Latest News https://www.aims.gov.au/ en Areas of coral diversity identified for conservation in Australia’s North West https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/areas-coral-diversity-identified-conservation-australias-north-west <h1 class="au-header-heading">Areas of coral diversity identified for conservation in Australia’s North West</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Thu, 2020-06-25 12:02</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><span><span><span><span><span>New research has confirmed that corals reefs along the Kimberley coastline will not recover quickly from an extreme event such as mass coral bleaching, unless local populations survive.    </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>The <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eva.13033">study published in <em>Evolutionary Applications</em></a>, reveals that Kimberley corals live in genetically related neighbourhoods of less than 35 kilometres and are unlikely to recruit larvae from outside this neighbourhood. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>Two types of coral were sampled: the broadcast spawning coral <em>Acropora aspera</em> and the brooding coral <em>Isopora brueggemanni</em> across the inter-archipelago (tens to hundreds of kilometres), inter-reef (kilometres to tens of kilometres) and within-reef (tens of metres to a few kilometres).</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>The research is the result of a national collaboration between researchers from the </span><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/"><span>Australian Institute of Marine Science</span></a><span class="MsoHyperlink"><u><span> (AIMS)</span></u></span><span>, </span><a href="https://www.csiro.au/"><span>CSIRO</span></a><span>, </span><a href="https://www.curtin.edu.au/"><span>Curtin University</span></a><span>, the </span><a href="http://museum.wa.gov.au/"><span>WA Museum</span></a><span> and  the </span><a href="https://www.niaa.gov.au/bardi-jawi-ipa-and-rangers"><span>Bardi Jawi Rangers</span></a><span> as part of the </span><a href="https://www.wamsi.org.au/"><span>Western Australian Marine Science Institution</span></a><span>’s </span><a href="https://www.wamsi.org.au/kimberley-marine-research-program"><span>Kimberley Marine Research Program</span></a><span>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>Lead author <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/our-people/james-underwood">Dr Jim Underwood (AIMS)</a> said the study provides a valuable insight into how to protect the ecosystems from local human pressures such as overfishing and pollution in Marine Protected Areas and Indigenous Protected Areas. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>“To do this well, we need to know where and how far coral larvae move in the ocean currents after they are spawned and before <span>they settle down as recruits,” Dr Underwood said. “This helps us to understand </span>where the next generation of young corals will come from so we can look to keeping the sources healthy.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>The key finding from the study is that most coral larvae do not move more than 35 kilometres from their home reef, and shows that locally produced recruits drive replenishment.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>Unlike continuous reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef, most systems in Australia’s North West are extremely isolated with low “connectivity” between local coral populations and larvae from distant sources via ocean currents.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>“This means recovery after disturbance will rarely be supplemented through the input of larvae produced far away,” Dr Underwood said. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="40e1dca6-0c50-408a-a2f0-354daace871c" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="600" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/jimbowles2.jpg_800px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="800" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Lead author Dr Jim Underwood collecting corals from Bowles Reef in Mayala Seacountry. Image: Oliver Berry</figcaption> </figure> <p><span><span><span><span><span>Co-author and project leader Dr Oliver Berry (CSIRO) said they also found that corals of the Dampier Peninsula and Buccaneer Archipelago are genetically diverse and different from other regions, and therefore require special custodianship.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>“The study is a great example of how new technologies like DNA sequencing can reveal information about the movement of corals without having to observe them,” Dr Berry said.  </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>The study recommends networks of marine reserves that effectively protect reefs from local pressures should be spaced within a few tens of kilometres to conserve the existing patterns of demographic and genetic connectivity.</span></span></span></p> <p><em><span><span><span>Featured image: A Bardi Jawi Ranger vessel on sea country near Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) on the east side of the Dampier Peninsula. Image: Nick Thake</span></span></span></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-06/Media%20Release%20-%20Areas%20of%20coral%20diversity%20identified%20for%20conservation%20in%20Australia%E2%80%99s%20North%20West_AIMS_25thJune2020.pdf"><span><span><span>PDF | 211KB</span></span></span></a></p> <p><strong>Media enquiries</strong></p> <p><span><span><span>John Liston</span></span></span><br /> <span><span><span><a href="mailto:j.liston@aims.gov.au"><span>j.liston@aims.gov.au</span></a></span></span></span>              <br /> <span><span><span>(+61)  407 102 684 (</span></span></span><span><span><span>+ 8 hours UTC)</span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">Latest releases</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>Media Release</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5102/edit" hreflang="en">BardiJawi ranger vessel on seacountry near Ardyaloon (One Arm Point)</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/aims_bardijawi_08192_760px.jpg" width="760" height="401" alt="aerial photo of vessel near a reef" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Thu, 25 Jun 2020 02:02:49 +0000 kate 3721 at https://www.aims.gov.au Global effort needed to produce baby corals en masse to help struggling reefs https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/global-effort-needed-produce-baby-corals-en-masse-help-struggling-reefs <h1 class="au-header-heading">Global effort needed to produce baby corals en masse to help struggling reefs</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Tue, 2020-06-16 11:50</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Unprecedented global collaboration across many disciplines is needed to overcome the research challenges of scaling up sexual production of corals, to help the world’s coral reefs combat the impacts of climate change and other threats.</p> <p>This is the conclusion of a comprehensive review of research into the sexual reproduction of hard corals for reef restoration, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), recently published in the <a href="https://www.int-res.com/articles/meps_oa/m635p203.pdf">Marine Ecology Progress Series ‘Sexual production of corals for reef restoration in the Anthropocene’</a>.</p> <p>Despite being the ‘largest sex show on earth’, little was known about coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef until researchers discovered mass spawning in 1983. Since then, marine scientists have studied how corals reproduce, seeking to better understand whether mass spawning can be harnessed to help reefs adapt more quickly to environmental changes.</p> <p>ln the review of more than 350 papers, AIMS coral reef restoration ecologist <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/our-people/dr-carly-randall">Dr Carly Randall</a> and a team of leading marine researchers have synthesised the current knowledge of how corals sexually reproduce, from the development of gametes through the settlement of larvae. The review also considered the feasibility of using sexually-produced corals for larger-scale reef restoration and recovery.