Healthy coral reefs of Madagascar resisting damage from climate change

June 22, 2006

Antananarivo, Madagascar - Healthy coral reefs of Madagascar's northeast coast have so far resisted the damaging effects of warmer ocean temperatures attributed to global climate change, say scientists who recently studied the region.

The survey of a previously unexplored region in March 2006 by scientists from Conservation International and its partners documented a much greater variety of life than expected, including one fish species believed new to science and 17 others noted for the first time in the waters off Madagascar.

These findings, combined with results of a similar survey in 2002 along northwest Madagascar's coast, increased to 829 the total number of fish species in Malagasy waters. The two Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expeditions also recorded the highest coral diversity of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, making the region one of the richest in Indian Ocean marine biodiversity.

The latest results provide further information on the unique marine biodiversity of Madagascar for President Marc Ravalomanana's government, which has pledged to triple the island nation's total protected areas to 6 million hectares (23,000 square miles), including 1 million hectares (3,800 square miles) of marine protected areas.

"In the end, these expeditions have doubled the number of marine species known to the region," said Sheila McKenna, director of marine biodiversity for CI's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. "That demonstrates the need to protect these areas."

McKenna and Philippe Razafinjatovo, marine program coordinator for CI-Madagascar, led the latest expedition from March 10-24 in the region between Cape d' Ambre and Baie du Loky. The researchers conducted 27 scuba dives and also visited 12 coastal villages to examine how local residents use marine resources.

They found healthy coral reefs that have avoided bleaching attributed to climate change found in other Indian Ocean reefs. The researchers believe cool water currents from adjacent deep ocean areas offset the warming effects of climate change.

"The resiliency and health of the coral reefs with their biodiversity and endemism makes the reefs of Madagascar a high conservation priority," said Gerald R. Allen, a leading ichthyologist who conducted underwater fish surveys on the expedition.

Jean Maharavo of Madagascar's National Center for Environmental Research, who took part in both expeditions, noted that much of the island nation's marine biodiversity has yet to be studied.

"During each of these two expeditions, we discovered new fish and coral species," Maharavo said. "That shows the need to protect what's out there before we lose biodiversity that we never even knew existed."
-end-


Conservation International

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.