers or less. Little is known about the population genetic structure and the dispersal potential of P. damicornis in the TEP. Methodology Using multilocus microsatellite data, we analyzed the population structure of TEP P. damicornis among and within nine reefs and test for significant genetic structure across three geographically and ecologically distinct regions in Panama. Principal Findings/Conclusions We detected significant levels of population genetic structure (global RST = 0.162), indicating restricted gene flow (i.e. larvae dispersal), both among the three regions (RRT = 0.081) as well as within regions (RSR = 0.089). Limited gene flow across a distinct environmental cline, like the regional upwelling gradient in Panama, indicates a significant potential for differential adaptation and population differentiation. Individual reefs were characterized by unexpectedly high genet diversity (avg. 94%), relatively high inbreeding coefficients (global FIS = 0.183), and localized spatial genetic structure among individuals (i.e. unique genets) over 10 m intervals. These findings suggest that gene flow is limited in TEP P. damicornis populations, particularly

  4. The future of coral reefs

    PubMed Central

    Knowlton, Nancy

    2001-01-01

    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. PMID:11344288

  5. From ridge to reef—linking erosion and changing watersheds to impacts on the coral reef ecosystems of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Ocean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Stock, Jonathan D.; Cochran, Susan A.; Field, Michael E.; Jacobi, James D.; Tribble, Gordon

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by unprecedented watershed changes in the United States and worldwide. These ecosystems sustain fishing and tourism industries essential to the economic survival of many communities. Sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from watersheds are increasingly transported to coastal waters, where these contaminants damage corals. Although pollution from watersheds is one of many factors threatening coral survival, it is one that local people can have a profound influence on. U.S. Geological Survey scientists are using mapping, monitoring, and computer modeling to better forecast the effects of watershed changes on reef health. Working with communities in Hawai‘i and on other U.S. islands in the Pacific, they are helping to provide the science needed to make informed decisions on watershed and coral reef management.

  6. New directions in coral reef microbial ecology.

    PubMed

    Garren, Melissa; Azam, Farooq

    2012-04-01

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

  7. 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....

  8. 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...

  9. 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...

  10. Oman's coral reefs: A unique ecosystem challenged by natural and man-related stresses and in need of conservation.

    PubMed

    Burt, J A; Coles, S; van Lavieren, H; Taylor, O; Looker, E; Samimi-Namin, K

    2016-04-30

    Oman contains diverse and abundant reef coral communities that extend along a coast that borders three environmentally distinct water bodies, with corals existing under unique and often stressful environmental conditions. In recent years Oman's reefs have undergone considerable change due to recurrent predatory starfish outbreaks, cyclone damage, harmful algal blooms, and other stressors. In this review we summarize current knowledge of the biology and status of corals in Oman, particularly in light of recent stressors and projected future threats, and examine current reef management practices. Oman's coral communities occur in marginal environmental conditions for reefs, and hence are quite vulnerable to anthropogenic effects. We recommend a focus on developing conservation-oriented coral research to guide proactive management and expansion of the number and size of designated protected areas in Oman, particularly those associated with critical coral habitat. PMID:26573133

  11. Oman's coral reefs: A unique ecosystem challenged by natural and man-related stresses and in need of conservation.

    PubMed

    Burt, J A; Coles, S; van Lavieren, H; Taylor, O; Looker, E; Samimi-Namin, K

    2016-04-30

    Oman contains diverse and abundant reef coral communities that extend along a coast that borders three environmentally distinct water bodies, with corals existing under unique and often stressful environmental conditions. In recent years Oman's reefs have undergone considerable change due to recurrent predatory starfish outbreaks, cyclone damage, harmful algal blooms, and other stressors. In this review we summarize current knowledge of the biology and status of corals in Oman, particularly in light of recent stressors and projected future threats, and examine current reef management practices. Oman's coral communities occur in marginal environmental conditions for reefs, and hence are quite vulnerable to anthropogenic effects. We recommend a focus on developing conservation-oriented coral research to guide proactive management and expansion of the number and size of designated protected areas in Oman, particularly those associated with critical coral habitat.

  12. No-take areas, herbivory and coral reef resilience.

    PubMed

    Hughes, Terry P; Bellwood, David R; Folke, Carl S; McCook, Laurence J; Pandolfi, John M

    2007-01-01

    Coral reefs worldwide are under threat from various anthropogenic factors, including overfishing and pollution. A new study by Mumby et al. highlights the trophic relationships between humans, carnivorous and herbivorous fishes, and the potential role of no-take areas in maintaining vulnerable coral reef ecosystems. No-take areas, where fishing is prohibited, are vital tools for managing food webs, ecosystem function and the resilience of reefs, in a seascape setting that extends far beyond the boundaries of the reefs themselves.

  13. Derelict fishing gear in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands: diving surveys and debris removal in 1999 confirm threat to coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Donohue, M J; Boland, R C; Sramek, C M; Antonelis, G A

    2001-12-01

    Marine debris threatens Northwestern Hawaiian Islands' (NWHI) coral reef ecosystems. Debris, a contaminant, entangles and kills endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi), coral, and other wildlife. We describe a novel multi-agency effort using divers to systematically survey and remove derelict fishing gear from two NWHI in 1999. 14 t of derelict fishing gear were removed and debris distribution, density, type and fouling level documented at Lisianski Island and Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Reef debris density ranged from 3.4 to 62.2 items/km2. Trawl netting was the most frequent debris type encountered (88%) and represented the greatest debris component recovered by weight (35%), followed by monofilament gillnet (34%), and maritime line (23%). Most debris recovered, 72%, had light or no fouling, suggesting debris may have short oceanic circulation histories. Our study demonstrates that derelict fishing gear poses a persistent threat to the coral reef ecosystems of the Hawaiian Archipelago. PMID:11827117

  14. Reciprocal feedbacks between spatial subsidies and reserve networks in coral reef meta-ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Spiecker, Barbara; Gouhier, Tark C; Guichard, Frédéric

    2016-01-01

    Top-down processes such as predation and herbivory have been shown to control the dynamics of communities across a range of ecosystems by generating trophic cascades. However, theory is only beginning to describe how these local trophic processes interact with spatial subsidies in the form of material (nutrient, detritus) transport and organismal dispersal to (1) shape the structure of interconnected (meta-) ecosystems and (2) determine their optimal management via reserve networks. Here, we develop a meta-ecosystem model to understand how the reciprocal feedbacks between spatial subsidies and reserve networks modulate the importance of top-down control in a simple herbivorous fish-macroalgae-coral system. We show that in large and isolated reserve networks where connectivity between protected and unprotected areas is limited, spatial subsidies remain largely confined to reserves. This retention of spatial subsidies promotes the top-down control of corals and macroalgae by herbivores inside reserves but reduces it outside reserves. Conversely, in small and aggregated reserves where connectivity between protected and unprotected areas is high, the spillover of spatial subsidies causes a reduction in top-down control of corals and macroalgae by herbivores inside reserves and an increase in the strength of top-down control outside reserves. In addition, we demonstrate that there is a trade-off between local and regional conservation objectives when designing reserve networks: small and aggregated reserves based on the extent of dispersal maximize the abundance of corals and herbivores regionally, whereas large and isolated reserves always maximize the abundance of corals within reserves, regardless of the extent of dispersal. The existence of such "conservation traps," which arise from the fulfillment of population-level objectives within local reserves at the cost of community-level objectives at regional scales, suggests the importance of adopting a more holistic

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Kleypas; Buddemeier; Archer; Gattuso; Langdon; Opdyke

    1999-04-01

    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.

  19. Hydrothermal venting within a coral reef ecosystem, Ambitle Island, Papua New Guinea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pichler, Thomas; Dix, George R.

    1996-05-01

    Shallow-water (5 10 m) hydrothermal venting in a nearshore coral reef environment at Ambitle Island in the Tabar-Feni island arc, east of Papua New Guinea, occurs as focused discharge of boiling fluid from discrete ports 10 15 cm in diameter, and as dispersed discharge of diffuse bubble streams that issue through the sandy mixed carbonate-volcaniclastic sea floor. Abiotic aragonite and microcrystalline ferroan, low-Mg calcite, interlaminated with Fe-oxyhydroxides, are the prominent hydrothermal precipitates. Geochemical attributes of aragonite (δ18O, δ13C, and fluid inclusions) suggest that cements formed from a solution with salinities <5‰ at temperatures of ˜100 °C, with probable contribution of hydrothermal CO2. Sr isotope ratios in abiotic (hydrothermal) aragonite (˜ 0.704 15) are similar to those in island-arc basalt and denote considerable subsurface water-rock interaction of meteoric water derived from the adjacent volcanic island. The Sr isotope ratio of a coral sample (0.707 46) collected adjacent to a vent portal suggests coral growth within a mixed seawater-hydrothermal environment.

  20. Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

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

    2011-04-01

    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.

  1. The influence of grain size, grain color, and suspended-sediment concentration on light attenuation: Why fine-grained terrestrial sediment is bad for coral reef ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Storlazzi, Curt D.; Norris, Ben K.; Rosenberger, Kurt J.

    2015-09-01

    Sediment has been shown to be a major stressor to coral reefs globally. Although many researchers have tested the impact of sedimentation on coral reef ecosystems in both the laboratory and the field and some have measured the impact of suspended sediment on the photosynthetic response of corals, there has yet to be a detailed investigation on how properties of the sediment itself can affect light availability for photosynthesis. We show that finer-grained and darker-colored sediment at higher suspended-sediment concentrations attenuates photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) significantly more than coarser, lighter-colored sediment at lower concentrations and provide PAR attenuation coefficients for various grain sizes, colors, and suspended-sediment concentrations that are needed for biophysical modeling. Because finer-grained sediment particles settle more slowly and are more susceptible to resuspension, they remain in the water column longer, thus causing greater net impact by reducing light essential for photosynthesis over a greater duration. This indicates that coral reef monitoring studies investigating sediment impacts should concentrate on measuring fine-grained lateritic and volcanic soils, as opposed to coarser-grained siliceous and carbonate sediment. Similarly, coastal restoration efforts and engineering solutions addressing long-term coral reef ecosystem health should focus on preferentially retaining those fine-grained soils rather than coarse silt and sand particles.

  2. The influence of grain size, grain color, and suspended-sediment concentration on light attenuation: why fine-grained terrestrial sediment is bad for coral reef ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Storlazzi, Curt; Norris, Benjamin; Rosenberger, Kurt

    2015-01-01

    Sediment has been shown to be a major stressor to coral reefs globally. Although many researchers have tested the impact of sedimentation on coral reef ecosystems in both the laboratory and the field and some have measured the impact of suspended sediment on the photosynthetic response of corals, there has yet to be a detailed investigation on how properties of the sediment itself can affect light availability for photosynthesis. We show that finer-grained and darker-colored sediment at higher suspended-sediment concentrations attenuates photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) significantly more than coarser, lighter-colored sediment at lower concentrations and provide PAR attenuation coefficients for various grain sizes, colors, and suspended-sediment concentrations that are needed for biophysical modeling. Because finer-grained sediment particles settle more slowly and are more susceptible to resuspension, they remain in the water column longer, thus causing greater net impact by reducing light essential for photosynthesis over a greater duration. This indicates that coral reef monitoring studies investigating sediment impacts should concentrate on measuring fine-grained lateritic and volcanic soils, as opposed to coarser-grained siliceous and carbonate sediment. Similarly, coastal restoration efforts and engineering solutions addressing long-term coral reef ecosystem health should focus on preferentially retaining those fine-grained soils rather than coarse silt and sand particles.

  3. Coral reefs and carbon dioxide

    SciTech Connect

    Buddemeier, R.W.

    1996-03-01

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

  4. 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...

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Warm-water coral reefs and climate change.

    PubMed

    Spalding, Mark D; Brown, Barbara E

    2015-11-13

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

  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. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-11-01

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  15. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

  16. 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...

  17. Oceanic forcing of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Lowe, Ryan J; Falter, James L

    2015-01-01

    Although the oceans play a fundamental role in shaping the distribution and function of coral reefs worldwide, a modern understanding of the complex interactions between ocean and reef processes is still only emerging. These dynamics are especially challenging owing to both the broad range of spatial scales (less than a meter to hundreds of kilometers) and the complex physical and biological feedbacks involved. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of these processes, ranging from the small-scale mechanics of flow around coral communities and their influence on nutrient exchange to larger, reef-scale patterns of wave- and tide-driven circulation and their effects on reef water quality and perceived rates of metabolism. We also examine regional-scale drivers of reefs such as coastal upwelling, internal waves, and extreme disturbances such as cyclones. Our goal is to show how a wide range of ocean-driven processes ultimately shape the growth and metabolism of coral reefs.

  18. Oceanic forcing of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Lowe, Ryan J; Falter, James L

    2015-01-01

    Although the oceans play a fundamental role in shaping the distribution and function of coral reefs worldwide, a modern understanding of the complex interactions between ocean and reef processes is still only emerging. These dynamics are especially challenging owing to both the broad range of spatial scales (less than a meter to hundreds of kilometers) and the complex physical and biological feedbacks involved. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of these processes, ranging from the small-scale mechanics of flow around coral communities and their influence on nutrient exchange to larger, reef-scale patterns of wave- and tide-driven circulation and their effects on reef water quality and perceived rates of metabolism. We also examine regional-scale drivers of reefs such as coastal upwelling, internal waves, and extreme disturbances such as cyclones. Our goal is to show how a wide range of ocean-driven processes ultimately shape the growth and metabolism of coral reefs. PMID:25251270

  19. Consequences of a Government-Controlled Agricultural Price Increase on Fishing and the Coral Reef Ecosystem in the Republic of Kiribati

    PubMed Central

    Reddy, Sheila M. W.; Groves, Theodore; Nagavarapu, Sriniketh

    2014-01-01

    Background Economic development policies may have important economic and ecological consequences beyond the sector they target. Understanding these consequences is important to improving these policies and finding opportunities to align economic development with natural resource conservation. These issues are of particular interest to governments and non-governmental organizations that have new mandates to pursue multiple benefits. In this case study, we examined the direct and indirect economic and ecological effects of an increase in the government-controlled price for the primary agricultural product in the Republic of Kiribati, Central Pacific. Methods/Principal Findings We conducted household surveys and underwater visual surveys of the coral reef to examine how the government increase in the price of copra directly affected copra labor and indirectly affected fishing and the coral reef ecosystem. The islands of Kiribati are coral reef atolls and the majority of households participate in copra agriculture and fishing on the coral reefs. Our household survey data suggest that the 30% increase in the price of copra resulted in a 32% increase in copra labor and a 38% increase in fishing labor. Households with the largest amount of land in coconut production increased copra labor the most and households with the smallest amount of land in coconut production increased fishing the most. Our ecological data suggests that increased fishing labor may result in a 20% decrease in fish stocks and 4% decrease in coral reef-builders. Conclusions/Significance We provide empirical evidence to suggest that the government increase in the copra price in Kiribati had unexpected and indirect economic and ecological consequences. In this case, the economic development policy was not in alignment with conservation. These results emphasize the importance of accounting for differences in household capital and taking a systems approach to policy design and evaluation, as advocated by

  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

    2009-10-01

    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.

  2. Spatial analyses of benthic habitats to define coral reef ecosystem regions and potential biogeographic boundaries along a latitudinal gradient.

    PubMed

    Walker, Brian K

    2012-01-01

    Marine organism diversity typically attenuates latitudinally from tropical to colder climate regimes. Since the distribution of many marine species relates to certain habitats and depth regimes, mapping data provide valuable information in the absence of detailed ecological data that can be used to identify and spatially quantify smaller scale (10 s km) coral reef ecosystem regions and potential physical biogeographic barriers. This study focused on the southeast Florida coast due to a recognized, but understudied, tropical to subtropical biogeographic gradient. GIS spatial analyses were conducted on recent, accurate, shallow-water (0-30 m) benthic habitat maps to identify and quantify specific regions along the coast that were statistically distinct in the number and amount of major benthic habitat types. Habitat type and width were measured for 209 evenly-spaced cross-shelf transects. Evaluation of groupings from a cluster analysis at 75% similarity yielded five distinct regions. The number of benthic habitats and their area, width, distance from shore, distance from each other, and LIDAR depths were calculated in GIS and examined to determine regional statistical differences. The number of benthic habitats decreased with increasing latitude from 9 in the south to 4 in the north and many of the habitat metrics statistically differed between regions. Three potential biogeographic barriers were found at the Boca, Hillsboro, and Biscayne boundaries, where specific shallow-water habitats were absent further north; Middle Reef, Inner Reef, and oceanic seagrass beds respectively. The Bahamas Fault Zone boundary was also noted where changes in coastal morphologies occurred that could relate to subtle ecological changes. The analyses defined regions on a smaller scale more appropriate to regional management decisions, hence strengthening marine conservation planning with an objective, scientific foundation for decision making. They provide a framework for similar

  3. Spatial analyses of benthic habitats to define coral reef ecosystem regions and potential biogeographic boundaries along a latitudinal gradient.

    PubMed

    Walker, Brian K

    2012-01-01

    Marine organism diversity typically attenuates latitudinally from tropical to colder climate regimes. Since the distribution of many marine species relates to certain habitats and depth regimes, mapping data provide valuable information in the absence of detailed ecological data that can be used to identify and spatially quantify smaller scale (10 s km) coral reef ecosystem regions and potential physical biogeographic barriers. This study focused on the southeast Florida coast due to a recognized, but understudied, tropical to subtropical biogeographic gradient. GIS spatial analyses were conducted on recent, accurate, shallow-water (0-30 m) benthic habitat maps to identify and quantify specific regions along the coast that were statistically distinct in the number and amount of major benthic habitat types. Habitat type and width were measured for 209 evenly-spaced cross-shelf transects. Evaluation of groupings from a cluster analysis at 75% similarity yielded five distinct regions. The number of benthic habitats and their area, width, distance from shore, distance from each other, and LIDAR depths were calculated in GIS and examined to determine regional statistical differences. The number of benthic habitats decreased with increasing latitude from 9 in the south to 4 in the north and many of the habitat metrics statistically differed between regions. Three potential biogeographic barriers were found at the Boca, Hillsboro, and Biscayne boundaries, where specific shallow-water habitats were absent further north; Middle Reef, Inner Reef, and oceanic seagrass beds respectively. The Bahamas Fault Zone boundary was also noted where changes in coastal morphologies occurred that could relate to subtle ecological changes. The analyses defined regions on a smaller scale more appropriate to regional management decisions, hence strengthening marine conservation planning with an objective, scientific foundation for decision making. They provide a framework for similar

  4. Spatial Analyses of Benthic Habitats to Define Coral Reef Ecosystem Regions and Potential Biogeographic Boundaries along a Latitudinal Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Walker, Brian K.

    2012-01-01

    Marine organism diversity typically attenuates latitudinally from tropical to colder climate regimes. Since the distribution of many marine species relates to certain habitats and depth regimes, mapping data provide valuable information in the absence of detailed ecological data that can be used to identify and spatially quantify smaller scale (10 s km) coral reef ecosystem regions and potential physical biogeographic barriers. This study focused on the southeast Florida coast due to a recognized, but understudied, tropical to subtropical biogeographic gradient. GIS spatial analyses were conducted on recent, accurate, shallow-water (0–30 m) benthic habitat maps to identify and quantify specific regions along the coast that were statistically distinct in the number and amount of major benthic habitat types. Habitat type and width were measured for 209 evenly-spaced cross-shelf transects. Evaluation of groupings from a cluster analysis at 75% similarity yielded five distinct regions. The number of benthic habitats and their area, width, distance from shore, distance from each other, and LIDAR depths were calculated in GIS and examined to determine regional statistical differences. The number of benthic habitats decreased with increasing latitude from 9 in the south to 4 in the north and many of the habitat metrics statistically differed between regions. Three potential biogeographic barriers were found at the Boca, Hillsboro, and Biscayne boundaries, where specific shallow-water habitats were absent further north; Middle Reef, Inner Reef, and oceanic seagrass beds respectively. The Bahamas Fault Zone boundary was also noted where changes in coastal morphologies occurred that could relate to subtle ecological changes. The analyses defined regions on a smaller scale more appropriate to regional management decisions, hence strengthening marine conservation planning with an objective, scientific foundation for decision making. They provide a framework for similar

  5. 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...

  6. 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...

  7. 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...

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-01

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

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

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-07-05

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

  11. 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...

