Find Paper, Faster
Example:10.1021/acsami.1c06204 or Chem. Rev., 2007, 107, 2411-2502
Emergent properties in the responses of tropical corals to recurrent climate extremes
Current Biology  (IF10.834),  Pub Date : 2021-11-04, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.046
Terry P. Hughes, James T. Kerry, Sean R. Connolly, Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero, C. Mark Eakin, Scott F. Heron, Migdonio A. Gonzalez, Joanne Moneghetti

The frequency, intensity, and spatial scale of climate extremes are changing rapidly due to anthropogenic global warming.1,2 A growing research challenge is to understand how multiple climate-driven disturbances interact with each other over multi-decadal time frames, generating combined effects that cannot be predicted from single events alone.3, 4, 5 Here we examine the emergent dynamics of five coral bleaching events along the 2,300 km length of the Great Barrier Reef that affected >98% of the Reef between 1998 and 2020. We show that the bleaching responses of corals to a given level of heat exposure differed in each event and were strongly influenced by contingency and the spatial overlap and strength of interactions between events. Naive regions that escaped bleaching for a decade or longer were the most susceptible to bouts of heat exposure. Conversely, when pairs of successive bleaching episodes were close together (1–3 years apart), the thermal threshold for severe bleaching increased because the earlier event hardened regions of the Great Barrier Reef to further impacts. In the near future, the biological responses to recurrent bleaching events may become stronger as the cumulative geographic footprint expands further, potentially impairing the stock-recruitment relationships among lightly and severely bleached reefs with diverse recent histories. Understanding the emergent properties and collective dynamics of recurrent disturbances will be critical for predicting spatial refuges and cumulative ecological responses, and for managing the longer-term impacts of anthropogenic climate change on ecosystems.