The overall success of marine management areas (MMAs) can be jeopardized by human-induced impacts originating outside their borders. In particular, coral growth and survival are sensitive to changes in water temperature and ocean acidity associated with climate change. We are conducting research to understand the potential impacts of climate change on coral reefs, as well as the roles that MMAs may play in reducing these negative effects and in helping corals adapt to changing conditions.
- Potential for MMAs to Boost Corals’ Resilience to Stresses Associated with Climate Change
In the Bahamas and at the University of Miami, we investigated the impacts of increased carbon dioxide concentrations on coral growth rates and developed protocols to evaluate corals’ resiliency to stresses inside and outside MMAs.
Principal Investigators: Chris Langdon and Erich Mueller
Science Report (PDF, 0.4 MB)
- Early-Warning Indicators
We sought to identify genes and proteins that corals activate when experiencing stress from disease or from warmer seawater due to climate change. The goal was to produce a tissue-sampling kit that managers could use to assess coral health, providing early detection before bleaching or visible disease is apparent. We also studied shifts in the microbial ecology of coral reefs as the ecosystem degrades. Measuring these shifts represents a powerful new approach to determining ecosystem health.
Principal Investigators: Forest Rowher and John Finnerty
Advanced biosensors - microbial (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Advanced biosensors - genetic (PDF, 0.6 MB)
- Cross-site Comparison of Ecosystem Health
We are developing a next-generation diagnostic system for comparing ecosystem health for reefs around the world that offers improvements upon current approaches such as the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) and the “scorecard” for the Healthy Reefs Initiative. This system will include representatives of all living organisms in the ecosystem, from microbes to sharks, which will provide a diagnosis of overall current ecosystem health.
Principal Investigator: Enric Sala
Science Report (PDF, 1.9 MB)