Long-term isolation and local adaptation in Palau's Nikko Bay help corals thrive in acidic waters

Golbuu, Yimnang, Gouezo, Marine, Kurihara, Haruko, Rehm, Lincoln, and Wolanski, Eric (2016) Long-term isolation and local adaptation in Palau's Nikko Bay help corals thrive in acidic waters. Coral Reefs, 35 (3). pp. 909-918.

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The reefs in Palau's Nikko Bay live in seawater with low pH that is similar to conditions predicted for 2100 because of ocean acidification. Nevertheless, the reefs at Nikko Bay have high coral cover and high diversity. We hypothesize that the low-pH environment in Nikko Bay is caused by low flushing rates, which causes long-term isolation and local adaptation. To test this hypothesis, we modeled the water circulation in and around Nikko Bay. Model results show that average residence time is 71 d, which is ten times the residence time on fore-reef habitats. The long residence time restricts the exchange of coral larvae in the bay with adjacent reefs, allowing persistent selection for tolerant traits and local adaptation. The corals in Nikko Bay are also more susceptible to local pollution because the waters are poorly flushed. Therefore, local management must focus on minimizing human impacts such as dredging, overfishing and pollution in the bay, which would compromise the condition of the corals that have already adapted to low-pH conditions.

Item ID: 44725
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: ocean acidification, coral reefs, flushing, residence time, resilience, adaptation
Funders: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Oceans Program, Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation (PFMC), Japan International Cooperation Agency-Japan Science and Technology Agency (JICA-JST)
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 06:15
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440805 Environmental politics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures @ 100%
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