Science.gov

Sample records for coral reef metabolism

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2003-01-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-05-01

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

  4. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  7. Anthropogenic changes to seawater buffer capacity combined with natural reef metabolism induce extreme future coral reef CO2 conditions.

    PubMed

    Shaw, Emily C; McNeil, Ben I; Tilbrook, Bronte; Matear, Richard; Bates, Michael L

    2013-05-01

    Ocean acidification, via an anthropogenic increase in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2 ), is potentially a major threat to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems. However, our understanding of how natural short-term diurnal CO2 variability in coral reefs influences longer term anthropogenic ocean acidification remains unclear. Here, we combine observed natural carbonate chemistry variability with future carbonate chemistry predictions for a coral reef flat in the Great Barrier Reef based on the RCP8.5 CO2 emissions scenario. Rather than observing a linear increase in reef flat partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2 ) in concert with rising atmospheric concentrations, the inclusion of in situ diurnal variability results in a highly nonlinear threefold amplification of the pCO2 signal by the end of the century. This significant nonlinear amplification of diurnal pCO2 variability occurs as a result of combining natural diurnal biological CO2 metabolism with long-term decreases in seawater buffer capacity, which occurs via increasing anthropogenic CO2 absorption by the ocean. Under the same benthic community composition, the amplification in the variability in pCO2 is likely to lead to exposure to mean maximum daily pCO2 levels of ca. 2100 μatm, with corrosive conditions with respect to aragonite by end-century at our study site. Minimum pCO2 levels will become lower relative to the mean offshore value (ca. threefold increase in the difference between offshore and minimum reef flat pCO2 ) by end-century, leading to a further increase in the pCO2 range that organisms are exposed to. The biological consequences of short-term exposure to these extreme CO2 conditions, coupled with elevated long-term mean CO2 conditions are currently unknown and future laboratory experiments will need to incorporate natural variability to test this. The amplification of pCO2 that we describe here is not unique to our study location, but will occur in all shallow coastal environments where high

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-12-01

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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...

  12. CORAL REEF BIOCRITERIA

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  13. 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...

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2003-04-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2003-03-01

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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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...

  2. 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...

  3. 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...

  4. 40 CFR 230.44 - Coral reefs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-07-01

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

  5. 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

  6. Confronting the coral reef crisis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2004-06-01

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

  7. The future of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Knowlton, Nancy

    2001-05-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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...

  15. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  18. 75 FR 48934 - Coral Reef Conservation Program Implementation Guidelines

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-08-12

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. Coral reef degradation and metabolic performance of the scleractinian coral Porites lutea under anthropogenic impact along the NE coast of Hainan Island, South China Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roder, Cornelia; Wu, Zhongjie; Richter, Claudio; Zhang, Jing

    2013-04-01

    Hainan's coast provides favorable climatic, geochemical and biogeographic conditions for the development of extensive coral reefs in China. Observations in five reefs along the NE coast of Hainan showed, however, that the overall density of mobile macrofauna is low and key functional groups such as browsing, scraping or excavating herbivore fish are missing altogether. Coral diseases, partial mortality or tissue degradation are abundant and growth of macroalgal space competitors extensive. Signs of eutrophication, siltation and destructive fishing practices are evident resulting in a strongly altered environment unfavorable for coral recruitment success and survival. Acclimation to the anthropogenically altered conditions in the massive coral Porites lutea occurs at the cost of a decreased photosynthesis: respiration ratio reducing the regenerative capacity of these key framebuilding organisms. Even though, on the organismal level, corals are able to cope with these stressful conditions, a shift is imminent on the ecosystem level from a coral reef to a macroalgae-dominated community if land-based disturbance prevails unabated.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Geological Approaches to Coral Reef Ecology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kench, Paul

    2008-09-01

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

  5. Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems

    PubMed Central

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

    2006-01-01

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

  6. Astronaut Photography of Coral Reefs

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Robinson, Julie A.; Noordeloos, Marco

    2001-01-01

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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 ...

  18. 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...

  19. 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.

  20. 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 ...

  1. 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...

  2. 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

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2014-01-01

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

  4. Shoaling reduces metabolic rate in a gregarious coral reef fish species

    PubMed Central

    Killen, Shaun S.; McClure, Eva C.; Munday, Philip L.; McCormick, Mark I.

    2016-01-01

    ABSTRACT Many animals live in groups because of the potential benefits associated with defense and foraging. Group living may also induce a ‘calming effect’ on individuals, reducing overall metabolic demand. This effect could occur by minimising the need for individual vigilance and reducing stress through social buffering. However, this effect has proved difficult to quantify. We examined the effect of shoaling on metabolism and body condition in the gregarious damselfish Chromis viridis. Using a novel respirometry methodology for social species, we found that the presence of shoal-mate visual and olfactory cues led to a reduction in the minimum metabolic rate of individuals. Fish held in isolation for 1 week also exhibited a reduction in body condition when compared with those held in shoals. These results indicate that social isolation as a result of environmental disturbance could have physiological consequences for gregarious species. PMID:27655821

  5. 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

  6. Effect of elevated carbon dioxide on shoal familiarity and metabolism in a coral reef fish

    PubMed Central

    Nadler, Lauren E.; Killen, Shaun S.; McCormick, Mark I.; Watson, Sue-Ann; Munday, Philip L.

    2016-01-01

    Atmospheric CO2 is expected to more than double by the end of the century. The resulting changes in ocean chemistry will affect the behaviour, sensory systems and physiology of a range of fish species. Although a number of past studies have examined effects of CO2 in gregarious fishes, most have assessed individuals in social isolation, which can alter individual behaviour and metabolism in social species. Within social groups, a learned familiarity can develop following a prolonged period of interaction between individuals, with fishes preferentially associating with familiar conspecifics because of benefits such as improved social learning and greater foraging opportunities. However, social recognition occurs through detection of shoal-mate cues; hence, it may be disrupted by near-future CO2 conditions. In the present study, we examined the influence of elevated CO2 on shoal familiarity and the metabolic benefits of group living in the gregarious damselfish species the blue-green puller (Chromis viridis). Shoals were acclimated to one of three nominal CO2 treatments: control (450 µatm), mid-CO2 (750 µatm) or high-CO2 (1000 µatm). After a 4–7 day acclimation period, familiarity was examined using a choice test, in which individuals were given the choice to associate with familiar shoal-mates or unfamiliar conspecifics. In control conditions, individuals preferentially associated with familiar shoal-mates. However, this association was lost in both elevated-CO2 treatments. Elevated CO2 did not impact the calming effect of shoaling on metabolism, as measured using an intermittent-flow respirometry methodology for social species following a 17–20 day acclimation period to CO2 treatment. In all CO2 treatments, individuals exhibited a significantly lower metabolic rate when measured in a shoal vs. alone, highlighting the complexity of shoal dynamics and the processes that influence the benefits of shoaling. PMID:27933164

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Developing a multi-stressor gradient for coral reefs

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  12. 78 FR 67128 - Coral Reef Conservation Program; Meeting

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-08

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

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

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Quaternary coral reef refugia preserved fish diversity.

    PubMed

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

    2014-05-30

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

  17. Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-06-01

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

  4. 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.

  5. Maintenance of fish diversity on disturbed coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-03-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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...

  8. Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Can coral reefs be monitored from space?

    PubMed

    Philipson, Petra; Lindell, Tommy

    2003-12-01

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

  14. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-03-01

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

  16. 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.

  17. Coral Reef Education and Australian High School Students

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Stepath, Carl M.

    2004-01-01

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

  18. 75 FR 21650 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-04-26

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

  19. 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...

  20. 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.

  1. Fine sediments suppress detritivory on coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2017-01-30

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

  2. 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.

  3. Vertical variations of coral reef drag forces

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-05-01

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

  4. 76 FR 82413 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-12-30

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-12-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-06-01

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

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

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    Colonies of reef-building stony corals at 57 stations around St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were characterized by species, size and percentage of living tissue. Taxonomic, biological and physical indicators of coral condition were derived from these measurements and assessed for their response to gradients of human disturbance. The purpose of the study was to identify indicators that could be used for regulatory assessments under authority of the Clean Water Act--this requires that indicators distinguish anthropogenic disturbances from natural variation. Stony coral indicators were tested for correlation with human disturbance across gradients located on three different sides of the island. At the most intensely disturbed location, five of eight primary indicators were highly correlated with distance from the source of disturbance: Coral taxa richness, average colony size, the coefficient of variation of colony size (an indicator of colony size heterogeneity), total topographic coral surface area, and live coral surface area. An additional set of exploratory indicators related to rarity, reproductive and spawning mode, and taxonomic identity were also screened for association with disturbance at the same location. For the other two locations, there were no significant changes in indicator values and therefore no discernible effects of human activity. Coral indicators demonstrated sufficient precision to detect levels of change that would be applicable in a regio

  8. Commencement on a Coral Reef

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Webster, Steven K.

    1973-01-01

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

  9. 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

  10. Nitrification on a coral reef.

    PubMed

    Webb, K L; Wiebe, W J

    1975-09-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-01-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2003-08-01

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2003-08-15

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1994-07-01

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

  1. 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. 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

  3. 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.

  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. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-26

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

  7. 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.

  8. Perturbation and change in coral reef communities

    PubMed Central

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

    1982-01-01

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

  9. The continuing decline of coral reefs in Bahrain.

    PubMed

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

    2013-07-30

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

  10. The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores.

    PubMed

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

    2012-01-01

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

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Wave transformation across coral reefs under changing sea levels

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-04-01

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

  19. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Hay, Mark E; Rasher, Douglas B

    2010-09-23

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

  1. Repair of Coral Reefs Following Large Vessel Groundings

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-01

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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 76 FR 59377 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-09-26

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

  5. 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.

  6. Report Evaluates Importance of Coral Reefs and Mangroves

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kumar, Mohi

    2006-02-01

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

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

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

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

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

  8. 77 FR 12567 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-01

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

  9. DoD Coral Reef Protection and Management Program

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2004-08-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-02-01

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. Threatened Reef Corals of the World

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Danwei

    2012-01-01

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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Estep, Leland; Spruce, Joseph P.

