Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress

Mumby, Peter J. and Van Woesik, Robert (2014) Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress. Current Biology, 24 10: R413-R423. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.029


Author Mumby, Peter J.
Van Woesik, Robert
Title Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress
Journal name Current Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-9822
1879-0445
Publication date 2014-05-19
Year available 2014
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.029
Open Access Status
Volume 24
Issue 10
Start page R413
End page R423
Total pages 11
Place of publication Cambridge, MA United States
Publisher Cell Press
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Subject 1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Abstract Coral reefs are highly sensitive to the stress associated with greenhouse gas emissions, in particular ocean warming and acidification. While experiments show negative responses of most reef organisms to ocean warming, some autotrophs benefit from ocean acidification. Yet, we are uncertain of the response of coral reefs as systems. We begin by reviewing sources of uncertainty and complexity including the translation of physiological effects into demographic processes, indirect ecological interactions among species, the ability of coral reefs to modify their own chemistry, adaptation and trans-generational plasticity. We then incorporate these uncertainties into two simple qualitative models of a coral reef system under climate change. Some sources of uncertainty are far more problematic than others. Climate change is predicted to have an unambiguous negative effect on corals that is robust to several sources of uncertainty but sensitive to the degree of biogeochemical coupling between benthos and seawater. Macroalgal, zoanthid, and herbivorous fish populations are generally predicted to increase, but the ambiguity (confidence) of such predictions are sensitive to the source of uncertainty. For example, reversing the effect of climate-related stress on macroalgae from being positive to negative had no influence on system behaviour. By contrast, the system was highly sensitive to a change in the stress upon herbivorous fishes. Minor changes in competitive interactions had profound impacts on system behaviour, implying that the outcomes of mesocosm studies could be highly sensitive to the choice of taxa. We use our analysis to identify new hypotheses and suggest that the effects of climatic stress on coral reefs provide an exceptional opportunity to test emerging theories of ecological inheritance.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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