Science.gov

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. Bioindication in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Yap, H T

    1986-01-01

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

  3. Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

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

    2006-01-01

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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...

  6. 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...

  7. Resetting predator baselines in coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

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

  8. Resetting predator baselines in coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

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

    2017-02-21

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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  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 management...

  13. 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 conserve...

  14. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-06

    ... Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic... assessment and finding of no significant impact for the issuance of a special coral reef ecosystem fishing permit. SUMMARY: NMFS issued a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that authorizes Kampachi Farms...

  15. 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 ] marine...

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

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-01

    ... Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems Logbook and Reporting AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric... Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit (authorized under the Fishery Management Plan for Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Western Pacific Region), to complete logbooks and submit them to NMFS. The information in...

  17. Quantifying Ocean Acidification and its Impacts to Coral Reef Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Manzello, D.; Gledhill, D. K.; Enochs, I.; Andersson, A. J.

    2013-05-01

    Ocean Acidification (OA) describes the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the world's oceans and consequent decline in seawater pH and calcium carbonate saturation state. OA is of particular concern for coral reef ecosystems because it is expected to reduce the calcification rates of reef-building corals and other calcifiers, and may simultaneously increase the erosive abilities of key bioeroding taxa. Despite these concerns, we have little understanding of how OA will manifest in the real-world or, if, and how much of the world-wide trajectory of reef decline can be attributed to OA. With this in mind, we will present recommendations for monitoring OA of coral reef waters, as well as its ecosystem impacts over time. Different approaches and metrics, including their individual strengths and weaknesses, will be discussed. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to quantify the effects of OA on coral reef ecosystems in the real-world to robustly predict their structure and function in a high-CO2 world.

  18. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-07

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

  20. 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... reef ecosystem regulatory area, to obtain and carry a permit. A receiving vessel must also have a...

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

  3. The interaction of ocean acidification and carbonate chemistry on coral reef calcification: evaluating the carbonate chemistry Coral Reef Ecosystem Feedback (CREF) hypothesis on the Bermuda coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bates, N. R.; Amat, A.; Andersson, A. J.

    2009-07-01

    Despite the potential impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems such as coral reefs, surprisingly, there is very limited field data on the relationships between calcification and carbonate chemistry. In this study, contemporaneous in situ datasets of carbonate chemistry and calcification rates from the high-latitude coral reef of Bermuda over annual timescales provide a framework for investigating the present and future potential impact of rising pCO2 and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems in their natural environment. A strong correlation was found between the in situ rates of calcification for the major framework building coral species Diploria labyrinthiformis and the seasonal variability of [CO32-] and Ωaragonite, rather than other environmental factors such as light and temperature. These field observations also provide sufficient data to hypothesize that there is a seasonal "Carbonate Chemistry Coral Reef Ecosystem Feedback" (CREF hypothesis) between the primary components of the reef ecosystem (i.e. scleractinian hard corals and macroalgae) and carbonate chemistry. In early summer, strong net autotrophy from benthic components of the reef system enhance [CO32-] and Ωaragonite conditions, and rates of coral calcification due to the photosynthetic uptake of CO2. In late summer, rates of coral calcification are suppressed by release of CO2 from reef metabolism during a period of strong net heterotrophy. It is likely that this seasonal CREF mechanism is present in other tropical reefs although attenuated compared to high-latitude reefs such as Bermuda. Due to lower annual mean surface seawater [CO32-] and Ωaragonite in Bermuda compared to tropical regions, we anticipate that Bermuda corals will experiences seasonal periods of zero net calcification within the next decade at [CO32-] and Ωaragonite thresholds of ~184 mmoles kg-1 and 2.65. The Bermuda coral reef is one of the first responders to the negative impacts of ocean acidification, and we

  4. Linking Terrigenous Sediment Delivery to Declines in Coral Reef Ecosystem Services

    EPA Science Inventory

    Worldwide coral reef conditions continue to decline despite the valuable socioeconomic benefits of these ecosystems. There is growing recognition that quantifying reefs in terms reflecting what stakeholders value is vital for comparing inherent tradeoffs among coastal management ...

  5. Linking Terrigenous Sediment Delivery to Declines in Coral Reef Ecosystem Services

    EPA Science Inventory

    Worldwide coral reef conditions continue to decline despite the valuable socioeconomic benefits of these ecosystems. There is growing recognition that quantifying reefs in terms reflecting what stakeholders value is vital for comparing inherent tradeoffs among coastal management ...

  6. 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... Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  7. 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... Island Area Fisheries § 665.620 PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  8. 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... Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420 Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  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... Island Area Fisheries § 665.620 PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  10. 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... Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  11. 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... Island Area Fisheries § 665.620 PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  12. 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... Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  13. 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... PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120 American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  14. 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... PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120 American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  15. 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... PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120 American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  16. 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... Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420 Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  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... Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  18. 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... Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420 Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  19. 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... Island Area Fisheries § 665.620 PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  20. 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... Island Area Fisheries § 665.620 PRIA coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  1. 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... PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120 American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  2. 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... PACIFIC American Samoa Fisheries § 665.120 American Samoa coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  3. 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... Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420 Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  4. 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... Hawaii Fisheries § 665.220 Hawaii coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  5. 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... Mariana Archipelago Fisheries § 665.420 Mariana coral reef ecosystem fisheries. ...

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. Social interactions among grazing reef fish drive material flux in a coral reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Gil, Michael A; Hein, Andrew M

    2017-04-10

    In human financial and social systems, exchanges of information among individuals cause speculative bubbles, behavioral cascades, and other correlated actions that profoundly influence system-level function. Exchanges of information are also widespread in ecological systems, but their effects on ecosystem-level processes are largely unknown. Herbivory is a critical ecological process in coral reefs, where diverse assemblages of fish maintain reef health by controlling the abundance of algae. Here, we show that social interactions have a major effect on fish grazing rates in a reef ecosystem. We combined a system for observing and manipulating large foraging areas in a coral reef with a class of dynamical decision-making models to reveal that reef fish use information about the density and actions of nearby fish to decide when to feed on algae and when to flee foraging areas. This "behavioral coupling" causes bursts of feeding activity that account for up to 68% of the fish community's consumption of algae. Moreover, correlations in fish behavior induce a feedback, whereby each fish spends less time feeding when fewer fish are present, suggesting that reducing fish stocks may not only reduce total algal consumption but could decrease the amount of algae each remaining fish consumes. Our results demonstrate that social interactions among consumers can have a dominant effect on the flux of energy and materials through ecosystems, and our methodology paves the way for rigorous in situ measurements of the behavioral rules that underlie ecological rates in other natural systems.

  10. Clues to Coral Reef Ecosystem Health: Spectral Analysis Coupled with Radiative Transfer Modeling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guild, L.; Ganapol, B.; Kramer, P.; Armstrong, R.; Gleason, A.; Torres, J.; Johnson, L.; Garfield, N.

    2003-12-01

    Coral reefs are among the world's most productive and biologically rich ecosystems and are some of the oldest ecosystems on Earth. Coralline structures protect coastlines from storms, maintain high diversity of marine life, and provide nurseries for marine species. Coral reefs play a role in carbon cycling through high rates of organic carbon metabolism and calcification. Coral reefs provide fisheries habitat that are the sole protein source for humans on remote islands. Reefs respond immediately to environmental change and therefore are considered "canaries" of the oceans. However, the world's reefs are in peril: they have shrunk 10-50% from their historical extent due to climate change and anthropogenic activity. An important contribution to coral reef research is improved spectral distinction of reef species' health where anthropogenic activity and climate change impacts are high. Relatively little is known concerning the spectral properties of coral or how coral structures reflect and transmit light. New insights into optical processes of corals under stressed conditions can lead to improved interpretation of airborne and satellite data and forecasting of immediate or long-term impacts of events such as bleaching and disease in coral. We are investigating the spatial and spectral resolution required to detect remotely changes in reef health by coupling spectral analysis of in situ spectra and airborne spectral data with a new radiative transfer model called CorMOD2. Challenges include light attenuation by the water column, atmospheric scattering, and scattering caused by the coral themselves that confound the spectral signal. In CorMOD2, input coral reflectance measurements produce modeled absorption through an inversion at each visible wavelength. The first model development phase of CorMOD2 imposes a scattering baseline that is constant regardless of coral condition, and further specifies that coral is optically thick. Evolution of CorMOD2 is towards a coral

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

    PubMed

    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

    2013-07-30

    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.

  12. 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

  13. 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...

  14. 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...

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-04-22

    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.

  16. 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

  17. 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...

  18. Ecological intereactions of reef building corals

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  2. 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

  3. 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

    2004-03-04

    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.

  4. 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…

  5. 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…

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Holocene aggradation of the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

    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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-09-08

    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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. [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.

  13. Ecosystem-scale effects of aragonite saturation, temperature, and nutrients on coral-reef calcification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Silverman, J.; Caldeira, K.; Lazar, B.; Erez, J.

    2008-12-01

    We investigated the relations between net calcification of an entire coral reef in the northern Red Sea and annual changes in aragonite saturation, temperature, and nutrient loading over a two year period, and augmented this study with similar observations in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. In the Red Sea, average calcification rates varied between 60 ± 20 and 30 ± 20 mmol m-2 d-1 in the summer and winter, respectively. These changes primarily reflected seasonal differences in aragonite saturation and temperature. Data for the Great Barrier Reef are still being processed. Calcification rates at the ecosystem scale correlated remarkably well with the kinetics observed in inorganic aragonite precipitation experiments. This is a remarkable finding considering that calcification in coral reefs is primarily a biogenic process; this finding is yet to be explained mechanistically. These relationships are also in agreement with most laboratory studies on individual stony corals and coral mesocosms. The consistency of these responses at levels ranging from inorganic kinetics through the ecosystem scale suggests that these relationships are sufficiently robust to make predictions of coral reef response to ocean acidification and global warming. Finally, in a number of nighttime measurements, we observed net aragonite dissolution despite the supersaturated state of overlying reef water. This apparent dissolution is most likely biologically mediated. Aragonite dissolution, combined with decreasing aragonite precipitation, suggests that at least some reefs will be undergoing net dissolution by the time atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration doubles over its pre- industrial value.

  14. 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

  15. Divergence of seafloor elevation and sea level rise in coral reef ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Tiling-Range, Ginger

    2017-04-01

    Coral reefs serve as natural barriers that protect adjacent shorelines from coastal hazards such as storms, waves, and erosion. Projections indicate global degradation of coral reefs due to anthropogenic impacts and climate change will cause a transition to net erosion by mid-century. Here, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the combined effect of all of the processes affecting seafloor accretion and erosion by measuring changes in seafloor elevation and volume for five coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean over the last several decades. Regional-scale mean elevation and volume losses were observed at all five study sites and in 77 % of the 60 individual habitats that we examined across all study sites. Mean seafloor elevation losses for whole coral reef ecosystems in our study ranged from -0.09 to -0.8 m, corresponding to net volume losses ranging from 3.4 × 106 to 80.5 × 106 m3 for all study sites. Erosion of both coral-dominated substrate and non-coral substrate suggests that the current rate of carbonate production is no longer sufficient to support net accretion of coral reefs or adjacent habitats. We show that regional-scale loss of seafloor elevation and volume has accelerated the rate of relative sea level rise in these regions. Current water depths have increased to levels not predicted until near the year 2100, placing these ecosystems and nearby communities at elevated and accelerating risk to coastal hazards. Our results set a new baseline for projecting future impacts to coastal communities resulting from degradation of coral reef systems and associated losses of natural and socioeconomic resources.

