Special Issue "Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water and Climate Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 21 November 2022 | Viewed by 4950

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Kevin B. Strychar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Climate Change Studies of Aquatic & Marine Ecosystems, Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University,131 Lake Michigan Center,740 W. Shoreline Dr., Muskegon, MI 49441-1678, USA
Interests: climate change; aquatic and marine ecology; flow cytometry; invasive species; benthic ecology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that we announce a Special Issue on climate change and coral reefs. Although global climate change has been a natural part of earth’s history, the rate and magnitude at which change is occurring is cause for concern. Even the most conservative mathematical models examining climate suggest a 1.5°C minimum increase to as high as 6°C by the end of the century. However, much of the reporting focuses on terrestrial habitats, fossil fuel combustion, and the greenhouse effect. To better understand climate change, we also need to focus on marine ecosystems and the “canary in the coal mine” – coral reefs. In this Special Issue, we focus on climate change as it relates to shallow, mesophotic, and deep marine systems and coral, which may be the canary in the seas.

Dr. Kevin B. Strychar
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • Coral reefs
  • Scleractinian coral
  • Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs)
  • Deep-sea coral
  • Alcyonacean coral
  • Octocorals
  • Symbiosis
  • Apo-symbiosis

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Decreased Photosynthetic Efficiency in Response to Site Translocation and Elevated Temperature Is Mitigated with LPS Exposure in Porites astreoides Symbionts
Water 2022, 14(3), 366; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030366 - 26 Jan 2022
Viewed by 935
Abstract
Coral reefs have been detrimentally impacted causing health issues due to elevated ocean temperatures as a result of increased greenhouse gases. Extreme temperatures have also exacerbated coral diseases in tropical reef environments. Numerous studies have outlined the impacts of thermal stress and disease [...] Read more.
Coral reefs have been detrimentally impacted causing health issues due to elevated ocean temperatures as a result of increased greenhouse gases. Extreme temperatures have also exacerbated coral diseases in tropical reef environments. Numerous studies have outlined the impacts of thermal stress and disease on coral organisms, as well as understanding the influence of site-based characteristics on coral physiology. However, few have discussed the interaction of all three. Laboratory out-planting restoration projects have been of importance throughout impacted areas such as the Caribbean and southern Florida in order to increase coral cover in these areas. This study analyzes photosynthetic efficiency of Porites astreoides from the lower Florida Keys after a two-year reciprocal transplant study at inshore (Birthday reef) and offshore (Acer24 reef) sites to understand acclimation capacity of this species. Laboratory experiments subjected these colonies to one of three treatments: control conditions, increases in temperature, and increases in temperature plus exposure to an immune stimulant (lipopolysaccharide (LPS)) to determine their influence on photosynthetic efficiency and how stress events impact these measurements. In addition, this study is a continuation of previous studies from this group. Here, we aim to understand if these results are static or if an acclimation capacity could be found. Overall, we observed site-specific influences from the Acer24 reef site, which had significant decreases in photosynthetic efficiencies in 32 °C treatments compared to Birthday reef colonies. We suggest that high irradiance and lack of an annual recovery period from the Acer24 site exposes these colonies to significant photoinhibition. In addition, we observed significant increases in photosynthetic efficiencies from LPS exposure. We suggest host-derived antioxidants can mitigate the negative impacts of increased thermal stress. Further research is required to understand the full complexity of host immunity and symbiont photosynthetic interactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs)
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Article
The Effects of Depth-Related Environmental Factors on Traits in Acropora cervicornis Raised in Nurseries
Water 2022, 14(2), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14020212 - 12 Jan 2022
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Populations of Acropora cervicornis, one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean, have been declining due to human activities and global climate change. This has prompted the development of strategies such as coral farms, aimed at improving the long-term viability [...] Read more.
