July 17, 2018
Broadcast live from the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium in Cairns, Australia, experts from around the globe share lessons learned from years working on coral restoration. From offshore coral nurseries, to restoration mitigation techniques, to climate change adaptation, this presentation session seeks to foster knowledge sharing and exchange between managers and practitioners across the globe.
Abstract: As global ocean change progresses, reef-building corals and their early life history stages will rely on physiological plasticity to tolerate new environmental conditions. Larvae from brooding coral species contain algal symbionts upon release, which assist with the energy requirements of dispersal and metamorphosis. Global ocean change threatens the success of larval dispersal and settlement by challenging the performance of the larvae and of the symbiosis. In this study, larvae of the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis were exposed to elevated pCO2 and temperature to examine the performance of the coral and its symbionts in situ and better understand the mechanisms of physiological plasticity and stress tolerance in response to multiple stressors. We generated a de novo holobiont transcriptome containing coral host and algal symbiont transcripts and bioinformatically filtered the assembly into host and symbiont components for downstream analyses. Seventeen coral genes were differentially expressed in response to the combined effects of pCO2 and temperature. In the symbiont, 89 genes were differentially expressed in response to pCO2. Our results indicate that many of the whole-organism (holobiont) responses previously observed for P. damicornis larvae in scenarios of ocean acidification and warming may reflect the physiological capacity of larvae to cope with the environmental changes without expressing additional protective mechanisms. At the holobiont level, the results suggest that the responses of symbionts to future ocean conditions could play a large role in shaping success of coral larval stages.
Authors: E. B. Rivest, M. W. Kelly, M. B. DeBiasse, G. E. Hofmann
Frontiers in Marine Science 5: doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00186
Abstract: Climate change and other anthropogenic disturbances have created an era characterized by the inability of most ecosystems to maintain their original, pristine states, the Anthropocene. Investigating new and innovative strategies that may facilitate ecosystem restoration is thus becoming increasingly important, particularly for coral reefs around the globe which are deteriorating at an alarming rate. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lost half its coral cover between 1985 and 2012, and experienced back-to-back heat-induced mass bleaching events and high coral mortality in 2016 and 2017. Here we investigate the efficacy of interspecific hybridization as a tool to develop coral stock with enhanced climate resilience. We crossed two Acropora species pairs from the GBR and examined several phenotypic traits over 28 weeks of exposure to ambient and elevated temperature and pCO2. While elevated temperature and pCO2 conditions negatively affected size and survival of both purebreds and hybrids, higher survival and larger recruit size were observed in some of the hybrid offspring groups under both ambient and elevated conditions. Further, interspecific hybrids had high fertilization rates, normal embryonic development, and similar Symbiodinium uptake and photochemical efficiency as purebred offspring. While the fitness of these hybrids in the field and their reproductive and backcrossing potential remain to be investigated, current findings provide proof-of-concept that interspecific hybridization may produce genotypes with enhanced climate resilience, and has the potential to increase the success of coral reef restoration initiatives.
Authors: Chan, W. Y., L. M. Peplow, P. Menéndez, A. A. Hoffmann, and M. J. H. van Oppen
View the article here
Frontiers in Marine Science 5: doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00160
Last March, The Nature Conservancy brought together 25 women from Papua New Guinea, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, the U.K., and the U.S. to talk about climate change and how it can affect men, women, and children in different ways. With more than a decade of experience working on climate adaptation in the region, Dr. Lizzie McLeod thought she had a handle on the impacts – e.g., coastal flooding and erosion from sea-level rise and storm surge, human migration, changes in rainfall that affect food and water security, and changes in ocean temperature that can drive coral bleaching. What really struck Dr. McLeod after listening to stories from the women across the region were the climate impacts that are not often spoken about – such as young girls experiencing violence when they have to walk farther to get water during drought, or when women are unable to cook and wash clothes due to water shortages and become victims of domestic abuse, or children who are unable to attend school because there is not enough water to flush toilets and prepare lunches.
Through this learning exchange, Dr. McLeod realized the power of discussions where women are free to speak openly about their concerns and actions needed to address the tremendous challenges presented by climate change. She is inspired by the incredible leadership these women demonstrate to reduce the risks of climate change and to help sustain their families and communities.
Inspired by Dr. McLeod and the women who participated in this learning exchange, the Reef Resilience Network wanted to share their stories, leadership, and recommendations to decision makers to catalyze new and/or refine existing policies that address the needs of women more fully. We asked Ms. Berna Gorong, a workshop participant from Yap, some questions about the learning exchange.
