Nav: Home

Healthy mangroves help coral reef fisheries under climate stress

November 12, 2019

Healthy mangroves can help fight the consequences of climate change on coral reef fisheries, according to a University of Queensland-led study.

UQ's Professor Peter Mumby said corals have been bleached and reefs have lost their structural complexity as a major consequence of warming seas.

"Many people are worried that - due to climate change - reef fishery yields could halve if coral reefs flatten, losing the hiding places that support thousands of fish," he said.

"When a young fish arrives at a degraded reef it has nowhere to hide and is easily targeted by predators.

"Of course, predators experience the same problem when they're young, so the entire food web becomes unproductive and few fish survive."

Despite the alarming trend, the team found mangroves provided a partial solution.

"We know that many reef fish can use mangroves as an alternative nursery habitat to the reef," Professor Mumby said.

"Mangroves provide a calm, safe environment with plenty of food and allow fish to grow larger before heading out to the reef as adults.

"In fact, we discovered that these nurseries could support fisheries productivity that is equal to that in complex reefs that lack nurseries."

The researchers from UQ, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Victoria University of Wellington, compared and validated model predictions with field data from Belize.

Victoria University's Dr Alice Rogers said the results should inform reef fisheries management strategies to protect areas now and into the future.

"Mangrove nurseries essentially allow some fish to sidestep the challenges of early life on a degraded reef," she said.

"These fish then benefit by finding it relatively easy to find food because it has few places to hide.

"Mangrove restoration can be important, but in places where that's impossible, future research might examine adapting structures to offer mangrove-like nursery functions.

"This would be in environments that either do not support natural mangrove forests or have too large a tidal range to provide stable nursery functions in coastal fringes."

Professor Mumby said the protection and restoration of mangrove habitats should remain a priority.

"While we need to take every effort to prevent reef degradation, our study reveals that healthy mangrove forests can help buffer the effects of habitat loss on reef fisheries.

"It's critical that they need to remain a priority as part of the battle to mitigate climate change impacts on coral reefs and their functioning.

"Ultimately, we need to protect intact combinations of mangroves and coral reefs."
-end-
The research has been published in PLOS Biology (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000510).

High-resolution images for this story are available via Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9gvju8fy5qzcqai/AABH2hz2NF16kOaIFQ0JUBKLa?dl=0

University of Queensland

Related Climate Change Articles:

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.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.