Results of a study of the coral survival after the 1998 El Nino event showed that Type II coral have an inherent ability to tolerate environmental stress by processes of acclimatisation which enable post-stress recovery. The exact opposite was found for Type I species, for which only relatively young colonies were observed, indicating die-out after 1998, suggesting a lack of ability to tolerate stress. Type I species are therefore at most risk from climatic events and unlikely to be able to adapt in time to rapid climate change. It seems most likely that many Type I species will be lost from future coral reef systems.
Physiological experiments have clearly demonstrated the two different mechanisms of coral bleaching when they are subjected to high light and temperature stress. Some species maintain their cellular integrity (Type II), while some rapidly loose their surface tissue (Type I).
Results of the first year of research on Curieuse Island suggest that much effort is needed to ensure that the system is as diverse and healthy as possible to afford it resilience and the best possible chance to tolerate and survive rapid climate change.
2009 and 2010 surveys identified a number of previously unrecorded species on Curieuse Island including sea snails, crabs, sea cucumbers and flatworms. In particular, a sea cucumber and a hermit crab observed in 2010 may be new species and only known from Seychelles Marine Park. Further surveys aim to determine the rarity of these species and will be useful in gaining insight into ocean biodiversity.
Classification analysis of coral reefs around Curieuse Island in the Seychelles suggests that coral cover and the topographic diversity it offers is the key driver of fish community structure. Consequently, management plans aimed at increasing fish diversity and enhancing community structure should focus attention on ensuring that the coral itself is healthy and productive.
Barnes, R.S.K. (2010) Regional and latitudinal variation in the diversity, dominance and abundance of microphagous microgastropods and other benthos in intertidal beds of dwarf eelgrass, Nanozostera spp. Marine Biodiversity, 40 (2):95-106
Barnes, D.K.A., Barnes, R.S.K., Smith, D.J. & Rothery, P. (2009). Littoral biodiversity across scales in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean. Marine Biodiversity, 39 (2): 109-119.
Barnes, R.S.K., Smith, D.J., Barnes, D.K.A. & Gerlach, J. (2008) Variation in the distribution of supralittoral vegetation around an atoll cay: Desroches (Amirante Islands, Seychelles). Atoll Research Bulletin, 565. Available at http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/atollresearchbulletin/issues/00565.pdf
Hennige S.J., Suggett D.J., Etienne M., Spring N., Barnes R., Barnes D., Smith D.J. (2009) Talk: Alternative bleaching mechanisms drive long-term changes in coral community structure. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Nice, France.
Smith, D.J., Pretty, J.N., Etienne, M., Spring, N. & Suggett, D.J. (2009). Using Coral Reefs to Examine the Threats of Climate Change to Marine Biodiversity. National Biological Symposium Book chapter.