Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Conservationists develop coral 'stress test' to identify reefs more likely to survive climate change

Date:
March 22, 2011
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Researchers have developed a "stress test" for coral reefs as a means of identifying and prioritizing areas that are most likely to survive bleaching events and other climate change factors. The scientists say that these "reefs of hope" are priorities for national and international management and conservation action.

A new "stress test" model developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society identifies the most diverse and hardy coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean as priorities for conservation and management. This "high priority" reef is located in the coastal area of south Tanzania.
Credit: T. McClanahan/Wildlife Conservation Society

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have developed a "stress test" for coral reefs as a means of identifying and prioritizing areas that are most likely to survive bleaching events and other climate change factors. The researchers say that these "reefs of hope" are priorities for national and international management and conservation action.

The test is a model that looks at environmental factors that stress corals -- mainly from rising sea temperatures -- and how these stresses affect overall coral and fish diversity. The results will help conservationists and managers identify reef systems most likely to survive over the next 50 years.

The study appears in the online edition of Global Change Biology. The authors include Tim R. McClanahan, Joseph M. Maina, and Nyawira A. Muthiga of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The model uses layers of historical data, satellite imagery, and field observations to produce a composite map on the status of reefs in the western Indian Ocean, in addition to an index of coral communities, their diversity, and their susceptibility to bleaching.

The study encompasses a wide swath of the western Indian Ocean, ranging from the Maldives to South Africa, an area already heavily impacted by bleaching events and coral mortality.

The model identified the coastal regions stretching from southern Kenya to northern Mozambique, northeastern Madagascar, the Mascarene Islands, and the coastal border of Mozambique and South Africa as having the most promising characteristics of high diversity and low environmental stress.

The authors say these biologically diverse and hardy reefs are therefore a priority for implementing management that will reduce human impacts and stresses, while alternative strategies for adaptation are necessary in areas with lower chances of long-term survival.

"The future is going to be more stressful for marine ecosystems, and coral and their dependent species top the list of animals that are going to feel the heat of climate warming," said Dr. McClanahan, the study's lead author and WCS Senior Conservationist. "The study provides us with hope and a map to identify conservation and management priorities where it is possible to buy some time for these important ecosystems until the carbon emissions problems have been solved."

The coral reefs of the western Indian Ocean represent a significant portion of the overall biodiversity of tropical reef systems worldwide.

The western Indian Ocean also represents a crucial testing ground for management responses to climate-driven events such as coral bleaching. For instance, an estimated 45 percent of living coral was killed during 1998's warm temperature anomaly.

Caleb McClennen, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Marine Program, said: "Reducing human impacts to minimize the multiple stressors on these globally important reefs will give corals a fighting chance in the age of global climate change. These results reveal a window of opportunity for the future conservation of the ocean's most biodiverse ecosystem."

From Fiji to Glover's Reef, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation have provided critical support for Dr. McClanahan's research, which examines the climate change effects, ecology, fisheries, and management of coral reefs at key sites throughout the world.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Tim R. McClanahan, Joseph M. Maina, Nyawira A. Muthiga. Associations between climate stress and coral reef diversity in the western Indian Ocean. Global Change Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02395.x

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Conservationists develop coral 'stress test' to identify reefs more likely to survive climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151302.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2011, March 22). Conservationists develop coral 'stress test' to identify reefs more likely to survive climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151302.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Conservationists develop coral 'stress test' to identify reefs more likely to survive climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151302.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. 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:

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