</p> <p>“The knowledge gaps are in areas such as: controlling spawning cycles, capturing and characterising spawn slicks, overcoming the bottleneck of post-settlement survival, identifying factors that control sexual maturation and developing high-volume aquaculture production of corals,” Dr Randall said.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-right"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="429815b0-1661-454c-a394-913fd51688ad" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="353" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/bundles_twitter_440px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="440" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Coral egg and sperm bundles under a microscope</figcaption> </figure> <p>Coral reefs are experiencing frequent and severe disturbances, like marine heat waves, that cause coral bleaching and that are reducing global coral abundance and potentially overwhelming the natural capacity for reefs to recover.</p> <p>Three large-scale bleaching events have occurred on the Great Barrier Reef over the past five years.</p> <p>“We know that up to half of the world’s tropical corals have been lost in the past 50 years and more than one-third of hard coral species are now at increased risk of extinction,” Dr Randall said.</p> <p>“Coral reefs provide significant ecosystem services, such as providing fish nurseries and protecting shorelines. Reef restoration and coral adaptation programs are being established worldwide as a conservation measure to minimise coral loss and enhance recovery.</p> <p>“Most restoration efforts are focused on asexually-produced coral fragments which has inherent practical constraints on genetic diversity and the scale of restoration that can be achieved.”</p> <p>Dr Randall said AIMS researchers were using sexually-produced corals in their studies, to include the potential for maintaining genetic diversity, and the potential for scaling-up coral adaptation projects.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a965a2e5-83cf-4936-a16a-b589d847f1bf" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="533" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/copyrightaims_credit_marieroman_5_800px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="800" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Dr Carly Randall attending to a coral colony before a busy night of coral spawning in the National Sea Simulator</figcaption> </figure> <p>“Overcoming the research challenges will require an unprecedented level of collaboration across nations, research groups and public and private sectors,” she said.</p> <p>“Reef restoration researchers and practitioners will also need to draw on expertise from vastly different scientific disciplines such as microbiology, genetics, restoration ecology, aquaculture, materials science and engineering.</p> <p>“However, no approach will be successful without swift and effective efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions which must go hand-in-hand with reef restoration.”</p> <p>AIMS is playing a key role in the <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/research/reef-recovery/RRAP">Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program</a>, a consortium dedicated to creating an innovative toolkit of safe, acceptable interventions to helping the Reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/3" hreflang="en">Featured Content</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>News</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5098/edit" hreflang="en">Spawning Acropora corals_Marie Roman</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/coralftif_800px.jpg" width="800" height="533" alt="Pink hard coral releasing small bundles of egg and sperm into the water" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Tue, 16 Jun 2020 01:50:51 +0000 kate 3718 at https://www.aims.gov.au Cyclones can damage even distant reefs https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/cyclones-can-damage-even-distant-reefs <h1 class="au-header-heading">Cyclones can damage even distant reefs</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Thu, 2020-05-28 13:34</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>Research finds current models underestimate the impact of hurricanes and typhoons on coral reef communities.</strong></p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="028d25af-6621-43d7-8def-74677c9c360b" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="301" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/scott_reef_comparison_-_cyclone_lua.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="602" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>The same area of Scott Reef photographed in 2010, and again in 2012 after Cyclone Lua.<br /> Credit: James Gilmour/AIMS</figcaption> </figure> <p>Big and strong cyclones can harm coral reefs as far as 1000 kilometres away from their paths, new research shows.</p> <p>A study led by <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="664305ee-73ff-460f-94ee-de7b8f90f67d" href="/node/3525">Dr Marji Puotinen from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)</a> sounds a warning about the way strong cyclone winds build extreme seas that affect coral reefs in Australia and around the world.</p> <p>Conventional modelling used to predict how a cyclone, hurricane or typhoon might impact corals assumes that wave damage occurs primarily within 100 kilometres of its track.</p> <p>To test this, Dr Puotinen and colleagues looked at Scott Reef, a well-studied atoll reef structure off the northwest of Western Australia, and how it fared as a result of Cyclone Lua – a slow-moving weather event that developed off the coast in 2012.</p> <p>Although the area of the cyclone producing the most intense winds came no closer than 500 kilometres to the reef, the high seas it whipped up battered it with waves four to 20 metres high for three and a half days.</p> <p>The researchers found that at its most exposed sections, Scott Reef lost 50 per cent of its massive and robust Porites corals and virtually all its more fragile branching Acropora coral species. Similar damage was found on another reef, a further 300 kilometres distant, and models predicted damaging waves could be felt up to 1000 kilometres away.</p> <p>“This example demonstrates that if we assume damage from all cyclones occurs within a 100 kilometre radius of a cyclone’s track, we will underestimate the spatial extent for big, strong cyclones by up to 10 times,” Dr Puotinen said.</p> <p>“This could lead to making unfortunate choices when trying to prioritise conservation targets.”</p> <p>She added that estimates of wave damage from cyclones involve highly complex calculations because they change constantly, varying in strength, size and speed over time. The largest waves occur from storms that move slowly, and have the highest winds spread over the largest area.</p> <p>To test the consequences of using the standard distance-based model, she and colleagues – from the AIMS node in Perth, the University of Western Australia and the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre – collected existing information on cyclone size and frequency, crunching data gathered between 1985 and 2015 for 150 coral reef ecoregions around the world.</p> <p>Position and strength and size for each cyclone was recorded every six hours, allowing variations to be plotted in detail.</p> <p>They found that more than 70 per cent of the ecoregions had experienced at least one impact by a cyclone at peak strength and size during the 30-year period. Some, however, experienced them roughly every five years, and others roughly every 10.</p> <p>“Coral reefs have been living with cyclones for millions of years,” said Dr Puotinen. “But recovery after a big battering is a slow process, which can take a decade or more. This means that many coral reefs around the world will not have time to fully regrow before the next cyclone hits.”</p> <p>Climate change models present a complex picture for cyclones. The total number occurring in any given period may well not increase – but that’s not necessarily good news for vulnerable reefs.</p> <p>“Changes in the atmosphere mean it will be harder for cyclones to form in the first place, but warmer ocean water, which fuels their intensity, means it will be easier for them to strengthen once they do,” Dr Puotinen explained.</p> <p>She added that her team’s findings carry lessons for reef management and conservation strategies.