Global Warming and Coral Reef Bleaching- Draft 1

This topic submitted by Beth Brownson ( brownsea@miamioh.edu) at 4:59 PM on 3/25/07.

A class picture at Poas Volcano in Costa Rica, 1997.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


Global warming is a very serioius threat to many ecosystems and our current way of life. I am interested in its impact on coral reefs, especially in regards to the bleaching of these usually vibrant communities. I want to discuss the human contribution to global warming and determine whether its progression can be curtailed or reversed in the future to prevent serious devastation of the environment. I will investigate research on symbiotic adaptations of the coral to sustained higher temperatures and the prognosis for reef communities in the future.

I. Introduction
A. Coral Reef Diversity and Symbiosis
B. Negative Effects due to Climate Change

II. The Impact of Global Warming
A. Human Cause
1. Burning of fossil fuels
2. Deforestation
3. Greenhouse effect
B. Environmental Implications
1. Sustained Increase in Sea-Surface Temperatures
2. Rise in Sea Level
3. More Occurrences of Extreme Weather
4. ENSO Events

III. Coral Bleaching
A. Symbiotic algae loss due to heat stress
B. Local coral species extinctions
C. Impact on marine fish communities
D. Changes in symbiotic relationships

IV. Future Outlook
A. Predictions regarding global climate change
B. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
C. Research on coral regeneration and adaptation

V. Conclusion

References:

Australian Institute of Marine Science. (2007). Coral Reefs and Climate Change 2007. http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/about/communications/issues/coral-reefs-and-climate-change-2007.html

Bellwood, D. R. et al. (2006). Coral Bleaching, Reef Fish Community Phase Shifts and the Resilience of Coral Reefs. Global Change Biology, Vol. 12 Issue 9, p1587-1594.

Hughes, T. P. et al. (2003). Climate Change, Human Impacts, and the Resilience of Coral Reefs. Science, Vol. 301 Issue 5635, p929-933.

Parmesan, Camille. (2006). Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, & Systematics. Vol. 37 Issue 1, p637-669. http://arjournals.annualreviews.org.proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.37.091305.110100

RJ Jones et al. (1998). Temperature-induced bleaching of corals begins with impairment of the CO2 fixation mechanism in zooxanthellae. Plant, Cell, and Environment, Vol. 21: 1219-1230. http://www.reef.edu.au/OHG/HG%20papers/Jones%20et%20al.%201998.pdf

Rowan, Rob. (2004). Coral Bleaching: Thermal adaptation in coral reef symbionts. Nature. Vol. 430 Issue 7001, p742-742

Union of Concerned Scientists. (2005). Early Warning Signs: Coral Reef Bleaching. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/early-warning-signs-of-global-warming-coral-reef-bleaching.html



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