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Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress.
Curr Biol. 2014 May 19; 24(10):R413-23.CB

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.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Marine Spatial Ecology Lab & ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia. Electronic address: p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au.Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, 150 West University Blvd, Melbourne, Florida, 32901, USA.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

24845674

Citation

Mumby, Peter J., and Robert van Woesik. "Consequences of Ecological, Evolutionary and Biogeochemical Uncertainty for Coral Reef Responses to Climatic Stress." Current Biology : CB, vol. 24, no. 10, 2014, pp. R413-23.
Mumby PJ, van Woesik R. Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress. Curr Biol. 2014;24(10):R413-23.
Mumby, P. J., & van Woesik, R. (2014). Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress. Current Biology : CB, 24(10), R413-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.029
Mumby PJ, van Woesik R. Consequences of Ecological, Evolutionary and Biogeochemical Uncertainty for Coral Reef Responses to Climatic Stress. Curr Biol. 2014 May 19;24(10):R413-23. PubMed PMID: 24845674.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Consequences of ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical uncertainty for coral reef responses to climatic stress. AU - Mumby,Peter J, AU - van Woesik,Robert, PY - 2014/5/22/entrez PY - 2014/5/23/pubmed PY - 2015/1/15/medline SP - R413 EP - 23 JF - Current biology : CB JO - Curr Biol VL - 24 IS - 10 N2 - 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. SN - 1879-0445 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/24845674/Consequences_of_ecological_evolutionary_and_biogeochemical_uncertainty_for_coral_reef_responses_to_climatic_stress_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0960-9822(14)00467-9 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -