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 Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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

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

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>