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 Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>