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No. 364
April 2015

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Bleaching Events Impair Long-term Coral Reproduction

-Adapted from Kathleen Haughney, Florida State University

A new study by Florida State University and Smithsonian Institution biologists shows that bleaching events brought on by rising sea temperatures are having a detrimental long-term impact on coral.

Bleached coral off the coast of Panama

Bleached coral off the coast of Panama

Bleaching—a process where high water temperatures or UV light stresses the coral to the point where it loses its symbiotic algal partners that provides the coral with color—is also affecting the long-term fertility of the coral the scientists reveal in a recent issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Don Levitan and William Boudreau of Florida State University, Javier Jara from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and Nancy Knowlton from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History are co-authors of the study.

Most corals reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the ocean during brief annual spawning events. The chance of sperm finding and fertilizing an egg depends on corals spawning in close proximity and in synchrony with each other.

In a study of the corals that build the major framework of Caribbean coral reefs, the team found that the species living in shallower water experienced near total reproductive failure, while the species living in deeper water were about half as likely to spawn.

"The remarkable finding from this study was that the reduction in spawning persisted for three additional years, long after the corals had regained their symbiotic partners and regained their normal appearance," says Levitan, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida State. "Even corals that didn't bleach aren't reproducing at the levels they should."

The worldwide decrease in coral abundance in combination with long-term reductions in spawning and reproduction following bleaching events put reef-building corals in a difficult situation. Eggs might be released, but never fertilized. And that could have a major impact on the ecosystem at large.

Levitan and other researchers have been studying coral just off the coast of Panama since 1996. Since then, those corals have been exposed to two bleaching events. On average, it takes coral three to four years to recover from bleaching.

"Even if we can fix what's killing these corals, it's going to be hard for coral populations to recover, because the surviving corals might not successfully produce enough offspring to repopulate reefs," Levitan said.

Coral reefs provide protection and shelter for many different species of fish. Without the reefs, certain fish are left homeless and without an area to reproduce. They also protect coastlines from large waves and flooding, a major issue in areas that are prone to tropical storms or hurricanes.

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Sampaio, E., and Rodil, I.F. 2014. Effects of the invasive clam Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774) on a representative macrobenthic community from two estuaries at different stages of invasion. Limnetica 33(2):249-262.

Sanz-Aguilar, A., Anadón, J.D., Edelaar, P., Carrete, M., and Tella, J.L. 2014. Can establishment success be determined through demographic parameters? A case study on five introduced bird species. PLoS ONE 9(10):e110019.

Scales, K.L., Miller, P.I., Hawkes, L.A., Ingram, S.N., Sims, D.W., and Votier, S.C. 2014. On the Front Line: frontal zones as priority at-sea conservation areas for mobile marine vertebrates. J. Appl. Ecol. 51(6):1575-1583.

Schakner, Z.A., Petelle, M.B., Berger-Tal, O., Owen, M.A., and Blumstein, D.T. 2014. Developing effective tools for conservation behaviorists: Reply to Greggor et al. Trends Ecol. Evol. 29(12):651-652.

Schliserman, P., Aluja, M., Rull, J., and Ovruski, S.M. 2014. Habitat degradation and introduction of exotic plants favor persistence of invasive species and population growth of native polyphagous fruit fly pests in a Northwestern Argentinean mosaic. Biol. Invasions 16(12):2599-2613.

Schröter, M., van der Zanden, E.H., van Oudenhoven, A.P.E., Remme, R.P., Serna-Chavez, H.M., de Groot, R.S., and Opdam, P. 2014. Ecosystem services as a contested concept: a synthesis of critique and counter-arguments. Conserv. Lett. 7(6):514-523.

Schultze, J., Gärtner, S., Bauhus, J., Meyer, P., and Reif, A. 2014. Criteria to evaluate the conservation value of strictly protected forest reserves in Central Europe. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(14):3519-3542.

Schulz, T., Krumm, F., Bücking, W., Frank, G., Kraus, D., Lier, M., Lovrić, M., van der Maaten-Theunissen, M., Paillet, Y., Parviainen, J., Vacchiano, G., and Vandekerkhove, K. 2014. Comparison of integrative nature conservation in forest policy in Europe: a qualitative pilot study of institutional determinants. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(14):3425-3450.

Segniagbeto, G.H., Bour, R., Ohler, A., Dubois, A., Rodel, M.O., Trape, J.F., Fretey, J., Petrozzi, F., and Luiselli, L. 2014. Turtles and tortoises of Togo: historical data, distribution, ecology, and conservation. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 13(2):152-165.

