on coral reef research and management
October 2002, Townsville Queensland Australia
- Overfishing and pollution have driven massive and accelerating
decreases in abundance of coral reef species and have caused global
changes in reef ecosystems over the last two centuries. If these
trends continue, coral reefs will decline further, resulting in the
loss of biodiversity and economic value (8, 9, 14).
- Outbreaks of coral bleaching have greatly increased in frequency and
magnitude over the past 30 years, and are tightly linked to increases
in temperature. A similar increase has occurred in coral disease (7,
- Projected increases in carbon dioxide and temperature over the next
50 years exceed the conditions under which coral reefs have flourished
over the past half million years (10, 11, 14, 16).
- The accelerating rate of environmental change diminishes the
evolutionary capacity of many coral species to adapt (6, 8).
- Global warming is not an all-or-none scenario for coral reefs. Reefs
will change rather than disappear entirely. The challenge is to work
out how, why, and what the consequences will be in relation to the
other problems faced by coral reefs (1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 16).
- Current management strategies need to be vigorously implemented and
complemented by strong policy decisions to reduce the rate of global
warming. International and national integration of reef management
strategies is an urgent priority (2, 5, 13).
- Marine protected areas are currently the best management tool for
preserving coral reefs, especially for extractive activities such as
fishing. To be effective, 30 - 50% of the available reef area should
be no-take (no fishing) for long-term protection of coral reefs and
their services (2, 3, 9, 17).
- No-take reserves are a powerful tool, but they can only work if
combined with effective management of surrounding areas. This requires
a strong focus on supporting reef resilience, which involves reducing
pollution, protecting food webs and managing key functional groups
(such as herbivores) as insurance for sustainability (1, 2, 3, 5, 6,
9, 12, 13).
- Coral reefs are the global canaries, as they are already showing
rapid responses to climate change at the global scale. Scientists,
managers and policy makers can use reefs to examine the effectiveness
of international attempts to understand and respond to the impact of
global warming (1, 7, 11).
- The maintenance of reef structures requires that rates of reef
growth balance rates of erosion. Future changes in ocean chemistry due
to higher carbon dioxide may cause dissolution or weakening of the
limestone that makes reefs (1, 3, 10, 14,16).
- Coral reefs support social and economic development and therefore
need to be sustained. To achieve this goal there is a clear need to
reduce the rate of global warming (5, 17).
1. Dr. David Bellwood (Fish Ecologist), Director Centre for Coral Reef
Biodiversity, James CookUniversity, AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 4781 4447.
2. Dr. Margaret Card (Environmental Manager). Environmental Protection
Agency, Townsville, AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 47225201. Email: Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Dr. Sean R. Connolly (Ecological Modeller & Marine Ecologist),
James Cook University,AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 4781 4242. Email:
4. Dr. Patty Debenham (Marine Science Communicator), SeaWeb, California,
USA. Ph: 1 415 771 5757. Email: email@example.com
5. Prof. Carl Folke (Ecological Economist), Swedish Academy of
Sciences/Stockholm University, SWEDEN. Ph: 46 8 164 248. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Prof. Rick Grosberg (Evolutionary Ecologist), University of California,
Davis, USA. Ph. 1 530 752 1114. E-mail: email@example.com
7. Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (Coral Physiologist/Ecologist), University of
Queensland, AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 3365 4333. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Prof. Terry Hughes (Coral Ecologist), James Cook University, AUSTRALIA.
Ph: 61 (0) 7 4781 4222. Email: email@example.com
9. Prof. Jeremy Jackson (Ecologist and Geologist), Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, USA. Ph: 1 619 822 2432. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Dr. Joanie Kleypas (Geologist/Ocean Chemist), National Center for
Atmospheric Research, USA. Ph: 1 303 497 1316. Email: email@example.com
11. Dr. Janice M. Lough (Climatologist), Australian Institute of Marine
Science, AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 4753 4248. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Dr. Paul Marshall (Marine Park Manager), Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park Authority, AUSTRALIA. Ph: 61 (0) 7 4750 0771. Email: email@example.com
13. Dr. Magnus Nyström (Ecosystems Ecologist), Stockholm University,
SWEDEN. Ph: 46 8 16 17 47. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
14. Dr. John Pandolfi (Coral Reef Paleontologist), Smithsonian
Institution, USA. Ph: 1 202 357 2406. Email: Pandolfi.John@nmnh.si.edu
15. Dr. Peter Pockley (Science Writer & Broadcaster), NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Ph: 61 (0) 2 9660 6363. Email: email@example.com
16. Dr. Brian Rosen (Coral Paleontologist/Biogeographer), The Natural
History Museum, UK. Ph: 44 20 7942 5584. Email: B.Rosen@nhm.ac.uk
17. Prof. Joan Roughgarden (Ecological Theoretician and Marine Biologist),
Stanford University, USA. Ph: 1 650 723-3648. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org