Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri Lloyd 50 Years

Shocks could be used to aid recovery of degraded coral reefs

by ARC Centre of Excellence on 25 Sep 2013
Coral dominated Arc Centre of excellence for coral reef studies
Shocks caused by climate and seasonal change could be used to aid recovery of some of the world’s badly-degraded coral reefs, an international team of scientists has proposed.

A new report by Australian and Swedish marine scientists in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment suggests that it may be possible to restore living coral cover to a badly-degraded reef system – though not easy.

coral dominatedWith 70 per cent or more of the world’s coral reefs now assessed as degraded, adopting a business-as-usual approach to how we use and manage reefs is no longer an option, says lead author of the report Nick Graham.

'We are unlikely to be able to keep many of the world’s reefs in a pristine state, but with good management we may be able to maintain them in a coral-dominated condition and in some cases we may be able to bring back reefs from a degraded state,' he explains.

The researchers have taken heart from examples on land in desertified landscapes; exceptional falls of rain, in combination with controls on grazing pressure, can result in widespread regrowth of natural vegetation.

They argue that coral reef managers may be able to take advantage of shocks like tropical storms, periods of cloudy weather or even strong seasonal effects on abundance to restore coral cover on degraded reefs.

'Normally we think of these shocks as damaging to coral reefs – but research suggests they are just as damaging to the organisms that can replace coral. In other words, they may act as a circuit-breaker that allows corals to regain control of a reef.'

The key to the new thinking is resilience: healthy corals reefs are naturally resilient to shocks – but damaged ones may become overgrown with sea weeds, and the corals vanish.

'Weed-dominated systems are pretty resilient too and, once established, it is very hard to restore the corals,' Dr Graham explains.Macroalgae dominated

'However a weed-dominated reef can be damaged by big storms too. Cloudy weather and seasonal changes in water temperature can also cause the weeds to die back.

'This dieback of weeds opens a window through which corals can re-establish.'

The key to bringing back corals is exactly the same as preventing coral cover being lost in the first place, Dr Graham says – reducing human impacts through regulation of fisheries and water quality. If reefs are prepared in this way, they may bounce back when a window for recovery opens.

Prof David Bellwood emphasized that 'When it comes to saving our coral reefs, prevention is always better than cure and early action is important to slow or reverse degradation.'

The researchers emphasize that both protection and recovery of the world’s coral reefs call for a fundamental change in how people interact with and use reef ecosystems.

'Until now, the focus has mainly been on conserving small parts of a reef in marine protected areas,' said Prof Bellwood, '- we’re talking about broader approaches to change the relationship between humans and coral reefs to reduce human impacts across the whole ecosystem.'

The paper concludes, 'Although the composition of coral reefs will likely continue to vary over time, it may be possible to maintain coral-dominated reefs and their associated ecosystem goods and services… Scientists and managers could take advantage of opportunities for change by harnessing shocks and natural variability as potential stimuli for beneficial shifts in ecosystem states.'

The paper 'Managing resilience to reverse phase shifts in coral reefs' by Nicholas AJ Graham, David R Bellwood, Joshua E Cinner, Terry P Hughes, Albert V Norström and Magnus Nyström appears in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

For more information visit ARC Centre of Excellence Website

Abell Point Marina Splash 660x82Make Fast MooringsBarz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Related Articles

Coast Guard helps dewater, escort troubled fishing vessel off Cape Cod
The Coast Guard is escorting an 83-foot fishing vessel Friday after it started taking on water 50 miles east of Chatham. The Coast Guard is escorting an 83-foot fishing vessel Friday after it started taking on water 50 miles east of Chatham. At about 11:30 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England watchstanders received a radio call from the crew of the Krystle James stating they had six people aboard and were taking on water, reportedly from a hole in the hull.
Posted on 25 Feb
Lakes Entrance to celebrate food, fishing and tourism
Lakes Entrance celebrate/showcase wonderful array of Victorian seafood caught by commercial and recreational fishers Lakes Entrance will celebrate and showcase the wonderful array of Victorian seafood caught by commercial and recreational fishers and the beautiful places it comes from at the “Hooked on Lakes Entrance” event on March 12.
Posted on 23 Feb
See it first at the Gold Coast International Boat Show & Marine Expo
Boating enthusiasts will find everything they need to have fun on the water all in one place Boating enthusiasts will find everything they need to have fun on the water all in one place when the first major Australian boat show for 2017 gets underway on Queensland’s Gold Coast in just three weeks.
Posted on 23 Feb
Summer compliance blitz - Fish in protected zone and you'll get caught
Dedicated on-water and aerial patrols over the Christmas break resulted in 48 incidents of illegal recreational fishing Dedicated on-water and aerial patrols over the Christmas break resulted in 48 incidents of illegal recreational fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with these breaches threatening the health and resilience of the Reef.
Posted on 22 Feb
Honda Marine Introduces a bold new concept engine at Miami Boat Show
Honda Marine, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Ltd breaks the mould for marine engines Honda Marine, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Ltd breaks the mould for marine engines at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show with a bold new concept engine that could power the future of boating. With inspiration from across Honda’s line-up – including automotive, marine and aeronautical – the design concept engine is a blue sky vision for what future marine engines could look like.
Posted on 17 Feb
More marina space and exciting firsts for GC Boat Show and Marine Expo
More marina space and exciting additions to an impressive Fleet of Firsts have set scene for a colossal marine showcase More marina space and even more exciting additions to an already impressive Fleet of Firsts have set the scene for a colossal marine showcase both on water and on land on Queensland’s Gold Coast from 17-19 March.
Posted on 17 Feb
New Simrad S5100 Sonar Module
Simrad® S5100 High-Performance CHIRP Sonar Module is first sonar module to offer three fully-independent sonar channels Announced today, the Simrad® S5100 High-Performance CHIRP Sonar Module is the first sonar module to offer three fully-independent sonar channels to deliver high-resolution sonar across multiple depth ranges, making it a perfect fit for offshore sportfishing anglers
Posted on 17 Feb
New shellfish reefs is born in the bay
Andrews Labor Government is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay through a project, aims to improve bay health The Andrews Labor Government is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay through a project that aims to improve bay health, juvenile fish habitat and water quality.
Posted on 12 Feb
Club Marine Perth Intl Boat Show, a major event for WA Marine Industry
The Boating Industry Association of WA is announcing a major new event for the WA marine industry. The Boating Industry Association of WA is announcing a major new event for the WA marine industry. The Club Marine Perth International Boat Show will be launched in 2017 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and Elizabeth Quay.
Posted on 11 Feb
Sportfishing products at the Miami Boat Show
The Taco Marine® booth at next week’s Progressive® Insurance Miami Intl Boat Show will feature several products The Taco Marine® booth (Tent C, booth 254) at next week’s Progressive® Insurance Miami International Boat Show will feature several innovative and unique products in the company’s sportfishing range.
Posted on 10 Feb