(198 Total References)
This study builds on previous research ...
This study builds on previous research by co-author Dr. Ron Thresher of CSIRO, who focused on the potential of using fish "hard parts" like otoliths, as well as deep sea corals, to better understand environmental change.
In a continuation of this research, the team will focus on fish with high commercial value in order to determine what environmental factors drive fish growth.
"Any change identified in growth and age maturity, especially of commercially-important species, clearly has implications for forecasting future stock states and the sustainable management of fisheries," said Dr. Thresher
One of these scientists, ...
One of these scientists, CSIRO's Dr Ron Thresher, has warned that if we continue to ignore the situation, Australia's deep-sea reefs could disappear within 50 years.
"Our analyses strongly suggest that Australia's deep sea coral reefs are at a high risk of extinction.
They are basically the meat in a sandwich," says Dr Thresher
, from CSIRO's
Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship in Hobart.
"A high priority would be to identify these refugia, within Australia and outside, identify them, and put some sort of protection around them so that in future these might be sites where the reef might survive even if where they're currently surviving isn't viable," Dr Thresher
"Revisiting these stations will give us critical information on the health of the reef and how fast it may be changing", says Dr Thresher
ENVIRONMENT: Research in Depth
Of particular technical interest is the way the team - led by CSIRO's Dr Ron Thresher and comprising scientists from CSIRO, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the California Institute of Technology - went about its work.
Drawing on microanalysis capability at CSIRO Minerals, Dr Thresher's team applied
an established (albeit continually improving) technology in a new way.
microanalysis work in marine applications about 15 years ago in response to what he
says was a dearth of historical information about the deep ocean.
could see the potential of microanalysis in helping create a picture of deep-water conditions going back centuries.
One of the objectives of Dr Thresher's
deep-sea coral research was simply to help 'calibrate' existing climate change models.
"People were building all sorts of complicated models showing how water mass distribution was going to vary as a result of climate change, but there was very little information to tell us whether these models were 'real' or accurate," Dr Thresher
"Without this sort of work, it's extremely difficult to tell whether the information we currently have relates to natural (climate) cycles, or whether it's the result of other factors."
By studying growth rings on coral collected off the south-east coast of Tasmania, the team was able to unlock details of water temperature and salinity level variations over the course of the corals' lifetime.
The corals were, in a sense, living time capsules, revealing to the team secrets from centuries past.
The first thing Dr Thresher's
work showed was that the corals were much longer-lived than previously thought, with some predating European settlement.
says this discovery has a bearing on the management of the coral reefs themselves: "Given its age, the coral isn't going to come back quickly if there's any damage done to it."
Perhaps more significantly, the work also shows there has been a one to one-and-a-half degree temperature change deep in the Southern Ocean over the past 400 years.
"This might not sound like much," Dr Thresher
says, "but when you consider that the temperature range at these depths (about 1000 metres) is only very small (from four to six degrees), what we're looking at is a very major change."
So, what does this tell us about global warming?
"Well we're still working on that," Dr Thresher
believes that studying corals from other parts of the world will give him a much clearer picture of what's going on.
By Ron Thresher, ...
By Ron Thresher, CSIRO
Ron Thresher | Genøk - Centre for Biosafety
Ron Thresher | Genøk - Centre for Biosafety
Specialist course 2011
Speakers > Ron Thresher
Ron Thresher is a senior research scientist at the CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research.
background is in the behavior and ecology of fishes, including a Ph.D. from the University of Miami on territorial behavior in reef fishes, and post-doctoral work at Scripps Institution
of Oceanography and the University of Sydney
He joined the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Marine Research in 1983.
Since then, he
has worked on a range of topics, from larval ecology and analysis of skeletal chemistry as markers for age, growth and population structure in fishes and corals to impacts of invasive marine invertebrates.
In 1993, he was the foundation head of the CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (CRIMP) and became the scientific representative on Australia's national bodies for the development of policy and management options for dealing with these pests.
Partly as a result of those efforts, in 1997, he
developed the ideas for and eventually lead CSIRO's
"sterile ferals" initiative, a multi-institutional project aimed at developing genetic technologies for controlling introduced pest species.
This expanded into the current "daughterless" project, which specifically aims to develop practical genetic options for the long-term control, and possibly eradication, of carp and other invasive fishes using recombinant technology.
is the author of two books on reef fish behavior, and lead or co-author on three patents and nearly 100 published papers.
spare time, he
works on the taxonomy of Tasmanian mayflies.