UCI biologist among data contributors to large, unprecedented project
When Joleah Lamb strapped on a scuba tank and plunged into the ocean over a decade ago, it was the first of many expeditions to examine the effects of climate change and other human-produced factors on coral.
Now, 13 years after that foray, she has contributed one of the largest amounts of data to a landmark study on how to save coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Lamb, an assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine School of Biological Sciences, is among more than 80 marine researchers worldwide who produced the report. It has been published in Nature Ecology and Evolution (Link to study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0953-8)
The research encompassed over 2,500 reefs across 44 countries. Lamb provided its fourth-largest dataset, containing details on more than a million individual corals. Gathering the information required painstaking visual inspection, with Lamb and colleagues swimming underwater for as much as six hours each day. Armed with special measuring tapes, waterproof paper and pencils, they recorded information on each coral, meticulously identifying the size and health of more than 300 unique species.
Key to this study were observations of bleaching, a visible indication water is too warm. When temperatures rise, corals expel algae they normally depend on for energy. The depletion robs the corals of their color and turns them white. It also eventually starves them.
“There are efforts to use drones or satellites to collect this information, but you cannot get the high resolution needed to assess the vital complex architecture of reefs unless you are in the water,” said Lamb.
The scientists involved in the report say it’s not too late to save reefs if three strategies are immediately enacted in the Indo-Pacific. One is protecting from human impact those that are functioning, representing 17 percent of the reefs studied. Another is helping the 54 percent that are damaged but have the potential to recover. For 28 percent, it may be too late for rescue, which suggests some coastal societies will need to transition away from depending on them.
Lamb says Americans should be concerned about the research results. “There are a lot of reefs in our territories, such as Hawaii, American Samoa and Guam,” she said. “They all face severe impacts from the loss of coral reefs, including on coastal protection, food and income from tourism. And even if you don’t live close to a reef, carbon emissions contribute to climate change that harms corals worldwide.”
Besides university scientists, researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society, other non-profit organizations and governmental agencies participated in the study. The massive project demonstrates the need for collaboration in combatting environmental threats, she said.
“As scientists, we can tend to work in small domains and become microscopic in what we examine,” she added. “We can’t be that way anymore. We must work together on large global solutions that protect our world.”
The Latest on: Saving coral reefs
via Google News
The Latest on: Saving coral reefs
- As mysterious disease kills Florida’s reefs, a massive ‘Noah’s Ark’ effort tries to save themon September 2, 2021 at 4:23 am
Stony coral disease has scorched the already struggling reefs of South Florida and caused some species like Florida’s picturesque pillar coral to go locally extinct. And now its spreading fast through ...
- Reducing Flood Risks by Restoring Coral Reefson August 31, 2021 at 1:04 pm
Powerful climate-fueled hurricanes such as Irma and Maria in 2017 caused significant damage to coastal communities in Florida and Puerto Rico, not just to infrastructure but to natural barriers such ...
- ‘Reef-liable’ racing against time to save our coral reefson August 29, 2021 at 4:00 pm
To kickstart Reef-liable, the group launched a fundraiser campaign recently called “Save Our Reefs, Be Reef-liable!”. The campaign also hopes to raise awareness about the shocking depletion of coral ...
- The race to rescue Florida’s diseased coralson August 29, 2021 at 7:40 am
Several years ago, a mysterious coral disease began decimating the Florida Reef. The only way to save the animals from extinction ... of a program to help researchers restore and study future reefs.
- Can This 'Cloud-Brightening' Technique Save the Great Barrier Reef?on August 25, 2021 at 5:18 pm
Using seawater mist, a team of researchers trialed ‘cloud-brightening’ technology in a bid to protect coral reefs from ocean warming-related bleaching events.
- Can artificially altered clouds save the Great Barrier Reef?on August 25, 2021 at 3:13 am
Australian scientists are rushing to develop new technologies — such as ways to block sunlight — to help preserve corals in the face of climate change.
- Human sewage 'dumped from Chinese ships' is destroying reefs in disputed South China Seaon August 22, 2021 at 10:36 am
Experts say the waste discharge matches the activities of Chinese boats charged with expanding Beijing's territorial claims ...
- Community acts to save Dumagueteon August 22, 2021 at 9:42 am
Dumaguete City is known for its beautiful seaside boulevard, the majestic coastal view and ocean breeze, and the bayside establishments along the famous avenue. This, along with Dumaguete’s many other ...
- This New Imaging System Could Be a Game Changer in the Fight to Save Coral Reefson August 20, 2021 at 7:06 am
Scientists have developed an airborne imaging technology that will allow them to spot ailing coral reefs up to 70 feet underwater.
- Trouble in Paradise: Ocean Acidification This Way Comeson August 20, 2021 at 1:30 am
Ocean acidification arrives in paradises like Mo'orea. Credit: NSF Mo'orea Coral Reef LTER Site Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (48 KB) Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users ...
via Bing News