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Coral Reefs

Rebecca Albright, Yuichiro Takeshita, David A Koweek, Aaron Ninokawa, Kennedy Wolfe, Tanya Rivlin, Yana Nebuchina, Jordan Young, Ken Caldeira
Coral reefs feed millions of people worldwide, provide coastal protection and generate billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue. The underlying architecture of a reef is a biogenic carbonate structure that accretes over many years of active biomineralization by calcifying organisms, including corals and algae. Ocean acidification poses a chronic threat to coral reefs by reducing the saturation state of the aragonite mineral of which coral skeletons are primarily composed, and lowering the concentration of carbonate ions required to maintain the carbonate reef...
March 14, 2018: Nature
Jade M S Delevaux, Robert Whittier, Kostantinos A Stamoulis, Leah L Bremer, Stacy Jupiter, Alan M Friedlander, Matthew Poti, Greg Guannel, Natalie Kurashima, Kawika B Winter, Robert Toonen, Eric Conklin, Chad Wiggins, Anders Knudby, Whitney Goodell, Kimberly Burnett, Susan Yee, Hla Htun, Kirsten L L Oleson, Tracy Wiegner, Tamara Ticktin
Declining natural resources have led to a cultural renaissance across the Pacific that seeks to revive customary ridge-to-reef management approaches to protect freshwater and restore abundant coral reef fisheries. Effective ridge-to-reef management requires improved understanding of land-sea linkages and decision-support tools to simultaneously evaluate the effects of terrestrial and marine drivers on coral reefs, mediated by anthropogenic activities. Although a few applications have linked the effects of land cover to coral reefs, these are too coarse in resolution to inform watershed-scale management for Pacific Islands...
2018: PloS One
Jennifer C Selgrath, Sarah E Gergel, Amanda C J Vincent
Locally sustainable resource extraction activities, at times, transform into ecologically detrimental enterprises. Understanding such transitions is a primary challenge for conservation and management of many ecosystems. In marine systems, over-exploitation of small-scale fisheries creates problems such as reduced biodiversity and lower catches. However, long-term documentation of how governance and associated changes in fishing gears may have contributed to such declines is often lacking. Using fisher interviews, we characterized fishing gear dynamics over 60 years (1950-2010) in a coral reef ecosystem in the Philippines subject to changing fishing regulations...
2018: PloS One
C H R Goatley, S Wroe, S B Tebbett, D R Bellwood
X-ray micro-computed tomography scans were used to examine the caudal-fin structure of an unusual double-tailed deformity in an adult brown surgeonfish Acanthurus nigrofuscus from the Great Barrier Reef. In both this case and in a similar double-tailed deformity in a juvenile Tomini surgeonfish Ctenochaetus tominiensis from the Philippines, the caudal fin was duplicated along the dorsoventral axis. Detailed examination of the A. nigrofuscus specimen revealed that the deformity was associated with duplication and reflection of the hypural plates and the posterior vertebrae, yet the fish survived to adulthood, indicating that the effects of duplication on survival may be limited...
March 14, 2018: Journal of Fish Biology
L M Oliver, W S Fisher, L Fore, A Smith, P Bradley
Coral reef condition on the south shore of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was assessed at various distances from Charlotte Amalie, the most densely populated city on the island. Human influence in the area includes industrial activity, wastewater discharge, cruise ship docks, and impervious surfaces throughout the watershed. Anthropogenic activity was characterized using a landscape development intensity (LDI) index, sedimentation threat (ST) estimates, and water quality (WQ) impairments in the near-coastal zone...
March 13, 2018: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Francesco Ferretti, David Curnick, Keli Liu, Evgeny V Romanov, Barbara A Block
Scientific monitoring has recorded only a recent fraction of the oceans' alteration history. This biases our understanding of marine ecosystems. Remote coral reef ecosystems are often considered pristine because of high shark abundance. However, given the long history and global nature of fishing, sharks' vulnerability, and the ecological consequences of shark declines, these states may not be natural. In the Chagos archipelago, one of the remotest coral reef systems on the planet, protected by a very large marine reserve, we integrated disparate fisheries and scientific survey data to reconstruct baselines and long-term population trajectories of two dominant sharks...