  12. Human Impacts to Coastal Ecosystems in Puerto Rico (HICE-PR): Actual Condition of Coral Reefs Associated with the Guanica and Manati Watersheds in Puerto Rico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Torres-Perez, J. L.; Barreto, M.; Guild, L. S.; Ortiz, J.; Setegn, S. G.; Ramos-Scharron, C. E.; Armstrong, R.; Santiago, L.

    2015-12-01

    For several decades Puerto Rico's coastal and marine ecosystems (CMEs), particularly coral reefs, have suffered the effects of anthropogenic stresses associated to population growth and varying land use. Here we present an overview of the first year of findings of a NASA-funded project that studies human impacts in two priority watersheds (Manatí and Guánica). The project includes remote sensing analysis and hydrological, ecological and socio-economic modeling to provide a multi-decadal assessment of change of CMEs. The project's main goal is to evaluate the impacts of land use/land cover changes on the quality and extent of CMEs in priority watersheds in the north and south coasts of Puerto Rico. This project will include imagery from Landsat 8 to assess coastal ecosystems extent. Habitat and species distribution maps will be created by incorporating field and remotely-sensed data into an Ecological Niche Factor Analysis. The social component will allow us to study the valuation of specific CMEs attributes from the stakeholder's point of view. Field data was collected through a series of phototransects at the main reefs associated with these two priority watersheds. A preliminary assessment shows a range in coral cover from 0.2-30% depending on the site (Guánica) whereas apparently healthy corals dominate the reef in the north coast (Manatí). Reefs on the southwest coast of PR (Guánica) show an apparent shift from hard corals to a more algae and soft corals dominance after decades of anthropogenic impacts (sedimentation, eutrophication, mechanical damage through poorly supervised recreational activities, etc.). Additionally preliminary results from land cover/land use changes analyses show dynamic historical shoreline changes in beaches located west of the Manatí river mouth and a degradation of water quality in Guánica possibly being one of the main factors affecting the actual condition of its CMEs.

  13. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-01-01

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

  15. 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.

  16. Population trends among Jamaican reef corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1981-11-01

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

  17. The future of coral reefs in an age of global change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kleypas, Joan A.; Buddemeier, Robert W.; Gattuso, Jean-Pierre

    2001-06-01

    Coral reefs are the only ecosystem that is strongly defined by a geological component - most definitions require that the biological community produces its own build-up of calcium carbonate. In terms of "reef-building," the geological record reveals that coral reefs have flourished over the past few million years, particularly during interglacial periods. Based on our observations of modern-day reefs, which are limited to the past few centuries, we tend to link "coral reef health" to carbonate production; however, reef ecosystems face future global-scale environmental changes that may decrease their reef-building capacity. In contrast to past discussions of the factors which determine reef-building potential by a coral reef community, the essential question that arises from this review is: How important is reef building to a coral reef community?

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-01

    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. PMID:26045436

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-01

    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.

  20. Ocean acidification worse in coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Betz, Eric O.

    2014-12-01

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

  1. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-04-16

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-09-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-04-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-06

    ... request for public comments on August 13, 2013 (78 FR 49258). NMFS received comments from eight... ecosystem fisheries, and in accordance with the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Hawaii Archipelago (FEP)....

  12. Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Jennings, Simon; MacNeil, M Aaron; Mouillot, David; Wilson, Shaun K

    2015-02-01

    Climate-induced coral bleaching is among the greatest current threats to coral reefs, causing widespread loss of live coral cover. Conditions under which reefs bounce back from bleaching events or shift from coral to algal dominance are unknown, making it difficult to predict and plan for differing reef responses under climate change. Here we document and predict long-term reef responses to a major climate-induced coral bleaching event that caused unprecedented region-wide mortality of Indo-Pacific corals. Following loss of >90% live coral cover, 12 of 21 reefs recovered towards pre-disturbance live coral states, while nine reefs underwent regime shifts to fleshy macroalgae. Functional diversity of associated reef fish communities shifted substantially following bleaching, returning towards pre-disturbance structure on recovering reefs, while becoming progressively altered on regime shifting reefs. We identified threshold values for a range of factors that accurately predicted ecosystem response to the bleaching event. Recovery was favoured when reefs were structurally complex and in deeper water, when density of juvenile corals and herbivorous fishes was relatively high and when nutrient loads were low. Whether reefs were inside no-take marine reserves had no bearing on ecosystem trajectory. Although conditions governing regime shift or recovery dynamics were diverse, pre-disturbance quantification of simple factors such as structural complexity and water depth accurately predicted ecosystem trajectories. These findings foreshadow the likely divergent but predictable outcomes for reef ecosystems in response to climate change, thus guiding improved management and adaptation.

  13. Bacterial Diversity Associated with Cinachyra cavernosa and Haliclona pigmentifera, Cohabiting Sponges in the Coral Reef Ecosystem of Gulf of Mannar, Southeast Coast of India.

    PubMed

    Jasmin, C; Anas, Abdulaziz; Nair, Shanta

    2015-01-01

    Sponges are abundant, diverse and functionally important organisms of coral reef ecosystems. Sponge-associated microorganisms have been receiving greater attention because of their significant contribution to sponge biomass, biogeochemical cycles and biotechnological potentials. However, our understanding of the sponge microbiome is limited to a few species of sponges from restricted geographical locations. Here, we report for the first time the bacterial diversity of two cohabiting sponges, viz. Cinachyra cavernosa and Haliclona pigmentifera, as well as that in the ambient water from the coral reef ecosystems of the Gulf of Mannar, located along the southeast coast of India. Two hundred and fifty two clones in the 16S rRNA gene library of these sponges were grouped into eight distinct phyla, of which four belonged to the core group that are associated only with sponges. Phylogenetic analysis of the core bacteria showed close affinity to other sponge-associated bacteria from different geographical locations. γ-Proteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Planctomycetes and Deferribacter were the core groups in C. cavernosa while β and δ-Proteobacteria performed this role in H. pigmentifera. We observed greater OTU diversity for C. cavernosa (Hǀ 2.07) compared to H. pigmentifera (Hǀ 1.97). UniFrac analysis confirmed the difference in bacterial diversity of the two sponge species and also between the sponges and the reef water (p<0.001). The results of our study restate the existence of a host driven force in shaping the sponge microbiome.

  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. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-03-15

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

  17. Short-term and seasonal pH,pCO2and saturation state variability in a coral-reef ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gray, Sarah E. C.; Degrandpre, Michael D.; Langdon, Chris; Corredor, Jorge E.

    2012-09-01

    Coral reefs are predicted to be one of the ecosystems most sensitive to ocean acidification. To improve predictions of coral reef response to acidification, we need to better characterize the natural range of variability of pH, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and calcium carbonate saturation states (Ω). In this study, autonomous sensors for pH and pCO2 were deployed on Media Luna reef, Puerto Rico over three seasons from 2007 to 2008. High temporal resolution CaCO3 saturation states were calculated from the in situ data, giving a much more detailed characterization of reef saturation states than previously possible. Reef pH, pCO2 and aragonite saturation (ΩAr) ranged from 7.89 to 8.17 pH units, 176-613 μatm and 2.7-4.7, respectively, in the range characteristic of most other previously studied reef ecosystems. The diel pH, pCO2 and Ω cycles were also large, encompassing about half of the seasonal range of variability. Warming explained about 50% of the seasonal supersaturation in mean pCO2, with the remaining supersaturation primarily due to net heterotrophy and net CaCO3 production. Net heterotrophy was likely driven by remineralization of mangrove derived organic carbon which continued into the fall, sustaining high pCO2 levels until early winter when the pCO2 returned to offshore values. As a consequence, the reef was a source of CO2 to the atmosphere during the summer and fall and a sink during winter, resulting in a net annual source of 0.73 ± 1.7 mol m-2 year-1. These results show that reefs are exposed to a wide range of saturation states in their natural environment. Mean ΩAr levels will drop to 3.0 when atmospheric CO2 increases to 500 μatm and ΩAr will be less than 3.0 for greater than 70% of the time in the summer. Long duration exposure to these low ΩAr levels are expected to significantly decrease calcification rates on the reef.

  18. 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.

  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. Assessing evidence of phase shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Bruno, John F; Sweatman, Hugh; Precht, William F; Selig, Elizabeth R; Schutte, Virginia G W

    2009-06-01

    Many marine scientists have concluded that coral reefs are moving toward or are locked into a seaweed-dominated state. However, because there have been no regional- or global-scale analyses of such coral reef "phase shifts," the magnitude of this phenomenon was unknown. We analyzed 3581 quantitative surveys of 1851 reefs performed between 1996 and 2006 to determine the frequency, geographical extent, and degree of macroalgal dominance of coral reefs and of coral to macroalgal phase shifts around the world. Our results indicate that the replacement of corals by macroalgae as the dominant benthic functional group is less common and less geographically extensive than assumed. Although we found evidence of moderate local increases in macroalgal cover, particularly in the Caribbean, only 4% of reefs were dominated by macroalgae (i.e., > 50% cover). Across the Indo-Pacific, where regional averages of macroalgal cover were 9-12%, macroalgae only dominated 1% of the surveyed reefs. Between 1996 and 2006, phase shift severity decreased in the Caribbean, did not change in the Florida Keys and Indo-Pacific, and increased slightly on the Great Barrier Reef due to moderate coral loss. Coral reef ecosystems appear to be more resistant to macroalgal blooms than assumed, which has important implications for reef management.

  1. Climatic and biotic thresholds of coral-reef shutdown

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Toth, Lauren T.; Aronson, Richard B.; Cobb, Kim M.; Cheng, Hai; Edwards, R. Lawrence; Grothe, Pamela R.; Sayani, Hussein R.

    2015-04-01

    Climate change is now the leading cause of coral-reef degradation and is altering the adaptive landscape of coral populations. Increasing sea temperatures and declining carbonate saturation states are inhibiting short-term rates of coral calcification, carbonate precipitation and submarine cementation. A critical challenge to coral-reef conservation is understanding the mechanisms by which environmental perturbations scale up to influence long-term rates of reef-framework construction and ecosystem function. Here we reconstruct climatic and oceanographic variability using corals sampled from a 6,750-year core from Pacific Panamá. Simultaneous reconstructions of coral palaeophysiology and reef accretion allowed us to identify the climatic and biotic thresholds associated with a 2,500-year hiatus in vertical accretion beginning ~4,100 years ago. Stronger upwelling, cooler sea temperatures and greater precipitation--indicators of La Niña-like conditions--were closely associated with abrupt reef shutdown. The physiological condition of the corals deteriorated at the onset of the hiatus, corroborating theoretical predictions that the tipping points of radical ecosystem transitions should be manifested sublethally in the biotic constituents. Future climate change could cause similar threshold behaviours, leading to another shutdown in reef development in the tropical eastern Pacific.

  2. Connectivity of the South Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem to Upstream Waters of the Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johns, E. M.; Smith, R. H.; Lamkin, J. T.; Birbriezca, L. C.; Vasquez-Yeomans, L.; Cordero, E. S.

    2008-05-01

    The coastal waters of south Florida, including the coral reefs of NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), are directly connected by means of strong ocean currents with upstream waters of the western Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean Current and the Loop Current provide a rapid conduit for transport from Mexican and Belizean coral reefs, located off the eastern shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, to nearshore regions of northern Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas. Interdisciplinary cruise data collected in August 2002, March 2006 and January 2007 aboard the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, in combination with satellite-tracked surface drifter trajectories and remote sensing imagery, clearly show the highly variable and dynamic nature of the regional current regimes and provide a means of quantifying the potential pathways and transport rates of the coastal waters and their biological and chemical constituents from one region to another. Results from these cruises and ancillary data show that the study areas are connected with rapid transport time scales, and that frontal eddies and gyres play an important role in establishing the time and length scales of this connectivity. Such direct physical connectivity between the coral reef biota of these geographically separated spawning grounds via ocean currents may have an important influence on the degree of biological connectivity between regional larval populations. Initial analyses of ichthyoplankton surveys and inshore collections along the Yucatan mesoamerican reef suggest large scale variability in both local recruitment and large scale spatial distribution. Despite strong northward flowing currents, inshore collections indicate that local recruitment in some areas is strongly influenced by small scale circulation patterns. However, the distribution of spawning aggregations along the Yucatan coast suggests a larger role for the Caribbean Current. Determining the interactions between the larger scale

  3. First Record of Porpita porpita (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) from the coral reef ecosystem, Bangladesh

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chowdhury, M. Shah Nawaz; Sharifuzzaman, S. M.; Chowdhury, Sayedur Rahman; Rashed-Un-Nabi, Md.; Hossain, M. Shahadat

    2016-03-01

    The occurrence of Porpita porpita is reported, for the first time, in the coral island of St. Martin's located in the southeastern coastal region of Bangladesh. P. porpita was found to occur in the lower littoral zone and beach rock pools, together with molluscan species, and collected during the pre-monsoon season when both water temperature (> 30°C) and salinity (> 30‰) tend to reach a maximum. This study recounts some details on the discovery and description of the species, and thus extends the global distribution and range limits of the genus Porpita.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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. PMID:25646461

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

    Rinkevich, Baruch

    2015-10-01

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

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

    PubMed

    Madin, Joshua S; Connolly, Sean R

    2006-11-23

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-05-20

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

  17. 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.

  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. 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.

  20. The engine of the reef: photobiology of the coral-algal symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Roth, Melissa S

    2014-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems thrive in tropical oligotrophic oceans because of the relationship between corals and endosymbiotic dinoflagellate algae called Symbiodinium. Symbiodinium convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into organic carbon and oxygen to fuel coral growth and calcification, creating habitat for these diverse and productive ecosystems. Light is thus a key regulating factor shaping the productivity, physiology, and ecology of the coral holobiont. Similar to all oxygenic photoautotrophs, Symbiodinium must safely harvest sunlight for photosynthesis and dissipate excess energy to prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by environmental stressors such as those associated with global climate change, and ultimately leads to breakdown of the coral-algal symbiosis known as coral bleaching. Recently, large-scale coral bleaching events have become pervasive and frequent threatening and endangering coral reefs. Because the coral-algal symbiosis is the biological engine producing the reef, the future of coral reef ecosystems depends on the ecophysiology of the symbiosis. This review examines the photobiology of the coral-algal symbiosis with particular focus on the photophysiological responses and timescales of corals and Symbiodinium. Additionally, this review summarizes the light environment and its dynamics, the vulnerability of the symbiosis to oxidative stress, the abiotic and biotic factors influencing photosynthesis, the diversity of the coral-algal symbiosis, and recent advances in the field. Studies integrating physiology with the developing "omics" fields will provide new insights into the coral-algal symbiosis. Greater physiological and ecological understanding of the coral-algal symbiosis is needed for protection and conservation of coral reefs.

  1. 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.

  2. Quantifying water flow within aquatic ecosystems using load cell sensors: a profile of currents experienced by coral reef organisms around Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    PubMed

    Johansen, Jacob L

    2014-01-01

    Current velocity in aquatic environments has major implications for the diversity, abundance and ecology of aquatic organisms, but quantifying these currents has proven difficult. This study utilises a simple and inexpensive instrument (<$150) to provide a detailed current velocity profile of the coral-reef system around Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) at a spatial and temporal scale relevant to the ecology of individual benthos and fish. The instrument uses load-cell sensors to provide a correlation between sensor output and ambient current velocity of 99%. Each instrument is able to continuously record current velocities to >500 cms⁻¹ and wave frequency to >100 Hz over several weeks. Sensor data are registered and processed at 16 MHz and 10 bit resolution, with a measuring precision of 0.06±0.04%, and accuracy of 0.51±0.65% (mean ±S.D.). Each instrument is also pressure rated to 120 m and shear stresses ≤20 kNm⁻² allowing deployment in harsh environments. The instrument was deployed across 27 coral reef sites covering the crest (3 m), mid-slope (6 m) and deep-slope (9 m depth) of habitats directly exposed, oblique or sheltered from prevailing winds. Measurements demonstrate that currents over the reef slope and crest varies immensely depending on depth and exposure: currents differ up to 9-fold within habitats only separated by 3 m depth and 15-fold between exposed, oblique and sheltered habitats. Comparisons to ambient weather conditions reveal that currents around Lizard Island are largely wind driven. Zero to 22.5 knot winds correspond directly to currents of 0 to >82 cms⁻¹, while tidal currents rarely exceed 5.5 cms⁻¹. Rather, current velocity increases exponentially as a function of wave height (0 to 1.6 m) and frequency (0.54 to 0.20 Hz), emphasizing the enormous effect of wind and waves on organisms in these shallow coral reef habitats.

  3. Quantifying Water Flow within Aquatic Ecosystems Using Load Cell Sensors: A Profile of Currents Experienced by Coral Reef Organisms around Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    PubMed Central

    Johansen, Jacob L.

    2014-01-01

    Current velocity in aquatic environments has major implications for the diversity, abundance and ecology of aquatic organisms, but quantifying these currents has proven difficult. This study utilises a simple and inexpensive instrument (<$150) to provide a detailed current velocity profile of the coral-reef system around Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) at a spatial and temporal scale relevant to the ecology of individual benthos and fish. The instrument uses load-cell sensors to provide a correlation between sensor output and ambient current velocity of 99%. Each instrument is able to continuously record current velocities to >500 cms−1 and wave frequency to >100 Hz over several weeks. Sensor data are registered and processed at 16 MHz and 10 bit resolution, with a measuring precision of 0.06±0.04%, and accuracy of 0.51±0.65% (mean ±S.D.). Each instrument is also pressure rated to 120 m and shear stresses ≤20 kNm−2 allowing deployment in harsh environments. The instrument was deployed across 27 coral reef sites covering the crest (3 m), mid-slope (6 m) and deep-slope (9 m depth) of habitats directly exposed, oblique or sheltered from prevailing winds. Measurements demonstrate that currents over the reef slope and crest varies immensely depending on depth and exposure: Currents differ up to 9-fold within habitats only separated by 3 m depth and 15-fold between exposed, oblique and sheltered habitats. Comparisons to ambient weather conditions reveal that currents around Lizard Island are largely wind driven. Zero to 22.5 knot winds correspond directly to currents of 0 to >82 cms−1, while tidal currents rarely exceed 5.5 cms−1. Rather, current velocity increases exponentially as a function of wave height (0 to 1.6 m) and frequency (0.54 to 0.20 Hz), emphasizing the enormous effect of wind and waves on organisms in these shallow coral reef habitats. PMID:24421878

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Historical reconstruction reveals recovery in Hawaiian coral reefs.

    PubMed

    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 (>10(3) km(2)). 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-19

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

  14. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-06-01

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

  19. 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.

  20. ENSO drove 2500-year collapse of eastern Pacific coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Toth, Lauren T; Aronson, Richard B; Vollmer, Steven V; Hobbs, Jennifer W; Urrego, Dunia H; Cheng, Hai; Enochs, Ian C; Combosch, David J; van Woesik, Robert; Macintyre, Ian G

    2012-07-01

    Cores of coral reef frameworks along an upwelling gradient in Panamá show that reef ecosystems in the tropical eastern Pacific collapsed for 2500 years, representing as much as 40% of their history, beginning about 4000 years ago. The principal cause of this millennial-scale hiatus in reef growth was increased variability of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its coupling with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The hiatus was a Pacific-wide phenomenon with an underlying climatology similar to probable scenarios for the next century. Global climate change is probably driving eastern Pacific reefs toward another regional collapse.

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

    PubMed

    Bhattacharyya, Joydeb; Pal, Samares

    2015-03-01

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Herbivore space use influences coral reef recovery.

    PubMed

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

    2016-06-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-27

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

  9. 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.

  10. Uncovering the connectivity of coral reef systems via Lagrangian Coherent Structures

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leclair, Matthieu; Lowe, Ryan; Zang, Zhenlin; Ivey, Gregory; Peacock, Thomas

    2015-04-01

    There has been a staggering decline in the health of coral reef ecosystems worldwide over the past century, driven by anthropogenic influences, natural processes, and overall climate change. The future of coral reefs depends largely on their ability to recover from catastrophic events, which in turn crucially relies on the ability of reef larval populations to supply and restore damaged reefs. Improving quantitative predictions of reef larval transport and connectivity has thus emerged as a high priority research area in coral reef science. Ocean circulation models are being increasingly utilized in conjunction with particle tracking methods to provide spatially explicit predictions of larval transport within reef systems. The current major drawback of this approach is that it does not elucidate the underlying yet dynamic flow structures that drive reef connectivity. Recently, however, novel Lagrangian-based analysis approaches have been developed to identify the hidden coherent structures that govern material transport in spatiotemporally complex flow fields. Here we apply these methods to investigate the connectivity within a complex coral reef system, using the UNESCO World Heritage Ningaloo Reef in Australia as a case study. Our study demonstrates how this new approach identifies the dominant flow structures present on the reef, thereby uncovering connectivity and advocating a new practical framework for investigating and understanding how ocean processes shape the ecological transport in and around coral reefs. The technique can prove particularly valuable in supporting the design of Marine Protected Areas that are intended to safeguard the future of coral reefs and other ocean ecosystems.

