Navigation Links
Rising ocean temperatures harm protected coral reefs
Date:3/15/2012

Special conservation zones known as marine protected areas provide many direct benefits to fisheries and coral reefs.

However, such zones appear to offer limited help to corals in their battle against global warming, according to a new study.

To protect coral reefs from climate change, marine protected areas need to be complemented with policies that can meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said.

The new study, published online recently in the journal Global Change Biology, was conducted by scientists from Conservation International, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To determine whether coral deaths caused by ocean warming were lower inside marine protected areas, researchers combined more than 8,000 coral reef surveys performed by divers with satellite measurements of ocean surface temperatures.

"Although marine protected areas could help coral populations recover from temperature-induced mortality in particular situations, this does not appear to be an effective general solution," said study author John Bruno, Ph.D., associate professor of biology in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.

Elizabeth Selig, Ph.D., conservation scientist with Conservation International and the study's lead author, said corals living in marine protected areas can be just as susceptible to ocean warming as their unprotected neighbors.

"Marine protected areas (MPAs) can protect coral reefs from localized problems, particularly overfishing and terrestrial run-off," said Selig, who led the study as part of her dissertation in Bruno's lab at UNC. "However, the magnitude of losses from increased ocean temperatures as a result of climate change seems to be overwhelming these positive effects. This paper suggests that we need to rethink our current planning for MPAs in order to maximize the benefits they can provide."

Globally, corals reefs are being degraded by a number of factors including overfishing, sedimentation and rising ocean temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions, Selig said.

A rise of just 1 degree to 2 degrees Fahrenheit (about 0.5 degrees to 1 degree Centigrade) above normal summertime highs can kill coral polyps, which build reefs.

Given the difficulty of slowing or reversing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, coral reef scientists, managers and conservationists had pinned their hopes on a different, more localized strategy: saving corals by restricting fishing in marine protected areas. The reasoning is that fishing depletes herbivorous fishes, which can lead to more seaweed on the seafloor; that can harm baby corals, so restricting the taking of fish that trim back seaweed should help coral populations recover.

Previous research has shown that under optimal conditions, reefs in marine protected areas saw increases in coral cover of 1 percent or 2 percent per year.

But those gains might not be enough to mitigate the impact of thermal stress events. For example, the new study found that when water temperatures were more than 1 degree Centigrade above summertime averages for eight weeks (recognized as the threshold that generally results in widespread bleaching and significant coral death), it correlated with coral cover loss of 3.9 percent annually.

"Reducing overfishing, although clearly a very good thing, will not meaningfully limit the damage being done to the world's coral reefs by greenhouse gas emissions," Bruno added.

Richard B. Aronson, Ph.D., professor and head of the biological sciences department at the Florida Institute of Technology, said the study clearly showed that marine protected areas cannot by themselves save coral reefs.

"We have to reverse climate change by stopping runaway greenhouse gas emissions," said Aronson, who did not participate in the study. "That is a lot harder than protecting a reef against local problems like fishing pressure, because it requires international cooperation. But it can be done and it must be done if we are going to save the coral reefs and the rest of the planet."


'/>"/>

Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Surprising pine beetle breeding habits help explain increasing tree damage, says CU study
2. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
3. Florida State chemist to receive prestigious award for rising faculty stars
4. College students, fish show surprising similarities in numerical approximation
5. Powerful drugs surprising, simple method could lead to better treatments
6. Boron nanoribbons reveal surprising thermal properties in bundles
7. Springs rising soil temperatures see hormones wake seeds from their winter slumber
8. Rising air pollution worsens drought, flooding, UMD-led study shows
9. Pitt biologists find surprising number of unknown viruses in sewage
10. Rising CO2 levels at end of Ice Age not tied to Pacific Ocean
11. Cancer proteins surprising role as memory regulator
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... , March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, ... LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce ... used in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes ... originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be ... of the DNA. Bill Bollander , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... , ... May 03, 2016 , ... According to world ... for definitive prostate cancer treatment, patients traditionally had two main treatment options: surgery or ... would be made. , New technology has enabled doctors to administer higher doses ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... , May 2, 2016 ... that its technology partner Mannin Research Inc. will be ... (ARVO), which takes place from May 1-5, 2016 in ... will be meeting with its vendors and research partners. ... business development goals and other collaborative opportunities for the ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... 02, 2016 , ... StarNet Communications Corp, ( http://www.starnet.com/ ) a leading publisher ... Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules ... the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. , Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 30, 2016 , ... The MIT bioLogic design team has won multiple ... how bacterial properties can be applied to fabric and formed into living interfaces between ... response to humidity change. The team harvested Natto cells and applied them to fabric ...
Breaking Biology Technology: