30 May 2016
Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies explains the latest report on bleaching, which has found 50 per-cent of the northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef are dying.
10 May 2016
Jeremy Jackson from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute provides an opinion on the recent paper in Science Advances that Professor John Pandolfi and other lab members co-authored:
Acroporids have been the dominant reef-building corals over the past few million years. Unfortunately, they are also the most vulnerable species to human impacts. Renema et al. show that acroporids originated more than 50 million years ago but did not dominate reef communities until the intensification of fluctuations in sea level associated with the ice ages. This geologically recent success is attributable to their exceptionally rapid growth and their ability to spread across reefs by clonal fragmentation. These very features, however, have also made them vulnerable to heat stress and disease, as exemplified by the tragic mass bleaching and mortality of corals along the Australian Great Barrier Reef.
Original paper: W. Renema, J. M. Pandolfi, W. Kiessling, F. R. Bosellini, J. S. Klaus, C. Korpanty, B. R. Rosen, N. Santodomingo, C. C. Wallace, J. M. Webster, K. G. Johnson. 2016. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success? Sci. Adv. 2, e1500850. PDF
Link to online opinion.
15 April 2016
John Pandolfi is a Professor in Palaeoecology and Marine Studies at the University of Queensland. His comments below refer to the current bleaching event in the Solitary Islands.
“The coral bleaching event that is wreaking havoc in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef is also being expressed along the subtropical coast of eastern Australia. Preliminary work being conducted in the Solitary Islands near Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales, led by myself and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, shows widespread coral bleaching with a number of coral genera feeling the heat. The hardest hit corals appear to be the pocilloporids, (Pocillopora in particular, but also Stylophora), and the genus Turbinaria. However, other taxa, such as Porites are also showing substantial bleaching.
Of particular concern is that in many places around the Solitary Islands, the two hardest hit corals are two of the most abundant. Moreover, some of the Pocillopora colonies are dying or have already died. Should mortality ensue for these two dominant corals on the reef, Australia’s subtropical reefs could undergo major changes in their biotic composition. On the positive side, many of the hardest hit corals on the Great Barrier Reef, such as Acropora, are showing only minimal stress to the sub-tropical bleaching event.”
For more information on current coral bleaching and more comments from experts please follow the LINK.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its worst coral bleaching in recorded history. The vivid kaleidoscopic colours that have mesmerized divers for generations – the purples, blues, indigos, lime greens, tan oranges and yellows – have been turning a depressing dull grey and white.
“It’s saddening but we had come to expect this”, Professor John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland told me via skype from his Brisbane home.
For rest of the interview please follow following links:
Online version: http://fm4.orf.at/stories/1768938/
On-air version http://fm4.orf.at/player/20160331/RC
31 March 2015
We are proud to announce that Dr Ian Butler, who has recently finished his PhD in the Marine Palaeoecology Lab, has received 2015 Virginia Chadwick Award for his publication:
Butler, IR, Sommer, B, Zann, M, Zhao, JX and Pandolfi, JM (2015). The cumulative impacts of repeated heavy rainfall, flooding and altered water quality on the high-latitude coral reefs of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin 96(1-2): 356-367. PDF
The recognise, each year, five outstanding publications lead-authored by ARC Centre of Excellence graduate students. These awards were established by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in honour of Virginia Chadwick following her death in 2009. The awards are in recognition of Dr Chadwick’s significant contribution to securing the future of coral reefs worldwide during her role as Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and as a member of the Centre of Excellence’s Advisory Board.
18 March 2016
As part of the World Science Festival in Brisbane recently, I attended the 2016 Thomas Conservation Oration delivered by The Honourable Robert Hill titled “Ocean Futures: A New Generation of Laws and Policies for the Sea”. The Hon. Robert Hill was an intrinsic part of introducing Australia’s Oceans Policy (AOP) in 1998 during his term as Environment Minister. This policy was perceived as ground breaking in advancing coordinated and integrated management of Australia’s marine areas. However, AOP was never fully implemented and was superseded by marine bioregional planning. The main thrust of Hill’s oration was the need to secure the future of the oceans’ biodiversity and resources through new laws and policies. Of particular mention was the management of high seas areas; vast parts of the oceans and seas that need strong legislation and regulation, not just voluntary agreements. Hill suggested that careful and successful implementation of policies is required as merely signing International conventions and agreements does not guarantee outcomes. My research uses this premise and aims to assess the implementation of policy/legislation that underpins the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Australia. I have interviewed MPA practitioners and policy makers about what policy/legislation is used in management, how it is applied, and at what stage of the cycle policy is utilised. Preliminary results suggest a complex system of governance arrangements, policies, and legislation, with practitioners having to overcome numerous challenges to effectively implement the myriad of marine policies. This research will be developed into a paper for publication at a later date.
By Kerrie Fraser
26 February 2016
Recent study published by PhD student Martina Prazeres and collaborators showed that populations of reef-dwelling foraminifera that live in variable environments are more resistant to changes in physicochemical conditions above their threshold of tolerance than those that live in more stable habitats. Using Amphistegina lobifera as model organism and biochemical tools, they were able to detect some acclimation mechanisms related to bleaching responses and growth/calcification in response to elevated temperature and nitrate. The results provided the fundamental single-factor analysis that is crucial to understand the differences in tolerance among A. lobifera collected from different reef sites to changing environmental conditions. Findings highlight the importance of local habitat in shaping the responses of this species to short-term shifts in environmental conditions.
Prazeres, M., Uthicke, S., Pandolfi, J.M. 2016. Influence of local habitat on the physiological responses of large benthic foraminifera to temperature and nutrient stress. Scientific Reports 6: 21936. doi: 10.1038/srep21936
8 February 2016
Recent publication in Scientific Reports:
Historical and modern photographs of Stone Island taken in a) 1915 (photographer unknown); b) 1994 (photographer A. Elliot © Commonwealth of Australia GBRMPA); c) 2012 (photographer H. Markham); and Bramston Reef taken in d) c.1890 (W. Saville-Kent); e) 1994 (photographer A. Elliot © Commonwealth of Australia GBRMPA); f) 2012 (photographer T. Clark). Landscape features in the background of the images helped to locate the same sites: Gloucester Island (GI) and Cape Gloucester (CG).
For more info visit http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/uoq-sad020816.php or contact Dr Tara Clark
5 February 2016
Jeremy Jackson of Scripps, (from left); Trevor Branch of University of Washington; John Pandolfi of University of Queensland and moderator, Mary O’Connor of University of British Columbia were featured on a panel discussion about the impact of human activity on the marine environment, first of a new lecture series sponsored by the Center for the Environment at Harvard University.
and for full panel discussion follow: http://environment.harvard.edu/ecological-systems-anthropocene-0