Coral Reefs of the Gulf: Adaptation to Climatic Extremes: 3 (Coral Reefs of the World)

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These results demonstrate that coral reproduction patterns within the region are highly seasonal and that multi-species spawning synchrony is highly probable.

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Moreover, Acropora downingi, Cyphastrea microphthalma and Platygyra daedalea were all hermaphroditic broadcast spawners with a single annual gametogenic cycle of between 7 and 9 months. Fecundity and mature oocyte sizes for all species were comparable to those in other regions.

Collectively these results demonstrate that the reproductive biology of corals in the southern Persian Gulf is similar to other regions, indicating that these species have adapted to the extreme environmental conditions in the southern Persian Gulf. Coral settlement, a key ecological process in the maintenance, recovery and resilience of coral reef ecosystems, is also highly susceptible to increasing climate change.

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Elevated temperatures can affect coral larvae during early stages of development reducing rates of settlement, which in turn can have profound affects on overall reef dynamics. Chapter 4 investigated spatial and temporal patterns of coral settlement at six sites over two years using coral settlement tiles. Results from this thesis showed there is clear evidence of ongoing coral settlement in the southern Gulf, despite very high temperatures and high frequency disturbance events i.

Coral Reefs of the Gulf : Bernhard M. Riegl :

Importantly, data from this thesis indicates that the observed long-term shifts in community structure of adult corals are likely being reinforced at the level of settlement, such that there is limited scope for recovery of former Acropora-dominated coral assemblages in the Gulf. Fluctuations in a range of environmental variables i. Chapter 5 tested for consistent differences in the size-structure of four different coral populations along established gradients of increasingly severe environmental conditions from the southern Persian Gulf Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the eastern Persian Gulf western Musandam.

Significant and consistent differences were observed in mean colony sizes and size distributions for all four coral species between locations.

All corals in the southern Gulf, where sea surface temperatures, salinity, and the recent frequency of mass bleaching are all significantly higher, were smaller, and their size structure positively skewed. Differences in size structure between locations were more pronounced than differences between species at each location, suggesting that extreme differences in environmental conditions.

Importantly, results suggest that even within regions, such as the Persian Gulf, where corals are considered particularly tolerant of environmental extremes, increased frequency of bleaching events will lead to persistent declines in the size of coral colonies. Overall, the fate of different corals will depend on the recurrence of major disturbance events relative to their capacity for recovery, which in turn depends on their capacity for individual and population growth.

This research shows at least some species of scleractinian corals can survive prolonged exposure to temperatures well above those e. These results have far reaching implications, suggesting that there is capacity for corals to withstand sustained and ongoing climate change.

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However, corals within the Persian Gulf have become adapted to extreme temperature ranges and specific local conditions over thousands of years, and it is questionable whether corals in locations that have until now experienced much milder conditions posses or can develop similar capacity to withstand extreme environments. This largely depends upon the physiological or genotypic basis of increased temperature tolerance in corals from the Gulf, which requires considerable further research. Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field.

The publications are:.

Coral Reef Habitat Response to Climate Change Scenarios

Chapter 2. Bauman, Andrew G. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 72 2. Results show a substantial increase in temperature tolerance within the tested corals. In the three species of Hawaiian corals retested, bleaching occurred later, with higher survivorship and growth rates than corals in Such dramatic differences in coral bleaching temperature thresholds indicate a capacity for adjustment in temperature tolerance, either by changes in physiological process or shifts in symbiotic zooxanthellae types acclimatization , or natural selection for the survival of more temperature tolerant corals adaptation.

Until now, it had not been determined how long these processes take or if this change can occur at a pace rapid enough to adjust to the frequency and severity of current elevated temperature events.

Ku'ulei Rodgers said. Elevated levels of dissolved nitrogen have been implicated in stimulating coral bleaching. When verified, this will support the importance of reducing land-based source nutrients to assist management in limiting coral bleaching and mortality," according to Dr. The slow growth and recruitment of many species of corals, combined with repetitive bleaching events of increasing severity and duration, may lead to catastrophic regional reductions in coral diversity and abundance.

Corals get by with a little help from a friend

To prevent or even mitigate, this will require reduction in use of fossil fuels and lower emissions of CO 2 and other greenhouse gases that are increasing air and seawater temperatures worldwide at an alarming rate. Materials provided by PeerJ.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Science News. Story Source: Materials provided by PeerJ. Journal Reference : Steve L.

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  4. May, Ashley E. Evidence of acclimatization or adaptation in Hawaiian corals to higher ocean temperatures. PeerJ , ; 6: e DOI: ScienceDaily, 7 August Corals are becoming more tolerant of rising ocean temperatures: Scientists replicate landmark study to determine changes in coral sea temperature tolerance over time. Retrieved November 30, from www.