[Coral-List] Coral larvae and climate change

Thomas Goreau goreau at bestweb.net
Wed Jan 16 10:31:50 EST 2008

Many people have worked on the important larval survival and  
viability issues that Jonathan Shrives raises. I'm not one of them,  
and I'm sure those in the know will provide interesting answers.

I only want to point out here that if the warm currents are  
increasing their heat flow out of the tropics as the SST data  
strongly suggests, then range expansion is inevitable. The geological  
record shows not only the temporary flickers that bring corals and  
tropical fish beyond their normal range in a warm year that die that  
winter (a few years ago juvenile Caribbean reef fish were showing up  
in Jamaica Bay: that's Jamaica, New York, not my home island), but as  
Gene Shinn has repeatedly pointed out, the early Holocene Acropora  
reefs all along South East Florida can only be explained by a  
stronger Gulf Stream at that time. But we are now not just in  
flickers with net zero trends, but in a world with strong positive  
temperature trends with the flickers superimposed.

Also a critically important set of papers with profound implications  
for this discussion that have been seriously overlooked are by Paul  
Sammarco and his students, who some years ago showed that Diploria  
produced less larvae at high temperatures and that the larvae had  
greatly reduced survival in warmer water, a double climate whammy on  
reproduction. Paul has also done very relevant work on coral range  
expansion beyond it's normal habitat on Louisiana oil rigs, so that  
if we provide the right surfaces where there are none, it is possible  
to grow reefs where none now exist. I am advising an exhibition to be  
held at the UN in May which will show this possibility.

I don't have the full citations of these papers handy, but you can  
get them on Google Scholar by entering "Bassim Sammarco" (below)

Effects of temperature and ammonium on larval development and  
survivorship in a scleractinian coral …
K Bassim, P Sammarco - Marine Biology, 2003 - Springer

Effects of temperature on success of (self and non-self)  
fertilization and embryogenesis in Diploria …
K Bassim, P Sammarco, T Snell - Marine Biology, 2002 - Springer

Expansion of coral communities within the Northern Gulf of Mexico via  
offshore oil and gas platforms
PW Sammarco, AD Atchison, GS Boland - Marine Ecology Progress Series,  

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
goreau at bestweb.net

> Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 09:30:15 -0800 (PST)
> From: Jonathan Shrives <jonshrives at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Question Thermal vs PH shift / Re: coral
> 	range	expansion with global warming
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <117214.19132.qm at web35409.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
> Dear Listers,
> So correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand one of
> the contributing reasons to why you don't find many
> Acroporans in Bermuda, is that the Planular larvae
> can't last in the water column long enough to reach up
> there. Also would the coastlines of the US, South
> America, China and Australia be too polluted from
> coastal run-off and riverine discharge to allow the
> formation of reefs expanding north-wards or
> South-wards? Plus, how long from 1st year recruit does
> it take an Acroporan to reach the stage where it can
> create planular larvae of it's own? Would year on year
> change in thermal stress be too rapid for this to be
> taken into account? Obviously the answers to my
> questions differ for Pacific / Atlantic / Indian Ocean
> communities, but I think it would be interesting to
> see if anyone knows these values, so we can interject
> them into the discussion. Also I imagine acidification
> would be more of a major issue for deeper tropical
> reefs and deep water cold reefs, which I know are not
> as hermtypic as shallow tropical reefs, but still a
> long-term conservation concern - right?
> Kind Regards,
> Jon
> Jonathan Shrives
> D.Phil Student
> Tropical Ecology Research Group
> Dept. Zoology
> University of Oxford
> T: +44 1865 271124
> E: jonathan.shrives at zoo.ox.ac.uk
> ------------------------------
> Message: 4
> Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 12:28:05 -0500
> From: "Precht, William F" <PrechtW at BATTELLE.ORG>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] coral range expansion with global warming
> To: Allen Chen <cac at gate.sinica.edu.tw>,	Ben Greenstein
> 	<bgreenstein at cornellcollege.edu>
> Cc: coral-list coral-list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID:
> 	<0E15995E7CBC674DAC6EC7B7127F79080362D2FE at WS-BCO-MSE2.milky- 
> way.battelle.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Dear List:
> The geological record clearly records range shifts (both expansions  
> and contractions) of both corals and reefs in both time and space  
> related to changing climate (SSTs).
> In 2004, Rich Aronson and I published the story of the on-going  
> coral creep in the western Atlantic.  Interestingly enough, this  
> story has an early-to-mid-Holocene analogue.  These shifts are  
> highly ephemeral.  The facts are that coral and reefs will expand  
> their ranges in the future related to global climate change but  
> unfortunately these localized phenomena will not offset losses to  
> coral and reefs related to bleaching and pandemic diseases  
> throughout their range.
> If anyone would like a copy of this manuscript - please let me know  
> and I will send it along.
> Precht, W.F., and Aronson, R.B.,(2004) Climate flickers and range  
> shifts of reef corals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6 
> (2):307-313.
> Cheers,
> Bill Precht

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