Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mangroves Protecting Corals from Climate Change

09.10.2014

A New Refuge for Corals

Certain types of corals, invertebrates of the sea that have been on Earth for millions of years, appear to have found a way to survive some of their most destructive threats by attaching to and growing under mangrove roots.


Boulder brain corals, for example, were found in abundance under the mangroves and were healthy, while many of those in unshaded areas a short distance away were bleaching.

Photo Credit: Caroline Rogers, USGS

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Eckerd College recently published research on a newly discovered refuge for reef-building corals in mangrove habitats of the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 30 species of reef corals were found growing in Hurricane Hole, a mangrove habitat within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument in St. John.

Corals are animals that grow in colonies, forming reefs over time as old corals die and young corals grow upon the calcium carbonate or limestone skeletons of the old corals. Coral reefs make up some of the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth, and face many threats such as coastal pollution, dredging and disease. However, some of their most widespread threats involve warming ocean temperatures, solar radiation and increased ocean acidification.

It is from these threats that corals are finding refuge under the red mangroves of Hurricane Hole. Red mangroves, subtropical or tropical trees that colonize coastlines and brackish water habitats, have networks of prop roots that extend down toward the seafloor, and corals are growing on and under these roots.

How does it work?

Mangroves and their associated habitats and biological processes protect corals in a variety of ways.

  • The shade provided by mangroves protects the corals from high levels of solar radiation. This in turn, may reduce some of the stress caused by warming ocean waters.
  • A combination of chemical, biological and physical conditions around the mangrove habitats helps protect the corals by keeping acidity in the water below harmful levels. With oceans becoming more acidic due to the increased amount of carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere, ocean animals like corals are threatened by rising acidity levels, which can slow coral growth and impact reef structure.
  • The shade provided by the mangroves helps deter coral bleaching, a condition that essentially starves coral and can, in prolonged cases, result in their death. With climate change, coral bleaching episodes are becoming more frequent around the world.

Bleaching occurs when corals lose their symbiotic algae. Most corals contain algae called zooxanthellae within their cells. The coral protects the algae, and provides the algae with the compounds they need for photosynthesis. The algae, in turn, produce oxygen, help the coral to remove waste products, and, most importantly, provide the coral with compounds the coral needs for everyday survival. When corals are under prolonged physiological stress, they may expel the algae, leading to the condition called bleaching.

When examining corals for this study, researchers found evidence of some species thriving under the mangroves while bleaching in unshaded areas outside of the mangroves.  Boulder brain corals, for example, were found in abundance under the mangroves and were healthy, while many of those in unshaded areas a short distance away were bleaching.

Adapting to Climate Change?

Organisms throughout the world are threatened as climate and other conditions change. If they can find ways to adapt, as it appears these coral have, they can continue to survive as part of an invaluable piece of this world’s intricate ecological puzzle. It is not known how many other mangrove areas in the world harbor such a high diversity of corals, as most people do not look for corals growing in these areas. No coral reefs have been identified to date that protect from rising ocean temperatures, acidification and increased solar radiation like these mangrove habitats in St. John.

Christian Quintero | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/mangroves-protecting-corals-from-climate-change/?from=title

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A materials scientist’s dream come true

21.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>