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Environmental Control of Holocene Changes to the World's Most Northern Hermatypic Coral Outcrop

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Title:Environmental Control of Holocene Changes to the World's Most Northern Hermatypic Coral Outcrop
Authors:Veron, JEN
Date Issued:Oct 1992
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Veron JEN. 1992. Environmental control of Holocene changes to the world's most northern hermatypic coral outcrop. Pac Sci 46(4): 405-425.
Abstract:Tateyama, near Tokyo (35° N lat.), is the site of the world's most
northern occurrence of living hermatypic corals and is also the site (in the Numa
beds) of a substantial outcrop of Holocene fossil corals with a radiocarbon date
of 5000-6000 yr B.P. This extraordinary co-occurrence provides the opportunity
for a detailed reconstruction of environmental change during the Holocene,
especially change in sea-surface temperature. The present study, combined with
a series of previous studies, reveals 72 coral species in the Numa beds, of which
53 have been identified with reasonable certainty; and 34 species of extant corals
at Tateyama, of which 25 have been located and identified. These data are
compared with recently completed studies of the distribution of extant corals of
Japan, and sea-surface temperatures of the principal regions of extant corals.
Nearly one-half of all species from the Numa beds have remained extant at
Tateyama until recent times, 85% are extant as far north as Kushimoto on the
Kii Peninsula (33.5° N lat.), and all except two have been recorded extant
somewhere in mainland Japan. There has been a major change in species
dominance at Tateyama. The identified species from the Numa beds and those
of the Izu Peninsula and Tateyama show a high degree of dissimilarity compared
with other coral communities of mainland Japan. The closest extant fauna to
the corals from the Numa beds appears to be that of Kushimoto. Based on six
ways of measuring the temperature regimes of coral communities of modern
mainland Japan, over the past 40 yr, this geographic comparison corresponds
to a mean sea-surface temperature increase of 1.7°C. Although there are several
assumptions in arriving at this number, the increase is clearly less than 2.1 °C,
which is the temperature difference corresponding to the substantially richer
coral communities of Tanegashima at the southern tip of mainland Japan. This
study shows that an increase in sea-surface temperature of < 2°C, such as is
widely predicted in response to the "greenhouse effect," should result in a greatly
increased diversity of corals in high-latitude locations. It also shows that this
temperature increase is sufficient to create a "high latitude subtropical" community
in a region that appears almost devoid of corals in a fossil sequence.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 46, Number 4, 1992

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