Populations of Acropora cervicornis, one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean, have been declining due to human activities and global climate change. This has prompted the development of strategies such as coral farms, aimed at improving the long-term viability of this coral across its geographical range. This study focuses on comprehending how seawater temperature (ST), and light levels (LL) affect the survival and growth of A. cervicornis fragments collected from three reefs in Culebra, Puerto Rico. These individuals were fragmented into three pieces of the similar sizes and placed in farms at 5, 8, and 12 m depth. The fragments, ST and LL were monitored for 11 months. Results show that fragments from shallow farms exhibit significantly higher mortalities when compared to the other two depths. Yet, growth at shallow farms was nearly 24% higher than at the other two depths. Corals grew fastest during winter, when temperature and LL were lowest, regardless of the water depth. Fragment mortality and growth origin were also influenced by reef origin. We conclude that under the current conditions, shallow farms may offer a slight advantage over deep ones provided the higher growth rate at shallow farms and the high fragment survival at all depths. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs)
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Article
Skeletal Growth Rates in Porites lutea Corals from Pulau Tinggi, Malaysia
Water 2022, 14(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010038 - 24 Dec 2021
Viewed by 987
Abstract
Skeletal records of massive Porites lutea corals sampled from reefs around Malaysia have previously shown average decadal declines in growth rates associated with sea warming. However, there was a variability in growth declines between sites that warrant the need for investigations into more [...] Read more.
Skeletal records of massive Porites lutea corals sampled from reefs around Malaysia have previously shown average decadal declines in growth rates associated with sea warming. However, there was a variability in growth declines between sites that warrant the need for investigations into more site-specific variations. This study analyzed decade-long (December 2004–November 2014) annual growth records (annual linear extension rate, skeletal bulk density, calcification rate) reconstructed from five massive P. lutea colonies from Pulau Tinggi, Malaysia. Significant non-linear changes in inter-annual trends of linear extension and calcification rates were found, with notable decreases that corresponded to the 2010 El Niño thermal stress episode and a pan-tropical mass coral bleaching event. Coral linear extension and calcification were observed to return to pre-2010 rates by 2012, suggesting the post-stress recovery of P. lutea corals at the study site within 2 years. Although no long-term declines in linear extension and calcification rates were detected, a linear decrease in annual skeletal bulk density by ≈9.5% over the 10-year study period was found. This suggests that although coral calcification rates are retained, the skeletal integrity of P. lutea corals may be compromised with potential implications for the strength of the overall reef carbonate framework. The correlation of coral calcification rates with sea surface temperature also demonstrated site-specific thermal threshold at 29 °C, which is comparable to the regional thermal threshold previously found for the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs)
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Article
Stress Resistance and Adaptation of the Aquatic Invasive Species Tubastraea Coccinea (Lesson, 1829) to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
Water 2021, 13(24), 3645; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243645 - 18 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 809
Abstract
A great number of studies published on long-term ocean warming and increased acidification have forecasted changes in regional biodiversity preempted by aquatic invasive species (AIS). The present paper is focused on invasive Tubastraea coccinea (TC), an azooxanthellate AIS coral thriving in regions of [...] Read more.
A great number of studies published on long-term ocean warming and increased acidification have forecasted changes in regional biodiversity preempted by aquatic invasive species (AIS). The present paper is focused on invasive Tubastraea coccinea (TC), an azooxanthellate AIS coral thriving in regions of the Gulf of Mexico, which has shown an ability to invade altered habitats, including endemic Indo-Pacific T. coccinea (TCP) populations. To determine if invasive TC are more stress resistant than endemic Indo-Pacific T. coccinea (TCP), authors measured tissue loss and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression, using a full factorial design, post exposure to changes in pH (7.5 and 8.1) and heat stress (31 °C and 34 °C). Overall, the mean time required for TCP to reach 50% tissue loss (LD50) was less than observed for TC by a factor of 0.45 (p < 0.0003). Increasing temperature was found to be a significant main effect (p = 0.004), decreasing the LD50 by a factor of 0.58. Increasing acidity to pH 7.5 from 8.1 did not change the sensitivity of TC to temperature; however, TCP displayed increased sensitivity at 31 °C. Increases in the relative density of HSP70 (TC) were seen at all treatment levels. Hence, TC appears more robust compared to TCP and may emerge as a new dominant coral displacing endemic populations as a consequence of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs)
