Recurrent Bleaching and Storms Need Not Spell "the End" for Earth's Corals
Adjeroud, M., Michonneau, F., Edmunds, P.J., Chancerelle, Y., Lison de Loma, T., Penin, L., Thibaut, L., Vidal-Dupiol, J., Salvat, B. and Galzin, R. 2009. Recurrent disturbances, recovery trajectories, and resilience of coral assemblages on a South Central Pacific reef. Coral Reefs 28: 775-780.
Focusing on coral reefs of the Tiahura outer reef sector at the western end of the north shore of Moorea, French Polynesia, which region, in their words, "is largely free of direct anthropogenic disturbances," Adjeroud et al. (2009) describe the results of detailed observations made there periodically since the early 1970s and annually since 1991, which history, according to them, "constitutes one of the longest records of coral reef dynamics."
Concentrating on the period of detailed annual observations (1991 and onward), the ten researchers documented a significant decline in coral cover followed the two disturbances of 1991 (a major bleaching event and a cyclone), during which time they say that "coral cover (pooled among genera) declined from 51.0 ± 9.5% in early 1991 to 24.2 ± 14.4% in 1992, and 22.5 ± 9.3% in 1993," which decline, as they describe it, was "among the most rapid of this magnitude recorded following natural disturbances." In contrast, however, they determined that "the bleaching events of 1994, 2002 and 2003 had no detectable effects on coral cover, even though the thermal anomalies causing these events and their short-term impacts in terms of bleaching prevalence were similar to the 1991 bleaching event."
Adjeroud et al. say their results reveal that "corals can recover rapidly following a dramatic decline," and they note that similar recoveries of coral cover have been documented at several other locations, citing the work of Connell (1997), Halford et al. (2004), Emslie et al. (2008) and Sheppard et al. (2008). In addition, they state that their work "supports the hypothesis that some reefs will undergo gradual changes in structure of their coral communities in response to major stress rather than collapse abruptly," citing the studies of Loya et al. (2001), Hughes et al. (2003) and Wakeford et al. (2008). Hence, there is significant real-world evidence that suggests that Earth's corals may not be nearly so quick to succumb to the thermal stress of global warming as what the world's climate alarmists incessantly claim.
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