    2007-01-01

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 76 FR 38618 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Survey

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-07-01

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

  6. Comparative studies on the status of Indonesian coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soekarno, R.

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. History of coral reefs and sea level

    SciTech Connect

    Fairbridge, R.W.

    1985-01-01

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

  10. 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.

  11. 75 FR 39917 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs off the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-07-13

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

  12. 76 FR 30110 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral and Coral Reefs Off the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-05-24

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-10-01

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

  14. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2005-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Goatley, Christopher H R; Bellwood, David R

    2012-12-23

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

  17. Unseen players shape benthic competition on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-05-01

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

  19. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-10-25

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  5. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-06-01

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

  7. Phosphorus and nitrogen in coral reef sediments

    SciTech Connect

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

    1983-05-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-06-01

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

  9. 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)

  10. 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.

  11. 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...

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-30

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

  13. 76 FR 68711 - Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch and Coral and Reef Associated Plants and...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-11-07

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

  14. 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.

  15. Ecological limitations to the resilience of coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-12-01

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

  16. Low calcification in corals in the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bhattacharya, Atreyee

    2012-10-01

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

  17. 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

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Heintz, T; Haapkylä, J; Gilbert, A

    2015-07-23

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-01-01

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

  1. Spatial dynamics of benthic competition on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Sandin, Stuart A; McNamara, Dylan E

    2012-04-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

    Monitoring changes in coral cover and composition through space and time can provide insights to reef health and assist the focus of management and conservation efforts. We used a meta-analytical approach to assess coral cover data across latitudes 10-35°S along the west Australian coast, including 25 years of data from the Ningaloo region. Current estimates of coral cover ranged between 3 and 44% in coral habitats. Coral communities in the northern regions were dominated by corals from the families Acroporidae and Poritidae, which became less common at higher latitudes. At Ningaloo Reef coral cover has remained relatively stable through time (∼28%), although north-eastern and southern areas have experienced significant declines in overall cover. These declines are likely related to periodic disturbances such as cyclones and thermal anomalies, which were particularly noticeable around 1998/1999 and 2010/2011. Linear mixed effects models (LME) suggest latitude explains 10% of the deviance in coral cover through time at Ningaloo. Acroporidae has decreased in abundance relative to other common families at Ningaloo in the south, which might be related to persistence of more thermally and mechanically tolerant families. We identify regions where quantitative time-series data on coral cover and composition are lacking, particularly in north-western Australia. Standardising routine monitoring methods used by management and research agencies at these, and other locations, would allow a more robust assessment of coral condition and a better basis for conservation of coral reefs.

  3. Dynamic Stability of Coral Reefs on the West Australian Coast

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

    Monitoring changes in coral cover and composition through space and time can provide insights to reef health and assist the focus of management and conservation efforts. We used a meta-analytical approach to assess coral cover data across latitudes 10–35°S along the west Australian coast, including 25 years of data from the Ningaloo region. Current estimates of coral cover ranged between 3 and 44% in coral habitats. Coral communities in the northern regions were dominated by corals from the families Acroporidae and Poritidae, which became less common at higher latitudes. At Ningaloo Reef coral cover has remained relatively stable through time (∼28%), although north-eastern and southern areas have experienced significant declines in overall cover. These declines are likely related to periodic disturbances such as cyclones and thermal anomalies, which were particularly noticeable around 1998/1999 and 2010/2011. Linear mixed effects models (LME) suggest latitude explains 10% of the deviance in coral cover through time at Ningaloo. Acroporidae has decreased in abundance relative to other common families at Ningaloo in the south, which might be related to persistence of more thermally and mechanically tolerant families. We identify regions where quantitative time-series data on coral cover and composition are lacking, particularly in north-western Australia. Standardising routine monitoring methods used by management and research agencies at these, and other locations, would allow a more robust assessment of coral condition and a better basis for conservation of coral reefs. PMID:23922829

  4. 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

  5. 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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  7. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-10-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Rinkevich, Baruch

    2015-10-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-02-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-08-22

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Banaszak, Anastazia T; Lesser, Michael P

    2009-09-01

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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Roth, Melissa S.; Deheyn, Dimitri D.

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Roth, Melissa S; Deheyn, Dimitri D

    2013-01-01

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

  19. 76 FR 66273 - Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery in the...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-10-26

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

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

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2017-04-04

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

  2. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Uthicke, Sven; Furnas, Miles; Lønborg, Christian

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Uthicke, Sven; Furnas, Miles; Lønborg, Christian

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  7. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  8. Human Disruption of Coral Reef Trophic Structure.

    PubMed

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

    2017-01-23

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-10-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2008-06-01

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

  13. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    1995-11-01

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

  15. 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.

  16. Multi-scale remote sensing of coral reefs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2005-01-01

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

  17. 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.

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2001-09-30

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

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2002-09-30

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

  20. 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

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

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-19

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

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

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    The U.S. Clean Water Act provides a legal framework to protect coastal biological resources such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows from the damaging effects of human activities. Even though many resources are protected under this authority, water quality standards have not been effectively applied to coral reefs. The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting biocriteria and other water quality standards through collaborative development of bioassessment procedures, indicators and monitoring strategies. To support regulatory action, bioassessment indicators must be biologically meaningful, relevant to management, responsive to human disturbance, and relatively immune to natural variability. A rapid bioassessment protocol for reef-building stony corals was developed and tested for regulatory applicability. Preliminary testing in the Florida Keys found indicators had sufficient precision and provided information relevant to coral reef management. Sensitivity to human disturbance was demonstrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands for five of eight indicators tested. Once established, monitoring programs using these indicators can provide valuable, long-term records of coral condition and regulatory compliance. Development of a rapid bioassement protocol for reef-building stony corals was tested for regulatory applicability.

  4. 78 FR 49258 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-08-13

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

  5. 78 FR 66683 - Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-11-06

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-07-22

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

  7. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-05-15

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2006-01-01

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

  16. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2005-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-12-12

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

  20. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McManus, John W.; Polsenberg, Johanna F.

    2004-02-01

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

  2. 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.

  3. Punctuated Stratigraphic Appearance of Cold-Water Coral Reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2008-05-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Vaughan, Grace O; Burt, John A

    2016-04-30

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2008-07-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-03-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-09-15

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-07-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-02-01

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

  12. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-02-15

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-09-01

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  17. 75 FR 47624 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-08-06

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

  18. 76 FR 7579 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-02-10

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  20. 77 FR 12243 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Coral Reef Ecosystems...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-02-29

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

  1. 77 FR 48504 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Economic Value of Puerto Rico's Coral Reef...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-08-14

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

  2. 77 FR 6786 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-02-09

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

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

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-07-05

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

  4. 76 FR 24050 - Coral Reef Restoration Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Biscayne National...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-04-29

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

  5. 76 FR 77779 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-12-14

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

  6. 77 FR 16211 - Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-20

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

  7. 76 FR 52318 - U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Public Meeting and Public Comment

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-08-22

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

  9. Thresholds and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2007-11-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-11-01

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

  11. 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.

  12. The importance of structural complexity in coral reef ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-06-01

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

  13. 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.

  14. Identification of coral reef feature using hyperspectral remote sensing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-04-01

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

  15. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Grigg, R W

    1988-06-24

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

  17. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2016-04-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2012-06-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-05-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2016-03-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2007-06-01

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

  3. 76 FR 63904 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Coral Reef Conservation Program Administration

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-10-14

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

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

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Harborne, Alastair R

    2010-01-11

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

  5. Modeling the beta diversity of coral reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2006-11-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Albright, R.; Caldeira, K.

    2015-12-01

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

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-03

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

  13. Monitoring Growth of Hard Corals as Performance Indicators for Coral Reefs

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Crabbe, M. James; Karaviotis, Sarah; Smith, David J.

    2004-01-01

    Digital videophotography, computer image analysis and physical measurements have been used to monitor sedimentation rates, coral cover, genera richness, rugosity, and estimated recruitment dates of massive corals at three different sites in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia, and on the reefs around Discovery Bay, Jamaica.…

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

    Richmond, Robert H.

    2016-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Bhattacharyya, Joydeb; Pal, Samares

    2015-03-01

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

  18. Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-05-23

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-04-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-06-01

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

  3. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-03-01

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. A coral reef refuge in the Red Sea.

    PubMed

    Fine, Maoz; Gildor, Hezi; Genin, Amatzia

    2013-12-01

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

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

    EPA Science Inventory

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2017-01-01

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

  11. 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

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

    PubMed

    Hagedorn, Mary; Spindler, Rebecca

    2014-01-01

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

  13. Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shinn, Eugene A.

    1976-01-01

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

  14. 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].

  15. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-09-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2008-03-14

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

  18. Metagenomic analysis of the coral holobiont during a natural bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Littman, Raechel; Willis, Bette L; Bourne, David G

    2011-12-01

    Understanding the effects of elevated seawater temperatures on each member of the coral holobiont (the complex comprised of coral polyps and associated symbiotic microorganisms, including Bacteria, viruses, Fungi, Archaea and endolithic algae) is becoming increasingly important as evidence accumulates that microbial members contribute to overall coral health, particularly during thermal stress. Here we use a metagenomic approach to identify metabolic and taxonomic shifts in microbial communities associated with the hard coral Acropora millepora throughout a natural thermal bleaching event at Magnetic Island (Great Barrier Reef). A direct comparison of metagenomic data sets from healthy versus bleached corals indicated major shifts in microbial associates during heat stress, including Bacteria, Archaea, viruses, Fungi and micro-algae. Overall, metabolism of the microbial community shifted from autotrophy to heterotrophy, including increases in genes associated with the metabolism of fatty acids, proteins, simple carbohydrates, phosphorus and sulfur. In addition, the proportion of virulence genes was higher in the bleached library, indicating an increase in microorganisms capable of pathogenesis following bleaching. These results demonstrate that thermal stress results in shifts in coral-associated microbial communities that may lead to deteriorating coral health.

