Climate engineering may save coral reefs, study shows

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Geoengineering of the climate may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching, according to new research.

Coral reefs are considered one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to future climate change due to rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, which is caused by higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Mass coral bleaching, which can lead to coral mortality, is predicted to occur far more frequently over the coming decades, due to the stress exerted by higher seawater temperatures.

Scientists believe that, even under the most ambitious future CO2 reduction scenarios, widespread and severe coral bleaching and degradation will occur by the middle of this century.

The collaborative new research, which includes authors from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Exeter, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of Queensland, suggest that a geoengineering technique called Solar Radiation Management (SRM) reduces the risk of global severe bleaching.

The SRM method involves injecting gas into the stratosphere, forming microscopic particles which reflect some of the sun’s energy and so help limit rising sea surface temperatures.

The study compared a hypothetical SRM geoengineering scenario to the most aggressive future CO2 reduction strategy considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and found that coral reefs fared much better under geoengineering despite increasing ocean acidification.

Read more: Climate engineering may save coral reefs, study shows

 

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Recipe for Saving Coral Reefs: Add More Fish

Tim McClanahan/WCS Redfin butterflyfish in their coral reef habitat. Fish are the key ingredients in a new recipe to diagnose and restore degraded coral reef ecosystems, according to scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the WCS, James Cook University, and other organizations in a new study in the journal Nature.

Tim McClanahan/WCS
Redfin butterflyfish in their coral reef habitat. Fish are the key ingredients in a new recipe to diagnose and restore degraded coral reef ecosystems, according to scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the WCS, James Cook University, and other organizations in a new study in the journal Nature.

Scientists seek to ensure survival of coral reefs outside of protected areas by calling for a minimum target of 500 kilograms of fish biomass per hectare

Fish are the key ingredients in a new recipe to diagnose and restore degraded coral reef ecosystems, according to scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, WCS, James Cook University, and other organizations in a new study in the journal Nature.

For overfished coral reef systems, restoring fish populations that perform key roles will in turn restore ecological functions critical to recovery. For moderately or lightly fished reefs, the recipe requires knowing which fish to catch, how many, and which to leave behind.

The authors assessed fish biomass and functional groups from more than 800 coral reefs worldwide and used them to estimate recovery periods for both lightly fished and overfished reefs. The scientists speculate that maintaining and restoring fish populations and the functions they provide can increase the resilience of reefs to large-scale threats such as climate change.

The coral reefs of the world are in crisis, endangered by a number of coastal threats such as overfishing, pollution, and coastal development as well as global threats such as climate change. According to the World Resources Institute, some 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are now threatened and more than 20 percent have disappeared since climate and fishing disturbances have accelerated in the past 30 years. At the same time, only 27 percent of the world’s coral reefs are contained within marine protected areas.

“By studying remote and marine protected areas, we were able to estimate how much fish there would be on coral reefs without fishing, as well as how long it should take newly protected areas to recover,” said M. Aaron MacNeil, Senior Research Scientist for the Australian Institute of Marine Science and lead author on the study. “This is important because we can now gauge the impact reef fisheries have had historically and make informed management decisions that include time frames for recovery.”

“The methods used to estimate reef health in this study are simple enough that most fishers and managers can take the weight and pulse of their reef and keep it in the healthy range,” said Tim McClanahan, WCS Senior Conservationist and a co-author on the study. “Fishers and managers now have the ability to map out a plan for recovery of reef health that will give them the best chance to adapt to climate change.”

Coral reef experts agree that fishing is a primary driver in the degradation of reef function, which in turn has generated growing interest in finding fisheries management solutions to support reef resilience. Removing too many herbivorous and predatory fish species deprives coral reefs of critical ecosystem functions and the capacity to respond effectively to other disturbances. Knowing the right amount to leave behind can help local fisheries set clear limits to how many fish can be taken without threatening the ecosystem they rely on.

In response to this need, the study authors have created the first empirical estimate of coral reef fisheries recovery potential using data from 832 coral reefs in 64 locations around the world. The analysis included marine reserves and fishing closures as a control for estimating healthy fish biomass along with numerous sites along a spectrum of fishing intensity, from heavily fished reefs in the Caribbean to locations with low fishing rates and high fish “biomass” such as the Easter Islands. Despite the breadth of the data, some simple and consistent numbers emerged from the study.