</p> <p>“When deciding where on the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, to invest millions of dollars to repair or enhance reefs, you don’t want to select a location likely to be regularly battered by cyclone waves,” she said.</p> <p>“Our research should make it easier for reef managers to choose between candidate reefs.”</p> <p><a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="8f6ae276-6d9f-4ff2-9da7-827235299673" href="/node/3509">Dr James Gilmour</a>, also from AIMS, a co-author on the paper, said the findings illustrated the complexity and severity of the threats facing reefs around the world.</p> <p>“Coral reef communities around the world are under increasing threat from a range of stressors, and we must understand which parts of the reef should be the focus of conservation efforts,” he said.</p> <p>“In particular, it is the combination of cyclones with exposure to rising water temperatures that is the most significant emerging threat to reefs globally.”</p> <p>Unravelling the specific effects of cyclones, the researchers conclude, will provide vital clues for the management of at-risk areas.</p> <p>The research is published in the journal Global Change Biology.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/Cyclones%20and%20reefs%20media%20release%20AIMS_May2020.pdf">PDF download | 242KB</a></p> <p><strong>Media contacts:</strong></p> <p>Dr Marji Puotinen: <a href="mailto:M.Puotinen@aims.gov.au">M.Puotinen@aims.gov.au</a>; +61 402 345 094 (time zone is UTC +8)</p> <p>Dr James Gilmour: <a href="mailto:j.gilmour@aims.gov.au">j.gilmour@aims.gov.au</a>; +61 439 914 958 (time zone is UTC +8)</p> <p>John Liston, AIMS Public Affairs: <a href="mailto:media@aims.gov.au">media@aims.gov.au</a>; +61 407 102 684 (time zone is UTC +8)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">Latest releases</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>Media Release</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/scott-reef-2012-gilmour-aims-1536x1214.jpg" width="1536" height="1214" alt="A damaged coral reef with broken and dead coral" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Thu, 28 May 2020 03:34:54 +0000 kate 3710 at https://www.aims.gov.au How genetic interventions can increase the resistance of corals to warming oceans https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/how-genetic-interventions-can-increase-resistance-corals-warming-oceans <h1 class="au-header-heading">How genetic interventions can increase the resistance of corals to warming oceans</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Fri, 2020-05-22 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>By Dr. Patrick Buerger, <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="4bcacfbf-1e2f-445c-89e8-ee48c7e79d0d" href="/node/3543">Prof Madeleine van Oppen</a>, <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="43356f2c-118e-49a6-8a61-a4bbe53e37dc" href="/node/3527">Dr Kate Quigley</a>, Dr Wing Chan, <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="101c98b4-3e1b-4e07-acfc-76962a00a2f0" href="/node/3489">Dr Line Bay</a>, Dr Owain Edwards </p> <p><em>This article was originally published by <a href="https://ecos.csiro.au/how-genetic-interventions-can-increase-the-resistance-of-corals-to-warming-oceans/">CSIRO on ECOS</a> </em></p> <h4>New results indicate the potential for what's known as 'assisted evolution' to increase the thermal tolerance of corals, and thus help their adaptation to conditions that are currently causing unsustainable stress.</h4> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="2a5c8655-626e-4804-b05f-13c7ec93c16f" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img alt="" height="700" src="/sites/default/files/2a5c8655-626e-4804-b05f-13c7ec93c16f.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1050" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Coral bleaching. Image: James Gilmour</figcaption> </figure> <p>In 2016, 2017 and 2020, severe marine heatwaves<a href="https://theconversation.com/we-just-spent-two-weeks-surveying-the-great-barrier-reef-what-we-saw-was-an-utter-tragedy-135197"> diminished large areas of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef</a>. Once thought “too big to fail,” the Great Barrier Reef is <a href="https://theconversation.com/coral-reproduction-on-the-great-barrier-reef-falls-89-after-repeated-bleaching-114761">producing almost 90% fewer coral offspring</a> due to the mass <a href="https://theconversation.com/back-to-back-bleaching-has-now-hit-two-thirds-of-the-great-barrier-reef-76092">mortality of adult corals in previous years</a>.</p> <p>The rapid rate of coral loss suggests that natural rates of recovery and adaptation of corals are too slow to keep up with climate change. Even with strong CO<sub>2</sub> mitigation, water temperatures will stay elevated for longer periods and will continue to negatively impact corals’ survival. While climate change is the main issue that must be addressed to support the survival of corals, there are steps we can take to help corals survive during these precarious times.</p> <p>Technological solutions can increase coral cover and corals’ thermal resistance, as outlined in the recently-released <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-we-can-put-a-man-on-the-moon-we-can-save-the-great-barrier-reef-121052">Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Concept Feasibility Study</a>. Among the 43 interventions recommended for further research, genomics is used to understand and develop methods to enhance coral heat and bleaching tolerance; also referred to as <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-great-barrier-reef-can-repair-itself-with-a-little-help-from-science-85182">assisted evolution</a>.</p> <p>Here, we present results that indicate the potential for assisted evolution to increase the thermal tolerance of corals and thus help their adaptation to conditions that are currently causing unsustainable stress.</p> <p><strong>Selective breeding to understand and enhance tolerance</strong></p> <p>Corals are naturally diverse and their survival from bleaching is in part due to coral genes that underpin bleaching susceptibility and heat tolerance. Corals adapt when those genes are passed among generations and become more abundant on local reefs. However, the flow of tolerant corals’ beneficial genes, such as the gene flow from northern to southern reefs, is unlikely because of the large distances and opposite-moving currents. Therefore, ‘assisted gene flow’ helps those tolerant genes move across seascapes to speed up natural adaptive rates of more susceptible populations.</p> <p>We have conducted coral transplantation and cross breeding experiments on the Great Barrier Reef for more than 15 years. Our work shows that corals with at least one parent from northern, and naturally warmer reefs are <a href="https://bio.biologists.org/content/9/1/bio047316.abstract">26-fold more likely to survive at higher temperatures</a> compared to corals with both parents from cooler reefs. In addition, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.5616">our models suggest that beneficial change in less tolerant populations and reef scales is within reach</a>, if corals are cross-bred and multiplied in large-scale aquaculture facilities. The first phase of the RRAP R&amp;D Program is designed to facilitate the delivery of 10 million juvenile corals on the Reef. This provides the means to spread more resistant corals to cooler but warming reefs where they would improve reef survival.</p> <p>Another promising technique for enhancing coral’s thermal tolerance is to hybridise coral species with selective breeding of distinct species. <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2018.00160/full">Our experiments over the past few years</a> found equal or higher growth, survival and recruitment rates of hybrids compared with the purebred species in today’s and simulated future ocean conditions. Encouragingly, no negative effects of hybridisation were observed. This crossbreeding between coral species and within coral populations not only generates new genetic combinations, but is also a way to rapidly increase genetic diversity, as two divergent genomes are brought together in one organism.