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.
Monitoring changes in coral cover and composition through space and time can provide insights to reef health and assist the focus of management and conservation efforts. We used a meta-analytical approach to assess coral cover data across latitudes 10-35°S along the west Australian coast, including 25 years of data from the Ningaloo region. Current estimates of coral cover ranged between 3 and 44% in coral habitats. Coral communities in the northern regions were dominated by corals from the families Acroporidae and Poritidae, which became less common at higher latitudes. At Ningaloo Reef coral cover has remained relatively stable through time (?28%), although north-eastern and southern areas have experienced significant declines in overall cover. These declines are likely related to periodic disturbances such as cyclones and thermal anomalies, which were particularly noticeable around 1998/1999 and 2010/2011. Linear mixed effects models (LME) suggest latitude explains 10% of the deviance in coral cover through time at Ningaloo. Acroporidae has decreased in abundance relative to other common families at Ningaloo in the south, which might be related to persistence of more thermally and mechanically tolerant families. We identify regions where quantitative time-series data on coral cover and composition are lacking, particularly in north-western Australia. Standardising routine monitoring methods used by management and research agencies at these, and other locations, would allow a more robust assessment of coral condition and a better basis for conservation of coral reefs.
Glucocorticoids profoundly influence immune responses, and synthetic glucocorticoids are widely used clinically for their potent antiinflammatory effects. Endogenous glucocorticoid action is modulated by the two isozymes of 11?-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11?-HSD). In vivo, 11?-HSD1 catalyzes the reduction of inactive cortisone or 11-dehydrocorticosterone into active cortisol or corticosterone, respectively, thereby increasing intracellular glucocorticoid levels. 11?-HSD2 catalyzes the reverse reaction, inactivating intracellular glucocorticoids. Both enzymes have been postulated to modulate inflammatory responses. In the K/BxN serum transfer model of arthritis, 11?-HSD1-deficient mice showed earlier onset and slower resolution of inflammation than wild-type controls, with greater exostoses in periarticular bone and, uniquely, ganglion cysts, consistent with greater inflammation. In contrast, K/BxN serum arthritis was unaffected by 11?-HSD2 deficiency. In a distinct model of inflammation, thioglycollate-induced sterile peritonitis, 11?-HSD1-deficient mice had more inflammatory cells in the peritoneum, but again 11?-HSD2-deficient mice did not differ from controls. Additionally, compared with control mice, 11?-HSD1-deficient mice showed greater numbers of inflammatory cells in pleural lavages in carrageenan-induced pleurisy with lung pathology consistent with slower resolution. These data suggest that 11?-HSD1 limits acute inflammation. In contrast, 11?-HSD2 plays no role in acute inflammatory responses in mice. Regulation of local 11?-HSD1 expression and/or delivery of substrate may afford a novel approach for antiinflammatory therapy.
Cortisone, a glucocorticoid hormone, was first used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in humans in the late 1940s, for which Hench, Reichstein and Kendall were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1950 and which led to the discovery of the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids. To be effective, the intrinsically inert cortisone must be converted to the active glucocorticoid, cortisol, by the intracellular action of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1). Whilst orally administered cortisone is rapidly converted to the active hormone, cortisol, by first pass metabolism in the liver, recent work has highlighted an anti-inflammatory role for 11beta-HSD1 within specific tissues, including in leukocytes. Here, we review recent evidence pertaining to the anti-inflammatory role of 11beta-HSD1 and describe how inhibition of 11beta-HSD1, as widely proposed for treatment of metabolic disease, may impact upon inflammation. Finally, the mechanisms that regulate 11beta-HSD1 transcription will be discussed.
Coral reefs are in decline worldwide, and marine reserve networks have been advocated as a powerful management tool for maximizing the resilience of coral communities to an increasing variety, number, and severity of disturbances. However, the effective design of reserves must account for the spatial scales of larval dispersal that affect the demography of communities over ecological time frames. Ecologically relevant distances of dispersal were inferred from DNA microsatellite data in a broadcast-spawning (Acropora tenuis) and a brooding (Seriatopora hystrix) coral at isolated reef systems off northwest Australia. Congruent with expectations based on life histories, levels of genetic subdivision among populations were markedly higher in the brooder than in the broadcast spawner. Additionally, significant subdivision for both species between systems (>100 km), and between (>10 km) or within reefs (<10 km) within systems, indicated that many reefs or reef patches are demographically independent. There was also a clear distinction in the scale of genetic structure between the different systems; at the more geographically complex of the systems, a much finer scale structure was detected in both species. This suggested that the hydrodynamics associated with these complex reefs restrict distances regularly traveled by larvae. The primary implication is that short-term recovery of these coral communities after severe disturbance requires the input of larvae from viable communities kilometers to a few tens of kilometers away. Therefore, to be self-sustaining, we suggest that coral reef protected areas need to be large enough to encompass these routine dispersal distances. Further, to facilitate recovery from severe disturbances, protected areas need to be replicated over these spatial scales. However, specific designs also need to account for size, complexity, and isolation of reefs, which will either restrict or enhance dispersal within this range.
Globally, coral bleaching has been responsible for a significant decline in both coral cover and diversity over the past two decades. During the summer of 2010-11, anomalous large-scale ocean warming induced unprecedented levels of coral bleaching accompanied by substantial storminess across more than 12° of latitude and 1200 kilometers of coastline in Western Australia (WA).
We utilized a spatial and temporal analyses of genetic structure, supplemented with ecological and oceanographic analysis, to assess patterns of population connectivity in a coral reef fish Chromis margaritifer among the unique and remote atolls in the eastern Indian Ocean. A subtle, but significant genetic discontinuity at 10 microsatellite DNA loci was detected between atoll systems corresponding with a low (? 1%) probability of advection across the hundreds of kilometers of open ocean that separates them. Thus, although genetic connections between systems are likely maintained by occasional long-distance dispersal of C. margaritifer larvae, ecological population connectivity at this spatial scale appears to be restricted. Further, within one of these atoll systems, significant spatial differentiation among samples was accompanied by a lack of temporal pairwise differentiation between recruit and adult samples, indicating that restrictions to connectivity also occur at a local scale (tens of kilometers). In contrast, a signal of panmixia was detected at the other atoll system studied. Lastly, greater relatedness and reduced genetic diversity within recruit samples was associated with relatively large differences among them, indicating the presence of sweepstakes reproduction whereby a small proportion of adults contributes to recruitment in the next generation. These results are congruent with earlier work on hard corals, suggesting that local production of larvae drives population replenishment in these atoll systems for a range of coral reef species.
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