Some of the key metrics uncovered in the study:

• According to the analysis, a coral reef with no fishing averages 1,000 kilograms per hectare of fish biomass.
• The fish biomass threshold for a collapsed reef—overfished to the point of nearly total ecosystem failure—is 100 kilograms per hectare.

Read more: Recipe for Saving Coral Reefs: Add More Fish

 

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This Woman Is Building A Sperm Bank For Coral Reefs So We Can Revive Them Once They Die

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via macinivnw.deviantart.com

Why take a chance when one of the world’s most vital ecosystems is already disappearing?

As it stands, things don’t look good for the world’s coral. We’ve lost 40% of the world’s reefs already, and every forecast shows the situation getting worse. As well as traditional threats like overfishing and coastal development, corals now have to contend with climate change, which not only warms the water but also makes it more acidic.

That’s why Mary Hagedorn thinks we need to move beyond traditional conservation efforts to something more radical: artificial reproduction. Hagedorn, a marine scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, is building the world’s largest repository of coral sperm (and soon coral eggs and embryos) in hopes of one day reconstructing species from scratch and replacing what we’ve lost.

To some, that might seem like an ambitious and perhaps unnecessary undertaking. But Hagedorn, who’s based in Hawaii, argues that coral reefs play a special part in the ocean and require all the effort we can muster. For one, reefs are home to a quarter of all ocean creatures and help maintain biodiversity. They also provide people protection against coastal surges and boost marine tourism. The Great Barrier Reef alone is said to generate about $6 billion for Australia’s economy.

“If coral reefs fail around the world, we have no idea how that ripple effect will impact the rest of the oceans,” she says. “And healthy oceans are really important to our survival.”

Coral—a unique form of life that is part animal, part vegetable, and part mineral—is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually. The simplest way is to snap off a piece and regrow it, like you were taking a cutting from the garden. But it’s not the best way, Hagedorn says. When you clone a plant, you’re simply reproducing it as it is, not breeding it in some new genetic form that’s potentially better.

“You can get more coverage, but you can [run] into problems, especially if diseases break out. One disease can devastate all the work you’ve done,” she says. “Having things that are produced sexually is often better, because you can throw the genetic dice and possibly a new adaptation will come along.”

For example, some years ago, staghorn coral fused with elkhorn coral to produce a new species called Acropora prolifera, which is now prevalent in the Caribbean. That’s good, because the hybrid is more heat-tolerant and surge-resistant than either of the varieties would be on its own.

Read more: This Woman Is Building A Sperm Bank For Coral Reefs So We Can Revive Them Once They Die

 

The Latest on: Coral Reefs

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The Latest on: Coral Reefs
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    on November 19, 2019 at 11:04 am

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  • SCTLD poses serious threats to coral reef in the Caribbean
    on November 19, 2019 at 2:39 am

    In a little over a year, the Mexican Caribbean has lost more than 30 percent of its corals to a little-understood illness called SCTLD, or stony coral tissue loss disease, which causes them to calcify ...

  • Hawaii Researchers Investigate The How And Why Of Coral Reef Bleaching
    on November 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

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    on November 18, 2019 at 12:39 am

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    on November 14, 2019 at 3:16 pm

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    on November 14, 2019 at 8:41 am

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A glimmer of hope for corals as baby reef-builders cope with acidifying oceans

via www.noaa.gov

via www.noaa.gov

While the threat of coral bleaching as a result of climate change poses a serious risk to the future of coral reefs world wide, new research has found that some baby corals may be able to cope with the negative effects of ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification, which is a direct consequence of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, is expected to have a deleterious effect on many marine species over the next century.

An international team examining the impact of ocean acidification on coral has found that a key reef-building coral can, over a relatively short period of time, acclimate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

“Our aim was to explore the effect of a more acidic ocean on every gene in the coral genome,” says study lead author Dr Aurelie Moya, a molecular ecologist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

The researchers exposed baby corals from the Great Barrier Reef to acidified seawater for varying lengths of time and investigated how they responded at a molecular level.

“We found that, whereas 3 days of exposure to high CO2 disrupts formation of the coral skeleton, within nine days the baby corals had re-adjusted their gene expression to pre-exposure levels. Longer exposure seems to be less detrimental to coral health than we had assumed based on shorter-term studies,” Dr Aurelie Moya says.

“These findings suggest that baby corals have the capacity to acclimate to elevated carbon dioxide.”

“We saw that within a few days juvenile coral adapted to CO2levels double those experienced today with no obvious disruption to its life processes,” says study co-author, Professor David Miller, who leads the molecular biology group in the Coral CoE.

Professor Miller says the findings are particularly significant as they centred on staghorn coral.

“Staghorn corals are the key reef-building corals throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans. These are traditionally considered to have poor stress tolerance. So this work provides a glimmer of hope that coral reefs can attenuate the effects of ocean acidification.”

Read more: A glimmer of hope for corals as baby reef-builders cope with acidifying oceans

 

The Latest on: Coral reefs

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Coral reefs
  • The Fading Colors Of Coral
    on November 19, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Coral reefs have suffered heavy setbacks in recent years. Follow coral’s journey and learn how scientists are trying to bring back the reefs. A project aims to use the artificial sea of Biosphere 2 as ...

  • SCTLD poses serious threats to coral reef in the Caribbean
    on November 19, 2019 at 2:39 am

    In a little over a year, the Mexican Caribbean has lost more than 30 percent of its corals to a little-understood illness called SCTLD, or stony coral tissue loss disease, which causes them to calcify ...

  • Hawaii Researchers Investigate The How And Why Of Coral Reef Bleaching
    on November 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Record-breaking temperatures in Hawaii this past summer may lead to unprecedented coral bleaching. It's caused by changes in water temperature, light or nutrients, and it can kill coral. Scientists on ...

  • Heat accumulation on coral reefs mitigated by internal waves
    on November 18, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Coral reefs are among the most species-rich, productive and economically valuable ecosystems on Earth but increasingly frequent pantropical coral bleaching events are threatening their persistence on ...

  • Scientists are weighing radical steps to save coral
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:05 am

    This browser does not support the video element. The world’s coral reefs are in dire shape because of climate change. Severe bleaching in 2016 and 2017 killed off nearly 50 percent of the Great ...

  • IVF on Great Barrier Reef helps researchers buy time before further coral decline
    on November 18, 2019 at 12:39 am

    It's a sunny day on the pontoon floating above Moore Reef, off the coast of Cairns, and tourists are strapping on snorkels and zipping into wet suits, ready to experience one of the world's natural ...

  • Great Barrier Reef annual mass coral spawning begins
    on November 17, 2019 at 3:05 am

    A mass coral spawning has begun on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, with early indications the annual event could be among the biggest in recent years, local marine biologists said Sunday. Buffeted by ...

  • Coral reef restoration bill clears key Senate committee
    on November 15, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    A U.S. Senate committee has approved the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act, which provides federal funding for the restoration of troubled coral reefs across the nation, including Hawaii. The act, ...

  • Bill to restore and conserve Hawaii's coral reefs passes key Senate committee
    on November 14, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    A bipartisan measure to help restore Hawaii's coral reefs was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. "With the ...

  • An interdisciplinary approach to coral reef restoration
    on November 14, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Mars, researchers and the local community work together to maximize the ecological benefits of rebuilding coral reefs Coral reefs occupy only 0.1% of the Earth’s ocean floor yet support 25% of all ...

via  Bing News

 

Combating illegal fishing in offshore marine reserves

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Watch Where People Are Pulling Fish Out Of The Ocean Ilegally
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Conservation scientists say there needs to be a new approach to protecting offshore marine reserves.

Illegal fishing in marine reserves will be a major focus at the IUCN World Parks Congress, which has opened in Sydney.

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University, who are attending the conference, have found a way to predict illegal fishing activities to help authorities better protect marine reserves.

Marine reserves are the most common strategy used to protect and maintain marine ecosystems around the world.

The International Convention of Biological Diversity aims to have 10 per cent of the world’s marine areas protected by 2020.

Many countries are contributing to this target by protecting remote, offshore areas. For example, the United States recently created the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve, covering almost 1.27 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean.

But scientists are concerned that while a great deal of effort is being made to create reserves, many countries are simply not able to enforce the laws that are supposed to protect them.

The majority of fishers obey the law, but some don’t.

“The success of protected areas depends on whether people comply with the regulations,” says Professor Joshua Cinner from Coral CoE.

“Enforcement and compliance issues for large off-shore marine parks are fundamentally different to near-shore protected areas,” Professor Cinner says.

He explains that the biggest problems facing countries trying to enforce offshore marine reserves is their distance from land and the difficulty and cost of patrolling large tracts of ocean.

Read more . . .  

 

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