  19. Positive Feedbacks Enhance Macroalgal Resilience on Degraded Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

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

    SciTech Connect

    MacIntyre, I.G.

    1988-11-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2004-02-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  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. 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.

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

    SciTech Connect

    Miyazaki, Tadakuni; Harashima, Akira; Nakatani, Yukihiro

    1995-12-31

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

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

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2006-11-01

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

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

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2014-01-01

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

  9. Taphonomy of coral reefs from Southern Lagoon of Belize

    SciTech Connect

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

    1985-02-01

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

  10. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Chemotaxis by natural populations of coral reef bacteria.

    PubMed

    Tout, Jessica; Jeffries, Thomas C; Petrou, Katherina; Tyson, Gene W; Webster, Nicole S; Garren, Melissa; Stocker, Roman; Ralph, Peter J; Seymour, Justin R

    2015-08-01

    Corals experience intimate associations with distinct populations of marine microorganisms, but the microbial behaviours underpinning these relationships are poorly understood. There is evidence that chemotaxis is pivotal to the infection process of corals by pathogenic bacteria, but this evidence is limited to experiments using cultured isolates under laboratory conditions. We measured the chemotactic capabilities of natural populations of coral-associated bacteria towards chemicals released by corals and their symbionts, including amino acids, carbohydrates, ammonium and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Laboratory experiments, using a modified capillary assay, and in situ measurements, using a novel microfabricated in situ chemotaxis assay, were employed to quantify the chemotactic responses of natural microbial assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef. Both approaches showed that bacteria associated with the surface of the coral species Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora aspera exhibited significant levels of chemotaxis, particularly towards DMSP and amino acids, and that these levels of chemotaxis were significantly higher than that of bacteria inhabiting nearby, non-coral-associated waters. This pattern was supported by a significantly higher abundance of chemotaxis and motility genes in metagenomes within coral-associated water types. The phylogenetic composition of the coral-associated chemotactic microorganisms, determined using 16S rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing, differed from the community in the seawater surrounding the coral and comprised known coral associates, including potentially pathogenic Vibrio species. These findings indicate that motility and chemotaxis are prevalent phenotypes among coral-associated bacteria, and we propose that chemotaxis has an important role in the establishment and maintenance of specific coral-microbe associations, which may ultimately influence the health and stability of the coral holobiont.

  17. Assessment of net community production and calcification of a coral reef using a boundary layer approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Takeshita, Yuichiro; McGillis, Wade; Briggs, Ellen M.; Carter, Amanda L.; Donham, Emily M.; Martz, Todd R.; Price, Nichole N.; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2016-08-01

    Coral reefs are threatened worldwide, and there is a need to develop new approaches to monitor reef health under natural conditions. Because simultaneous measurements of net community production (NCP) and net community calcification (NCC) are used as important indicators of reef health, tools are needed to assess them in situ. Here we present the Benthic Ecosystem and Acidification Measurement System (BEAMS) to provide the first fully autonomous approach capable of sustained, simultaneous measurements of reef NCP and NCC under undisturbed, natural conditions on time scales ranging from tens of minutes to weeks. BEAMS combines the chemical and velocity gradient in the benthic boundary layer to quantify flux from the benthos for a variety of parameters to measure NCP and NCC. Here BEAMS was used to measure these rates from two different sites with different benthic communities on the western reef terrace at Palmyra Atoll for 2 weeks in September 2014. Measurements were made every ˜15 min. The trends in metabolic rates were consistent with the benthic communities between the two sites with one dominated by fleshy organisms and the other dominated by calcifiers (degraded and healthy reefs, respectively). This demonstrates the potential utility of BEAMS as a reef health monitoring tool. NCP and NCC were tightly coupled on time scales of minutes to days, and light was the primary driver for the variability of daily integrated metabolic rates. No correlation between CO2 levels and daily integrated NCC was observed, indicating that NCC at these sites were not significantly affected by CO2.

  18. TEMPORAL TRENDS IN THE HEALTH OF SOUTH FLORIDA CORAL REEFS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Barron, M.G., D.L. Santavy, L. MacLaughlin, E. Mueller, E. Peters, B. Quarles and J. Campbell. In press. Temporal Trends in the Health of South Florida Coral Reefs (Abstract). To be presented at the SETAC Fourth World Congress, 14-18 November 2004, Portland, OR. 1 p. (ERL,GB R100...

  19. 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...

  20. 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...

  1. The Coral Reef Alphabet Book for American Samoa.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Madrigal, Larry G.

    This book, produced for the American Samoa Department of Education Marine Enhancement Program, presents underwater color photography of coral reef life in an alphabetical resource. The specimens are described in English, and some are translated into the Samoan language. A picture-matching learning exercise and a glossary of scientific and oceanic…

  2. The Coral Reef Aorta: Diagnosis and Treatment Following CT.

    PubMed

    Kopani, Kamden; Liao, Selena; Shaffer, Kitt

    2009-01-01

    The Coral Reef Aorta is a rare phenomenon of extreme calcification in the juxtarenal and suprarenal aorta. The calcifications are often similar in appearance to growths of hyperplastic bone, though abnormalities in serum calcium are not found. [1] In contrast to the typical appearance of atherosclerosis of the great vessels, which follows the curve of the vessel wall, the calcifications of Coral Reef Aorta jut irregularly into the lumen. Consequences may include severe downstream ischemic and embolic events involving the viscera and the lower extremities, as well as endovascular operative complications. In this report we present a case of Coral Reef Aorta in a 73 year old man who experienced renal ischemia and surgical difficulties during attempted stent placement. We propose that preoperative review of vascular imaging with explicit attention to the presence of Coral Reef-like plaques can prevent intraoperative and postoperative morbidity. Furthermore, heightened awareness of the existence of these plaques on routine reads of abdominal CT or vascular imaging may prompt clinicians to enact early prophylaxis against later ischemic events.

  3. Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) RPC Experiment

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Estep, Leland; Spruce, Joseph P.; Hall, Callie

    2007-01-01

    This viewgraph document reviews the background, objectives, methodology, validation, and present status of the Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Rapid Prototyping Capability (RPC) experiment. The potential NASA contribution to CREWS Decision Support Tool (DST) centers on remotely sensed imagery products.

  4. Movement patterns of silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus) on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Espinoza, Mario; Heupel, Michelle. R.; Tobin, Andrew J.; Simpfendorfer, Colin A.

    2015-09-01

    Understanding how sharks use coral reefs is essential for assessing risk of exposure to fisheries, habitat loss, and climate change. Despite a wide Indo-Pacific distribution, little is known about the spatial ecology of silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus), compromising the ability to effectively manage their populations. We examined the residency and movements of silvertip sharks in the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). An array of 56 VR2W acoustic receivers was used to monitor shark movements on 17 semi-isolated reefs. Twenty-seven individuals tagged with acoustic transmitters were monitored from 70 to 731 d. Residency index to the study site ranged from 0.05 to 0.97, with a mean residency (±SD) of 0.57 ± 0.26, but most individuals were detected at or near their tagging reef. Clear seasonal patterns were apparent, with fewer individuals detected between September and February. A large proportion of the tagged population (>71 %) moved regularly between reefs. Silvertip sharks were detected less during daytime and exhibited a strong diel pattern in depth use, which may be a strategy for optimizing energetic budgets and foraging opportunities. This study provides the first detailed examination of the spatial ecology and behavior of silvertip sharks on coral reefs. Silvertip sharks remained resident at coral reef habitats over long periods, but our results also suggest this species may have more complex movement patterns and use larger areas of the GBR than common reef shark species. Our findings highlight the need to further understand the movement ecology of silvertip sharks at different spatial and temporal scales, which is critical for developing effective management approaches.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Li, Angang; Reidenbach, Matthew A.

    2014-09-01

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

  6. Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages

    PubMed Central

    Waheed, Zarinah; van Mil, Harald G. J.; Syed Hussein, Muhammad Ali; Jumin, Robecca; Golam Ahad, Bobita; Hoeksema, Bert W.

    2015-01-01

    The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park. PMID:26719987

  7. Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages.

    PubMed

    Waheed, Zarinah; van Mil, Harald G J; Syed Hussein, Muhammad Ali; Jumin, Robecca; Golam Ahad, Bobita; Hoeksema, Bert W

    2015-01-01

    The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.

  8. Evaluating coral reef health in American Samoa

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Work, T.M.; Rameyer, R.A.

    2005-01-01

    The study of coral disease has suffered from an absence of systematic approaches that are commonly used to determine causes of diseases in animals. There is a critical need to develop a standardized and portable nomenclature for coral lesions in the field and to incorporate more commonly available biomedical tools in coral disease surveys to determine the potential causes of lesions in corals. We characterized lesions in corals from American Samoa based on gross and microscopic morphology and classified them as discoloration, growth anomalies, or tissue loss. The most common microscopic finding in corals manifesting discoloration was the depletion of zooxanthellae, followed by necrosis, sometimes associated with invasive algae or fungi. The most common microscopic lesion in corals manifesting tissue loss was cell necrosis often associated with algae, fungi, or protozoa. Corals with growth anomaly had microscopic evidence of hyperplasia of gastrovascular canals, followed by necrosis associated with algae or metazoa (polychaete worms). Several species of apparently normal corals also had microscopic changes, including the presence of bacterial aggregates or crustacea in tissues. A single type of gross lesion (e.g., discoloration) could have different microscopic manifestations. This phenomenon underlines the importance of using microscopy to provide a more systematic description of coral lesions and to detect potential pathogens associated with these lesions.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Mapping and monitoring the health and vitality of coral reefs from satellite: a biospheric approach.