  16. Divergence of seafloor elevation and sea level rise in coral reef ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Tiling-Range, Ginger

    2017-01-01

    Coral reefs serve as natural barriers that protect adjacent shorelines from coastal hazards such as storms, waves, and erosion. Projections indicate global degradation of coral reefs due to anthropogenic impacts and climate change will cause a transition to net erosion by mid-century. Here, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the combined effect of all of the processes affecting seafloor accretion and erosion by measuring changes in seafloor elevation and volume for five coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean over the last several decades. Regional-scale mean elevation and volume losses were observed at all five study sites and in 77 % of the 60 individual habitats that we examined across all study sites. Mean seafloor elevation losses for whole coral reef ecosystems in our study ranged from −0.09 to −0.8 m, corresponding to net volume losses ranging from 3.4  ×  106 to 80.5  ×  106 m3 for all study sites. Erosion of both coral-dominated substrate and non-coral substrate suggests that the current rate of carbonate production is no longer sufficient to support net accretion of coral reefs or adjacent habitats. We show that regional-scale loss of seafloor elevation and volume has accelerated the rate of relative sea level rise in these regions. Current water depths have increased to levels not predicted until near the year 2100, placing these ecosystems and nearby communities at elevated and accelerating risk to coastal hazards. Our results set a new baseline for projecting future impacts to coastal communities resulting from degradation of coral reef systems and associated losses of natural and socioeconomic resources.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Net Ecosystem Calcification by a Coral Reef Community under Natural Acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shamberger, K.; Lentz, S. J.; Cohen, A. L.

    2016-02-01

    Net Ecosystem Calcification (NEC) is a measure of the balance between calcium carbonate production (calcification) and loss (dissolution) within a coral reef system. Establishing baseline NEC estimates for a broad range of coral reef systems today provides much needed information to constrain spatial and temporal variability within and amongst different systems, investigate the sensitivity of ecosystem scale calcification to environmental forcing, and improve projections of coral reef futures under ocean acidification throughout this century. Previous NEC studies have been limited to coral reefs with unidirectional (Lagrangian and flow respirometry studies) or negligible (slack water Eulerian studies) water flow across the reef for at least part of the day, usually on the order of hours. Here, we present NEC rates in a naturally low pH, semi-enclosed coral reef lagoon with high coral cover and diversity and tidally driven flow within the Palau Rock Islands. NEC was determined from data collected over the full diel cycle for four consecutive days, during two successive years and different seasons, using total alkalinity (TA), salinity, and volume budgets. Two different methods used to calculate NEC are in good agreement and show that the coral community is net calcifying despite high rates of bioerosion and pH (mean pH = 7.88 ± 0.02) and aragonite saturation state (Ωar = 2.66 ± 0.11) levels close to those projected for the end of this century. Critically, NEC rates in year 1 (17.0 - 23.7 mmol m-2 d-1) were half those of year 2 (42.0 - 48.1 mmol m-2 d-1), though the carbonate chemistry of the source water did not change between years. This suggests that single occupations and short term measurements do not adequately capture the full range of NEC variability within a system and that factors other than ocean acidification play an important role in modulating NEC rates.

  9. Volcanic Acidification of a Coral Reef at Maug Island: Influences on Biological Processes and Ecosystem Structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Enochs, I.; Manzello, D.; Donham, E. M.; Johnston, L.; Valentino, L.; Young, C.; Kolodziej, G.; Carlton, R.; Price, N.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reef ecosystems are expected to be strongly impacted by ocean acidification (OA) in the coming century. The influences of OA on coral reefs will be numerous, involving diverse species with different degrees of susceptibility. Naturally acidified systems provide a way to study these individual responses and a means to investigate how myriad alterations manifest at the ecosystem-scale over long periods of time. To this end, we characterized the unique coral reef ecosystem surrounding the volcanic carbon dioxide vent at Maug Island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). We present data on the spatial extent of carbonate chemistry alteration through interpolation of water bottle samples, and data on the temporal nature of this gradient through the deployment of three SeaFET pH loggers over a period of three months. We analyze trace-gas concentrations and characterize fluctuations in light, current, tides, and temperature. We tie these environmental data to high-resolution photo mosaics and in situ biodiversity surveys to examine changes in reef community structure correlated with this natural OA gradient. Finally, we investigate the influence of vent proximity on biological processes affecting reef habitat growth and erosion. Using computed tomography (CT) and analysis of coral growth bands, we analyze changes in the calcification of massive Porites coral. Using crystalline calcium carbonate (calcite) blocks, we quantify the settlement and erosion rate of microboring algae. Together these measurements underscore the strong influence that OA will have on reef persistence and highlight the value of the Maug site for future OA research.

  10. Evaluating the attractiveness and effectiveness of artificial coral reefs as a recreational ecosystem service.

    PubMed

    Belhassen, Yaniv; Rousseau, Meghan; Tynyakov, Jenny; Shashar, Nadav

    2017-12-01

    Artificial reefs are increasingly being used around the globe to attract recreational divers, for both environmental and commercial reasons. This paper examines artificial coral reefs as recreational ecosystem services (RES) by evaluating their attractiveness and effectiveness and by examining divers' attitudes toward them. An online survey targeted at divers in Israel (n = 263) indicated that 35% of the dives in Eilat (a resort city on the shore of the Red Sea) take place at artificial reefs. A second study monitored divers' behavior around the Tamar artificial reef, one of the most popular submerged artificial reefs in Eilat, and juxtaposed it with divers' activities around two adjacent natural reefs. Findings show that the average diver density at the artificial reef was higher than at the two nearby natural knolls and that the artificial reef effectively diverts divers from natural knolls. A third study that examined the attitudes towards natural vs. artificial reefs found that the artificial reefs are considered more appropriate for training, but that divers feel less relaxed around them. By utilizing the RES approach as a framework, the study offers a comprehensive methodology that brings together the aesthetic, behavioral, and attitudinal aspects in terms of which artificial reefs can be evaluated. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Climate-Smart Design for Ecosystem Management: A Test Application for Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    West, Jordan M.; Courtney, Catherine A.; Hamilton, Anna T.; Parker, Britt A.; Julius, Susan H.; Hoffman, Jennie; Koltes, Karen H.; MacGowan, Petra

    2017-01-01

    The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an "adaptation design tool" that is now under development.

  14. Climate-Smart Design for Ecosystem Management: A Test Application for Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

    West, Jordan M; Courtney, Catherine A; Hamilton, Anna T; Parker, Britt A; Julius, Susan H; Hoffman, Jennie; Koltes, Karen H; MacGowan, Petra

    2017-01-01

    The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an "adaptation design tool" that is now under development.

  15. 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

  16. 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

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2002-09-30

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

  18. 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.

  19. Coral reefs in the Anthropocene

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hughes, Terry P.; Barnes, Michele L.; Bellwood, David R.; Cinner, Joshua E.; Cumming, Graeme S.; Jackson, Jeremy B. C.; Kleypas, Joanie; van de Leemput, Ingrid A.; Lough, Janice M.; Morrison, Tiffany H.; Palumbi, Stephen R.; van Nes, Egbert H.; Scheffer, Marten

    2017-06-01

    Coral reefs support immense biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services to many millions of people. Yet reefs are degrading rapidly in response to numerous anthropogenic drivers. In the coming centuries, reefs will run the gauntlet of climate change, and rising temperatures will transform them into new configurations, unlike anything observed previously by humans. Returning reefs to past configurations is no longer an option. Instead, the global challenge is to steer reefs through the Anthropocene era in a way that maintains their biological functions. Successful navigation of this transition will require radical changes in the science, management and governance of coral reefs.

  20. Coral reefs in the Anthropocene.

    PubMed

    Hughes, Terry P; Barnes, Michele L; Bellwood, David R; Cinner, Joshua E; Cumming, Graeme S; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Kleypas, Joanie; van de Leemput, Ingrid A; Lough, Janice M; Morrison, Tiffany H; Palumbi, Stephen R; van Nes, Egbert H; Scheffer, Marten

    2017-05-31

    Coral reefs support immense biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services to many millions of people. Yet reefs are degrading rapidly in response to numerous anthropogenic drivers. In the coming centuries, reefs will run the gauntlet of climate change, and rising temperatures will transform them into new configurations, unlike anything observed previously by humans. Returning reefs to past configurations is no longer an option. Instead, the global challenge is to steer reefs through the Anthropocene era in a way that maintains their biological functions. Successful navigation of this transition will require radical changes in the science, management and governance of coral reefs.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. An all-taxon microbial inventory of the Moorea coral reef ecosystem

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

    The Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site (17.50°S, 149.83°W) comprises the fringe of coral reefs and lagoons surrounding the volcanic island of Moorea in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. As part of our Microbial Inventory Research Across Diverse Aquatic LTERS biodiversity inventory project, we characterized microbial community composition across all three domains of life using amplicon pyrosequencing of the V6 (bacterial and archaeal) and V9 (eukaryotic) hypervariable regions of small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes. Our survey spanned eight locations along a 130-km transect from the reef lagoon to the open ocean to examine changes in communities along inshore to offshore gradients. Our results illustrate consistent community differentiation between inshore and offshore ecosystems across all three domains, with greater richness in all domains in the reef-associated habitats. Bacterial communities were more homogenous among open ocean sites spanning >100 km than among inshore sites separated by <1 km, whereas eukaryotic communities varied more offshore than inshore, and archaea showed more equal levels of dissimilarity among subhabitats. We identified signature communities representative of specific geographic and geochemical milieu, and characterized co-occurrence patterns of specific microbial taxa within the inshore ecosystem including several bacterial groups that persist in geographical niches across time. Bacterial and archaeal communities were dominated by few abundant taxa but spatial patterning was consistent through time and space in both rare and abundant communities. This is the first in-depth inventory analysis of biogeographic variation of all three microbial domains within a coral reef ecosystem. PMID:21900967

  4. An all-taxon microbial inventory of the Moorea coral reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

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

    2012-02-01

    The Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site (17.50°S, 149.83°W) comprises the fringe of coral reefs and lagoons surrounding the volcanic island of Moorea in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. As part of our Microbial Inventory Research Across Diverse Aquatic LTERS biodiversity inventory project, we characterized microbial community composition across all three domains of life using amplicon pyrosequencing of the V6 (bacterial and archaeal) and V9 (eukaryotic) hypervariable regions of small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes. Our survey spanned eight locations along a 130-km transect from the reef lagoon to the open ocean to examine changes in communities along inshore to offshore gradients. Our results illustrate consistent community differentiation between inshore and offshore ecosystems across all three domains, with greater richness in all domains in the reef-associated habitats. Bacterial communities were more homogenous among open ocean sites spanning >100 km than among inshore sites separated by <1 km, whereas eukaryotic communities varied more offshore than inshore, and archaea showed more equal levels of dissimilarity among subhabitats. We identified signature communities representative of specific geographic and geochemical milieu, and characterized co-occurrence patterns of specific microbial taxa within the inshore ecosystem including several bacterial groups that persist in geographical niches across time. Bacterial and archaeal communities were dominated by few abundant taxa but spatial patterning was consistent through time and space in both rare and abundant communities. This is the first in-depth inventory analysis of biogeographic variation of all three microbial domains within a coral reef ecosystem.

