Graduation year: 2021
Semester/year area of interest proposed: Spring 2020
Major status: ENVS double major
Other major (if applicable): Psychology
Minor(s) (if applicable):
Identifying the intricacies that make up different aspects of coral reefs will allow for a better comprehension of how the natural sciences are woven with psychology, governmental policies, and rhetoric to fully understand coral and the relationship it shares with many different actors. Coral is an animal that is comprised of polyps. Living inside the polyps are photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. These polyps secrete a hard outer skeleton made up of calcium carbonate that attaches itself to rock or the remaining dead calcium carbonate skeletons of previous polyps. Coral reef systems provide habitats for and sustain many different sea creatures. Coral reefs are beneficial to a wide variety of fish, sharks, mollusks, and other sea creatures. However, coral is being threatened by many different anthropogenic climate events which puts these other sea creatures at risk as well, (Wilkinson and Buddemeier, 1994). Coral reefs are threatened by many factors including ocean acidification, extreme weather events, and non-point source pollution. Perhaps the most recognizable indicator of coral undergoing stress, is coral bleaching.
Coral bleaching is predominantly caused by elevated temperatures. These warmer ocean temperatures result from solar irradiance and Earth’s greenhouse effect. The amount of heat held at Earth’s surface has been increasing because of increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, (Brown, 1997). Changing temperatures is the biggest influencer on the formation and structure of coral reefs and other marine life, (Hoey et al., 2016). While coral bleaching is seen as coral in a compromised state, newer insights have been identified about coral’s resiliency to adapting to bleaching.
The adaptive bleaching hypothesis (ABH) is a relatively unique concept in this field. According to Kinzie et al., the ABH suggests that when environmental circumstances change, the loss of one or more types of zooxanthellae may be swiftly followed by the creation of a new symbiotic consortium with new and altered zooxanthellae (2001). These new zooxanthellae are better able to flourish in these new environmental conditions. Coral bleaching usually leads individuals to picture compromised coral, however, the ABH suggests there is actually a way for coral to adapt to bleaching and come out stronger in the end because of it, (Buddemeier and Fautin, 1993). Because the coral is stronger and more resilient, it is able to endure these fluctuating temperatures better than it would have been capable of in the past (Hughes et al., 2003). Therefore, with coral’s newly recognized ability to restructure itself with more resilient zooxanthellae, it may be less susceptible to the coral bleaching events that are occurring at more frequent rates. It is especially beneficial to understand that coral is able to be this resilient when faced with these bleaching processes because it has been found that coral will be presented with damaging effects from rising temperatures even if the average global temperature does not rise more than two degrees Celsius (Frieler, Meinhausen, and Golly, 2012). Bleaching events are predicted to occur at much high frequencies in the future.
While the ABH is beneficial for coral reefs, it could influence individuals to believe the environment is resilient enough to fix itself from anthropogenic climate issues. Because individuals are presented with the notion that coral is able to help itself, individuals may not be presented with shame from the harm they have caused the coral through these rising ocean temperatures we induce. Anticipated shame has been a major driver in what causes individuals to make pro-environmental decisions, (Amatulli et al., 2017). Therefore, if the resiliency coral possesses is presented in a way that makes these anthropogenic climate events seem non-consequential, then we may enable individuals to continue in their anti-environmental behaviors.
A number of regulations are in place to protect oceans and maintain healthy coral. This is beneficial for the coral reef systems which also benefits a number of other things such as the local economy and fishing industry. For example, mature reef fish are more likely to keep steady population rates as the promotion of healthy reef systems continues which leaves high numbers for fishermen to harvest, (Fontoura, 2019). The National Ocean Policy, put into place during the Obama administration, helped set the US on a strong course to focus on the issues faced with when it comes to resources provided by the ocean and other large bodies of water. The promotion of resiliency and adaptation to climate change are included in this policy which coral will benefit from, (Fetter and Jensen, 2011). For example, Belize, which is home to the second largest reef system in the world, is promoting the health of their reef system with a Coastal Zone Management Plan that will increase marine protected areas, public awareness campaigns, and research and monitoring programs, (Gibson, McField, and Wells, 1998). These policies do hold major tradeoffs however, including increasing government spending to these projects which some individuals may not agree is the proper allocation of government funding.
- Are there different types of zooxanthellae and if so, what are there different functions?
- What are the products that are produced from coral, both in the reef and washed up, that generate an income for individuals?
- Of the products produced by coral, which are the most economically beneficial to individuals?
- How do coral reefs’ relationships with fish impact the global food supply?
- What is the relationship between macroalgae and coral?
- What type of relationship is shared between coral reefs and humans?
- Why is Belize’s coral reef essential to their local economy?
- Which countries’ economies are the most vulnerable with the disappearance of coral?
- How would coral reef ecosystems be altered if they were created into marine protected areas?
- What are some preventative measures that can be taken against coral bleaching?
- How can coral adapt to bleaching and do any other sea creatures hold the same capabilities?
