Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spectacular Recovery From Coral Bleaching At Great Barrier Reef Marine Park In Australia

Date:
April 24, 2009
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Marine scientists 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 when high sea temperatures caused massive and severe coral bleaching in the Keppel Islands. Damaged reefs were quickly smothered by a single species of seaweed -- an event that can spell the total loss of the corals. The rapid recovery is due to an exceptional combination of previously-underestimated ecological mechanisms.

Algal overgrowth.
Credit: Image courtesy of ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies

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.

Related Articles


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.

The research was published this week in the paperDoom 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Spectacular Recovery From Coral Bleaching At Great Barrier Reef Marine Park In Australia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423100817.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2009, April 24). Spectacular Recovery From Coral Bleaching At Great Barrier Reef Marine Park In Australia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423100817.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Spectacular Recovery From Coral Bleaching At Great Barrier Reef Marine Park In Australia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423100817.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 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:

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