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Coral reef

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
Esther D Goldstein, Evan K D'Alessandro, Su Sponaugle
As humans expand into natural environments, populations of wild organisms may become relegated to marginal habitats at the boundaries of their distributions. In the ocean, mesophotic coral ecosystems (30-150 m) at the depth limit of photosynthetic reefs are hypothesized to act as refuges that are buffered from anthropogenic and natural disturbances, yet the viability and persistence of subpopulations in these peripheral habitats remains poorly understood. To assess the potential for mesophotic reefs to support robust coral reef fish populations, we compared population density and structure, growth, size, and reproductive output of the bicolor damselfish (Stegastes partitus) from shallow (<10 m), deep shelf (20-30 m), and mesophotic reefs (60-70 m) across the Florida Platform...
September 28, 2016: Scientific Reports
Nuntaporn Getlekha, Marcelo de Bello Cioffi, Cassia Fernanda Yano, Nuntiya Maneechot, Luiz Antonio Carlos Bertollo, Weerayuth Supiwong, Alongklod Tanomtong, Wagner Franco Molina
Species of the Abudefduf genus (sergeant-majors) are widely distributed in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, with large schools inhabiting rocky coastal regions and coral reefs. This genus consists of twenty recognized species are of generalist habit, showing typical characteristics of colonizers. Some populations maintain gene flow between large oceanic areas, a condition that may influence their cytogenetic features. A number of species have been shown to be invaders and able to hybridize with local species...
October 2016: Genetica
Emily L A Kelly, Yoan Eynaud, Samantha M Clements, Molly Gleason, Russell T Sparks, Ivor D Williams, Jennifer E Smith
Patterns of species resource use provide insight into the functional roles of species and thus their ecological significance within a community. The functional role of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs has been defined through a variety of methods, but from a grazing perspective, less is known about the species-specific preferences of herbivores on different groups of reef algae and the extent of dietary overlap across an herbivore community. Here, we quantified patterns of redundancy and complementarity in a highly diverse community of herbivores at a reef on Maui, Hawaii, USA...
December 2016: Oecologia
E F Mazzei, A A Bertoncini, H T Pinheiro, L F Machado, C C Vilar, H C Guabiroba, T J F Costa, L S Bueno, L N Santos, R B Francini-Filho, M Hostim-Silva, J-C Joyeux
The Abrolhos Bank is an area of high ecological, socio-economic importance and harbour the richest and most-extensive coral reefs in the South Atlantic. Here we report the discovery of shallow (12-25m depth) reef complex with ten large biogenic structures, intermediate between the typical mushroom-shaped pinnacles of the northern Abrolhos Bank (17°-18° S) and the small patch reefs found on the central/southern coast of the Espírito Santo State (19°-20° S). The newly discovered reefs harbour a relatively rich and abundant reef community, with 73 fish and 14 benthic cnidarian species, including endangered and commercially important ones...
September 15, 2016: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Atsushi Nanami
Parrotfishes (family Labridae: Scarini) are regarded to have important roles for maintaining the ecosystem balance in coral reefs due to their removal of organic matter and calcic substrates by grazing. The purpose of the present study was to clarify the interspecific differences in grazing ability of five parrotfish species (Chlorurus sordidus, C. bowersi, Scarus rivulatus, S. niger and S. forsteni) in relation to interspecific differences in jaw-lever mechanics and the relative weight of the adductor mandibulae (muscles operating jaw closing)...
2016: PeerJ
Darren J Parris, Rohan M Brooker, Michael A Morgan, Danielle L Dixson, Frank J Stewart
The Pomacentridae (damselfish) and Apogonidae (cardinalfish) are among the most common fish families on coral reefs and in the aquarium trade. Members of both families undergo a pelagic larvae phase prior to settlement on the reef, where adults play key roles in benthic habitat structuring and trophic interactions. Fish-associated microbial communities (microbiomes) significantly influence fish health and ecology, yet little is known of how microbiomes change with life stage. We quantified the taxonomic (16S rRNA gene) composition of whole gut microbiomes from ten species of damselfish and two species of cardinalfish from Lizard Island, Australia, focusing specifically on comparisons between pelagic larvae prior to settlement on the reef versus post-settlement juvenile and adult individuals...
2016: PeerJ
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