    PubMed

    Dustan, P; Chakrabarti, S; Alling, A

    2000-01-01

    Biospheric studies of coral reefs require a planetary perspective that only remote sensing from space can provide. This article reviews aspects of monitoring and mapping coral reefs using Landsat and Spot satellite images. It details design considerations for developing a sensor for equatorial orbiting spacecraft, including spectral characteristics of living corals and the spatial resolution required to map coral reef communities. Possible instrumentation choices include computer techniques, filtered imagers, push-broom spectral imagery, and a newly developed hyperspectral imaging scheme using tomographic reconstruction. We compare the salient features of each technique and describe concepts for a payload to conduct planetary-scale coral reef monitoring.

  12. 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.

  13. Sexual reproduction of Acropora reef corals at Moorea, French Polynesia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Carroll, A.; Harrison, P.; Adjeroud, M.

    2006-03-01

    Little information is available on reproductive processes among corals in isolated central Pacific reef regions, including French Polynesia. This study examined the timing and mode of sexual reproduction for Acropora reef corals at Moorea. Spawning was observed and/or inferred in 110 Acropora colonies, representing 12 species, following full moon periods in September through November 2002. Gamete release was observed and inferred in four species of Acropora between 9 and 13 nights after the full moon (nAFM) in September 2002. Twelve Acropora spp. spawned gametes between 5 and 10 nAFM in October 2002, with six species spawning 7 nAFM and four species spawning 9 nAFM. In November 2002, spawning of egg and sperm bundles was observed and inferred in 27 colonies of Acropora austera, 6 nAFM. These are the first detailed records of spawning by Acropora corals in French Polynesia.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. Allometric growth in reef-building corals.

    PubMed

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

    2017-03-29

    Predicting demographic rates is a critical part of forecasting the future of ecosystems under global change. Here, we test if growth rates can be predicted from morphological traits for a highly diverse group of colonial symbiotic organisms: scleractinian corals. We ask whether growth is isometric or allometric among corals, and whether most variation in coral growth rates occurs at the level of the species or morphological group. We estimate growth as change in planar area for 11 species, across five morphological groups and over 5 years. We show that coral growth rates are best predicted from colony size and morphology rather than species. Coral size follows a power scaling law with a constant exponent of 0.91. Despite being colonial organisms, corals have consistent allometric scaling in growth. This consistency simplifies the task of projecting community responses to disturbance and climate change.

  17. 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

  18. Influence of reef geometry on wave attenuation on a Brazilian coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Costa, Mirella B. S. F.; Araújo, Moacyr; Araújo, Tereza C. M.; Siegle, Eduardo

    2016-01-01

    This study presents data from field experiments that focus on the influence of coral reef geometry on wave transformation in the Metropolitan Area of Recife (MAR) on the northeast coast of Brazil. First, a detailed bathymetric survey was conducted, revealing a submerged reef bank, measuring 18 km long by 1 km wide, parallel to the coastline with a quasi-horizontal top that varies from 0.5 m to 4 m in depth at low tide. Cluster similarity between 180 reef profiles indicates that in 75% of the area, the reef geometry has a configuration similar to a platform reef, whereas in 25% of the area it resembles a fringing reef. Measurements of wave pressure fluctuations were made at two stations (experiments E1 and E2) across the reef profile. The results indicate that wave height was tidally modulated at both experimental sites. Up to 67% (E1) and 99.9% (E2) of the incident wave height is attenuated by the reef top at low tide. This tidal modulation is most apparent at E2 due to reef geometry. At this location, the reef top is only approximately 0.5 m deep during mean low spring water, and almost all incident waves break on the outer reef edge. At E1, the reef top depth is 4 m, and waves with height ratios smaller than the critical breaking limit are free to pass onto the reef and are primarily attenuated by bottom friction. These results highlight the importance of reef geometry in controlling wave characteristics of the MAR beaches and demonstrate its effect on the morphology of the adjacent coast. Implications of differences in wave attenuation and the level of protection provided by the reefs to the adjacent shoreline are discussed.

  19. Sedimentation processes in a coral reef embayment: Hanalei Bay, Kauai

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    2009-01-01

    Oceanographic measurements and sediment samples were collected during the summer of 2006 as part of a multi-year study of coastal circulation and the fate of terrigenous sediment on coral reefs in Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The goal of this study was to better understand sediment dynamics in a coral reef-lined embayment where winds, ocean surface waves, and river floods are important processes. During a summer period that was marked by two wave events and one river flood, we documented significant differences in sediment trap collection rates and the composition, grain size, and magnitude of sediment transported in the bay. Sediment trap collection rates were well correlated with combined wave-current near-bed shear stresses during the non-flood periods but were not correlated during the flood. The flood's delivery of fine-grained sediment to the bay initially caused high turbidity and sediment collection rates off the river mouth but the plume dispersed relatively quickly. Over the next month, the flood deposit was reworked by mild waves and currents and the fine-grained terrestrial sediment was advected around the bay and collected in sediment traps away from the river mouth, long after the turbid surface plume was gone. The reworked flood deposits, due to their longer duration of influence and proximity to the seabed, appear to pose a greater long-term impact to benthic coral reef communities than the flood plumes themselves. The results presented here display how spatial and temporal differences in hydrodynamic processes, which result from variations in reef morphology and orientation, cause substantial variations in the deposition, residence time, resuspension, and advection of both reef-derived and fluvial sediment over relatively short spatial scales in a coral reef embayment.

  20. A bioindicator system for water quality on inshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Fabricius, Katharina E; Cooper, Timothy F; Humphrey, Craig; Uthicke, Sven; De'ath, Glenn; Davidson, Johnston; LeGrand, Hélène; Thompson, Angus; Schaffelke, Britta

    2012-01-01

    Responses of bioindicator candidates for water quality were quantified in two studies on inshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). In Study 1, 33 of the 38 investigated candidate indicators (including coral physiology, benthos composition, coral recruitment, macrobioeroder densities and FORAM index) showed significant relationships with a composite index of 13 water quality variables. These relationships were confirmed in Study 2 along four other water quality gradients (turbidity and chlorophyll). Changes in water quality led to multi-faceted shifts from phototrophic to heterotrophic benthic communities, and from diverse coral dominated communities to low-diversity communities dominated by macroalgae. Turbidity was the best predictor of biota; hence turbidity measurements remain essential to directly monitor water quality on the GBR, potentially complemented by our final calibrated 12 bioindicators. In combination, this bioindicator system may be used to assess changes in water quality, especially where direct water quality data are unavailable.

  1. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-12-19

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

  3. Coastal nutrification and coral health at Porto Seguro reefs, Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Costa, O.; Attrill, M.; Nimmo, M.

    2003-04-01

    correlation between zoanthids and algal abundance and a positive correlation with the amount of available space for settlement. On the offshore reef, correlation of algal cover with both zoanthids and available space were negative, suggesting that hard substrate may be the primary limiting factor for algal settlement and growth in the nearshore reefs. Highly variable physical disturbances (like wave energy and low tide exposure) between landward and seaward reef sides appear to be the factors controlling algal distribution in the offshore reef. Highly spatial variability in coral cover ultimately reflects the patchy distribution of stony corals over the reefs.

  4. Wide Field-of-View Fluorescence Imaging of Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Treibitz, Tali; Neal, Benjamin P.; Kline, David I.; Beijbom, Oscar; Roberts, Paul L. D.; Mitchell, B. Greg; Kriegman, David

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs globally are declining rapidly because of both local and global stressors. Improved monitoring tools are urgently needed to understand the changes that are occurring at appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Coral fluorescence imaging tools have the potential to improve both ecological and physiological assessments. Although fluorescence imaging is regularly used for laboratory studies of corals, it has not yet been used for large-scale in situ assessments. Current obstacles to effective underwater fluorescence surveying include limited field-of-view due to low camera sensitivity, the need for nighttime deployment because of ambient light contamination, and the need for custom multispectral narrow band imaging systems to separate the signal into meaningful fluorescence bands. Here we describe the Fluorescence Imaging System (FluorIS), based on a consumer camera modified for greatly increased sensitivity to chlorophyll-a fluorescence, and we show high spectral correlation between acquired images and in situ spectrometer measurements. This system greatly facilitates underwater wide field-of-view fluorophore surveying during both night and day, and potentially enables improvements in semi-automated segmentation of live corals in coral reef photographs and juvenile coral surveys. PMID:25582836

  5. Wide field-of-view fluorescence imaging of coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Treibitz, Tali; Neal, Benjamin P; Kline, David I; Beijbom, Oscar; Roberts, Paul L D; Mitchell, B Greg; Kriegman, David

    2015-01-13

    Coral reefs globally are declining rapidly because of both local and global stressors. Improved monitoring tools are urgently needed to understand the changes that are occurring at appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Coral fluorescence imaging tools have the potential to improve both ecological and physiological assessments. Although fluorescence imaging is regularly used for laboratory studies of corals, it has not yet been used for large-scale in situ assessments. Current obstacles to effective underwater fluorescence surveying include limited field-of-view due to low camera sensitivity, the need for nighttime deployment because of ambient light contamination, and the need for custom multispectral narrow band imaging systems to separate the signal into meaningful fluorescence bands. Here we describe the Fluorescence Imaging System (FluorIS), based on a consumer camera modified for greatly increased sensitivity to chlorophyll-a fluorescence, and we show high spectral correlation between acquired images and in situ spectrometer measurements. This system greatly facilitates underwater wide field-of-view fluorophore surveying during both night and day, and potentially enables improvements in semi-automated segmentation of live corals in coral reef photographs and juvenile coral surveys.

  6. 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.

