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Special Issue "Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2022 | Viewed by 13129

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Nicola Browne
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Interests: marine ecology; paleoecology; coral physiology and morphology; carbonate sedimentology; habitat mapping; water quality; island geomorphology; sediment transport; oceanography; ecological modelling; conservation management
Dr. Andrew Bauman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore | NUS, Singapore, Singapore
Interests: population dynamics of corals; extreme and degraded coral reef systems; fish-macroalgal-coral interactions; functional role of herbivorous fishes; predator-prey interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Marginal coral reefs live under sub-optimal environmental conditions (e.g., low light, high sediment inputs and variable temperatures) and include turbid and mesophotic reefs, high-latitude reefs, high-temperature reefs, and high CO2 seep reefs near volcanic vents. These reef systems are typically characterised by low biodiversity, reduced habitat complexity, and low coral cover, and are dominated by stress tolerant and weedy coral communities. Given that the range of marginal reefs will likely extend with future climate change, studying these reefs may provide potentially novel and useful insights into the effects of future climate change on coral reefs. Further, marginal reefs allows us to test hypotheses about resilience in the face of increasing local and global stressors that impact biodiversity, ecosystem function, and carbonate accretion. Biodiversity is considered to be a cornerstone of reef resilience, and as such, reef conservation has focused greatly on biodiversity hotspots. Yet there is increasing evidence that marginal reefs with lower biodiversity may have greater resilience to future ocean warming.

We invite submissions that focus on marginal reef types, their resilience to environmental stress and potential characteristics (e.g., species diversity, community composition, ecophysiology, functional coral traits, host symbiont associations) that contribute to their resilience and function.  These studies can include local to global studies and site-specific case studies to meta-analysis approaches and can focus on the coral micro-biome to reef communities on both fossil and contemporary reefs. In doing so, this Special Issue will highlight new research and significant advances on these understudied reef systems, and re-assess their conservation value.

Dr. Andrew Bauman
Dr. Nicola Browne
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Coral reefs
  • Marginal environments
  • Ocean warming
  • Resilience
  • Biodiversity
  • Coral reef conservation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Four-Year Field Survey of Black Band Disease and Skeletal Growth Anomalies in Encrusting Montipora spp. Corals around Sesoko Island, Okinawa
Diversity 2022, 14(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14010032 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1425
Abstract
The Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate scleractinian coral genus Montipora is the host of many coral diseases. Among these are cyanobacterial Black Band Disease (BBD) and Skeletal Growth Anomalies (GAs), but in general data on both diseases are lacking from many regions of the Indo-Pacific, including [...] Read more.
The Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate scleractinian coral genus Montipora is the host of many coral diseases. Among these are cyanobacterial Black Band Disease (BBD) and Skeletal Growth Anomalies (GAs), but in general data on both diseases are lacking from many regions of the Indo-Pacific, including from Okinawa, southern Japan. In this study, we collected annual prevalence data of Black Band Disease (BBD) and Skeletal Growth Anomalies (GAs) affecting the encrusting form of genus Montipora within the shallow reefs of the subtropical Sesoko Island (off the central west coast of Okinawajima Island) from summer to autumn for four years (2017 to 2020). In 2020 Montipora percent coverage and colony count were also assessed. Generalized Linear Models (GLM) were used to understand the spatial and temporal variation of both BBD and GAs in the nearshore (NE) and reef edge (RE) sites, which revealed higher probability of BBD occurrence in RE sites. BBD prevalence was significantly higher in 2017 in some sites than all other years with site S12 having significant higher probability during all four surveyed years. In terms of GAs, certain sites in 2020 had higher probability of occurrence than during the other years. While the general trend of GAs increased from 2017 to 2020, it was observed to be non-fatal to colonies. In both diseases, the interaction between sites and years was significant. We also observed certain BBD-infected colonies escaping complete mortality. BBD progression rates were monitored in 2020 at site S4, and progression was related to seawater temperatures and was suppressed during periods of heavy rain and large strong typhoons. Our results suggest that higher BBD progression rates are linked with high sea water temperatures (SST > bleaching threshold SST) and higher light levels (>1400 µmol m−2 s−1), indicating the need for further controlled laboratory experiments. The current research will help form the basis for continued future research into these diseases and their causes in Okinawa and the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World)
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Article
Coral Communities on Marginal High-Latitude Reefs in West Australian Marine Parks
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13110554 - 30 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1317
Abstract
Many temperate reefs are experiencing a shift towards a greater abundance of tropical species in response to marine heatwaves and long-term ocean warming worldwide. Baseline data for coral communities growing in high-latitude reefs is required to better understand ecosystem changes over time. In [...] Read more.
Many temperate reefs are experiencing a shift towards a greater abundance of tropical species in response to marine heatwaves and long-term ocean warming worldwide. Baseline data for coral communities growing in high-latitude reefs is required to better understand ecosystem changes over time. In this study, we explore spatial and temporal trends in the distribution of coral communities from 1999 to 2019 at 118 reef sites within the five marine parks located in the south-west of Western Australia (WA) between 30° to 35° S. Our estimates of coral cover were generally low (<5%), except for a few sites in Jurien Bay Marine Park and Rottnest Island Marine Reserve where coral cover was 10% to 30%. Interannual changes in genera assemblages were detected but were not consistent over time, whereas significant temporal increases in coral cover estimates were found at the lowest latitude site in Jurien Bay. Coral assemblages were primarily distinguished by Turbinaria spp. at Marmion Marine Park and Ngari Capes Marine Park, and Pocillopora spp. and Dipsastraea spp. at Rottnest Island and Jurien Bay. Our findings suggest that conditions in south-west WA are favorable to the ongoing survival of existing genera and there were minimal signs of expansion in coral cover at most study sites. Coral cover and composition on these reefs may, however, change with ongoing ocean warming and increased occurrence of marine heatwaves. This study provides a valuable benchmark for assessing future changes in coral assemblages and highlights the need for targeted hard-coral surveys to quantify subtle changes in high-latitude coral community assemblages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World)
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Article
The Third Global Coral Bleaching Event on the Marginal Coral Reefs of the Southwestern Indian Ocean and Factors That Contribute to Their Resistance and Resilience
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13100464 - 26 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1281
Abstract
Coral reefs reach their southernmost limits in the southwestern Indian Ocean in Maputaland, South Africa. Here, we investigate the recent global coral bleaching event of 2016, the thermal dynamics of these marginal high-latitude reefs and the potential environmental factors regulating the responses of [...] Read more.
Coral reefs reach their southernmost limits in the southwestern Indian Ocean in Maputaland, South Africa. Here, we investigate the recent global coral bleaching event of 2016, the thermal dynamics of these marginal high-latitude reefs and the potential environmental factors regulating the responses of coral communities. Pre-, peak- and post-bleaching surveys of over 9850 coral colonies from 29 genera were undertaken over 3 years across 14 sites spanning 120 km of coastline using point-intercept and visual bleaching index survey methodologies. Bleaching data were related to several environmental variables including temperature, degree heating weeks (DHW), depth, latitude, and upwelling intensity. These reefs have experienced a history of relatively low thermal stress based on DHW. Long-term in situ temperature records nevertheless showed no obvious trend of increase. In situ temperatures also displayed poor relationships, with temperatures predicted by the Representative Concentration Pathway models. Mild coral bleaching with no significant mortality was recorded across sites with taxon-specific bleaching responses evident. Latitude and cumulative daily DHW were significantly related to the bleaching index whereas depth and interactions of depth with latitude and DHW were not. While upwelling of cooler water may offer some refuge to coral communities, especially in the Central and Southern Reef Complexes where it is more pronounced, this may only be transient as the upwelled water may also experience some degree of warming in future, thereby limiting such protection from global warming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World)
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Review