Segura, A., Castaño-Santamaría, J., Laiolo, P., and Obeso, J.R. 2014. Divergent responses of flagship, keystone and resource-limited bio-indicators to forest structure. Ecol. Res. 29(5):925-936.

Seipel, T., Alexander, J.M., Daehler, C.C., Rew, L.J., Edwards, P.J., Dar, P.A., McDougall, K., Naylor, B., Parks, C., Pollnac, F.W., Reshi, Z.A., Schroder, M., and Kueffer, C. 2015. Performance of the herb Verbascum thapsus along environmental gradients in its native and non-native ranges. J. Biogeogr. 42(1):132-143.

Selman, W., Baccigalopi, B., and Baccigalopi, C. 2014. Distribution and abundance of diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in southwestern Louisiana. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 13(2):131-139.

Shapiro, L.H., Tepedino, V.J., and Minckley, R.L. 2014. Bowling for bees: optimal sample number for "bee bowl" sampling transects. J. Insect Conserv. 18(6):1105-1113.

Sharmah, D., and Jha, D.K. 2014. Diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in undisturbed forest, slash-and-burn field, and monoculture forest of Indo-Burma megadiverse region. Braz. J. Bot. 37(3):339-351.

Shaw, P., Njoroge, P., Otieno, V., and Mlamba, E. 2014. The range, abundance and habitat of Hinde's Babbler Turdoides hindei: fine-scale changes in abundance during 2000-2011 reflect temporal variation in scrub cover. Bird Conserv. Int. 24(4):453-465.

Sheldon, A.L., and Grubbs, S.A. 2014. Distributional ecology of a rare, endemic stonefly. Freshwater Sci. 33(4):1119-1126.

Shepperson, J., Murray, L.G., Cook, S., Whiteley, H., and Kaiser, M.J. 2014. Methodological considerations when using local knowledge to infer spatial patterns of resource exploitation in an Irish Sea fishery. Biol. Conserv. 180:214-223.

Shi, H.J., Paull, D., Wen, Z.M., and Broome, L. 2014. Thermal buffering effect of alpine boulder field microhabitats in Australia: implications for habitat management and conservation. Biol. Conserv. 180:278-287.

Shivaprakash, K.N., Ramesha, B.T., Shaanker, R.U., Dayanandan, S., and Ravikanth, G. 2014. Genetic structure, diversity and long term viability of a medicinal plant, Nothapodytes nimmoniana Graham. (Icacinaceae), in protected and non-protected areas in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. PLoS ONE 9(12):e112769.

Sikor, T., Martin, A., Fisher, J., and He, J. 2014. Toward an empirical analysis of justice in ecosystem governance. Conserv. Lett. 7(6):524-532.

Siler, C.D., Welton, L.J., Davis, D.R., Watters, J.L., Davey, C.S., Diesmos, A.C., Diesmos, M.L., and Brown, R.M. 2014. Taxonomic revision of the Pseudogekko compresicorpus complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae), with descriptions of three new species. Herpetol. Monogr. 28:110-139.

Silva, D.P., and De Marco, P. 2014. No evidence of habitat loss affecting the orchid bees Eulaema nigrita Lepeletier and Eufriesea auriceps Friese (Apidae: Euglossini) in the Brazilian Cerrado savanna. Neotrop. Entomol. 43(6):509-518.

Silva, V.D.E., Pressey, R.L., Machado, R.B., VanDerWal, J., Wiederhecker, H.C., Werneck, F.P., and Colli, G.R. 2014. Formulating conservation targets for a gap analysis of endemic lizards in a biodiversity hotspot. Biol. Conserv. 180:1-10.

Sinha, R.K., and Kannan, K. 2014. Ganges River dolphin: an overview of biology, ecology, and conservation status in India. Ambio 43(8):1029-1046.

Smith, B.E., Collie, J.S., and Lengyel, N.L. 2014. Fish trophic engineering: ecological effects of the invasive ascidian Didemnum vexillum (Georges Bank, northwestern Atlantic). J. Exp. Marine Biol. Ecol. 461:489-498.

Solovyeva, D.V., Liu, P.Q., Antonov, A.I., Averin, A.A., Pronkevich, V.V., Shokhrin, V.P., Vartanyan, S.L., and Cranswick, P.A. 2014. The population size and breeding range of the Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus. Bird Conserv. Int. 24(4):393-405.

Sonne, M.N., and Hauser, T.P. 2014. Population fluctuations, losses to grazing, and reproductive success of Dactylorhiza sambucina on Bornholm, Denmark. Ann. Bot. Fenn. 51(6):375-386.