  7. Fine-scale environmental specialization of reef-building corals might be limiting reef recovery in the Florida Keys.

    PubMed

    Kenkel, Carly D; Almanza, Albert T; Matz, Mikhail V

    2015-12-01

    Despite decades of monitoring global reef decline, we are still largely unable to explain patterns of reef deterioration at local scales, which precludes the development of effective management strategies. Offshore reefs of the Florida Keys, USA, experience milder temperatures and lower nutrient loads in comparison to inshore reefs yet remain considerably more degraded than nearshore patch reefs. A year-long reciprocal transplant experiment of the mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) involving four source and eight transplant locations reveals that corals adapt and/or acclimatize to their local habitat on a < 10-km scale. Surprisingly, transplantation to putatively similar environmental types (e.g., offshore corals moved to a novel offshore site, or along-shore transplantation) resulted in greater reductions in fitness proxies, such as coral growth, than cross-channel transplantation between inshore and offshore reefs. The only abiotic factor showing significantly greater differences between along-shore sites was daily temperature range extremes (rather than the absolute high or low temperatures reached), providing a possible explanation for this pattern. Offshore-origin corals exhibited significant growth reductions at sites with greater daily temperature ranges, which explained up to 39% of the variation in their mass gain. In contrast, daily temperature range explained at most 9% of growth variation in inshore-origin corals, suggesting that inshore corals are more tolerant of high-frequency temperature fluctuations. Finally, corals incur trade-offs when specializing to their native reef. Across reef locations the coefficient of selection against coral transplants was 0.07 ± 0.02 (mean ± SE). This selection against immigrants could hinder the ability of corals to recolonize devastated reefs, whether through assisted migration efforts or natural recruitment events, providing a unifying explanation for observed patterns of coral decline in this reef system.

  8. Workshop on Biological Integrity of Coral Reefs August 21-22, 2012, Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, Isla Magueyes, La Parguera, Puerto Rico.

    EPA Science Inventory

    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 characterist...

  9. Local genomic adaptation of coral reef-associated microbiomes to gradients of natural variability and anthropogenic stressors

    PubMed Central

    Kelly, Linda W.; Williams, Gareth J.; Barott, Katie L.; Carlson, Craig A.; Dinsdale, Elizabeth A.; Edwards, Robert A.; Haas, Andreas F.; Haynes, Matthew; Lim, Yan Wei; McDole, Tracey; Nelson, Craig E.; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Youle, Merry; Rohwer, Forest

    2014-01-01

    Holobionts are species-specific associations between macro- and microorganisms. On coral reefs, the benthic coverage of coral and algal holobionts varies due to natural and anthropogenic forcings. Different benthic macroorganisms are predicted to have specific microbiomes. In contrast, local environmental factors are predicted to select for specific metabolic pathways in microbes. To reconcile these two predictions, we hypothesized that adaptation of microbiomes to local conditions is facilitated by the horizontal transfer of genes responsible for specific metabolic capabilities. To test this hypothesis, microbial metagenomes were sequenced from 22 coral reefs at 11 Line Islands in the central Pacific that together span a wide range of biogeochemical and anthropogenic influences. Consistent with our hypothesis, the percent cover of major benthic functional groups significantly correlated with particular microbial taxa. Reefs with higher coral cover had a coral microbiome with higher abundances of Alphaproteobacteria (such as Rhodobacterales and Sphingomonadales), whereas microbiomes of algae-dominated reefs had higher abundances of Gammaproteobacteria (such as Alteromonadales, Pseudomonadales, and Vibrionales), Betaproteobacteria, and Bacteriodetes. In contrast to taxa, geography was the strongest predictor of microbial community metabolism. Microbial communities on reefs with higher nutrient availability (e.g., equatorial upwelling zones) were enriched in genes involved in nutrient-related metabolisms (e.g., nitrate and nitrite ammonification, Ton/Tol transport, etc.). On reefs further from the equator, microbes had more genes encoding chlorophyll biosynthesis and photosystems I/II. These results support the hypothesis that core microbiomes are determined by holobiont macroorganisms, and that those core taxa adapt to local conditions by selecting for advantageous metabolic genes. PMID:24982156

  10. Contaminants assessment in the coral reefs of Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bargar, Timothy A.; Garrison, Virginia H.; Alvarez, David A.; Echols, Kathy

    2013-01-01

    Coral, fish, plankton, and detritus samples were collected from coral reefs in Virgin Islands National Park (VIIS) and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (VICR) to assess existing contamination levels. Passive water sampling using polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS) and semi-permeable membrane devices found a few emerging pollutants of concern (DEET and galaxolide) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Very little persistent organic chemical contamination was detected in the tissue or detritus samples. Detected contaminants were at concentrations below those reported to be harmful to aquatic organisms. Extracts from the POCIS were subjected to the yeast estrogen screen (YES) to assess potential estrogenicity of the contaminant mixture. Results of the YES (estrogen equivalency of 0.17–0.31 ng/L 17-β-estradiol) indicated a low estrogenicity likelihood for contaminants extracted from water. Findings point to low levels of polar and non-polar organic contaminants in the bays sampled within VICR and VIIS.

  11. Size structuring and allometric scaling relationships in coral reef fishes.

    PubMed

    Dunic, Jillian C; Baum, Julia K

    2017-05-01

    Temperate marine fish communities are often size-structured, with predators consuming increasingly larger prey and feeding at higher trophic levels as they grow. Gape limitation and ontogenetic diet shifts are key mechanisms by which size structuring arises in these communities. Little is known, however, about size structuring in coral reef fishes. Here, we aimed to advance understanding of size structuring in coral reef food webs by examining the evidence for these mechanisms in two groups of reef predators. Given the diversity of feeding modes amongst coral reef fishes, we also compared gape size-body size allometric relationships across functional groups to determine whether they are reliable indicators of size structuring. We used gut content analysis and quantile regressions of predator size-prey size relationships to test for evidence of gape limitation and ontogenetic niche shifts in reef piscivores (n = 13 species) and benthic invertivores (n = 3 species). We then estimated gape size-body size allometric scaling coefficients for 21 different species from four functional groups, including herbivores/detritivores, which are not expected to be gape-limited. We found evidence of both mechanisms for size structuring in coral reef piscivores, with maximum prey size scaling positively with predator body size, and ontogenetic diet shifts including prey type and expansion of prey size. There was, however, little evidence of size structuring in benthic invertivores. Across species and functional groups, absolute and relative gape sizes were largest in piscivores as expected, but gape size-body size scaling relationships were not indicative of size structuring. Instead, relative gape sizes and mouth morphologies may be better indicators. Our results provide evidence that coral reef piscivores are size-structured and that gape limitation and ontogenetic niche shifts are the mechanisms from which this structure arises. Although gape allometry was not indicative of

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  13. Tribute to P. L. Lutz: respiratory ecophysiology of coral-reef teleosts.

    PubMed

    Nilsson, Göran E; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A; Ostlund-Nilsson, Sara

    2007-05-01

    One of the most diverse vertebrate communities is found on tropical coral reefs. Coral-reef fishes are not only remarkable in color and shape, but also in several aspects of physiological performance. Early in life, at the end of the pelagic larval stage, coral-reef fishes are the fastest swimmers of all fishes in relation to body size, and show the highest specific rates of maximum oxygen uptake. Upon settling on the reef, coral-reef fishes have to adopt a demersal lifestyle, which involves coping with a habitat that can become severely hypoxic, and some fishes may even have to rely on air breathing when their coral homes become air exposed. Oxygen availability appears to be a major ambient selection pressure, making respiratory function a key factor for survival on coral reefs. Consequently, hypoxia tolerance is widespread among coral-reef fishes. Hypoxia can even be a factor to gamble with for those fishes that are mouthbrooders, or a factor that the coral inhabitants may actively seek to reduce by sleep-swimming at night. Here, we summarize the present knowledge of the respiratory ecophysiology of coral-reef teleosts. From an ecophysiological perspective, the coral reef is an exciting and largely unexplored system for testing existing hypotheses and making new discoveries.

  14. 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.

  15. Multiple light scattering and absorption in reef-building corals.

    PubMed

    Terán, Emiliano; Méndez, Eugenio R; Enríquez, Susana; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2010-09-20

    We present an experimental and numerical study of the effects of multiple scattering on the optical properties of reef-building corals. For this, we propose a simplified optical model of the coral and describe in some detail methods for characterizing the coral skeleton and the layer containing the symbiotic algae. The model is used to study the absorption of light by the layer of tissue containing the microalgae by means of Monte Carlo simulations. The results show that, through scattering, the skeleton homogenizes and enhances the light environment in which the symbionts live. We also present results that illustrate the modification of the internal light environment when the corals loose symbionts or pigmentation.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. [Punta Cocles coral reef, Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica].

    PubMed

    Fernández, Cindy; Alvarado, Juan José

    2004-12-01

    This paper describes the Punta Cocles reef (Limón, Costa Rica). Data were obtained by sampling nine transects along the coast and observations done by skin diving between September and November of 2002. This reef consist of 10.5 hectares, where 13 species of corals, 39 of macroalgae, two of seagrasses, two of zoantids, one anemone, one corallimorpharian, and one sponge were identified. Life coral coverage (16%), was higher than in other years (5% for 1985, and 13.2% for 1995), and death coral coverage was very low (0.2%). Macroalgae have the highest coverage (59%), particularly brown algae with a patchy distribution of Sargassum and Padina. Laurencia brongniartii (Rhodophyta) is added to the list of marine flora of Costa Rica. The Punta Cocles reef works as a refuge for organisms, because there are no towns or river mouths nearby, and because of the coast formation. The refuge character is enhanced by the environmental conscience of the people that live close to the reef and help to protect the environment.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

  20. Decadal coral community reassembly on an African fringing reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McClanahan, T. R.

    2014-12-01

    Changes in the cover of the dominant hard coral taxa were studied on seven Kenyan back reefs over 20 yr. All factors of time, taxa, site, and their interactions were statistically significant and the 1998 temperature anomaly caused the greatest community changes. The 1998 disturbance changes reflected a classic coral succession, which included partial or little mortality and persistence of stress tolerant (massive and submassive growth forms) and early colonization by weedy taxa (pocilloporids). Nevertheless, competitive taxa had high and full mortality and the expected dominance of acroporids was inhibited even ~13 yr after the disturbance. So, while total hard coral cover displayed the expected logistic recovery where maximum cover was reached <10 yr after the disturbance, the poor recovery of competitive dominants resulted in less than expected coral cover. A number of stress-resistant and weedy taxa (poritids, agaricidae, faviids, and pocilloporids) are expected to dominate the composition of these reefs in the future. Nevertheless, three submassive faviids and branching Porites began to decline toward the end of the time series, indicating further stress after 1998. Increased algal cover and other unstudied factors, including milder warming, may explain these changes. The patterns of change on this continental fringing reef differ from recovery of more remote, offshore islands. This probably reflects low acroporid dominance and recruitment limitations associated with greater anthropogenic influences of high sea urchin grazing and terrestrial runoff.

