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  • 1
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract We present a new method for extracting a comprehensive suite of biologically significant parameters from line transect data of coral communities. In addition to the percentage coral cover (the traditionally extracted parameter), the method extracts the population density of the coral colonies, their mean diameter and associated standard deviation and, for adequate data, their size frequency distribution. The method assumes only that the coral colonies form a system of non-overlapping circles in the plane, that the diameters of the circles are random quantities with an unknown distribution function, and that the transects are placed randomly. We test the method on both theoretical and real data to show that it performs as well as, if not better than, current methods in extracting the traditional parameter as well as being able to extract the additional useful parameters indicated. Because the method makes few restrictive assumptions and seems robust when used with field data, we suggest that it has wide application wherever line transects are used for ecological survey. The method is implemented in a Fortran program available from the senior author.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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  • 2
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract The morphological life-forms, that is to say, physiognomic-structural attributes, of two coral reef communities were used in a numerical analysis to determine the power of these attributes in recovering the underlying community structure. We used 17 attributes from the benthic communities at 6 reef slope sites on each of a midshelf and off-shore reef of the central Great Barrier Reef. These reefs had been previously well studied by traditional species-level means for several major taxonomic groups such as corals, fish and soft corals. Our multivariate analyses were able to recover broad patterns of between-reef affinity and discrete within-reef zonation patterns similar to those found in earlier studies, and in broad accord with the prevailing model of reef community structure, but with far greater efficacy. But perhaps more importantly, by placing all the benthos within the same context for the first time, our analyses were able to recover new patterns of community structure independent of the ones described earlier. This suggests that single-model explantations for the complex phenomena of coral reefs are likely to be inadequate.
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  • 3
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract Much debate has surrounded the notion that outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) have occurred in the geological past and hence are natural phenomena. As this debate has recently been renewed, we have reassessed statistically data presented by Frankel (1977, 1978) as evidence for the occurrence of past outbreaks. This was done using Frankel's data as well as those from extensive starfish surveys conducted prior to the commencement of his research. Our analysis of these data indicates that the occurrence of A. planci remains in recent sediments is independent of whether or not the reef from which the sample was collected had experienced a recent outbreak. Based on this premise, it is not possible to infer from Frankel's data the occurrence of past outbreaks from similar material in much older sediments. Thus while the data presented by Frankel (1977, 1978) may show that A. planci has existed within the Great Barrier Reef for at least several thousand years it does not demonstrate that outbreaks of this starfish have occurred in the geological past.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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  • 4
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract A large survey program was conducted during 1985/1986 to determine the extent of activity of the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, and its broad effects on the coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The perimeters of 228 reefs (about 9% of reefs in the GBR system) were surveyed within 1 year using rapid survey, manta tow techniques. These reefs encompassed the broad latitudinal and longitudinal gradients within the GBR. Approximately 27% (62 reefs) of the reefs surveyed had recently experienced (18%), or were experiencing (9%), an outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish. These outbreaks were mainly confined to reefs in the central third of the GBR (between Lizard Island and Townsville) and had affected, to varying degrees, approximately 65% of the reefs surveyed within this region. A greater proportion of mid-shelf reefs had experienced outbreaks than outer-shelf reefs, although this difference was not statistically significant. Of the small number of inner-shelf reefs surveyed, none had been recently affected by an outbreak. Large active outbreaks of starfish were reported on many of the reefs located off Townsville while much smaller outbreaks were found on several reefs at the southern end of the GBR, in the Swain Reef complex. Almost 86% of reefs currently experiencing an outbreak had moderate to high coral mortality over at least a third of their perimeters. Only 10% of reefs with active outbreaks had high coral mortality over most of their windward and leeward margins. A similar proportion of reefs had low to moderate coral mortality over less than a third of their perimeters.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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  • 5
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract The abundance and distribution of Acanthaster planci skeletal elements in reef sediments have been presented as evidence that population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef are not a new occurrence, but have been an integral part of the ecosystem for at least 7000 years on some reefs (Walbran et al. 1989a). Reassessment of the evidence shows that these claims are not justified and challenges the validity of several assumptions that are crucial to their thesis that outbreaks have been a recurrent phenomenon on the Great Barrier Reef. These are: (i) that the majority of starfish from outbreak populations remain and die on the host reef and that their skeletal elements add to the reef sediment, (ii) that reefs which have had recent A. planci outbreaks can be discriminated from those which have not by the abundance of starfish skeletal remains in recent sediments, (iii) that outbreaks will significantly increase the number of skeletal elements in reef sediments above normal background levels and, (iv) that the age of individual skeletal elements can be predicted from the age of their surrounding sediment or their depth in the sediment pile. We conclude that Walbran et al. do not have sufficient data to infer the outbreak history of A. planci from the sediment recored and that there are alternative interpretations of their findings. The possibility cannot be discounted that destructive population outbreaks of A. planci witnessed on the Great Barrier Reef since 1960 are unprecedented. The question of whether A. planci outbreaks are a naturally recurring phenomena or a novel, more recent development remains unanswered.