Reef Resilience Network (RRN): You recently participated in a learning exchange in Palau for women from across the Pacific Islands to share their experiences coping with climate impacts and leading innovative solutions. Can you share some of these nature-based solutions?
Ms. Gorong: Some solutions that were shared at the Palau workshop included:
- replanting mangrove trees in areas that have died back or been disturbed to help reduce flooding and erosion from the combination of storm impacts and sea-level rise;
- replanting taro in less vulnerable areas, moving it from areas that have been threatened by inundation and saltwater intrusion during storm surges or higher tides; and
- planting nipa palm in the flooded taro patches, so women can use nipa plant leaves for thatched roofing of traditional structures.
RRN: Can you talk about the importance of solutions that are developed directly by communities themselves?
Ms. Gorong: It is important that communities themselves are involved directly in developing solutions to address the issues and challenges they face. This is part of being a resilient and adaptive community. If you are just being told what is the best or right solution for you without fully understanding the rationale, it does not build the adaptive and intuitive capacity of communities which makes them resilient to change. Island communities had survived long ago by constantly observing their environment and learning how to best adapt and overcome obstacles.
RRN: Were there any surprises from the Palau learning exchange?
Ms. Gorong: For me, the surprise at the Palau learning exchange was hearing the perspective from the western women and the comparisons between the rights of women in the western world and the island communities. It was quite enlightening for me and made me even more proud that I was born and raised in my island culture and traditions that empower me as a woman with a clearly defined role that builds up my family and community.
RRN: What advice would you give to a marine manager who wants to more effectively engage with women and vulnerable groups in responding to climate change?
Ms. Gorong: My advice is to be able to listen with the “right” ear, especially if you’re engaging with a group that is not of your cultural landscape. A lot of times when we do not understand the cultural landscape of an area, it is easy to misinterpret things. Listening, understanding, and speaking English for a person who normally interacts in their non-English mother tongue is a challenge. Even myself who speaks English as a second language and mainly interacts in English for my professional life and living in an island community, it takes me a while to understand English when speaking with someone for the first time because I realize that my literal understanding may not be the main focus of the discussion. So that’s what I mean by listening with the “right” ear. Be cognizant of the presence of the cultural perspective and authentic in your questions and engagements.
You can read more about this work here and read a summary of the new article on raising women’s voices to inform climate adaptation polices. This work was supported by the Nature Conservancy and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) – International Climate Initiative (IKI).
A new paper highlights the critical role that Pacific Island women are playing in climate adaptation and provides guidance for governments, NGOs, and development agencies on how to incorporate the needs and perspectives of women in climate policies and projects. Based on qualitative data from Pacific women leaders in conservation, development, and climate adaptation policies, key priorities to support climate adaptation include: (1) increased recognition for the importance of traditional knowledge; (2) greater support for local women’s groups, including strategic planning and training to access climate finance mechanisms; and (3) climate policies that consider alternative metrics for women’s empowerment and inclusion, formalize women’s land rights, and provide land for climate refugees. The authors emphasize the need for research, programs, and policies that recognize the importance of traditional knowledge in climate adaptation strategies. Bringing women and vulnerable groups into climate adaptation decision-making is critical to support sustainable and resilient communities and to avoid exacerbating existing gender-inequalities.
Author: Mcleod, E., S. Arora-Jonsson, YJ. Masuda, M. Bruton-Adams, C.O. Emaurois, B. Gorong, Berna C.J. Hudlow, R. James, H. Kuhlken, B. Masike-Liri, E. Musrasrik-Carl, A. Otzelberger, K. Relang, B.M. Reyuw, B. Sigrah, C. Stinnett, J. Tellei, and L. Whitford
Marine Policy 93: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.03.011.