  1. Primary porosity and submarine diagenesis in Lower Cretaceous Coral-Rudist reefs

    SciTech Connect

    Cross, S.L.; Lighty, R.G.

    1986-05-01

    Coral-rudist reefs of the Lower Cretaceous Mural limestone, southeastern Arizona, show a pronounced relationship between specific reef facies, primary porosity, and early submarine diagenesis. These large open-shelf reefs differ from the well-studied low-relief rudist buildups, and provide an alternate analog for many Cretaceous reef reservoirs. Arizona buildups have diverse corals, high depositional relief, and a well-developed facies zonation from fore reef to back reef: skeletal grainstone talus, muddy fore reef with branching and lamellar corals, massive reef crest with abundant lamellar corals and sandy matrix, protected thickets of delicate branching corals and large rudist mounds, and a wide sediment apron of well-washed coral, rudist, and benthic foraminiferal sands. These well-exposed outcrops permit a detailed facies comparison of primary interparticle porosity. Porosity as high as 40% in grainstones was occluded by later subsurface cements. Reef-framework interparticle porosity was negligible because fore-reef coral and back-reef rudist facies were infilled by muds, and high-energy reef-crest frameworks were filled by peloidal submarine cement crusts and muddy skeletal sands. These thick crusts coated lamellar corals in cryptic and open reef-crest areas, and are laminated with ripple and draped bed forms that suggest current influence. Similar peloidal crusts and laminated textures are common magnesium-calcite submarine cement features in modern reefs. By documenting specific facies control on early cementation and textural variability, patterns of late-stage subsurface diagenesis and secondary porosity may be more easily explained for Cretaceous reef reservoirs. Significant primary porosity might be retained between sands in back-reef facies and within coral skeletons.

  2. 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.

  3. Measuring, interpreting, and responding to changes in coral reefs: A challenge for biologists, geologist, and managers

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Miller, Jeff; Hubbard, Dennis K.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Lipps, Jere H.; Stanley, George D.

    2016-01-01

    What, exactly, is a coral reef? And how have the world’s reefs changed in the last several decades? What are the stressors undermining reef structure and function? Given the predicted effects of climate change, do reefs have a future? Is it possible to “manage” coral reefs for resilience? What can coral reef scientists contribute to improve protection and management of coral reefs? What insights can biologists and geologists provide regarding the persistence of coral reefs on a human timescale? What is reef change to a biologist… to a geologist?Clearly, there are many challenging questions. In this chapter, we present some of our thoughts on monitoring and management of coral reefs in US national parks in the Caribbean and western Atlantic based on our experience as members of monitoring teams. We reflect on the need to characterize and evaluate reefs, on how to conduct high-quality monitoring programs, and on what we can learn from biological and geological experiments and investigations. We explore the possibility that specific steps can be taken to “manage” coral reefs for greater resilience.

  4. Molecular reproductive characteristics of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-11-01

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

  6. Coral reefs promote the evolution of morphological diversity and ecological novelty in labrid fishes.

    PubMed

    Price, S A; Holzman, R; Near, T J; Wainwright, P C

    2011-05-01

    Although coral reefs are renowned biodiversity hotspots it is not known whether they also promote the evolution of exceptional ecomorphological diversity. We investigated this question by analysing a large functional morphological dataset of trophic characters within Labridae, a highly diverse group of fishes. Using an analysis that accounts for species relationships, the time available for diversification and model uncertainty we show that coral reef species have evolved functional morphological diversity twice as fast as non-reef species. In addition, coral reef species occupy 68.6% more trophic morphospace than non-reef species. Our results suggest that coral reef habitats promote the evolution of both trophic novelty and morphological diversity within fishes. Thus, the preservation of coral reefs is necessary, not only to safeguard current biological diversity but also to conserve the underlying mechanisms that can produce functional diversity in future.

  7. Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef

    PubMed Central

    Kaplan, Maxwell B.; Mooney, T. Aran

    2016-01-01

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef. PMID:27550394

  8. Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kaplan, Maxwell B.; Mooney, T. Aran

    2016-08-01

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef.

  9. Coral reef soundscapes may not be detectable far from the reef.

    PubMed

    Kaplan, Maxwell B; Mooney, T Aran

    2016-08-23

    Biological sounds produced on coral reefs may provide settlement cues to marine larvae. Sound fields are composed of pressure and particle motion, which is the back and forth movement of acoustic particles. Particle motion (i.e., not pressure) is the relevant acoustic stimulus for many, if not most, marine animals. However, there have been no field measurements of reef particle motion. To address this deficiency, both pressure and particle motion were recorded at a range of distances from one Hawaiian coral reef at dawn and mid-morning on three separate days. Sound pressure attenuated with distance from the reef at dawn. Similar trends were apparent for particle velocity but with considerable variability. In general, average sound levels were low and perhaps too faint to be used as an orientation cue except very close to the reef. However, individual transient sounds that exceeded the mean values, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, might be detectable far from the reef, depending on the hearing abilities of the larva. If sound is not being used as a long-range cue, it might still be useful for habitat selection or other biological activities within a reef.

  10. Impact of sea-level rise and coral mortality on the wave dynamics and wave forces on barrier reefs.

    PubMed

    Baldock, T E; Golshani, A; Callaghan, D P; Saunders, M I; Mumby, P J

    2014-06-15

    A one-dimensional wave model was used to investigate the reef top wave dynamics across a large suite of idealized reef-lagoon profiles, representing barrier coral reef systems under different sea-level rise (SLR) scenarios. The modeling shows that the impacts of SLR vary spatially and are strongly influenced by the bathymetry of the reef and coral type. A complex response occurs for the wave orbital velocity and forces on corals, such that the changes in the wave dynamics vary reef by reef. Different wave loading regimes on massive and branching corals also leads to contrasting impacts from SLR. For many reef bathymetries, wave orbital velocities increase with SLR and cyclonic wave forces are reduced for certain coral species. These changes may be beneficial to coral health and colony resilience and imply that predicting SLR impacts on coral reefs requires careful consideration of the reef bathymetry and the mix of coral species.

  11. Effects of Coral Reef Benthic Primary Producers on Dissolved Organic Carbon and Microbial Activity

    PubMed Central

    Haas, Andreas F.; Nelson, Craig E.; Wegley Kelly, Linda; Carlson, Craig A.; Rohwer, Forest; Leichter, James J.; Wyatt, Alex; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2011-01-01

    microbial dynamics and biogeochemical parameters (i.e., DOC and oxygen availability, bacterial abundance and metabolism) in coral reef communities. PMID:22125645

  12. Effects of coral reef benthic primary producers on dissolved organic carbon and microbial activity.

    PubMed

    Haas, Andreas F; Nelson, Craig E; Wegley Kelly, Linda; Carlson, Craig A; Rohwer, Forest; Leichter, James J; Wyatt, Alex; Smith, Jennifer E

    2011-01-01

    dynamics and biogeochemical parameters (i.e., DOC and oxygen availability, bacterial abundance and metabolism) in coral reef communities.

  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. New maps, new information: Coral reefs of the Florida keys

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lidz, B.H.; Reich, C.D.; Peterson, R.L.; Shinn, E.A.

    2006-01-01

    A highly detailed digitized map depicts 22 benthic habitats in 3140.5 km2 of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dominant are a seagrass/lime-mud zone (map area 27.5%) throughout Hawk Channel and seagrass/carbonate-sand (18.7%) and bare carbonate-sand (17.3%) zones on the outer shelf and in The Quicksands. A lime-mud/seagrass-covered muddy carbonate-sand zone (9.6%) abuts the keys. Hardbottom communities (13.2%) consist of bare Pleistocene coralline and oolitic limestone, coral rubble, and senile coral reefs. Smaller terrestrial (4.0%) and marine habitats, including those of live coral (patch reefs, 0.7%), account for the rest (13.7%) of the area. Derived from aerial photomosaics, the seabed dataset fits precisely when transposed onto a newly developed National Geophysical Data Center hydrographic-bathymetry map. Combined, the maps point to new information on unstudied seabed morphologies, among them an erosional nearshore rock ledge bordering the seaward side of the Florida Keys and thousands of patch-reef clusters aligned in mid-Hawk Channel. Preliminary indications are that the ledge may represent the seaward extent of the 125-ka Key Largo and Miami Limestone that form the keys, and the patch reefs colonized landward edges of two noncoralline, non-dune-ridge topographic troughs. The troughs, their substrate, and inner-shelf location along the seaward side of the Hawk Channel bedrock depression are the first of that type of nuclei to be recognized in the Florida reef record. Together, the map datasets establish the efficacy and accuracy of using aerial photographs to define in extraordinary detail the seabed features and habitats in a shallow-reef setting.

  15. Optimising Land-Sea Management for Inshore Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

  16. 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.

  17. Optimising Land-Sea Management for Inshore Coral Reefs.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  18. A framework for understanding drag parameterizations for coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rosman, Johanna H.; Hench, James L.

