the resilience of coral reefs …

The bleaching and occasional death of coral reefs, surprisingly increases the diversity of invertebrates, says this paper posted at co2science:

How Reef Invertebrate Diversity Responds to Coral Mortality
dg trochus

Paper Reviewed
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…

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to
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