  5. Coral reef resilience through biodiversity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2013-01-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Rapid Environmental Assessment Methodology (REAM) of Coral Reef Ecosystems at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) on Andros Island, Bahamas

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2002-06-18

    Bahamas. The facility is adjacent to one of the largest near-shore coral reef ecosystems in the world. As part of the Navy’s environmental stewardship...reef development in terms of long-term sustained growth. This report describes the methodology used in developing of the baseline coral reef assessment

  11. Community production modulates coral reef pH and the sensitivity of ecosystem calcification to ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    DeCarlo, Thomas M.; Cohen, Anne L.; Wong, George T. F.; Shiah, Fuh-Kwo; Lentz, Steven J.; Davis, Kristen A.; Shamberger, Kathryn E. F.; Lohmann, Pat

    2017-01-01

    Coral reefs are built of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) produced biogenically by a diversity of calcifying plants, animals, and microbes. As the ocean warms and acidifies, there is mounting concern that declining calcification rates could shift coral reef CaCO3 budgets from net accretion to net dissolution. We quantified net ecosystem calcification (NEC) and production (NEP) on Dongsha Atoll, northern South China Sea, over a 2 week period that included a transient bleaching event. Peak daytime pH on the wide, shallow reef flat during the nonbleaching period was ˜8.5, significantly elevated above that of the surrounding open ocean (˜8.0-8.1) as a consequence of daytime NEP (up to 112 mmol C m-2 h-1). Diurnal-averaged NEC was 390 ± 90 mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1, higher than any other coral reef studied to date despite comparable calcifier cover (25%) and relatively high fleshy algal cover (19%). Coral bleaching linked to elevated temperatures significantly reduced daytime NEP by 29 mmol C m-2 h-1. pH on the reef flat declined by 0.2 units, causing a 40% reduction in NEC in the absence of pH changes in the surrounding open ocean. Our findings highlight the interactive relationship between carbonate chemistry of coral reef ecosystems and ecosystem production and calcification rates, which are in turn impacted by ocean warming. As open-ocean waters bathing coral reefs warm and acidify over the 21st century, the health and composition of reef benthic communities will play a major role in determining on-reef conditions that will in turn dictate the ecosystem response to climate change.

  12. 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.

  13. Sponge Prokaryote Communities in Taiwanese Coral Reef and Shallow Hydrothermal Vent Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Coelho, F J R C; Cleary, D F R; Gomes, N C M; Pólonia, A R M; Huang, Y M; Liu, L-L; de Voogd, N J

    2017-07-11

    Previously, it was believed that the prokaryote communities of typical 'low-microbial abundance' (LMA) or 'non-symbiont harboring' sponges were merely subsets of the prokaryote plankton community. Recent research has, however, shown that these sponges are dominated by particular clades of Proteobacteria or Cyanobacteria. Here, we expand on this research and assess the composition and putative functional profiles of prokaryotic communities from LMA sponges collected in two ecosystems (coral reef and hydrothermal vent) from vicinal islands of Taiwan with distinct physicochemical conditions. Six sponge species identified as Acanthella cavernosa (Bubarida), Echinodictyum asperum, Ptilocaulis spiculifer (Axinellida), Jaspis splendens (Tetractinellida), Stylissa carteri (Scopalinida) and Suberites sp. (Suberitida) were sampled in coral reefs in the Penghu archipelago. One sponge species provisionally identified as Hymeniacidon novo spec. (Suberitida) was sampled in hydrothermal vent habitat. Each sponge was dominated by a limited set of operational taxonomic units which were similar to sequences from organisms previously obtained from other LMA sponges. There was a distinct bacterial community between sponges collected in coral reef and in hydrothermal vents. The putative functional profile revealed that the prokaryote community from sponges collected in hydrothermal vents was significantly enriched for pathways related to DNA replication and repair.

  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. 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.

  17. 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. © 2013 The American Society of Photobiology.

  18. 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. Crown Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  19. Heavy metals distribution in the coral reef ecosystems of the Northern Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ali, Abdel-Hamid A. M.; Hamed, Mohamed A.; Abd El-Azim, Hoda

    2011-03-01

    Concentrations of seven heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, Co and Fe) were measured in the seawater, sediments, common scleractinian reef-building corals and soft corals (Octocorallia : Alcyonacea) at seven reef sites in the Northern Red Sea: I (Hurghada), II (Ras Za'farana), III (El-Ain Al-Sukhna), IV (El-Tur), V (Sha'b Rashdan), VI (Sharm El-Sheikh) and VII (Dahab). Levels of heavy metals were considerably elevated in seawater, sediments and corals collected from reef sites exposed to increased environmental contamination, as a result of diversified natural and anthropogenic inputs. Soft corals of genera Lithophyton, Sarcophyton and Sinularia showed higher concentrations of Zn, Pb, Cd and Ni than hard coral genera Acropora and Stylophora. Soft coral Sarcophyton trocheliophorum collected from El Ain Al-Suhkna (Gulf of Suez) had greater concentration of Cu, followed by hard corals Acropora pharaonis and Acropora hemprichi. The elevated levels of Zn, Cd and Ni were reported in the dry tissue of soft coral Sinularia spp. On the other hand, the soft coral Lithophyton arboreum displayed the highest concentration of Pb at Sha'b Rashdan (Gulf of Suez) and elevated concentration of Zn at Sharm El-Sheikh. Sediments showed significantly higher concentration of Fe than corals. The higher levels of Fe in hard corals than soft corals reflected the incorporation of Fe into the aragonite and the chelation with the organic matrix of the skeleton. The greater abundance of soft corals in metal-contaminated reef sites and the elevated levels of metals in their tissue suggesting that the soft corals could develop a tolerance mechanism to relatively high concentrations of metals. Although the effects of heavy metals on reef corals were not isolated from the possible effects of other stresses, the percentage cover of dead corals were significantly higher as the concentrations of heavy metals increased.

  20. 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

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

    PubMed Central

    Cinner, Joshua E.

    2014-01-01

    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

  2. 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.

  3. Coral Reefs: Fishing for Sustainability.

    PubMed

    Darling, Emily S; D'agata, Stephanie

    2017-01-23

    Sustainable fisheries must ultimately reduce poverty while maintaining ecosystem productivity. On coral reefs, managing for 'concave' trophic pyramids might be a win-win for people and ecosystems, by providing higher-value fisheries and maintaining important ecological functions. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  4. 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.

  5. Symposium participants assess future of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kleypas, Joan; Opdyke, Bradley

    Coral reef ecosystems are often labeled as “robust,” able to survive disturbance, or “resilient,” able to recover after a disturbance, in terms of their ability to adapt or acclimatize to global change. Those labels are now fading in light of findings of a symposium and workshop to readdress the question, How will coral reefs fare under the increasing stresses associated with global change? In fact, coral reef ecosystems appear to be directly threatened by globally increasing atmospheric CO2. By altering sea surface chemistry, specifically by lowering the carbonate ion activity, rising CO2 levels will most certainly reduce calcification rates of the major reef-building organisms individually, and coral reef communities overall. A reduction in coral reef carbonate production could have profound ecological effects on these marine ecosystems and organisms associated with them.

  6. 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.

  7. The future of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Knowlton, N

    2001-05-08

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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...

  11. 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...

  12. Privately managed marine reserves as a mechanism for the conservation of coral reef ecosystems: a case study from Vietnam.

    PubMed

    Svensson, Patrik; Rodwell, Lynda D; Attrill, Martin J

    2009-03-01

    Coral reef ecosystems have been declining at an alarming rate during recent decades, despite increasing numbers of marine protected areas (MPAs) encompassing coral reefs. However, many MPAs have not met reserve objectives, inhibiting effective protection. This study focuses on the potential effectiveness of a Hotel Managed Marine Reserve (HMMR) at enhancing reef fish stocks. Biannual visual fish census surveys were conducted at two marine reserves adjacent to Whale Island Resort, Vietnam, October 2005 to April 2007. The 6-year protected Whale Island Bay Reserve (11 ha) showed significantly higher fish densities, richness, average size, and number of fish >15 cm compared with two unprotected control sites. Fish stocks at a second newer reserve, Whale Island Bay Peninsula (5 ha), quickly increased after protection. This study has demonstrated the effectiveness of HMMRs, suggesting a global network of such privately managed reserves could play a part in the conservation of the world's coastal resources, while alleviating financial pressure on governments.

  13. Coral reef habitats as surrogates of species, ecological functions, and ecosystem services.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Broad, Kenneth; Brumbaugh, Daniel R; Dahlgren, Craig P; Harborne, Alastair R; Hastings, Alan; Holmes, Katherine E; Kappel, Carrie V; Micheli, Fiorenza; Sanchirico, James N

    2008-08-01

    Habitat maps are often the core spatially consistent data set on which marine reserve networks are designed, but their efficacy as surrogates for species richness and applicability to other conservation measures is poorly understood. Combining an analysis of field survey data, literature review, and expert assessment by a multidisciplinary working group, we examined the degree to which Caribbean coastal habitats provide useful planning information on 4 conservation measures: species richness, the ecological functions of fish species, ecosystem processes, and ecosystem services. Approximately one-quarter to one-third of benthic invertebrate species and fish species (disaggregated by life phase; hereafter fish species) occurred in a single habitat, and Montastraea-dominated forereefs consistently had the highest richness of all species, processes, and services. All 11 habitats were needed to represent all 277 fish species in the seascape, although reducing the conservation target to 95% of species approximately halved the number of habitats required to ensure representation. Species accumulation indices (SAIs) were used to compare the efficacy of surrogates and revealed that fish species were a more appropriate surrogate of benthic species (SAI = 71%) than benthic species were for fishes (SAI = 42%). Species of reef fishes were also distributed more widely across the seascape than invertebrates and therefore their use as a surrogate simultaneously included mangroves, sea grass, and coral reef habitats. Functional classes of fishes served as effective surrogates of fish and benthic species which, given their ease to survey, makes them a particularly useful measure for conservation planning. Ecosystem processes and services exhibited great redundancy among habitats and were ineffective as surrogates of species. Therefore, processes and services in this case were generally unsuitable for a complementarity-based approach to reserve design. In contrast, the representation

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-08-01

    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 × 10(8) cells l(-1) offshore and 68 μmol l(-1) DOC and 3.1 × 10(8) 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 fringing

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sorokin, Yu. I.

