What are scientists saying about the fate of the Great Barrier Reef?

This week PBS interviewed scientists, including Dr. Jennifer Smith, about the effects of climate change on the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Click here to learn more about the science behind global warming and coral bleaching and what actions you can take daily to help preserve coral reefs!

Smith lab and colleagues find that Crown of Thorns (COTS) larvae can take up organic matter derived from corals

Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Larvae can feed on Organic Matter Released from Corals Ryota Nakajima, Nobuyuki Nakatomi, Haruko Kurihara, Michael D. Fox, Jennifer E. Smith, and Ken Okaji Abstract: Previous studies have suggested that Crown-of-Thorns starfish (COTS) larvae may be able to survive in the absence of abundant phytoplankton resources suggesting that they may be able to utilize alternative food sources. Here, … Read More

Smith lab and colleagues present an autonomous approach to measure coral reef net calcification and production rates

Assessment of net community production and calcification of a coral reef using a boundary layer approach Abstract: Coral reefs are threatened worldwide, and there is a need to develop new approaches to monitor reef health under natural conditions. Because simultaneous measurements of net community production (NCP) and net community calcification (NCC) are used as important indicators of reef health, tools are … Read More

New publication from Smith lab & colleagues: Meet the Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM)

Underwater microscopy for in situ studies of benthic ecosystems Abstract: Microscopic-scale processes significantly influence benthic marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests. Due to the ocean’s complex and dynamic nature, it is most informative to study these processes in the natural environment yet it is inherently difficult. Here we present a system capable of non-invasively imaging seafloor environments and organisms … Read More

Palmyra Atoll Bleaching Update (May 2016)

The abnormally warm water event associated with El Niño has been pummeling coral reefs worldwide. Last week the Sandin and Smith labs from Scripps Institution of Oceanography embarked on a rapid response expedition to survey the damage of the warm sea surface temperatures at one of our long term monitoring sites. Palmyra Atoll, a tiny island in the central Pacific, … Read More

Smith lab and colleagues publish new paper looking at microbes on coral reefs

Global microbialization of coral reefs Abstract: Microbialization refers to the observed shift in ecosystem trophic structure towards higher microbial biomass and energy use. On coral reefs, the proximal causes of microbialization are overfishing and eutrophication, both of which facilitate enhanced growth of fleshy algae, conferring a competitive advantage over calcifying corals and coralline algae. The proposed mechanism for this competitive … Read More

From the Pristine to Degraded: Reefs of the Central Pacific

Scripps led research team assesses the impacts of human disturbance on coral reefs.   In one of the most comprehensive assessments of Pacific Ocean coral reef health spanning 10 years, 56 islands, and five archipelagos, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego marine ecologist Jennifer Smith and colleagues examined how coral reef communities at 450 sites are faring with … Read More

Adventures in Chagos

By Samantha Clements. This year, during the months of March and April, I conducted coral reef benthic surveys for the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) in Chagos. Chagos is the largest archipelago in the world and lies within the British Indian Ocean Territory. The islands of the archipelago are very far from any continents and have been uninhabited … Read More