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Coral

This tag is associated with 29 posts
Red Crown-of-Thorns Starfish eating coral. Author Matt Kieffer, Flickr. No modifications made. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/3016449061 Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Small MPAs: the new all-you-can-eat buffets?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a popular conservation tool and are in many situations very effective. Unfortunately, as with many plans, there may be some unintended consequences, as seen in the case of small MPAs in Fiji, where they appear to have attracted corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster spp.). Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Soft coral dominated reef. Author: Matt Kieffer. Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/15439205306)

Hard Coral or Macroalgae? Coral Reefs May Have Another Option

Most of the time coral reef communities are discussed, it seems the focus is whether they’re dominated by hard coral or algae. It turns out there may be other possible outcomes for reefs in the future. Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Figure 1. Healthy coral reef (Source: Zak Kerrigan)

Coral Microbiome Health: There’s no probiotic yogurt for that

Coral reefs are essential to the overall health of the planet. Comprised of tiny, individual animals, these massive ecosystems contain as much biological activity as that of human crop production. By studying the microscopic organisms living within these corals, scientists can predict when a reef may be under threat from serious diseases before it is too late, preventing loss of vast stretches of this incredibly important ecosystem.

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Coral! At The Disco: Using fluorescence (and computer science) to label reef data

A group of scientists and engineers have leveraged two emerging technologies to develop a new system for studying coral in their natural habitat. The team dramatically improved automatic labeling of coral images by combining a novel camera set up with powerful machine learning techniques. The result is fast, accurate, and has the potential to change how coral ecologists do their research.

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The importance of sea urchins

A look into Valeska’s graduate research. Why coral reefs depend on the long spined black sea urchin for survival.

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Predator vs. Prey: starfish vs. coral

The crown-of-thorns starfish has become a vicious predator of acroporid corals in the Indo-Pacific. This study looks at recruitment strategies of both the coral and the starfish in order to better understand if the coral has a chance of surviving the feeding frenzy of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

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How to Stop Dragging Our Assets: The World’s First Fishery Habitat Quota

Setting limits on fish catch is standard practice in fisheries management. For the first time in history, limits on habitat damage was introduced in 2012 for the groundfish bottom trawl fishery in British Columbia. Was it successful? Read to find out!

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Corals better learn to keep up or they may drown!

The coral reefs protecting many islands in the Pacific need to grow quickly in order to keep up with the rising sea levels and increasing ocean temperatures. As of now, researchers are optimistic that some species of corals are up to this challenge, but that relies on the rate of sea level rise.

Figure 1: The three-spot damselfish (Stegastes planifrons). 
Photo Credit: Rebecca Flynn (yours truly!), British Virgin Islands August 2014. Please request permission before copying or otherwise distributing this photo.

Switching it up: When do predation and habitat control damselfish abundance?

Another tale of how the loss of predators due to overfishing might impact coral reefs, but this one has a twist! Instead of the emphasis being on who’s eating whom, prey fish behavior is the key to what happens to the corals! Learn more in today’s oceanbites!

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An exact replica of a coral reef right in the office!

In order to better understand coral reef complexity and structure researchers developed a cost effective way to 3D print coral reefs. Using these 3D models, researchers were able to dissect the complexity of coral reefs and better understand their intricate growth patterns.

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What would coral reefs be like without human impact?

One would think that an isolated reef ecosystem shielded from the influence of people would provide an ideal benchmark against which other coral reefs can be compared. But in a recent study, researchers found it isn’t that simple.

A diver injects a crown of thorns sea star in an effort to mitigate population outbreaks that decimate coral reefs.

Lethal Injection: Crown of Thorns Edition

Predation by crown of thorns sea stars (COTS) is one of the main causes of coral reef decline in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Death by injection of sodium bisulfate is the most commonly used method, but this requires COTS to be removed from the reef and injected many times. Is there a better way? Read more to find out!

Figure 2: Coral gardening- pieces of coral are harvested off of healthy reefs and allowed to grow before being transplanted to a degraded reef habitat.

Coral Reef Restoration Through Human-Assisted Evolution

Coral reefs populations are declining. Is it possible that we could help restore coral reefs by speeding up their evolutionary processes? Researchers propose new management strategies for aiding reef restoration by accelerating the natural processes of evolution.

Fig. 1. Microplastics. The penny can provide a sense of scale for how small these are! These are from the Great Lakes “Garbage Patch” but similar types and sizes are in the oceans. Both freshwater and marine ecosystems are at risk. Photo credit: 5gyres. Photo source: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/12/new-concerns-about-plastic-pollution-in-great-lakes-garbage-patch/

Corals consume microplastics! Talk about an unhealthy diet!

The dangerous diet fad among marine organisms is spreading! New study shows corals consume microplastics.

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Macrobioerosion rates and what they mean for reefs

Today macrobioerosion is a good thing that provides cement for the foundation of reef systems. So more macrobioerosion could mean more reefs, right? No! Perhaps too much of a good thing could have dire consequences for the future of the calcium carbonate budget.

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Is a coral’s color all for show?

Two of the exact same corals, sitting right next to each other, often appear to be different based on their colors. Why is this? Scientists have shown that the answer involves intriguing genetics. The more genes a coral activates, the greater their strength of color.

Pomacentrus amboinensis
Photo Source:
http://www.kudalaut.eu/en/dph/3135/Photos-Sale/Ambon-damsel

Don’t let your guard down: a cautionary tale from reef fish in degraded habitat.

Reef fish on degraded reef are somewhat like misguided slasher flick protagonists that ignore all warning cues and are therefore less likely to survive.

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Can a complex model hold the fate of the crown-of-thorns starfish?

Not all starfish are cute! The crown-of-thorns starfish has been eating all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef! Researchers set out to build a model in hopes of demonstrating the trophic interactions between this dangerous starfish and its prey, the coral.

photo courtesy of www.shedexpedition.com

The Great Barrier Reef is worth $15 billion – $20 billion AUS a year: A quick lesson in ecosystem economics

When discussing the value of an ecosystem, tensions run high. Some people evaluate ecosystems with heavy emphasis on non-use values, like aesthetics and spiritual appreciation. Other people value ecosystems based on things like natural resource availability and the potential for direct monetary revenue. It is difficult to assess the relative importance (or value) of these differing goals because the economic benefits of one are easily quantified while the other is more difficult to assess.

T. flavopunctata is a large guard crab that helps defend its host coral from crown-of-thorns sea star. (Photo credit: Seabird McKeon)

Get crabby! A coral’s guide to self-defense

Crabs in the genus Trapezia are not only good housekeepers, clearing sediment off host corals, but they are also effective defenders. While just the presence of guard crabs can increase the chance of coral survival, are different species more effective than others? Read more to find out!

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