Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coral Reefs May Be More Resilient Than Expected

Date:
May 16, 2007
Source:
Florida Institute of Technology
Summary:
Coral reef bleaching, believed to be one of the detrimental effects of climate change, may receive a welcomed "buffer" through effective local management, according to scientists who are recording the long-term recovery of coral reefs.

Bleached coral.
Credit: Image courtesy of Florida Institute of Technology

Coral reef bleaching, believed to be one of the detrimental effects of climate change, may receive a welcomed "buffer" through effective local management, according to new research by a team of scientists recording the long-term recovery of coral reefs in Palau and elsewhere.

"It appears that coral reefs are very resilient and can bounce back magnificently if subjected to good management practices and 10 years or so of pristine conditions," says Robert van Woesik, one of the authors of a new study showing that reefs off Palau, Micronesia, have recovered surprisingly well from a 1998 "bleaching" event, caused by high sea water temperatures. "The rare piece of good news in the problem of climate change is that good local management practices might aid recovery of coral reefs."

Van Woesik, a professor of biological sciences at Florida Institute of Technology, examined the recovery rates of reefs in Palau during three different periods following the 1998 bleaching -- in late 2001/early 2002, late 2002/early 2003, and late 2004/early 2005. Global climate models suggest that Micronesia is particularly vulnerable to climate change over the next millennia, and will be likely subjected to repeated thermal stress events and water temperatures considerably higher than historical averages.

Using underwater digital video cameras, van Woesik and his team examined the rate of coral recovery at 13 different sites, and found that recovery rates increased over time; notably, sheltered bay areas, which suffered less in 1998, appeared to support recovery of outer-reef, "wave-exposed sites," by providing a supply of coral larvae to the damaged reefs. The researchers also found that recovery rates were significantly higher between 2002 and 2004 than between 2001-2002.

Because Micronesia is at a great distance from large human population centers, van Woesik hypothesizes that the coral recovery rate is directly linked to human environmental factors -- a promising sign for recovery in other regions.

"Factors such as river pollution, sedimentation, and use changes -- such as fishing pressures -- are all controllable factors," says van Woesik. "They're added to global effects of greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. The take-home message is that we can accelerate the recovery rate of coral reefs by adapting human behavior and reducing local pressure on reefs; this research provides encouragement and incentive for local management.

"Clearly, action is required at both ends of the political spectrum -- both globally to reduce greenhouse emissions, but also locally to enhance reef resilience," says van Woesik.

Van Woesik's research appears in the April 2007 issue Coral Reefs, the journal of the International Society for Reef Studies. He will next set up research sites in several other locations, including the Great Barrier Reef and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida Institute of Technology. "Coral Reefs May Be More Resilient Than Expected." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515151135.htm>.
Florida Institute of Technology. (2007, May 16). Coral Reefs May Be More Resilient Than Expected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515151135.htm
Florida Institute of Technology. "Coral Reefs May Be More Resilient Than Expected." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515151135.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
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