An ecosystem-level perspective on the host and symbiont traits needed to mitigate climate change impacts on Caribbean coral reefs

Ortiz, Juan Carlos, González Rivero, Manuel and Mumby, Peter J. (2013) An ecosystem-level perspective on the host and symbiont traits needed to mitigate climate change impacts on Caribbean coral reefs. Ecosystems, 17 1: 1-13. doi:10.1007/s10021-013-9702-z

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Author Ortiz, Juan Carlos
González Rivero, Manuel
Mumby, Peter J.
Title An ecosystem-level perspective on the host and symbiont traits needed to mitigate climate change impacts on Caribbean coral reefs
Journal name Ecosystems   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1432-9840
1435-0629
Publication date 2013-09-04
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10021-013-9702-z
Volume 17
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer New York
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Caribbean reefs have steadily declined during the past 30 years. Thermal disturbances that elicit coral bleaching have been identified as a major driver of such coral degradation. It has been suggested that either the evolution of more tolerant symbionts, or shifts in the distribution of existing, tolerant symbionts could ameliorate the effect of rising sea temperatures on Caribbean reefs. Using a spatial ecosystem model we describe the characteristics that new tolerant symbionts, ‘super-symbionts’, and their coral hosts, require for coral cover to be maintained. We also quantify the time necessary for such symbionts to become dominant before their potential beneficial effect is lost. Running scenarios under two levels of greenhouse gas emissions, we find that aggressive action to reduce emissions could almost triple the time available for new super-symbionts to become dominant and potentially mitigate the effect of thermal disturbances. The benefits of thermally tolerant super-symbionts depend on the life-history traits of the host, the number of coral species infected and the present coral assemblage. Corals that are strong competitors with macroalgae are likely to become dominant on future reefs if a super-symbiont appears in the next 25–60 years. In principle, super-symbionts could have ecosystem-level benefits in the Caribbean providing that they become dominant in multiple coral hosts with specific life-history traits within the next 60 years. This potential benefit would only be realized if the appearance of the super-symbiont is combined with drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and maintenance of ecosystem processes such as herbivory.
Keyword Coral reefs
Ecosystem state
Life history traits
Climate change
Thermal Tolerance
Symbiosis
Ecosystem modelling
Ecosystem
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 04 September 2013

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 28 Oct 2013, 12:02:25 EST by Manuel Gonzalez Rivero on behalf of School of Biological Sciences