    2011-08-01

    In a hydrodynamic sense, a coral reef is a complex array of obstacles that exerts a net drag force on water moving over the reef. This drag is typically parameterized in ocean circulation models using drag coefficients (CD) or roughness length scales (z0); however, published CD for coral reefs span two orders of magnitude, posing a challenge to predictive modeling. Here we examine the reasons for the large range in reported CD and assess the limitations of using CD and z0 to parameterize drag on reefs. Using a formal framework based on the 3-D spatially averaged momentum equations, we show that CD and z0 are functions of canopy geometry and velocity profile shape. Using an idealized two-layer model, we illustrate that CD can vary by more than an order of magnitude for the same geometry and flow depending on the reference velocity selected and that differences in definition account for much of the range in reported CD values. Roughness length scales z0 are typically used in 3-D circulation models to adjust CD for reference height, but this relies on spatially averaged near-bottom velocity profiles being logarithmic. Measurements from a shallow backreef indicate that z0 determined from fits to point measurements of velocity profiles can be very different from z0 required to parameterize spatially averaged drag. More sophisticated parameterizations for drag and shear stresses are required to simulate 3-D velocity fields over shallow reefs; in the meantime, we urge caution when using published CD and z0 values for coral reefs.

  19. Potential for Expansion of Coral Reefs into Higher Latitudes due to Climate Change

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-09-01

    SEP 2003 2. REPORT TYPE N/A 3. DATES COVERED - 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Potential for Expansion of Coral Reefs into Higher Latitudes due to...ANSI Std Z39-18 0-933957-31-9 P2745 Potential for Expansion of Coral Reefs into Higher Latitudes due to Climate...investigate if there have been any effects on Sea Surface Temperature (SST) at geographical margins of coral reefs . It is generally accepted that

  20. 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

  1. Reef-coral refugia in a rapidly changing ocean.

    PubMed

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2015-06-01

    This study sought to identify climate-change thermal-stress refugia for reef corals in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A species distribution modeling approach was used to identify refugia for 12 coral species that differed considerably in their local response to thermal stress. We hypothesized that the local response of coral species to thermal stress might be similarly reflected as a regional response to climate change. We assessed the contemporary geographic range of each species and determined their temperature and irradiance preferences using a k-fold algorithm to randomly select training and evaluation sites. That information was applied to downscaled outputs of global climate models to predict where each species is likely to exist by the year 2100. Our model was run with and without a 1°C capacity to adapt to the rising ocean temperature. The results show a positive exponential relationship between the current area of habitat that coral species occupy and the predicted area of habitat that they will occupy by 2100. There was considerable decoupling between scales of response, however, and with further ocean warming some 'winners' at local scales will likely become 'losers' at regional scales. We predicted that nine of the 12 species examined will lose 24-50% of their current habitat. Most reductions are predicted to occur between the latitudes 5-15°, in both hemispheres. Yet when we modeled a 1°C capacity to adapt, two ubiquitous species, Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora digitifera, were predicted to retain much of their current habitat. By contrast, the thermally tolerant Porites lobata is expected to increase its current distribution by 14%, particularly southward along the east and west coasts of Australia. Five areas were identified as Indian Ocean refugia, and seven areas were identified as Pacific Ocean refugia for reef corals under climate change. All 12 of these reef-coral refugia deserve high-conservation status.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 ...

  4. Small-Boat Noise Impacts Natural Settlement Behavior of Coral Reef Fish Larvae.

    PubMed

    Simpson, Stephen D; Radford, Andrew N; Holles, Sophie; Ferarri, Maud C O; Chivers, Douglas P; McCormick, Mark I; Meekan, Mark G

    2016-01-01

    After a pelagic larval phase, settlement-stage coral reef fish must locate a suitable reef habitat for juvenile life. Reef noise, produced by resident fish and invertebrates, provides an important cue for orientation and habitat selection during this process, which must often occur in environments impacted by anthropogenic noise. We adapted an established field-based protocol to test whether recorded boat noise influenced the settlement behavior of reef fish. Fewer fish settled to patch reefs broadcasting boat + reef noise compared with reef noise alone. This study suggests that boat noise, now a common feature of many reefs, can compromise critical settlement behavior of reef fishes.

  5. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Lewis, John B

    2006-01-01

    Millepores are colonial polypoidal hydrozoans secreting an internal calcareous skeleton of an encrusting or upright form, often of considerable size. Defensive polyps protruding from the skeleton are numerous and highly toxic and for this reason millepores are popularly known as "stinging corals" or "fire corals." In shallow tropical seas millepore colonies are conspicuous on coral reefs and may be locally abundant and important reef-framework builders. The history of systematic research on the Milleporidae and the sister family Stylasteridae is rich and full with the works of early naturalists beginning with Linnaeus. Seventeen living millepore species are recognised. Marked phenotypic variation in form and structure of colonies is characteristic of the genus Millepora. The first published descriptions of the anatomy and histology of millepores were by H. N. Moseley in one of the Challenger Expedition reports. These original, detailed accounts by Moseley remain valid and, except for recent descriptions of the ultrastructure of the skeleton and skeletogenic tissues, have not needed much modification. Millepores occur worldwide on coral reefs at depths of between 1 and 40 m and their distribution on reefs is generally zoned in response to physical factors. Colonies may be abundant locally on coral reefs but usually comprise <10% of the overall surface cover. Growth rates of colonies are similar to the measured rates of branching and platelike scleractinian corals. Millepores are voracious zooplankton feeders and they obtain part of their nutrition from autotrophic sources, photosynthetic production by symbiotic zooxanthellae. Reproduction in millepores is characterised by alternation of generations with a well-developed polypoid stage that buds off planktonic medusae. Sexual reproduction is seasonal for known species and the medusae have a brief planktonic life. Asexual production is achieved by sympodial growth, the production of new skeleton and soft tissue along

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2011-07-01

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

  8. 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

  9. Habitat associations of juvenile fish at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia: the importance of coral and algae.

    PubMed

    Wilson, Shaun K; Depczynski, Martial; Fisher, Rebecca; Holmes, Thomas H; O'Leary, Rebecca A; Tinkler, Paul

    2010-12-07

    Habitat specificity plays a pivotal role in forming community patterns in coral reef fishes, yet considerable uncertainty remains as to the extent of this selectivity, particularly among newly settled recruits. Here we quantified habitat specificity of juvenile coral reef fish at three ecological levels; algal meadows vs. coral reefs, live vs. dead coral and among different coral morphologies. In total, 6979 individuals from 11 families and 56 species were censused along Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Juvenile fishes exhibited divergence in habitat use and specialization among species and at all study scales. Despite the close proximity of coral reef and algal meadows (10's of metres) 25 species were unique to coral reef habitats, and seven to algal meadows. Of the seven unique to algal meadows, several species are known to occupy coral reef habitat as adults, suggesting possible ontogenetic shifts in habitat use. Selectivity between live and dead coral was found to be species-specific. In particular, juvenile scarids were found predominantly on the skeletons of dead coral whereas many damsel and butterfly fishes were closely associated with live coral habitat. Among the coral dependent species, coral morphology played a key role in juvenile distribution. Corymbose corals supported a disproportionate number of coral species and individuals relative to their availability, whereas less complex shapes (i.e. massive & encrusting) were rarely used by juvenile fish. Habitat specialisation by juvenile species of ecological and fisheries importance, for a variety of habitat types, argues strongly for the careful conservation and management of multiple habitat types within marine parks, and indicates that the current emphasis on planning conservation using representative habitat areas is warranted. Furthermore, the close association of many juvenile fish with corals susceptible to climate change related disturbances suggests that identifying and protecting reefs

  10. 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

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

    Jantzen, Carin; Kremb, Stephan Georg

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

  14. Effects of the 1998 coral morality event on Kenyan coral reefs and fisheries.

    PubMed

    McClanahan, Tim; Maina, Joseph; Pet-Soede, Lida

    2002-12-01

    Data were collected in southern Kenya on coral reef ecosystems and fisheries to assess the influence of the 1998 coral bleaching and mortality event. We compared benthic cover, sea urchin and fish abundance in unfished marine parks and fished reefs and the reef-associated fisheries 3 years before and after 1998. Hard and soft coral decreased while coralline algae increased in both management areas. Turf increased in marine parks and sponge and fleshy algae increased in the fished reefs. Sea urchin grazer biomass was unchanged over this period and the fish community changed less than benthic cover. In general, butterflyfish, damselfish and wrasses were negatively influenced while surgeonfish and a few uncommon families were positively influenced by the substratum change. There was a 17% increase in fishing effort as measured by fishermen per day at each landing site and the total demersal catch declined by 8% and the catch per man declined by 21% after 1998. The decline in the total catch and CPUE combined with the increase in effort suggest an overexploited fishery and this makes it difficult to distinguish changes caused by coral mortality or fishing effort. The price of fish increased over this period and this caused an 18% increase in the total value of the fishery but no difference in the net income of individual fishermen.

  15. ASSESSING UV IRRADIANCE IN CARIBBEAN REEF CORAL AND DNA DAMAGE IN THEIR CORAL AND ZOOXANTHELLAE

    EPA Science Inventory

    UV penetration into the water near coral reefs may be increasing as a consequence of global climate change. Calm waters associated with ENSO conditions can enhance stratification that increases the amount of photobleaching of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in surfa...

  16. Small cryptopredators contribute to high predation rates on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goatley, Christopher H. R.; González-Cabello, Alonso; Bellwood, David R.

    2017-03-01

    Small fishes suffer high mortality rates on coral reefs, primarily due to predation. Although studies have identified the predators of early post-settlement fishes, the predators of small cryptobenthic fishes remain largely unknown. We therefore used a series of mesocosm experiments with natural habitat and cryptobenthic fish communities to identify the impacts of a range of small potential predators, including several invertebrates, on prey fish populations. While there was high variability in predation rates, many members of the cryptobenthic fish community act as facultative cryptopredators, being prey when small and piscivores when larger. Surprisingly, we also found that smashing mantis shrimps may be important fish predators. Our results highlight the diversity of the predatory community on coral reefs and identify previously unknown trophic links in these complex ecosystems.

  17. Density-associated recruitment mediates coral population dynamics on a coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bramanti, Lorenzo; Edmunds, Peter J.