- How long do coral bleaching adaptation processes take and are there any ways of speeding up these processes?
- PSYC 400 (Psychology of Sustainability) fall 2019. I examined how individuals view the environment and how the environment effects their every day thinking and processing.
- ENVS 202 (Environmental Governance) spring 2018 (taken at Linfield). I examined the different polices and regulations that have been influential in shaping the history of the environment as well as how these policies take shape and the process it takes to implement them.
- ANTH 203/ENVS 203 (Human Adaptive Strategies) spring 2018 (taken at Linfield). I examined the ways in which humans are able to mitigate different impacts caused by climate change as well as how to adapt to our ever-changing environment.
- ENVS 304 (Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Mitigation) fall 2017 (taken at Linfield). I examined the ways in which anthropogenic climate change is effecting different elements of Earth and how to mitigate these climate impacts.
Here are the required breadth courses I will include in my ENVS major/minor: BIO 201, CHEM 100, ECON 260, SOAN 265, ENG 235, HIST 388. These are in addition to my ENVS core courses, and the area of interest courses I propose above.
Feedback to date
- 3/20/20 Feedback from Professor Jessica Kleiss – I added a section about Belize and the policies and regulations they have included to better protect their ocean and reef system. After introducing the ABH, I included a section that ties in other disciplines including psychology and rhetoric and media. I also introduced what the primary emotions driving pro-environmental behavior is.
- 3/20/20 – I changed the category that some of my questions were in and I rephrased some of them. I added more references. I added a section about Belize and the policies and regulations they have included to better protect their ocean and reef system. After introducing the ABH, I included a section that ties in other disciplines including psychology and rhetoric and media. I also introduced what the primary emotions driving pro-environmental behavior is.
- 4/13/20 Feedback from Professor Jessica Kleiss – I added a section in about the tradeoffs of implementing policies that have to do with reef systems instead of only talking about the beneficial aspects. I also began my AOI with an introduction of all of the disciplines I weave into this AOI. Additionally, I introduced another reference about the ABH that is more recent.
- 4/13/20 – I added one more reference to my AOI that has to do with the ABH. This reference has been written in more recent years than my previous one. I added a section about the tradeoffs that come with policies on coral. I also changed my introduction so it introduces all of the disciplines I talk about more. I changed a lot of my questions and how they were phrased. I added the DOI to a lot of my references.
Revisions to date
- Amatulli, Cesare, Matteo De Angelis, Alessandro M. Peluso, Isabella Soscia, and Gianluigi Guido. 2019. “The Effect of Negative Message Framing on Green Consumption: An Investigation of the Role of Shame.” Journal of Business Ethics 157, no. 4: 1111–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3644-x.
- Brown, B. E. 1997. Coral bleaching: Causes and consequences. Coral Reefs 16:S129–S138. DOI: 10.1007/s003380050249
- Buddemeier, Robert W., and Daphne G. Fautin. 1993. “Coral Bleaching as an Adaptive Mechanism.” BioScience 43, no. 5: 320–26. https://doi.org/10.2307/1312064.
- Fetter, S., and J. Jensen. 2011. Ocean policy: Working the National Ocean Policy and making the National Ocean Policy work. Oceanography 24(4):151–152, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/ oceanog.2011.111.
- Fontoura, Luisa J. A., Kyle H. Zawada, Stephanie J. D’Agata, Mariana S. Álvarez‐Noriega, Andrew M. Baird, Nader M. Boutros, Maria M. P. Dornelas, et al. 2020. “Climate‐Driven Shift in Coral Morphological Structure Predicts Decline of Juvenile Reef Fishes.” Global Change Biology 26, no. 2: 557–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14911.
- Frieler, K., Meinshausen, M., Golly, A. et al. 2013. Limiting global warming to 2 °C is unlikely to save most coral reefs. Nature Clim Change 3, 165–170. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1674
- Gibson, J, M McField, and S Wells. “Coral Reef Management in Belize: an Approach through Integrated Coastal Zone Management. 1998. ” Ocean & Coastal Management, 229–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0964-5691(98)00007-6
- Hoey, A. S., E. Howells, J. L. Johansen, et al. 2016. Recent advances in understanding the effects of climate change on coral reefs. Diversity 8:12. https://doi.org/10.3390/d8020012
- Hughes, T. P., A. H. Baird, D. R. Bellwood, et al. 2003. Climate change, human impacts and the resilience of coral reefs. Science 301:929–933. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1085046
- Kinzie, Robert A., Michelle Takayama, Scott R. Santos, and Mary Alice Coffroth. 2001. “The Adaptive Bleaching Hypothesis: Experimental Tests of Critical Assumptions.” The Biological Bulletin 200, no. 1: 51–58. https://doi.org/10.2307/1543084.
- Wilkinson, Clive R., and Robert W. Buddemeier. 1994. Global climate change and coral reefs: Implications for people and reefs. Report of the UNEP-IOC-ASPEI-IUCN Global task team on the implications of climate change on coral reefs. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.