Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helping Coral Reefs Survive Climate Change

Date:
August 4, 2003
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
While the high ocean surface temperatures during the 1997-98 El Nino bleached coral reefs in more than 50 tropical countries worldwide, patches of coral did survive in or near the damaged reefs. A new study of these patches identifies factors likely to protect these threatened marine ecosystems during climate change.

While the high ocean surface temperatures during the 1997-98 El Nino bleached coral reefs in more than 50 tropical countries worldwide, patches of coral did survive in or near the damaged reefs. A new study of these patches identifies factors likely to protect these threatened marine ecosystems during climate change.

"As baseline sea surface temperatures continue to rise, climate change may represent the single greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide," say Jordan West of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, and Rodney Salm of The Nature Conservancy in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the August issue of Conservation Biology.

Coral reefs have among the greatest biodiversity of any ecosystem worldwide and provide key services to people, from food to coastal protection to tourism. Reef-building corals depend on symbiotic algae to photosynthesize much of their food, and surface waters that are warmer than normal can "bleach" corals by depleting their photosynthetic pigments or even make them expel their algae.

To help conserve coral reefs during climate change, West and Salm assessed factors that may have protected the coral patches that survived the 1997-98 bleaching. The factors fell into two categories: those that make corals resistant to climate change by, for instance, reducing local sea surface temperatures, and those that make reefs resilient to climate change by helping them recover from bleaching.

The researchers found that the factors that confer resistance to bleaching include local upwellings of cold water, and natural exposure to heat stress. For instance, in an area of Binh Thuan, Vietnam, upwelling of cold water brought surface temperatures down from 39 degrees C to 29 degrees C within days, and corals there recovered better than elsewhere in the country.

In addition, corals that emerge at low tides may be more tolerant of heat stress. For instance, in Palau's Rock Islands, the reef flats that emerge during the low tide were bleached less than the parts of the reef that are in deeper waters.

The factors that confer resilience to bleaching include having diverse populations of corals that produce lots of larvae, surface currents that spread the larvae, herbivorous fish that graze the algae that otherwise grow on top of damaged reefs and prevent the establishment of new corals, and management that decreases stresses such as pollution and fishing methods that destroy reefs.

West and Salm recommend that coral reef managers use this work to identify and protect patches of coral reef that are most likely to persist during continuing climate change. Establishing reserves that protect networks of these patches will help ensure that the corals that survive a major bleaching event will be able to replenish those that do not. The Nature Conservancy is currently applying this work to help coral reefs recover from bleaching in the Republic of Palau, which is developing a national network of Marine Protected Areas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Helping Coral Reefs Survive Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080225.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2003, August 4). Helping Coral Reefs Survive Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080225.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Helping Coral Reefs Survive Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080225.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins