The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science

Eilat, Israel

The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science

Eilat, Israel
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Borell E.M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Steinke M.,University of Essex | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University
Coral Reefs | Year: 2013

Grazing on marine macroalgae is a key structuring process for coral reef communities. However, ocean acidification from rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is predicted to adversely affect many marine animals, while seaweed communities may benefit and prosper. We tested how exposure to different pCO2 (400, 1,800 and 4,000 μatm) may affect grazing on the green alga Ulva lactuca by herbivorous fish and sea urchins from the coral reefs in the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea), either directly, by changing herbivore behaviour, or indirectly via changes in algal palatability. We also determined the effects of pCO2 on algal tissue concentrations of protein and the grazing-deterrent secondary metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Grazing preferences and overall consumption were tested in a series of multiple-choice feeding experiments in the laboratory and in situ following exposure for 14 d (algae) and 28 d (herbivores). 4,000 μatm had a significant effect on the biochemical composition and palatability of U. lactuca. No effects were observed at 1,800 relative to 400 μatm (control). Exposure of U. lactuca to 4,000 μatm resulted in a significant decrease in protein and increase in DMSP concentration. This coincided with a reduced preference for these algae by the sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla and different herbivorous fish species in situ (Acanthuridae, Siganidae and Pomacanthidae). No feeding preferences were observed for the rabbitfish Siganus rivulatus under laboratory conditions. Exposure to elevated pCO2 had no direct effect on the overall algal consumption by T. gratilla and S. rivulatus. Our results show that CO2 has the potential to alter algal palatability to different herbivores which could have important implications for algal abundance and coral community structure. The fact that pCO2 effects were observed only at a pCO2 of 4,000 μatm, however, indicates that algal-grazer interactions may be resistant to predicted pCO2 concentrations in the near future. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Bellworthy J.,Bar - Ilan University | Bellworthy J.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science
Coral Reefs | Year: 2017

Despite rapidly rising sea surface temperatures and recurrent positive temperature anomalies, corals in the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) rarely experience thermal bleaching. Elsewhere, mass coral bleaching has been observed in corals when the water temperature exceeds 1–2 °C above the local maximum monthly mean (MMM). This threshold value or “bleaching rule” has been used to create predictive models of bleaching from satellite sea surface temperature observations, namely the “degree heating week” index. This study aimed to characterize the physiological changes of dominant reef building corals from the GoA in response to a temperature and light stress gradient. Coral collection and experiments began after a period of 14 consecutive days above MMM in the field. Stylophora pistillata showed negligible changes in symbiont and host physiology parameters after accumulating up to 9.4 degree heating weeks during peak summer temperatures, for which the index predicts widespread bleaching and some mortality. This result demonstrates acute thermal tolerance in S. pistillata from the GoA and deviation from the bleaching rule. In a second experiment after 4 weeks at 4 °C above peak summer temperatures, S. pistillata and Acropora eurystoma in the high-light treatment visibly paled and suffered greater midday and afternoon photoinhibition compared to corals under low-light conditions (35% of high-light treatment). However, light, not temperature (alone or in synergy with light), was the dominant factor in causing paling and the effective quantum yield of corals at 4 °C above ambient was indistinguishable from those in the ambient control. This result highlights the exceptional, atypical thermal tolerance of dominant GoA branching corals. Concomitantly, it validates the efficacy of protecting GoA reefs from local stressors if they are to serve as a coral refuge in the face of global sea temperature rise. © 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Borell E.M.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology | Borell E.M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Romatzki S.B.C.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology | Ferse S.C.A.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology
Coral Reefs | Year: 2010

Despite increasing popularity of 'electric' reefs as a means for reef restoration, there is a distinct lack of quantitative evidence supporting the alleged benefits of this method. This study investigated the effects of an electric field versus an electric field in combination with a cathode on coral growth (skeletal extension) rates, coral survival, zooxanthella densities, chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations, and chlorophyll fluorescence of Acropora pulchra and A. yongei. Coral transplants were grown for 4 months under three treatment conditions: (1) on an iron cathode, (2) on bamboo inside an electric field, or (3) on bamboo in the absence of an electric field. Contrary to predictions, coral growth rates of both species were highest inside the electric field and not on the cathode. Except for chl a concentrations, the cathode had a significant adverse effect on all measured variables for A. yongei but not for A. pulchra. Treatment had no effect on the survival of A. pulchra, while mortality rates of A. yongei were significantly higher in the presence of mineral accretion compared to the electric field and control. A. yongei on the cathode featured low zooxanthella densities, depressed electron transport rates (rETR) and maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm), and reduced growth. By contrast, treatment had no effect on the fluorescence characteristics of A. pulchra, and zooxanthella densities were highest for corals on the cathode, coincident with high growth rates relative to the control. Overall, the data indicate that the proposed benefits of the mineral accretion technology to meet important objectives of reef rehabilitation with regard to colony growth and survival should be considered with caution. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Gildor H.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Genin A.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Genin A.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

The stability and persistence of coral reefs in the decades to come is uncertain due to global warming and repeated bleaching events that will lead to reduced resilience of these ecological and socio-economically important ecosystems. Identifying key refugia is potentially important for future conservation actions. We suggest that the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) (Red Sea) may serve as a reef refugium due to a unique suite of environmental conditions. Our hypothesis is based on experimental detection of an exceptionally high bleaching threshold of northern Red Sea corals and on the potential dispersal of coral planulae larvae through a selective thermal barrier estimated using an ocean model. We propose that millennia of natural selection in the form of a thermal barrier at the southernmost end of the Red Sea have selected coral genotypes that are less susceptible to thermal stress in the northern Red Sea, delaying bleaching events in the GoA by at least a century. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Evans D.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Erez J.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Oron S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Oron S.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Muller W.,Royal Holloway, University of London
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta | Year: 2015

The foraminifera Mg/Ca palaeothermometer contributes significantly to our understanding of palaeoceanic temperature variation. However, since seawater Mg/Ca has undergone large secular variation and the relationship between seawater and test Mg/Ca has not been calibrated in detail for any species with a substantial fossil record, it is only possible to assess relative temperature changes in pre-Pleistocene fossil samples. In order to establish the basis of accurate quantitative Mg/Ca-derived deep-time temperature reconstructions, we have calibrated the relationship between test Mg/Ca, seawater chemistry and temperature in laboratory cultures of the shallow-dwelling large benthic species Operculina ammonoides. Operculina has a fossil range extending back to the early Paleogene and is the nearest living relative of the abundant genus Nummulites. We find a temperature sensitivity of 1.7%°C-1 and a linear relationship between the Mg distribution coefficient and seawater Mg/Ca (Mg/Casw) with m=-1.9×10-3, within error of the equivalent slope for inorganic calcite. The higher test Mg/Ca of O. ammonoides compared to inorganic calcite may be explained by an elevated pH of the calcifying fluid, implying that these foraminifera do not modify the Mg/Ca ratio of the seawater from which they calcify, differentiating them in this respect from most other perforate foraminifera. Applying these calibrations to previously published fossil data results in palaeo-Mg/Casw reconstruction consistent with independent proxy evidence. Furthermore, our data enable accurate absolute palaeotemperature reconstructions if Mg/Casw is constrained by another technique (e.g. ridge flank vein carbonate; fluid inclusions). Finally, we examine Li, Na, Sr and Ba incorporation into the test of O. ammonoides and discuss the control exerted by temperature, seawater chemistry, saturation state and growth rate on these emerging proxies. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Horwitz R.,Bar - Ilan University | Horwitz R.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science
Coral Reefs | Year: 2014

Ocean acidification (OA) from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is threatening the future of coral reef ecosystems. Mounting experimental evidence suggests that OA negatively impacts fundamental life functions of scleractinian corals, including growth and sexual reproduction. Although regeneration is regarded as a chief life function in scleractinian corals and essential to maintain the colony's integrity, the effect of OA on regeneration processes has not yet been investigated. To evaluate the effects of OA on regeneration, the common Indo-Pacific corals Porites sp., Favia favus, Acropora eurystoma, and Stylophora pistillata were inflicted with lesions (314-350 mm2, depending on species) and incubated in different pCO2: (1) ambient seawater (400 μatm, pH 8.1), (2) intermediate (1,800 μatm, pH 7.6), and (3) high (4,000 μatm, pH 7.3) for extended periods of time (60-120 d). While all coral species after 60 d had significantly higher tissue regeneration in ambient conditions as compared to the intermediate and high treatments, reduction in regeneration rate was more pronounced in the slow-growing massive Porites sp. and F. favus than the relatively fast-growing, branching S. pistillata and A. eurystoma. This coincided with reduced tissue biomass of Porites sp., F. favus, and A. eurystoma in higher pCO2, but not in S. pistillata. Porites sp., F. favus, and S. pistillata also experienced a decrease in Symbiodinium density in higher pCO2, while in A. eurystoma there was no change. We hypothesize that a lowered regenerative capacity under elevated pCO2 may be related to resource trade-offs, energy cost of acid/base regulation, and/or decrease in total energy budget. This is the first study to demonstrate that elevated pCO2 could have a compounding influence on coral regeneration following injury, potentially affecting the capacity of reef corals to recover following physical disturbance. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Claessens M.,University of Salzburg | Wickham S.A.,University of Salzburg | Post A.F.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Reuter M.,University of Cologne
Marine Biology | Year: 2010

