Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • May 20, 2013 | 10:14 p.m.

    Do you have some measure of variability and / or statistical significance to show that recovery from year to the next is statistically significant. How do you know that the change in coral cover between 2010 and 2011 (on the poster) is significant?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 06:52 a.m.

    Thanks for this key question. The poster shows results from a three year time series. It is important to note that this “pristine” reef did not experience a statistically significant recovery rate in comparison to mortality rates.
    While the decline in our coral, Porites superfusa, was significant from 2009 to 2010 (1-way ANOVA, F = 3.67, p = 0.041), the recovery is not significant (1-way ANOVA, F = 1.03, p = 0.411). However, this is part of why this research is important. It’s easy to significantly decrease coral cover. Recovery occurs at much longer time scales, which may be part of why it is understudied. We hope to see significant recovery soon. Our 2012 data set suggests additional recovery is occurring.

  • May 21, 2013 | 12:56 p.m.

    What are the roles of stochastic events and differences in coral biology to coral cover; i.e., how do you to distinguish between human impacts and natural cycles of recruitment in your system?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:17 a.m.

    One of the reasons we conduct research in Palmyra is due to its remote location. It experiences minimal human impact. In this way we are hoping to somewhat isolate the effects of climate change. However, there is key parallel work being done on recruitment by other collaborators researching at Palmyra. They are specifically addressing your question by using an array of tools (including tiles) to get recruitment cycle information. I’m hoping their results will inform some of my research. Until then, I focus more on re-growth mechanisms. To minimize variability I have started with one species of coral, Porites superfusa, and am now beginning to look at an additional species, Acropora cytherea (this data is still being collected). Using our photographic “tagging” we are able to follow each colony’s mortality/ growth/ re-growth at a colony, species, and community scale. We hope to tease apart important environmental and biological factors. Great question! Thanks!

  • Icon for: Levi Lewis

    Levi Lewis

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 12:51 p.m.

    I’d like to second Kate’s points, and add a couple additional thoughts. Kate and I are both fully aware of the implications of disturbance in terms of intermediate diversity maxima, pulse-reset cycles, boom and bust population dynamics, etc. Stochastic or pulse events (e.g. recruitment, storms, etc.), however often occur rarely, unpredictably, and are relevant over longer time scales than a dissertation often can adequately address. That said, both of us are conducting experiments over longer time scales than many others (>2) years, with the intent of including some degree of naturally variability in our studies. To truly address appropriate scales and magnitudes of stochastic events, however, we would need decades-long studies such as those in Tahiti, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Caribbean.

    Our work, therefore, focuses specifically on the biological processes related to recovery of coral reef communities after pulse disturbance events. For example, Kate is exploring recovery mechanisms of damaged corals specifically, and I am exploring community development and succession as a function of the environment.

    With respect to anthropogenic versus natural influences, my work will not be able to identify a smoking gun; however, it will be able to provide information on the factors most strongly related to successional trajectories around Maui. Based on previous research, we know which factors are most likely being altered by human influence, and if these appear to be major drivers of reef development, my work may point us in the right direction with respect to the most important actions managers can take to minimize human impacts and maximize reef recovery potential (i.e., resilience).

    Many thanks for you thoughtful questions and comments!

  • May 21, 2013 | 08:30 p.m.

    Suppose that I’m Bill Gates or Richard Branson and I want to pay to create a marine reserve at either Palmyra Atoll or Maui. The choice is yours: which reef is more worthy of special protection any why? (Yes, this question is deliberately aimed at BOTH of you!)

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 05:57 p.m.

    Very interesting question. Levi and I discussed this together, and I’m going to post our joint response. We would choose Maui. Palmyra is already remote and protected. We have to apply limited resources in a meaningful way; somewhat like emergency triage. My research on recovery will inform us regarding the relative importance of single site protection versus strategic networks. Reefs that rely on re-growth of surviving colonies need home reef management, whereas reefs that rely on recruitment may need a network of protected neighboring reefs. Levi’s research will inform us regarding areas that would benefit most from different forms of protection (e.g. no take, watershed, etc.). Thanks!

