Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Starfish Strike at Coral Kingdom

17.01.2008
Outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish now threaten the “coral triangle” – the richest center of coral reef biodiversity on Earth.

That’s the finding of recent scientific surveys by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society based at the Bronx Zoo, USA.

The starfish – a predator that feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue – was discovered in large numbers by the researchers on reefs in Halmahera, Indonesia, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which lies between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Palau and the Solomon Islands.

The Coral Triangle is considered the genetic fountainhead for many corals found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo and other reefs in the region.

The surveys confirmed that while Halmahera’s reefs are still 30-50 percent richer than nearby reefs, some areas were almost completely destroyed.

“The heart of the Coral Triangle is broken,” says Tasrif Katawijaya from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s’ Marine Program in Indonesia (WCS-IP).

Scientists fear the outbreak is caused by poor water quality, and could be an early warning of widespread reef decline.

“The main cause of damage to the corals was the Crown of Thorns Starfish,” Dr. Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. “We witnessed a number of active outbreaks of this coral predator. There was little to suggest that the reefs have been much affected by climate change as yet: the threats appear far more localized.”

The team also saw first-hand evidence of recent blast-fishing which, according to locals, accompanied the break down of law and order following communal violence in Halmahera between 2000-2003. At the same time many reef lagoons have been mined of their corals for use in construction.

“This is clearly a complex human environment, and effective management of the marine resources must seek to understand and address the causes of conflict among communities,” says Dr Stuart Campbell, Program Leader for the WCS-IP.

The researchers pointed out that there were still healthy populations of certain species – and still time to reverse the damage.

“The good news is that the reef fish assemblages are still in very good shape” said Tasrif Katawijaya from WCS-IP. “We saw napoleon wrasse and bump head parrot fish at almost every site. So these reefs have the capacity to recover if we can address the current threats.”

The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) announced by six regional governments at the Bali Climate Change Conference recently offers hope for the reefs in the region, the researchers say. However, there are few details of how it will work and in particular, there is, as yet, no mention of the fundamental role of research in the conservation programme.

“We are disappointed that a comprehensive research programme is yet to be outlined in the CTI. The success of large marine parks, like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, is due to the primary role of science in understanding what’s going on, so managers can make good decisions,” said Baird.

“It isn’t enough just to document the diversity of the region. Large scale research is required to understand the Coral Triangle ecosystems and to decide how best to respond to threats such as poor water quality and overexploitation,” Campbell added.

More information:
Dr Andrew Baird, CoECRS and James Cook University, Tel +61-(0)400 289 770; andrew.baird@jcu.edu.au
Jenny Lappin, CoECRS, + 61-(0)7 4781 4222
Jim O’Brien, James Cook University Media Office, 61-(0)7 4781 4822
Stephen Sautner, Wildlife Conservation Society press office: 1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org
Dr Stuart J. Campbell, Marine Programs, Wildlife Conservation Society, Indonesia Program, Bogor, Java, 16151, Indonesia.
Office Tel + 62 251 321 527, hp + 62 812 1102952
email: scampbell@wcs.org

Andrew Baird | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.coralcoe.org.au/
http://www.jcu.edu.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>