    1991-09-01

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Geological Approaches to Coral Reef Ecology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kench, Paul

    2008-09-01

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

  20. Identifying cold-water coral ecosystem by using benthic foraminiferal indicators: from active reefs to the geological record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Margreth, Stephan; Rüggeberg, Andres; Gennari, Giordana; Spezzaferri, Silvia

    2010-05-01

    Cold-water coral ecosystems dominated by the species Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, as well as cold-water coral carbonate mounds (fossils and/or active) occur worldwide and are especially developed along the European margin, from northern Norway to the Gulf of Cadiz and into the Alboran Sea. Their discovery is a major achievement of the last few decades and their widespread occurrence presents a challenge to understand their development, preservation and possible importance in the geologic record. On the Norwegian shelf active/living reefs are developed on elevated hard substrata. Along the Irish margin L. pertusa builds large fossil and/or active carbonate mounds. In the Gulf of Cadiz and in the Alboran Sea buried reefs and patch reefs are generally found in association with mud volcanoes. In modern oceans, they provide important ecological niches for the marine benthic fauna in the deep-sea. In comparison to the macrofauna the microfauna, particularly the foraminifera associated to these systems, are poorly known. We present here a detailed study based on quantitative analyses of benthic and planktonic foraminifera together with the statistical treatment of assemblage data collected along the Norwegian margin, in the Porcupine-Rockall region and in the Alboran Sea. The three regions were and/or are site of cold-water coral ecosystems settlements. Our study reveals that in the Porcupine/Rockall region benthic foraminiferal assemblages are strictly related to the distribution of facies. On the Norwegian margin, benthic foraminiferal habitats are weakly defined and grade one into the other preventing the sharp facies separation observed along the Irish margin (Margreth et al., 2009). In the Alboran Sea cold-water coral ecosystems and cold-water carbonate mounds are presently buried and corals are generally fragmented. However, benthic assemblages from coral-rich layers in the Alboran Sea and those from Porcupine/Rockall and Norway show remarkable

  1. 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 ...

  2. 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 ...

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Are mesophotic coral ecosystems distinct communities and can they serve as refugia for shallow reefs?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Semmler, Robert F.; Hoot, Whitney C.; Reaka, Marjorie L.

    2017-06-01

    We analyzed an extensive dataset of over 9000 benthic and suprabenthic species found throughout the Gulf of Mexico (GoMx) to assess whether mesophotic coral ecosystems represent distinct assemblages and evaluate their potential to serve as refugia for shallow reef communities. We assessed community structure of the overall benthic community from 0 to 300 m via non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) of species presence across depth bands. We used the Jaccard index of similarity to calculate the proportion of shared species between adjacent depth bands, measure species turnover with depth, and assess taxonomic overlap between shallow reefs versus progressively deeper depth bands. NMDS ordinations showed that the traditionally defined mesophotic range (30-150 m) as a whole is not a distinct community. In contrast, taxonomically distinct communities, determined by hierarchical clustering, were found at 0-70, 60-120, 110-200, and 190-300 m. Clustering highlighted an important separation in the benthic community at 60 m, which was especially important for actinopterygian fishes. Species turnover between adjacent depths decreased with depth for all taxa combined and individual taxa, with peaks at 60, 90-120, and 190-200 m. Fishes showed lower turnover from shallow to upper mesophotic depths (0-50 m) than all taxa combined, a substantial peak at 60 m, followed by a precipitous and continued decline in turnover thereafter. Taxonomic overlap between shallow (0-20 m) and progressively deeper zones declined steadily with depth in all taxa and individual taxa, suggesting that mid- and lower mesophotic habitats have less (but not inconsequential) potential to serve as refugia (60-150 m, 15-25% overlap with shallow habitats) than upper mesophotic zones (30-60 m, 30-45% overlap with shallow habitats) for all taxa combined. We conclude that the traditional mesophotic zone is home to three ecological communities in the GoMx, one that is confluent with shallow reefs, a distinct

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. A Comparison of Macrobenthic Organisms in Shallow-Water and Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barkman, A.; Wagner, D.

    2016-02-01

    Mesophotic Reef Ecosystems (MCEs) are predicted to be an important refuge for shallow-water species in response to climate change. This has led to an increasing amount of research on MCEs in recent years. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) represents one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. There has been an increased emphasis on characterizing the biodiversity of the NWHI since the establishment of the PMNM in 2006. The fauna of this remote region has previously been surveyed extensively in shallow-water depths (<30 m) using snorkeling and conventional SCUBA diving, and numerous times in deep-water (>200 m) through the use of trawling, manned submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles. However, little is known about the MCEs found in the intermediate depth ranges. Since 2009, annual research expeditions have surveyed the biodiversity of MCEs within the PMNM using mixed-gas technical diving. Coral Point Count software was used to analyze photoquadrat images taken at shallow-water reefs and MCEs along transects near Midway Atoll, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and French Frigate Shoals. A multivariate analysis of these communities showed a spatial segregation between shallow-water and mesophotic reefs. There was a significantly higher percentage of coral cover at shallow water reefs than mesophotic reefs (p=<0.0024). There was also a significantly higher cover of green, red, and brown macroalgae at MCEs than shallow-water reefs (p<0.01, p<0.0023, p<0.0004). It is important to understand the composition of these ecosystems in order to predict their role in the changing ocean.

  12. 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.

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

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

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

  14. 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.

  15. Planktonic trophic structure in a coral reef ecosystem - Grazing versus microbial food webs and the production of mesozooplankton

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nakajima, Ryota; Yamazaki, Haruka; Lewis, Levi S.; Khen, Adi; Smith, Jennifer E.; Nakatomi, Nobuyuki; Kurihara, Haruko

    2017-08-01

    The relative contributions of grazing versus microbial food webs to the production of mesozooplankton communities in coral reef ecosystems remains an important and understudied field of inquiry. Here, we investigated the biomass and production of component organisms within these two food webs, and compared them to those of mesozooplankton on a coral reef in Okinawa, Japan throughout four seasons in 2011-2012. The relative production of grazing (phytoplankton) and microbial (nano and microzooplankton) food webs were on average 39% (7-77%) and 37% (19-57%), respectively, of the food requirements of particle-feeding mesozooplankton. Carbon flows within this planktonic food web suggested that primary production from the grazing food web could not satisfy the nutritional demands of mesozooplankton, and that the microbial food web contributed a significant amount of nutrition to their diets. These results also show that the heterotrophic components of the microbial food web (nano and microzooplankton) and mesozooplankton consume the equivalent of the entire phytoplankton production (particulate net production) each day, while the microzooplankton were almost entirely eaten by higher trophic levels (mesozooplankton) each day. However, even the combined production from both the grazing and microbial food webs did not fulfill mesozooplankton food requirements in some seasons, explaining 26-53%, suggesting that detritus was used to compensate for nutritional deficiencies during these periods. Understanding the flow of energy throughout coral reefs requires a detailed accounting of pelagic sources and sinks of carbon. Our results provide such an assessment and indicate that detailed investigation on the origin and production of detritus is necessary to better understand pelagic trophodynamics in coral ecosystems.

  16. 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. The...

  17. 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...

  18. Coral reefs at risk

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

    Eighty-eight percent of Southeast Asia's reefs are threatened by overfishing, destructive fishing, and sedimentation and pollution from inland activities, according to a new report by 35 regional scientists published by the World Resources Institute.Nearly 100,000 square kilometers of coral reefs—34% of the world's total—are located in Southeast Asia.

  19. 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...

  20. 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...

  1. 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...

  2. Using light-dependent scleractinia to define the upper boundary of mesophotic coral ecosystems on the reefs of Utila, Honduras.

    PubMed

    Laverick, Jack H; Andradi-Brown, Dominic A; Rogers, Alex D

    2017-01-01

    Shallow water zooxanthellate coral reefs grade into ecologically distinct mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) deeper in the euphotic zone. MCEs are widely considered to start at an absolute depth limit of 30m deep, possibly failing to recognise that these are distinct ecological communities that may shift shallower or deeper depending on local environmental conditions. This study aimed to explore whether MCEs represent distinct biological communities, the upper boundary of which can be defined and whether the depth at which they occur may vary above or below 30m. Mixed-gas diving and closed-circuit rebreathers were used to quantitatively survey benthic communities across shallow to mesophotic reef gradients around the island of Utila, Honduras. Depths of up to 85m were sampled, covering the vertical range of the zooxanthellate corals around Utila. We investigate vertical reef zonation using a variety of ecological metrics to identify community shifts with depth, and the appropriateness of different metrics to define the upper MCE boundary. Patterns observed in scleractinian community composition varied between ordination analyses and approaches utilising biodiversity indices. Indices and richness approaches revealed vertical community transition was a gradation. Ordination approaches suggest the possibility of recognising two scleractinian assemblages. We could detect a mesophotic and shallow community while illustrating that belief in a static depth limit is biologically unjustified. The switch between these two communities occurred across bathymetric gradients as small as 10m and as large as 50m in depth. The difference between communities appears to be a loss of shallow specialists and increase in depth-generalist taxa. Therefore, it may be possible to define MCEs by a loss of shallow specialist species. To support a biological definition of mesophotic reefs, we advocate this analytical framework should be applied around the Caribbean and extended into other

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-03-01

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

  12. 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...

  13. 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...

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Coral reef protection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

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

  3. 75 FR 48934 - Coral Reef Conservation Program Implementation Guidelines

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-08-12

    ... sustainable development and ensure effective, long-term conservation of coral reefs; (2) Addressing the.... In response to an external program review in 2007, a new program manager, development of a `Roadmap... sustainable use of coral reef ecosystems to benefit local communities and the Nation; (3) To develop sound...

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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...

  7. Fishing down nutrients on coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-08-16

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

  8. 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...

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-10-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2007-04-03

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

  11. Can biological invasions save Caribbean coral reefs?

    PubMed

    Bellwood, David Roy; Robert Goatley, Christopher Harry

    2017-01-09

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

  12. Devising a Coral Reef Ocean Acidification Monitoring Portfolio

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gledhill, D. K.; Jewett, L.

    2012-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-10-06

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

  14. 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

  15. Wave transformation over coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Young, Ian R.

    1989-07-01

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

  16. Coral reefs and the World Bank.

    PubMed

    Hatziolos, M

    1997-01-01

    The World Bank¿s involvement in coral reef conservation is part of a larger effort to promote the sound management of coastal and marine resources. This involves three major thrusts: partnerships, investments, networks and knowledge. As an initial partner and early supporter of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the Bank serves as the executive planning committee of ICRI. In partnership with the World Conservation Union and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Bank promotes the efforts towards the establishment and maintenance of a globally representative system of marine protected areas. In addition, the Bank invested over $120 million in coral reef rehabilitation and protection programs in several countries. Furthermore, the Bank developed a ¿Knowledge Bank¿ that would market ideas and knowledge to its clients along with investment projects. This aimed to put the best global knowledge on environmentally sustainable development in the hands of its staff and clients. During the celebration of 1997, as the International Year of the Reef, the Bank planned to cosponsor an associated event that would highlight the significance of coral reefs and encourage immediate action to halt their degradation to conserve this unique ecosystem.

