Platform for scientists conducting fundamental and applied research into tropical marine biology
Developing, disseminating and applying knowledge of marine biology for the sustainable management of tropical marine areas (that are relevant to the Netherlands) in co-operation with local partners.
Assembling the tropical marine expertise of the platform participants, applying this to the management of tropical marine areas, and stimulating and co-ordinating education and research in the fields of tropical marine biology and ecology.
Climate change and coral reefs
Degraded by local impacts and by over-harvesting
Increase of world's oceans surface water resulting in mortality events
Wanted limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations
Average sea-level rising
The AcroporaNet participants have many years of expertise in the fields of biodiversity and the systematics, physiology and life cycles of tropical marine organisms. This expertise is essential for measuring, monitoring and understanding processes and changes in marine systems, and the influence of human activity on them.
The biological expertise at AcroporaNet focuses on the functioning of marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, and tropical tidal areas. This knowledge is available and will be further deepened with regard to the effects of changing environmental factors (e.g. eutrophication and climate change), the functioning of tropical organisms, trophic relations (e.g. role of symbionts), ecosystem functions (e.g. productivity, capacity), and the resilience of the ecosystem (e.g. connectivity and phase shifts). This knowledge is essential for understanding changes in tropical marine communities.
In tropical areas in particular, a large part of the population lives close to the sea. For many, it is primarily the sea that provides the basic necessities of life, also because many people are financially dependent on the sea for e.g. tourism and fishing. Marine biodiversity and the use of natural resources are under pressure because of global factors such as climate change and overfishing, but also because of more local factors such as eutrophication, pollution, land reclamation, and maritime construction. The participants of AcroporaNet contribute to the sustainable management and use of tropical marine resources through fundamental and applied scientific research and advisory work.
Tropical marine threats
Destructive fishing practices: These include cyanide fishing, blast or dynamite fishing, bottom trawling, and muro-ami (banging on the reef with sticks). Bottom-trawling is one of the greatest threats to cold-water coral reefs.
Overfishing: This affects the ecological balance of coral reef communities, warping the food chain and causing effects far beyond the directly overfished population.
Careless tourism: Careless boating, diving, snorkeling, and fishing happens around the world, with people touching reefs, stirring up sediment, collecting coral, and dropping anchors on reefs. Some tourist resorts and infrastructure have been built directly on top of reefs, and some resorts empty their sewage or other wastes directly into water surrounding coral reefs.
Pollution: Urban and industrial waste, sewage, agrochemicals, and oil pollution are poisoning reefs. These toxins are dumped directly into the ocean or carried by river systems from sources upstream. Some pollutants, such as sewage and runoff from farming, increase the level of nitrogen in seawater, causing an overgrowth of algae, which 'smothers' reefs by cutting off their sunlight.
Sedimentation: Erosion caused by construction (both along coasts and inland), mining, logging, and farming is leading to increased sediment in rivers. This ends up in the ocean, where it can 'smother' corals by depriving them of the light needed to survive. The destruction of mangrove forests, which normally trap large amounts of sediment, is exacerbating the problem.
Coral mining: Live coral is removed from reefs for use as bricks, road-fill, or cement for new buildings. Corals are also sold as souvenirs to tourists and to exporters who don't know or don't care about the longer term damage done, and harvested for the live rock trade.
Climate change: Corals cannot survive if the water temperature is too high. Global warming has already led to increased levels of coral bleaching, and this is predicted to increase in frequency and severity in the coming decades. Such bleaching events may be the final nail in the coffin for already stressed coral reefs and reef ecosystems.
Meet the Board
NIOZ - CNSI