Historical photographs revisited: a case study for dating and characterizing recent loss of coral cover on the inshore Great Barrier Reef

Clark, Tara R., Leonard, Nicole D., Zhao, Jian-xin, Brodie, Jon, McCook, Laurence J., Wachenfeld, David R., Nguyen, Ai Duc, Markham, Hannah L., and Pandolfi, John M. (2016) Historical photographs revisited: a case study for dating and characterizing recent loss of coral cover on the inshore Great Barrier Reef. Scientific Reports, 6. 19285. pp. 1-14.

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Abstract

Long-term data with high-precision chronology are essential to elucidate past ecological changes on coral reefs beyond the period of modern-day monitoring programs. In 2012 we revisited two inshore reefs within the central Great Barrier Reef, where a series of historical photographs document a loss of hard coral cover between c.1890–1994 AD. Here we use an integrated approach that includes high-precision U-Th dating specifically tailored for determining the age of extremely young corals to provide a robust, objective characterisation of ecological transition. The timing of mortality for most of the dead in situ corals sampled from the historical photograph locations was found to coincide with major flood events in 1990–1991 at Bramston Reef and 1970 and 2008 at Stone Island. Evidence of some recovery was found at Bramston Reef with living coral genera similar to what was described in c.1890 present in 2012. In contrast, very little sign of coral re-establishment was found at Stone Island suggesting delayed recovery. These results provide a valuable reference point for managers to continue monitoring the recovery (or lack thereof) of coral communities at these reefs.

Item ID: 43446
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Funders: National Environmental Research Program Tropical Ecosystems Hub (NERP-TEH), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: NERP-TEH Project 1.3, ARC LIEF grant LE0989067
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 22:34
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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