Navigation Links
Starfish outbreak threatens corals
Date:1/14/2008

NEW YORK (January 14, 2008) Outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish now threaten the coral triangle, the richest center of coral reef biodiversity on Earth, according to recent surveys by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The starfish a predator that feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue were discovered in large numbers by the researchers in reefs in Halmahera, Indonesia, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which lies between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It is considered the genetic fountainhead for coral diversity found on Australias Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo and other reefs in the region.

Scientists fear the outbreak is caused by poor water quality and could be an early warning of widespread reef decline.

Recent surveys of Halmahera by the Wildlife Conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies confirmed that while Halmaheras reefs are still 30-50 percent richer than nearby reefs, some areas were almost completely destroyed.

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, an extremely destructive fishing practice that uses explosives. According to locals this accompanied a break down of law and order following communal violence in 2000-2003. During the same time many reef lagoons were mined of their corals for use in construction, an activity encouraged by the Indonesian military.

This is clearly a complex human environment and effective management of the marine resources must address the needs of communities. It will also be vitally important to understand the causes of conflict among communities and address them, says Dr Stuart Campbell, Program Leader for the Wildlife Conservation Societys Marine Program in Indonesia.

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 Kartawijaya from WCS-IP. We saw Napoleon wrasse and bumphead 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 no mention of the fundamental role of research in the conservation program.

We are disappointed research is yet to be fully considered in the CTI. The success of large marine parks, like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, is largely due to the primary role of science plays in understanding whats going on, so managers can make good decisions, said Dr Baird.

It isnt enough just to document the diversity of the region. Large scale research is required to understand the Coral Triangle ecosystems and work out how best to respond to threats such as poor water quality and overexploitation, Dr Campbell added.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. NASA technology helps predict and prevent future pandemic outbreaks
2. Immediate action needed to save corals from climate change
3. Wildlife Conservation Society study finds seasonal seas save corals with tough love
4. New south Florida nursery to focus on staghorn corals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Starfish outbreak threatens corals
(Date:6/21/2016)... British Columbia , June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... appointed to the new role of principal product ... been named the director of customer development. Both ... NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s ... teams in response to high customer demand and ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global ... 2016 - 2024". According to the report, the  global ... billion in 2015 and is estimated to grow ... 48.56 billion by 2024.  Increasing application ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. ... a business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented ... branch project. This collaboration will result in greater ... the credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160606/375871LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, ... scene to track the criminal down. An outbreak ... and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used ... investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SANTA MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer ... to pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of ... 77 institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the ... future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: