Keyword Tag Sort by


Categories: Coral Reefs Marine Science Sea temperatures Coastal locations Global Change Climate Change Coral reef ecosystems

Location! Location! Location! Some coral reefs less vulnerable to rising sea temperatures

New research highlighting coastal locations where coral can better withstand rising sea temperatures, a leading cause of stress to coral reefs, may guide efforts to conserve the largest living structures on Earth.

The findings hold promise for an estimated 100 million people living along the coasts of tropical developing countries whose livelihoods and welfare depend directly on coral reefs, but are currently under threat from climate change.

In a report published in an online edition of Ecology Letters today, scientists from Australia, the UK, Mexico and the US, mapped coral stress across the Bahamas in the Caribbean and found that sea temperatures, which strongly influence coral health, caused less stress to reefs in certain areas.

This discovery was borne out in the second half of the study, during which the researchers designed marine reserves best-suited to four possible scenarios of how coral would respond to further sea temperature rises. In each hypothetical scenario, 15 per cent of the locations in the Bahamas were consistently selected.

While the study’s lead author, Professor Peter J. Mumby, from the Global Change Institute and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies says the research complicates current understanding of marine reserve design, the findings can help make the best use of the limited resources available for coral reef conservation.

“Designing marine reserves for the long-term is more difficult than we thought”, Prof. Mumby says. “The responses of coral to the impacts of climate change are relatively unknown at this stage. Yet the good news is that some geographic locations were consistently selected in the generated scenarios, regardless of how corals might adapt to warmer temperatures.

“These areas are great contenders for early conservation no matter what the future holds”. Prof Mumby adds that, “The research found good locations for protecting corals and we are providing this information to conservation partners in the Bahamas to help them in their efforts to work with local communities and establish new reserves.”

Prof. Mumby says the response of coral to climate change is an ongoing focus for scientists and conservation advice will be updated regularly to reflect new research findings.

Prof. Mumby says the world’s oceans are becoming warmer due to the increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels. A rise in sea temperature by as little as 1°C causes stress to corals and can lead to coral bleaching, where corals lose their internal symbiotic algae that help them grow, and may result in vast areas of dead coral.

Scientists expect that warming sea temperatures could cause coral to die in large numbers. The destruction of coral reef ecosystems will expose people in coastal areas of developing countries to flooding, coastal erosion and the loss of food and income from reef-based fisheries and tourism.

The project was funded by the Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management (CRTR) Program, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, National Environment Research Council, European Space Agency and the EU Seventh Framework Programme.

Contact: Jim O’Brien, James Cook University Media Office, Tel: 07 4781 4822, Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

Source: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies - James Cook University

Photos (1)  [ view all photos ]


Healthy Reef with clear water and abundant corals. Source: ARC Centre of Excellence.

Related News:

H1N1 Discovered in Marine Mammals 16 May 2013, 04:40
Scientists at the University of California, Davis, detected the H1N1 (2009) virus in...

Changing wave heights projected as the atmosphere warms 19 April 2013, 03:35
Climate scientists studying the impact of changing wave behaviour on the world's coastlines...

New Antarctic geological timeline aids future sea-level predictions 16 January 2013, 05:31
Radiocarbon dates of tiny fossilised marine animals found in Antarctica’s seabed sediments...

Will changes in climate wipe out mammals in Arctic and sub-Arctic... 14 January 2013, 09:02
The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals...

New study reveals gas that triggers ozone destruction 14 January 2013, 06:35
Scientists at the Universities of Leeds and York have discovered that the majority of...

Earth Sunblock Only Needed If Planet Warms Easily 11 October 2012, 14:51
Planet's sensitivity to greenhouse gases will determine how much shading could be needed to...

Marine worms reveal the deepest evolutionary patterns 9 October 2012, 03:34
The study of ancient worms could offer a more solid understanding of evolutionary patterns and...

Researchers Find ‘Killer Solution’ To Reef Killer 8 October 2012, 04:10
An Australia-based team of marine scientists has developed what may prove an effective control...

Man already contributed to greenhouse gases in Roman times 8 October 2012, 03:17
Air bubbles in ancient ice cores provide proof.The influence of humans on the emissions of the...

Corals Have Evolved Four Lifestyles 1 October 2012, 13:19
A new study by Simon Fraser University researchers will help scientists better understand and...

Credits / Source:

Healthy Reef with clear water and abundant corals. Source: ARC Centre of Excellence.