Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Under climate change, winners and losers on the coral reef

Date:
April 12, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
As ocean temperatures rise, some species of corals are likely to succeed at the expense of others, according to a new report that details the first large-scale investigation of climate effects on corals.

Coral on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
Credit: © StrangerView / Fotolia

As ocean temperatures rise, some species of corals are likely to succeed at the expense of others, according to a report published online on April 12 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology that details the first large-scale investigation of climate effects on corals.

"The good news is that, rather than experiencing wholesale destruction, many coral reefs will survive climate change by changing the mix of coral species as the ocean warms and becomes more acidic," said Terry Hughes of James Cook University in Australia. "That's important for people who rely on the rich and beautiful coral reefs of today for food, tourism, and other livelihoods."

In an attempt to understand the sorts of changes that may take place as the world's oceans warm, the researchers examined the coral composition of reefs along the entire length of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Earlier studies of climate change and corals have been done on a much smaller geographical scale, with a primary focus on total coral cover or counts of species as rather crude indicators of reef health.

"We chose the iconic Great Barrier Reef as our natural laboratory because water temperature varies by 8 to 9 degrees Celsius along its full length from summer to winter, and because there are wide local variations in pH," Hughes explained. "Its regional-scale natural gradients encompass the sorts of conditions that will apply several decades from now under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions."

In total, the researchers identified and measured more than 35,000 coral colonies on 33 reefs. Their survey revealed surprising flexibility in the assembly of corals. As they saw one species decline in abundance, some other species would tend to rise. The waxing or waning of any given coral species the researchers observed as they moved along the coastline occurred independently of changes to other coral species.

Hughes concludes that corals' response to climate change is likely to be more complicated than many had thought. Although he now believes that rising temperatures are unlikely to mean the end of the coral reef, critical issues remain.

"If susceptible table and branching species are replaced by mound-shaped corals, it would leave fewer nooks and crannies where fish shelter and feed," he said. "Coral reefs are also threatened by much more local impacts, especially by pollution and overfishing. We need to address all of the threats, including climate change, to give coral reefs a fighting chance for the future."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Hughes TP, Baird AH,Dinsdale EA, Moltschaniwskyj NA, Pratchett MS, Tanner JE, Willis BL. Assembly rules of reef corals are flexible along a steep climatic gradient. Current Biology, 2012 (in press)

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Under climate change, winners and losers on the coral reef." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412121351.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, April 12). Under climate change, winners and losers on the coral reef. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412121351.htm
Cell Press. "Under climate change, winners and losers on the coral reef." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412121351.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 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