Navigation Links
Scientists test Moreton Bay as coral 'lifeboat'
Date:7/26/2010

An international team of scientists has been exploring Moreton Bay, close to Brisbane, as a possible 'lifeboat' to save corals from the Great Barrier Reef at risk of extermination under climate change.

In a new research paper they say that corals have been able to survive and flourish in the Bay, which lies well to the south of the main GBR coral zones, during about half of the past 7000 years.

Corals only cover about 1 per cent of the Moreton Bay area currently, and have clearly been adversely affected by clearing of the surrounding catchments and human activities on land and sea, says lead author Matt Lybolt of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland.

"The demise of tropical coral reefs around the world is due mainly to overfishing, pollution and climate change. There is also plenty of historical evidence that coral reefs can move from one environment to another as the climate and other conditions change," Matt explains.

"In view of this, various places including Moreton Bay are being investigated as possible refuges in which coral systems can be preserved should they begin to die out in their natural settings. Indeed, some people have even talked of relocating and re-seeding corals in other locations that better suit their climatic needs."

The team's study of Moreton Bay reveals that it is not exactly ideal coral habitat, being cold in winter, lacking sufficient direct sunlight, subject to turbid freshwater inflows and more recently to a range of human impacts.

"Even before European settlers came on the scene the Bay underwent phases in which corals grew prolifically and phases in which they died away almost completely. We understand what causes corals to die back, but we are less clear about what causes them to recover," Matt says.

"Broadly, the corals seemed to do well at times when the climate, sea levels and other factors were most benign and stable and to decline when El Nino and other disturbances made themselves felt."

The Moreton Bay corals have been in an expansionary phase during the last 400 years, initially dominated by the branching Acropora corals but, since the Bay's catchment was cleared and settled, these have died back leaving mainly slow-growing types of coral.

"Under climate change we expect winters to be warmer and sea levels to rise and both of these factors will tend to favour the expansion of corals in Moreton Bay," Matt says.

"However this expansion of corals may not occur unless we make a major effort to improve water quality in the Bay, by not allowing effluent, polluted runoff or sediment to enter it, and also by regrowing mangrove forests and seagrass beds within the Bay. "

The team concludes that Moreton Bay's potential as a good 'lifeboat' for corals is limited by four major factors:

  • It is highly sensitive to what the 2 million residents of its catchment do that affects it
  • It presently has very few branching corals left
  • The area on which corals can grow is limited, both naturally and by human activity
  • Finally, the historical record suggests the Bay is only a good coral refuge about half of the time.

Matt says that there is nevertheless scope for changes in the management of the Bay and its surrounding catchments that can improve its suitability as a coral environment. "The reefs of today don't look anything like they did in the past, so it's really a question of 'What sort of coral reef do you want?'," he says.

However there needs to be a clearer scientific understanding of the drivers that have caused corals to boom and bust within the Bay over the past seven millennia before we can be sure it is worthwhile attempting to make Moreton Bay a 'lifeboat' for the GBR, he cautions.

Matt noted that there are very few suitable coral habitats south of the southern end of the GBR to which corals can migrate, should the northern parts of the reef become untenable for corals due to the impact of global warming.


'/>"/>

Contact: Matt Lybolt
61-073-365-9001
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists discover how deadly fungal microbes enter host cells
2. Getting young scientists into the science teacher pipeline
3. Rediscovery: MBL scientists confirm role for mysterious cell component, the nucleolinus
4. Top scientists tackle the issue of HIV persistence
5. Scientists discover clues to inflammatory disease
6. Scientists counter brucellosis threat to livestock and wildlife
7. UM scientists demonstrate role of RNA polymerase in gene transcription
8. Scientists identify new potential biocontrol for skunk vine
9. A*STAR scientists score hat-trick against cancer
10. Scientists use computer algorithms to develop seasonal flu vaccines
11. Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awards prestigious fellowships to 18 top young scientists
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, ... call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP ... are departing the United States , ... and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 16, 2016 The global ... to reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according ... Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial ... to drive the market growth.      ... The development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016 ... Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the safety ... France during the major tournament Teleste, ... communications systems and services, announced today that its video security ... to back up public safety across the country. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is ... treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 ... countries. Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics ... Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring ... designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis ... Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 ... single and multiple ascending dose studies designed to ... (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... (SC) either as a single dose (ranging from ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEW YORK , June 23, 2016 ... the trading session at 4,833.32, down 0.22%; the Dow Jones ... the S&P 500 closed at 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has ... INFI ), Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ... BIND Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: BIND ). Learn more ...
Breaking Biology Technology: