Browsing Environmental Sustainability Research Centre by Subjects
Now showing items 1-4 of 4
Heat waves are a major threat to turbid coral reefs in BrazilCoral reefs are threatened by climate change on a global scale with thermal stress events and mass coral bleaching being widely reported. The reefs off the east coast of Brazil (and other turbid areas) have, however, historically escaped such thermal stress events, with relatively low levels of background coral mortality (5–10%). This has recently changed. Here we show that, in 2019, degree heating weeks (DHW) of 19.65 coincided with catastrophic declines in coral cover, especially in the major reef building hydrocoral Millepora alcicornis. The decline was due to bleaching associated with exposure to high temperature stress culminating in DHW values exceeding 15 for a period of 50 days. At two independent sites, surveys showed upwards of 83.5 ± 9.0 and 89.1 ± 3.9% mortality, and a third site showed relatively lower (albeit still high) mortality rates of 43.3 ± 12.0%. The mass die-off in 2019 is unprecedented in the South Atlantic reefs and coincides with increased heating events.
Investing in Blue Natural Capital to Secure a Future for the Red Sea EcosystemsFor millennia, coastal and marine ecosystems have adapted and flourished in the Red Sea’s unique environment. Surrounded by deserts on all sides, the Red Sea is subjected to high dust inputs and receives very little freshwater input, and so harbors a high salinity. Coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves flourish in this environment and provide socio-economic and environmental benefits to the bordering coastlines and countries. Interestingly, while coral reef ecosystems are currently experiencing rapid decline on a global scale, those in the Red Sea appear to be in relatively better shape. That said, they are certainly not immune to the stressors that cause degradation, such as increasing ocean temperature, acidification and pollution. In many regions, ecosystems are already severely deteriorating and are further threatened by increasing population pressure and large coastal development projects. Degradation of these marine habitats will lead to environmental costs, as well as significant economic losses. Therefore, it will result in a missed opportunity for the bordering countries to develop a sustainable blue economy and integrate innovative nature-based solutions. Recognizing that securing the Red Sea ecosystems’ future must occur in synergy with continued social and economic growth, we developed an action plan for the conservation, restoration, and growth of marine environments of the Red Sea. We then investigated the level of resources for financial and economic investment that may incentivize these activities. This study presents a set of commercially viable financial investment strategies, ecological innovations, and sustainable development opportunities, which can, if implemented strategically, help ensure long-term economic benefits while promoting environmental conservation. We make a case for investing in blue natural capital and propose a strategic development model that relies on maintaining the health of natural ecosystems to safeguard the Red Sea’s sustainable development.
The Jan Mayen microplate complex and the Wilson cycleThe opening of the North Atlantic region was one of the most important geodynamic events that shaped the present day passive margins of Europe, Greenland and North America. Although well-studied, much remains to be understood about the evolution of the North Atlantic, including the role of the Jan Mayen microplate complex. Geophysical data provide an image of the crustal structure of this microplate and enable a detailed reconstruction of the rifting and spreading history. However, the mechanisms that cause the separation of microplates between conjugate margins are still poorly understood. We assemble recent models of rifting and passive margin formation in the North Atlantic and discuss possible scenarios that may have led to the formation of the Jan Mayen microplate complex. This event was probably triggered by regional plate tectonic reorganizations rejuvenating inherited structures. The axis of rifting and continental break-up and the width of the Jan Mayen microplate complex were controlled by old Caledonian fossil subduction/suture zones. Its length is related to east–west-oriented deformation and fracture zones, possibly linked to rheological heterogeneities inherited from the pre-existing Precambrian terrane boundaries.
Species-Specific Variations in the Metabolomic Profiles of Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora millepora Mask Acute Temperature Stress Effects in Adult Coral ColoniesCoral reefs are suffering unprecedented declines in health state on a global scale. Some have suggested that human assisted evolution or assisted gene flow may now be necessary to effectively restore reefs and pre-condition them for future climate change. An understanding of the key metabolic processes in corals, including under stressed conditions, would greatly facilitate the effective application of such interventions. To date, however, there has been little research on corals at this level, particularly regarding studies of the metabolome of Scleractinian corals. Here, the metabolomic profiles [measured using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)] of two dominant reef building corals, Acropora hyacinthus and A. millepora, from two distinct geographical locations (Australia and Singapore) were characterized. We assessed how an acute temperature stress (an increase of 3.25°C ± 0.28 from ambient control levels over 8 days), shifted the corals’ baseline metabolomic profiles. Regardless of the profiling method utilized, metabolomic signatures of coral colonies were significantly distinct between coral species, a result supporting previous work. However, this strong species-specific metabolomic signature appeared to mask any changes resulting from the acute heat stress. On closer examination, we were able to discriminate between control and temperature stressed groups using a partial least squares discriminant analysis classification model (PLSDA). However, in all cases “late” components needed to be selected (i.e., 7 and 8 instead of 1 and 2), suggesting any treatment effect was small, relative to other sources of variation. This highlights the importance of pre-characterizing the coral colony metabolomes, and of factoring that knowledge into any experimental design that seeks to understand the apparently subtle metabolic effects of acute heat stress on adult corals. Further research is therefore needed to decouple these apparent individual and species-level metabolomic responses to climate change in corals.