Research Repository

Thermal refugia against coral bleaching throughout the northern Red Sea

Osman, Eslam O and Smith, David J and Ziegler, Maren and Kürten, Benjamin and Conrad, Constanze and El-Haddad, Khaled M and Voolstra, Christian R and Suggett, David J (2018) 'Thermal refugia against coral bleaching throughout the northern Red Sea.' Global Change Biology, 24 (2). e474 - e484. ISSN 1365-2486

Full text not available from this repository.

Abstract

Tropical reefs have been impacted by thermal anomalies caused by global warming that induced coral bleaching and mortality events globally. However, there have only been very few recordings of bleaching within the Red Sea despite covering a latitudinal range of 15° and consequently it has been considered a region that is less sensitive to thermal anomalies. We therefore examined historical patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) and associated anomalies (1982–2012) and compared warming trends with a unique compilation of corresponding coral bleaching records from throughout the region. These data indicated that the northern Red Sea has not experienced mass bleaching despite intensive Degree Heating Weeks (DHW) of >15°C‐weeks. Severe bleaching was restricted to the central and southern Red Sea where DHWs have been more frequent, but far less intense (DHWs <4°C‐weeks). A similar pattern was observed during the 2015–2016 El Niño event during which time corals in the northern Red Sea did not bleach despite high thermal stress (i.e. DHWs >8°C‐weeks), and bleaching was restricted to the central and southern Red Sea despite the lower thermal stress (DHWs < 8°C‐weeks). Heat stress assays carried out in the northern (Hurghada) and central (Thuwal) Red Sea on four key reef‐building species confirmed different regional thermal susceptibility, and that central Red Sea corals are more sensitive to thermal anomalies as compared to those from the north. Together, our data demonstrate that corals in the northern Red Sea have a much higher heat tolerance than their prevailing temperature regime would suggest. In contrast, corals from the central Red Sea are close to their thermal limits, which closely match the maximum annual water temperatures. The northern Red Sea harbours reef‐building corals that live well below their bleaching thresholds and thus we propose that the region represents a thermal refuge of global importance.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Biological Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2018 11:49
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 11:49
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22761

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item