Spencer, N.C., Gilchrist, H.G., and Mallory, M.L. 2014. Annual movement patterns of endangered ivory gulls: the importance of sea ice. PLoS ONE 9(12):e115231.

Stanton, J.C. 2014. Present-day risk assessment would have predicted the extinction of the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius). Biol. Conserv. 180:11-20.

Steinmetz, R., Srirattanaporn, S., Mor-Tip, J., and Seuaturien, N. 2014. Can community outreach alleviate poaching pressure and recover wildlife in South-East Asian protected areas? J. Appl. Ecol. 51(6):1469-1478.

Stelkens, R.B., Brockhurst, M.A., Hurst, G.D.D., and Greig, D. 2014. Hybridization facilitates evolutionary rescue. Evol. Appl. 7(10):1209-1217.

Stokes, K.L., Fuller, W.J., Glen, F., Godley, B.J., Hodgson, D.J., Rhodes, K.A., Snape, R.T.E., and Broderick, A.C. 2014. Detecting green shoots of recovery: the importance of long-term individual-based monitoring of marine turtles. Anim. Conserv. 17(6):593-602.

Su, S., Cassey, P., and Blackburn, T.M. 2014. Patterns of non-randomness in the composition and characteristics of the Taiwanese bird trade. Biol. Invasions 16(12):2563-2575.

Suraci, J.P., Clinchy, M., Zanette, L.Y., Currie, C.M.A., and Dill, L.M. 2014. Mammalian mesopredators on islands directly impact both terrestrial and marine communities. Oecologia 176(4):1087-1100.

Suryawanshi, K.R., Bhatia, S., Bhatnagar, Y.V., Redpath, S., and Mishra, C. 2014. Multiscale factors affecting human attitudes toward snow leopards and wolves. Conserv. Biol. 28(6):1657-1666.

Sutton, N.J., and Armsworth, P.R. 2014. The grain of spatially referenced economic cost and biodiversity benefit data and the effectiveness of a cost targeting strategy. Conserv. Biol. 28(6):1451-1461.

Svenning, J.C., Gravel, D., Holt, R.D., Schurr, F.M., Thuiller, W., Münkemüller, T., Schiffers, K.H., Dullinger, S., Edwards, T.C., Hickler, T., Higgins, S.I., Nabel, J.E.M.S., Pagel, J., and Normand, S. 2014. The influence of interspecific interactions on species range expansion rates. Ecography 37(12):1198-1209.

Symons, J., Pirotta, E., and Lusseau, D. 2014. Sex differences in risk perception in deep-diving bottlenose dolphins leads to decreased foraging efficiency when exposed to human disturbance. J. Appl. Ecol. 51(6):1584-1592.

te Beest, M., Mpandza, N.J., and Olff, H. 2015. Fire and simulated herbivory have antagonistic effects on resistance of savanna grasslands to alien shrub invasion. J. Veg. Sci. 26(1):114-122.

Terra, V., and Garcia, F.C.P. 2014. Acacieae Benth. (Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Braz. J. Bot. 37(4):609-630.

Thoma, R.F., Loughman, Z.J., and Fetzner, J.W. 2014. Cambarus (Puncticambarus) callainus, a new species of crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) from the Big Sandy River basin in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, USA. Zootaxa 3900(4):541-554.

Thuiller, W., Guéguen, M., Georges, D., Bonet, R., Chalmandrier, L., Garraud, L., Renaud, J., Roquet, C., Van Es, J., Zimmermann, N.E., and Lavergne, S. 2014. Are different facets of plant diversity well protected against climate and land cover changes? A test study in the French Alps. Ecography 37(12):1254-1266.

Toledo, D., Sanderson, M., Spaeth, K., Hendrickson, J., and Printz, J. 2014. Extent of Kentucky bluegrass and its effect on native plant species diversity and ecosystem services in the Northern Great Plains of the United States. Invas. Plant Sci. Manage. 7(4):543-552.

Troy, J.R., Holmes, N.D., Veech, J.A., Raine, A.F., and Green, M.C. 2014. Habitat suitability modeling for the Newell's shearwater on Kauai. J. Fish Wildlife Manage. 5(2):315-329.

Tulloch, A.I.T., Tulloch, V.J.D., Evans, M.C., and Mills, M. 2014. The value of using feasibility models in systematic conservation planning to predict landholder management uptake. Conserv. Biol. 28(6):1462-1473.

Uehara, M., and Tachihara, K. 2015. Reproductive traits of the western Pacific gizzard shad Nematalosa come: implications for conservation and management in a population at its distributional margin. Environ. Biol. Fish. 98(1):1-10.

