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Coral reefs (cont.)

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  • Mike Doran
    ... Bacteria ... diseases. ... covered ... hypothesis ... it ... we ... over ... the ... global ... about ... Comment: What is occurring here is actually a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2003
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      > Marine Scientists Discover Nutrient Pollution Boosts Fungi,
      > Killing Caribbean Reefs
      > CHAPEL HILL -- In the Caribbean Sea, coral reefs -- those gorgeous,
      > eye-popping, fish-nourishing, ship-scraping biological wonders that
      > are among the region's crown jewels -- continue to die rapidly, a
      > University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill biologist says. Their
      > future looks bleak.
      > Dr. John Bruno, assistant professor of marine sciences at UNC, and
      > colleagues at other U.S. universities, believe they have identified
      > one reason why. Results of field experiments they conducted off
      > Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula suggested that chemical nutrients washed
      > and dumped into the sea can increase the severity of coral
      > A report on the findings appears in the December issue of the
      > journal Ecology Letters, which is expected to be posted online Nov.
      > 26. Besides Bruno, authors are Drs. Laura E. Petes of Oregon State
      > University, C. Drew Harvell of Cornell University and Annaliese
      > Hettinger of California State University in Northridge.
      > "Caribbean coral reefs have declined dramatically over the past 20
      > years or so as disease epidemics have swept through them," Bruno
      > said. "In less than a year, the two most common species that
      > 60 to 70 percent of the bottom were just wiped out, becoming
      > functionally extinct and changing possibly forever the structure of
      > those marine communities. It was analogous to losing all the pine
      > trees in the Carolinas down into Georgia."
      > Since no one had gone into the field to test the nutrient
      > about what was happening, the UNC scientist and his colleagues did
      > just that. They looked specifically at the fungi Aspergillus, which
      > kills elegant gorgonian sea fans through a disease known as
      > aspergillosis and two species of the reef-building corals
      > Montastraea, which yellow band disease can kill.
      > The researchers placed various concentrations of time-release
      > fertilizer rich in nitrogen and phosphorus in porous bags made from
      > pantyhose and suspended them at sites on reefs some four to six
      > inches from living colonies of the tiny animals. That enabled them
      > to manipulate and boost nutrient levels in the water.
      > "We found that even modest rises in nutrient pollution could
      > increase mortality of the three important Caribbean corals by
      > facilitating the spread of disease," Bruno said. "Our results
      > suggest that further steps should be taken to reduce nutrient
      > pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage pollution and
      > deforestation."
      > By increasing nutrient concentrations between two- and five-fold,
      > the marine biologists recorded almost a doubling of tissue loss
      > among the Monastraea from yellow band disease, he said. A separate
      > experiment showed nutrient enrichment significantly increased two
      > measures of the severity of sea fan aspergillosis.
      > "What we did was relatively minor enrichment so we were not doing
      > to the extent you might find in the Chesapeake Bay or the coastal
      > Carolinas near a pig farm or something," Bruno said. "We did what
      > thought would be comparable to what is happening in the Caribbean."
      > Sea fans are the colorful, fragile-looking, plant-like animals that
      > divers and snorkelers see waving gracefully back and forth in 10 to
      > 20 feet of water, he said. The aspergillosis that kills them is
      > common in plants, birds and humans with weakened immune defenses
      > such as patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
      > What causes yellow band disease of the reef-building corals is
      > unproven, but Dr. Garret W. Smith of the University of South
      > Carolina believes that it is a bacterial infection that spreads
      > the surface of coral colonies like a yellow doughnut, Bruno said.
      > Sometimes it kills the entire colony, and other times it stops and
      > disappears.
      > Reefs rarely if ever recover and in death often become covered with
      > algae and other microorganisms. "We don't think nutrients played
      > primary role in causing this Caribbean-wide shift from coral to
      > algae-dominated communities, but we do think their role could be
      > important," the UNC scientist said. "There are much more insidious
      > things going on that likely are more important such as rising
      > temperatures and over-fishing.
      > "The good news is that we might be able to do something about
      > lowering the growing nutrient levels through regulations or other
      > methods," Bruno said. "It's close to impossible to do anything
      > rising temperatures and other effects of what humans are doing to
      > the environment."

      What is occurring here is actually a living earth feedback. What on
      one level may appear to be a preditor prey relationship between algae
      dominated communities, viruses, fungi and so forth, and the corals,
      is actually perfectly symbiotic and balanced. The release into the
      atmosphere of particles of virus, algae, fungis--basically small
      creatures that become nucleotide based parasols, allows cirrus
      formations that can be stratified between the ionosphere and
      convective cloud masses and feedback more heat trapping and
      convection. Since the feedbacks are also enhanced by cumullations of
      live below, as life together has a electrical pattern or signature
      compared to lifeless, diffused chemistries, what then washes down the
      rivers, where there is life, is chemistries that support life.

      Human activity messes with 4 billion or more years of evolved
      modulations of chaotic climate input and chemistry conditions. Fossil
      fuels role is not as a GHG but largely as a marine surface electrical
      baseline, where gas exchanges from ambiant winds impact surface
      conductivies. I urge anyone interested in the SCIENCE of this to re
      read Harris et als Nature paper on the 1970 La Nina compared to the
      1997 El Nino and focus on the cirrus cloud behavior analysis of the
      paper, in light of John Christy's view that clouds form a GHG about
      100 times more powerful than CO2. The bad assumption being that CO2
      as a heat trapping forming directly influeces cirrus cloud formation,
      when the forcing on the clouds is ELECTRICAL (large scale, low
      frequancy) and having to do with cirrus cloud patterns as modulated
      by the chemestry and biosphere of the oceans.
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