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

 

Scoop Business: Spark, Voda And Telstra To Lay New Trans-Tasman Cable

Spark New Zealand and Vodafone, New Zealand’s two dominant telecommunications providers, in partnership with Australian provider Telstra, will spend US$70 million building a trans-Tasman submarine cable to bolster broadband traffic between the neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Current Account Deficit Widens

New Zealand's annual current account deficit was $6.1 billion (2.6 percent of GDP) for the year ended September 2014. This compares with a deficit of $5.8 billion (2.5 percent of GDP) for the year ended June 2014. More>>

ALSO:

Still In The Red: NZ Govt Shunts Out Surplus To 2016

The New Zealand government has pushed out its targeted return to surplus for a year as falling dairy prices and a low inflation environment has kept a lid on its rising tax take, but is still dangling a possible tax cut in 2017, the next election year and promising to try and achieve the surplus pledge on which it campaigned for election in September. More>>

ALSO:

Job Insecurity: Time For Jobs That Count In The Meat Industry

“Meat Workers face it all”, says Graham Cooke, Meat Workers Union National Secretary. “Seasonal work, dangerous jobs, casual and zero hours contracts, and increasing pressure on workers to join non-union individual agreements. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: ComCom Charges Hawkins’ Finance Companies Over Debt Recovery

The Commerce Commission has filed criminal proceedings against two finance companies run by former 1980s high-flyer Allan Hawkins over their debt recovery practices. More>>

ALSO:

Science Media Centre: The Big Science Stories Of 2014

It was a dramatic year for science, one that witnessed a severe outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and an historic mission to land a space probe on a comet. On the home front... headlines with animal testing for 'legal highs', 1080 use to tackle increased pest numbers and court action over genetically modified organisms among the most-covered stories. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news