  17. 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

  18. Consequences of a government-controlled agricultural price increase on fishing and the coral reef ecosystem in the republic of kiribati.

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

    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. 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. 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 sustainable livelihood and ecosystem-based management frameworks.

  19. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 25 2011-07-01 2011-07-01 false Coral reefs. 230.44 Section 230.44... Aquatic Sites § 230.44 Coral reefs. (a) Coral reefs consist of the skeletal deposit, usually of calcareous... organisms present in growing portions of the reef. (b) Possible loss of values: The discharge of dredged...

  20. 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...

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-11-02

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

  5. 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

  6. 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

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    1999-09-30

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

  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.

  9. 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...

  10. 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...

  11. 77 FR 39724 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-07-05

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

  12. Report Evaluates Importance of Coral Reefs and Mangroves

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kumar, Mohi

    2006-02-01

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

  13. DoD Coral Reef Protection and Management Program

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2004-08-01

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

  14. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-12-12

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

  16. 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.

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2001-09-30

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

  18. 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.

  19. Organic Carbon Sources and their Transfer in a Gulf of Mexico Coral Reef Ecosystem under River Influence

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Parrish, C.; Carreón-Palau, L.; del Ángel-Rodríguez, J.; Perez-Espana, H.; Aguiniga-Garcıa, S.

    2016-02-01

    To assess the degree to which coral reefs in a marine protected area have been influenced by terrestrial and anthropogenic organic carbon inputs we used C and N stable isotopes and lipid biomarkers in the Coral Reef System of Veracruz in the southwest Gulf of Mexico. A C and N stable isotope mixing model and a calculated fatty acid (FA) retention factor revealed the primary producer sources that fuel the coral reef food web. Then lipid classes, FA and sterol biomarkers determined production of terrestrial and marine biogenic material of nutritional quality to pelagic and benthic organisms. Finally, coprostanol determined pollutant loading from sewage in the suspended particulate matter. Results indicate that phytoplankton is the major source of essential FA for fish and that dietary energy from terrestrial sources such as mangroves are transferred to juvenile fish, while sea grass non-essential FA are transferred to the entire food web. Sea urchins may be the main consumers of brown macroalgae, while surgeon fish prefer red algae. C and N isotopic values and the C:N ratio suggest that fertilizer is the principal source of nitrogen to macroalgae. Thus nitrogen supply also favored phytoplankton and sea grass growth leading to a better nutritional condition and high retention of organic carbon in the food web members during the rainy season when river influence increases. However, the great star coral Montastrea cavernosa nutritional condition decreased significantly. The nearest river to the Reef System was polluted in the dry season; however, a dilution effect was detected in the rainy season, when some coral reefs were contaminated. In 2013, a new treatment plant started working in the area. We would suggest monitoring δ15N and the C: N ratio in macroalgae as indicators of the nitrogen input and coprostanol as an indicator of human feces pollution in order to verify the efficiency of the new treatment plant as part of the management program of the Reef System.

  20. 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.

  1. Climate change and coral reef connectivity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-06-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-05

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-09-01

    Coral reefs across the world have been seriously degraded and have a bleak future in response to predicted global warming and ocean acidification (OA). However, this is not the first time that biocalcifying organisms, including corals, have faced the threat of extinction. The end-Triassic mass extinction (200 million years ago) was the most severe biotic crisis experienced by modern marine invertebrates, which selected against biocalcifiers; this was followed by the proliferation of another invertebrate group, sponges. The duration of this sponge-dominated period far surpasses that of alternative stable-ecosystem or phase-shift states reported on modern day coral reefs and, as such, a shift to sponge-dominated reefs warrants serious consideration as one future trajectory of coral reefs. We hypothesise that some coral reefs of today may become sponge reefs in the future, as sponges and corals respond differently to changing ocean chemistry and environmental conditions. To support this hypothesis, we discuss: (i) the presence of sponge reefs in the geological record; (ii) reported shifts from coral- to sponge-dominated systems; and (iii) direct and indirect responses of the sponge holobiont and its constituent parts (host and symbionts) to changes in temperature and pH. Based on this evidence, we propose that sponges may be one group to benefit from projected climate change and ocean acidification scenarios, and that increased sponge abundance represents a possible future trajectory for some coral reefs, which would have important implications for overall reef functioning. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  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. Drivers and predictions of coral reef carbonate budget trajectories

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-01-25

    Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the long-term maintenance of coral-dominated tropical ecosystems, and has received considerable attention over the past two decades. Coral bleaching and associated mortality events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense, can alter the balance of different elements that are responsible for coral reef growth and maintenance. The geomorphic impacts of coral mass mortality have received relatively little attention, particularly questions concerning temporal recovery of reef carbonate production and the factors that promote resilience of reef growth potential. Here, we track the biological carbonate budgets of inner Seychelles reefs from 1994 to 2014, spanning the 1998 global bleaching event when these reefs lost more than 90% of coral cover. All 21 reefs had positive budgets in 1994, but in 2005 budgets were predominantly negative. By 2014, carbonate budgets on seven reefs were comparable with 1994, but on all reefs where an ecological regime shift to macroalgal dominance occurred, budgets remained negative through 2014. Reefs with higher massive coral cover, lower macroalgae cover and lower excavating parrotfish biomass in 1994 were more likely to have positive budgets post-bleaching. If mortality of corals from the 2016 bleaching event is as severe as that of 1998, our predictions based on past trends would suggest that six of eight reefs with positive budgets in 2014 would still have positive budgets by 2030. Our results highlight that reef accretion and framework maintenance cannot be assumed from the ecological state alone, and that managers should focus on conserving aspects of coral reefs that support resilient carbonate budgets. © 2017 The Authors.

  13. 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

    2015-02-05

    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.

  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. The ecological research on coral reefs of the Red Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mergner, Hans

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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 Central

    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. PMID:25938436

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lough, J. M.

    2000-12-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Detecting ecological change on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dustan, P.

    2011-12-01

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

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

    PubMed

    Lirman, Diego; Schopmeyer, Stephanie

    2016-01-01

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

  12. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-02-10

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-08-01

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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  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. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hochberg, E. J.

    2016-02-01

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

  3. Coral Reef 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

    2009-09-01

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Embracing a world of subtlety and nuance on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mumby, Peter J.

    2017-09-01

    Climate change will homogenise the environment and generate a preponderance of mediocre reefs. Managing seascapes of mediocrity will be challenging because our science is ill prepared to deal with the `shades of grey' of reef health; we tend to study natural processes in the healthiest reefs available. Yet much can be gained by examining the drivers and implications of even subtle changes in reef state. Where strong ecological interactions are discovered, even small changes in abundance can have profound impacts on coral resilience. Indeed, if we are to develop effective early warnings of critical losses of resilience, then monitoring must place greater emphasis on measuring and interpreting changes in reef recovery rates. In terms of mechanism, a more nuanced approach is needed to explore the generality of what might be considered `dogma'. A more nuanced approach to science will serve managers needs well and help minimise the rise of mediocrity in coral reef ecosystems.

  8. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

  10. Redundancy and response diversity of functional groups: implications for the resilience of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Nyström, Magnus

    2006-02-01

    To improve coral reef management, a deeper understanding of biodiversity across scales in the context of functional groups is required. The focus of this paper is on the role of diversity within functional groups in securing important ecosystem processes that contribute to the resilience of coral-dominated reef states. Two important components of species biodiversity that confer ecosystem resilience are analyzed: redundancy and the diversity of responses within functional groups to change. Three critical functional groups are used to illustrate the interaction between these two components and their role in coral reef resilience: zooxanthellae (symbiotic micro algae in reef-building corals), reef-building corals, and herbivores. The paper further examines the consequences of undermining functional redundancy and response diversity and addresses strategies to secure ecological processes that are critical for coral reef resilience.

  11. Workshop on Biological Integrity of Coral Reefs August 21-22 ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    This report summarizes an EPA-sponsored workshop on coral reef biological integrity held at the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in La Parguera, Puerto Rico on August 21-22, 2012. The goals of this workshop were to:• Identify key qualitative and quantitative ecological characteristics (reef attributes) that determine the condition of linear coral reefs inhabiting shallow waters (<12 m) in southwestern Puerto Rico.• Use those reef attributes to recommend categorical condition rankings for establishing a biological condition gradient.• Ascertain through expert consensus those reef attributes that characterize biological integrity (a natural, fully-functioning system of organisms and communities) for coral reefs. • Develop a conceptual, narrative model that describes how biological attributes of coral reefs change along a gradient of increasing anthropogenic stress.The workshop brought together scientists with expertise in coral reef taxonomic groups (e.g., stony corals, fishes, sponges, gorgonians, algae, seagrasses and macroinvertebrates), as well as community structure, organism condition, ecosystem function and ecosystem connectivity. The experts evaluated photos and videos from 12 stations collected during EPA Coral Reef surveys (2010 & 2011) from Puerto Rico on coral reefs exhibiting a wide range of conditions. The experts individually rated each station as to observed condition (“good”, “fair” or “poor”) and documented their rationale for

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. Say what? Coral reef sounds as indicators of community assemblages and reef conditions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mooney, T. A.; Kaplan, M. B.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs host some of the highest diversity of life on the planet. Unfortunately, reef health and biodiversity is declining or is threatened as a result of climate change and human influences. Tracking these changes is necessary for effective resource management, yet estimating marine biodiversity and tracking trends in ecosystem health is a challenging and expensive task, especially in many pristine reefs which are remote and difficult to access. Many fishes, mammals and invertebrates make sound. These sounds are reflective of a number of vital biological processes and are a cue for settling reef larvae. Biological sounds may be a means to quantify ecosystem health and biodiversity, however the relationship between coral reef soundscapes and the actual taxa present remains largely unknown. This study presents a comparative evaluation of the soundscape of multiple reefs, naturally differing in benthic cover and fish diversity, in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Using multiple recorders per reef we characterized spacio-temporal variation in biological sound production within and among reefs. Analyses of sounds recorded over 4 summer months indicated diel trends in both fish and snapping shrimp acoustic frequency bands with crepuscular peaks at all reefs. There were small but statistically significant acoustic differences among sites on a given reef raising the possibility of potentially localized acoustic habitats. The strength of diel trends in lower, fish-frequency bands were correlated with coral cover and fish density, yet no such relationship was found with shrimp sounds suggesting that fish sounds may be of higher relevance to tracking certain coral reef conditions. These findings indicate that, in spite of considerable variability within reef soundscapes, diel trends in low-frequency sound production reflect reef community assemblages. Further, monitoring soundscapes may be an efficient means of establishing and monitoring reef conditions.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2001-05-01

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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. Paleobiologic and paleoenvironmental context of coral-bearing Early Cambrian reefs: Implications for Phanerozoic reef development

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Savarese, Michael; Mount, Jeffrey F.; E., James; Bucklin, Louis

    1993-10-01

    Early Cambrian corals from South Australia have been found within fossil reefs of unusual biological and paleoecological composition. The framework of these reefs is composed of a diverse assemblage of calcareous sponges (e.g., archaeocyaths and sphinctozoans), calci-microbes, and at least two species of coral-like organisms, one of which is first reported herein and bears similarities to younger Paleozoic tabulate corals. Complex growth interactions occur among these organisms, suggesting that space was a limiting factor in Early Cambrian reef ecosystems, as it is today in modern scleractinian reefs. In striking contrast to most Early Cambrian archaeocyath-calcimicrobe reefs, these South Australian reefs flourished within energetic, mixed silici-clastic-carbonate shallow-marine environments along the margins of arid, coarse-grained, sea-marginal alluvial fans. The implications of these coral-bearing reefs are multifold. First, their existence not only extends the range of tabulatelike corals to the Botomian (middle Early Cambrian), but it adds an additional clade of participants to the Early Cambrian metazoan radiation event. Second, the existence of Botomian-aged skeletonized colonial cnidarians necessitates an earliest Cambrian or Neoproterozoic ancestor for the group. Third, the presence of tabulatelike corals and their involvement in reef building prior to the Toyonian extinction (late Early Cambrian) challenges hypotheses (e.g., lack of a suitable reef builder after the extinction of archaeocyaths until the Ordovician) used to explain the paucity of Middle and Late Cambrian reefs worldwide. The presence of these corals on sea-marginal fans contradicts the perception that early reefs were restricted to low-energy, predominantly carbonate subtidal environments.

  2. Virus-host interactions and their roles in coral reef health and disease.

    PubMed

    Thurber, Rebecca Vega; Payet, Jérôme P; Thurber, Andrew R; Correa, Adrienne M S

    2017-04-01

    Coral reefs occur in nutrient-poor shallow waters, constitute biodiversity and productivity hotspots, and are threatened by anthropogenic disturbance. This Review provides an introduction to coral reef virology and emphasizes the links between viruses, coral mortality and reef ecosystem decline. We describe the distinctive benthic-associated and water-column- associated viromes that are unique to coral reefs, which have received less attention than viruses in open-ocean systems. We hypothesize that viruses of bacteria and eukaryotes dynamically interact with their hosts in the water column and with scleractinian (stony) corals to influence microbial community dynamics, coral bleaching and disease, and reef biogeochemical cycling. Last, we outline how marine viruses are an integral part of the reef system and suggest that the influence of viruses on reef function is an essential component of these globally important environments.

  3. Prioritizing land and sea conservation investments to protect coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2010-08-30

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

  4. Prioritizing Land and Sea Conservation Investments to Protect Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2010-01-01

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

  5. 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

  6. The Vulnerability and Resilience of Reef-Building Corals.

    PubMed

    Putnam, Hollie M; Barott, Katie L; Ainsworth, Tracy D; Gates, Ruth D

    2017-06-05

    Reef-building corals provide the foundation for the structural and biological diversity of coral-reef ecosystems. These massive biological structures, which can be seen from space, are the culmination of complex interactions between the tiny polyps of the coral animal in concert with its unicellular symbiotic algae and a wide diversity of closely associated microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses). While reef-building corals have persisted in various forms for over 200 million years, human-induced conditions threaten their function and persistence. The scope for loss associated with the destruction of coral reef systems is economically, biologically, physically and culturally immense. Here, we provide a micro-to-macro perspective on the biology of scleractinian corals and discuss how cellular processes of the host and symbionts potentially affect the response of these reef builders to the wide variety of both natural and anthropogenic stressors encountered by corals in the Anthropocene. We argue that the internal physicochemical settings matter to both the performance of the host and microbiome, as bio-physical feedbacks may enhance stress tolerance through environmentally mediated host priming and effects on microbiome ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-04-04

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

  8. Tropical dead zones and mass mortalities on coral reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

    Degradation of coastal water quality in the form of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) can harm biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human wellbeing. Extreme hypoxic conditions along the coast, leading to what are often referred to as “dead zones,” are known primarily from temperate regions. However, little is known about the potential threat of hypoxia in the tropics, even though the known risk factors, including eutrophication and elevated temperatures, are common. Here we document an unprecedented hypoxic event on the Caribbean coast of Panama and assess the risk of dead zones to coral reefs worldwide. The event caused coral bleaching and massive mortality of corals and other reef-associated organisms, but observed shifts in community structure combined with laboratory experiments revealed that not all coral species are equally sensitive to hypoxia. Analyses of global databases showed that coral reefs are associated with more than half of the known tropical dead zones worldwide, with >10% of all coral reefs at elevated risk for hypoxia based on local and global risk factors. Hypoxic events in the tropics and associated mortality events have likely been underreported, perhaps by an order of magnitude, because of the lack of local scientific capacity for their detection. Monitoring and management plans for coral reef resilience should incorporate the growing threat of coastal hypoxia and include support for increased detection and research capacity. PMID:28320966

  9. The growth of coral reef science in the Gulf: a historical perspective.

    PubMed

    Burt, John A

    2013-07-30

    Coral reef science has grown exponentially in recent decades in the Gulf. Analysis of literature from 1950 to 2012 identified 270 publications on coral reefs in the Gulf, half of which were published in just the past decade. This paper summarizes the growth and evolution of coral reef science in the Gulf by examining when, where and how research has been conducted on Gulf reefs, who conducted that research, and what themes and taxa have dominated scientific interest. The results demonstrate that there has been significant growth in our understanding of the valuable coral reefs of the Gulf, but also highlight the fact that we are documenting an increasingly degraded ecosystem. Reef scientists must make a concerted effort to improve dialogue with regional reef management and decision-makers if we are to stem the tide of decline in coral reefs in the Gulf.

  10. 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.

  11. Healthy coral reefs may assure coastal protection in face of climate change related sea level rise

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-12-01

    Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems that support millions of people worldwide providing crucial services, of which, coastal protection is one of the most relevant. The efficiency of coral reefs in protecting coastlines and dissipating waves is directly linked to the cover of living corals and three dimensional reef structural complexity. Climate change and human impacts are leading to severe global reductions in live coral cover, posing serious concerns regarding the capacity of degraded reef systems in protecting tropical coastal regions. Although it is known that the loss of structurally complex reefs may lead to greater erosion of coastlines, this process has rarely been quantified and it is still unknown whether the maintenance of healthy reefs through conservation will be enough to guarantee coastal protection during rising sea levels. We show that a significant loss of wave dissipation and a subsequent increase in back-reef wave height (up to 5 times present wave height) could occur even at present sea level if living corals are lost and reef structural complexity is reduced. Yet we also show that healthy reefs, measured by structural complexity and efficiency of vertical reef accretion, may maintain their present capacity of wave dissipation even under rising sea levels. Our results indicate that the health of coral reefs and not sea level rise will be the major determinant of the coastal protection services provided by coral reefs and calls for investments into coral reef conservation to ensure the future protection of tropical coastal communities.

  12. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-04-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

  15. Crustose coralline algae increased framework and diversity on ancient coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Weiss, Anna; Martindale, Rowan C

    2017-01-01

    Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are key producers of carbonate sediment on reefs today. Despite their importance in modern reef ecosystems, the long-term relationship of CCA with reef development has not been quantitatively assessed in the fossil record. This study includes data from 128 Cenozoic coral reefs collected from the Paleobiology Database, the Paleoreefs Database, as well as the original literature and assesses the correlation of CCA abundance with taxonomic diversity (both corals and reef dwellers) and framework of fossil coral reefs. Chi-squared tests show reef type is significantly correlated with CCA abundance and post-hoc tests indicate higher involvement of CCA is associated with stronger reef structure. Additionally, general linear models show coral reefs with higher amounts of CCA had a higher diversity of reef-dwelling organisms. These data have important implications for paleoecology as they demonstrate that CCA increased building capacity, structural integrity, and diversity of ancient coral reefs. The analyses presented here demonstrate that the function of CCA on modern coral reefs is similar to their function on Cenozoic reefs; thus, studies of ancient coral reef collapse are even more meaningful as modern analogues.

  16. 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

    2012-07-06

    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.

  17. 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. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  18. 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.

  19. Functional versatility supports coral reef biodiversity.

    PubMed

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

    2006-01-07

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

  20. Functional versatility supports coral reef biodiversity

    PubMed Central

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

    2005-01-01

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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Natural bounds on herbivorous coral reef fishes

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

  4. Natural bounds on herbivorous coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

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

    2016-11-30

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

  5. Spatial and temporal behavior and acute ecotoxicological effects of Tributyltin (TBT) on coral reef and adjacent ecosystems around Okinawa Island, Japan.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheikh, M. A.; Higuchi, T.; Imo, T. S.; Fujimura, H.; Oomori, T.

    2007-12-01

    Spatial and temporal behavior of the tributyl tin (TBT) were investigated in the coastal areas around Okinawa Island, Japan. A seasonal monitoring study was conducted between February and October 2006. The effects of TBT on the carbon metabolisms (net production and calcification) on the intact coral-alga association Galaxea fascicularis were also investigated. Mean concentration of TBT (2.45 ng/L) found in the Manko estuary waters have exceeded some international permissible targets of waters quality guideline for TBT (1ng/L). The sediments in Manko estuary sediments can be considered lightly contaminated (0-20 ng/g dw) and Okukubi estuary as uncontaminated (below 3ng/g dw) with TBT. The seasonal concentration pattern of TBT at the Manko estuary was autumn > spring > summer > winter. The acute ecotoxicological results show that the photosynthesis rate and calcification rate were significantly reduced by 78 % and 72 % relative to the control (ANOVA, p<0.001) when corals were exposed to 5000 ng/LTBT, respectively. No significant effects (ANOVA, p>0.05) were observed when corals were exposed to 1000 ng/LTBT. The present study reports the occurrence and continuous input of TBT in the coastal areas around Okinawa Island, even 16 years after legal restriction of TBT usage in coastal waters was implemented by the Japanese Environmental Authorities. However, the nominal sensitive concentration of TBT that causes alteration of carbon metabolisms of coral within 96 hrs exposure are much higher than those recently found in the coral reef waters and adjacent ecosystems.