Abstract: Currently, information on nearshore reef-associated fisheries is frequently disparate or incomplete, creating a challenge for effective management. This study utilized an existing non-commercial fishery dataset from Hawaiʻi, covering the period 2004-13, to estimate a variety of fundamental fishery parameters, including participation, effort, gear use, and catch per unit effort. We then used those data to reconstruct total catches per island. Non-commercial fisheries in this case comprise recreational, subsistence, and cultural harvest, which may be exchanged, but are not sold. By combining those data with reported commercial catch data, we estimated annual catch of nearshore reef-associated fisheries in the main Hawaiian Islands over the study period to be 1,167,758 ± 43,059 kg year-1 (mean ± standard error). Average annual commercial reef fish catch over the same time period – 184,911 kg year-1 – was 16% of the total catch, but that proportion varied greatly among islands, ranging from 23% on Oʻahu to 5% on Molokaʻi. These results emphasize the importance of reef fishing in Hawaiʻi for reasons beyond commerce, such as food security and cultural practice, and highlight the large differences in fishing practices across the Hawaiian Islands
Authors: Mccoy, K. S., I.D. Williams, A.M. Friedlander, H. Ma, L. Teneva, and J.N. Kittinger
PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195840. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195840
Abstract: Synchronised multispecies mass spawning events are striking features of reproduction in corals. This synchronous gamete release of thousands of animals over vast stretches of reef is thought to be cued by rhythms of the Moon. However, the mechanisms are not fully understood. We propose an explanation that may contribute to understanding this mechanism, that spawning is triggered by the coincidence of two factors, each in different lunar rhythms. We investigate this proposal in case studies using seven years of coral spawning data from two locations: Kochi, Japan and Lizard Island, Australia. Our calculations show that a feature in a lunar synodic rhythm (the third quarter) will synchronise with a feature in a lunar non-synodic rhythm (the zero declination) usually once, although occasionally twice in a year. Supported by data on the date of spawning from the two locations, we suggest that this coincidence of lunar factors exerts an important influence on the timing of annual mass spawning in corals. This coincidence may be associated with low atmospheric pressure. Spawning at the time of the third lunar quarter may favour fertilisation success due to the reduced currents during neap tides associated with the lower gravitational pressure of the lunar quarters.
Author: Wolstenholme, J., Y. Nozawa, M. Byrne, and W. Burke
Email for the full article: firstname.lastname@example.org
Invertebrate Reproduction & Development. doi:10.1080/07924259.2018.1434245
Abstract: Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten ecosystem health and human livelihoods.
Author: Lamb, J. B., B.L. Willis, E.A. Fiorenza, C.S. Couch, R. Howard, D.N. Rader, D. Harvell
Email for the full article: email@example.com
Abstract: Background- Molecular mechanisms underlying coral larval competence, the ability of larvae to respond to settlement cues, determine their dispersal potential and are potential targets of natural selection. Here, we profiled competence, fluorescence and genome-wide gene expression in embryos and larvae of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora daily throughout 12 days post-fertilization. Results- Gene expression associated with competence was positively correlated with transcriptomic response to the natural settlement cue, confirming that mature coral larvae are “primed” for settlement. Rise of competence through development was accompanied by up-regulation of sensory and signal transduction genes such as ion channels, genes involved in neuropeptide signaling, and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCRs). A drug screen targeting components of GPCR signaling pathways confirmed a role in larval settlement behavior and metamorphosis. Conclusions- These results gives insight into the molecular complexity underlying these transitions and reveals receptors and pathways that, if altered by changing environments, could affect dispersal capabilities of reef-building corals. In addition, this dataset provides a toolkit for asking broad questions about sensory capacity in multicellular animals and the evolution of development.
Author: Strader, M.E., G.V. Aglyamova, M.V Matz
Email for the full article: firstname.lastname@example.org
BMC Genomics 19(1). doi:10.1186/s12864-017-4392-0
January 16 – February 8, 2018
Looking to influence behavior or raise awareness about an issue to advance your conservation efforts? A new Strategic Communication Mentored Online Course can help you communicate effectively to reach your conservation goal! This three-week mentored training, which is only a 6-8 hour time commitment, features hands-on exercises, interactive webinars and quizzes, and guidance from mentors and other managers. We’ve demystified strategic communication and simplified the planning process so you can work on your own project as you learn. This course is free and open to anyone, but is geared toward coral reef managers and practitioners. The course content can be found in the communication module.
- December 18 – January 16: Course registration is open. Registration closes January 17
- January 16: Course orientation and introductory webinar (45 minutes)
- January 17 – January 24: Complete three self-paced lessons and worksheets on the communication planning process: establish your goal & objectives, assess the context for your efforts, and identify your target audience(s) (~2.5 hours)
- January 25: Webinar 2 – Review concepts and discussion (45 minutes)
- January 26 – February 7: Complete four self-paced lessons and worksheets on the communication planning process: make your message matter, identify messengers and tactics, measure your impact, and create a summary of your plan (~3.5 hours)
- February 8: Webinar 3 – Review concepts, discussion, and course conclusion (30 minutes)