The bleaching and occasional death of coral reefs, surprisingly increases the diversity of invertebrates, says this paper posted at co2science:
Nelson, H.R., Kuempel, C.D. and Altieri, A.H. 2016. The resilience of reef invertebrate biodiversity to coral mortality. Ecosphere 7: e139.
In their recent Ecosphere paper, Nelson et al. (2016) write that what they call foundation species “provide many important ecosystem functions including the provision of habitat for diverse communities.” However, they go on to say that in the case of corals, which create reef habitats that are “hotspots for biodiversity,” the periodic degradation and mortality of corals might possibly “have the potential to compromise these roles.”
To learn more about this concern, the three researchers went on to “examine the resilience of invertebrate abundance and biodiversity on reefs following a recent coral mass mortality event on the Caribbean coast of Panama.” These efforts revealed that (1) “dead coral habitats support invertebrate assemblages that can be more diverse and abundant than live coral habitats,” and that (2) “coral habitat (whether live or dead) in turn supports higher diversity and abundance than structurally simple sand areas without coral.”
In light of these observable facts, Nelsen et al. consequently conclude that (3) “the biodiversity-sustaining function of reefs has the potential to persist following coral disturbance at the scale of entire reefs,” which also leads them to conclude that (4) “some metrics of community structure are therefore resilient to events of foundation species mortality.”
This shows that the scares are unfounded. Jim Steele, Environmental Scientist has this to say about the ridiculous scares: […]
There are 4 widespread misconceptions about bleaching propagated by tabloid media hyping climate doom and researchers like Hoegh-Guldberg. To clarify:
1 Bleaching is not always driven by warming temperatures
2 Bleaching is not responsible for most coral mortality.
3 Coral can rapidly respond to disturbances and replace lost cover within a decade or less.
4 Bleaching, whether or not it results in coral mortality, is part of a natural selection process from which better-adapted populations emerge. […]
Go and read his complete article at his site here. where he fully explains the reasoning behind the science of coral reefs.
It’s long past time that the media actually does some fact checking instead of being like lost sheep with activist press releases. I’m looking at you in particular, Guardian, Fairfax and ABC editors!
Jim Steele is the author of the book “Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmental Journey to Climate Skepticism”. and a regular contributor to No1 science blog WUWT including this item on how coral reefs regulate pH.
Update, more on pH of Queensland island reef systems:
Six Months of Natural pH Fluctuations on the Heron Island Reef Flat (30 November 2016)
Until natural variability is properly replicated in OA experiments, the response of marine life to future declines in oceanic pH must be taken with a large grain of salt…