  6. Trade-offs between data resolution, accuracy, and cost when choosing information to plan reserves for coral reef ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Tulloch, Vivitskaia J; Klein, Carissa J; Jupiter, Stacy D; Tulloch, Ayesha I T; Roelfsema, Chris; Possingham, Hugh P

    2017-03-01

    Conservation planners must reconcile trade-offs associated with using biodiversity data of differing qualities to make decisions. Coarse habitat classifications are commonly used as surrogates to design marine reserve networks when fine-scale biodiversity data are incomplete or unavailable. Although finely-classified habitat maps provide more detail, they may have more misclassification errors, a common problem when remotely-sensed imagery is used. Despite these issues, planners rarely consider the effects of errors when choosing data for spatially explicit conservation prioritizations. Here we evaluate trade-offs between accuracy and resolution of hierarchical coral reef habitat data (geomorphology and benthic substrate) derived from remote sensing, in spatial planning for Kubulau District, Fiji. For both, we use accuracy information describing the probability that a mapped habitat classification is correct to design marine reserve networks that achieve habitat conservation targets, and demonstrate inadequacies of using habitat maps without accuracy data. We show that using more detailed habitat information ensures better representation of biogenic habitats (i.e. coral and seagrass), but leads to larger and more costly reserves, because these data have more misclassification errors, and are also more expensive to obtain. Reduced impacts on fishers are possible using coarsely-classified data, which are also more cost-effective for planning reserves if we account for data collection costs, but using these data may under-represent reef habitats that are important for fisheries and biodiversity, due to the maps low thematic resolution. Finally, we show that explicitly accounting for accuracy information in decisions maximizes the chance of successful conservation outcomes by reducing the risk of missing conservation representation targets, particularly when using finely classified data. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  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. 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.

  9. The importance of spatial fishing behavior for coral reef resilience

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rassweiler, A.; Lauer, M.; Holbrook, S. J.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs are dynamic systems in which disturbances periodically reduce coral cover but are normally followed by recovery of the coral community. However, human activity may have reduced this resilience to disturbance in many coral reef systems, as an increasing number of reefs have undergone persistent transitions from coral-dominated to macroalgal-dominated community states. Fishing on herbivores may be one cause of reduced reef resilience, as lower herbivory can make it easier for macroalgae to become established after a disturbance. Despite the acknowledged importance of fishing, relatively little attention has been paid to the potential for feedbacks between ecosystem state and fisher behavior. Here we couple methods from environmental anthropology and ecology to explore these feedbacks between small-scale fisheries and coral reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia. We document how aspects of ecological state such as the abundance of macroalgae affect people's preference for fishing in particular lagoon habitats. We then incorporate biases towards fishing in certain ecological states into a spatially explicit bio-economic model of ecological dynamics and fishing in Moorea's lagoons. We find that feedbacks between spatial fishing behavior and ecological state can have critical effects on coral reefs. Presence of these spatial behaviors consistently leads to more coherence across the reef-scape. However, whether this coherence manifests as increased resilience or increased fragility depends on the spatial scales of fisher movement and the magnitudes of disturbance. These results emphasize the potential importance of spatially-explicit fishing behavior for reef resilience, but also the complexity of the feedbacks involved.

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

    PubMed Central

    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

    2016-01-01

    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

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-04-01

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

  13. 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.

  14. Nitrogen fixation in a coral reef community.

    PubMed

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

    1975-04-18

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

  15. Hydrodynamic Regimes Affect Coral Reef Resilience to Ocean Acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-05-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-01-09

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

  17. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    PubMed Central

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

    2017-01-01

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

  18. Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2017-01-01

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

  19. Hurricanes, Coral Reefs and Rainforests: Resistance, Ruin and Recovery in the Caribbean

    Treesearch

    A. E. Lugo; C. S. Rogers; S. W Nixon

    2000-01-01

    The coexistence of hurricanes, coral reefs, and rainforests in the Caribbean demonstrates that highly structured ecosystems with great diversity can flourish in spite of recurring exposure to intense destructive energy. Coral reefs develop in response to wave energy and resist hurricanes largely by virtue of their structural strength. Limited fetch also protects some...

  20. 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...

  1. 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...

  2. Lower Mesophotic Coral Communities (60-125 m Depth) of the Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea

    PubMed Central

    Englebert, Norbert; Bongaerts, Pim; Muir, Paul R.; Hay, Kyra B.; Pichon, Michel; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2017-01-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific remain relatively unexplored, particularly at lower mesophotic depths (≥60 m), despite their potentially large spatial extent. Here, we used a remotely operated vehicle to conduct a qualitative assessment of the zooxanthellate coral community at lower mesophotic depths (60–125 m) at 10 different locations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Lower mesophotic coral communities were present at all 10 locations, with zooxanthellate scleractinian corals extending down to ~100 metres on walls and ~125 m on steep slopes. Lower mesophotic coral communities were most diverse in the 60–80 m zone, while at depths of ≥100 m the coral community consisted almost exclusively of the genus Leptoseris. Collections of coral specimens (n = 213) between 60 and 125 m depth confirmed the presence of at least 29 different species belonging to 18 genera, including several potential new species and geographic/depth range extensions. Overall, this study highlights that lower mesophotic coral ecosystems are likely to be ubiquitous features on the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and atolls of the Coral Sea, and harbour a generic and species richness of corals that is much higher than thus far reported. Further research efforts are urgently required to better understand and manage these ecosystems as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. PMID:28146574

  3. Lower Mesophotic Coral Communities (60-125 m Depth) of the Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.

    PubMed

    Englebert, Norbert; Bongaerts, Pim; Muir, Paul R; Hay, Kyra B; Pichon, Michel; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2017-01-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific remain relatively unexplored, particularly at lower mesophotic depths (≥60 m), despite their potentially large spatial extent. Here, we used a remotely operated vehicle to conduct a qualitative assessment of the zooxanthellate coral community at lower mesophotic depths (60-125 m) at 10 different locations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Lower mesophotic coral communities were present at all 10 locations, with zooxanthellate scleractinian corals extending down to ~100 metres on walls and ~125 m on steep slopes. Lower mesophotic coral communities were most diverse in the 60-80 m zone, while at depths of ≥100 m the coral community consisted almost exclusively of the genus Leptoseris. Collections of coral specimens (n = 213) between 60 and 125 m depth confirmed the presence of at least 29 different species belonging to 18 genera, including several potential new species and geographic/depth range extensions. Overall, this study highlights that lower mesophotic coral ecosystems are likely to be ubiquitous features on the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and atolls of the Coral Sea, and harbour a generic and species richness of corals that is much higher than thus far reported. Further research efforts are urgently required to better understand and manage these ecosystems as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

  4. Ongoing collapse of coral-reef shark populations.

    PubMed

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

    2006-12-05

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

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

    PubMed

    McCormick, Mark I

    2009-09-18

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

  6. Characterization of dissolved organic matter in a coral reef ecosystem subjected to anthropogenic pressures (La Réunion Island, Indian Ocean) using multi-dimensional fluorescence spectroscopy.

    PubMed

    Tedetti, Marc; Cuet, Pascale; Guigue, Catherine; Goutx, Madeleine

    2011-05-01

    La Saline fringing reef is the most important coral reef complex of La Réunion Island (southwestern Indian Ocean; 21°07'S, 55°32'E). This ecosystem is subjected to anthropogenic pressures through river inputs and submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). The goal of this study was to characterize the pool of fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) in different water bodies of La Saline fringing reef ecosystem using excitation-emission matrix (EEM) spectrofluorometry. From EEMs, we identified the different fluorophores by the peak picking technique and determined two fluorescence indices issued from the literature: the humification index (HIX) and the biological index (BIX). The main known fluorophores were present within the sample set: humic-like A, humic-like C, marine humic-like M, tryptophan-like T1 and T2, and tyrosine-like B1 and B2. In some samples, unknown fluorophores ("U") were also detected. The surface oceanic waters located beyond the reef front displayed a typical oligotrophic marine signature, with a dominance of autochthonous/biological material (presence of peaks: T1>B1>A>T2>M>C; HIX: 0.9±0.4; BIX: 2.3±1.1). In the reef waters, the autochthonous/biological fingerprint also dominated even though the content in humic substances was higher (same relative distribution of peaks; HIX: 1.6±0.6; BIX: 1.0±0.1). Sedimentary and volcanic SGD showed very different patterns with a strong terrestrial source for the former (A>T1>C>B1 and A>C>B1; HIX: 9.8±2.0; BIX: 0.8±0.0) and a weak terrestrial source for the latter (A>B1>U3>B2>C and A>U4>C; HIX: 2.4±0.3; BIX: 0.9±0.0). In the Hermitage River, both humic substances and protein-like material were abundant (T1>A>U5>B1>C>B2; HIX: 2.3; BIX: 1.4). We provide evidences for the presence of anthropogenic DOM in some of these water bodies. Some oceanic samples (presence of peaks U1 and U2) were likely contaminated by oil-derived PAHs from ships navigating around the reef front, whereas the Hermitage River was

  7. 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

  8. 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...

  9. 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...

  10. 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...

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Coral bleaching: Thermal adaptation in reef coral symbionts

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rowan, Rob

    2004-08-01

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

  16. 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

  17. Digital reef rugosity estimates coral reef habitat complexity.

    PubMed

    Dustan, Phillip; Doherty, Orla; Pardede, Shinta

    2013-01-01

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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-30

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

  1. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-04-01

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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Proactive Ecological Reef Rehabilitation for Caribbean Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dustan, P.; Wheeler, L.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reef formation is a function of deposition and erosion modulated by biological and physical forcing functions. In 1982-4, the Caribbean-wide mass mortality of Diadema antillarum, the long-spine sea urchin phase-shifted coral reefs into algal gardens. With few exceptions, Diadema's ecological role has not been replaced and coral cover and recruitment have dropped precipitously. Additional local to global stressors have accelerated the decline and Caribbean reefs are losing their three-dimensionality and ecological integrity. Most are mere ghosts of their luxuriant past as bioerosion is overtaking accretion melting them into carbonate sand. In some shallow reef habitats Diadema populations have regenerated and their herbivory cleans the reef substrate of micro and macro algae. These reefs have high rates of recruitment and are showing signs of regeneration. The deeper reefs, without D. antillarum are mired in algae and show no potential for recovery without increased herbivory. We transplanted shallow water D. antillarum to the deeper fore reef slopes of Jamaican and Belizean reefs in an attempt to understand why the species is restricted to the shallows. The urchins were initially caged at densities of 5-20/m2 for three days to protect them while acclimating to their new habitat and to track their algal consumption. Upon cage removal, we found that the Diadema had efficiently removed the complex algal community from the substratum and the edges of live corals. Over the next week, the urchins remained together and continued foraging out from their previously caged area. Algal overgrowth is widespread throughout the Caribbean and Western Atlantic and is generally agreed upon to be one of the major drivers of Caribbean coral reef collapse. While D. antillarum may eventually extend its range deeper, the current rates of degradation highlight the need for proactive reef restoration efforts to prevent collapse of the deeper reefs.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Danwei; Roy, Kaustuv

    2015-01-01

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

  9. 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.

  10. Predicting the location and spatial extent of submerged coral reef habitat in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area, Australia.

    PubMed

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

    2012-01-01

    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. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. 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. 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. 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 to identify these reefs, which may play an

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Change in CO2 Flux in Coral Reefs by Bleaching

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2001-05-01

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

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Toth, Lauren T.

    2016-01-01

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2007-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-01-01

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

  20. Destruction of corals and other reef animals by coral spawn slicks on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Simpson, C. J.; Cary, J. L.; Masini, R. J.