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Review
Factors Limiting the Range Extension of Corals into High-Latitude Reef Regions
Diversity 2021, 13(12), 632; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13120632 - 01 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2132
Abstract
Reef-building corals show a marked decrease in total species richness from the tropics to high latitude regions. Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for this pattern in the context of abiotic and biotic factors, including temperature thresholds, light limitation, aragonite saturation, nutrient [...] Read more.
Reef-building corals show a marked decrease in total species richness from the tropics to high latitude regions. Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for this pattern in the context of abiotic and biotic factors, including temperature thresholds, light limitation, aragonite saturation, nutrient or sediment loads, larval dispersal constraints, competition with macro-algae or other invertebrates, and availability of suitable settlement cues or micro-algal symbionts. Surprisingly, there is a paucity of data supporting several of these hypotheses. Given the immense pressures faced by corals in the Anthropocene, it is critical to understand the factors limiting their distribution in order to predict potential range expansions and the role that high latitude reefs can play as refuges from climate change. This review examines these factors and outlines critical research areas to address knowledge gaps in our understanding of light/temperature interactions, coral-Symbiodiniaceae associations, settlement cues, and competition in high latitude reefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World)
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Review
Turbid Coral Reefs: Past, Present and Future—A Review
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060251 - 07 Jun 2021
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 5145
Abstract
Increasing evidence suggests that coral reefs exposed to elevated turbidity may be more resilient to climate change impacts and serve as an important conservation hotspot. However, logistical difficulties in studying turbid environments have led to poor representation of these reef types within the [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence suggests that coral reefs exposed to elevated turbidity may be more resilient to climate change impacts and serve as an important conservation hotspot. However, logistical difficulties in studying turbid environments have led to poor representation of these reef types within the scientific literature, with studies using different methods and definitions to characterize turbid reefs. Here we review the geological origins and growth histories of turbid reefs from the Holocene (past), their current ecological and environmental states (present), and their potential responses and resilience to increasing local and global pressures (future). We classify turbid reefs using new descriptors based on their turbidity regime (persistent, fluctuating, transitional) and sources of sediment input (natural versus anthropogenic). Further, by comparing the composition, function and resilience of two of the most studied turbid reefs, Paluma Shoals Reef Complex, Australia (natural turbidity) and Singapore reefs (anthropogenic turbidity), we found them to be two distinct types of turbid reefs with different conservation status. As the geographic range of turbid reefs is expected to increase due to local and global stressors, improving our understanding of their responses to environmental change will be central to global coral reef conservation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marginal Reef Systems: Resilience in A Rapidly Changing World)
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