Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New insights into helping marine species cope with climate change

22.02.2010
Move, adapt or die. Those are the options marine plants and animals have in the face of climate change, said Stanford biologist Steve Palumbi, who has been exploring how to help them go with the first two options, rather than the third. He's come up with some surprising answers.

Palumbi will be discussing the results of his research in two talks at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

How to design marine protected areas to best benefit a wide variety of plant and animal species is the focus of a talk he'll give on Saturday, Feb. 20. The most practical kind of natural reserve is one that benefits species and local human populations, but Palumbi said striking that balance isn't always easy. Many people have argued that bigger is better when it comes to marine reserves, but Palumbi has data suggesting that is not always the case.

In a separate Topical Lecture he'll give on Sunday, Feb. 21, Palumbi will present his findings on how marine species are reacting to climate change, including new work on coral species in the Pacific that have poor powers of dispersal but a surprising ability to cope with higher temperatures.

Palumbi is director of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station and a senior fellow at the university's Woods Institute for the Environment.

If you can't move, then you'd better adjust

Many species, such as those along the west coast of California, can simply migrate north to colder waters. But other animals, such as the coral that Palumbi's team has studied in Fiji and American Samoa, won't be moving anytime soon.

"Each coral population is trapped on its own island, and as global climate changes around them, the populations are essentially stuck where they are. They have to go to the second stage, which is to adapt," Palumbi said.

Marine scientists have predicted that coral reefs will be at risk of extinction due to high ocean temperatures caused by climate change, but Palumbi has found a species of coral that may have a better chance of adapting.

Palumbi's team studied corals growing in shallow lagoons that face intense heat during noontime summer low tides. The team knew these corals were resistant to brief heating but were surprised to find that the corals survived five to six days of high water temperatures. Baking in the tropical summer sun at low tide for 4 to 6 hours a day seems to have better prepared these corals for global warming temperatures.

"When we tested these corals against high temperatures for extended periods of time, they showed all the evidence of having higher resilience," Palumbi said. "It looks like the corals have adapted or acclimated to that stress and have a better chance of resisting high global warming temperatures." How long this resilience will last, and whether all corals can do this, are remaining questions.

Does size matter for marine reserves?

A major response to climate change is to protect reefs from other human-caused stresses such as overfishing. And as a result, a large number of Marine Protected Areas have been implemented in the Pacific. Some are the size of a football field. Some are the size of California. Is bigger better?

To determine how much difference the size of a protected area might make, Palumbi analyzed data from a set of small reserves in Fiji, from the Phoenix Islands and from the Papahanaumokuakea Reserve in Hawaii, the largest marine reserve in the world. All three areas are set aside by government agencies.

The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument covers 360,000 square kilometers (139,000 square miles) in Northwest Hawaii and is a "no-take" reserve, which means nothing may be removed, including fish.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which lies in the central Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Fiji, is over 408,000 square kilometers (158,000 square miles). There are seven no-take reserves in this area, each about 39 kilometers (24 miles) across.

However, in densely populated areas, smaller reserves are more common. Fiji has 246 such protected areas, each averaging about 2 to 3 square kilometers (about a square mile).

"Small sets of marine protected areas are much more convenient: People can fish in between them or go around them easily. Species found within the marine protected areas easily spill out into the surrounding areas, potentially increasing fishing productivity," Palumbi said.

However, wide stretches of protected ocean allow species to spread more easily than small areas, where they risk being caught by fishermen between the reserves. Therefore, small reserves must be well matched to the plants and animals they are protecting because each species spreads at different rates, Palumbi said.

"Species have lots of different dispersal abilities, so it's very hard to have a marine protected area network that works equally well for all different species. You have to tailor the network of reserves to the species," he said.

Though small reserves meet the needs of fewer species than those of larger reserves, setting aside enormous areas of ocean is not that simple. Scientists and policymakers must consider local residents who depend on fisheries for their well-being.

"With heavy human populations, the political, social and economic problems of a big marine protected area are paramount and you've got to go to another strategy. But it's a strategy with limitations because it's hard to design an area perfectly for all species that need protection," Palumbi said. The most effective reserve is one that balances preservation of species with human needs, he said. Finding that balance is the challenge.

Louis Bergeron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

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: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation

12.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>