Urbanavichus, G., and Urbanavichene, I. 2014. An inventory of the lichen flora of Lagonaki Highland (NW Caucasus, Russia). Herzogia 27(2):285-319.

Urbanek, R.P., Szyszkoski, E.K., and Zimorski, S.E. 2014. Winter distribution dynamics and implications to a reintroduced population of migratory whooping cranes. J. Fish Wildlife Manage. 5(2):340-362.

Valkonen, J.K., and Mappes, J. 2014. Resembling a viper: implications of mimicry for conservation of the endangered smooth snake. Conserv. Biol. 28(6):1568-1574.

Vázquez, A.H.P., and Segura, G.E. 2014. Characterization of the potential geographical distribution area of parrot species in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Rev. Biol. Trop. 62(4):1509-1522.

Vázquez-Luis, M., March, D., Alvarez, E., Alvarez-Berastegui, D., and Deudero, S. 2014. Spatial distribution modelling of the endangered bivalve Pinna nobilis in a Marine Protected Area. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 15(3):626-634.

Viana, A.B., Souza, V.B., Reis, Y.T., and Marques-Costa, A.P. 2014. Termite assemblages in dry tropical forests of Northeastern Brazil: are termites bioindicators of environmental disturbances? Sociobiology 61(3):328-335.

Vidal, M.M., Hasui, E., Pizo, M.A., Tamashiro, J.Y., Silva, W.R., and Guimarães, P.R. 2014. Frugivores at higher risk of extinction are the key elements of a mutualistic network. Ecology 95(12):3440-3447.

Vidal, O., and Rendón-Salinas, E. 2014. Dynamics and trends of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly in Mexico. Biol. Conserv. 180:165-175.

Vukojičić, S., Jakovljević, K., Matevski, V., Randjelović, V., Niketić, M., and Lakušić, D. 2014. Distribution, diversity and conservation of boreo-montane plant species in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula and the southern part of the Pannonian Plain. Folia Geobot. 49(4):487-505.

Vuorio, V., Muchiru, A., Reid, R.S., and Ogutu, J.O. 2014. How pastoralism changes savanna vegetation: impact of old pastoral settlements on plant diversity and abundance in south-western Kenya. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(13):3219-3240.

Walls, S.C. 2014. Identifying monitoring gaps for amphibian populations in a North American biodiversity hotspot, the southeastern USA. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(13):3341-3357.

Wang, J. 2014. Diversity of exotic vascular plant species on Moreton Island in subtropical Australia: increase over 100 years. Aust. J. Bot. 62(5):379-390.

Wang, Z.G., Yang, Z.P., and Du, X.S.H. 2015. Analysis on the threats and spatiotemporal distribution pattern of security in World Natural Heritage Sites. Environ. Monit. Assess. 187(1):4143.

Wanless, R.M., and Maree, B.A. 2014. Problems and solutions for seabird bycatch in trawl fisheries. Anim. Conserv. 17(6):534-534.

Wardle, D.A. 2014. Conservation: listen to more voices. Nature 516(7529):37.

Wauters, N., Dekoninck, W., Herrera, H.W., and Fournier, D. 2014. Distribution, behavioral dominance and potential impacts on endemic fauna of tropical fire ant Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius, 1804) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) in the Galápagos archipelago. Pan-Pac. Entomol. 90(4):205-220.

White, A., Bell, S.S., Lurz, P.W.W., and Boots, M. 2014. Conservation management within strongholds in the face of disease-mediated invasions: red and grey squirrels as a case study. J. Appl. Ecol. 51(6):1631-1642.

White, J.W., Schroeger, J., Drake, P.T., and Edwards, C.A. 2014. The value of larval connectivity information in the static optimization of marine reserve design. Conserv. Lett. 7(6):533-544.

Whitehead, T., Goosem, M., and Preece, N.D. 2014. Use by small mammals of a chronosequence of tropical rainforest revegetation. Wildlife Res. 41(3):233-242.

Whitfield, S.M., Reider, K., Greenspan, S., and Donnelly, M.A. 2014. Litter dynamics regulate population densities in a declining terrestrial herpetofauna. Copeia 2014(3):454-461.

Wickson, S.J., Chester, E.T., Valenzuela, I., Halliday, B., Lester, R.E., Matthews, T.G., and Miller, A.D. 2014. Population genetic structure of the Australian caddisfly Lectrides varians Mosely (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae) and the identification of cryptic species in south-eastern Australia. J. Insect Conserv. 18(6):1037-1046.