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Article
Variation in Immune-Related Gene Expression Provides Evidence of Local Adaptation in Porites astreoides (Lamarck, 1816) between Inshore and Offshore Meta-Populations Inhabiting the Lower Florida Reef Tract, USA
Water 2021, 13(15), 2107; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13152107 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 956
Abstract
Coral communities of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT) have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Coral cover throughout the FRT is disproportionately distributed; >70% of total coral cover is found within the inshore patch reef zone (<2 km from shore) compared to [...] Read more.
Coral communities of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT) have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Coral cover throughout the FRT is disproportionately distributed; >70% of total coral cover is found within the inshore patch reef zone (<2 km from shore) compared to 30% found within the offshore bank reef zone (>5 km from shore). Coral mortality from disease has been differentially observed between inshore and offshore reefs along the FRT. Therefore, differences between the response of inshore and offshore coral populations to bacterial challenge may contribute to differences in coral cover. We examined immune system activation in Porites astreoides (Lamarck, 1816), a species common in both inshore and offshore reef environments in the FRT. Colonies from a representative inshore and offshore site were reciprocally transplanted and the expression of three genes monitored biannually for two years (two summer and two winter periods). Variation in the expression of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3, subunit H (eIF3H), an indicator of cellular stress in Porites astreoides, did not follow annual patterns of seawater temperatures (SWT) indicating the contribution of other stressors (e.g., irradiance). Greater expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor associated factor 3 (TRAF3), a signaling protein of the inflammatory response, was observed among corals transplanted to, or located within the offshore environment indicating that an increased immune response is associated with offshore coral more so than the inshore coral (p < 0.001). Corals collected from the offshore site also upregulated the expression of adenylyl cyclase associated protein 2 (ACAP2), increases which are associated with decreasing innate immune system inflammatory responses, indicating a counteractive response to increased stimulation of the innate immune system. Activation of the innate immune system is a metabolically costly survival strategy. Among the two reefs studied, the offshore population had a smaller mean colony size and decreased colony abundance compared to the inshore site. This correlation suggests that tradeoffs may exist between the activation of the innate immune system and survival and growth. Consequently, immune system activation may contribute to coral community dynamics and declines along the FRT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Studies of Coral Reefs)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: The Effects of Depth-Related Environmental Factors and Source of Collection on Live History Treat in Acropora cervicornis Raised in Nurseries

Authors: Claudia Patricia Ruiz-Diaz*,1, Carlos Toledo-Hernández*,1, Juan Luis Sánchez-González1,3,
Brenda Betancourt
2

Affiliation:

1 Sociedad Ambiente Marino (SAM)
2 Department of Statistic, college of liberal arts and science, University of Florida
3 Department of Biology University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Abstract:  Acropora cervicornis have been declining due to human activities and global-climate-changes.
This prompted the development of strategies such as coral farms, aiming to assuring the long-term
viability of this coral across its range. This study focuses on comprehending how seawater
temperature (ST) and light intensity (LI) affect the survivorship and growth of
A. cervicornis
fragments collected from three reefs and placed in farms at 3, 8, and 12m depths through 11
months. Results show that fragments from shallow farms exhibit higher mortalities, but higher
growth. Growth exhibited highest values during the coldest periods and with lower LI, regardless
of the water depths. Collection sites were also determinant influencing fragment mortality and
growth. Considering the forecasted warming by global-climate-change and recognizing the
sensitivity of
A. cervicornis to these factors, placing the fragments at deeper zones may improve
the overall success of coral farming operations.

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