Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Could Coral Reefs Become Sponge Reefs In the Future?

Could Coral Reefs Become Sponge Reefs In the Future?

International research has suggested that many coral species won’t survive beyond the end of this century, but marine biologists at Victoria University are offering an alternative scenario.

Dr James Bell, who specialises in sponge ecology, is the lead author of an article published in Global Change Biology which suggests that sponges may become the dominant organisms inhabiting coral reefs when the effect of climate change and ocean acidification sets in.

“Coral reefs face an uncertain future as a result of global climate change and other stressors which have a negative impact on reefs,” says Dr Bell.

“It has been predicted that many reefs will end up being dominated by algae rather than corals, which will have negative effects on biodiversity and ultimately on the ability of humans to derive protein from reefs.”

“However, we propose an alternative scenario—as sponges and corals respond differently to changing ocean chemistry and environmental conditions, we may actually see some coral reefs transforming into sponge reefs.”

As part of the study, the group of scientists from Victoria University, the University of Auckland and the Australian Institute of Marine Science considered evidence from a range of sources including the geological record. Paleontological evidence from over 200 million years ago suggests past ocean acidification events were followed by a mass extinction of coral species and subsequent proliferation of sponges.

The scientists have also observed several sites, including places in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, where sponges have already increased in abundance as corals have declined.

Despite the important functional roles sponges play on coral reefs including filtering nutrients and providing a habitat for other species, Dr Bell says most research to date has focused on the future of corals. 

“Coral reefs provide a home for around one quarter of the world’s marine species, so understanding their future is incredibly important.”

“Further research on the impacts of ocean acidification and ocean warming on coral reef sponges is urgently required, so that we can help better protect reefs and understand how they might function in the future,” says Dr Bell.

Dr Bell has carried out research on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which has some of the most extensive and diverse coral reef systems in the world.

The study has been funded by Victoria University of Wellington, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Operation Wallacea. 

The full article ‘Could some coral reefs become sponge reefs as our climate changes?’ can be viewed in full on the Global Change Biology website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12212/full

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Restrictions Lifted: No Further Tau Flies Found

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that all restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Manurewa, Auckland, due to the Tau fly, have been lifted as of 2.26pm on Sunday 7 February. More>>

Crowdfinding: Awaroa Beach To Become Public Land If Appeal Succeeds

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a privately-owned beach will become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if an online crowdfunding campaign to buy it succeeds... More>>

ALSO:

Meat Workers Union: Waitangi Mondayisation Flaunted By Large Employer Of Maori

At the AFFCO Talley owned meat plant in Rangiuru, the company has resorted to bullying and threats... saying they could be disciplined and their union sued for an unlawful strike if workers exercise their rights to a paid day off tomorrow. More>>

Earlier:

ETS Review: Modelling Documents Released

Three technical documents are being released to help New Zealanders engage with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) review, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>

ALSO:

Northland: Govt Plan Targets Transport, Web, Maori Assets

The government has released a 10-year plan to attract investors and lift economic growth in Northland, a region that perennially underperforms the rest of the country even while being endowed with natural beauty, productive land, minerals, a potential workforce, scope for manufacturing, forestry and aquaculture, and proximity to Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.3 Percent

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September ... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news