  11. 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.

  12. Past corals and recent reefs in Indonesia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

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

  13. Developing a Biological Condition Gradient for the Protection of Puerto Rico's Coral Reefs

    EPA Science Inventory

    We introduce the application of the Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) to coral reefs: a conceptual model that describes how biological attributes of coral reef ecosystems might change along a gradient of increasing anthropogenic stress. Under authority of the Clean Water Act, t...

  14. Behaviourally Mediated Phenotypic Selection in a Disturbed Coral Reef Environment

    PubMed Central

    McCormick, Mark I.

    2009-01-01

    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. PMID:19763262

  15. Biological Criteria for Protection of U.S. Coral Reefs

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by natural stressors, human activities, and natural stressors exacerbated by human activities. Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, States and Territories may guard against anthropogenic threats by adopting water quality standards based on biologic...

  16. Biological Criteria for Protection of U.S. Coral Reefs.

    EPA Science Inventory

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by natural stressors, human activities, and natural stressors exacerbated by human activities. Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, States and Territories may guard against anthropogenic threats by adopting water quality standards based on biologic...

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification.

    PubMed

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

    2016-03-17

    Approximately one-quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year is absorbed by the global oceans, causing measurable declines in surface ocean pH, carbonate ion concentration ([CO3(2-)]), and saturation state of carbonate minerals (Ω). This process, referred to as ocean acidification, represents a major threat to marine ecosystems, in particular marine calcifiers such as oysters, crabs, and corals. Laboratory and field studies have shown that calcification rates of many organisms decrease with declining pH, [CO3(2-)], and Ω. Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to ocean acidification, in part because the very architecture of the ecosystem is reliant on carbonate-secreting organisms. Acidification-induced reductions in calcification are projected to shift coral reefs from a state of net accretion to one of net dissolution this century. While retrospective studies show large-scale declines in coral, and community, calcification over recent decades, determining the contribution of ocean acidification to these changes is difficult, if not impossible, owing to the confounding effects of other environmental factors such as temperature. Here we quantify the net calcification response of a coral reef flat to alkalinity enrichment, and show that, when ocean chemistry is restored closer to pre-industrial conditions, net community calcification increases. In providing results from the first seawater chemistry manipulation experiment of a natural coral reef community, we provide evidence that net community calcification is depressed compared with values expected for pre-industrial conditions, indicating that ocean acidification may already be impairing coral reef growth. PMID:26909578

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Harborne, Alastair R

    2010-01-01

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

  4. Sleeping functional group drives coral-reef recovery.

    PubMed

    Bellwood, David R; Hughes, Terry P; Hoey, Andrew S

    2006-12-19

    The world's coral reefs are in decline, with many exhibiting a phase shift from coral to macroalgal dominance . This change is often associated with habitat loss and overharvesting of herbivorous fishes, particularly parrotfishes and surgeonfishes . The challenge is to reverse this decline and enhance the resilience of coral-reef ecosystems . We demonstrate, by using a large-scale experimentally induced phase shift, that the rapid reversal from a macroalgal-dominated to a coral- and epilithic algal-dominated state was not a result of herbivory by parrotfishes or surgeonfishes. Surprisingly, phase-shift reversal was primarily driven by a single batfish species (Platax pinnatus), a fish previously regarded as an invertebrate feeder. The 43 herbivorous fishes in the local fauna played only a minor role, suggesting that biodiversity may not offer the protection we hoped for in complex ecosystems. Our findings highlight the dangers faced by coral reefs and other threatened complex ecosystems: Species or functional groups that prevent phase shifts may not be able to reverse phase shifts once they occur. Nevertheless, reversal is possible. The critical issue is to identify and protect those groups that underpin the resilience and regeneration of complex ecosystems.

  5. Coral bleaching: thermal adaptation in reef coral symbionts.

    PubMed

    Rowan, Rob

    2004-08-12

    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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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. PMID:22218977

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-06-01

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

  13. Measuring coral reef decline through meta-analyses

    PubMed Central

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

    2005-01-01

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

  14. Determining the extent and characterizing coral reef habitats of the northern latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County).

    PubMed

    Walker, Brian K; Gilliam, David S

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25-27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km(2) seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and

  15. Determining the Extent and Characterizing Coral Reef Habitats of the Northern Latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County)

    PubMed Central

    Walker, Brian K.; Gilliam, David S.

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25–27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km2 seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and

  16. Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2014-01-01

    vigorously communicate results in simple and straightforward terms to foster more effective conservation and management. This and subsequent reports will focus on separate biogeographic regions in a stepwise fashion and combine all of the results for a global synthesis in the coming years. We began in the wide Caribbean region because the historical data are so extensive and to refine methods of analysis before moving on to other regions. This report documents quantitative trends for Caribbean reef corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on data from 90 reef locations over the past 43 tears. This is the first report to combine all these disparate kinds of data in a single place to explore how the different major components of coral reef ecosystems interact on a broadly regional oceanic scale. We obtained data from more than 35,000 ecological surveys carried out by 78 principal investigators (PIs) and some 200 colleagues working in 34 countries, states, and territories throughout the wide Caribbean region. We conducted two workshops in Panama and Brisbane, Australia to bring together people who provided the data to assist in data quality control, analysis, and synthesis. The first workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama 29 April to 5 May, 2012 included scientists from 18 countries and territories to verify and expand the database and to conduct exploratory analyses of status and trends. Preliminary results based on the Panama workshop were presented to the DC Marine Community and Smithsonian Institution Senate of Scientists in May 2012 and at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) and annual ICRI meeting in Cairns, Australia in July 2012. The second workshop in Brisbane, Australia in December 2012 brought together eight coral reef scientists for more detailed data analysis and organization of results for this report and subsequent publications. Subsequent presentations to solicit comments while the report was

  17. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals.

    PubMed

    Huang, Danwei; Roy, Kaustuv

    2015-02-19

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

  18. Predicting the Location and Spatial Extent of Submerged Coral Reef Habitat in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia

    PubMed Central

    Bridge, Tom; Beaman, Robin; Done, Terry; Webster, Jody

    2012-01-01

    Aim Coral reef communities occurring in deeper waters have received little research effort compared to their shallow-water counterparts, and even such basic information as their location and extent are currently unknown throughout most of the world. Using the Great Barrier Reef as a case study, habitat suitability modelling is used to predict the distribution of deep-water coral reef communities on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We test the effectiveness of a range of geophysical and environmental variables for predicting the location of deep-water coral reef communities on the Great Barrier Reef. Location Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Methods Maximum entropy modelling is used to identify the spatial extent of two broad communities of habitat-forming megabenthos phototrophs and heterotrophs. Models were generated using combinations of geophysical substrate properties derived from multibeam bathymetry and environmental data derived from Bio-ORACLE, combined with georeferenced occurrence records of mesophotic coral communities from autonomous underwater vehicle, remotely operated vehicle and SCUBA surveys. Model results are used to estimate the total amount of mesophotic coral reef habitat on the GBR. Results Our models predict extensive but previously undocumented coral communities occurring both along the continental shelf-edge of the Great Barrier Reef and also on submerged reefs inside the lagoon. Habitat suitability for phototrophs is highest on submerged reefs along the outer-shelf and the deeper flanks of emergent reefs inside the GBR lagoon, while suitability for heterotrophs is highest in the deep waters along the shelf-edge. Models using only geophysical variables consistently outperformed models incorporating environmental data for both phototrophs and heterotrophs. Main Conclusion Extensive submerged coral reef communities that are currently undocumented are likely to occur throughout the Great Barrier Reef. High-quality bathymetry data can be used

  19. 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.

  20. A coral-on-a-chip microfluidic platform enabling live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Shapiro, Orr H; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Gavish, Assaf R; Stocker, Roman; Vardi, Assaf

    2016-03-04

    Coral reefs, and the unique ecosystems they support, are facing severe threats by human activities and climate change. Our understanding of these threats is hampered by the lack of robust approaches for studying the micro-scale interactions between corals and their environment. Here we present an experimental platform, coral-on-a-chip, combining micropropagation and microfluidics to allow direct microscopic study of live coral polyps. The small and transparent coral micropropagates are ideally suited for live-imaging microscopy, while the microfluidic platform facilitates long-term visualization under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by imaging coral micropropagates at previously unattainable spatio-temporal resolutions, providing new insights into several micro-scale processes including coral calcification, coral-pathogen interaction and the loss of algal symbionts (coral bleaching). Coral-on-a-chip thus provides a powerful method for studying coral physiology in vivo at the micro-scale, opening new vistas in coral biology.

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren

    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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ...

  6. 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...

  7. Watershed- and island wide-scale land cover changes in Puerto Rico (1930s-2004) and their potential effects on coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Ramos-Scharrón, Carlos E; Torres-Pulliza, Damaris; Hernández-Delgado, Edwin A

    2015-02-15

    Anthropogenically enhanced delivery of sediments and other land-based sources of pollution represent well-recognized threats to nearshore coral reef communities worldwide. Land cover change is commonly used as a proxy to document human-induced alterations to sediment and pollutant delivery rates to coral reef bearing waters. In this article, land cover change was assessed for a 69-km(2) watershed in Puerto Rico between 1936 and 2004 by aerial photograph interpretation. Forests and sugar cane fields predominated from 1936 through the late 1970s, but while cropland dipped to negligible levels by 2004, net forest cover doubled and built-up areas increased tenfold. The watershed-scale land cover changes documented here mimicked those of the entire Puerto Rican landmass. Sediment yield predictions that rely on the sort of land cover changes reported here inevitably result in declining trends, but anecdotal and scientific evidence in the study watershed and throughout Puerto Rico suggests that sediment and pollutant loading rates still remain high and at potentially threatening levels. The simultaneous reduction in living coral cover that accompanied reforestation and urbanization patterns since the 1970s in our study region is discussed here within the context of the following non-mutually exclusive potential explanations: (a) the inability of land cover change-based assessments to discern spatially-focused, yet highly influential sources of sediment; (b) the potentially secondary role of cropland and forest cover changes in influencing nearshore coral reef conditions relative to other types of stressors like those related to climate change; and (c) the potentially dominant role that urban development may have had in altering marine water quality to the extent of reducing live coral cover. Since identification of the causes for coral reef degradation has proven elusive here and elsewhere, we infer that coral reef management may only be effective when numerous land- and

  8. Watershed- and island wide-scale land cover changes in Puerto Rico (1930s-2004) and their potential effects on coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Ramos-Scharrón, Carlos E; Torres-Pulliza, Damaris; Hernández-Delgado, Edwin A

    2015-02-15

    Anthropogenically enhanced delivery of sediments and other land-based sources of pollution represent well-recognized threats to nearshore coral reef communities worldwide. Land cover change is commonly used as a proxy to document human-induced alterations to sediment and pollutant delivery rates to coral reef bearing waters. In this article, land cover change was assessed for a 69-km(2) watershed in Puerto Rico between 1936 and 2004 by aerial photograph interpretation. Forests and sugar cane fields predominated from 1936 through the late 1970s, but while cropland dipped to negligible levels by 2004, net forest cover doubled and built-up areas increased tenfold. The watershed-scale land cover changes documented here mimicked those of the entire Puerto Rican landmass. Sediment yield predictions that rely on the sort of land cover changes reported here inevitably result in declining trends, but anecdotal and scientific evidence in the study watershed and throughout Puerto Rico suggests that sediment and pollutant loading rates still remain high and at potentially threatening levels. The simultaneous reduction in living coral cover that accompanied reforestation and urbanization patterns since the 1970s in our study region is discussed here within the context of the following non-mutually exclusive potential explanations: (a) the inability of land cover change-based assessments to discern spatially-focused, yet highly influential sources of sediment; (b) the potentially secondary role of cropland and forest cover changes in influencing nearshore coral reef conditions relative to other types of stressors like those related to climate change; and (c) the potentially dominant role that urban development may have had in altering marine water quality to the extent of reducing live coral cover. Since identification of the causes for coral reef degradation has proven elusive here and elsewhere, we infer that coral reef management may only be effective when numerous land- and

  9. Linking habitat mosaics and connectivity in a coral reef seascape.

    PubMed

    McMahon, Kelton W; Berumen, Michael L; Thorrold, Simon R

    2012-09-18

    Tropical marine ecosystems are under mounting anthropogenic pressure from overfishing and habitat destruction, leading to declines in their structure and function on a global scale. Although maintaining connectivity among habitats within a seascape is necessary for preserving population resistance and resilience, quantifying movements of individuals within seascapes remains challenging. Traditional methods of identifying and valuing potential coral reef fish nursery habitats are indirect, often relying on visual surveys of abundance and correlations of size and biomass among habitats. We used compound-specific stable isotope analyses to determine movement patterns of commercially important fish populations within a coral reef seascape. This approach allowed us to quantify the relative contributions of individuals from inshore nurseries to reef populations and identify migration corridors among important habitats. Our results provided direct measurements of remarkable migrations by juvenile snapper of over 30 km, between nurseries and reefs. We also found significant plasticity in juvenile nursery residency. Although a majority of individuals on coastal reefs had used seagrass nurseries as juveniles, many adults on oceanic reefs had settled directly into reef habitats. Moreover, seascape configuration played a critical but heretofore unrecognized role in determining connectivity among habitats. Finally, our approach provides key quantitative data necessary to estimate the value of distinctive habitats to ecosystem services provided by seascapes.

  10. 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.

  11. Linking habitat mosaics and connectivity in a coral reef seascape

    PubMed Central

    McMahon, Kelton W.; Berumen, Michael L.; Thorrold, Simon R.

    2012-01-01

    Tropical marine ecosystems are under mounting anthropogenic pressure from overfishing and habitat destruction, leading to declines in their structure and function on a global scale. Although maintaining connectivity among habitats within a seascape is necessary for preserving population resistance and resilience, quantifying movements of individuals within seascapes remains challenging. Traditional methods of identifying and valuing potential coral reef fish nursery habitats are indirect, often relying on visual surveys of abundance and correlations of size and biomass among habitats. We used compound-specific stable isotope analyses to determine movement patterns of commercially important fish populations within a coral reef seascape. This approach allowed us to quantify the relative contributions of individuals from inshore nurseries to reef populations and identify migration corridors among important habitats. Our results provided direct measurements of remarkable migrations by juvenile snapper of over 30 km, between nurseries and reefs. We also found significant plasticity in juvenile nursery residency. Although a majority of individuals on coastal reefs had used seagrass nurseries as juveniles, many adults on oceanic reefs had settled directly into reef habitats. Moreover, seascape configuration played a critical but heretofore unrecognized role in determining connectivity among habitats. Finally, our approach provides key quantitative data necessary to estimate the value of distinctive habitats to ecosystem services provided by seascapes. PMID:22949665

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-03-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km(2)). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. PMID:21881615

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km2). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. PMID:21881615

  14. 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.

  15. The dynamics of architectural complexity on coral reefs under climate change.

    PubMed

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    One striking feature of coral reef ecosystems is the complex benthic architecture which supports diverse and abundant fauna, particularly of reef fish. Reef-building corals are in decline worldwide, with a corresponding loss of live coral cover resulting in a loss of architectural complexity. Understanding the dynamics of the reef architecture is therefore important to envision the ability of corals to maintain functional habitats in an era of climate change. Here, we develop a mechanistic model of reef topographical complexity for contemporary Caribbean reefs. The model describes the dynamics of corals and other benthic taxa under climate-driven disturbances (hurricanes and coral bleaching). Corals have a simplified shape with explicit diameter and height, allowing species-specific calculation of their colony surface and volume. Growth and the mechanical (hurricanes) and biological erosion (parrotfish) of carbonate skeletons are important in driving the pace of extension/reduction in the upper reef surface, the net outcome being quantified by a simple surface roughness index (reef rugosity). The model accurately simulated the decadal changes of coral cover observed in Cozumel (Mexico) between 1984 and 2008, and provided a realistic hindcast of coral colony-scale (1-10 m) changing rugosity over the same period. We then projected future changes of Caribbean reef rugosity in response to global warming. Under severe and frequent thermal stress, the model predicted a dramatic loss of rugosity over the next two or three decades. Critically, reefs with managed parrotfish populations were able to delay the general loss of architectural complexity, as the benefits of grazing in maintaining living coral outweighed the bioerosion of dead coral skeletons. Overall, this model provides the first explicit projections of reef rugosity in a warming climate, and highlights the need of combining local (protecting and restoring high grazing) to global (mitigation of greenhouse gas

  16. The dynamics of architectural complexity on coral reefs under climate change.

    PubMed

    Bozec, Yves-Marie; Alvarez-Filip, Lorenzo; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    One striking feature of coral reef ecosystems is the complex benthic architecture which supports diverse and abundant fauna, particularly of reef fish. Reef-building corals are in decline worldwide, with a corresponding loss of live coral cover resulting in a loss of architectural complexity. Understanding the dynamics of the reef architecture is therefore important to envision the ability of corals to maintain functional habitats in an era of climate change. Here, we develop a mechanistic model of reef topographical complexity for contemporary Caribbean reefs. The model describes the dynamics of corals and other benthic taxa under climate-driven disturbances (hurricanes and coral bleaching). Corals have a simplified shape with explicit diameter and height, allowing species-specific calculation of their colony surface and volume. Growth and the mechanical (hurricanes) and biological erosion (parrotfish) of carbonate skeletons are important in driving the pace of extension/reduction in the upper reef surface, the net outcome being quantified by a simple surface roughness index (reef rugosity). The model accurately simulated the decadal changes of coral cover observed in Cozumel (Mexico) between 1984 and 2008, and provided a realistic hindcast of coral colony-scale (1-10 m) changing rugosity over the same period. We then projected future changes of Caribbean reef rugosity in response to global warming. Under severe and frequent thermal stress, the model predicted a dramatic loss of rugosity over the next two or three decades. Critically, reefs with managed parrotfish populations were able to delay the general loss of architectural complexity, as the benefits of grazing in maintaining living coral outweighed the bioerosion of dead coral skeletons. Overall, this model provides the first explicit projections of reef rugosity in a warming climate, and highlights the need of combining local (protecting and restoring high grazing) to global (mitigation of greenhouse gas

  17. 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 ...

  18. 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...

  19. 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

  20. The Coral Reef pH-stat: An Important Defense Against Ocean Acidification? (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Andersson, A. J.; Yeakel, K.; Bates, N.; de Putron, S.; Collins, A.

    2013-12-01

    Concerns have been raised on how coral reefs will be affected by ocean acidification (OA), but there are currently no direct predictions on how seawater CO2 chemistry and pH within coral reefs might change in response to OA. Projections of future changes in seawater pH and aragonite saturation state have only been applied to open ocean conditions surrounding coral reef environments rather than the reef systems themselves. The seawater CO2 chemistry within heterogenous coral reef systems can be significantly different from that of the open ocean depending on the residence time, community composition and the major biogeochemical processes occurring on the reef, i.e., net ecosystem organic carbon production and calcification, which combined act to modify the seawater chemistry. We argue that these processes and coral reefs in general could as a pH-stat, partly regulating seawater pH on the reef and offsetting changes in seawater chemistry imposed by ocean acidification. Based on observations from the Bermuda coral reef, we show that a range of anticipated biogeochemical responses of coral reef communities to OA by the end of this century could partially offset changes in seawater pH by an average of 12% to 24%.

  1. A Trait-Based Approach to Advance Coral Reef Science.

    PubMed

    Madin, Joshua S; Hoogenboom, Mia O; Connolly, Sean R; Darling, Emily S; Falster, Daniel S; Huang, Danwei; Keith, Sally A; Mizerek, Toni; Pandolfi, John M; Putnam, Hollie M; Baird, Andrew H

    2016-06-01

    Coral reefs are biologically diverse and ecologically complex ecosystems constructed by stony corals. Despite decades of research, basic coral population biology and community ecology questions remain. Quantifying trait variation among species can help resolve these questions, but progress has been hampered by a paucity of trait data for the many, often rare, species and by a reliance on nonquantitative approaches. Therefore, we propose filling data gaps by prioritizing traits that are easy to measure, estimating key traits for species with missing data, and identifying 'supertraits' that capture a large amount of variation for a range of biological and ecological processes. Such an approach can accelerate our understanding of coral ecology and our ability to protect critically threatened global ecosystems. PMID:26969335

  2. Environmental quality and preservation; bedrock beneath reefs; the importance of geology in understanding biological decline in a modern reef ecosystem

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lidz, Barbara H.

    2000-01-01

    Environmental Quality and Preservation-Bedrock Beneath Reefs: the Importance of Geology in Understanding Biological Decline in a Modern Ecosystem' is a four-page and one-plate full-color discussion of the geologic framework and evolutionary history of the coral reef ecosystem that lines the outer shelf off the Florida Keys.

  3. 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.

  4. Hysteresis between coral reef calcification and the seawater aragonite saturation state

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McMahon, Ashly; Santos, Isaac R.; Cyronak, Tyler; Eyre, Bradley D.

    2013-09-01

    predictions of how ocean acidification (OA) will affect coral reefs assume a linear functional relationship between the ambient seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa) and net ecosystem calcification (NEC). We quantified NEC in a healthy coral reef lagoon in the Great Barrier Reef during different times of the day. Our observations revealed a diel hysteresis pattern in the NEC versus Ωa relationship, with peak NEC rates occurring before the Ωa peak and relatively steady nighttime NEC in spite of variable Ωa. Net ecosystem production had stronger correlations with NEC than light, temperature, nutrients, pH, and Ωa. The observed hysteresis may represent an overlooked challenge for predicting the effects of OA on coral reefs. If widespread, the hysteresis could prevent the use of a linear extrapolation to determine critical Ωa threshold levels required to shift coral reefs from a net calcifying to a net dissolving state.

  5. 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.

  6. Feedbacks Between Wave Energy And Declining Coral Reef Structure: Implications For Coastal Morphodynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grady, A. E.; Jenkins, C. J.; Moore, L. J.; Potts, D. C.; Burgess, P. M.; Storlazzi, C. D.; Elias, E.; Reidenbach, M. A.

    2013-12-01

    The incident wave energy dissipated by the structural complexity and bottom roughness of coral reef ecosystems, and the carbonate sediment produced by framework-building corals, provide natural shoreline protection and nourishment, respectively. Globally, coral reef ecosystems are in decline as a result of ocean warming and acidification, which is exacerbated by chronic regional stressors such as pollution and disease. As a consequence of declining reef health, many reef ecosystems are experiencing reduced coral cover and shifts to dominance by macroalgae, resulting in a loss of rugosity and thus hydrodynamic roughness. As coral reef architecture is compromised and carbonate skeletons are eroded, wave energy dissipation and sediment transport patterns--along with the carbonate sediment budget of the coastal environment--may be altered. Using a Delft3D numerical model of the south-central Molokai, Hawaii, fringing reef, we simulate the effects of changing reef states on wave energy and sediment transport. To determine the temporally-varying effects of biotic and abiotic stressors such as storms and bleaching on the reef structure and carbonate production, we couple Delft3D with CarboLOT, a model that simulates growth and competition of carbonate-producing organisms. CarboLOT is driven by the Lotka-Volterra population ecology equations and niche suitability principles, and accesses the CarboKB database for region-specific, carbonate-producing species information on growth rates, reproduction patterns, habitat suitability, as well as organism geometries. Simulations assess how changing reef states--which alter carbonate sediment production and reef morphology and thus hydrodynamic roughness--impact wave attenuation and sediment transport gradients along reef-fronted beaches. Initial results suggest that along fringing reefs having characteristics similar to the Molokai fringing reef, projected sea level rise will likely outpace coral reef accretion, and the increased

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wolanski, Eric; Burrage, Derek; King, Brian

    1989-05-01

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

  8. Persistence and Change in Community Composition of Reef Corals through Present, Past, and Future Climates

    PubMed Central

    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. PMID:25272143

  9. Tectonic subsidence provides insight into possible coral reef futures under rapid sea-level rise

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saunders, Megan I.; Albert, Simon; Roelfsema, Chris M.; Leon, Javier X.; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Phinn, Stuart R.; Mumby, Peter J.

    2016-03-01

    Sea-level rise will change environmental conditions on coral reef flats, which comprise extensive habitats in shallow tropical seas and support a wealth of ecosystem services. Rapid relative sea-level rise of 0.6 m over a relatively pristine coral reef in Solomon Islands, caused by a subduction earthquake in April 2007, generated a unique opportunity to examine in situ coral reef response to relative sea-level rise of the magnitude (but not the rate) anticipated by 2100. Extent of live coral was measured from satellite imagery in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012. Ecological data were obtained from microatolls and ecological surveys in May 2013. The reef was sampled at 12 locations where dense live hard coral remained absent, remained present or changed from absent to present following subsidence. Ecological data (substratum depth, live coral canopy depth, coral canopy height, substratum suitability, recruitment, diversity and Acropora presence) were measured at each location to identify factors associated with coral response to relative sea-level rise. Vertical and horizontal proliferation of coral occurred following subsidence. Lateral expansion of live coral, accomplished primarily by branching Acropora spp., resulted in lower diversity in regions which changed composition from pavement to dense live coral following subsidence. Of the ecological factors measured, biotic factors were more influential than abiotic factors; species identity was the most important factor in determining which regions of the reef responded to rapid sea-level rise. On relatively pristine reef flats under present climatic conditions, rapid relative sea-level rise generated an opportunity for hard coral to proliferate. However, the species assemblage of the existing reef was important in determining response to sea-level change, by providing previously bare substrate with a source of new coral colonies. Degraded reefs with altered species composition and slower coral growth rates may be less

  10. 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.

  11. 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...

  12. 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...

  13. 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…

  14. Quantifying and Valuing Potential Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs in the United States

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wobus, C. W.; Lane, D.; Buddemeier, R. W.; Ready, R. C.; Shouse, K. C.; Martinich, J.

    2012-12-01

    Global climate change presents a two-pronged threat to coral reef ecosystems: increasing sea surface temperatures will increase the likelihood of episodic bleaching events, while increasing ocean carbon dioxide concentrations will change the carbonate chemistry that drives coral growth. Because coral reefs have important societal as well as ecological benefits, climate change mitigation policies that ameliorate these impacts may create substantial economic value. We present a model that evaluates both the ecological and the economic impacts of climate change on coral reefs in the United States. We use a coral reef mortality and bleaching model to project future coral reef declines under a range of climate change policy scenarios for south Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Using a benefits transfer approach, the outputs from the physical model are then used to quantify the economic impacts of these coral reef declines for each of these regions. We find that differing climate change trajectories create substantial changes in projected coral cover and value for Hawaii, but that the ecological and economic benefits of more stringent emissions scenarios are less clear for Florida and Puerto Rico. Overall, our results indicate that the effectiveness of climate change mitigation policies may be region-specific, but that these policies could result in a net increase of nearly $10 billion in economic value from coral reef-related recreational activities alone, over the 21st century.

  15. 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.

  16. 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].

  17. Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pohl, Thomas; Al-Muqdadi, Sameh W.; Ali, Malik H.; Fawzi, Nadia Al-Mudaffar; Ehrlich, Hermann; Merkel, Broder

    2014-03-01

    Until now, it has been well-established that coral complex in the Arabian/Persian Gulf only exist in the coastal regions of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and it was thought that there are no coral reefs in Iraq. However, here for the first time we show the existence of a living 28 km2 large coral reef in this country. These corals are adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments on earth: the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34°C. The discovery of the unique coral reef oasis in the turbid coastal waters of Iraq will stimulate the interest of governmental agencies, environmental organizations, as well as of the international scientific community working on the fundamental understanding of coral marine ecosystems and global climate today.

  18. Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq.

    PubMed

    Pohl, Thomas; Al-Muqdadi, Sameh W; Ali, Malik H; Fawzi, Nadia Al-Mudaffar; Ehrlich, Hermann; Merkel, Broder

    2014-01-01

    Until now, it has been well-established that coral complex in the Arabian/Persian Gulf only exist in the coastal regions of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and it was thought that there are no coral reefs in Iraq. However, here for the first time we show the existence of a living 28 km(2) large coral reef in this country. These corals are adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments on earth: the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34°C. The discovery of the unique coral reef oasis in the turbid coastal waters of Iraq will stimulate the interest of governmental agencies, environmental organizations, as well as of the international scientific community working on the fundamental understanding of coral marine ecosystems and global climate today.

  19. Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq

    PubMed Central

    Pohl, Thomas; Al-Muqdadi, Sameh W.; Ali, Malik H.; Fawzi, Nadia Al-Mudaffar; Ehrlich, Hermann; Merkel, Broder

    2014-01-01

    Until now, it has been well-established that coral complex in the Arabian/Persian Gulf only exist in the coastal regions of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and it was thought that there are no coral reefs in Iraq. However, here for the first time we show the existence of a living 28 km2 large coral reef in this country. These corals are adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments on earth: the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34°C. The discovery of the unique coral reef oasis in the turbid coastal waters of Iraq will stimulate the interest of governmental agencies, environmental organizations, as well as of the international scientific community working on the fundamental understanding of coral marine ecosystems and global climate today. PMID:24603901

  20. 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

  1. Water column correction for coral reef studies by remote sensing.

    PubMed

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-09-11

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application.

  2. Water Column Correction for Coral Reef Studies by Remote Sensing

    PubMed Central

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-01-01

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application. PMID:25215941

  3. Water column correction for coral reef studies by remote sensing.

    PubMed

    Zoffoli, Maria Laura; Frouin, Robert; Kampel, Milton

    2014-01-01

    Human activity and natural climate trends constitute a major threat to coral reefs worldwide. Models predict a significant reduction in reef spatial extension together with a decline in biodiversity in the relatively near future. In this context, monitoring programs to detect changes in reef ecosystems are essential. In recent years, coral reef mapping using remote sensing data has benefited from instruments with better resolution and computational advances in storage and processing capabilities. However, the water column represents an additional complexity when extracting information from submerged substrates by remote sensing that demands a correction of its effect. In this article, the basic concepts of bottom substrate remote sensing and water column interference are presented. A compendium of methodologies developed to reduce water column effects in coral ecosystems studied by remote sensing that include their salient features, advantages and drawbacks is provided. Finally, algorithms to retrieve the bottom reflectance are applied to simulated data and actual remote sensing imagery and their performance is compared. The available methods are not able to completely eliminate the water column effect, but they can minimize its influence. Choosing the best method depends on the marine environment, available input data and desired outcome or scientific application. PMID:25215941

  4. Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2014-01-01

    vigorously communicate results in simple and straightforward terms to foster more effective conservation and management. This and subsequent reports will focus on separate biogeographic regions in a stepwise fashion and combine all of the results for a global synthesis in the coming years. We began in the wide Caribbean region because the historical data are so extensive and to refine methods of analysis before moving on to other regions. This report documents quantitative trends for Caribbean reef corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on data from 90 reef locations over the past 43 tears. This is the first report to combine all these disparate kinds of data in a single place to explore how the different major components of coral reef ecosystems interact on a broadly regional oceanic scale. We obtained data from more than 35,000 ecological surveys carried out by 78 principal investigators (PIs) and some 200 colleagues working in 34 countries, states, and territories throughout the wide Caribbean region. We conducted two workshops in Panama and Brisbane, Australia to bring together people who provided the data to assist in data quality control, analysis, and synthesis. The first workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama 29 April to 5 May, 2012 included scientists from 18 countries and territories to verify and expand the database and to conduct exploratory analyses of status and trends. Preliminary results based on the Panama workshop were presented to the DC Marine Community and Smithsonian Institution Senate of Scientists in May 2012 and at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) and annual ICRI meeting in Cairns, Australia in July 2012. The second workshop in Brisbane, Australia in December 2012 brought together eight coral reef scientists for more detailed data analysis and organization of results for this report and subsequent publications. Subsequent presentations to solicit comments while the report was

  5. Coral Larvae Move toward Reef Sounds

    PubMed Central

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

    2010-01-01

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

  6. Coral larvae move toward reef sounds.

    PubMed

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

    2010-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-04-01

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

  8. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-04-01

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

  10. The Influence of Coral Reef Benthic Condition on Associated Fish Assemblages

    PubMed Central

    Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Mannering, Thomas D.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Bellwood, David R.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.

    2012-01-01

    Accumulative disturbances can erode a coral reef’s resilience, often leading to replacement of scleractinian corals by macroalgae or other non-coral organisms. These degraded reef systems have been mostly described based on changes in the composition of the reef benthos, and there is little understanding of how such changes are influenced by, and in turn influence, other components of the reef ecosystem. This study investigated the spatial variation in benthic communities on fringing reefs around the inner Seychelles islands. Specifically, relationships between benthic composition and the underlying substrata, as well as the associated fish assemblages were assessed. High variability in benthic composition was found among reefs, with a gradient from high coral cover (up to 58%) and high structural complexity to high macroalgae cover (up to 95%) and low structural complexity at the extremes. This gradient was associated with declining species richness of fishes, reduced diversity of fish functional groups, and lower abundance of corallivorous fishes. There were no reciprocal increases in herbivorous fish abundances, and relationships with other fish functional groups and total fish abundance were weak. Reefs grouping at the extremes of complex coral habitats or low-complexity macroalgal habitats displayed markedly different fish communities, with only two species of benthic invertebrate feeding fishes in greater abundance in the macroalgal habitat. These results have negative implications for the continuation of many coral reef ecosystem processes and services if more reefs shift to extreme degraded conditions dominated by macroalgae. PMID:22870294

  11. Processes Driving Natural Acidification of Western Pacific Coral Reef Waters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shamberger, K. E.; Cohen, A. L.; Golbuu, Y.; McCorkle, D. C.; Lentz, S. J.; Barkley, H. C.

    2013-12-01

    Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are acidifying the oceans, reducing seawater pH, aragonite saturation state (Ωar) and the availability of carbonate ions (CO32-) that calcifying organisms use to build coral reefs. Today's most extensive reef ecosystems are located where open ocean CO32- concentration ([CO32-]) and Ωar exceed 200 μmol kg-1 and 3.3, respectively. However, high rates of biogeochemical cycling and long residence times of water can result in carbonate chemistry conditions within coral reef systems that differ greatly from those of nearby open ocean waters. In the Palauan archipelago, water moving across the reef platform is altered by both biological and hydrographic processes that combine to produce seawater pH, Ωar, [CO32-] significantly lower than that of open ocean source water. Just inshore of the barrier reefs, average Ωar values are 0.2 to 0.3 and pH values are 0.02 to 0.03 lower than they are offshore, declining further as water moves across the back reef, lagoon and into the meandering bays and inlets that characterize the Rock Islands. In the Rock Island bays, coral communities inhabit seawater with average Ωar values of 2.7 or less, and as low as 1.9. Levels of Ωar as low as these are not predicted to occur in the western tropical Pacific open ocean until near the end of the century. Calcification by coral reef organisms is the principal biological process responsible for lowering Ωar and pH, accounting for 68 - 99 % of the difference in Ωar between offshore source water and reef water at our sites. However, in the Rock Island bays where Ωar is lowest, CO2 production by net respiration contributes between 17 - 30 % of the difference in Ωar between offshore source water and reef water. Furthermore, the residence time of seawater in the Rock Island bays is much longer than at the well flushed exposed sites, enabling calcification and respiration to drive Ωar to very low levels despite lower net ecosystem

  12. Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH.

    PubMed

    Barkley, Hannah C; Cohen, Anne L; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, Victoria R; DeCarlo, Thomas M; Shamberger, Kathryn E F

    2015-06-01

    Ocean acidification threatens the survival of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The negative effects of ocean acidification observed in many laboratory experiments have been seen in studies of naturally low-pH reefs, with little evidence to date for adaptation. Recently, we reported initial data suggesting that low-pH coral communities of the Palau Rock Islands appear healthy despite the extreme conditions in which they live. Here, we build on that observation with a comprehensive statistical analysis of benthic communities across Palau's natural acidification gradient. Our analysis revealed a shift in coral community composition but no impact of acidification on coral richness, coralline algae abundance, macroalgae cover, coral calcification, or skeletal density. However, coral bioerosion increased 11-fold as pH decreased from the barrier reefs to the Rock Island bays. Indeed, a comparison of the naturally low-pH coral reef systems studied so far revealed increased bioerosion to be the only consistent feature among them, as responses varied across other indices of ecosystem health. Our results imply that whereas community responses may vary, escalation of coral reef bioerosion and acceleration of a shift from net accreting to net eroding reef structures will likely be a global signature of ocean acidification. PMID:26601203

  13. Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH

    PubMed Central

    Barkley, Hannah C.; Cohen, Anne L.; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, Victoria R.; DeCarlo, Thomas M.; Shamberger, Kathryn E. F.

    2015-01-01

    Ocean acidification threatens the survival of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The negative effects of ocean acidification observed in many laboratory experiments have been seen in studies of naturally low-pH reefs, with little evidence to date for adaptation. Recently, we reported initial data suggesting that low-pH coral communities of the Palau Rock Islands appear healthy despite the extreme conditions in which they live. Here, we build on that observation with a comprehensive statistical analysis of benthic communities across Palau’s natural acidification gradient. Our analysis revealed a shift in coral community composition but no impact of acidification on coral richness, coralline algae abundance, macroalgae cover, coral calcification, or skeletal density. However, coral bioerosion increased 11-fold as pH decreased from the barrier reefs to the Rock Island bays. Indeed, a comparison of the naturally low-pH coral reef systems studied so far revealed increased bioerosion to be the only consistent feature among them, as responses varied across other indices of ecosystem health. Our results imply that whereas community responses may vary, escalation of coral reef bioerosion and acceleration of a shift from net accreting to net eroding reef structures will likely be a global signature of ocean acidification. PMID:26601203

  14. Larval dispersal drives trophic structure across Pacific coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Stier, Adrian C; Hein, Andrew M; Parravicini, Valeriano; Kulbicki, Michel

    2014-01-01

    Top predators are a critical part of healthy ecosystems. Yet, these species are often absent from spatially isolated habitats leading to the pervasive view that fragmented ecological communities collapse from the top down. Here we study reef fish from coral reef communities across the Pacific Ocean. Our analysis shows that species richness of reef fish top predators is relatively stable across habitats that vary widely in spatial isolation and total species richness. In contrast, species richness of prey reef fish declines rapidly with increasing isolation. By consequence, species-poor communities from isolated islands have three times as many predator species per prey species as near-shore communities. We develop and test a colonization-extinction model to reveal how larval dispersal patterns shape this ocean-scale gradient in trophic structure. PMID:25412873

  15. Quaternary coral reef refugia preserved fish diversity.

    PubMed

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

    2014-05-30

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

  16. Caribbean-wide decline in carbonate production threatens coral reef growth

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

    Global-scale deteriorations in coral reef health have caused major shifts in species composition. One projected consequence is a lowering of reef carbonate production rates, potentially impairing reef growth, compromising ecosystem functionality and ultimately leading to net reef erosion. Here, using measures of gross and net carbonate production and erosion from 19 Caribbean reefs, we show that contemporary carbonate production rates are now substantially below historical (mid- to late-Holocene) values. On average, current production rates are reduced by at least 50%, and 37% of surveyed sites were net erosional. Calculated accretion rates (mm year−1) for shallow fore-reef habitats are also close to an order of magnitude lower than Holocene averages. A live coral cover threshold of ~10% appears critical to maintaining positive production states. Below this ecological threshold carbonate budgets typically become net negative and threaten reef accretion. Collectively, these data suggest that recent ecological declines are now suppressing Caribbean reef growth potential. PMID:23360993

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

    PubMed

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

    1972-07-21

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

  18. Octocoral Species Assembly and Coexistence in Caribbean Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Velásquez, Johanna; Sánchez, Juan A.

    2015-01-01

    Background What are the determinant factors of community assemblies in the most diverse ecosystem in the ocean? Coral reefs can be divided in continental (i.e., reefs that develop on the continental shelf, including siliciclastic reefs) and oceanic (i.e., far off the continental shelf, usually on volcanic substratum); whether or not these habitat differences impose community-wide ecological divergence or species exclusion/coexistence with evolutionary consequences, is unknown. Methods Studying Caribbean octocorals as model system, we determined the phylogenetic community structure in a coral reef community, making emphasis on species coexistence evidenced on trait evolution and environmental feedbacks. Forty-nine species represented in five families constituted the species pool from which a phylogenetic tree was reconstructed using mtDNA. We included data from 11 localities in the Western Caribbean (Colombia) including most reef types. To test diversity-environment and phenotype-environment relationships, phylogenetic community structure and trait evolution we carried out comparative analyses implementing ecological and evolutionary approaches. Results Phylogenetic inferences suggest clustering of oceanic reefs (e.g., atolls) contrasting with phylogenetic overdispersion of continental reefs (e.g., reefs banks). Additionally, atolls and barrier reefs had the highest species diversity (Shannon index) whereas phylogenetic diversity was higher in reef banks. The discriminant component analysis supported this differentiation between oceanic and continental reefs, where continental octocoral species tend to have greater calyx apertures, thicker branches, prominent calyces and azooxanthellate species. This analysis also indicated a clear separation between the slope and the remaining habitats, caused by the presence or absence of Symbiodinium. K statistic analysis showed that this trait is conserved as well as the branch shape. Discussion There was strong octocoral

  19. Relating Landscape Development Intensity to Coral Reef Condition in the Watersheds of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

    EPA Science Inventory

    Diagnosing the degree to which local landscape activities impact coral reef ecosystems and their ecological services is critically important to coastal and watershed decision-makers. We report, for the first time, a study that relates coral reef condition metrics to metrics of h...

  20. Scleractinian settlement patterns to natural cleared reef substrata and artificial settlement panels on an Indonesian coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Salinas-de-León, Pelayo; Costales-Carrera, Alba; Zeljkovic, Stephen; Smith, David J.; Bell, James J.

    2011-05-01

    Recruitment is a key factor driving the population dynamics of scleractinian corals, but despite its importance, we still have a poor understanding of recruitment processes in the Coral triangle region, which contains the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world. This study aimed to compare settlement rates to artificial settlement panels with cleared areas of natural reef in order to assess whether panels are a suitable indicator of natural coral settlement rates. We recorded coral settlement rates to panels made of two different materials (concrete and terracotta), attached to the reef at two different orientations (vertical and horizontal), and compared these settlement rates to those on cleared areas of natural reef positioned on vertical reef walls, over a 12 month period. We examined settlement rates at four sites in the Wakatobi National Marine Park, south-east Sulawesi, Indonesia; two reefs were light-limited, highly sedimented sites with low coral cover (<10%) and two had moderate coral cover (approx. 40%) and lower sedimentation rates. Panels were directly attached to the reef at 6-7 m depth. The number of coral spat per tile ranged from 0 to 34 and no significant differences were reported between the settlement rates to cleared natural reef areas and settlement panels. Significantly higher numbers of spat settled on the cryptic (back) side of the panels, while no significant difference was found between settlement rates to the different panel materials, or between the different orientations or any combination of these two factors. There is, however, a significant difference in the settlement rates between sites, for both settlement panels and permanent cleared areas, with higher settlement rates at the sites with higher live coral cover. We conclude that both concrete and terracotta panels yield similar settlement rates, and orientation makes no difference to settlement rates when panels are directly attached to the reef. Our results demonstrate

  1. 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

  2. Image Fusion Applied to Satellite Imagery for the Improved Mapping and Monitoring of Coral Reefs: a Proposal

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gholoum, M.; Bruce, D.; Hazeam, S. Al

    2012-07-01

    A coral reef ecosystem, one of the most complex marine environmental systems on the planet, is defined as biologically diverse and immense. It plays an important role in maintaining a vast biological diversity for future generations and functions as an essential spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding ground for many kinds of marine species. In addition, coral reef ecosystems provide valuable benefits such as fisheries, ecological goods and services and recreational activities to many communities. However, this valuable resource is highly threatened by a number of environmental changes and anthropogenic impacts that can lead to reduced coral growth and production, mass coral mortality and loss of coral diversity. With the growth of these threats on coral reef ecosystems, there is a strong management need for mapping and monitoring of coral reef ecosystems. Remote sensing technology can be a valuable tool for mapping and monitoring of these ecosystems. However, the diversity and complexity of coral reef ecosystems, the resolution capabilities of satellite sensors and the low reflectivity of shallow water increases the difficulties to identify and classify its features. This paper reviews the methods used in mapping and monitoring coral reef ecosystems. In addition, this paper proposes improved methods for mapping and monitoring coral reef ecosystems based on image fusion techniques. This image fusion techniques will be applied to satellite images exhibiting high spatial and low to medium spectral resolution with images exhibiting low spatial and high spectral resolution. Furthermore, a new method will be developed to fuse hyperspectral imagery with multispectral imagery. The fused image will have a large number of spectral bands and it will have all pairs of corresponding spatial objects. This will potentially help to accurately classify the image data. Accuracy assessment use ground truth will be performed for the selected methods to determine the quality of the

  3. Seascape-scale trophic links for fish on inshore coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Davis, Jean P.; Pitt, Kylie A.; Fry, Brian; Olds, Andrew D.; Connolly, Rod M.

    2014-12-01

    It is increasingly accepted that coastal habitats such as inshore coral reefs do not function in isolation but rather as part of a larger habitat network. In the Caribbean, trophic subsidies from habitats adjacent to coral reefs support the diet of reef fishes, but it is not known whether similar trophic links occur on reefs in the Indo-Pacific. Here, we test whether reef fishes in inshore coral, mangrove, and seagrass habitats are supported by trophic links. We used carbon stable isotopes and mathematical mixing models to determine the minimum proportion of resources from mangrove or seagrass habitats in the diet of five fish species from coral reefs at varying distances (0-2,200 m) from these habitats in Moreton Bay, Queensland, eastern Australia. Of the fish species that are more abundant on reefs near to mangroves, Lutjanus russelli and Acanthopagrus australis showed no minimum use of diet sources from mangrove habitat. Siganus fuscescens utilized a minimum of 25-44 % mangrove sources and this contribution increased with the proximity of reefs to mangroves ( R 2 = 0.91). Seagrass or reef flat sources contributed a minimum of 14-78 % to the diet of Diagramma labiosum, a species found in higher abundance on reefs near seagrass beds, but variation in diet among reefs was unrelated to seascape structure. Seagrass or reef flat sources also contributed a minimum of 8-55 % to a fish species found only on reefs ( Pseudolabrus guentheri), indicating that detrital subsidies from these habitats may subsidize fish diet on reefs. These results suggest that carbon sources from multiple habitats contribute to the functioning of inshore coral reef ecosystems and that trophic connectivity between reefs and mangroves may enhance production of a functionally important herbivore.

  4. 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…

  5. Coral reefs: threats and conservation in an era of global change.

    PubMed

    Riegl, Bernhard; Bruckner, Andy; Coles, Steve L; Renaud, Philip; Dodge, Richard E

    2009-04-01

    Coral reefs are iconic, threatened ecosystems that have been in existence for approximately 500 million years, yet their continued ecological persistence seems doubtful at present. Anthropogenic modification of chemical and physical atmospheric dynamics that cause coral death by bleaching and newly emergent diseases due to increased heat and irradiation, as well as decline in calcification caused by ocean acidification due to increased CO(2), are the most important large-scale threats. On more local scales, overfishing and destructive fisheries, coastal construction, nutrient enrichment, increased runoff and sedimentation, and the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species have caused phase shifts away from corals. Already approximately 20% of the world's reefs are lost and approximately 26% are under imminent threat. Conservation science of coral reefs is well advanced, but its practical application has often been lagging. Societal priorites, economic pressures, and legal/administrative systems of many countries are more prone to destroy rather than conserve coral-reef ecosystems. Nevertheless, many examples of successful conservation exist from the national level to community-enforced local action. When effectively managed, protected areas have contributed to regeneration of coral reefs and stocks of associated marine resources. Local communities often support coral-reef conservation in order to raise income potential associated with tourism and/or improved resource levels. Coral reefs create an annual income in S-Florida alone of over $4 billion. Thus, no conflict between development, societal welfare, and coral-reef conservation needs to exist. Despite growing threats, it is not too late for decisive action to protect and save these economically and ecologically high-value ecosystems. Conservation science plays a critical role in designing effective strategies.

  6. Coral reef habitat response to climate change scenarios.

    PubMed

    Freeman, Lauren A; Kleypas, Joan A; Miller, Arthur J

    2013-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are threatened by both climate change and direct anthropogenic stress. Climate change will alter the physico-chemical environment that reefs currently occupy, leaving only limited regions that are conducive to reef habitation. Identifying these regions early may aid conservation efforts and inform decisions to transplant particular coral species or groups. Here a species distribution model (Maxent) is used to describe habitat suitable for coral reef growth. Two climate change scenarios (RCP4.5, RCP8.5) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Earth System Model were used with Maxent to determine environmental suitability for corals (order Scleractinia). Environmental input variables best at representing the limits of suitable reef growth regions were isolated using a principal component analysis. Climate-driven changes in suitable habitat depend strongly on the unique region of reefs used to train Maxent. Increased global habitat loss was predicted in both climate projections through the 21(st) century. A maximum habitat loss of 43% by 2100 was predicted in RCP4.5 and 82% in RCP8.5. When the model is trained solely with environmental data from the Caribbean/Atlantic, 83% of global habitat was lost by 2100 for RCP4.5 and 88% was lost for RCP8.5. Similarly, global runs trained only with Pacific Ocean reefs estimated that 60% of suitable habitat would be lost by 2100 in RCP4.5 and 90% in RCP8.5. When Maxent was trained solely with Indian Ocean reefs, suitable habitat worldwide increased by 38% in RCP4.5 by 2100 and 28% in RCP8.5 by 2050. Global habitat loss by 2100 was just 10% for RCP8.5. This projection suggests that shallow tropical sites in the Indian Ocean basin experience conditions today that are most similar to future projections of worldwide conditions. Indian Ocean reefs may thus be ideal candidate regions from which to select the best strands of coral for potential re-seeding efforts.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Connectivity and management of caribbean coral reefs

    PubMed

    Roberts

    1997-11-21

    Surface current patterns were used to map dispersal routes of pelagic larvae from 18 coral reef sites in the Caribbean. The sites varied, both as sources and recipients of larvae, by an order of magnitude. It is likely that sites supplied copiously from "upstream" reef areas will be more resilient to recruitment overfishing, less susceptible to species loss, and less reliant on local management than places with little upstream reef. The mapping of connectivity patterns will enable the identification of beneficial management partnerships among nations and the design of networks of interdependent reserves.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  16. 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.

  17. Science-Based Strategies for Sustaining Coral Ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    ,

    2009-01-01

    Coral ecosystems and their natural capital are at risk. Greenhouse gas emissions, overfishing, and harmful land-use practices are damaging our coral reefs. Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that the threats are serious, and if they are left unchecked, the ecological and social consequences will be significant and widespread. Although the primary stressors to coral ecosystems are known, science-based strategies are needed to more accurately explain natural processes and forecast human-induced change. Collaborations among managers and scientists and enhanced mapping, monitoring, research, and modeling can lead to effective mitigation plans. U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their partners assess coral ecosystem history, ecology, vulnerability, and resiliency and provide study results to decisionmakers who may devise policies to sustain coral resources and the essential goods and services they provide.

  18. 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.

  19. Development and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in U.S. jurisdictions.

    PubMed

    Bradley, Patricia; Fisher, William S; Bell, Heidi; Davis, Wayne; Chan, Valerie; LoBue, Charles; Wiltse, Wendy

    2009-03-01

    Coral reefs worldwide are declining at an alarming rate and are under continuous threat from both natural and anthropogenic environmental stressors. Warmer sea temperatures attributed to global climate change and numerous human activities at local scales place these valuable ecosystems at risk. Reefs provide numerous services, including shoreline protection, fishing, tourism and biological diversity, which are lost through physical damage, overfishing, and pollution. Pollution can be controlled under provisions of the Clean Water Act, but these options have not been fully employed to protect coral reefs. No U.S. jurisdiction has implemented coral reef biocriteria, which are narrative or quantitative water quality standards based on the condition of a biological resource or assemblage. The President's Ocean Action Plan directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop biological assessment methods and biological criteria for evaluating and maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. EPA has formed the Coral Reef Biocriteria Working Group (CRBWG) to foster development of coral reef biocriteria through focused research, evaluation and communication among Agency partners and U.S. jurisdictions. Ongoing CRBWG activities include development and evaluation of a rapid bioassessment protocol for application in biocriteria programs; development of a survey design and monitoring strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands; comprehensive reviews of biocriteria approaches proposed by states and territories; and assembly of data from a variety of monitoring programs for additional metrics. Guidance documents are being prepared to assist U.S. jurisdictions in reaching protective and defensible biocriteria. PMID:19052888

  20. 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

  1. Development and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in U.S. jurisdictions.

    PubMed

    Bradley, Patricia; Fisher, William S; Bell, Heidi; Davis, Wayne; Chan, Valerie; LoBue, Charles; Wiltse, Wendy

    2009-03-01

    Coral reefs worldwide are declining at an alarming rate and are under continuous threat from both natural and anthropogenic environmental stressors. Warmer sea temperatures attributed to global climate change and numerous human activities at local scales place these valuable ecosystems at risk. Reefs provide numerous services, including shoreline protection, fishing, tourism and biological diversity, which are lost through physical damage, overfishing, and pollution. Pollution can be controlled under provisions of the Clean Water Act, but these options have not been fully employed to protect coral reefs. No U.S. jurisdiction has implemented coral reef biocriteria, which are narrative or quantitative water quality standards based on the condition of a biological resource or assemblage. The President's Ocean Action Plan directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop biological assessment methods and biological criteria for evaluating and maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. EPA has formed the Coral Reef Biocriteria Working Group (CRBWG) to foster development of coral reef biocriteria through focused research, evaluation and communication among Agency partners and U.S. jurisdictions. Ongoing CRBWG activities include development and evaluation of a rapid bioassessment protocol for application in biocriteria programs; development of a survey design and monitoring strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands; comprehensive reviews of biocriteria approaches proposed by states and territories; and assembly of data from a variety of monitoring programs for additional metrics. Guidance documents are being prepared to assist U.S. jurisdictions in reaching protective and defensible biocriteria.

  2. Identifying the ichthyoplankton of a coral reef using DNA barcodes.

    PubMed

    Hubert, Nicolas; Espiau, Benoit; Meyer, Christopher; Planes, Serge

    2015-01-01

    Marine fishes exhibit spectacular phenotypic changes during their ontogeny, and the identification of their early stages is challenging due to the paucity of diagnostic morphological characters at the species level. Meanwhile, the importance of early life stages in dispersal and connectivity has recently experienced an increasing interest in conservation programmes for coral reef fishes. This study aims at assessing the effectiveness of DNA barcoding for the automated identification of coral reef fish larvae through large-scale ecosystemic sampling. Fish larvae were mainly collected using bongo nets and light traps around Moorea between September 2008 and August 2010 in 10 sites distributed in open waters. Fish larvae ranged from 2 to 100 mm of total length, with the most abundant individuals being <5 mm. Among the 505 individuals DNA barcoded, 373 larvae (i.e. 75%) were identified to the species level. A total of 106 species were detected, among which 11 corresponded to pelagic and bathypelagic species, while 95 corresponded to species observed at the adult stage on neighbouring reefs. This study highlights the benefits and pitfalls of using standardized molecular systems for species identification and illustrates the new possibilities enabled by DNA barcoding for future work on coral reef fish larval ecology. PMID:24935524

  3. Regional hard coral distribution within geomorphic and reef flat ecological zones determined by satellite imagery of the Xisha Islands, South China Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zuo, Xiuling; Su, Fenzhen; Zhao, Huanting; Zhang, Junjue; Wang, Qi; Wu, Di

    2016-06-01

    Coral reefs in the Xisha Islands (also known as the Paracel Islands in English), South China Sea, have experienced dramatic declines in coral cover. However, the current regional scale hard coral distribution of geomorphic and ecological zones, essential for reefs management in the context of global warming and ocean acidification, is not well documented. We analyzed data from field surveys, Landsat-8 and GF-1 images to map the distribution of hard coral within geomorphic zones and reef flat ecological zones. In situ surveys conducted in June 2014 on nine reefs provided a complete picture of reef status with regard to live coral diversity, evenness of coral cover and reef health (live versus dead cover) for the Xisha Islands. Mean coral cover was 12.5% in 2014 and damaged reefs seemed to show signs of recovery. Coral cover in sheltered habitats such as lagoon patch reefs and biotic dense zones of reef flats was higher, but there were large regional differences and low diversity. In contrast, the more exposed reef slopes had high coral diversity, along with high and more equal distributions of coral cover. Mean hard coral cover of other zones was <10%. The total Xisha reef system was estimated to cover 1 060 km2, and the emergent reefs covered ~787 m2. Hard corals of emergent reefs were considered to cover 97 km2. The biotic dense zone of the reef flat was a very common zone on all simple atolls, especially the broader northern reef flats. The total cover of live and dead coral can reach above 70% in this zone, showing an equilibrium between live and dead coral as opposed to coral and algae. This information regarding the spatial distribution of hard coral can support and inform the management of Xisha reef ecosystems.

  4. Genomic and microarray approaches to coral reef conservation biology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Forêt, S.; Kassahn, K. S.; Grasso, L. C.; Hayward, D. C.; Iguchi, A.; Ball, E. E.; Miller, D. J.

    2007-09-01

    New technologies based on DNA microarrays and comparative genomics hold great promise for providing the background biological information necessary for effective coral reef conservation and management. Microarray analysis has been used in a wide range of applications across the biological sciences, most frequently to examine simultaneous changes in the expression of large numbers of genes in response to experimental manipulation or environmental variation. Other applications of microarray methods include the assessment of divergence in gene sequences between species and the identification of fast-evolving genes. Arrays are presently available for only a limited range of species, but with appropriate controls they can be used for related species, thus avoiding the considerable costs associated with development of a system de novo. Arrays are in use or preparation to study stress responses, early development, and symbiosis in Acropora and Montastraea. Ongoing projects on several corals are making available large numbers of expressed gene sequences, enabling the identification of candidate genes for studies on gamete specificity, allorecognition and symbiont interactions. Over the next few years, microarray and comparative genomic approaches are likely to assume increasingly important and widespread use to study many aspects of the biology of coral reef organisms. Application of these genomic approaches to enhance our understanding of genetic and physiological correlates during stress, environmental disturbance and disease bears direct relevance to the conservation of coral reef ecosystems.

  5. Evaluation of stony coral indicators for coral reef management.

    PubMed

    Fisher, William S; Fore, Leska S; Hutchins, Aaron; Quarles, Robert L; Campbell, Jed G; LoBue, Charles; Davis, Wayne S

    2008-10-01

    Colonies of reef-building stony corals at 57 stations around St. Croix, US 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-a requirement for indicators used in regulatory assessments under authority of the Clean Water Act. 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, 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. The primary indicators demonstrated sufficient precision to detect levels of change that would be applicable in a regional-scale regulatory program. PMID:18715598

  6. Are artificial reefs surrogates of natural habitats for corals and fish in Dubai, United Arab Emirates?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Burt, J.; Bartholomew, A.; Usseglio, P.; Bauman, A.; Sale, P. F.

    2009-09-01

    Artificial reefs are often promoted as mitigating human impacts in coastal ecosystems and enhancing fisheries; however, evidence supporting their benefits is equivocal. Such structures must be compared with natural reefs in order to assess their performance, but past comparisons typically examined artificial structures that were too small, or were immature, relative to the natural reefs. We compared coral and fish communities on two large (>400,000 m3) and mature (>25 year) artificial reefs with six natural coral patches. Coral cover was higher on artificial reefs (50%) than in natural habitats (31%), but natural coral patches contained higher species richness (29 vs. 20) and coral diversity ( H' = 2.3 vs. 1.8). Multivariate analyses indicated strong differences between coral communities in natural and artificial habitats. Fish communities were sampled seasonally for 1 year. Multivariate fish communities differed significantly among habitat types in the summer and fall, but converged in the winter and spring. Univariate analysis indicated that species richness and abundance were stable throughout the year on natural coral patches but increased significantly in the summer on artificial reefs compared with the winter and spring, explaining the multivariate changes in community structure. The increased summer abundance on artificial reefs was mainly due to adult immigration. Piscivores were much more abundant in the fall than in the winter or spring on artificial reefs, but had low and stable abundance throughout the year in natural habitats. It is likely that the decreased winter and spring abundance of fish on the artificial reefs resulted from both predation and emigration. These results indicate that large artificial reefs can support diverse and abundant coral and fish communities. However, these communities differ structurally and functionally from those in natural habitats, and they should not be considered as replacements for natural coral and fish communities.

