Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Dynamics of Gulf Coral Communities: Observations and Models from the World’s Hottest Coral Sea

Dynamics of Gulf Coral Communities: Observations and Models from the World’s Hottest Coral Sea

Book Title

Coral Reefs of the Gulf

Files

Document Type

Book Chapter

Editors

Bernhard M. Riegl, Sam J. Purkis

Description

[Chapter Abstract] Coral reefs are adapted to a relatively narrow band of environmental optima and the harsh Gulf environment tests the physiological and ecological limits of reef corals. The environmental variability (minimal and maximal annual temperatures, salinity extremes, etc.; Chap. 2; Sheppard et al. 1992, 2010) are outside the range of typical tropical reefs. Regular summer temperatures are several degrees above the bleaching and mortality thresholds of some regions in the Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean (Baker et al. 2008; Chap. 6). Yet, corals thrive in the Gulf. However, they have recently been exposed to severe temperature anomalies at a recurrence faster than in any other coral reef region (Riegl 2002, 2003; Sheppard and Loughland 2002; Riegl and Purkis 2009; Sheppard et al. 2010) and it appears that hot-anomalies are increasing in severity and frequency (Nasrallah et al. 2004). Thus, corals in the Gulf already exist in a thermal environment that is equal to, or even worse than, what is predicted (IPCC 2007) as occurring throughout the tropical oceans by 2099 and recognized as likely causing problems for coral reef persistence. Clearly, important lessons can be learned from Gulf corals about environmental extremes that corals can survive and, given the high frequency of disturbances, maybe even lessons in adaptability. Since the world is getting warmer and extremes are becoming more pronounced, the study of such extreme reef systems gains increased relevance.

ISBN

978-94-007-3008-3

Publication Date

3-5-2012

Publisher

Springer, Dordrecht

Keywords

Coral Reef, Saudi Arabia, Great Barrier Reef, Coral Community, Mass Mortality

Disciplines

Marine Biology

Comments

© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW,volume 3)

ORCID ID

0000-0002-6003-9324

DOI

10.1007/978-94-007-3008-3_5

Dynamics of Gulf Coral Communities: Observations and Models from the World’s Hottest Coral Sea
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