  • May 23, 2013 | 09:35 a.m.

    Fair enough. Thanks Kathryn.

  • May 21, 2013 | 10:03 p.m.

    Your point that most research has addressed the components of coral decline is well taken. To date, what has this research led each of you to believe that might be a successful mechanical or ecological strategy to stimulate coral regrowth?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:35 p.m.

    Thanks, Dr. Anderson. Interesting mechanical strategies to stimulate coral regrowth might include reducing human-induced chronic disturbances like sedimentation (from coastal construction) or nutrient input (from sewage outfall). My research has sparked questions about how incidence of partial mortality and re-growth might be declining due to an increase of chronic disturbance. For example, sewage outfall stresses corals in ways that results in complete mortality. But an acute disturbance such as a hurricane, which corals have had centuries to adapt to, often result in partial mortality.

    In my research on Porites superfusa, I found that being an encrusting coral is a critical ecological strategy for surviving a bleaching event. Bleaching occurs often as a result of temperature and UV. The encrusting corals that have polyps in crevices or underneath branching or massive corals may sometimes survive, despite the exposed parts of the colony suffering mortality.

    This is based on my small case study and a literature review, but I hope to understand more about these mechanisms as my doctorate continues.

  • Icon for: Levi Lewis

    Levi Lewis

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 01:06 p.m.

    I’d like to support Kate’s comments fully and add a bit more about my own work.

    Maui is highly impacted by both local and tourist populations. Nutrient pollution (sewage and fertilizers), sedimentation (development), and overfishing of herbivore populations have all been implicated as drivers of observed rapid declines in live coral cover around the island.

    By using a comparative experimental design, combined with extensive environmental monitoring, our goal is to describe variation in community development and reef growth around the island and explore which environmental characteristics most strongly correspond with highest and lowest rates of reef growth. We hope that the results of this work will elucidate some of the key drivers of reef dynamics in Maui and, therefore, allow us to focus on the ecological strategies (e.g., marine protected areas, improved land use, waste water diversion, etc.) that will minimize negative human impacts and maximize the recovery potential of Maui’s coral reefs. We currently do not have the answers, but are expecting to gather the relevant information to address this question after the 2-yr experiment ends this fall.

    Many thanks for your comments and questions!

  • May 23, 2013 | 06:35 p.m.

    Thank you both for responding to this question. The video sea scenes were so engaging and it is nice to see scientists share ways they value creativity!

  • May 21, 2013 | 10:19 p.m.

    Dear Kate and Levy,

    Great energy in your video! Fun to see! And I loved your research focus on recovery, rather than the more common gloom and doom studies.

    Wondering about the issues of scale though. It seemed that the areas that recovered in the photos on your poster were all pretty small and close to live corals if I am not mistaken. Do your results apply also to places where corals across a larger area disappeared? I am very naive when it comes to coral systems, but my impression was that bleaching etc., can cover pretty large areas at once. Could you results be extrapolated to such disturbances?

    Best,
    Volker

  • Icon for: Levi Lewis

    Levi Lewis

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 01:41 p.m.

    I would like to echo Kate’s comments. I think the simple answer is yes, that these results can be extrapolated to large disturbances. For example, researchers on the Great Barrier Reef have documented one of the most rapid recoveries of live coral cover from a major disturbance ever documented, and this recovery was based almost entirely on regrowth of damaged, but surviving, coral fragments. Other systems (e.g, Moorea) have also recovered from major disturbances, but via coral recruitment, and at a much slower rate.

    The ability of these reefs to recover were dependent on two different mechanisms (recruitment vs. regrowth), but were entirely dependent on one ecological principle: the ability of corals to outcompete and overgrow other benthic organisms and substrates. Our work specifically examines this ecological principle—the abilities of damaged coral fragments and new recruits to grow and compete for space. For example, it is quite possible that we will see strong competitive dominance and regrowth of coral fragments in a pristine environment such as Palmyra. In contrast, corals appear to be competitively inferior to other sessile organisms in Maui, possibly as a result of numerous anthropogenic stressors.
    Admittedly, our work does not specifically address the relative importance of regrowth and coral recruitment to net reef growth over geographically or geologically relevant scales of space or time. However it does address the factors that might ultimately determine which recovery mechanisms are most important to the resilience of a given reef community; and therefore, may inform us regarding how different coral reef ecosystems might be most effectively managed.

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:50 p.m.

    Dear Volker,
    Glad you liked our video! Thanks for the feedback. Our results are from Palmyra Atoll, which is remote and experiences minimal human impact. Under these conditions, corals grow well.
    I am currently in Curacao helping a Master’s student finish her thesis research. I am scoping out the reefs here as a potential study site. Although Curacao is a beautiful Caribbean reef, it is potentially more representative in terms of the stresses that reefs near inhabited areas must manage. Palmyra’s remote location makes it nearly ideal for coral growth, but devoid of human impact that affects coral growth in other areas around the world. If I expand my research here, I may get a chance to examine these theories of recovery at more impacted reefs.
    Regardless, I intend on working to see if our theories of recovery on Palmyra may be extrapolated out to other reefs. I recently published a paper with colleagues in the Red Sea on a massive bleaching event that occurred in 2010. Unfortunately, we had very few incidences of partial bleaching and observed significant mortality. I know dedicated grad students are working to quantify recruitment and monitor the recovery on a community level. I am very excited to hear how the reefs fare in the next few years.
    Based on our research so far, I would speculate that our theories could be extrapolated to large-scale (geographic) disturbances. However, a severe chronic disturbance coupled with an acute disturbance may not allow for regrowth. We have seen this happen in the Caribbean historically. I hope to be able to answer the question of regrowth importance, at least in part, by the end of my PhD. Stay tuned!

    Thanks,
    Kate

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Presentation Discussion

  • Icon for: Stephanie Luff

    Stephanie Luff

    Trainee
    May 21, 2013 | 09:34 a.m.

    Great video, I think I’m in the wrong field lol I’d love to spend my graduate career in Hawaii

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:32 a.m.

    Haha, thanks Stephanie! Your video was great. Loved the intro!

  • Icon for: Stephanie Luff

    Stephanie Luff

    Trainee
    May 22, 2013 | 04:13 p.m.

    Why thank you .

  • May 21, 2013 | 11:24 a.m.

    so cool!!! congrats guys, the project is amazing, and the video very compelling! best of luck on the competition!!

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:33 a.m.

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Mark Westneat

    Mark Westneat

    Faculty
    May 21, 2013 | 03:13 p.m.

    Nice poem at the start! Great projects on reef succession and distribution- very interesting. Any early results that show how your study sites are recovering- existing colonies vs new larvae recruiting?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:35 a.m.

    Thanks! Levi is does our bio-rhymes in house. We are seeing slightly more recovery coming from existing colonies than recruitment. However, as our recovery is not significant, we are waiting for the next two time points to be analyzed – coming soon October 2013 (in other words, I’m currently getting that data!).

  • Icon for: Maureen Correll

    Maureen Correll

    Faculty
    May 22, 2013 | 08:41 a.m.

    I liked the rhymes in the beginning too – bold! We use a lot of coral reef research in our thinking about disturbance ecology on our project. How closely do you think human disturbances like the ones you are studying and natural extreme disturbances align? How exactly are you defining recovery?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 07:53 p.m.

    Thanks Dr Correll!

