Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable

Date:
May 9, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. That's according to findings based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models.

Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. That's according to findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 9 based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models.
Credit: Bob Steneck

Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. That's according to findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 9 based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models.

"People benefit by reefs' having a complex structure -- a little like a Manhattan skyline, but underwater," said Peter Mumby of The University of Queensland and University of Exeter. "Structurally complex reefs provide nooks and crannies for thousands of species and provide the habitat needed to sustain productive reef fisheries. They're also great fun to visit as a snorkeler or diver. If we carry on the way we have been, the ability of reefs to provide benefits to people will seriously decline."

To predict the reefs' future, the researchers spent two years constructing a computer model of how reefs work, building on hundreds of studies conducted over the last 40 years. They then combined their reef model with climate models to make predictions about the balance between forces that will allow reefs to continue growing their complex calcium carbonate structures and those such as hurricanes and erosion that will shrink them.

Ideally, Mumby said, the goal is a carbonate budget that remains in the black for the next century at least. Such a future is possible, the researchers' model shows, but only with effective local protection and assertive action on greenhouse gases.

"Business as usual isn't going to cut it," he said. "The good news is that it does seem possible to maintain reefs -- we just have to be serious about doing something. It also means that local reef management -- efforts to curb pollution and overfishing -- are absolutely justified. Some have claimed that the climate change problem is so great that local management is futile. We show that this viewpoint is wrongheaded."

Mumby and his colleagues also stress the importance of reef function in addition to reef diversity. Those functions of reefs include the provision of habitat for fish, the provision of a natural breakwater to reduce the size of waves reaching the shore, and so on. In very practical terms, hundreds of millions of people depend directly on reefs for their food, livelihoods, and even building materials.

"If it becomes increasingly difficult for people in the tropics to make their living on coral reefs, then this may well increase poverty," said the study's first author, Emma Kennedy. It's in everyone's best interest to keep that from happening.


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. Emma V. Kennedy, Chris T. Perry, Paul R. Halloran, Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Christine H.L. Schönberg, Max Wisshak, Armin U. Form, Juan P. Carricart-Ganivet, Maoz Fine, C. Mark Eakin, Peter J. Mumby. Avoiding Coral Reef Functional Collapse Requires Local and Global Action. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.020

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509123414.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, May 9). Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509123414.htm
Cell Press. "Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509123414.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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