Projections of coral cover and habitat change on turbid reefs under future sea-level rise

Morgan, Kyle M., Perry, Chris T., Arthur, Rudy, Williams, Hywel T.P., and Smithers, Scott G. (2020) Projections of coral cover and habitat change on turbid reefs under future sea-level rise. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-biological Sciences, 287 (1929). 20200541.

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Abstract

Global sea-level rise (SLR) is projected to increase water depths above coral reefs. Although the impacts of climate disturbance events on coral cover and three-dimensional complexity are well documented, knowledge of how higher sea levels will influence future reef habitat extent and bioconstruction is limited. Here, we use 31 reef cores, coupled with detailed benthic ecological data, from turbid reefs on the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, to model broad-scale changes in reef habitat following adjustments to reef geomorphology under different SLR scenarios. Model outputs show that modest increases in relative water depth above reefs (Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5) over the next 100 years will increase the spatial extent of habitats with low coral cover and generic diversity. More severe SLR (RCP8.5) will completely submerge reef flats and move reef slope coral communities below the euphotic depth, despite the high vertical accretion rates that characterize these reefs. Our findings suggest adverse future trajectories associated with high emission climate scenarios which could threaten turbid reefs globally and their capacity to act as coral refugia from climate change.

Item ID: 63840
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: turbid reefs, coral cover, reef accretion, sea level, Great Barrier Reef
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Projects and Grants: NERC grant no. NE/J023329/1, NERC Urgency grant no. NE/P007694/1, NERC Radiocarbon Dating Allocations 1727.1013, NERC Radiocarbon Dating Allocations 1838.1014
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 07:30
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040606 Quaternary Environments @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040305 Marine Geoscience @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
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