Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Call to Heal the World's Coral Reefs

07.10.2010
There is still time to save the world’s ailing coral reefs, if prompt and decisive action can be taken to improve their overall health, leading marine researchers say.

Writing in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, eminent marine scientists from Australia and the USA have called for an international effort to improve the resilience of coral reefs, so they can withstand the impacts of climate change and other human activities.

“The world’s coral reefs are important economic, social and environmental assets, and they are in deep trouble. How much trouble, and why, are critical research questions that have obvious implications for formulating policy and improving the governance and management of these tropical maritime resources,” explains Jeremy Jackson from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The key to saving the reefs lies in understanding why some reefs degenerate into a mass of weeds and never recover – an event known as a ‘phase shift’ – while on other reefs the corals manage to bounce back successfully, showing a quality known as resilience.

This underlines the importance of managing reefs in ways that promote their resilience, the researchers say.

They presented evidence that coral decline due to human activity has been going on for centuries, but has been particularly alarming in the past 50 years. In all some 125,000 square kilometres of the world’s corals have disappeared so far.

The most recent global report card (2008) estimated that 19% of all reefs were effectively lost, another 15% were critical and likely to be lost in 10–20 years, and a further 20% are under threat from local human pressures (already experiencing 20–50% loss of corals). The remaining 46% of reefs were at low risk from direct human impacts, but were nevertheless vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification.

“We have a very good scientific understanding of what causes reefs to decline – what we now need is a clearer picture of how to help them back onto the reverse trajectory,” says lead author Professor Terry Hughes from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Taking an optimistic view, the researchers argue there is compelling evidence from sites in Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Philippines that the degradation and disappearance of corals can be arrested and reversed with the right management:

In Hawaii, where ending sewage discharges allowed corals in Kanehoe Bay to recover
In Australia, where weed-eating fish played a decisive role in keeping seaweed down while the corals fought back
In the Caribbean where recovering sea urchin populations are helping to keep down weed and allow corals to recover
In the Bahamas and Philippines, where controls on over fishing for parrot fish and other weed-eaters, also helped to restore coral cover.

“The coral reef crisis is a crisis of governance,” says co-author Peter Mumby from the University of Queensland.

The team has formulated the scientific lessons from resilient reefs into a set of management advice which governments can adopt to give coral reefs a fighting chance:

Empower and educate local people to look after their own reefs
Change land uses that cause damaging runoff and sediment
Control not only fishing, but also fish markets to protect herbivorous fish
Integrate resilience science with reef management and support for local communities in restoring their reefs
Improve laws that protect coral reefs globally
“Confront climate change as the single most important issue for coral reef management and conservation by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

On climate change they caution: “Without urgent action, unchecked global warming and ocean acidification promise to be the ultimate policy failures for coral reefs. Although it is possible to promote the recovery of reefs following bouts of bleaching via local actions such as improving water-quality and protecting herbivores, these interventions alone cannot climate-proof reefs.”

“The clear message from our research, and that of other marine scientists, is that the world’s coral reefs can still be saved… if we try harder,” Prof. Hughes says.

Their article “Rising to the challenge of sustaining coral reef resilience” by Terry P. Hughes, Nicholas A.J. Graham, Jeremy B.C. Jackson, Peter J. Mumby and Robert S. Steneck appears in the latest issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE).

The future of Australia’s and the world’s coral reefs is the focus of a major scientific symposium in Canberra on October 7 and 8, at the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome.

A public forum will be held at the National Museum of Australia tonight, October 7 from 6.30pm to 7.30 pm. Media are welcome at both events.

Program: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/events/symposium2010/program.html

More information:
Terry Hughes, CoECRS and JCU, +61 (0)400 720 164
Jeremy Jackson, Scripps Institution, +1 858 518 7613 or jbjackson@popmail.ucsd.edu
Nick Graham, CoECRS and JCU, 0466432188
Bob Steneck, University of Maine, steneck@maine.edu
Peter Mumby, The University of Queensland, p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au
Jenny Lappin, CoECRS, +61 (0)7 4781 4222 or +61 (0)417 741 638
Jim O’Brien, James Cook University Media Office, +61 (0)7 4781 4822 or 0418 892449
Jan King, UQ Communications Manager, +61 (0)7 3365 1120
Mandy Thoo, CoECRS media contact, 0402 544 391

Terry Hughes | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.coralcoe.org.au/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>