    2016-06-01

    Theory suggests that density-associated processes can modulate community resilience following declines in population size. Here, we demonstrate density-associated processes in two scleractinian populations on the outer reef of Moorea, French Polynesia, that are rapidly increasing in size following the effects of two catastrophic disturbances. Between 2006 and 2010, predation by the corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea star reduced coral cover by 93 %; in 2010, the dead coral skeletons were removed by a cyclone, and in 2011 and 2012, high coral recruitment initiated population recovery. Coral recruitment was associated with coral cover, but the relationship differed between two coral genera that are almost exclusively broadcast spawners in Moorea. Acroporids recruited at low densities, and the density of recruits was positively associated with cover of Acropora, whereas pocilloporids recruited at high densities, and densities of their recruits were negatively associated with cover of Pocillopora. Together, our results suggest that associations between adult cover and density of both juveniles and recruits can mediate rapid coral community recovery after large disturbances. The difference between taxa in sign of the relationships between recruit density and coral cover indicate that they reflect contrasting mechanisms with the potential to mediate temporal shifts in taxonomic composition of coral communities.

  18. 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

  19. Environmentally controlled succession in a late Pleistocene coral reef (Sinai, Egypt)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mewis, H.; Kiessling, W.

    2013-03-01

    The concept of ecological succession has been frequently applied in the study of ancient reefs. Whereas Paleozoic and Mesozoic reefs are commonly thought to reveal an autogenic primary—climax zonation, patterns in Neogene and Quaternary reefs are much more diverse. Here, we describe a well-preserved late Pleistocene coral reef from Dahab on Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), which shows a distinct zonation that resembles an ecological succession. In contrast to classical examples of ecological successions, species composition, paleoenvironmental conditions, and coral biodiversity of the Dahab reef indicate an allogenic, sea-level controlled community change, from marginal marine to reef slope and back reef. A review of the literature confirms that autogenic, short-term successions are virtually absent in Quaternary reefs. We predict that long generation times of corals make it unlikely that classical autogenic successions develop in reefs at all, unless environmental conditions are unusually stable.

  20. The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation

    PubMed Central

    Ferrario, Filippo; Beck, Michael W.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Micheli, Fiorenza; Shepard, Christine C.; Airoldi, Laura

    2014-01-01

    The world’s coastal zones are experiencing rapid development and an increase in storms and flooding. These hazards put coastal communities at heightened risk, which may increase with habitat loss. Here we analyse globally the role and cost effectiveness of coral reefs in risk reduction. Meta-analyses reveal that coral reefs provide substantial protection against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97%. Reef crests alone dissipate most of this energy (86%). There are 100 million or more people who may receive risk reduction benefits from reefs or bear hazard mitigation and adaptation costs if reefs are degraded. We show that coral reefs can provide comparable wave attenuation benefits to artificial defences such as breakwaters, and reef defences can be enhanced cost effectively. Reefs face growing threats yet there is opportunity to guide adaptation and hazard mitigation investments towards reef restoration to strengthen this first line of coastal defence. PMID:24825660

  1. The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ferrario, Filippo; Beck, Michael W.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Micheli, Fiorenza; Shepard, Christine C.; Airoldi, Laura

    2014-01-01

    The world’s coastal zones are experiencing rapid development and an increase in storms and flooding. These hazards put coastal communities at heightened risk, which may increase with habitat loss. Here we analyse globally the role and cost effectiveness of coral reefs in risk reduction. Meta-analyses reveal that coral reefs provide substantial protection against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97%. Reef crests alone dissipate most of this energy (86%). There are 100 million or more people who may receive risk reduction benefits from reefs or bear hazard mitigation and adaptation costs if reefs are degraded. We show that coral reefs can provide comparable wave attenuation benefits to artificial defences such as breakwaters, and reef defences can be enhanced cost effectively. Reefs face growing threats yet there is opportunity to guide adaptation and hazard mitigation investments towards reef restoration to strengthen this first line of coastal defence.

  2. Overfishing and nutrient pollution interact with temperature to disrupt coral reefs down to microbial scales.

    PubMed

    Zaneveld, Jesse R; Burkepile, Deron E; Shantz, Andrew A; Pritchard, Catharine E; McMinds, Ryan; Payet, Jérôme P; Welsh, Rory; Correa, Adrienne M S; Lemoine, Nathan P; Rosales, Stephanie; Fuchs, Corinne; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Thurber, Rebecca Vega

    2016-06-07

    Losses of corals worldwide emphasize the need to understand what drives reef decline. Stressors such as overfishing and nutrient pollution may reduce resilience of coral reefs by increasing coral-algal competition and reducing coral recruitment, growth and survivorship. Such effects may themselves develop via several mechanisms, including disruption of coral microbiomes. Here we report the results of a 3-year field experiment simulating overfishing and nutrient pollution. These stressors increase turf and macroalgal cover, destabilizing microbiomes, elevating putative pathogen loads, increasing disease more than twofold and increasing mortality up to eightfold. Above-average temperatures exacerbate these effects, further disrupting microbiomes of unhealthy corals and concentrating 80% of mortality in the warmest seasons. Surprisingly, nutrients also increase bacterial opportunism and mortality in corals bitten by parrotfish, turning normal trophic interactions deadly for corals. Thus, overfishing and nutrient pollution impact reefs down to microbial scales, killing corals by sensitizing them to predation, above-average temperatures and bacterial opportunism.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-09-01

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

  4. 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.

  5. Suitable Environmental Ranges for Potential Coral Reef Habitats in the Tropical Ocean

    PubMed Central

    Guan, Yi; Hohn, Sönke; Merico, Agostino

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are found within a limited range of environmental conditions or tolerance limits. Estimating these limits is a critical prerequisite for understanding the impacts of climate change on the biogeography of coral reefs. Here we used the diagnostic model ReefHab to determine the current environmental tolerance limits for coral reefs and the global distribution of potential coral reef habitats as a function of six factors: temperature, salinity, nitrate, phosphate, aragonite saturation state, and light. To determine these tolerance limits, we extracted maximum and minimum values of all environmental variables in corresponding locations where coral reefs are present. We found that the global, annually averaged tolerance limits for coral reefs are 21.7—29.6 °C for temperature, 28.7—40.4 psu for salinity, 4.51 μmol L-1 for nitrate, 0.63 μmol L-1 for phosphate, and 2.82 for aragonite saturation state. The averaged minimum light intensity in coral reefs is 450 μmol photons m-2 s-1. The global area of potential reef habitats calculated by the model is 330.5 × 103 km2. Compared with previous studies, the tolerance limits for temperature, salinity, and nutrients have not changed much, whereas the minimum value of aragonite saturation in coral reef waters has decreased from 3.28 to 2.82. The potential reef habitat area calculated with ReefHab is about 121×103 km2 larger than the area estimated from the charted reefs, suggesting that the growth potential of coral reefs is higher than currently observed. PMID:26030287

  6. Suitable environmental ranges for potential coral reef habitats in the tropical ocean.

    PubMed

    Guan, Yi; Hohn, Sönke; Merico, Agostino

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are found within a limited range of environmental conditions or tolerance limits. Estimating these limits is a critical prerequisite for understanding the impacts of climate change on the biogeography of coral reefs. Here we used the diagnostic model ReefHab to determine the current environmental tolerance limits for coral reefs and the global distribution of potential coral reef habitats as a function of six factors: temperature, salinity, nitrate, phosphate, aragonite saturation state, and light. To determine these tolerance limits, we extracted maximum and minimum values of all environmental variables in corresponding locations where coral reefs are present. We found that the global, annually averaged tolerance limits for coral reefs are 21.7-29.6 °C for temperature, 28.7-40.4 psu for salinity, 4.51 μmol L-1 for nitrate, 0.63 μmol L-1 for phosphate, and 2.82 for aragonite saturation state. The averaged minimum light intensity in coral reefs is 450 μmol photons m-2 s-1. The global area of potential reef habitats calculated by the model is 330.5 × 103 km2. Compared with previous studies, the tolerance limits for temperature, salinity, and nutrients have not changed much, whereas the minimum value of aragonite saturation in coral reef waters has decreased from 3.28 to 2.82. The potential reef habitat area calculated with ReefHab is about 121×103 km2 larger than the area estimated from the charted reefs, suggesting that the growth potential of coral reefs is higher than currently observed.

  7. Methods to Estimate Solar Radiation Dosimetry in Coral Reefs Using Remote Sensed, Modeled, and in Situ Data.

    EPA Science Inventory

    Solar irradiance has been increasingly recognized as an important determinant of bleaching in coral reefs, but measurements of solar radiation exposure within coral reefs have been relatively limited. Solar irradiance and diffuse down welling attenuation coefficients (Kd, m-1) we...

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2003-01-08

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

  12. Potential contribution of fish restocking to the recovery of deteriorated coral reefs: an alternative restoration method?

    PubMed

    Obolski, Uri; Hadany, Lilach; Abelson, Avigdor

    2016-01-01

    Counteracting the worldwide trend of coral reef degeneration is a major challenge for the scientific community. A crucial management approach to minimizing stress effects on healthy reefs and helping the recovery of disturbed reefs is reef protection. However, the current rapid decline of the world's reefs suggests that protection might be insufficient as a viable stand-alone management approach for some reefs. We thus suggest that the ecological restoration of coral reefs (CRR) should be considered as a valid component of coral reef management, in addition to protection, if the applied method is economically applicable and scalable. This theoretical study examines the potential applicability and outcomes of restocking grazers as a restoration tool for coral reef recovery-a tool that has not been applied so far in reef restoration projects. We studied the effect of restocking grazing fish as a restoration method using a mathematical model of degrading reefs, and analyzed the financial outcomes of the restocking intervention. The results suggest that applying this restoration method, in addition to protection, can facilitate reef recovery. Moreover, our analysis suggests that the restocking approach almost always becomes profitable within several years. Considering the relatively low cost of this restoration approach and the feasibility of mass production of herbivorous fish, we suggest that this approach should be considered and examined as an additional viable restoration tool for coral reefs.

  13. Potential contribution of fish restocking to the recovery of deteriorated coral reefs: an alternative restoration metho