Experimental support for alternative attractors on coral reefs

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For the week of 25 February 2019

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published, Experimental support for alternative attractors on coral reefs "Ecological theory predicts that ecosystems with multiple basins of attraction can get locked in an undesired state, which has profound ecological and management implications. Despite their significance, alternative attractors have proven to be challenging to detect and characterize in natural communities. On coral reefs, it has been hypothesized that persistent coral-to-macroalgae “phase shifts” that can result from overfishing of herbivores and/or nutrient enrichment may reflect a regime shift to an alternate attractor, but, to date, the evidence has been equivocal. Our field experiments in Moorea, French Polynesia, revealed the following: (i) hysteresis existed in the herbivory–macroalgae relationship, creating the potential for coral–macroalgae bistability at some levels of herbivory, and (ii) macroalgae were an alternative attractor under prevailing conditions in the lagoon but not on the fore reef, where ambient herbivory fell outside the experimentally delineated region of hysteresis. These findings help explain the different community responses to disturbances between lagoon and fore reef habitats of Moorea over the past several decades and reinforce the idea that reversing an undesired shift on coral reefs can be difficult. Our experimental framework represents a powerful diagnostic tool to probe for multiple attractors in ecological systems and, as such, can inform management strategies needed to maintain critical ecosystem functions in the face of escalating stresses."

As always, if we've missed anything, please feel free to let us know. You may simply reply to this message, or you may email Allie directly at: abrown [at] openchannels.org.

You can read everything (not just the free stuff) we have found this week at https://www.openchannels.org/literature-update/2019-02-27. Additionally, you can browse literature by the week we've added it at https://www.openchannels.org/literature-by-week.

Thank you for being part of the OpenChannels Community,
– Allie Brown, Raye Evrard, and the rest of the OpenChannels Team

Aquaculture, Seafood, and Food Security

OA: Broch, O. Jacob et al. The Kelp Cultivation Potential in Coastal and Offshore Regions of Norway. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, (2019).

Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Ocean Warming

OA: Ben-Hasan, A. & Christensen, V. Vulnerability of the marine ecosystem to climate change impacts in the Arabian Gulf—an urgent need for more research. Global Ecology and Conservation 17, e00556 (2019).

OA: Griffin, L. P. et al. Warming seas increase cold-stunning events for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the northwest Atlantic. PLOS ONE 14, e0211503 (2019).

Conservation Targets & Planning

OA: Buckley, S. M. et al. Identifying species threatened with local extinction in tropical reef fisheries using historical reconstruction of species occurrence. PLOS ONE 14, e0211224 (2019).


OA: Schmitt, R. J., Holbrook, S. J., Davis, S. L., Brooks, A. J. & Adam, T. C. Experimental support for alternative attractors on coral reefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences201812412 (2019). doi:10.1073/pnas.1812412116

Fisheries and Fisheries Management

OA: U. Sumaila, R. A Carding System as an Approach to Increasing the Economic Risk of Engaging in IUU Fishing?. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Food for Thought

OA: Lewison, R. L. et al. Accounting for unintended consequences of resource policy: Connecting research that addresses displacement of environmental impacts. Conservation Letterse12628 (2019). doi:10.1111/conl.12628

Human Impacts on the Environment

OA: Geraldi, N. Robert, Kellison, G. T. & Bacheler, N. M. Climate Indices, Water Temperature, and Fishing Predict Broad Scale Variation in Fishes on Temperate Reefs. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

OA: Bohorquez, J. J., Dvarskas, A. & Pikitch, E. K. Filling the Data Gap – A Pressing Need for Advancing MPA Sustainable Finance. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Javed, S. et al. Using greater flamingo tracking and count data in delineating marine protected areas in the coastal zone of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Conservation planning in an economically important area. Global Ecology and Conservation e00557 (2019). doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00557

Natural Sciences

OA: Weithoff, G. & Beisner, B. E. Measures and Approaches in Trait-Based Phytoplankton Community Ecology – From Freshwater to Marine Ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science 6,(2019).

Pollution and Marine Debris

OA: Mugge, R. L. et al. Deep-Sea Biofilms, Historic Shipwreck Preservation and the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Murray, C. J. et al. Past, Present and Future Eutrophication Status of the Baltic Sea. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Erni-Cassola, G., Zadjelovic, V., Gibson, M. I. & Christie-Oleza, J. A. Distribution of plastic polymer types in the marine environment; A meta-analysis. Journal of Hazardous Materials (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.02.067


OA: Wang, F., Kroeger, K. D., Gonneea, M. E., Pohlman, J. W. & Tang, J. Water salinity and inundation control soil carbon decomposition during salt marsh restoration: An incubation experiment. Ecology and Evolution (2019). doi:10.1002/ece3.4884