Posted on December 13, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
In addition to being predators, fish contribute significant amounts of nutrients to marine ecosystems. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Detailed reef study shows why it’s important to maintain healthy fish communities
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Although fish are often thought of as predators that graze on microorganisms, plants and smaller animals, it turns out they play another crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Through excretion, they recycle the nutrients they take in, providing the fertilizer sea grass and algae need to grow.
The role of fish poop as a fertilizer for marine ecosystems had previously been overlooked, according to Jacob Allgeier, a doctoral student in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, and Craig Layman, associate professor at Florida International University, who led the study in the waters of a large bay on Abaco Island, Bahamas.
The research showed that fish contribute more nutrients to their local ecosystems than any other source — enough to cause changes in the growth rates of the organisms at the base of the food web. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Abaco Island, biodiversity, Florida International University, Friends of the Environment, marine ecology, National Science Foundation, oceans, University of Georgia | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Primary threats all linked to greenhouse gases and global warming
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal scientists say that at least 66 species of coral in the Caribbean and Pacific are in danger of going extinct because of threats linked to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Announcing a proposal to list those species under the Endangered Species Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration identified 19 specific threats including rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, disease, ecological effects of fishing, and poor land-use practices. NOAA scientists said three of the major threats — rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and disease — are all directly or indirectly linked to greenhouse gas emissions and a changing climate.
In the Pacific, seven species would be listed as endangered and 52 as threatened. In the Caribbean, five would be listed as endangered and two as threatened. Two other Caribbean species — elkhorn and staghorn corals — would be reclassified from threatened to endangered. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, corals proposed for endangered species list, endangered coral reefs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, ocean conservation | 4 Comments »
Posted on November 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Australian study shows how branching corals suddenly declined and failed to recover during Queensland settlement and development era
Acropora coral at French Frigate Shoals, northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Marine scientists have long been tracking the impacts of human activities to coral reefs, finding overfishing, logging and agricultural runoff all have negative effects. In a new Australian study, researchers linked a widespread coral collapse in the Great Barrier Reef with a wave of settlement and development in Queensland.
Cores taken through the coral reef at Pelorus Island confirm a healthy community of branching Acropora corals flourished for centuries before European settlement of the area, despite frequent floods and cyclone events. Then, between 1920 and 1955, the branching Acropora failed to recover. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Acropora, biodiversity, coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Pelorus Island, Queensland | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 31, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Most of Hawaii’s coral reefs are concentrated around the big island, according to this NOAA map.
Overfishing and commercial harvesting pose a threat to biodiversity
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Hawaii’s reefs may have a fighting chance to survive climate change impacts if they’re protected from other impacts like overfishing, but so far, state officials haven’t done enough conservation planning — and haven’t even followed the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to examine aquarium collection’s effects on the environment before issuing collection permits.
Last week, a coalition of community groups and activists took the state to court, asking Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct environmental reviews — including an examination of cumulative damage to the state’s reefs — before granting permits that allow unlimited aquarium collection of marine wildlife in coastal waters.
Earthjustice filed the complaint under the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act in the 1st Circuit Court on behalf of Rene Umberger, Mike Nakachi, Kaimi Kaupiko, Willie Kaupiko, Conservation Council for Hawaii, The Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Hawaii | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 24, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A specimen of Lophelia pertusa, a rare cold water coral species. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Transplanting corals from nearby Norwegian waters may help reef survive trawling, sedimentation threats
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Biologists have launched a restoration effort at Sweden’s only coral reef, which has been hammered by trawling and increased sedimentation from eutrophication. Continuous observations with remotely operated vehicles shows the health of the reef slowly continues to decline.
To try and restore the the Säcken reef in the Koster Fjord, researchers with the University of Gothenburg are transplanting healthy corals from nearby reefs in Norway. The species of coral in question, Lophelia pertusa, requires an environment with a constant high level of salinity and low water temperatures all year round. In Sweden, these conditions only exist in the northern part of Bohuslän, where deep water from the Atlantic is led in via the Norwegian Trench.
