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Articles of the month - Jan/Feb 2008

This section contains summaries of recent articles from scientific journals related to the marine environment.

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Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification / O. Hoegh-Guldberg ...[et al]
Science Vol 318(5867) 14 December 2007: 1737-1742

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 part per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon / Martin Krkosek ...[et al]
Science Vol 318(5857) 14 December 2007: 1772-1775

Rather than benefiting wild fish, industrial aquaculture may contribute to declines in ocean fisheries and ecosystems. Farm salmon are commonly infected with salmon lice which are native ectoparasitic copepods. The authors show that recurrent louse infestations of wild juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), all associated with salmon farms, have depressed wild pin salmon populations and placed them on a trajectory toward rapid local extinction (Canada).

Defining bioregions for biodiversity conservation in the Southern Ocean / Keith Martin-Smith.
Australian Antarctic Magazine Issue 13 2007: 16

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a hot topic in the conservation world. They are used to protect important areas by controlling the types of activity that can take place within their borders - such as fishing. 'Comprehensive, adequate and representative' are the fundamental principles for a system of MPAs, with the ultimate goal being to protect the marine biodiversity.

Effectiveness of surrogate taxa in the design of coral reef reserve systems in the Indo-Pacific
Maria Beger, Sheila A. Mckenna, Hugh P Possingham.
Conservation Biology Vol 21(6) December 2007: 1584–1593.

Implementing systematically designed reserve systems is crucial to slowing the global decline of coral reef health and diversity. Yet, the paucity of spatial data for most coral reef taxa often requires conservation planners to design reserve systems based only on a subset of taxonomic groups as surrogates for all other taxa. In terrestrial systems the validity of surrogates for reserve design is established by testing for cross-taxon congruence (similarities in spatial patterns of species richness), but this concept has rarely been examined in the marine environment. Researchers tested the suitability of taxa as conservation representation surrogates of coral reef species richness across the Indo-Pacific, based on species lists of fishes, corals, and mollusks from 167 sites. The researchers concluded that in Indo-Pacific coral reef ecosystems one can only be sure that a target taxon is efficiently represented in a reserve system when data on that taxon are used to select a reserve system.

Practical management of Southern Ocean fisheries / Dirk Welsford.
Australian Antarctic Magazine Issue 13 2007: 9

Scientific information provided by the Australian Antarctic Division is instrumental in the development of Australia's well-founded policies on managing fisheries in the Southern Ocean.

Spawning for a better life / Elizabeth Pennisi.
Science Vol 318(5867) 14 December 2007: 1712-1717

With our planet's besieged corals the focus of the International Year of the Reef in 2008, scientists are racing to decipher the riddles of coral reproduction

Suffer a sea change? : contrasting perspectives towards urban policy and migration in coastal Australia / Nicole Gurran & Ed Blakely.
Australian Geographer Vol 38(1) March 2007: 113-131

Has the notion of 'sea change' and its considerable implications for non-metropolitan coastal Australia been exaggerated? In this article alternative perspectives of 'sea change' in Australia are reviewed, and the policy implications of each assessed. One perspective regards migration to coastal areas beyond the capital cities as incidental to continued metropolitan primacy and unlikely to affect or change Australia's overall urban or economic structure. The other considers the movement as a significant and enduring process with major environmental and socio-economic repercussions.

Flood and drought impacts on the opening regime of a wave- dominated estuary / Paul Rustomji.
Marine & Freshwater Research Vol 58(12) 2007: 1108-1119

Despite the well documented environmental pressures on estuaries including elevated nutrient loadings and abstraction of river flows, little research concerning the variability and controls on estuary mouth opening regimes exists. From water level observations of Tuross Lake estuary in south-eastern Australia, the estuary’s recent opening regime is reconstructed and shown to vary significantly over time. Floodwaters fill the estuary and scour the estuary mouth, enhancing the exchange of marine water between the estuary and the ocean, which manifests as an increased tidal range within the estuary. Between floods, tide and wave activity caused aggradation of the estuary mouth such that the tidal range within the estuary declined by 0.5–0.7 mm per day as the mouth became more constricted. Using twentieth century streamflow estimates, it is shown that hydrologic variability is likely to have resulted in large variations in the estuary’s opening regime. Since 2000, there have been relatively few flood-driven scour events and this explains the relatively congested state of the current estuary mouth. Predicted hydrologic changes under enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are also likely to enhance the variability in the estuary’s opening regime.

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From Hendrickson (1958) to Monroe & Limpus (1979) and beyond : an evaluation of the turtle barnacle Tubicinella cheloniae / Arnold Ross & Michael G. Frick.
Marine Turtle Newsletter Issue 118 October 2007: 2-5

An evaluation of studies conducted on the characteristics and relationships of the genus Tubicinella Lamarck.

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Last ditch action to halt dredging.
Environmental Manager Issue 657 29 January 2008: 1

Anti-dredging group Blue Wedges Coalition will file an application in the Federal Court in Melbourne this week in a last ditch battle to halt the Port of Melbourne channel-deepening project.

Linking Micronesia and southeast Asia : Palau sea turtle tracking and flipper tag returns / Sarah Klain ...[et al.]
Marine Turtle Newsletter Issue 118 October 2007: 9-11

Looks at the relationship between the Palauan people and marine turtles, and their conservation.

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Nest relocation as a conservation strategy : looking from a different perspective / Oguz Turkozan & Can Yilmaz.
Marine Turtle Newsletter Issue 118 October 2007: 6-8

Provides an overview of studies done on the relocation of marine turtle nests as a conservation strategy, as well as providing some current insights.

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Rapid changes in life-history characteristics of a long-lived temperate reef fish / Philippe E. Ziegler ... [et al.]
Marine & Freshwater Research Vol 58(12) 2007: 1096-1107

Banded morwong, Cheilodactylus spectabilis, a long-lived sedentary temperate reef fish, has undergone rapid changes in its growth and maturity characteristics along the east coast of Tasmania, Australia. Over a period of 10 years, growth of young males and females has consistently accelerated, such that in 2005, 3-year-old fish were up to 40 mm or 13% longer compared with 1996, and age at 50% maturity for females had declined from 4 to 3 years. The magnitude and speed of the observed changes were unexpected given the species’ longevity (maximum age of over 95 years). The underlying mechanisms for the changes remain unclear but density-dependent responses to changes in population size and age composition, possibly mediated through reduced competition for shelter and intra-specific interactions, may have been contributing factors. Increasing sea surface temperatures over part of the period of change does not appear to have been a major driver and a genetic response to fishing seems unlikely.

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