Subtropical reefs are increasingly threatened by both human stressors and climate change. They exist in close proximity to environmental limits of temperature, salinity, light availability and aragonite saturation, and are exposed to high rates and magnitudes of fluctuation in environmental conditions. The current oceanographic climate is changing at a much faster rate than in the past, which may result in more frequent or more severe extreme events in temperature, wind and waves, increasing stress regimes on subtropical reefs. Understanding how reefs function is critical to predicting how they will adapt to change, and to their long-term effective management.
Subtropical reef communities may be instrumental for the survival of coral reef organisms through geological time and act as refuges for tropical corals. Understanding these communities provides a glimpse of the potential future of current tropical coral reefs that may become marginal under climate change.
This project aims to contribute to this understanding, and examines the temporal and spatial dynamics of subtropical reef communities.
Peter Harrison, Southern Cross University
Russ Babcock, CSIRO
Steve Smith, Southern Cross University