Ecological theory predicts that low productivity systems should have low biodiversity. However, despite the oligotrophic status of the Gulf of Aqaba (Northern Red Sea) ciliate species richness was unexpectedly high. In addition, phytoplankton, as main ciliate prey, was made up by only few genera, indicating a significant niche overlap among the grazers. Up to 97% of the ciliates were from the same taxonomic group and of the same size range, implying very similar food niches. Ciliate diversity was highest at times of lowest chlorophyll concentrations, during the period of stable abiotic conditions, but relatively high genetic diversity within the ciliate prey, notably among the cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus. In the absence of disturbance and with little predation pressure, the alternate explanations for the observed ciliate diversity are either very fine niche partitioning by the ciliates, or their competitive equivalence resulting in a random assortment of species immigrating from a larger metacommunity, in accordance with Hubbell's, (The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001) neutral model. While the use of species abundance distributions (SAD's) is far from definitive, the theoretical SAD's that best fit the Gulf of Aqaba ciliate data was most often not that expected by neutral theory. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

Evans D.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Muller W.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Oron S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Oron S.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine science | Renema W.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2013

Intra-test variability in Mg/Ca and other (trace) elements within large benthic foraminifera (LBF) of the family Nummulitidae have been investigated using laser-ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). These foraminifera have a longevity and size facilitating seasonal proxy retrieval and a depth distribution similar to 'surface-dwelling' planktic foraminifera. Coupled with their abundance in climatically important periods such as the Paleogene, this means that this family of foraminifera are an important but under-utilised source of palaeoclimatic information. We have calibrated the relationship between Mg/Ca and temperature in modern Operculina ammonoides and observe a ~2% increase in Mg/Ca°C-1. O. ammonoides is the nearest living relative of the abundant Eocene genus Nummulites, enabling us to reconstruct mid-Eocene tropical sea surface temperature seasonality by applying our calibration to fossil Nummulites djokdjokartae from Java. Our results indicate a 5-6°C annual temperature range, implying greater than modern seasonality in the mid-Eocene (Bartonian). This is consistent with seasonal surface ocean cooling facilitated by enhanced Eocene tropical cyclone-induced upper ocean mixing, as suggested by recent modelling results. Analyses of fossil N. djokdjokartae and Operculina sp. from the same stratigraphic interval demonstrate that environmental controls on proxy distribution coefficients are the same for these two genera, within error. Using previously published test-seawater alkaline earth metal distribution coefficients derived from an LBF of the same family (Raitzsch et al., 2010) and inorganic calcite, with appropriate correction systematics for secular Mg/Casw variation (Evans and Müller, 2012), we use our fossil data to produce a more accurate foraminifera-based Mg/Casw reconstruction and an estimate of seawater Sr/Ca. We demonstrate that mid-Eocene Mg/Casw was ≲2molmol -1, which is in contrast to the model most commonly used to correct deep-time Mg/Ca data from foraminifera, but in agreement with most other Paleogene proxy and model data. This indicates that Mg/Casw has undergone a substantial (3-4 × ) rise over the last ~40Ma. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Veal C.J.,University of Queensland | Carmi M.,University of Queensland | Carmi M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | And 2 more authors.
Coral Reefs | Year: 2010

The measurement of coral surface area is critical to normalising a suit of physiologically significant parameters to greater understand how corals interact with the surrounding environment. The surface area detection from skeletal fragments subsequently needs to be both as accurate as possible, yet practical and robust enough to be performed with minimal laboratory equipment. By using X-Ray CT technology, as a highly accurate surface area standard, 12 coral specimens from 4 different genera were studied using single wax versus double wax dipping methods. Our results reveal that the single wax dipping is far more accurate than the more commonly practised double wax dipping, thereby leading to more accurate estimation of the physiologically active surface. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Gutner-Hoch E.,Bar - Ilan University | Gutner-Hoch E.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science
Coral Reefs | Year: 2011

The green filamentous endolithic alga Ostreobiumquekettii resides inside skeletons of scleractinian corals in close proximity with their tissue and plays a role in the viability of the coral and its associates. This study examined the distribution and diversity of O.quekettii within scleractinian corals from the Red Sea (Eilat, Gulf of Aqaba), using a molecular phylogenetic marker. The massive coral species Poriteslutea and Goniastreaperisi were sampled from a depth range of 6-55 m, and ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit gene (rbcL) DNA sequence of the alga was amplified and analyzed for diversity and distribution of ecological patterns. This work reveals that O. quekettii has at least seven different clades distributed along a depth gradient in the examined scleractinian corals. Among the seven identified clades, four were found only in P. lutea, while the other two clades are found in both P. lutea and G. perisi. Goniastrea perisi colonies at depth of 30 m had a distinct O. quekettii clade that was absent in P. lutea. It is obvious from this study that the green endolithic alga O.quekettii is not a single genotype as previously considered but a complex of genotypes and that this differentiation is of ecological significance. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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