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      Incorporating Climate and Ocean Change into Extinction Risk Assessments for 82 Coral Species : Climate Change and Coral Extinction Risk

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          Abstract

          Many marine invertebrate species facing potential extinction have uncertain taxonomies and poorly known demographic and ecological traits. Uncertainties are compounded when potential extinction drivers are climate and ocean changes whose effects on even widespread and abundant species are only partially understood. The U.S. Endangered Species Act mandates conservation management decisions founded on the extinction risk to species based on the best available science at the time of consideration-requiring prompt action rather than awaiting better information. We developed an expert-opinion threat-based approach that entails a structured voting system to assess extinction risk from climate and ocean changes and other threats to 82 coral species for which population status and threat response information was limited. Such methods are urgently needed because constrained budgets and manpower will continue to hinder the availability of desired data for many potentially vulnerable marine species. Significant species-specific information gaps and uncertainties precluded quantitative assessments of habitat loss or population declines and necessitated increased reliance on demographic characteristics and threat vulnerabilities at genus or family levels. Adapting some methods (e.g., a structured voting system) used during other assessments and developing some new approaches (e.g., integrated assessment of threats and demographic characteristics), we rated the importance of threats contributing to coral extinction risk and assessed those threats against population status and trend information to evaluate each species' extinction risk over the 21st century. This qualitative assessment resulted in a ranking with an uncertainty range for each species according to their estimated likelihood of extinction. We offer guidance on approaches for future biological extinction risk assessments, especially in cases of data-limited species likely to be affected by global-scale threats. Incorporación del Cambio Climático y Oceánico en Estudios de Riesgo de Extinción para 82 Especies de Coral.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders.

          Ocean acidification represents a key threat to coral reefs by reducing the calcification rate of framework builders. In addition, acidification is likely to affect the relationship between corals and their symbiotic dinoflagellates and the productivity of this association. However, little is known about how acidification impacts on the physiology of reef builders and how acidification interacts with warming. Here, we report on an 8-week study that compared bleaching, productivity, and calcification responses of crustose coralline algae (CCA) and branching (Acropora) and massive (Porites) coral species in response to acidification and warming. Using a 30-tank experimental system, we manipulated CO(2) levels to simulate doubling and three- to fourfold increases [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projection categories IV and VI] relative to present-day levels under cool and warm scenarios. Results indicated that high CO(2) is a bleaching agent for corals and CCA under high irradiance, acting synergistically with warming to lower thermal bleaching thresholds. We propose that CO(2) induces bleaching via its impact on photoprotective mechanisms of the photosystems. Overall, acidification impacted more strongly on bleaching and productivity than on calcification. Interestingly, the intermediate, warm CO(2) scenario led to a 30% increase in productivity in Acropora, whereas high CO(2) lead to zero productivity in both corals. CCA were most sensitive to acidification, with high CO(2) leading to negative productivity and high rates of net dissolution. Our findings suggest that sensitive reef-building species such as CCA may be pushed beyond their thresholds for growth and survival within the next few decades whereas corals will show delayed and mixed responses.
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            Environmental Limits to Coral Reef Development: Where Do We Draw the Line?

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              Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record Thermal Stress, Bleaching, and Mortality in 2005

              Background The rising temperature of the world's oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. Methodology/Principal Findings Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers' field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. Conclusions/Significance Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Degree Heating Weeks) and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Conservation Biology
                Conservation Biology
                Wiley-Blackwell
                08888892
                December 2013
                December 2013
                : 27
                : 6
                : 1169-1178
                Article
                10.1111/cobi.12171
                24299083
                © 2013
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/cobi.12171

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