Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Coral Reef Winners and Losers


A study from UCSB’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis evaluates reef corals' ability to persist over various time scales

Contrary to the popular research-based assumption that the world’s coral reefs are doomed, a new longitudinal study from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) paints a brighter picture of how corals may fare in the future.

An NCEAS working group reports that there will be winners and losers among coral species facing increasing natural and human-caused stressors. However, its experts demonstrate that a subset of the present coral fauna will likely populate the world’s oceans as water temperatures continue to rise. The findings were published today in PLOS ONE.

Drawn from universities in California (including UCSB), Hawaii and New Hampshire, the 20 scientists in the working group — Tropical Coral Reefs of the Future: Modeling Ecological Outcomes from the Analyses of Current and Historical Trends — sought to understand the future changes in coral reefs motivated by the threat of increasing ocean temperatures.

“This NCEAS working group brought together coral reef experts with diverse perspectives from ecology and paleoecology,” said Frank Davis, the director of NCEAS. “The ongoing collaborations have been creative and productive.”

To simulate future outcomes, the researchers analyzed contemporary and fossil coral reef ecosystem data sets from two Caribbean locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Belize, and from five Indo-Pacific locations in Moorea, Taiwan, Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Kenya. Based on this cumulative knowledge, the team built a trait-based dynamic model to explore ecological performance in a warmer future.

“Although many corals are becoming less abundant, there remain a number of species that are holding their own or increasing in abundance and these corals will populate tropical reefs over the next few centuries,” said principal investigator and lead author Peter Edmunds, a biology professor at California State University, Northridge.

The study uses current case studies to describe the events taking place on extant reefs; it also uses fossil records to explain the temporal novelty of the changes affecting the community ecology on these reefs. The investigators’ mathematical model provides insight into the future ecological fate of coral reefs under increased thermal stress.

The working group’s analysis shows that the winning subset coral species is fast-growing, phenotypically smaller and wider, and more stress-resistant and that it readily produces offspring. Sensitivity analyses also demonstrate that thermal tolerance, growth rate and longevity are predictors of coral persistence when under thermal stress. While this subset of species still supports diversity, a lot is still unknown about its functionality.

“This work is important as it reveals a range of nuanced outcomes for tropical reef corals other than near-complete loss of live coral cover in the face of the current onslaught of environmental assaults,” Edmunds said. “While it is unlikely future tropical reefs will provide the same ecological goods and services as the coral reefs of the past, our study provides optimism that some reef corals will persist in a warmer and more acidic future.”

This coral reef near St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands features Porites astreoides, a species of coral that is expected to do well as ocean temperatures rise.

Photo Credit: Peter Edmunds

Contact Info: 

Julie Cohen
(805) 893-7220

Julie Cohen | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: NCEAS coral reefs coral species ecology species temperatures thermal stress tropical

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>