Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean naturally tougher than Caribbean reefs

Date:
July 12, 2012
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts, leading marine scientists say.

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts, leading marine scientists have said.
Credit: Copyright George Roff

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts, leading marine scientists have said.

Dr George Roff and Professor Peter Mumby from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland told the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns on July 12 that coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean are naturally tougher than the Caribbean reefs.

"The main reason that Indo-Pacific reefs are more resilient is they have less seaweed than the Caribbean Sea," Dr Roff says. "Seaweed and corals are age-old competitors in the battle for space. When seaweed growth rates are lower, such as the Indo-Pacific region, the reefs recover faster from setbacks. This provides coral with a competitive advantage over seaweed, and our study suggests that these reefs would have to be heavily degraded for seaweeds to take over.

"This doesn't mean that we can be complacent -- reefs around the world are still heavily threatened by climate change and human activities," he says. "What it indicates is Indo-Pacific reefs will respond better to protection, and steps we take to keep them healthy have a better chance of succeeding."

"Many of the doom and gloom stories have emanated from the Caribbean, which has deteriorated rapidly in the last 30 years," says Professor Mumby. "We now appreciate that the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean are far more different than we thought."

The study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE), includes survey data Indo-Pacific region and Caribbean reefs from 1965 to 2010.

The researchers also found that seaweeds in Indo-Pacific region bloom four times more slowly than those in the Caribbean.

"We're not sure why this happens, but a plausible theory is that Caribbean waters are highly enriched in iron," they say. "For thousands of years, the Caribbean Sea has received dusts that blow across the Atlantic from the Sahara, and the dust contains iron -- an essential element for algae to grow.

"This suggests that the difference between the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean oceans and their coral reefs is fundamental, and occurs at a very large scale.

"Another factor that protects these reefs is the abundance of herbivorous fish, such as surgeon and parrotfish that treat seaweed as a delicacy. The Indo-Pacific region has a lot of these fishes.

"For instance, the Indo-Pacific region has 70 species and six genera of parrotfish, while the Caribbean only has 13 species and two genera of the fish."

While the findings indicate a brighter future for the Indo-Pacific reefs, nations such as Australia will need to maintain vigilant protection of the ocean, the researchers warn.

"All reefs face an uncertain future, particularly in places with lots of human activities," they say. "We still need to curb the overfishing of herbivorous fish, as they are very sought after in the Pacific. We also need to control the level of nutrients in the water and prevent runoff when necessary.

"The good news is that our Indo-Pacific reefs are tougher than we thought -- we just need to make sure that our actions won't destroy their natural resilience."


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. "Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean naturally tougher than Caribbean reefs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101545.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2012, July 12). Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean naturally tougher than Caribbean reefs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101545.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean naturally tougher than Caribbean reefs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101545.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. 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