Please select your home edition
Edition
upffront 728x90

Parts of the Great Barrier Reef boom and beat the doom

by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on 26 Apr 2009
Lobophora dominates coral reef ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies © http://www.coralcoe.org.au/
Marine scientists say they are astonished at the spectacular recovery of certain coral reefs in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from a devastating coral bleaching event in 2006.

That year high sea temperatures caused massive and severe coral bleaching in the Keppel Islands, in the southern part of the GBR. The damaged reefs were quickly smothered by a single species of seaweed – an event that can spell the total loss of the corals.

However, a lucky combination of rare circumstances meant the reefs were able to achieve a spectacular recovery, with abundant corals re-established in a single year, says Dr Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and the Centre for Marine Studies at The University of Queensland.

Dr Diaz-Pulido explains that the rapid recovery is due to an exceptional combination of previously-underestimated ecological mechanisms.

'Three factors were critical. The first was exceptionally high re-growth of fragments of surviving coral tissue. The second was an unusual seasonal dieback in the seaweeds, and the third was the presence of a highly competitive coral species, which was able to outgrow the seaweed.

'But this also all happened in the context of a well-protected marine area and moderately good water quality', said Dr Diaz-Pulido.

'It is rare to see reports of reefs that bounce back from mass coral bleaching or other human impacts in less than a decade or two,' he adds.

'The exceptional aspect was that corals recovered by rapidly regrowing from surviving tissue. Recovery of corals is usually thought to depend on sexual reproduction and the settlement and growth of new corals arriving from other reefs. This study demonstrates that for fast-growing coral species asexual reproduction is a vital component of reef resilience' says Dr Sophie Dove, also from CoECRS and The University of Queensland.

'Coral reefs globally are increasingly being damaged by mass bleaching and climate change, and their capacity to recovery from that damage is critical to their future,' explains Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of CoECRS and The University of Queensland. 'Our study suggests that managing local stresses that affect reefs such as overfishing and declining water quality can have a big influence on the trajectory of reefs under rapid global change.'

'Clearly, we need to urgently deal with the problem of rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but managing reefs to reduce the impact of local factors can buy important time while we do this,' he says.

Understanding the different mechanisms of resilience is critical for reef management under climate change. 'Diversity in processes may well be critical to the overall resilience and persistence of coral reef ecosystems globally,' Dr Laurence McCook, from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, says.

The research was partially funded by a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation awarded to Dr McCook, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence program.

'This combination of circumstances provided a lucky escape for the coral reefs in Keppel Islands, but is also a clear warning for the Great Barrier Reef. As climate change and other human impacts intensify, we need to do everything we possibly can to protect the resilience of coral reefs,' he adds.


[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]
The research was published this week in the paper Doom and boom on a resilient reef: Climate change, algal overgrowth and coral recovery, in the journal PLoS ONE, by Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Laurence J. McCook, Sophie Dove, Ray Berkelmans, George Roff, David I. Kline, Scarla Weeks, Richard D. Evans, David H. Williamson and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.

http://www.coralcoe.org.au

Naiad/Oracle SupplierAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82upffront 660x82

Related Articles

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Crew catch up - Meet Dhruv Boruah
After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations, some decide on a future in the marine industry, some take time out to assess their next move in life and others seek their next challenge.
Posted today at 5:49 am
SoftBank Team Japan achieve first foiling tack
SoftBank Team Japan announced today that they cracked foiling tack earlier this year while training with their AC45 boat SoftBank Team Japan announced today that they cracked the foiling tack earlier this year while training with their AC45 Sport test boat in Bermuda.
Posted on 26 Aug
The Clipper Race turns 20!
Throughout the race, tales of crew celebrating birthdays on board filter back and they are always a special occasion Throughout the race, tales of Clipper Race crew celebrating their birthdays on board filter back and they are always a special occasion, likely to remain a completely unique event in their lifetime.
Posted on 23 Aug
America's Cup - Architect of NZ Qualifier withdrawal steps down
The Commissioner for the America's Cup General Dr. Harvey Schiller has stepped down from the role The Commissioner for the America's Cup General Dr. Harvey Schiller has stepped down from the role and will finish at the end of the month. The move was confirmed today by America's Cup correspondent Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press.
Posted on 23 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
PredictWind - One stop shop
PredictWind have taken the bold step of adding government provided forecasts to their award winning forecasting software PredictWind the world leader in forecasting believe that more is better, and have taken the bold step of adding government provided forecasts to their award winning forecasting software.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Fresher breezes expected inside and outside on Day 3
Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the fleet scheduled to race outside on the Atlantic Ocean course off Copacabana Beach, while the 470 Men and Women will race inside on Guananara Bay.
Posted on 10 Aug
35 Copa del Rey Mapfre - Armin Strom Sailing Team in action
Armin Strom Sailing Team remain in contention for the top of the podium throughout the 35 Copa del Rey Mapfre this week. Heading the leaderboard from the start and quickly finding a ‘turbo’ foiling mode saw Armin Strom Sailing Team remain in contention for the top of the podium throughout the 35 Copa del Rey Mapfre this week.
Posted on 8 Aug
American Windsurfing Tour – Final day
Ferdinando Loffreda slashed his foot open in the campo last night so retires from the Pro bracket. Ferdinando Loffreda slashed his foot open in the campo last night so retires from the Pro bracket.
Posted on 7 Aug
35 Copa del Rey Mapfre - Final day images by Carlo Borlenghi
Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from the final day. Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from the final day.
Posted on 7 Aug