  7. Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) from coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific.

    PubMed

    Granja-Fernández, Rebeca; Herrero-Pérezrul, María D; López-Pérez, Ramón A; Hernández, Luis; Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Fabián A; Jones, Robert Wallace; Pineda-López, Rubén

    2014-01-01

    There are numerous and important coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific, but scarce studies of brittle stars conducted in these ecosystems. In this regard, this work provides the first annotated checklist of brittle stars associated with coral communities and reefs in the Mexican Pacific and an illustrated key to identify the species. We also provide taxonomic descriptions, spatial and bathymetric distributions and some important remarks of the species. We report a total of 14 species of brittle stars belonging to nine genera and seven families. Ophiocnida hispida in Jalisco, Ophiophragmus papillatus in Guerrero, and Ophiothrix (Ophiothrix) spiculata and Ophiactis simplex in Colima are new distribution records. The record of O. papillatus is remarkable because the species has not been reported since its description in 1940. The brittle stars collected in this study, represent 22.2% of the total species previously reported from the Mexican Pacific. Presently, anthropogenic activities on the coral reefs of the Mexican Pacific have increased, thus the biodiversity of brittle stars in these ecosystems may be threatened.

  8. Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) from coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific

    PubMed Central

    Granja–Fernández, Rebeca; Herrero-Pérezrul, María D.; López-Pérez, Ramón A.; Hernández, Luis; Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Fabián A.; Jones, Robert Wallace; Pineda-López, Rubén

    2014-01-01

    Abstract There are numerous and important coral reefs in the Mexican Pacific, but scarce studies of brittle stars conducted in these ecosystems. In this regard, this work provides the first annotated checklist of brittle stars associated with coral communities and reefs in the Mexican Pacific and an illustrated key to identify the species. We also provide taxonomic descriptions, spatial and bathymetric distributions and some important remarks of the species. We report a total of 14 species of brittle stars belonging to nine genera and seven families. Ophiocnida hispida in Jalisco, Ophiophragmus papillatus in Guerrero, and Ophiothrix (Ophiothrix) spiculata and Ophiactis simplex in Colima are new distribution records. The record of O. papillatus is remarkable because the species has not been reported since its description in 1940. The brittle stars collected in this study, represent 22.2% of the total species previously reported from the Mexican Pacific. Presently, anthropogenic activities on the coral reefs of the Mexican Pacific have increased, thus the biodiversity of brittle stars in these ecosystems may be threatened. PMID:24843284

  9. 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...

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-12-01

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

  11. Spatial and seasonal reef calcification in corals and calcareous crusts in the central Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roik, Anna; Roder, Cornelia; Röthig, Till; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2016-06-01

    The existence of coral reef ecosystems critically relies on the reef carbonate framework produced by scleractinian corals and calcareous crusts (i.e., crustose coralline algae). While the Red Sea harbors one of the longest connected reef systems in the world, detailed calcification data are only available from the northernmost part. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured in situ calcification rates of primary and secondary reef builders in the central Red Sea. We collected data on the major habitat-forming coral genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora and also on calcareous crusts (CC) in a spatio-seasonal framework. The scope of the study comprised sheltered and exposed sites of three reefs along a cross-shelf gradient and over four seasons of the year. Calcification of all coral genera was consistent across the shelf and highest in spring. In addition, Pocillopora showed increased calcification at exposed reef sites. In contrast, CC calcification increased from nearshore, sheltered to offshore, exposed reef sites, but also varied over seasons. Comparing our data to other reef locations, calcification in the Red Sea was in the range of data collected from reefs in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific; however, Acropora calcification estimates were at the lower end of worldwide rates. Our study shows that the increasing coral cover from nearshore to offshore environments aligned with CC calcification but not coral calcification, highlighting the potentially important role of CC in structuring reef cover and habitats. While coral calcification maxima have been typically observed during summer in many reef locations worldwide, calcification maxima during spring in the central Red Sea indicate that summer temperatures exceed the optima of reef calcifiers in this region. This study provides a foundation for comparative efforts and sets a baseline to quantify impact of future environmental change in the central Red Sea.

  12. 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.

  13. Benthic buffers and boosters of ocean acidification on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anthony, K. R. N.; Diaz-Pulido, G.; Verlinden, N.; Tilbrook, B.; Andersson, A. J.

    2013-02-01

    Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems globally. In shallow-water systems, however, ocean acidification can be masked by benthic carbon fluxes, depending on community composition, seawater residence time, and the magnitude and balance of net community production (pn) and calcification (gn). Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) contribute to changes in seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa). Results of flume studies showed a hierarchy of responses across groups, depending on CO2 level, time of day and water flow. At low CO2 (350-450 μatm), macroalgae (Chnoospora implexa), turfs and sand elevated Ωa of the flume water by around 0.10 to 1.20 h-1 - normalised to contributions from 1 m2 of benthos to a 1 m deep water column. The rate of Ωa increase in these groups was doubled under acidification (560-700 μatm) and high flow (35 compared to 8 cm s-1). In contrast, branching corals (Acropora aspera) increased Ωa by 0.25 h-1 at ambient CO2 (350-450 μatm) during the day, but reduced Ωa under acidification and high flow. Nighttime changes in Ωa by corals were highly negative (0.6-0.8 h-1) and exacerbated by acidification. Calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda spp.) raised Ωa by day (by around 0.13 h-1), but lowered Ωa by a similar or higher amount at night. Analyses of carbon flux contributions from four different benthic compositions to the reef water carbon chemistry across Heron Reef flat and lagoon indicated that the net lowering of Ωa by coral-dominated areas can to some extent be countered by long water residence times in neighbouring areas dominated by turfs, macroalgae and potentially sand.

  14. Molecular reproductive characteristics of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis

    PubMed Central

    Rougée, Luc R. A.; Richmond, Robert H.; Collier, Abby C.

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are an indispensible worldwide resource, accounting for billions of dollars in cultural, economic, and ecological services. An understanding of coral reproduction is essential to determining the effects of environmental stressors on coral reef ecosystems and their persistence into the future. Here we describe the presence of and changes in steroidal hormones along with associated steroidogenic and steroid removal enzymes during the reproductive cycle of the brooding, pan-Pacific, hermaphroditic coral, Pocillopora damicornis. Detectable levels of 17β-estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone were consistently detected over two consecutive lunar reproductive cycles in coral tissue. Intra-colony variation in steroid hormone levels ranged between 1.5 and 2.2 fold and were not statistically different. Activities of the steroidogenic enzymes 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and cytochrome P450 (CYP) 17 dehydrogenase were detectable and did not fluctuate over the reproductive cycle. Aromatase-like activity was detected during the lunar reproductive cycle with no significant fluctuations. Activities of regeneration enzymes did not fluctuate over the lunar cycle; however, activity of the clearance enzyme UDP-glucuronosyl transferases increased significantly (ANOVA, post hoc p<0.01) during the two weeks before and after peak larval release (planulation), suggesting activity of this enzyme family may be linked to the reproductive state of the coral. Sulfotransferase enzymes could not be detected. Our findings provide the first data defining normal physiological and lunar/reproductive variability in steroidal enzymes in a coral species with respect to their potential role in coral reproduction. PMID:26231839

  15. Molecular reproductive characteristics of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis.

    PubMed

    Rougée, Luc R A; Richmond, Robert H; Collier, Abby C

    2015-11-01

    Coral reefs are an indispensible worldwide resource, accounting for billions of dollars in cultural, economic, and ecological services. An understanding of coral reproduction is essential to determining the effects of environmental stressors on coral reef ecosystems and their persistence into the future. Here, we describe the presence of and changes in steroidal hormones along with associated steroidogenic and steroid removal enzymes during the reproductive cycle of the brooding, pan-Pacific, hermaphroditic coral, Pocillopora damicornis. Detectable levels of 17β-estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone were consistently detected over two consecutive lunar reproductive cycles in coral tissue. Intra-colony variation in steroid hormone levels ranged between 1.5- and 2.2-fold and were not statistically different. Activities of the steroidogenic enzymes 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and cytochrome P450 (CYP) 17 dehydrogenase were detectable and did not fluctuate over the reproductive cycle. Aromatase-like activity was detected during the lunar reproductive cycle with no significant fluctuations. Activities of regeneration enzymes did not fluctuate over the lunar cycle; however, activity of the clearance enzyme UDP-glucuronosyl transferases increased significantly (ANOVA, post hoc p<0.01) during the two weeks before and after peak larval release (planulation), suggesting that the activity of this enzyme family may be linked to the reproductive state of the coral. Sulfotransferase enzymes could not be detected. Our findings provide the first data defining normal physiological and lunar/reproductive variability in steroidal enzymes in a coral species with respect to their potential role in coral reproduction.

  16. 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…

  17. 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,...

  18. Optimising Land-Sea Management for Inshore Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Gilby, Ben L.; Olds, Andrew D.; Connolly, Rod M.; Stevens, Tim; Henderson, Christopher J.; Maxwell, Paul S.; Tibbetts, Ian R.; Schoeman, David S.; Rissik, David; Schlacher, Thomas A.

    2016-01-01

    Management authorities seldom have the capacity to comprehensively address the full suite of anthropogenic stressors, particularly in the coastal zone where numerous threats can act simultaneously to impact reefs and other ecosystems. This situation requires tools to prioritise management interventions that result in optimum ecological outcomes under a set of constraints. Here we develop one such tool, introducing a Bayesian Belief Network to model the ecological condition of inshore coral reefs in Moreton Bay (Australia) under a range of management actions. Empirical field data was used to model a suite of possible ecological responses of coral reef assemblages to five key management actions both in the sea (e.g. expansion of reserves, mangrove & seagrass restoration, fishing restrictions) and on land (e.g. lower inputs of sediment and sewage from treatment plants). Models show that expanding marine reserves (a ‘marine action’) and reducing sediment inputs from the catchments (a ‘land action’) were the most effective investments to achieve a better status of reefs in the Bay, with both having been included in >58% of scenarios with positive outcomes, and >98% of the most effective (5th percentile) scenarios. Heightened fishing restrictions, restoring habitats, and reducing nutrient discharges from wastewater treatment plants have additional, albeit smaller effects. There was no evidence that combining individual management actions would consistently produce sizeable synergistic until after maximum investment on both marine reserves (i.e. increasing reserve extent from 31 to 62% of reefs) and sediments (i.e. rehabilitating 6350 km of waterways within catchments to reduce sediment loads by 50%) were implemented. The method presented here provides a useful tool to prioritize environmental actions in situations where multiple competing management interventions exist for coral reefs and in other systems subjected to multiple stressor from the land and the sea

  19. Budget of coral-derived organic carbon in a fringing coral reef of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Naumann, Malik S.; Richter, Claudio; Mott, Claudius; el-Zibdah, Mohammad; Manasrah, Riyad; Wild, Christian

    2012-12-01

    The continuous release of organic C-rich material by reef-building corals can contribute substantially to biogeochemical processes and concomitant rapid nutrient recycling in coral reef ecosystems. However, our current understanding of these processes is limited to platform reefs exhibiting a high degree of ecosystem closure compared to the globally most common fringing reef type. This study carried out in the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) presents the first quantitative budget for coral-derived organic carbon (COC) in a fringing reef and highlights the importance of local hydrodynamics. Diel reef-wide COC release amounted to 1.1 ± 0.2 kmol total organic carbon (TOC) representing 1-3% of gross benthic primary production. Most COC (73%) was released as particulate organic C (POC), the bulk of which (34-63%) rapidly settled as mucus string aggregates accounting for approximately 28% of total POC sedimentation. Sedimentation of mucus strings, but also dilution of suspended and dissolved COC in reef waters retained 82% of diel COC release in the fringing reef, providing a potentially important organic source for a COC-based food web. Pelagic COC degradation represented 0.1-1.6% of pelagic microbial respiration recycling 32% of diel retained COC. Benthic COC degradation contributed substantially (29-47%) to reef-wide microbial respiration in reef sands, including 20-38% by mucus string POC, and consumed approximately 52% of all retained COC. These findings point out the importance of COC as a C carrier for different reef types. COC may further represent a source of organic carbon for faunal communities colonising reef framework cavities complementing the efficient retention and recycling of COC within fringing reef environments.

  20. The structure and composition of Holocene coral reefs in the Middle Florida Keys

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Toth, Lauren T.; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Kuffner, Ilsa B.

    2016-01-01

    The Florida Keys reef tract (FKRT) is the largest coral-reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The modern FKRT extends for 362 kilometers along the coast of South Florida from Dry Tortugas National Park in the southwest, through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), to Fowey Rocks reef in Biscayne National Park in the northeast. Most reefs along the FKRT are sheltered by the exposed islands of the Florida Keys; however, large channels are located between the islands of the Middle Keys. These openings allow for tidal transport of water from Florida Bay onto reefs in the area. The characteristics of the water masses coming from Florida Bay, which can experience broad swings in temperature, salinity, nutrients, and turbidity over short periods of time, are generally unfavorable or “inimical” to coral growth and reef development.Although reef habitats are ubiquitous throughout most of the Upper and Lower Keys, relatively few modern reefs exist in the Middle Keys most likely because of the impacts of inimical waters from Florida Bay. The reefs that are present in the Middle Keys generally are poorly developed compared with reefs elsewhere in the region. For example, Acropora palmata has been the dominant coral on shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean over the last 1.5 million years until populations of the coral declined throughout the region in recent decades. Although A. palmata was historically abundant in the Florida Keys, it was conspicuously absent from reefs in the Middle Keys. Instead, contemporary reefs in the Middle Keys have been dominated by occasional massive (that is, boulder or head) corals and, more often, small, non-reef-building corals.Holocene reef cores have been collected from many locations along the FKRT; however, despite the potential importance of the history of reefs in the Middle Florida Keys to our understanding of the environmental controls on reef development throughout the FKRT, there are currently no published

  1. The structure and composition of Holocene coral reefs in the Middle Florida Keys

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Toth, Lauren T.; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Kuffner, Ilsa B.

    2016-07-21

    The Florida Keys reef tract (FKRT) is the largest coral-reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The modern FKRT extends for 362 kilometers along the coast of South Florida from Dry Tortugas National Park in the southwest, through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), to Fowey Rocks reef in Biscayne National Park in the northeast. Most reefs along the FKRT are sheltered by the exposed islands of the Florida Keys; however, large channels are located between the islands of the Middle Keys. These openings allow for tidal transport of water from Florida Bay onto reefs in the area. The characteristics of the water masses coming from Florida Bay, which can experience broad swings in temperature, salinity, nutrients, and turbidity over short periods of time, are generally unfavorable or “inimical” to coral growth and reef development.Although reef habitats are ubiquitous throughout most of the Upper and Lower Keys, relatively few modern reefs exist in the Middle Keys most likely because of the impacts of inimical waters from Florida Bay. The reefs that are present in the Middle Keys generally are poorly developed compared with reefs elsewhere in the region. For example, Acropora palmata has been the dominant coral on shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean over the last 1.5 million years until populations of the coral declined throughout the region in recent decades. Although A. palmata was historically abundant in the Florida Keys, it was conspicuously absent from reefs in the Middle Keys. Instead, contemporary reefs in the Middle Keys have been dominated by occasional massive (that is, boulder or head) corals and, more often, small, non-reef-building corals.Holocene reef cores have been collected from many locations along the FKRT; however, despite the potential importance of the history of reefs in the Middle Florida Keys to our understanding of the environmental controls on reef development throughout the FKRT, there are currently no published

  2. Shift from coral to macroalgae dominance on a volcanically acidified reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Enochs, I. C.; Manzello, D. P.; Donham, E. M.; Kolodziej, G.; Okano, R.; Johnston, L.; Young, C.; Iguel, J.; Edwards, C. B.; Fox, M. D.; Valentino, L.; Johnson, S.; Benavente, D.; Clark, S. J.; Carlton, R.; Burton, T.; Eynaud, Y.; Price, N. N.

    2015-12-01

    Rising anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is accompanied by an increase in oceanic CO2 and a concomitant decline in seawater pH (ref. ). This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification (OA), has been experimentally shown to impact the biology and ecology of numerous animals and plants, most notably those that precipitate calcium carbonate skeletons, such as reef-building corals. Volcanically acidified water at Maug, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is equivalent to near-future predictions for what coral reef ecosystems will experience worldwide due to OA. We provide the first chemical and ecological assessment of this unique site and show that acidification-related stress significantly influences the abundance and diversity of coral reef taxa, leading to the often-predicted shift from a coral to an algae-dominated state. This study provides field evidence that acidification can lead to macroalgae dominance on reefs.

  3. Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi; Riginos, Cynthia; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2016-07-01

    Connectivity underpins the persistence and recovery of marine ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and managed by an extensive network of no-take zones; however, information about connectivity was not available to optimize the network's configuration. We use multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering algorithms and assignment tests of the largest population genetic data set for any organism on the GBR to date (Acropora tenuis, >2500 colonies; >50 reefs, genotyped for ten microsatellite loci) to demonstrate highly congruent patterns of connectivity between this common broadcast spawning reef-building coral and its congener Acropora millepora (~950 colonies; 20 reefs, genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci). For both species, there is a genetic divide at around 19°S latitude, most probably reflecting allopatric differentiation during the Pleistocene. GBR reefs north of 19°S are essentially panmictic whereas southern reefs are genetically distinct with higher levels of genetic diversity and population structure, most notably genetic subdivision between inshore and offshore reefs south of 19°S. These broadly congruent patterns of higher genetic diversities found on southern GBR reefs most likely represent the accumulation of alleles via the southward flowing East Australia Current. In addition, signatures of genetic admixture between the Coral Sea and outer-shelf reefs in the northern, central and southern GBR provide evidence of recent gene flow. Our connectivity results are consistent with predictions from recently published larval dispersal models for broadcast spawning corals on the GBR, thereby providing robust connectivity information about the dominant reef-building genus Acropora for coral reef managers.

  4. Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi; Riginos, Cynthia; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2016-07-01

    Connectivity underpins the persistence and recovery of marine ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and managed by an extensive network of no-take zones; however, information about connectivity was not available to optimize the network's configuration. We use multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering algorithms and assignment tests of the largest population genetic data set for any organism on the GBR to date (Acropora tenuis, >2500 colonies; >50 reefs, genotyped for ten microsatellite loci) to demonstrate highly congruent patterns of connectivity between this common broadcast spawning reef-building coral and its congener Acropora millepora (~950 colonies; 20 reefs, genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci). For both species, there is a genetic divide at around 19°S latitude, most probably reflecting allopatric differentiation during the Pleistocene. GBR reefs north of 19°S are essentially panmictic whereas southern reefs are genetically distinct with higher levels of genetic diversity and population structure, most notably genetic subdivision between inshore and offshore reefs south of 19°S. These broadly congruent patterns of higher genetic diversities found on southern GBR reefs most likely represent the accumulation of alleles via the southward flowing East Australia Current. In addition, signatures of genetic admixture between the Coral Sea and outer-shelf reefs in the northern, central and southern GBR provide evidence of recent gene flow. Our connectivity results are consistent with predictions from recently published larval dispersal models for broadcast spawning corals on the GBR, thereby providing robust connectivity information about the dominant reef-building genus Acropora for coral reef managers. PMID:27085309

  5. 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.

  6. Community Change within a Caribbean Coral Reef Marine Protected Area following Two Decades of Local Management

    PubMed Central

    Noble, Mae M.; van Laake, Gregoor; Berumen, Michael L.; Fulton, Christopher J.