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="93f92409-95f7-461e-a928-04e9a419c6a5" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="524" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/daviesreef_800px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="800" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Davies Reef, on the central Great Barrier Reef</figcaption> </figure> <p><strong>Directed Evolution</strong></p> <p>The thermal bleaching resistance of corals can be improved by pushing the upper thermal limits of the microalgal symbionts that coral depend on to survive. The algae live inside the coral cells and provide most of the coral’s nutrition through photosynthesis. By culturing the microalgae at elevated temperatures in the laboratory, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.13702">we have directed their adaptations towards tolerating higher temperatures</a>. While naturally occurring populations would be exposed to elevated seawater temperatures only once a year during summer, directed evolution speeds up naturally occurring adaptations of the algae by maximising growth rates in the laboratory, while at the same time exposing the microalgae to sublethal levels of thermal stress.</p> <p>After four years, or approximately 120 generations, of directed evolution, we reintroduced the heat-evolved microalgae into coral larvae and found that the coral larvae <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/20/eaba2498">with the heat-evolved algal symbionts were more thermally tolerant</a> than the coral larvae that associated with non-evolved microalgae. This technique can support the conservation of coral diversity, because the heat-evolved microalgae can potentially form a symbiosis with a variety of different coral species and remain longer in symbiosis during heat stress to supply nutrients to the coral.</p> <p><strong>What’s next?</strong></p> <p>Genetic interventions such as those described above <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/112/8/2307">increase climate resilience and genetic diversity</a>. This is particularly important given the current rapid rate of coral loss, which will almost certainly reduce existing genetic diversity. The more we can support corals’ genetic diversity, the better they can adapt to a changing environment.</p> <p>While such interventions come with potential risks that must be rigorously tested under laboratory and controlled field conditions, they also need to be evaluated in the risk context of doing nothing. Further proposed research under the RRAP Research and Development Program will provide key data to assess the long-term feasibility of applying assisted evolution on the Great Barrier Reef and to better understand the benefits and risks of these management interventions.</p> <p>The hope is that these methods will potentially fast-track heat tolerance to vulnerable corals across the Great Barrier Reef. If successful, assisted evolution may provide novel restoration interventions to decrease coral bleaching and mortalities worldwide – but it is not a panacea to the over-arching problem of climate change. These interventions must go hand-in-hand with conventional management and strong, decisive action on climate change mitigation.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/3" hreflang="en">Featured Content</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>News</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2a5c8655-626e-4804-b05f-13c7ec93c16f.jpg" width="1050" height="700" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Fri, 22 May 2020 00:00:33 +0000 kate 3709 at https://www.aims.gov.au Fish faeces reveals which species eat crown-of-thorns https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/fish-faeces-reveals-which-species-eat-crown-thorns <h1 class="au-header-heading">Fish faeces reveals which species eat crown-of-thorns</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Mon, 2020-05-18 19:15</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong><span><span>Great Barrier Reef research finds the destructive starfish is eaten more often than thought.</span></span></strong></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Crown-of-thorns starfish are on the menu for many more fish species than previously suspected, an investigation using fish poo and gut goo reveals.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The finding suggests that some fish, including popular eating and aquarium species, might have a role to play in keeping the destructive pest population under control.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The native starfish (<em>Acanthaster solaris</em>) is responsible for widespread damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Since 1962 its population has surged to plague proportions on three occasions, each time causing the loss of large amounts of hard coral. A fourth outbreak is currently underway.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Increasing the amount of predation on starfish has long been touted as a potential solution to preventing outbreaks. However, aside from a mollusc called the Giant Triton (</span></span></span><em><span><span><span>Charonia tritonis</span></span></span></em><span><span><span>), identifying what eats it has been a challenging task. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Now, a team of scientists led by <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="4173e530-f7b3-4de0-9ccf-42e167f85adc" href="/node/3514">Dr </a></span></span></span><a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="4173e530-f7b3-4de0-9ccf-42e167f85adc" href="/node/3514"><span><span><span>Frederieke Kroon</span></span></span></a><span><span><span> from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Australia, has applied a genetic marker unique for crown-of-thorns, developed at AIMS, to detect the presence of starfish DNA in fish poo and gut contents.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Over three years, Dr Kroon’s team used it on samples taken from 678 fish from 101 species, comprising 21 families, gathered from reefs experiencing varying levels of starfish outbreak.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Our results strongly indicate that direct fish predation on crown-of-thorns may well be more common than is currently appreciated,” said Dr Kroon.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-right"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="3ec57cbf-87d4-4579-a378-7fc3eee32168" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="400" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/copyrightaims_creditfrederiekekroon_fishfaeceswithcotsspines400px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="400" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Crown-of-thorn spine fragments found in a fish faeces<br /> sample. Credit: F.Kroon/AIMS</figcaption> </figure> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The study, </span></span></span><a href="http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-65136-4"><span><span><span>published in the journal </span></span></span><em><span><span><span>Scientific Reports</span></span></span></em><span><span><span>,</span></span></span></a><span><span><span> confirms that at least 18 coral reef fish species – including </span></span></span><span><span><span>Spangled Emperor (<em>Lethrinus nebulosus</em>), Redthroat Emperor (<em>Lethrinus miniatus</em>) and Blackspotted Puffer (<em>Arothron nigropunctatus</em>) – consume young or adult starfish on the reef. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Among the species were nine which had not been previously reported to feed on crown-of-thorns. These include </span></span></span><span><span><span>the Neon Damsel (<em>Pomacentrus coelistis</em>), Redspot Emperor (<em>Lethrinus lentjan</em>), and the Blackspot Snapper (<em>Lutjanus fulviflama</em>).</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Our findings might also solve a mystery – why reef areas that are closed to commercial and recreational fishing tend to have fewer starfish than areas where fishing is allowed,” said Dr Kroon.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>She and colleagues from AIMS worked with researchers from </span></span></span><span><span><span>CSIRO Land and Water and managers from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct the study. