[Coral-List] coral range expansion with global warming

Annika Noreen anoreen at gmail.com
Tue Jan 15 00:08:45 EST 2008

I have followed the coral reef range expansion thread with interest.
I have conducted taxonomic surveys of many subtropical Eastern
Australian reefs, including the southernmost coral reefs in the world
- Lord Howe Island, and the remote Middleton and Elizabeth atolls.
When these surveys are compared with previous ones, there is a
remarkably turnover of 'ephemeral' coral species (those recorded from
only one survey, or from one colony). This was as high as one-third of
the total species recorded at one of the locations.  Acroporas
comprise a large number of this total turnover, but many other members
of other genera & families are involved as well.  The dominant coral
species remain generally constant over time, but the turnover of
locally rare species from one survey to the next is astonishing.
Additionally, I have taken into account the changes in taxonomy and
reliability of the records (mostly stellar.)  To me, this represents
real evidence that corals can - and will - shift ranges due to
increasing SSTs; however, there are many other issues for corals to
contend with in the subtropics.  I won't dare predict what corals will
or won't do regarding survival, growth, or reproduction in the future
when they arrive at higher latitudes, but this evidence at least
indicates that many species from a wide range of families can at least
get there.

Annika Noreen
PhD Candidate
Centre for Coral Reef Research
Dept. of Environmental Science and Management
Southern Cross University
Lismore NSW 2480

annika.noreen at scu.edu.au
+61 2 6620 3815
+61 4 0820 8412

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