March 2018: Science Advances
'Ale'alani Dudoit, Matthew Iacchei, Richard R Coleman, Michelle R Gaither, William E Browne, Brian W Bowen, Robert J Toonen
The banded coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus (Crustacea: Decapoda: Stenopodidea) is a popular marine ornamental species with a circumtropical distribution. The planktonic larval stage lasts ∼120-253 days, indicating considerable dispersal potential, but few studies have investigated genetic connectivity on a global scale in marine invertebrates. To resolve patterns of divergence and phylogeography of S. hispidus , we surveyed 525 bp of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) from 198 individuals sampled at 10 locations across ∼27,000 km of the species range...
2018: PeerJ
Filip Huyghe, Marc Kochzius
In this contribution, we determine the genetic population structure in the Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion akallopsisos) across the Indian Ocean, and on a smaller geographic scale in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). Highly restricted gene flow was discovered between populations on either side of the Indian Ocean using the control region as a mitochondrial marker (mtDNA). We verify this conclusion using 13 microsatellite markers and infer fine scale genetic structuring within the WIO. In total 387 samples from 21 sites were analysed using mtDNA and 13 microsatellite loci...
2018: PloS One
Rolando Robert, Kenneth Francis Rodrigues, Zarinah Waheed, Subbiah Vijay Kumar
This study is aimed at establishing a baseline on the genetic diversity of the Acropora corals of Sabah, North Borneo based on variations in the partial COI and CYB nucleotide sequences. Comparison across 50 shallow-water Acropora morphospecies indicated that the low substitution rates in the two genes were due to negative selection and that rate heterogeneity between them was asymmetric. CYB appeared to have evolved faster than COI in the Acropora as indicated by differences in the rate of pairwise genetic distance, degrees of transition bias (Ts /Tv ), synonymous-to-nonsynonymous rate ratio (dN /dS ), and substitution patterns at the three codon positions...
March 9, 2018: Mitochondrial DNA. Part A. DNA Mapping, Sequencing, and Analysis
Piedad S Morillo-Velarde, Patricia Briones-Fourzán, Lorenzo Álvarez-Filip, Sergio Aguíñiga-García, Alberto Sánchez-González, Enrique Lozano-Álvarez
Habitat degradation can affect trophic ecology by differentially affecting specialist and generalist species, and the number and type of interspecific relationships. However, the effects of habitat degradation on the trophic ecology of coral reefs have received limited attention. We compared the trophic structure and food chain length between two shallow Caribbean coral reefs similar in size and close to each other: one dominated by live coral and the other by macroalgae (i.e., degraded). We subjected samples of basal carbon sources (particulate organic matter and algae) and the same 48 species of consumers (invertebrates and fishes) from both reefs to stable isotope analyses, and determined the trophic position of consumers and relative importance of various carbon sources for herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores...
March 7, 2018: Scientific Reports
Caroline Petus, Michelle Devlin, Eduardo Teixera da Silva, Stephen Lewis, Jane Waterhouse, Amelia Wenger, Zoe Bainbridge, Dieter Tracey
Optically active water quality components (OAC) transported by flood plumes to nearshore marine environments affect light levels. The definition of minimum OAC concentrations that must be maintained to sustain sufficient light levels for conservation of light-dependant coastal ecosystems exposed to flood waters is necessary to guide management actions in adjacent catchments. In this study, a framework for defining OAC target concentrations using empirical light attenuation models is proposed and applied to the Wet Tropics region of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) (Queensland, Australia)...
March 2, 2018: Journal of Environmental Management
Jan D Brüwer, Christian R Voolstra
Current research posits that all multicellular organisms live in symbioses with associated microorganisms and form so-called metaorganisms or holobionts. Cnidarian metaorganisms are of specific interest given that stony corals provide the foundation of the globally threatened coral reef ecosystems. To gain first insight into viruses associated with the coral model system Aiptasia ( sensu Exaiptasia pallida ), we analyzed an existing RNA-Seq dataset of aposymbiotic, partially populated, and fully symbiotic Aiptasia CC7 anemones with Symbiodinium ...
2018: PeerJ
Elizabeth A Goergen, David S Gilliam
Acropora cervicornis is the most widely used coral species for reef restoration in the greater Caribbean. However, outplanting methodologies (e.g., colony density, size, host genotype, and attachment technique) vary greatly, and to date have not been evaluated for optimality across multiple sites. Two experiments were completed during this study, the first evaluated the effects of attachment technique, colony size, and genotype by outplanting 405 A. cervicornis colonies, from ten genotypes, four size classes, and three attachment techniques (epoxy, nail and cable tie, or puck) across three sites...
2018: PeerJ
Mike McWilliam, Mia O Hoogenboom, Andrew H Baird, Chao-Yang Kuo, Joshua S Madin, Terry P Hughes
Corals are major contributors to a range of key ecosystem functions on tropical reefs, including calcification, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, and the provision of habitat structure. The abundance of corals is declining at multiple scales, and the species composition of assemblages is responding to escalating human pressures, including anthropogenic global warming. An urgent challenge is to understand the functional consequences of these shifts in abundance and composition in different biogeographical contexts...
March 5, 2018: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Holly Bennett, James J Bell, Simon K Davy, Nicole S Webster, David S Francis
Ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) are threatening coral reef ecosystems, with a bleak future forecast for reef-building corals, which are already experiencing global declines in abundance. In contrast, many coral reef sponge species are able to tolerate climate change conditions projected for 2100. To increase our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning this tolerance, we explored the lipid and fatty acid (FA) composition of four sponge species with differing sensitivities to climate change, experimentally exposed to OW and OA levels predicted for 2100, under two CO2 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)...
March 5, 2018: Global Change Biology
B Riegl, M Johnston, S Purkis, E Howells, J Burt, S C C Steiner, C R C Sheppard, A Bauman
As in the tropical Atlantic, Acropora populations in the southern Persian/Arabian Gulf plummeted within two decades after having been ecosystem engineers on most wave-exposed reefs since the Pleistocene. Since 1996/8 live coral cover in the Gulf declined by over 90% in many areas, primarily due to bleaching and diseases caused by rising temperatures. In the formerly dominant table-coral species A. downingi, population dynamics corresponding to disturbance regimes was quantified in three transition matrices (lower disturbance pre-1996; moderate disturbance from 1998-2010 and 2013-17, disturbed in 1996/8, 2010/11/12, 2017)...
March 5, 2018: Global Change Biology
Daniel L Harris, Alessio Rovere, Elisa Casella, Hannah Power, Remy Canavesio, Antoine Collin, Andrew Pomeroy, Jody M Webster, Valeriano Parravicini
Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems that support millions of people worldwide by providing coastal protection from waves. Climate change and human impacts are leading to degraded coral reefs and to rising sea levels, posing concerns for the protection of tropical coastal regions in the near future. We use a wave dissipation model calibrated with empirical wave data to calculate the future increase of back-reef wave height. We show that, in the near future, the structural complexity of coral reefs is more important than sea-level rise in determining the coastal protection provided by coral reefs from average waves...
February 2018: Science Advances
Mark I McCormick, Bridie J M Allan, Harry Harding, Stephen D Simpson
Human noise pollution has increased markedly since the start of industrialization and there is international concern about how this may impact wildlife. Here we determined whether real motorboat noise affected the behavior, space use and escape response of a juvenile damselfish (Pomacentrus wardi) in the wild, and explored whether fish respond effectively to chemical and visual threats in the presence of two common types of motorboat noise. Noise from 30 hp 2-stroke outboard motors reduced boldness and activity of fish on habitat patches compared to ambient reef-sound controls...
March 1, 2018: Scientific Reports
Clémence Mahana Iti Gatti, Davide Lonati, Hélène Taiana Darius, Arturo Zancan, Mélanie Roué, Azzurra Schicchi, Carlo Alessandro Locatelli, Mireille Chinain
Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is the most prevalent non-bacterial food-borne form of poisoning in French Polynesia, which results from the consumption of coral reef fish naturally contaminated with ciguatoxins produced by dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus . Since the early 2000s, this French territory has also witnessed the emergence of atypical forms of ciguatera, known as ciguatera shellfish poisoning (CSP), associated with the consumption of marine invertebrates. In June 2014, nine tourists simultaneously developed a major and persistent poisoning syndrome following the consumption of the gastropod Tectus niloticus collected in Anaho, a secluded bay of Nuku Hiva Island (Marquesas Archipelago, French Polynesia)...
February 28, 2018: Toxins
Kay Critchell, Mia O Hoogenboom
The effect of a pollutant on the base of the food web can have knock-on effects for trophic structure and ecosystem functioning. In this study we assess the effect of microplastic exposure on juveniles of a planktivorous fish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus), a species that is widespread and abundant on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Under five different plastic concentration treatments, with plastics the same size as the natural food particles (mean 2mm diameter), there was no significant effect of plastic exposure on fish growth, body condition or behaviour...
2018: PloS One
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