Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coral Stress 'Like Never In History'

Date:
December 13, 2006
Source:
James Cook University
Summary:
Large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more frequently than at any time in the last 11 000 years, according to a new study by Australian-based scientists. Investigations by Associate Professor John Pandolfi, of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies and the University of Queensland, of fossilized reefs in Papua New Guinea show how often the reefs were "wiped out" by disastrous events in past times.

Large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more frequently than at any time in the last 11 000 years, according to a new study by Australian-based scientists.

Investigations by Associate Professor John Pandolfi, of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland, of fossilized reefs in Papua New Guinea show how often the reefs were ‘wiped out’ by disastrous events in past times.

“What we found was in stark contrast to what we see in the modern day,” says A/Prof Pandolfi. “The frequency of reef [die-off] events in the fossils is at least an order of magnitude less than it is today,” he says.

Studying the fossil reefs of the Huon Peninsula, which are now cliff faces rising up to 25 metres above the beach, A/Prof. Pandolfi and his team were able to see where large scale disturbances had occurred in the history of these reefs which dated back as far as 11 000 years ago.

“The sequence of fossils is like a three dimensional movie of what happened in the reefs’ past,” says Pandolfi.

Over the 6000 years recorded in the fossil strata the team found 4 devastating events which resulted in the death of most of the reef – indicating such events had occurred about once every 1500 years.

“The cause of some of these events was volcanic, but others may have been due to bleaching, disease, or something else - we just don’t know. Regardless, what is clear is that the frequency of die-off was so much lower than it is today,” says Pandolfi of his findings.

The results, published in the scientific journal ‘Geology’, sound a warning bell to modern day reef management practices as today’s reefs face more stress than ever.

But while the ancient reefs warn that we are seeing abnormal die-off rates, they also show that the reefs of the past recovered rapidly after these events, taking as little as 100 years to be repopulated by the corals that normally occurred there.

Although they are struck by more high impact events, some of today’s reefs are still proving to be able to ‘bounce back’ to good health – with a little help.

“The recovery of the Great Barrier Reef from the devastating impact of the crown of thorns starfish took less than a few decades, at least in part due to comprehensive reef management,” says Pandolfi,”…but this rate of recovery isn’t seen in other parts of the world….some reefs still haven’t recovered from [events in the last century],” he says.

With the help of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, A/Prof. Pandolfi plans to continue studying fossil coral reefs around the world in order to help build a bigger picture of how the world’s reefs have survived devastation in the past – so that managers can help them continue to survive into the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by James Cook University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

James Cook University. "Coral Stress 'Like Never In History'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104208.htm>.
James Cook University. (2006, December 13). Coral Stress 'Like Never In History'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104208.htm
James Cook University. "Coral Stress 'Like Never In History'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104208.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 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