Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Will Corals Survive The Stormy Future?

Date:
April 29, 2008
Source:
Earthwatch Institute
Summary:
Hurricanes and storms limit the ability of corals in Belize to "recruit" new coral into their communities, according to a new study in Marine Environmental Research. Coral reefs --- which can grow to be thousands of years old --- form and grow when free-swimming coral larvae in the ocean attach to rocks or other hard surfaces and begin to develop. Intense storms can wipe out this "recruitment" process.

A view of part of the survey area in Belize, where James Crabbe and his Earthwatch team measured more than 520 corals.
Credit: James Crabbe

Hurricanes and storms limit the ability of corals in Belize to “recruit” new coral into their communities, according to an Earthwatch-supported study published in Marine Environmental Research.

“Increasing evidence now shows that storms are becoming more intense due to climate change,” said lead author and Earthwatch scientist Dr. James Crabbe from the University of Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom.

Coral reefs—which can grow to be thousands of years old—form and grow when free-swimming coral larvae in the ocean attach to rocks or other hard surfaces and begin to develop. Intense storms can wipe out this “recruitment” process.

“Storms threaten the survival of the entire reef itself,” said Crabbe, who found similar results in another Earthwatch-supported study in Jamaica a few years ago. The new study will appear in the May issue of Marine Environmental Research.

“If the storms don’t destroy corals outright, they render them more susceptible to disease, and that is certainly apparent on the Belize reefs,” said Crabbe, who is doing a lecture tour related to this work throughout 2008—deemed the International Year of the Reef by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).

The study holds implications for marine park managers, Crabbe said. “They may need to assist coral recruitment and settlement [in hurricane years] by establishing coral nurseries and then placing the baby corals (larvae) in the reef at discrete locations” or by setting up artificial reef blocks to help the corals survive.

Crabbe conducted the research in 2006 and 2007 with Edwin Martinez, Earthwatch Field Director in Belize and co-author, as well as with the help of young local scientists. Earthwatch, the world’s largest environmental volunteer organization, has conducted a coral research program in Belize for the last three years.

The team measured the size of more than 520 non-branching corals in two major coral reef areas in southern Belize: the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a world heritage site in the second largest barrier reef in the world, and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. In addition to providing habitat for an array of marine life, non-branching massive corals—robust and shaped like mounds, and sometimes called ‘brain corals’—buffer coastal zones from erosive wave energy.

Crabbe’s team determined the surface area covered by the corals and entered the growth rates of the corals into a computer model to determine when in history the coral colonies first settled. They compared numbers of corals that started life in each year with hurricane and storm data, and as suggested by data from fringing reefs of Jamaica, the coral recruitment was much lower during storm years, Crabbe said.

“The rapid growth of the tourism industry in Belize over the past five years tops the list of threats to the corals,” and agricultural runoff is a close second, Martinez said.

“Climate change is coming up the list very quickly,” Crabbe said.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Earthwatch Institute. "Will Corals Survive The Stormy Future?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428140002.htm>.
Earthwatch Institute. (2008, April 29). Will Corals Survive The Stormy Future?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428140002.htm
Earthwatch Institute. "Will Corals Survive The Stormy Future?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428140002.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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