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span><span>“This innovative research sheds new light on the extent that coral reef fishes eat crown-of-thorns starfish,” said Mr Darren Cameron, co-author of the paper, and Director of the COTS Control Program at the <a href="http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/">Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span><span>“A number of the fish species shown to feed on these starfish are caught by commercial and recreational fisheries, highlighting the importance of marine park zoning and effective fisheries management in controlling crown-of-thorns starfish across the Great Barrier Reef.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>This research was supported by</span></span></span> <span><span><span>funding from the Ian Potter Foundation 50<sup>th</sup> Anniversary Commemorative Grants Scheme; the </span></span></span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span><span>Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation; and the </span></span></span><span><span><span>Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program’s Tropical Water Quality Hub. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><em>Feature image: Dr Frederieke Kroon looking at a crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: D.Westcott/CSIRO</em></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/crown%20of%20thorns%20press%20release.pdf">PDF | 289KB</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Media contacts</strong></p> <p>Dr Frederieke Kroon<br /> <a href="mailto:f.kroon@aims.gov.au">f.kroon@aims.gov.au</a>, +61 427 775 180 (time zone is UTC +10)</p> <p>Kate Green<br /> AIMS Senior Communication Officer<br /> <a href="mailto:k.green@aims.gov.au">k.green@aims.gov.au</a>, +61 419 741 724 (time zone is UTC +10)</p> <p>John Liston<br /> AIMS Public Affairs<br /> <a href="mailto:media@aims.gov.au">media@aims.gov.au</a>, +61 407 102 684 (time zone is UTC +8)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">Latest releases</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>Media Release</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5080/edit" hreflang="en">SCUBA diver observes crown-of-thorns starfish on reef wall. Credit David Westcott</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/copyrightcsiro_creditdavidwestcott_drkroonandcots.jpg" width="800" height="600" alt="SCUBA diver observes crown-of-thorns starfish on reef wall." typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Mon, 18 May 2020 09:15:56 +0000 kate 3705 at https://www.aims.gov.au Scientists successfully develop ‘heat resistant’ coral to fight bleaching https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/scientists-successfully-develop-heat-resistant-coral-fight-bleaching <h1 class="au-header-heading">Scientists successfully develop ‘heat resistant’ coral to fight bleaching</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Thu, 2020-05-14 08:39</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>A team of scientists has successfully produced in a laboratory setting a coral that is more resistant to increased seawater temperatures.</p> <p>The team included researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the University of Melbourne.</p> <p>“Coral reefs are in decline worldwide,” CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP) science lead Dr Patrick Buerger said.</p> <p><span><span><span>“Climate change has reduced coral cover, and surviving corals are under increasing pressure as water temperatures rise and the frequency and severity of coral bleaching events increase.”</span></span></span></p> <p>The team made the coral more tolerant to temperature-induced bleaching by bolstering the heat tolerance of its microalgal symbionts – tiny cells of algae that live inside the coral tissue.</p> <p>“Our novel approach strengthens the heat resistance of coral by manipulating its microalgae, which is a key factor in the coral’s heat tolerance,” Dr Buerger said.</p> <p>The team isolated the microalgae from coral and cultured them in the specialist symbiont lab at AIMS. Using a technique called “directed evolution”, they then exposed the cultured microalgae to increasingly warmer temperatures over a period of four years.</p> <p>This assisted them to adapt and survive hotter conditions.</p> <p>“Once the microalgae were reintroduced into coral larvae, the newly established coral-algal symbiosis was more heat tolerant compared to the original one,” Dr Buerger said.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="5e56e758-befe-426f-970f-907a6540dd79" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="569" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/coral_larvae_and_algae.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="760" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>The coral larvae have established a symbiosis with the heat-evolved algae strains. Due to the fluorescence light, the larvae can be seen in green, and the algae cells are seen in red. Larvae length is approximately 1 mm. (Image credit: Patrick Buerger).</figcaption> </figure> <p>The microalgae were exposed to temperatures that are comparable to the ocean temperatures during current summer marine heat waves causing coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p>The researchers then unveiled some of the mechanisms responsible for the enhanced coral bleaching tolerance.</p> <p><span><span><span>“We found that the heat tolerant microalgae are better at photosynthesis and improve the heat response of the coral animal,”<a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="4bcacfbf-1e2f-445c-89e8-ee48c7e79d0d" href="/node/3543"> Professor Madeleine van Oppen</a>, of AIMS and the University of Melbourne, said.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>“These exciting findings show that the microalgae and the coral are in direct communication with each other. “</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>The next step is to further test the algal strains in adult colonies across a range of coral species.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>“This breakthrough provides a promising and novel tool to increase the heat tolerance of corals and is a great win for Australian science,” SynBio FSP Director Associate Professor Claudia Vickers said.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>This research was conducted by CSIRO in partnership with AIMS and the University of Melbourne. It was funded by CSIRO, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (U.S.A.), AIMS and the University of Melbourne.</span></span></span></p> <p>The Buerger et al paper <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/20/eaba2498">'<em>Heat-evolved microalgal symbionts increase coral bleaching tolerance</em>'</a> was published in <strong>Science Advances </strong>today.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/1" hreflang="en">Latest news</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>News</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5077/edit" hreflang="en">Diver observes bleached coral reef_Eric Matson</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/p3180040_800px.jpg" width="800" height="450" alt="Diver observes bleached corals on a reef" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Wed, 13 May 2020 22:39:10 +0000 kate 3704 at https://www.aims.gov.au Solar energy cuts carbon emissions to help Australia’s tropical marine Institute protect oceans https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/solar-energy-cuts-carbon-emissions-help-australias-tropical-marine-institute-protect-oceans <h1 class="au-header-heading">Solar energy cuts carbon emissions to help Australia’s tropical marine Institute protect oceans</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Tue, 2020-05-05 05:47</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>An impressive $2.25 million solar system is now set to deliver a major savings at the<a href="http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/about/visiting/townsville.html"> Australian Institute of Marine Science’s headquarters near Townsville</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/our-people/dr-paul-hardisty">AIMS Chief Executive Officer Dr Paul Hardisty</a> said as Australia’s tropical marine research agency, the focus was on delivering real outcomes in marine science.</p> <p>“A significant proportion of AIMS’ research focuses on the impact of climate change on tropical marine ecosystems, so we wanted to lead the way in cutting our own emissions,” Dr Hardisty said.