“We’ve known since the mid-1920s that cold-water coral reefs exist here in Sweden,” said marine biologist and researcher Mikael Dahl. “At that time, corals could be found in three locations in the Koster Fjord. Today, only the Säcken reef remains, and it’s in poor condition.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, cold-water coral reefs, coral reefs, Environment, Kosterhavet National Park, Norwegian Trench, Sweden, University of Gothenburg | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Outbreaks of the coral eating crown of thorns starfish have been responsible for 42 percent of the over 50 percent decline in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef between 1985 and 2012. Photo courtesy Katharina Fabricius, Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Multiple short-interval disturbances causing long-term decline, with southern areas hit hardest
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Australian researchers say the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 27 years, with more impacts expected as the climate warms in coming decades. About half (46 percent) of the loss was from storm damage, with another 42 percent attributed to crown of thorns starfish and 10 percent lost to bleaching.
“We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish. If we can, then the reef will have more opportunity to adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, says John Gunn, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Australian Institute of Marine Science, biodiversity, climate, climate change, Coral bleaching, coral reefs, crown of thorns starfish, global warming, Great Barrier Reef | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 17, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
New global assessment predicts significant damage to majority of reef ecosystems unless greenhouse gases are curbed drastically
Staghorn coral. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Most coral reefs are likely doomed unless humankind acts quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new global assessment of global warming impacts published last week in Nature Climate Change.
“Our findings show that under current assumptions regarding thermal sensitivity, coral reefs might no longer be prominent coastal ecosystems if global mean temperatures actually exceed 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level,” said lead author Katja Frieler, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Without a yet uncertain process of adaptation or acclimation, however, already about 70 percent of corals are projected to suffer from long-term degradation by 2030 even under an ambitious mitigation scenario.”
The threshold for protecting at least half the world’s coral reef ecosystems is estimated at 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the study conducted by scientists from Potsdam, the University of British Columbia in Canada and the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland in Australia. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Coral bleaching, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, University of Queensland | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Global warming, aquarium trade taking a toll on clownfish
Orange clownfish may need protection under the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Center for Biological Diversity/G.R. Allen.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — “Finding Nemo” may be harder than ever, as global warming devastates coral reef habitats that tiny clownfish need to breed and feed, so environmental activists this week petitioned the federal government to protect the fish, along with several other related species, under the Endangered Species Act.
“We risk losing the striking fish that inspired ‘Finding Nemo’ forever if we don’t put the brakes on global warming and ocean acidification,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Carbon pollution harms these fish and destroys their coral reef homes. If we want these beautiful animals to survive in the wild, not just in a movie, we have to protect them under the Endangered Species Act.”
The seven coral-dependent species are also harmed by the marine aquarium trade, but ocean acidification is probably the biggest threat, damaging their hearing, sight, and smell. Ocean acidification interferes with the ability of young fish to avoid predators and find their coral reef homes. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment, global warming, Marine biology | Tagged: biodiversity, clownfish, coral reefs, endangered species, Finding Nemo | 4 Comments »
Posted on September 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Time is running out for Coral reefs in the Caribbean. Photo courtesy IUCN/William Goodwin.
Live coral cover has dropped to just 8 percent
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Leading conservation experts used the stage of the IUCN’s quadrennial global summit meeting to once again draw attention to the plight of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems, under pressure from global warming, pollution and overfishing.
Time is running out for reefs in the region, said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme, explaining that average live coral cover on Caribbean reefs has declined to just 8 percent of the reefs today, compared with more than 50 percent in the 1970s according to the report’s findings. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, IUCN conservation summit | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
We’re all in this together. Photo courtesy NASA.
Global environmental issues on the agenda at conservation summit in South Korea
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — When it comes to the global environment, there’s no shortage of issues to discuss, so delegates to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s quadrennial summit meeting should have plenty to talk about the next 10 days.
This edition of the congress starts today on on Jeju Island, South Korea, with 8,000 people from more than 170 countries on-hand to tackle some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the planet. The congress brings together government and non-governmental organizations, scientists, business and community leaders.
Follow the proceedings at the IUCN’s twitter hub.
“Nature is inherently strong, but we must improve how quickly nature and people adapt to change,” said IUCN director-general Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “If we strengthen nature, we’ll see that ecosystems are more resilient and people, communities and economies are healthier.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, conservation, endangered spcies, Environment, IUCN conservation summit, IUCN Red List | Leave a Comment »