    2013-01-01

    Structural change in both the habitat and reef-associated fish assemblages within spatially managed coral reefs can provide key insights into the benefits and limitations of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). While MPA zoning effects on particular target species are well reported, we are yet to fully resolve the various affects of spatial management on the structure of coral reef communities over decadal time scales. Here, we document mixed affects of MPA zoning on fish density, biomass and species richness over the 21 years since establishment of the Saba Marine Park (SMP). Although we found significantly greater biomass and species richness of reef-associated fishes within shallow habitats (5 meters depth) closed to fishing, this did not hold for deeper (15 m) habitats, and there was a widespread decline (38% decrease) in live hard coral cover and a 68% loss of carnivorous reef fishes across all zones of the SMP from the 1990s to 2008. Given the importance of live coral for the maintenance and replenishment of reef fishes, and the likely role of chronic disturbance in driving coral decline across the region, we explore how local spatial management can help protect coral reef ecosystems within the context of large-scale environmental pressures and disturbances outside the purview of local MPA management. PMID:23342078

  7. Community change within a Caribbean coral reef Marine Protected Area following two decades of local management.

    PubMed

    Noble, Mae M; van Laake, Gregoor; Berumen, Michael L; Fulton, Christopher J

    2013-01-01

    Structural change in both the habitat and reef-associated fish assemblages within spatially managed coral reefs can provide key insights into the benefits and limitations of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). While MPA zoning effects on particular target species are well reported, we are yet to fully resolve the various affects of spatial management on the structure of coral reef communities over decadal time scales. Here, we document mixed affects of MPA zoning on fish density, biomass and species richness over the 21 years since establishment of the Saba Marine Park (SMP). Although we found significantly greater biomass and species richness of reef-associated fishes within shallow habitats (5 meters depth) closed to fishing, this did not hold for deeper (15 m) habitats, and there was a widespread decline (38% decrease) in live hard coral cover and a 68% loss of carnivorous reef fishes across all zones of the SMP from the 1990s to 2008. Given the importance of live coral for the maintenance and replenishment of reef fishes, and the likely role of chronic disturbance in driving coral decline across the region, we explore how local spatial management can help protect coral reef ecosystems within the context of large-scale environmental pressures and disturbances outside the purview of local MPA management. PMID:23342078

  8. Robust Performance of Marginal Pacific Coral Reef Habitats in Future Climate Scenarios.

    PubMed

    Freeman, Lauren A

    2015-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are under dual threat from climate change. Increasing sea surface temperatures and thermal stress create environmental limits at low latitudes, and decreasing aragonite saturation state creates environmental limits at high latitudes. This study examines the response of unique coral reef habitats to climate change in the remote Pacific, using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Earth System Model version 1 alongside the species distribution algorithm Maxent. Narrow ranges of physico-chemical variables are used to define unique coral habitats and their performance is tested in future climate scenarios. General loss of coral reef habitat is expected in future climate scenarios and has been shown in previous studies. This study found exactly that for most of the predominant physico-chemical environments. However, certain coral reef habitats considered marginal today at high latitude, along the equator and in the eastern tropical Pacific were found to be quite robust in climate change scenarios. Furthermore, an environmental coral reef refuge previously identified in the central south Pacific near French Polynesia was further reinforced. Studying the response of specific habitats showed that the prevailing conditions of this refuge during the 20th century shift to a new set of conditions, more characteristic of higher latitude coral reefs in the 20th century, in future climate scenarios projected to 2100.

  9. Robust Performance of Marginal Pacific Coral Reef Habitats in Future Climate Scenarios

    PubMed Central

    Freeman, Lauren A.

    2015-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are under dual threat from climate change. Increasing sea surface temperatures and thermal stress create environmental limits at low latitudes, and decreasing aragonite saturation state creates environmental limits at high latitudes. This study examines the response of unique coral reef habitats to climate change in the remote Pacific, using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Earth System Model version 1 alongside the species distribution algorithm Maxent. Narrow ranges of physico-chemical variables are used to define unique coral habitats and their performance is tested in future climate scenarios. General loss of coral reef habitat is expected in future climate scenarios and has been shown in previous studies. This study found exactly that for most of the predominant physico-chemical environments. However, certain coral reef habitats considered marginal today at high latitude, along the equator and in the eastern tropical Pacific were found to be quite robust in climate change scenarios. Furthermore, an environmental coral reef refuge previously identified in the central south Pacific near French Polynesia was further reinforced. Studying the response of specific habitats showed that the prevailing conditions of this refuge during the 20th century shift to a new set of conditions, more characteristic of higher latitude coral reefs in the 20th century, in future climate scenarios projected to 2100. PMID:26053439

  10. Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Cinner, Joshua E; Huchery, Cindy; MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; McClanahan, Tim R; Maina, Joseph; Maire, Eva; Kittinger, John N; Hicks, Christina C; Mora, Camilo; Allison, Edward H; D'Agata, Stephanie; Hoey, Andrew; Feary, David A; Crowder, Larry; Williams, Ivor D; Kulbicki, Michel; Vigliola, Laurent; Wantiez, Laurent; Edgar, Graham; Stuart-Smith, Rick D; Sandin, Stuart A; Green, Alison L; Hardt, Marah J; Beger, Maria; Friedlander, Alan; Campbell, Stuart J; Holmes, Katherine E; Wilson, Shaun K; Brokovich, Eran; Brooks, Andrew J; Cruz-Motta, Juan J; Booth, David J; Chabanet, Pascale; Gough, Charlie; Tupper, Mark; Ferse, Sebastian C A; Sumaila, U Rashid; Mouillot, David

    2016-07-21

    Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world’s coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them3. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the ‘outliers’—places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers they are exposed to. Here we compile data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide and develop a Bayesian hierarchical model to generate expectations of how standing stocks of reef fish biomass are related to 18 socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions. We identify 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots among our global survey of coral reefs, defined as sites that have biomass levels more than two standard deviations from expectations. Importantly, bright spots are not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure; they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystem resources is high, potentially providing insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Conversely, dark spots are not necessarily the sites with the lowest absolute biomass and even include some remote, uninhabited locations often considered near pristine6. We surveyed local experts about social, institutional, and environmental conditions at these sites to reveal that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Alternatively, dark spots are characterized by intensive capture and storage technology and a recent history of environmental shocks. Our results suggest that investments in strengthening fisheries

  11. Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cinner, Joshua E.; Huchery, Cindy; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; McClanahan, Tim R.; Maina, Joseph; Maire, Eva; Kittinger, John N.; Hicks, Christina C.; Mora, Camilo; Allison, Edward H.; D'Agata, Stephanie; Hoey, Andrew; Feary, David A.; Crowder, Larry; Williams, Ivor D.; Kulbicki, Michel; Vigliola, Laurent; Wantiez, Laurent; Edgar, Graham; Stuart-Smith, Rick D.; Sandin, Stuart A.; Green, Alison L.; Hardt, Marah J.; Beger, Maria; Friedlander, Alan; Campbell, Stuart J.; Holmes, Katherine E.; Wilson, Shaun K.; Brokovich, Eran; Brooks, Andrew J.; Cruz-Motta, Juan J.; Booth, David J.; Chabanet, Pascale; Gough, Charlie; Tupper, Mark; Ferse, Sebastian C. A.; Sumaila, U. Rashid; Mouillot, David

    2016-07-01

    Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world’s coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the ‘outliers’—places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers they are exposed to. Here we compile data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide and develop a Bayesian hierarchical model to generate expectations of how standing stocks of reef fish biomass are related to 18 socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions. We identify 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots among our global survey of coral reefs, defined as sites that have biomass levels more than two standard deviations from expectations. Importantly, bright spots are not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure; they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystem resources is high, potentially providing insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Conversely, dark spots are not necessarily the sites with the lowest absolute biomass and even include some remote, uninhabited locations often considered near pristine. We surveyed local experts about social, institutional, and environmental conditions at these sites to reveal that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Alternatively, dark spots are characterized by intensive capture and storage technology and a recent history of environmental shocks. Our results suggest that investments in strengthening fisheries

  12. Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Cinner, Joshua E; Huchery, Cindy; MacNeil, M Aaron; Graham, Nicholas A J; McClanahan, Tim R; Maina, Joseph; Maire, Eva; Kittinger, John N; Hicks, Christina C; Mora, Camilo; Allison, Edward H; D'Agata, Stephanie; Hoey, Andrew; Feary, David A; Crowder, Larry; Williams, Ivor D; Kulbicki, Michel; Vigliola, Laurent; Wantiez, Laurent; Edgar, Graham; Stuart-Smith, Rick D; Sandin, Stuart A; Green, Alison L; Hardt, Marah J; Beger, Maria; Friedlander, Alan; Campbell, Stuart J; Holmes, Katherine E; Wilson, Shaun K; Brokovich, Eran; Brooks, Andrew J; Cruz-Motta, Juan J; Booth, David J; Chabanet, Pascale; Gough, Charlie; Tupper, Mark; Ferse, Sebastian C A; Sumaila, U Rashid; Mouillot, David

    2016-07-21

    Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world’s coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them3. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the ‘outliers’—places where ecosystems are substantially better (‘bright spots’) or worse (‘dark spots’) than expected, given the environmental conditions and socioeconomic drivers they are exposed to. Here we compile data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide and develop a Bayesian hierarchical model to generate expectations of how standing stocks of reef fish biomass are related to 18 socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions. We identify 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots among our global survey of coral reefs, defined as sites that have biomass levels more than two standard deviations from expectations. Importantly, bright spots are not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure; they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystem resources is high, potentially providing insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Conversely, dark spots are not necessarily the sites with the lowest absolute biomass and even include some remote, uninhabited locations often considered near pristine6. We surveyed local experts about social, institutional, and environmental conditions at these sites to reveal that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions such as customary taboos and marine tenure, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions such as deep-water refuges. Alternatively, dark spots are characterized by intensive capture and storage technology and a recent history of environmental shocks. Our results suggest that investments in strengthening fisheries

  13. 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)

  14. 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.

  15. Insights Into Nitrogen Isotope Fractionation in Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lamb, K. A.; Swart, P. K.; Ellis, G. S.

    2002-12-01

    Environmental integrity in the Florida Reef tract and the Caribbean has been the center of concern for the past 15-20 years. Both the recreational and scientific communities alike have noticed an overall decline in coral reef health. This decline has manifested itself in the form of increased fleshy macroalgae growth and reduced coral cover, and in some cases, wide-scale coral mortality. Given the increasing dependence on a tourism-oriented economy in both South Florida and the Caribbean, much attention has been focused on maintaining reef longevity. A high nutrient load is believed to be the leading cause of degradation in the predominantly oligotrophic environment. Various studies have cited increased run off and input of anthropogenic wastes as the origin of these nutrients. It has also been suggested that the stable isotopes of nitrogen may provide a tracer with which to recognize the impact of anthropogenic nutrients within the coral reefs ecosystem. However, in utilizing both nitrogen and carbon stable isotopic methods on samples of particulate organic matter (POM) taken over the last three years, we find little evidence of the input of anthropogenic waste. δ15N values of POM fluctuate between +1 and +9 per mille, but usually remain in the +4 to +6 per mille range. Additionally, δ13C values are even more consistent, maintaining a balance between -19 to -21 per mille. These data are consistent with natural open-ocean values for δ15N and δ13C, indicating a lack of intense and prolonged exposure to anthropogenic wastes in the Florida Keys.

  16. 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.

  17. Mangrove habitats provide refuge from climate change for reef-building corals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yates, K. K.; Rogers, C. S.; Herlan, J. J.; Brooks, G. R.; Smiley, N. A.; Larson, R. A.

    2014-03-01

    conditions, and biological influences on seawater chemistry generate chemical conditions that buffer against ocean acidification. This previously undocumented refuge for corals provides evidence for adaptation of coastal organisms and ecosystem transition due to recent climate change. Identifying and protecting other natural, non-reef coral refuges is critical for sustaining corals and other reef species into the future.

  18. 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.

  19. Coral-reef front migration in the Ryukyu Arc: responses of high latitude coral reefs to Quaternary climatic changes in North Western Pacific

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Matsuda, H.; Iryu, Y.; Machiyama, H.

    2003-04-01

    Coral reefs are tropic to subtropic coastal ecosystems comprising very diverse organisms. Their community structure and geographic and local distribution are highly controlled by various environmental factors. Thus, their ancient counterparts, reef deposits, provide important, high-resolution records of geoscientific events in tropic to subtropic shallow waters, such as vertical and lateral tectonic movements, sea-level fluctuations, paleoclimatic changes, and paleoceanographic variations. In order to clarify relationships between reef formation and geoscientific events, it is necessary to investigate the reef deposits at relatively higher latitudes within reef provinces, because such reefs were considered to be more sensitive to the environmental changes than those in proximal areas. It can be, therefore, considered that the northern or southern limit of reef formation, herein termed the 'coral-reef front', may have migrated to higher and lower latitudes, respectively, responding to Pleistocene global warming and cooling associated with rapid, cyclic changes in climate and oceanographic conditions and with glacioeustatic sea-level rises and falls. Thus, this study mainly aims (1) to depict paleoeclimatic and paleoceanographic fluctuations in tropic to subtropic shallow-waters in details by reconstructing the coral-reef front migration, (2) how and to what extent the reefs responded to rapid environmental changes, and (3) to evaluate a role of coral reefs in a global carbon cycle. To resolve the problems described above, the Ryukyu Islands are one of the best fields. In this proposal, we will insist that the multiple drilling that covers submarine (IODP) and land (ICDP) areas is the only way to complete our purposes.

  20. 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.

  1. The impact of exploiting grazers (Scaridae) on the dynamics of Caribbean coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J

    2006-04-01

    Coral reefs provide a number of ecosystem services including coastal defense from storms, the generation of building materials, and fisheries. It is increasingly clear that the management of reef resources requires an ecosystem approach in which extractive activities are weighed against the needs of the ecosystem and its functions rather than solely those of the fishery. Here, I use a spatially explicit simulation model of a Caribbean coral reef to examine the ecosystem requirements for grazing which is primarily conducted by parrotfishes (Scaridae). The model allows the impact of fishing grazers to be assessed in the wider context of other ecosystem processes including coral-algal competition, hurricanes, and mass extinction of the herbivorous urchin Diadema antillarum. Using a new analytical model of scarid grazing, it is estimated that parrotfishes can only maintain between 10% and 30% of a structurally complex forereef in a grazed state. Predictions from this grazing model were then incorporated into a broader simulation model of the ecosystem. Simulations predict that scarid grazing is unable to maintain high levels of coral cover (> or = 30%) when severe hurricanes occur on a decadal basis, such as occurs in parts of the northern Caribbean. However, reefs can withstand such intense disturbance when grazing is undertaken by both scarids and the urchin Diadema. Scarid grazing is predicted to allow recovery from hurricanes when their incidence falls to 20 years or less (e.g., most of Central and South America). Sensitivity analyses revealed that scarid grazing had the most acute impact on model behavior, and depletion led to the emergence of a stable, algal-dominated community state. Under conditions of heavy grazer depletion, coral cover was predicted to decline rapidly from an initial level of 30% to less than 1% within 40 years, even when hurricane frequency was low at 60 years. Depleted grazers caused a population bottleneck in juvenile corals in which algal

  2. 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

  3. 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. PMID:25875218

  4. Disturbance and the dynamics of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995-2009).

    PubMed

    Osborne, Kate; Dolman, Andrew M; Burgess, Scott C; Johns, Kerryn A

    2011-03-10

    Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from chronic and acute stressors that threaten their continued existence. Most obvious among changes to reefs is loss of hard coral cover, but a precise multi-scale estimate of coral cover dynamics for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently lacking. Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009. Subregional trends (10-100 km) in hard coral were diverse with some being very dynamic and others changing little. Coral cover increased in six subregions and decreased in seven subregions. Persistent decline of corals occurred in one subregion for hard coral and Acroporidae and in four subregions in non-Acroporidae families. Change in Acroporidae accounted for 68% of change in hard coral. Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10-100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery.

  5. Disturbance and the Dynamics of Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995–2009)

    PubMed Central

    Osborne, Kate; Dolman, Andrew M.; Burgess, Scott C.; Johns, Kerryn A.

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from chronic and acute stressors that threaten their continued existence. Most obvious among changes to reefs is loss of hard coral cover, but a precise multi-scale estimate of coral cover dynamics for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently lacking. Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009. Subregional trends (10–100 km) in hard coral were diverse with some being very dynamic and others changing little. Coral cover increased in six subregions and decreased in seven subregions. Persistent decline of corals occurred in one subregion for hard coral and Acroporidae and in four subregions in non-Acroporidae families. Change in Acroporidae accounted for 68% of change in hard coral. Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10–100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery. PMID:21423742

  6. Disturbance and the dynamics of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995-2009).

    PubMed

    Osborne, Kate; Dolman, Andrew M; Burgess, Scott C; Johns, Kerryn A

    2011-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from chronic and acute stressors that threaten their continued existence. Most obvious among changes to reefs is loss of hard coral cover, but a precise multi-scale estimate of coral cover dynamics for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently lacking. Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009. Subregional trends (10-100 km) in hard coral were diverse with some being very dynamic and others changing little. Coral cover increased in six subregions and decreased in seven subregions. Persistent decline of corals occurred in one subregion for hard coral and Acroporidae and in four subregions in non-Acroporidae families. Change in Acroporidae accounted for 68% of change in hard coral. Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10-100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery. PMID:21423742

  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. 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.

  10. The Ecological Role of Sharks on Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-05-01

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

  11. 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.

  12. The Ecological Role of Sharks on Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-05-01

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

  13. The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

  14. 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

  15. Simulations of Long-Term Community Dynamics in Coral Reefs - How Perturbations Shape Trajectories

    PubMed Central

    Kubicek, Andreas; Muhando, Christopher; Reuter, Hauke

    2012-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs feature extraordinary biodiversity and high productivity rates in oligotrophic waters. Due to increasing frequencies of perturbations – anthropogenic and natural – many reefs are under threat. Such perturbations often have devastating effects on these unique ecosystems and especially if they occur simultaneously and amplify each other's impact, they might trigger a phase shift and create irreversible conditions. We developed a generic, spatially explicit, individual-based model in which competition drives the dynamics of a virtual benthic reef community – comprised of scleractinian corals and algae – under different environmental settings. Higher system properties, like population dynamics or community composition arise through self-organization as emergent properties. The model was parameterized for a typical coral reef site at Zanzibar, Tanzania and features coral bleaching and physical disturbance regimes as major sources of perturbations. Our results show that various types and modes (intensities and frequencies) of perturbations create diverse outcomes and that the switch from high diversity to single species dominance can be evoked by small changes in a key parameter. Here we extend the understanding of coral reef resilience and the identification of key processes, drivers and respective thresholds, responsible for changes in local situations. One future goal is to provide a tool which may aid decision making processes in management of coral reefs. PMID:23209397

  16. Habitats as surrogates of taxonomic and functional fish assemblages in coral reef ecosystems: a critical analysis of factors driving effectiveness.

    PubMed

    Van Wynsberge, Simon; Andréfouët, Serge; Hamel, Mélanie A; Kulbicki, Michel

    2012-01-01

    Species check-lists are helpful to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protect local richness, endemicity, rarity, and biodiversity in general. However, such exhaustive taxonomic lists (i.e., true surrogate of biodiversity) require extensive and expensive censuses, and the use of estimator surrogates (e.g., habitats) is an appealing alternative. In truth, surrogate effectiveness appears from the literature highly variable both in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, making it difficult to provide practical recommendations for managers. Here, we evaluate how the biodiversity reference data set and its inherent bias can influence effectiveness. Specifically, we defined habitats by geomorphology, rugosity, and benthic cover and architecture criteria, and mapped them with satellite images for a New-Caledonian site. Fish taxonomic and functional lists were elaborated from Underwater Visual Censuses, stratified according to geomorphology and exposure. We then tested if MPA networks designed to maximize habitat richness, diversity and rarity could also effectively maximize fish richness, diversity, and rarity. Effectiveness appeared highly sensitive to the fish census design itself, in relation to the type of habitat map used and the scale of analysis. Spatial distribution of habitats (estimator surrogate's distribution), quantity and location of fish census stations (target surrogate's sampling), and random processes in the MPA design all affected effectiveness to the point that one small change in the data set could lead to opposite conclusions. We suggest that previous conclusions on surrogacy effectiveness, either positive or negative, marine or terrestrial, should be considered with caution, except in instances where very dense data sets were used without pseudo-replication. Although this does not rule out the validity of using surrogates of species lists for conservation planning, the critical joint examination of both target and estimator surrogates is needed

  17. Habitats as surrogates of taxonomic and functional fish assemblages in coral reef ecosystems: a critical analysis of factors driving effectiveness.

    PubMed

    Van Wynsberge, Simon; Andréfouët, Serge; Hamel, Mélanie A; Kulbicki, Michel

    2012-01-01

    Species check-lists are helpful to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protect local richness, endemicity, rarity, and biodiversity in general. However, such exhaustive taxonomic lists (i.e., true surrogate of biodiversity) require extensive and expensive censuses, and the use of estimator surrogates (e.g., habitats) is an appealing alternative. In truth, surrogate effectiveness appears from the literature highly variable both in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, making it difficult to provide practical recommendations for managers. Here, we evaluate how the biodiversity reference data set and its inherent bias can influence effectiveness. Specifically, we defined habitats by geomorphology, rugosity, and benthic cover and architecture criteria, and mapped them with satellite images for a New-Caledonian site. Fish taxonomic and functional lists were elaborated from Underwater Visual Censuses, stratified according to geomorphology and exposure. We then tested if MPA networks designed to maximize habitat richness, diversity and rarity could also effectively maximize fish richness, diversity, and rarity. Effectiveness appeared highly sensitive to the fish census design itself, in relation to the type of habitat map used and the scale of analysis. Spatial distribution of habitats (estimator surrogate's distribution), quantity and location of fish census stations (target surrogate's sampling), and random processes in the MPA design all affected effectiveness to the point that one small change in the data set could lead to opposite conclusions. We suggest that previous conclusions on surrogacy effectiveness, either positive or negative, marine or terrestrial, should be considered with caution, except in instances where very dense data sets were used without pseudo-replication. Although this does not rule out the validity of using surrogates of species lists for conservation planning, the critical joint examination of both target and estimator surrogates is needed

  18. Habitats as Surrogates of Taxonomic and Functional Fish Assemblages in Coral Reef Ecosystems: A Critical Analysis of Factors Driving Effectiveness

    PubMed Central

    Van Wynsberge, Simon; Andréfouët, Serge; Hamel, Mélanie A.; Kulbicki, Michel

    2012-01-01

    Species check-lists are helpful to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protect local richness, endemicity, rarity, and biodiversity in general. However, such exhaustive taxonomic lists (i.e., true surrogate of biodiversity) require extensive and expensive censuses, and the use of estimator surrogates (e.g., habitats) is an appealing alternative. In truth, surrogate effectiveness appears from the literature highly variable both in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, making it difficult to provide practical recommendations for managers. Here, we evaluate how the biodiversity reference data set and its inherent bias can influence effectiveness. Specifically, we defined habitats by geomorphology, rugosity, and benthic cover and architecture criteria, and mapped them with satellite images for a New-Caledonian site. Fish taxonomic and functional lists were elaborated from Underwater Visual Censuses, stratified according to geomorphology and exposure. We then tested if MPA networks designed to maximize habitat richness, diversity and rarity could also effectively maximize fish richness, diversity, and rarity. Effectiveness appeared highly sensitive to the fish census design itself, in relation to the type of habitat map used and the scale of analysis. Spatial distribution of habitats (estimator surrogate’s distribution), quantity and location of fish census stations (target surrogate’s sampling), and random processes in the MPA design all affected effectiveness to the point that one small change in the data set could lead to opposite conclusions. We suggest that previous conclusions on surrogacy effectiveness, either positive or negative, marine or terrestrial, should be considered with caution, except in instances where very dense data sets were used without pseudo-replication. Although this does not rule out the validity of using surrogates of species lists for conservation planning, the critical joint examination of both target and estimator surrogates is

  19. The impacts of tourism on coral reef conservation awareness and support in coastal communities in Belize

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Diedrich, A.

    2007-12-01

    Marine recreational tourism is one of a number of threats to the Belize Barrier Reef but, conversely, represents both a motivation and source of resources for its conservation. The growth of tourism in Belize has resulted in the fact that many coastal communities are in varying stages of a socio-economic shift from dependence on fishing to dependence on tourism. In a nation becoming increasingly dependent on the health of its coral reef ecosystems for economic prosperity, a shift from extractive uses to their preservation is both necessary and logical. Through examining local perception data in five coastal communities in Belize, each attracting different levels of coral reef related tourism, this analysis is intended to explore the relationship between tourism development and local coral reef conservation awareness and support. The results of the analysis show a positive correlation between tourism development and coral reef conservation awareness and support in the study communities. The results also show a positive correlation between tourism development and local perceptions of quality of life, a trend that is most likely the source of the observed relationship between tourism and conservation. The study concludes that, because the observed relationship may be dependent on continued benefits from tourism as opposed to a perceived crisis in coral reef health, Belize must pay close attention to tourism impacts in the future. Failure to do this could result in a destructive feedback loop that would contribute to the degradation of the reef and, ultimately, Belize’s diminished competitiveness in the ecotourism market.

  20. Temporal patterns in coral reef, seagrass and mangrove communities from Chengue bay CARICOMP site (Colombia): 1993-2008.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez-Ramírez, Alberto; Garzón-Ferreira, Jaime; Batista-Morales, Angélica; Gil, Diego L; Gómez-López, Diana Isabel; Gómez-Campo, Kelly; López-Londoño, Tomás; Navas-Camacho, Raúl; Reyes-Nivia, María Catalina; Vega-Sequeda, Johanna

    2010-10-01

    Few monitoring programs have simultaneously assessed the dynamics of linked marine ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves) to document their temporal and spatial variability. Based on CARICOMP protocol we evaluated permanent stations in coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves from 1993 to 2008 in Chengue Bay at the Tayrona Natural Park, Colombian Caribbean. Overall, the studied ecosystems showed a remarkable stability pattern over the monitoring period. While there were annual variations in coral reefs (coral cover) and mangroves (litterfall) caused by hurricane Lenny in 1999, particular trends in seagrass (leaf area index and leaf productivity) appear to reflect the natural variability in this ecosystem. We suggest that monitoring sites at the three marine ecosystems had in general a healthy development in the last 16 years. Our results are critical to locally improve the management strategies (Tayrona Natural Park) and to understand the long-term dynamics of closely associated marine ecosystems in the Caribbean. PMID:21299095

  1. Temperature variability caused by internal tides in the coral reef ecosystem of Hanauma bay, Hawai'i

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smith, Katharine A.; Rocheleau, Greg; Merrifield, Mark A.; Jaramillo, Sergio; Pawlak, Geno

    2016-03-01

    seasonal changes in stratification in temperature variability in shallow ecosystems, particularly those close to generation sites.

  2. Evaluation of coral reef carbonate production models at a global scale

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jones, N. S.; Ridgwell, A.; Hendy, E. J.

    2014-09-01

    Calcification by coral reef communities is estimated to account for half of all carbonate produced in shallow water environments and more than 25% of the total carbonate buried in marine sediments globally. Production of calcium carbonate by coral reefs is therefore an important component of the global carbon cycle. It is also threatened by future global warming and other global change pressures. Numerical models of reefal carbonate production are essential for understanding how carbonate deposition responds to environmental conditions including future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but these models must first be evaluated in terms of their skill in recreating present day calcification rates. Here we evaluate four published model descriptions of reef carbonate production in terms of their predictive power, at both local and global scales, by comparing carbonate budget outputs with independent estimates. We also compile available global data on reef calcification to produce an observation-based dataset for the model evaluation. The four calcification models are based on functions sensitive to combinations of light availability, aragonite saturation (Ωa) and temperature and were implemented within a specifically-developed global framework, the Global Reef Accretion Model (GRAM). None of the four models correlated with independent rate estimates of whole reef calcification. The temperature-only based approach was the only model output to significantly correlate with coral-calcification rate observations. The absence of any predictive power for whole reef systems, even when consistent at the scale of individual corals, points to the overriding importance of coral cover estimates in the calculations. Our work highlights the need for an ecosystem modeling approach, accounting for population dynamics in terms of mortality and recruitment and hence coral cover, in estimating global reef carbonate budgets. In addition, validation of reef carbonate budgets is severely

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Buddemeier, R.W.; Lane, D.R.; Martinich, J.A.

    2011-01-01

    Climatic change threatens the future of coral reefs in the Caribbean and the important ecosystem services they provide. We used a simulation model [Combo ("COral Mortality and Bleaching Output")] to estimate future coral cover in the part of the eastern Caribbean impacted by a massive coral bleaching event in 2005. Combo calculates impacts of future climate change on coral reefs by combining impacts from long-term changes in average sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean acidification with impacts from episodic high temperature mortality (bleaching) events. We used mortality and heat dose data from the 2005 bleaching event to select historic temperature datasets, to use as a baseline for running Combo under different future climate scenarios and sets of assumptions. Results suggest a bleak future for coral reefs in the eastern Caribbean. For three different emissions scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; B1, A1B, and A1FI), coral cover on most Caribbean reefs is projected to drop below 5% by the year 2035, if future mortality rates are equivalent to some of those observed in the 2005 event (50%). For a scenario where corals gain an additional 1-1. 5??C of heat tolerance through a shift in the algae that live in the coral tissue, coral cover above 5% is prolonged until 2065. Additional impacts such as storms or anthropogenic damage could result in declines in coral cover even faster than those projected here. These results suggest the need to identify and preserve the locations that are likely to have a higher resiliency to bleaching to save as many remnant populations of corals as possible in the face of projected wide-spread coral loss. ?? 2011 The Author(s).

  4. 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

  5. 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. PMID:25850738

  6. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Rasher, Douglas B

    2010-01-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. Benthic buffers and boosters of ocean acidification on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anthony, K. R. N.; Diaz-Pulido, G.; Verlinden, N.; Tilbrook, B.; Andersson, A. J.

    2013-07-01

    Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems globally. In shallow-water systems, however, ocean acidification can be masked by benthic carbon fluxes, depending on community composition, seawater residence time, and the magnitude and balance of net community production (NCP) and calcification (NCC). Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) contribute to changes in the seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa). Results of flume studies using intact reef habitats (1.2 m by 0.4 m), showed a hierarchy of responses across groups, depending on CO2 level, time of day and water flow. At low CO2 (350-450 μatm), macroalgae (Chnoospora implexa), turfs and sand elevated Ωa of the flume water by around 0.10 to 1.20 h-1 - normalised to contributions from 1 m2 of benthos to a 1 m deep water column. The rate of Ωa increase in these groups was doubled under acidification (560-700 μatm) and high flow (35 compared to 8 cm s-1). In contrast, branching corals (Acropora aspera) increased Ωa by 0.25 h-1 at ambient CO2 (350-450 μatm) during the day, but reduced Ωa under acidification and high flow. Nighttime changes in Ωa by corals were highly negative (0.6-0.8 h-1) and exacerbated by acidification. Calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda spp.) raised Ωa by day (by around 0.13 h-1), but lowered Ωa by a similar or higher amount at night. Analyses of carbon flux contributions from benthic communities with four different compositions to the reef water carbon chemistry across Heron Reef flat and lagoon indicated that the net lowering of Ωa by coral-dominated areas can to some extent be countered by long water-residence times in neighbouring areas dominated by turfs, macroalgae and carbonate sand.

  10. Monitoring coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves in Costa Rica (CARICOMP).

    PubMed

    Cortés, Jorge; Fonseca, Ana C; Nivia-Ruiz, Jaime; Nielsen-Muñoz, Vanessa; Samper-Villarreal, Jimena; Salas, Eva; Martínez, Solciré; Zamora-Trejos, Priscilla

    2010-10-01

    The coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves from the Costa Rican Caribbean coast have been monitored since 1999 using the CARICOMP protocol. Live coral cover at Meager Shoal reef bank (7 to 10 m depth) at the Parque Nacional Cahuita (National Park), increased from 13.3% in 1999, to 28.2% in 2003, but decreased during the next 5 years to around 17.5%. Algal cover increased significantly since 2003 from 36.6% to 61.3% in 2008. The density of Diadema antillarum oscillated between 2 and 7ind/m2, while Echinometra viridis decreased significantly from 20 to 0.6ind/m2. Compared to other CARICOMP sites, live coral cover, fish diversity and density, and sea urchin density were low, and algal cover was intermediate. The seagrass site, also in the Parque Nacional Cahuita, is dominated by Thalassia testudinum and showed an intermediate productivity (2.7 +/- 1.15 g/m2/d) and biomass (822.8 +/- 391.84 g/m2) compared to other CARICOMP sites. Coral reefs and seagrasses at the Parque Nacional Cahuita continue to be impacted by high sediment loads from terrestrial origin. The mangrove forest at Gandoca, within the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo (National Wildlife Refuge), surrounds a lagoon and it is dominated by the red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle. Productivity and flower production peak was in July. Biomass (14 kg/m2) and density (9.0 +/- 0.58 trees/100 m2) in Gandoca were relatively low compared to other CARICOMP sites, while productivity in July in Costa Rica (4 g/m2/d) was intermediate, similar to most CARICOMP sites. This mangrove is expanding and has low human impact thus far. Management actions should be taken to protect and preserve these important coastal ecosystems. PMID:21302409

  11. Sediment and turbidity associated with offshore dredging increase coral disease prevalence on nearby reefs.

    PubMed

    Pollock, F Joseph; Lamb, Joleah B; Field, Stuart N; Heron, Scott F; Schaffelke, Britta; Shedrawi, George; Bourne, David G; Willis, Bette L

    2014-01-01

    In recent decades, coral reef ecosystems have declined to the extent that reefs are now threatened globally. While many water quality parameters have been proposed to contribute to reef declines, little evidence exists conclusively linking specific water quality parameters with increased disease prevalence in situ. Here we report evidence from in situ coral health surveys confirming that chronic exposure to dredging-associated sediment plumes significantly increase the prevalence of white syndromes, a devastating group of globally important coral diseases. Coral health surveys were conducted along a dredging-associated sediment plume gradient to assess the relationship between sedimentation, turbidity and coral health. Reefs exposed to the highest number of days under the sediment plume (296 to 347 days) had two-fold higher levels of disease, largely driven by a 2.5-fold increase in white syndromes, and a six-fold increase in other signs of compromised coral health relative to reefs with little or no plume exposure (0 to 9 days). Multivariate modeling and ordination incorporating sediment exposure level, coral community composition and cover, predation and multiple thermal stress indices provided further confirmation that sediment plume exposure level was the main driver of elevated disease and other compromised coral health indicators. This study provides the first evidence linking dredging-associated sedimentation and turbidity with elevated coral disease prevalence in situ. Our results may help to explain observed increases in global coral disease prevalence in recent decades and suggest that minimizing sedimentation and turbidity associated with coastal development will provide an important management tool for controlling coral disease epizootics.

  12. The DNA of coral reef biodiversity: predicting and protecting genetic diversity of reef assemblages.

    PubMed

    Selkoe, Kimberly A; Gaggiotti, Oscar E; Treml, Eric A; Wren, Johanna L K; Donovan, Mary K; Toonen, Robert J

    2016-04-27

    Conservation of ecological communities requires deepening our understanding of genetic diversity patterns and drivers at community-wide scales. Here, we use seascape genetic analysis of a diversity metric, allelic richness (AR), for 47 reef species sampled across 13 Hawaiian Islands to empirically demonstrate that large reefs high in coral cover harbour the greatest genetic diversity on average. We found that a species's life history (e.g. depth range and herbivory) mediates response of genetic diversity to seascape drivers in logical ways. Furthermore, a metric of combined multi-species AR showed strong coupling to species richness and habitat area, quality and stability that few species showed individually. We hypothesize that macro-ecological forces and species interactions, by mediating species turnover and occupancy (and thus a site's mean effective population size), influence the aggregate genetic diversity of a site, potentially allowing it to behave as an apparent emergent trait that is shaped by the dominant seascape drivers. The results highlight inherent feedbacks between ecology and genetics, raise concern that genetic resilience of entire reef communities is compromised by factors that reduce coral cover or available habitat, including thermal stress, and provide a foundation for new strategies for monitoring and preserving biodiversity of entire reef ecosystems. PMID:27122569

  13. The DNA of coral reef biodiversity: predicting and protecting genetic diversity of reef assemblages

    PubMed Central

    Gaggiotti, Oscar E.; Treml, Eric A.; Wren, Johanna L. K.; Donovan, Mary K.; Toonen, Robert J.

    2016-01-01

    Conservation of ecological communities requires deepening our understanding of genetic diversity patterns and drivers at community-wide scales. Here, we use seascape genetic analysis of a diversity metric, allelic richness (AR), for 47 reef species sampled across 13 Hawaiian Islands to empirically demonstrate that large reefs high in coral cover harbour the greatest genetic diversity on average. We found that a species's life history (e.g. depth range and herbivory) mediates response of genetic diversity to seascape drivers in logical ways. Furthermore, a metric of combined multi-species AR showed strong coupling to species richness and habitat area, quality and stability that few species showed individually. We hypothesize that macro-ecological forces and species interactions, by mediating species turnover and occupancy (and thus a site's mean effective population size), influence the aggregate genetic diversity of a site, potentially allowing it to behave as an apparent emergent trait that is shaped by the dominant seascape drivers. The results highlight inherent feedbacks between ecology and genetics, raise concern that genetic resilience of entire reef communities is compromised by factors that reduce coral cover or available habitat, including thermal stress, and provide a foundation for new strategies for monitoring and preserving biodiversity of entire reef ecosystems. PMID:27122569

  14. Strategic Science for Coral Ecosystems 2007-2011

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    ,

    2010-01-01

    Shallow and deep coral ecosystems are being imperiled by a combination of stressors. Climate change, unsustainable fishing practices, and disease are transforming coral communities at regional to global scales. At local levels, excessive amounts of sediments, nutrients, and contaminants are also impacting the many benefits that healthy coral ecosystems provide. This Plan, Strategic Science for Coral Ecosystems, describes the information needs of resource managers and summarizes current research being conducted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists and partners. It outlines important research actions that need to be undertaken over the next five years to achieve more accurate forecasting of future conditions and develop more effective decision-support tools to adaptively manage coral ecosystems. The overarching outcome of this Plan, if fully implemented, would be in transferring relevant knowledge to decision-makers, enabling them to better protect and sustain coral ecosystem services. These services include sources of food, essential habitat for fisheries and protected species, protection of coastlines from wave damage and erosion, recreation, and cultural values for indigenous communities. The USGS has a long history of research and monitoring experience in studying ancient and living coral communities and serving many stakeholders. The research actions in this Plan build on the USGS legacy of conducting integrated multidisciplinary science to address complex environmental issues. This Plan is responsive to Federal legislation and authorities and a variety of external and internal drivers that include the President's Ocean Action Plan, the recommendations of the Coral Reef Task Force, the information needs of Bureaus in the Department of Interior, the USGS Bureau Science Strategy (USGS 2007) and the formal plans of several USGS Programs. To achieve this Plan's desired outcomes will require increased funding and more effective coordination and collaboration

  15. A coral-on-a-chip microfluidic platform enabling live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Shapiro, Orr H; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Gavish, Assaf R; Stocker, Roman; Vardi, Assaf

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs, and the unique ecosystems they support, are facing severe threats by human activities and climate change. Our understanding of these threats is hampered by the lack of robust approaches for studying the micro-scale interactions between corals and their environment. Here we present an experimental platform, coral-on-a-chip, combining micropropagation and microfluidics to allow direct microscopic study of live coral polyps. The small and transparent coral micropropagates are ideally suited for live-imaging microscopy, while the microfluidic platform facilitates long-term visualization under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by imaging coral micropropagates at previously unattainable spatio-temporal resolutions, providing new insights into several micro-scale processes including coral calcification, coral-pathogen interaction and the loss of algal symbionts (coral bleaching). Coral-on-a-chip thus provides a powerful method for studying coral physiology in vivo at the micro-scale, opening new vistas in coral biology. PMID:26940983

  16. Conservation Planning for Coral Reefs Accounting for Climate Warming Disturbances.

    PubMed

    Magris, Rafael A; Heron, Scott F; Pressey, Robert L

    2015-01-01

    Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs) is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST) data, integrating both observed (1985-2009) and projected (2010-2099) time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events) and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming) and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i) by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatially- and temporally-explicit data; and (ii) by strategically allocating different forms of spatial management (MPA types) intended to mitigate warming impacts and also enhance future resistance to climate warming. PMID:26535586

  17. Conservation Planning for Coral Reefs Accounting for Climate Warming Disturbances.

    PubMed

    Magris, Rafael A; Heron, Scott F; Pressey, Robert L

    2015-01-01

    Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs) is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST) data, integrating both observed (1985-2009) and projected (2010-2099) time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events) and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming) and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i) by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatial