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Coral Reefs

W Y Licuanan, R Robles, M Dygico, A Songco, R van Woesik
There is an urgent need to quantify coral reef benchmarks that assess changes and recovery rates through time and serve as goals for management. Yet, few studies have identified benchmarks for hard coral cover and diversity in the center of marine diversity. In this study, we estimated coral cover and generic diversity benchmarks on the Tubbataha reefs, the largest and best-enforced no-take marine protected area in the Philippines. The shallow (2-6m) reef slopes of Tubbataha were monitored annually, from 2012 to 2015, using hierarchical sampling...
October 18, 2016: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Ben L Gilby, Andrew D Olds, Rod M Connolly, Tim Stevens, Christopher J Henderson, Paul S Maxwell, Ian R Tibbetts, David S Schoeman, David Rissik, Thomas A Schlacher
Management authorities seldom have the capacity to comprehensively address the full suite of anthropogenic stressors, particularly in the coastal zone where numerous threats can act simultaneously to impact reefs and other ecosystems. This situation requires tools to prioritise management interventions that result in optimum ecological outcomes under a set of constraints. Here we develop one such tool, introducing a Bayesian Belief Network to model the ecological condition of inshore coral reefs in Moreton Bay (Australia) under a range of management actions...
2016: PloS One
Ashlee Lillis, DelWayne Bohnenstiehl, Jason W Peters, David Eggleston
Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties...
2016: PeerJ
Pedro H C Pereira, Marcus Santos, Daniel L Lippi, Pedro Silva
Parrotfish are fundamental species in controlling algal phase-shifts and ensuring the resilience of coral reefs. Nevertheless, little is known on their ecological role in the south-western Atlantic Ocean. The present study analysed the ontogenetic foraging activity and feeding selectivity of the Brazilian endemic parrotfish Scarus zelindae using behavioural observation and benthic composition analyses. We found a significant negative relationship between fish size and feeding rates for S. zelindae individuals...
2016: PeerJ
Richard L Pyle, Raymond Boland, Holly Bolick, Brian W Bowen, Christina J Bradley, Corinne Kane, Randall K Kosaki, Ross Langston, Ken Longenecker, Anthony Montgomery, Frank A Parrish, Brian N Popp, John Rooney, Celia M Smith, Daniel Wagner, Heather L Spalding
Although the existence of coral-reef habitats at depths to 165 m in tropical regions has been known for decades, the richness, diversity, and ecological importance of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) has only recently become widely acknowledged. During an interdisciplinary effort spanning more than two decades, we characterized the most expansive MCEs ever recorded, with vast macroalgal communities and areas of 100% coral cover between depths of 50-90 m extending for tens of km(2) in the Hawaiian Archipelago...
2016: PeerJ
Mei Fang Lin, Wen Hwa Chou, Marcelo V Kitahara, Chao Lun Allen Chen, David John Miller, Sylvain Forêt
Calcification is one of the most distinctive traits of scleractinian corals. Their hard skeletons form the substratum of reef ecosystems and confer on corals their remarkable diversity of shapes. Corallimorpharians are non-calcifying, close relatives of scleractinian corals, and the evolutionary relationship between these two groups is key to understanding the evolution of calcification in the coral lineage. One pivotal question is whether scleractinians are a monophyletic group, paraphyly being an alternative possibility if corallimorpharians are corals that have lost their ability to calcify, as is implied by the "naked-coral" hypothesis...
2016: PeerJ
Laura Casas, Fran Saborido-Rey, Taewoo Ryu, Craig Michell, Timothy Ravasi, Xabier Irigoien
Sequential hermaphroditism is a unique reproductive strategy among teleosts that is displayed mainly in fish species living in the coral reef environment. The reproductive biology of hermaphrodites has long been intriguing; however, very little is known about the molecular pathways underlying their sex change. Here, we provide the first de novo transcriptome analyses of a hermaphrodite teleost´s undergoing sex change in its natural environment. Our study has examined relative gene expression across multiple groups-rather than just two contrasting conditions- and has allowed us to explore the differential expression patterns throughout the whole process...
October 17, 2016: Scientific Reports
Elisha E Simpson, N Justin Marshall, Karen L Cheney
Visual illusions occur when information from images are perceived differently from the actual physical properties of the stimulus in terms of brightness, size, colour and/or motion. Illusions are therefore important tools for sensory perception research and from an ecological perspective, relevant for visually guided animals viewing signals in heterogeneous environments. Here, we tested whether fish perceived a lightness cube illusion in which identical coloured targets appear (for humans) to return different spectral outputs depending on the apparent amount of illumination they are perceived to be under...
October 17, 2016: Scientific Reports
Jordan M Casey, Andrew H Baird, Simon J Brandl, Mia O Hoogenboom, Justin R Rizzari, Ashley J Frisch, Christopher E Mirbach, Sean R Connolly
Removal of predators is often hypothesized to alter community structure through trophic cascades. However, despite recent advances in our understanding of trophic cascades, evidence is often circumstantial on coral reefs because fishing pressure frequently co-varies with other anthropogenic effects, such as fishing for herbivorous fishes and changes in water quality due to pollution. Australia's outer Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has experienced fishing-induced declines of apex predators and mesopredators, but pollution and targeting of herbivorous fishes are minimal...
October 15, 2016: Oecologia
Donald T Warren, Jennifer M Donelson, Mark I McCormick, Maud C O Ferrari, Philip L Munday
Climate change will affect key ecological processes that structure natural communities, but the outcome of interactions between individuals and species will depend on their thermal plasticity. We tested how short- and long-term exposure to projected future temperatures affects intraspecific and interspecific competitive interactions in two species of coral reef damselfishes. In conspecific contests, juvenile Ambon damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, exhibited no change in aggressive interactions after 4d exposure to higher temperatures...
2016: PloS One
Jordan M West, Catherine A Courtney, Anna T Hamilton, Britt A Parker, Susan H Julius, Jennie Hoffman, Karen H Koltes, Petra MacGowan
The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses...
October 12, 2016: Environmental Management
Chris Roelfsema, Ruth Thurstan, Maria Beger, Christine Dudgeon, Jennifer Loder, Eva Kovacs, Michele Gallo, Jason Flower, K-le Gomez Cabrera, Juan Ortiz, Alexandra Lea, Diana Kleine
Subtropical reefs provide an important habitat for flora and fauna, and proper monitoring is required for conservation. Monitoring these exposed and submerged reefs is challenging and available resources are limited. Citizen science is increasing in momentum, as an applied research tool and in the variety of monitoring approaches adopted. This paper aims to demonstrate an ecological assessment and mapping approach that incorporates both top-down (volunteer marine scientists) and bottom-up (divers/community) engagement aspects of citizen science, applied at a subtropical reef at Point Lookout, Southeast Queensland, Australia...
2016: PloS One
Margaret W Miller, Katryna Kerr, Dana E Williams
Since the listing of Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006, increasing investments have been made in propagation of listed corals (primarily A. cervicornis, A. palmata to a much lesser extent) in offshore coral nurseries and outplanting cultured fragments to reef habitats. This investment is superimposed over a spatiotemporal patchwork of ongoing disturbances (especially storms, thermal bleaching, and disease) as well as the potential for natural population recovery...
2016: PeerJ
Taha Soliman, Okuto Takama, Iria Fernandez-Silva, James D Reimer
The greenfish sea cucumber Stichopus chloronotus is an economically and ecologically important sea cucumber species throughout its range. This species is widely distributed, inhabiting coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Our study evaluated population genetic structure and levels of genetic diversity in southern Japan. A total of 180 individuals were collected from eight locations from Okinawa and Okinoerabu Islands and sequenced using mitochondrial 16S ribosomal DNA (16S) and nuclear histone H3 (H3) gene...
2016: PeerJ
C M Champ, M Vorobyev, N J Marshall
Coral reef fishes are among the most colourful animals in the world. Given the diversity of lifestyles and habitats on the reef, it is probable that in many instances coloration is a compromise between crypsis and communication. However, human observation of this coloration is biased by our primate visual system. Most animals have visual systems that are 'tuned' differently to humans; optimized for different parts of the visible spectrum. To understand reef fish colours, we need to reconstruct the appearance of colourful patterns and backgrounds as they are seen through the eyes of fish...
September 2016: Royal Society Open Science
Hollie M Putnam, Jennifer M Davidson, Ruth D Gates
As climate change challenges organismal fitness by creating a phenotype-environment mismatch, phenotypic plasticity generated by epigenetic mechanisms (e.g., DNA methylation) can provide a temporal buffer for genetic adaptation. Epigenetic mechanisms may be crucial for sessile benthic marine organisms, such as reef-building corals, where ocean acidification (OA) and warming reflect in strong negative responses. We tested the potential for scleractinian corals to exhibit phenotypic plasticity associated with a change in DNA methylation in response to OA...
October 2016: Evolutionary Applications
Jennifer M Donelson, Marian Wong, David J Booth, Philip L Munday
Predicting the impacts of climate change to biological systems requires an understanding of the ability for species to acclimate to the projected environmental change through phenotypic plasticity. Determining the effects of higher temperatures on individual performance is made more complex by the potential for environmental conditions experienced in previous and current generations to independently affect phenotypic responses to high temperatures. We used a model coral reef fish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to investigate the influence of thermal conditions experienced by two generations on reproductive output and the quality of offspring produced by adults...
October 2016: Evolutionary Applications
C Pisapia, D Burn, R Yoosuf, A Najeeb, K D Anderson, M S Pratchett
Increasing frequency and severity of disturbances is causing global degradation of coral reef ecosystems. This study examined temporal changes in live coral cover and coral composition in the central Maldives from 1997 to 2016, encompassing two bleaching events, a tsunami, and an outbreak of Acanthaster planci. We also examined the contemporary size structure for five dominant coral taxa (tabular Acropora, Acropora muricata, Acropora humilis, Pocillopora spp, and massive Porites). Total coral cover increased throughout the study period, with marked increases following the 1998 mass-bleaching...
October 3, 2016: Scientific Reports
Scott A Wooldridge, Scott F Heron, Jon E Brodie, Terence J Done, Itsara Masiri, Saskia Hinrichs
A spatial risk assessment model is developed for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR, Australia) that helps identify reef locations at higher or lower risk of coral bleaching in summer heat-wave conditions. The model confirms the considerable benefit of discriminating nutrient-enriched areas that contain corals with enlarged (suboptimal) symbiont densities for the purpose of identifying bleaching-sensitive reef locations. The benefit of the new system-level understanding is showcased in terms of: (i) improving early-warning forecasts of summer bleaching risk, (ii) explaining historical bleaching patterns, (iii) testing the bleaching-resistant quality of the current marine protected area (MPA) network (iv) identifying routinely monitored coral health attributes, such as the tissue energy reserves and skeletal growth characteristics (viz...
September 28, 2016: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Gerard F Ricardo, Ross J Jones, Peta L Clode, Andrew P Negri
Suspended sediments produced from dredging activities, or added to the sediment budget via river runoff, are a concern for marine resource managers. Understanding the impact of suspended sediments on critical life history stages of keystone species like corals is fundamental to effective management of coastlines and reefs. Coral embryos (Acropora tenuis and A. millepora) and larvae (A. tenuis, A. millepora and Pocillopora acuta) were subjected to a range of suspended sediment concentrations of different sediment types (siliciclastic and carbonate) to assess concentration-response relationships on ecologically relevant endpoints, including survivorship and ability to metamorphose...
2016: PloS One
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