[Coral-List] fire coral is a survivor in the Caribbean

Austin Bowden-Kerby abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Tue Jul 19 22:15:27 UTC 2022

Thanks for sharing this Doug and now Katie!

I see an increase in Millepora in only a few of our Pacific sites, but then
the reefs are mostly more intact and in their original condition. However,
where mass bleaching has caused population die-offs, there is a stark
transformation of shallow reefs from Acropora to Pocillopora and often
onward to Porites, and this appears to be a very strong trend.  Just as in
the Caribbean, Acropora, integral to the original climax community, is
being replaced as stress increases.  This ongoing transItion of Acropora to
Pocillopora on the GBR by AIMS Reef Monitoring is quite good.

The state of coral reefs is being monitored by the Global Coral Reef
Monitoring Network.  Unfortunately the GCRMN data only uses coral cover in
their reports, without finer scale generic data, so it does not pick up
phase shifts like this.  While GCRMN found a 14% loss in coral cover over
the past decade, this did not properly capture the extent of the ongoing
global collapse of coral reefs, which appears to be occurring as a series
of cascading phase shifts away from Acropora. Without generic or coral
growth form data in our monitoring, we become plant ecologists wanting to
monitor forests, but using plant cover as the indicator- with grasses,
bushes, and trees all being equal.

Also a note to the IndoPacific restoration people: I recommend focusing on
Acropora, not only because it is the climax community, and not only because
it provides the best and most diverse fish habitat, but also because it is
the first group to go.  Pocillopora and Porites for the time being are
holding their own.  I mention the phase shift, along with some other
current Pacific observations of the ongoing collapse and phase shifts in my
recent ICRS presentation.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIAkO-hN1SM

Kind regards,


Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands


Teitei Livelihoods Centre
Km 20 Sigatoka Valley Road, Fiji Islands
(679) 938-6437

On Wed, Jul 20, 2022 at 1:55 AM Katie Cramer via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Hello Coral List,
> Doug, thank you for sharing Pete Edmund's very interesting article about
> the resilience of fire coral (Millepora spp.) in the US Virgin Islands over
> the past decades.
> Our recently-conducted study (The transformation of Caribbean coral
> communities since humans",
> https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.7808) shows that
> this
> is a Caribbean-wide trend. We tracked changes in the prevalence of coral
> taxa and life history groups across the Caribbean from the pre-human period
> to 2011, and found that Millepora prevalence began increasing region-wide
> in the 1980s. Millepora has many life history traits in common with
> Acropora, but is more tolerant of sedimentation and has not (yet) been hit
> by disease. It seems that these fire corals are now the dominant
> competitive corals on many shallow reef zones in the Caribbean following
> the loss of Acropora.
>  -------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2022 08:19:08 -0700
> From: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
> To: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Subject: [Coral-List] fire coral is a survivor in the Caribbean
> Message-ID:
>         <
> CAOEmEkHC30OJ9eSO7c_O8974ECJq1FNs9fxBBDZ7a67jb4gq6A at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> How does Caribbean fire coral thrive as others vanish?
> https://www.science.org/content/article/how-does-caribbean-fire-coral
> -thrive-others-vanish
> <https://www.science.org/content/article/how-does-caribbean-fire-coral-thrive-others-vanish>
> open-access
> Persistence of a sessile benthic organism promoted by a morphological
> strategy combining sheets and trees
> https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2022.0952
> open-access
> Cheers, Doug
> --
> *___________________________________________*
> Katie Cramer
> *Associate Research Professor *
> Arizona State University | Center for Biodiversity Outcomes
> *Ocean Science Fellow*
> Conservation International | Center for Oceans & Moore Center for Science
> https://katielcramer.com/
> _______________________________________________
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> https://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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