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  • 6
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract Analysis of data from 1966 to 1989 indicates 2 periods of abundant starfish outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). While the data for the first peak of activity (1966–1975) are relatively limited, the data for the most recent peak of activity (1981–1989) support the hypothesis of southward moving waves of outbreaks. The southward drift of outbreak activity is consistent with speed and direction of average summer currents on the GBR but the concept of a discrete seed area to initiate the wave is not substantiated, nor testable, with presently available data. As the present wave of outbreaks appears to be declining in the central section of the GBR (17–19°S) small residual populations may remain. If the outbreaks are coupled to coral recovery patterns then the next period of high starfish activity in the central section would be expected in the late-1990's.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-03-06
    Description: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2°C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
    Format: text
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  • 8
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract A rapid benthic line-transect survey method for use by non-specialist observers is described. At both Davies Reef (mid-continental shelf) and Myrmidon Reef (outer-continental shelf) in the central Great Barrier Reef a set of 6 sites of varying depths on the reef flat, crest and slope were sampled using this method. At least 10 contiguous 10 m transects were made at each site. Benthic organisms were recorded as life forms with categories based on both high level taxa and morphologies, and including scleractinian corals, alcyonarians, sponges, algae and others. Percentage cover data for 19 benthic categories are presented for all sites. Coral cover on both reefs is high on the crest and slope but low on the reef flat. At all sites the cover of soft corals and sponges is much less than cover of hard corals and algae. Abundances of soft corals and sponges increase with depth. Analysis of gaps between hard corals show that many colonies grow close to each other (〈1 cm)even when total coral cover is low.
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  • 9
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract The crinoid community of Davies Reef, a midshelf reef in the central Great Barrier Reef, was systematically sampled in all major crinoid habitats. A total of 294 individuals of 27 species-level taxa was found in 25 sites across the reef. Of these 27 taxa, 20 were confidently assigned to known species. The 25 sitesx27 taxa matrix was subjected to an array of pattern extraction and diagnostic techniques — numerical classification, ordination and minimum spanning trees — to elucidate the structure of the community. These analyses revealed a consistent structure characterized by a species-rich ensemble around the periphery of the reef which was attenuated towards the inside of the reef. This structure contrasts strongly with the patterns seen in other major reef communities, such as hard and soft corals, fish or sponges. In these communities, different parts of the reef are characterized by distinctive sets of species, a depthbased zonation of the communities is evident, and the fore-reef slope typically supports a different ensemble from the back-reef slope. We conclude that the crinoid community offers a significant opportunity to observe the coral reef ecosystem from a different perspective.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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  • 10
    ISSN: 1432-0975
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Notes: Abstract The question of whether population numbers are predictable in coral reef communities is confronted directly by trying to predict abundances of benthic taxa both within and between two reefs on the central Great Barrier Reef. Using models derived via the Group Method of Data Handling (GMDH), taxon abundances were found to be more predictable at Davies Reef than at Myrmidon Reef and a significant number of taxa showed consistent predictability patterns in all tests. For most taxa, the predictability of benthic abundances increased steadily with increasing spatial scale. Water depth figured prominently in almost all of the models obtained, emphasizing its importance as a physical determinant of local taxon abundances.
    Type of Medium: Electronic Resource
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