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Coral Colonisation of an Artificial Reef in a Turbid Nearshore Environment, Dampier Harbour, Western Australia  [PDF]
David Blakeway, Michael Byers, James Stoddart, Jason Rossendell
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075281
Abstract: A 0.6 hectare artificial reef of local rock and recycled concrete sleepers was constructed in December 2006 at Parker Point in the industrial port of Dampier, western Australia, with the aim of providing an environmental offset for a nearshore coral community lost to land reclamation. Corals successfully colonised the artificial reef, despite the relatively harsh environmental conditions at the site (annual water temperature range 18-32°C, intermittent high turbidity, frequent cyclones, frequent nearby ship movements). Coral settlement to the artificial reef was examined by terracotta tile deployments, and later stages of coral community development were examined by in-situ visual surveys within fixed 25 x 25 cm quadrats on the rock and concrete substrates. Mean coral density on the tiles varied from 113 ± 17 SE to 909 ± 85 SE per m2 over five deployments, whereas mean coral density in the quadrats was only 6.0 ± 1.0 SE per m2 at eight months post construction, increasing to 24.0 ± 2.1 SE per m2 at 62 months post construction. Coral taxa colonising the artificial reef were a subset of those on the surrounding natural reef, but occurred in different proportions—Pseudosiderastrea tayami, Mycedium elephantotus and Leptastrea purpurea being disproportionately abundant on the artificial reef. Coral cover increased rapidly in the later stages of the study, reaching 2.3 ± 0.7 SE % at 62 months post construction. This study indicates that simple materials of opportunity can provide a suitable substrate for coral recruitment in Dampier Harbour, and that natural colonisation at the study site remains sufficient to initiate a coral community on artificial substrate despite ongoing natural and anthropogenic perturbations.
Early Silurian (Aeronian) East Point Coral Patch Reefs of Anticosti Island, Eastern Canada: First Reef Recovery from the Ordovician/Silurian Mass Extinction in Eastern Laurentia  [PDF]
Paul Copper,Jisuo Jin
Geosciences , 2012, DOI: 10.3390/geosciences2020064
Abstract: An extensive late Aeronian patch reef swarm outcrops for 60–70 km on Anticosti Island, eastern Canada, located in the inner to mid-shelf area of a prominent tropical carbonate platform of southeastern Laurentia, at 20°–25° S paleolatitude of the southern typhoon belt. This complex, described here for the first time, includes more than 100 patch reefs, up to 60–80 m in diameter and 10 m high. Reefs are exposed three-dimensionally on present-day tidal flats, as well as inland along roads and rivers. Down the gentle 1°–2° paleoslope, the reefs grade into coral-sponge biostromes, and westerly they grade into inter-reef or deeper ‘crinoidal meadow’ facies. The reef builders were dominantly tabulate and rugose corals, with lesser stromatoporoids. Other components include crinoids, brachiopods, green algae (especially paleoporellids), and encrusting cyanobacteria: reefs display some of the earliest known symbiotic intergrowths of corals and stromatoporoids. Reefs were variably built on a base of crinoidal grainstones, meadows of baffling tabulate corals, brachiopod shells, or chlorophytes. These reefs mark an early phase of reef recovery after a prominent reef gap of 5–6 million years following the Ordovician/Silurian mass extinction events. The reefs feature a maximal diversity of calcifying cyanobacteria, corals and stromatoporoids, but low diversity of brachiopods, nautiloids and crinoids. Following the North American Stratigraphic Code, we define herein the Menier Formation, encompassing the lower two members of the existing Jupiter Formation.
The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores  [PDF]
Christopher H. R. Goatley, Andrew S. Hoey, David R. Bellwood
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039979
Abstract: Herbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood.
Ecological Processes and Contemporary Coral Reef Management  [PDF]
Angela Dikou
Diversity , 2010, DOI: 10.3390/d2050717
Abstract: Top-down controls of complex foodwebs maintain the balance among the critical groups of corals, algae, and herbivores, thus allowing the persistence of corals reefs as three-dimensional, biogenic structures with high biodiversity, heterogeneity, resistance, resilience and connectivity, and the delivery of essential goods and services to societies. On contemporary reefs world-wide, however, top-down controls have been weakened due to reduction in herbivory levels (overfishing or disease outbreak) while bottom-up controls have increased due to water quality degradation (increase in sediment and nutrient load) and climate forcing (seawater warming and acidification) leading to algal-dominated alternate benthic states of coral reefs, which are indicative of a trajectory towards ecological extinction. Management to reverse common trajectories of degradation for coral reefs necessitates a shift from optimization in marine resource use and conservation towards building socio-economic resilience into coral reef systems while attending to the most manageable human impacts (fishing and water quality) and the global-scale causes (climate change).
A Global Estimate of the Number of Coral Reef Fishers  [PDF]
Louise S. L. Teh, Lydia C. L. Teh, U. Rashid Sumaila
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065397
Abstract: Overfishing threatens coral reefs worldwide, yet there is no reliable estimate on the number of reef fishers globally. We address this data gap by quantifying the number of reef fishers on a global scale, using two approaches - the first estimates reef fishers as a proportion of the total number of marine fishers in a country, based on the ratio of reef-related to total marine fish landed values. The second estimates reef fishers as a function of coral reef area, rural coastal population, and fishing pressure. In total, we find that there are 6 million reef fishers in 99 reef countries and territories worldwide, of which at least 25% are reef gleaners. Our estimates are an improvement over most existing fisher population statistics, which tend to omit accounting for gleaners and reef fishers. Our results suggest that slightly over a quarter of the world’s small-scale fishers fish on coral reefs, and half of all coral reef fishers are in Southeast Asia. Coral reefs evidently support the socio-economic well-being of numerous coastal communities. By quantifying the number of people who are employed as reef fishers, we provide decision-makers with an important input into planning for sustainable coral reef fisheries at the appropriate scale.
Coral Reef Resilience through Biodiversity  [PDF]
Caroline S. Rogers
ISRN Oceanography , 2013, DOI: 10.5402/2013/739034
Abstract: Irrefutable evidence of coral reef degradation worldwide and increasing pressure from rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification associated with climate change have led to a focus on reef resilience and a call to “manage” coral reefs for resilience. Ideally, global action to reduce emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be accompanied by local action. Effective management requires reduction of local stressors, identification of the characteristics of resilient reefs, and design of marine protected area networks that include potentially resilient reefs. Future research is needed on how stressors interact, on how climate change will affect corals, fish, and other reef organisms as well as overall biodiversity, and on basic ecological processes such as connectivity. Not all reef species and reefs will respond similarly to local and global stressors. Because reef-building corals and other organisms have some potential to adapt to environmental changes, coral reefs will likely persist in spite of the unprecedented combination of stressors currently affecting them. The biodiversity of coral reefs is the basis for their remarkable beauty and for the benefits they provide to society. The extraordinary complexity of these ecosystems makes it both more difficult to predict their future and more likely they will have a future. 1. Introduction Increasing concern over worldwide deterioration of coral reefs and the likelihood that global climate change will cause further degradation has led to a focus on the concept of reef resilience. Local, regional, and global stressors have the potential to cause irreversible losses of biodiversity in some reefs and consequently of the ecosystem services they provide [1–9]. Even the physical structure of some coral reefs may be in jeopardy. Can these reefs recover and persist? Can they be managed for resilience? The future of many reefs will depend on whether fundamental processes like photosynthesis, calcification, and recruitment can continue in the face of a multitude of local and global stressors. Reefs that previously could recover after a disturbance may not be able to survive the assaults of global climate change, especially when combined with local pressures. The limits of our current knowledge of the biodiversity of coral reefs, of the potential for corals and other reef species to adapt to climate change, and of the effects of increasing sea water temperatures, ocean acidification, and other components of climate change on reef organisms make it challenging to predict what the future holds
Seasonal prevalence of white plague like disease on the endemic Brazilian reef coral Mussismilia braziliensis
Francini-Filho,Ronaldo; Reis,Rodrigo; Meirelles,Pedro; Moura,Rodrigo; Thompson,Fabiano; Kikuchi,Ruy; Kaufman,Les;
Latin american journal of aquatic research , 2010,
Abstract: the reef coral mussismilia braziliensis verril, 1968 is endemic to the eastern brazilian coast, representing a major reef-building species in the region. this coral is threatened by extinction due to the recent proliferation of a white-plague like (wpl) disease. despite its severe impacts, the environmental factors leading to outbreaks of wpl disease are still poorly understood. this study describes the seasonal prevalence of wpl disease on m. braziliensis in the abrolhos bank, on the southern coast of bahia brazil. in situ estimates showed that wpl disease was about 4.5 times more prevalent in summer (january 2007, mean sea surface temperature 27.4°c) than in winter (july 2007, 25.0°c). this result suggests that the prevalence of wpl disease in m. braziliensis is temperature-dependent, supporting the hypothesis that warmer oceans are facilitating the proliferation of coral diseases worldwide.
The Likelihood of Extinction of Iconic and Dominant Herbivores and Detritivores of Coral Reefs: The Parrotfishes and Surgeonfishes  [PDF]
Mia T. Comeros-Raynal, John Howard Choat, Beth A. Polidoro, Kendall D. Clements, Rene Abesamis, Matthew T. Craig, Muhammad Erdi Lazuardi, Jennifer McIlwain, Andreas Muljadi, Robert F. Myers, Cleto L. Na?ola, Shinta Pardede, Luiz A. Rocha, Barry Russell, Jonnell C. Sanciangco, Brian Stockwell, Heather Harwell, Kent E. Carpenter
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039825
Abstract: Parrotfishes and surgeonfishes perform important functional roles in the dynamics of coral reef systems. This is a consequence of their varied feeding behaviors ranging from targeted consumption of living plant material (primarily surgeonfishes) to feeding on detrital aggregates that are either scraped from the reef surface or excavated from the deeper reef substratum (primarily parrotfishes). Increased fishing pressure and widespread habitat destruction have led to population declines for several species of these two groups. Species-specific data on global distribution, population status, life history characteristics, and major threats were compiled for each of the 179 known species of parrotfishes and surgeonfishes to determine the likelihood of extinction of each species under the Categories and Criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Due in part to the extensive distributions of most species and the life history traits exhibited in these two families, only three (1.7%) of the species are listed at an elevated risk of global extinction. The majority of the parrotfishes and surgeonfishes (86%) are listed as Least Concern, 10% are listed as Data Deficient and 1% are listed as Near Threatened. The risk of localized extinction, however, is higher in some areas, particularly in the Coral Triangle region. The relatively low proportion of species globally listed in threatened Categories is highly encouraging, and some conservation successes are attributed to concentrated conservation efforts. However, with the growing realization of man's profound impact on the planet, conservation actions such as improved marine reserve networks, more stringent fishing regulations, and continued monitoring of the population status at the species and community levels are imperative for the prevention of species loss in these groups of important and iconic coral reef fishes.
Climate Warming, Marine Protected Areas and the Ocean-Scale Integrity of Coral Reef Ecosystems  [PDF]
Nicholas A. J. Graham, Tim R. McClanahan, M. Aaron MacNeil, Shaun K. Wilson, Nicholas V. C. Polunin, Simon Jennings, Pascale Chabanet, Susan Clark, Mark D. Spalding, Yves Letourneur, Lionel Bigot, René Galzin, Marcus C. ?hman, Kajsa C. Garpe, Alasdair J. Edwards, Charles R. C. Sheppard
PLOS ONE , 2008, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003039
Abstract: Coral reefs have emerged as one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate variation and change. While the contribution of a warming climate to the loss of live coral cover has been well documented across large spatial and temporal scales, the associated effects on fish have not. Here, we respond to recent and repeated calls to assess the importance of local management in conserving coral reefs in the context of global climate change. Such information is important, as coral reef fish assemblages are the most species dense vertebrate communities on earth, contributing critical ecosystem functions and providing crucial ecosystem services to human societies in tropical countries. Our assessment of the impacts of the 1998 mass bleaching event on coral cover, reef structural complexity, and reef associated fishes spans 7 countries, 66 sites and 26 degrees of latitude in the Indian Ocean. Using Bayesian meta-analysis we show that changes in the size structure, diversity and trophic composition of the reef fish community have followed coral declines. Although the ocean scale integrity of these coral reef ecosystems has been lost, it is positive to see the effects are spatially variable at multiple scales, with impacts and vulnerability affected by geography but not management regime. Existing no-take marine protected areas still support high biomass of fish, however they had no positive affect on the ecosystem response to large-scale disturbance. This suggests a need for future conservation and management efforts to identify and protect regional refugia, which should be integrated into existing management frameworks and combined with policies to improve system-wide resilience to climate variation and change.
Digital Reef Rugosity Estimates Coral Reef Habitat Complexity  [PDF]
Phillip Dustan, Orla Doherty, Shinta Pardede
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057386
Abstract: Ecological habitats with greater structural complexity contain more species due to increased niche diversity. This is especially apparent on coral reefs where individual coral colonies aggregate to give a reef its morphology, species zonation, and three dimensionality. Structural complexity is classically measured with a reef rugosity index, which is the ratio of a straight line transect to the distance a flexible chain of equal length travels when draped over the reef substrate; yet, other techniques from visual categories to remote sensing have been used to characterize structural complexity at scales from microhabitats to reefscapes. Reef-scale methods either lack quantitative precision or are too time consuming to be routinely practical, while remotely sensed indices are mismatched to the finer scale morphology of coral colonies and reef habitats. In this communication a new digital technique, Digital Reef Rugosity (DRR) is described which utilizes a self-contained water level gauge enabling a diver to quickly and accurately characterize rugosity with non-invasive millimeter scale measurements of coral reef surface height at decimeter intervals along meter scale transects. The precise measurements require very little post-processing and are easily imported into a spreadsheet for statistical analyses and modeling. To assess its applicability we investigated the relationship between DRR and fish community structure at four coral reef sites on Menjangan Island off the northwest corner of Bali, Indonesia and one on mainland Bali to the west of Menjangan Island; our findings show a positive relationship between DRR and fish diversity. Since structural complexity drives key ecological processes on coral reefs, we consider that DRR may become a useful quantitative community-level descriptor to characterize reef complexity.
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