</p> <p>Dr Hardisty said solar was being rolled out at the Institute’s sites across Australia, with solar already in place at AIMS’ Darwin-based research facility, while AIMS’ Perth facility is also preparing to switch to solar.</p> <p>Dr Hardisty said the new system would generate an estimated 1000kw per hour, reducing the Institute’s carbon footprint by 15%, or about 1500 tonne a year.</p> <p>“We are working towards a 25% reduction in our own carbon emissions across all our three sites, and this is a big part of that process,” Dr Hardisty said.</p> <p>“North Queensland is lucky to have more than 300 days of sunshine a year, which we have used for our energy requirements, and we plan to also look to wind generation for future savings.</p> <p>“Not only does the system deliver environmental benefits, but it is forecast to deliver up to $400,000 a year in savings, which means we can put more money back into science."</p> <p>AIMS Chief Operating Officer Dr John Chappell said a major cost saving of switching to solar would be at the Institute’s <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="a8220bbc-28b8-4a4b-9d64-4096cf4c193c" href="/node/2707">National Sea Simulator</a>, the world’s most advanced research aquarium, which can simulate, quantify and predict the effects of multiple pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7bc72011-0048-412f-ac67-e3f76dc8a6a6" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="450" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/seasim_solarpanels_900px_800px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="800" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>Solar panels now adorn the roof of the National Sea Simulator at Cape Cleveland, as part of the new system.</figcaption> </figure> <p>“The National Sea Simulator allows us to undertake complex research which was not previously possible anywhere in the world – including work on assessing the impact of complex environmental changes, and reef restoration,” Dr Chappell said.</p> <p>“This investment in solar will help to reduce the recurrent cost of running this important research asset.”</p> <p>The solar project was undertaken with a $1.8 million Australian Government investment in supporting science excellence, as part of the Public Service Modernisation Fund, announced in the 2017-2018 Federal Budget.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/AIMS_Solar_Media_Release_5May2020.pdf">PDF | 202KB</a></p> <p>Footage and images available for media: <a href="https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/leCF9xxuPzhaxdn">https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/leCF9xxuPzhaxdn</a> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Media Contact</strong></p> <p>Australian Institute of Marine Science – John Liston<br /> Mobile: 0407 102 684 or Email: <a href="mailto:media@aims.gov.au">media@aims.gov.au</a></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">Latest releases</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>Media Release</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5070/edit" hreflang="en">Solar panels at the AIMS Cape Cleveland site, aerial</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/copyrightaims_creditjoegioffre_solartsv_1_800px.jpg" width="800" height="500" alt="Aerial view of solar panels at the AIMS Cape Cleveland site" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Mon, 04 May 2020 19:47:29 +0000 kate 3703 at https://www.aims.gov.au Research and development funding to protect Great Barrier Reef https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/research-and-development-funding-protect-great-barrier-reef <h1 class="au-header-heading">Research and development funding to protect Great Barrier Reef</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Thu, 2020-04-16 07:03</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The Australian Institute of Marine Science is set to play a crucial role in the next stage<a id="_Hlk29308937" name="_Hlk29308937"> of the largest coordinated effort to help the Great Barrier Reef adapt and build resilience to climate change.</a></p> <p><a id="_Hlk29308937" name="_Hlk29308937"> </a></p> <p>Founding Chair of the executive committee of the <a href="https://www.gbrrestoration.org/home">Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program</a> and <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/our-people/dr-paul-hardisty">AIMS Chief Executive Officer Dr Paul Hardisty</a>, said it was a massive endeavor, involving partners from many leading scientific organisations, to support the Reef, an Australian tourism icon and significant global ecosystem.</p> <p>“This will be the biggest single effort to protect coral reefs from climate change and this decision to progress this research, places Australia at the forefront of global reef science,” Dr Hardisty said.</p> <p>“We are trying to solve one of the most complex ecological problems on the planet and we have the best science and a window of opportunity, to find workable solutions.”</p> <p>Dr Hardisty made the comments following the <a href="https://minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/150-million-drive-innovations-boost-reef-resilience">announcement by the Federal Minister for the Environment the Hon Sussan Ley and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, the Hon Warren Entsch</a>, to launch the research and development phase of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation science Program which aims to help protect the Reef.</p> <p>The consortium, with AIMS as the managing entity, includes CSIRO, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, James Cook University, Southern Cross University, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.</p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>“Over the past 18 months, more than 150 experts from more than 20 organisations, had evaluated the existing research and technology in this area," Dr Hardisty said.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>“We now have an improved understanding of the types and scales of possible interventions that are required, and we have measured social acceptability and regulatory requirements of at-scale intervention.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>“The program aims to provide reef managers and decision-makers with a toolkit of safe, innovative and acceptable interventions that would work together to help protect the Reef from the impacts of climate change”.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/our-people/dr-ken-anthony">AIMS Principal Research Scientist Dr Ken Anthony</a>, leader of the </span></span>Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Decision Support Sub-Program<span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span> said the science would take a three-pronged approach to help protect the Reef, assist coral species to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing environment, and, where necessary, help to trigger and support the natural recovery of damaged and degraded reefs.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span><span>“We found these interventions would need to be combined with best-practice conventional reef management and reduced carbon emissions to maximise their effectiveness,” he said.</span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="f3a079a9-d7f2-48f3-9827-f77bbb048f69" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="645" src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/christianmiller_seasim-155_1050px.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1050" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>AIMS' National Sea Simulator will play a critical role during the Reef Restoration and Adaptation R&amp;D phase</figcaption> </figure> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>During the next stage of the program research teams will rigorously test and risk-assess potential interventions, including on-reef trials, and smaller scale interventions which could be available for deployment within five years.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>Out of 160 possible scientific methods presented, 43 intervention methods were identified as warranting further research and development.