    1993-11-01

    In March 1989, most of the corals near Coral Bay, off the north-western coastline of Australia, spawned several nights earlier than usual. Flood, rather than ebb, tides at the time of spawning combined with light north-west winds and low swell conditions to restrict the dispersal of coral propagules and, as a result, large amounts of coral spawn were trapped in the bay, forming extensive slicks. Fish and other animals began to die almost immediately, and over the next few days, over 1 million fish, representing at least 80 species, were washed ashore. A survey of the benthic communities revealed extensive mortality of corals and other reef animals over an area of about 3 km2. Live coral cover in this area decreased from 42.9% to 9.4% and several large coral colonies up to 10 m in diameter were killed. The observed mortality was presumably the result of hypoxia (oxygen depletion) created initially by the respiratory demand of the coral spawn and maintained by the biological oxygen demand of the decomposing spawn slicks and dead animals. Anecdotal reports of corals and other reef animals dying in the vicinity of coral spawn slicks on other reefs in Western Australia suggest that this phenomenon may be a relatively common event on shallow coral reefs where coral mass spawning occurs. These records and observations document, for the first time, a new source of natural disturbance that has a significant influence on the community structure of some coral reefs.

  1. 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...

  2. 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 ...

  3. 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...

  4. 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 ...

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-03-01

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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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 ...

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  13. Human Disruption of Coral Reef Trophic Structure.

    PubMed

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

    2017-01-23

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

  14. 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...

  15. 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...

  16. 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

  17. 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%.

  18. Multiple Stressors and the Functioning of Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harborne, Alastair R.; Rogers, Alice; Bozec, Yves-Marie; Mumby, Peter J.

    2017-01-01

    Coral reefs provide critical services to coastal communities, and these services rely on ecosystem functions threatened by stressors. By summarizing the threats to the functioning of reefs from fishing, climate change, and decreasing water quality, we highlight that these stressors have multiple, conflicting effects on functionally similar groups of species and their interactions, and that the overall effects are often uncertain because of a lack of data or variability among taxa. The direct effects of stressors on links among functional groups, such as predator-prey interactions, are particularly uncertain. Using qualitative modeling, we demonstrate that this uncertainty of stressor impacts on functional groups (whether they are positive, negative, or neutral) can have significant effects on models of ecosystem stability, and reducing uncertainty is vital for understanding changes to reef functioning. This review also provides guidance for future models of reef functioning, which should include interactions among functional groups and the cumulative effect of stressors.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. Primary production of coral ecosystems in the Vietnamese coastal and adjacent marine waters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tac-An, Nguyen; Minh-Thu, Phan; Cherbadji, I. I.; Propp, M. V.; Odintsov, V. S.; Propp, L. H.

    2013-11-01

    Coral reef ecosystems in coastal waters and islands of Vietnam have high primary production. Average gross primary production (GPP) in coral reef waters was 0.39 g C m-2 day-1. GPP of corals ranged from 3.12 to 4.37 g C m-2 day-1. GPP of benthic microalgae in coral reefs ranged from 2 to 10 g C m-2 day-1. GPP of macro-algae was 2.34 g C m-2 day-1. Therefore, the total of GPP of whole coral reef ecosystems could reach 7.85 to 17.10 g C m-2 day-1. Almost all values of the ratio of photosynthesis to respiration in the water bodies are higher than 1, which means these regions are autotrophic systems. Wire variation of GPP in coral reefs was contributed by species abundance of coral and organisms, nutrient supports and environmental characteristics of coral ecosystems. Coral reefs play an important ecological role of biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in waters around the reefs. These results contribute valuable information for the protection, conservation and sustainable exploitation of the natural resources in coral reef ecosystems in Vietnam.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. The influence of coral reef benthic condition on associated fish assemblages.

    PubMed

    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.

  5. Expanding marine protected areas to include degraded coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Abelson, A; Nelson, P A; Edgar, G J; Shashar, N; Reed, D C; Belmaker, J; Krause, G; Beck, M W; Brokovich, E; France, R; Gaines, S D

    2016-12-01

    Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a commonly applied solution to coral reef degradation, yet coral reefs continue to decline worldwide. We argue that expanding the range of MPAs to include degraded reefs (DR-MPA) could help reverse this trend. This approach requires new ecological criteria for MPA design, siting, and management. Rather than focusing solely on preserving healthy reefs, our approach focuses on the potential for biodiversity recovery and renewal of ecosystem services. The new criteria would help identify sites with the highest potential for recovery and the greatest resistance to future threats (e.g., increased temperature and acidification) and sites that contribute to MPA connectivity. The DR-MPA approach is a compliment rather than a substitute for traditional MPA design approaches. We believe that the DR-MPA approach can enhance the natural, or restoration-assisted, recovery of DRs and their ecosystem services; increase total reef area available for protection; promote more resilient and better-connected MPA networks; and improve conditions for human communities dependent on MPA ecosystem services.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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...

  10. 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...

  11. 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…

  12. 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…

  13. 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...

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  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 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

  19. 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

    2014-03-06

    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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Birkeland, Charles

    2017-03-01

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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Cryptic Coral Reef Diversity Across the Pacific Assessed using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures and Multi-omic Methods

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ransome, E. J.; Timmers, M.; Hartmann, A.; Collins, A.; Meyer, C.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs harbor diverse and distinct eukaryotic, bacterial and viral communities, which are critically important for their success. The lack of standardized measures for comprehensively assessing reef diversity has been a major obstacle in understanding the complexity of eukaryotic and microbial associations, and the processes that drive ecosystem shifts on reefs. ARMS, which mimic the structural complexity of the reef using artificial settlement plates, were used to systematically measure reef biodiversity across the Indo-Pacific. This device allows for standardized sampling of reef microbes to metazoans, providing the opportunity to investigate the fundamental links between these groups at an ecosystem level. We integrate the use of traditional ecology methods with metagenomics and metabolomics (metabolic predictors) to quantify the taxonomic composition of one of the planet's most diverse ecosystems and to assess the fundamental links between these cryptic communities and ecosystem function along geographical and anthropogenic stress gradients.

  5. Fishing degrades size structure of coral reef fish communities.

    PubMed

    Robinson, James P W; Williams, Ivor D; Edwards, Andrew M; McPherson, Jana; Yeager, Lauren; Vigliola, Laurent; Brainard, Russell E; Baum, Julia K

    2017-03-01

    Fishing pressure on coral reef ecosystems has been frequently linked to reductions of large fishes and reef fish biomass. Associated impacts on overall community structure are, however, less clear. In size-structured aquatic ecosystems, fishing impacts are commonly quantified using size spectra, which describe the distribution of individual body sizes within a community. We examined the size spectra and biomass of coral reef fish communities at 38 US-affiliated Pacific islands that ranged in human presence from near pristine to human population centers. Size spectra 'steepened' steadily with increasing human population and proximity to market due to a reduction in the relative biomass of large fishes and an increase in the dominance of small fishes. Reef fish biomass was substantially lower on inhabited islands than uninhabited ones, even at inhabited islands with the lowest levels of human presence. We found that on populated islands size spectra exponents decreased (analogous to size spectra steepening) linearly with declining biomass, whereas on uninhabited islands there was no relationship. Size spectra were steeper in regions of low sea surface temperature but were insensitive to variation in other environmental and geomorphic covariates. In contrast, reef fish biomass was highly sensitive to oceanographic conditions, being influenced by both oceanic productivity and sea surface temperature. Our results suggest that community size structure may be a more robust indicator than fish biomass to increasing human presence and that size spectra are reliable indicators of exploitation impacts across regions of different fish community compositions, environmental drivers, and fisheries types. Size-based approaches that link directly to functional properties of fish communities, and are relatively insensitive to abiotic variation across biogeographic regions, offer great potential for developing our understanding of fishing impacts in coral reef ecosystems.

  6. 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

  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. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. Coping with Commitment: Projected Thermal Stress on Coral Reefs under Different Future Scenarios

    PubMed Central

    Donner, Simon D.

    2009-01-01

    Background Periods of anomalously warm ocean temperatures can lead to mass coral bleaching. Past studies have concluded that anthropogenic climate change may rapidly increase the frequency of these thermal stress events, leading to declines in coral cover, shifts in the composition of corals and other reef-dwelling organisms, and stress on the human populations who depend on coral reef ecosystems for food, income and shoreline protection. The ability of greenhouse gas mitigation to alter the near-term forecast for coral reefs is limited by the time lag between greenhouse gas emissions and the physical climate response. Methodology/Principal Findings This study uses observed sea surface temperatures and the results of global climate model forced with five different future emissions scenarios to evaluate the “committed warming” for coral reefs worldwide. The results show that the physical warming commitment from current accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could cause over half of the world's coral reefs to experience harmfully frequent (p≥0.2 year−1) thermal stress by 2080. An additional “societal” warming commitment, caused by the time required to shift from a business-as-usual emissions trajectory to a 550 ppm CO2 stabilization trajectory, may cause over 80% of the world's coral reefs to experience harmfully frequent events by 2030. Thermal adaptation of 1.5°C would delay the thermal stress forecast by 50–80 years. Conclusions/Significance The results suggest that adaptation – via biological mechanisms, coral community shifts and/or management interventions – could provide time to change the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and possibly avoid the recurrence of harmfully frequent events at the majority (97%) of the world's coral reefs this century. Without any thermal adaptation, atmospheric CO2 concentrations may need to be stabilized below current levels to avoid the degradation of coral reef ecosystems from frequent thermal

  14. 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.

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

    PubMed

    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.

  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. 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

  18. Octocoral Species Assembly and Coexistence in Caribbean Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

    Velásquez, Johanna; Sánchez, Juan A

    2015-01-01

    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. 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. 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. There was strong octocoral community structure with opposite diversity

  19. Colour thresholds in a coral reef fish.

    PubMed

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

    2016-09-01

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

  20. 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

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Coral reefs as the first line of defense: Shoreline protection in face of climate change.

    PubMed

    Elliff, Carla I; Silva, Iracema R

    2017-03-25

    Coral reefs are responsible for a wide array of ecosystem services including shoreline protection. However, the processes involved in delivering this particular service have not been fully understood. The objective of the present review was to compile the main results in the literature regarding the study of shoreline protection delivered by coral reefs, identifying the main threats climate change imposes to the service, and discuss mitigation and recovery strategies that can and have been applied to these ecosystems. While different zones of a reef have been associated with different levels of wave energy and wave height attenuation, more information is still needed regarding the capacity of different reef morphologies to deliver shoreline protection. Moreover, the synergy between the main threats imposed by climate change to coral reefs has also not been thoroughly investigated. Recovery strategies are being tested and while there are numerous mitigation options, the challenge remains as to how to implement them and monitor their efficacy.

  6. 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.

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

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

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

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

  8. Coral Reef Habitat Response to Climate Change Scenarios

    PubMed Central

    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 21st 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. PMID:24340025

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  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.

  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