Wilhelm-Rechmann, A., Cowling, R.M., and Difford, M. 2014. Responses of South African land-use planning stakeholders to the New Ecological Paradigm and the Inclusion of Nature in Self scales: assessment of their potential as components of social assessments for conservation projects. Biol. Conserv. 180:206-213.

Williams, N.S.G., Lundholm, J., and MacIvor, J.S. 2014. Do green roofs help urban biodiversity conservation? J. Appl. Ecol. 51(6):1643-1649.

Williams, S.J., Jones, J.P.G., Annewandter, R., and Gibbons, J.M. 2014. Cultivation can increase harvesting pressure on overexploited plant populations. Ecol. Appl. 24(8):2050-2062.

Windisch, P.G., Lorscheitter, M.L., and Nervo, M.H. 2014. Isoetes naipiana (Isoetaceae), a new species from southern Brazil. Willdenowia 44(3):393-398.

Winkel, G., and Jump, A. 2014. Perspectives on forest conservation: building evidence at the frontier between policy and conservation science. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(14):3359-3372.

Winter, S., Borrass, L., Geitzenauer, M., Blondet, M., Breibeck, R., Weiss, G., and Winkel, G. 2014. The impact of Natura 2000 on forest management: a socio-ecological analysis in the continental region of the European Union. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(14):3451-3482.

Witczak, L.R., Guzy, J.C., Price, S.J., Gibbons, J.W., and Dorcas, M.E. 2014. Temporal and spatial variation in survivorship of diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin). Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 13(2):146-151.

Wu, J.M., Wei, Q.W., Du, H., Wang, C.Y., and Zhang, H. 2014. Initial evaluation of the release programme for Dabry's sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus Dumeril, 1868) in the upper Yangtze River. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 30(6):1423-1427.

Xiao, L., Li, X.P., Chen, L.Y., Wang, Y.B., Li, X.L., and Chen, F.J. 2014. Genetic diversity of endangered Manglietia patungensis assessed by inter simple sequence repeat and sequence-related amplified polymorphism markers. Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 57:231-237.

Ye, S.W., Lin, M.L., Li, L., Liu, J.S., Song, L.R., and Li, Z.J. 2015. Abundance and spatial variability of invasive fishes related to environmental factors in a eutrophic Yunnan Plateau lake, Lake Dianchi, southwestern China. Environ. Biol. Fish. 98(1):209-224.

Yoon, J.D., Kim, J.H., Jo, H.B., Yeom, M.A., Heo, W.M., Joo, G.J., and Jang, M.H. 2015. Seasonal habitat utilization and movement patterns of the threatened Brachymystax lenok tsinlingensis in a Korean river. Environ. Biol. Fish. 98(1):225-236.

Young, R.P., Hudson, M.A., Terry, A.M.R., Jones, C.G., Lewis, R.E., Tatayah, V., Zuël, N., and Butchart, S.H.M. 2014. Accounting for conservation: using the IUCN Red List Index to evaluate the impact of a conservation organization. Biol. Conserv. 180:84-96.

Zhai, D.L., Cannon, C.H., Dai, Z.C., Zhang, C.P., and Xu, J.C. 2015. Deforestation and fragmentation of natural forests in the upper Changhua watershed, Hainan, China: implications for biodiversity conservation. Environ. Monit. Assess. 187(1):4137.

Zhang, H.B., Geller, J.B., and Vrijenhoek, R.C. 2014. Genetic diversity in native and introduced populations of the amethyst gem clam Gemma gemma (Totten, 1834) from the U.S. east and west coasts. Biol. Invasions 16(12):2725-2735.

Zhang, X., Gao, X., Wang, J.W., and Cao, W.X. 2015. Extinction risk and conservation priority analyses for 64 endemic fishes in the Upper Yangtze River, China. Environ. Biol. Fish. 98(1):261-272.

Zhang, Y., Liu, L., Cheng, L., Cai, Y.J., Yin, H.B., Gao, J.F., and Gao, Y.N. 2014. Macroinvertebrate assemblages in streams and rivers of a highly developed region (Lake Taihu Basin, China). Aquat. Biol. 23(1):15-28.

Zhu, B., and Georgian, S.E. 2014. Interactions between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and native water stargrass in Cayuga Lake, NY, USA. J. Plant Ecol. 7(6):499-508.

Zimmer-Shaffer, S.A., Briggler, J.T., and Millspaugh, J.J. 2014. Modeling the effects of commercial harvest on population growth of river turtles. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 13(2):227-236.

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