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>Dr Anthony said the next stage of a concerted research and development effort was now required to ensure any interventions were technically feasible, effective, safe, and affordable.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>The project would work in tandem with more well-established efforts to reduce impacts on the reef, such as improving water quality, and controlling crown-of-thorns starfish. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>AIMS has fit-for-purpose, world-class facilities, technology such as the <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/seasim">National Sea Simulator research aquarium</a>, <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/reef-recovery">leading expertise in coral restoration and adaptation science, modelling and engineering</a>, and 37-years of <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/docs/research/monitoring/reef/reef-monitoring.html">Reef health data.</a></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><em>The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) research and development phase will be funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.</em></span></span></span></p> <p><a href="https://minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/150-million-drive-innovations-boost-reef-resilience )"><span><span><span><em>Read the Federal Government ministerial release here</em></span></span></span></a></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>AIMS Contact</strong></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>Corporate Communication and Public Affairs manager – Mr John Liston</span></span></span><br /> <span><span><span>Mobile: 0407 102 684 or Email: <a href="mailto:j.liston@aims.gov.au">j.liston@aims.gov.au</a> </span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/1" hreflang="en">Latest news</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>News</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5057/edit" hreflang="en">Divers attend to settlement tiles AGF at Davies Reef for </a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/aims_divers_3_copyright_aims_1050px.jpg" width="1050" height="591" alt="Divers attend to settlement tiles AGF at Davies Reef for" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Wed, 15 Apr 2020 21:03:12 +0000 kate 3699 at https://www.aims.gov.au Additions to resource industry underwater robots can boost ocean discoveries https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/additions-resource-industry-underwater-robots-can-boost-ocean-discoveries <h1 class="au-header-heading">Additions to resource industry underwater robots can boost ocean discoveries</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Thu, 2020-04-16 05:56</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><span><span><strong><span><span>Remotely operated vehicles used by the oil and gas sector can be enhanced to gather more scientific data, researchers say</span></span></strong><span><span>.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>Underwater robots are regularly used by the oil and gas industry to inspect and maintain offshore structures. The same machines could be adapted to gather extra scientific information, thus boosting environmental and resource management capabilities, an Australian-led study has revealed.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>Scientists from around the globe, led by Dianne McLean<sup> </sup>and Miles Parsons from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), are urging closer ties between industry and researchers to maximise the use of the underwater robots, known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span>In a </span></span><span><span><a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00220/full"><span><span>paper published in the journal <em>Frontiers in Marine Science</em></span></span></a></span></span><span><span>, they identify a range of instruments that can be easily added to the craft, including cameras, audio recorders and sample collectors.</span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>The information gathered will significantly increase scientific and industry understanding of the impact of marine infrastructure, producing benefits for ecological management and regulatory compliance.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>“This is a real win-win,” said Dr McLean. “With some low-cost engineering and operational tweaks, industry and science can use ROVs to fuel new scientific discoveries. For instance, we could better understand the influence of structures such as platforms and pipelines in marine ecosystems – to the mutual benefit of the resource company and the environment.”</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>The new research follows an earlier </span></span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278434319300962?via%3Dihub"><span><span>study</span></span></a><span><span> that used adapted underwater vehicles to examine fish populations around  a platform on the North West Shelf, 138 km offshore from Dampier.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>In May this year, the AIMS team is set to extend the study, working with Santos to use ROVs to survey marine life around shallow water platform jackets. </span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>The craft are routinely used to inspect thousands of industrial subsea structures around the world each year. They operate in shallow water, and at depths down to 3000 metres.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>McLean, a fish ecologist and specialist in underwater video systems, and Parsons, an acoustics expert, teamed up with colleagues in Australia, the US, England and Scotland to identify feasible, cost-effective ways in which standard work-class ROVs could be adapted to expand their data-gathering capabilities.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>These include the addition of extra sensors, cameras, acoustic transmitters and receivers, and sample collection devices. </span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>“</span></span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>By partnering with experienced research scientists, industry can improve the quality of its ROV-derived data,” says Dr Parsons.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>Dr McLean said that the extra information, and the spirit of cooperation through which it was gathered, could be particularly useful when it came to complex engineering and environmental management challenges such as decommissioning large structures at the end of their working lives.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>“From an industry point of view,” she said, “these small additions to ROVs and their use for scientific surveys has the potential not only to improve environmental management, but also to facilitate more informed engagement with external stakeholders such as regulators and the public.”</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><span>The research shows that small enhancements to the vehicles and how they are used now could provide substantial benefits to science and to resource companies in the long-term.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><em>Featured image: AN ROV fitted with an arm for collecting marine samples. Credit: D Jones and A Gates (co-authors)</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-04/AIMS%20ROV%20RELEASE_16042020.pdf"><em>PDF | 355KB</em></a></p> <p><span><span><strong><span><span>Further information:</span></span></strong></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>Dr Dianne McLean</span></span><br /> <u><span><span><a href="mailto:d.mclean@aims.gov.au">d.mclean@aims.gov.au</a></span></span></u><br /> <span><span>(+61) 4028 42601</span></span><span><span> (time zone UTC +8)</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>Dr Miles Parsons </span></span><br /> <a href="mailto:m.parsons@aims.gov.au"><span><span>m.parsons@aims.gov.au</span></span></a><br /> <span><span>(+61) 8 6369 4053 or (+61) 415 977 617 (time zone UTC +8)</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>John Liston, AIMS Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Manager</span></span></span><br /> <a href="mailto:media@aims.gov.au"><span><span><span>media@aims.gov.au</span></span></span></a><br /> <span><span><span>(+61) 407 102 684 (time zone UTC +8)</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">Latest releases</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>Media Release</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-featured-image field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Featured image</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/5061/edit" hreflang="en">ROV claw holding sample Credit D Jones and A Gates</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/rov_claw_holding_sample.jpg" width="1025" height="630" alt="A metal claw holds a marine organism in dark waters" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Wed, 15 Apr 2020 19:56:49 +0000 kate 3701 at https://www.aims.gov.au A summer of heat stress for Australia’s coral reefs https://www.aims.gov.au/news-and-media/summer-heat-stress-australias-coral-reefs <h1 class="au-header-heading">A summer of heat stress for Australia’s coral reefs</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/5" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kate</span></span> <span>Wed, 2020-04-15 14:47</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>In another “hit” to the Australian environment this Summer, the Great Barrier Reef experienced extensive and widespread coral bleaching. This mass bleaching follows the unprecedented and successive bleaching events of 2016 and 2017.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-right"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="38604b47-2ed1-45e8-84d0-bee0c958b934" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="300" src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/clownfish_and_anemone_450pxltmp.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="454" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>As seen by the AIMS monitoring team - a pair of Eastern Clown<br /> Anemonefish (<em>Amphiprion percula</em>) inhabit a magnificent sea<br /> anemone (<em>Heteractis magnifica</em>) that is starting to bleach at<br /> Peart Reef, February 2020.</figcaption> </figure> <p>Satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST) data and <a href="https://weather.aims.gov.au/#/overview">AIMS’ in-water weather stations</a> signalled temperatures were increasing above the seasonal average in mid-January. Great Barrier Reef waters experienced a prolonged ‘marine heatwave’ in February, where temperatures across the region were 1-2.5°C above average throughout the month.</p> <p>Preliminary results from aerial and in-water surveys from the <a href="https://www.coralcoe.org.au/media-releases/climate-change-triggers-great-barrier-reef-bleaching">ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies</a> and <a href="http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/">GBRMPA</a> at the end of March indicate widespread, variable bleaching across the World Heritage Area.</p> <p>Visit the <a href="\Users\bschaffe\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\DV0W5SJ6\gbrmpa.gov.au\reef-health">GBRMPA website</a> for this summer’s reef health update collection.</p> <p>In coming weeks, some corals will regain their symbiotic algae and recover, while others will perish. The level of mortality from this bleaching event will not be known for some time. <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/docs/research/monitoring/reef/reef-monitoring.html">AIMS routine long-term monitoring</a> of the Great Barrier Reef will provide essential data to understand the end result of this event on reef health and will put this coral bleaching event into the long-term context of how the Reef is faring.</p> <h4>Autonomous gliders help scientists understand marine heatwaves</h4> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-right"> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.embed" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="60ebb21c-6284-4eb7-8c95-7df4a142229c" data-langcode="en"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img height="304" src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/lsp6667_imagecredit_dennisstanley_rrrc_450.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="450" /> </div> </article> </div> <figcaption>An autonomous underwater glider on the Great Barrier Reef.<br /> Image Credit: Dennis Stanley/RRRC</figcaption> </figure> <p>Understanding the characteristics of marine heatwaves helps predict the level of risk to coral reefs and assists with management and monitoring activities. AIMS oceanographers worked with the <a href="http://imos.org.au/facilities/oceangliders/event-based-sampling/">Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) Event Based Sampling sub-facility</a> to deploy two ocean gliders during February and March in the central and southern Great Barrier Reef. The ocean gliders follow paths set by remote pilots, collecting data on a range of oceanographic parameters at multiple depths including temperature and light.</p> <p>Data from both glider missions will be used to help describe how deep the warming extended from the surface with depth. It will also help us understand how the waters cooled following the tropical low which developed into ex-Tropical Cyclone Gretel.</p> <p>Data from the two glider missions are available online via <a href="https://portal.aodn.org.au/">the AODN Portal</a> or the<a href="https://anfog.ecm.uwa.edu.au/index.php"> IMOS Ocean gliders page</a>.</p> <h4>Heat stress on Australia's west coast</h4> <p><span><span><span>Ocean temperatures have also been unseasonably high throughout much of Western Australia, from Rottnest Island in the south, to Ashmore Reef in the north, and far out to Christmas and Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean. For most reefs, the heat stress hasn’t yet been sustained for several weeks, and therefore extensive coral bleaching was not expected. </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>Through summer, heat stress was highest in northwest Australia, particularly in the Kimberley region. This finally eased at the end of January with the late arrival of the monsoon and increased cloud cover, storms and cyclones.  </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>However, ocean temperatures across parts of Western Australia increased again through March and April. Some patchy bleaching has been reported in parts of the Pilbara and Kimberley, and temperatures are expected to remain high through April. Local weather conditions will determine the cumulative heat stress through March and April and the extent of bleaching on northern reefs, and sub-tropical reefs such as those at the Houtman Abrolhos. The risk of bleaching will decrease with seasonal cooling through May, but temperatures are expected to remain above average in the northwest until August 2020. </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>This heat stress has occurred outside of the El Niño and La Nina conditions which typically bring the most extreme coral bleaching to Western Australian coral reefs, and reflect the ongoing increases in world’s ocean temperatures.</span></span></span></p> <h4>Innovative thinking to help the future of coral reefs</h4> <p>Climate change is altering coral reef disturbance and recovery cycles, providing less time to recover between disturbances. The future of Australia’s coral reefs depends on reducing carbon emissions and ongoing best-practice Reef management. The challenge is big and researchers are also developing a toolbox of interventions to help corals adapt and better cope with our changing climate. AIMS scientists lead world-class research in this effort to create solutions for <a href="https://www.aims.gov.au/reef-recovery">Reef adaptation and restoration. </a></p> <p>Learn more about AIMS research on coral bleaching and solutions: <a data-entity-type="node" data-entity-uuid="9d9ac228-0f4c-4fc9-b4b6-a6680c63f8e3" href="/node/2746">www.aims.gov.au/coral-bleaching</a></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/taxonomy/term/1" hreflang="en">Latest news</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-release-type field--type-list-string field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Media Release Type</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li>News</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/clownfish_and_anemone_450pxltmp.jpg" width="454" height="300" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> Wed, 15 Apr 2020 04:47:13 +0000 kate 3697 at https://www.aims.gov.au