    I use Nystrom et al’s definition of recovery (2000) stating that recovery of coral reefs after a disturbance refers to the return of the coral reef to its original state. This includes re-growth of a reef’s coral cover or species abundance after a disturbance. Our photos let us look at recovery at a colony, species, and community scale, so when I refer to recovery it’s more focused than the ecosystem-scale.

    I don’t exactly understand your first question. What do you mean by “align”?

  • May 22, 2013 | 11:36 p.m.

    Nice “poem/rap”! At a conference once I saw Dr. Tyrone Hayes’ “famous” rap about atrazine contamination. The scientific art is a great idea.

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 06:16 a.m.

    Thanks! I’ll have to look him up.

  • May 23, 2013 | 10:13 a.m.

    Just search ‘Tyrone Hayes atrazine’ on youtube and you should find it. It’s great, but I’m equally impressed with Levi’s performance, which is why it immediately reminded me of it. Good luck

  • Icon for: Ellen Chenoweth

    Ellen Chenoweth

    Trainee
    May 23, 2013 | 03:24 a.m.

    Nice job, particularly with the scientific art. Who is your art directed at? What’s the audience or mode of outreach?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 11:18 p.m.

    Thanks Ellen! Our science art is directed at a general audience. That said, our form of art is quite modern and pop-related, which we hope will bring some esoteric and seemingly inconsequential information to the forefront of the minds of younger generations. Our art is posted on Youtube, Facebook, our own personal blogs, other syndicated websites and our own Coral Reef Ecology website. (re-posted from Levi)

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Faculty
    May 23, 2013 | 07:19 a.m.

    Hi, I enjoyed the lively video on a very interesting project.
    In your poster, you say that the objective of the study is to “determine the relative significance of rates of recovery and decline” of corals on this atoll. I don’t think I quite understand how the data presented are related to that objective. What am I missing?

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 11:21 p.m.

    Hi Dr Drayton, thanks for your question. To clarify, I conducted a case study on Porites superfusa from a time series before and after a bleaching event. I documented the relative rate of decline after the bleaching event in 2009 and am currently documenting its recovery from 2010 to now. We are expanding this research to include several other species of coral on the atoll, and are working to incorporate population genetics as tool to investigate the question from additional angles.

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    Mary Smith

    Guest
    May 23, 2013 | 08:49 a.m.

    This is Amazing!! So proud of you!!! Great work!!!

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 11:21 p.m.

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Ashley Richter

    Ashley Richter

    Trainee
    May 23, 2013 | 06:51 p.m.

    Fabulous project and great video (yay UCSD projects)!

  • Icon for: Kathryn Furby

    Kathryn Furby

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 11:22 p.m.

    Thanks! Go Tritons :) Liked your video as well – I think we met at a meeting about an Outside Magazine project, is that right?

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    Jessica Nowicki

    Guest
    May 28, 2013 | 11:13 a.m.

    Great job guys!!! I did enjoy your science, and your scientific art, and most especially Kathryn’s air-kick in the closing scene—classic! ;)~

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

  1. Kathryn Furby
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/5088
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. University of California at San Diego, Scripps...
  1. Levi Lewis
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/2930
  3. Project Associate
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. University of California at San Diego, Scripps...

Obliteration and repopulation: Growth and succession in coral reef ecosystems

Coral reefs are complex tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. Understanding patterns of growth and succession of coral reef organisms is essential for predicting the futures of these communities. Coral recruitment has been recognized as important for long-term reef recovery after major and frequent disturbances, however, recent studies have suggested that re-growth of corals is another critical mechanism. Many complex environmental conditions alter the interactions of organisms on the reef. We quantify these patterns of growth and mortality across several reefs, in remote areas (Palmyra Atoll) and inhabited areas (Hawaii) of the Pacific. Further studies in this direction will help quantify the importance of fragmented or remnant corals on damaged reefs, as well as the influence of biotic and abiotic environmental characteristics. By investigating the development and growth of coral reefs, managers and scientists hope to understand the likelihood of recovery at a community level.