The Line Islands Collection: Microbial dynamics of coral reef robustness and decline

Jul 16, 2013
The Line Islands Collection -- Microbial dynamics of coral reef robustness and decline
A black tip reef shark swims over a large table-top Acropora coral colony in the remote Southern Line Islands. This image shows the coupling of healthy benthic communities, as seen by the high cover of calcifying organisms and high abundance of top predators in coral reef systems. Credit: Jennifer Smith

Coral reefs face serious threats primarily arising from climate change, unsustainable fishing, and pollution. To better understand the underlying processes, a multidisciplinary series of studies is being conducted by researchers, investigating variability in coral reef community structure and microbial dynamics across gradients of natural and anthropogenic stress. Their results are published in the new PeerJ "Line Islands Collection – Microbial dynamics of coral reef robustness and decline" (named after their upcoming expedition to the Line Islands).

As part of an effort to better understand the effects of anthropogenic influences on these fascinating ecosystems, and specifically how affect coral reef robustness and decline, a new expedition to the Line Islands (located in the central Pacific Ocean and one of the most pristine coral reef systems remaining on the planet) will be launched in the fall of 2013. In the run-up to this expedition, a Collection of related articles is being launched in the open access journal PeerJ and as the work of this research collaboration builds up, the Collection will continually expand to include all relevant publications.

The main focus of the Line Islands expedition will be to shed light on the intricate interactions between microbes, coral, algae, and fish and so the researchers leading this body of work have expertise spanning many different scientific disciplines:

The Laboratory of Forest Rohwer, of San Diego State University, investigates the interactions between microbes and macroorganisms in , specifically how these systems respond to perturbation. Jennifer E. Smith and her team from Scripps will investigate how local (fishing, pollution, ) and global human impacts (warming, acidification) affect competitive dynamics among benthic taxa and alter . Finally, the group of Stuart Sandin at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography has interests that are centered on predator/prey dynamics and how those dynamics shape the coral reef community. Collectively, these groups have investigated, and will further study, the biogeochemical processes which shape coral reef ecosystems, spanning spatial scales from microns to thousands of kilometers.

By presenting their articles as a cohesive Collection, the researchers hope to demonstrate some of the implications that result from considering coral reef microbiology on a new scale – something which may help others to see these findings in their broader context.

The "Line Islands Collection" is launched on July 16th with four related articles. New articles will be added to the Collection as and when they are published in PeerJ.

Explore further: Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water

Related Stories

Major changes needed for coral reef survival

Jun 28, 2013

To prevent coral reefs around the world from dying off, deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions are required, says a new study from Carnegie's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira. They find that all existing coral ...

Low calcification in corals in the Great Barrier Reef

Aug 31, 2012

Reef-building coral communities in the Great Barrier Reef-the world's largest coral reef-may now be calcifying at only about half the rate that they did during the 1970s, although live coral cover may not have changed over ...

Recommended for you

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

Jul 03, 2015

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

Jul 03, 2015

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Will climate change put mussels off the menu?

Jul 03, 2015

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface ...

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

Jul 02, 2015

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.