Coral reef recovery from major disturbance is hypothesized to depend on the arrival of propagules from nearby undisturbed reefs. Therefore, reefs isolated by distance or current patterns are thought to be highly vulnerable to catastrophic disturbance. We found that on an isolated reef system in north Western Australia, coral cover increased from 9% to 44% within 12 years of a coral bleaching event, despite a 94% reduction in larval supply for 6 years after the bleaching. The initial increase in coral cover was the result of high rates of growth and survival of remnant colonies, followed by a rapid increase in juvenile recruitment as colonies matured. We show that isolated reefs can recover from major disturbance, and that the benefits of their isolation from chronic anthropogenic pressures can outweigh the costs of limited connectivity.
The photobiology of two reef corals and the distribution of associated symbiont types were investigated over a depth gradient of 0-60 m at Scott Reef, Western Australia. Pachyseris speciosa hosted mainly the same Symbiodinium C type similar to C3 irrespective of sampling depth. By contrast, Seriatopora hystrix hosted predominantly Symbiodinium type D1a or D1a-like at shallow depths while those in deeper water were dominated by a Symbiodinium C type closely related to C1. The photosynthesis/respiration (P/R) ratio increased consistently with depth at the two sampling times (November 2008 and April 2009) for P. speciosa and in November 2008 only for S. hystrix, suggesting a reduction in metabolic energy expended for every unit of energy obtained from photosynthesis. However, in April 2009, shallow colonies of S. hystrix exhibited decreased P/R ratios down to depths of approximately 23 m, below which the ratio increased towards the maximum depth sampled. This pattern was mirrored by changes in tissue biomass determined as total protein content. The depth of change in the direction of the P/R ratio correlated with a shift from Symbiodinium D to C-dominated colonies. We conclude that while photobiological flexibility is vital for persistence in contrasting light regimes, a shift in Symbiodinium type may also confer a functional advantage albeit at a metabolic cost with increased depth.
To build new tools for the continued protection and propagation of coral from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), an international group of coral and cryopreservation scientists known as the Reef Recovery Initiative joined forces during the November 2011 mass-spawning event. The outcome was the creation of the first frozen bank for Australian coral from two important GBR reef-building species, Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora. Approximately 190 frozen samples each with billions of cells were placed into long-term storage. Sperm cells were successfully cryopreserved, and after thawing, samples were used to fertilize eggs, resulting in functioning larvae. Additionally, developing larvae were dissociated, and these pluripotent cells were cryopreserved and viable after thawing. Now, we are in a unique position to move our work from the laboratory to the reefs to develop collaborative, practical conservation management tools to help secure Australias coral biodiversity.
The implications of shallow water impacts such as fishing and climate change on fish assemblages are generally considered in isolation from the distribution and abundance of these fish assemblages in adjacent deeper waters. We investigate the abundance and length of demersal fish assemblages across a section of tropical continental shelf at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, to identify fish and fish habitat relationships across steep gradients in depth and in different benthic habitat types. The assemblage composition of demersal fish were assessed from baited remote underwater stereo-video samples (n = 304) collected from 16 depth and habitat combinations. Samples were collected across a depth range poorly represented in the literature from the fringing reef lagoon (1-10 m depth), down the fore reef slope to the reef base (10-30 m depth) then across the adjacent continental shelf (30-110 m depth). Multivariate analyses showed that there were distinctive fish assemblages and different sized fish were associated with each habitat/depth category. Species richness, MaxN and diversity declined with depth, while average length and trophic level increased. The assemblage structure, diversity, size and trophic structure of demersal fishes changes from shallow inshore habitats to deeper water habitats. More habitat specialists (unique species per habitat/depth category) were associated with the reef slope and reef base than other habitats, but offshore sponge-dominated habitats and inshore coral-dominated reef also supported unique species. This suggests that marine protected areas in shallow coral-dominated reef habitats may not adequately protect those species whose depth distribution extends beyond shallow habitats, or other significant elements of demersal fish biodiversity. The ontogenetic habitat partitioning which is characteristic of many species, suggests that to maintain entire species life histories it is necessary to protect corridors of connected habitats through which fish can migrate.
Octopus cyanea is taken as an unregulated, recreationally fished species from the intertidal reefs of Ningaloo, Western Australia. Yet despite its exploitation and importance in many artisanal fisheries throughout the world, little is known about its life history, ecology and vulnerability. We used stylet increment analysis to age a wild O. cyanea population for the first time and gonad histology to examine their reproductive characteristics. O. cyanea conforms to many cephalopod life history generalisations having rapid, non-asymptotic growth, a short life-span and high levels of mortality. Males were found to mature at much younger ages and sizes than females with reproductive activity concentrated in the spring and summer months. The female dominated sex-ratios in association with female brooding behaviours also suggest that larger conspicuous females may be more prone to capture and suggests that this intertidal octopus population has the potential to be negatively impacted in an unregulated fishery. Size at age and maturity comparisons between our temperate bordering population and lower latitude Tanzanian and Hawaiian populations indicated stark differences in growth rates that correlate with water temperatures. The variability in life history traits between global populations suggests that management of O. cyanea populations should be tailored to each unique set of life history characteristics and that stylet increment analysis may provide the integrity needed to accurately assess this.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.