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

Wildwind 2016 660x82T Clewring J-classZhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

LMAX Exchange wins the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race
LMAX Exchange was confirmed last night as winner of Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race. LMAX Exchange, skippered by Frenchman Olivier Cardin, was confirmed last night as winner of the tenth edition of the world’s longest ocean race, the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race.
Posted today at 9:03 am
Clipper Race – Constant trimming and little sleep in the North Sea
There is little opportunity for tactical moves and the timings of tacks are crucial if teams want to make vital gains. After a downwind start with spinnakers trimmed in light airs against the tide off Den Helder on the Dutch coast yesterday, the fleet has been match racing across the North Sea towards the Thames Estuary.
Posted on 29 Jul
Debriefing the 2015-16 Clipper Round The World Race with Huw Fernie
Sail-World talked with Huw Fernie of Visit Seattle to learn more about a Clipper Round The World Race skipper’s life. Skipper Huw Fernie and his Visit Seattle crew took top honors in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, marking their second podium finish during the 2015/16 Clipper Round The World Race. I recently caught up with Fernie to learn more about Visit Seattle’s success in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, and to learn more about the life of a Clipper Round The World Race skipper.
Posted on 28 Jul
Finale of Clipper Race global series starts in The Netherlands
The 198nm race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top teams After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Posted on 28 Jul
Thousands of spectators expected to welcome home Clipper Race fleet
Hurricane winds, giant waves, freezing conditions, battered boats and tragedy fail to quell fighting spirit of the crew. The tenth edition of the famous biennial race for novice sailors led by professional skippers is regarded as the most challenging on record after the event endured the most extreme conditions it has ever faced in its 20-year history.
Posted on 28 Jul
America's Cup World Series - Ian Roman's images of Pompey
Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series capturing the Royal visitors Top international photographer, Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series and provided this second of two galleries of the racing across the three days of the regatta, taking in the Royal visitors.
Posted on 26 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – More final day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Final race day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America’s Cup World Series - Up and down for Groupama Team France
The new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races 2016 America’s Cup World Series - This weekend the overall ranking for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series has been turned on its head and with the Portsmouth act complete, the new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races by strong support from a home crowd.
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America's Cup World Series - Land Rover BAR take two from two
While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today 2016 Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series - While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today, it wasn't enough to topple the fast and furious tenacity of a Ben Ainslie led Land Rover BAR on the final day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth.
Posted on 25 Jul