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Indo-Pacific coral reefs disappearing more rapidly than expected

ers found. But for Bruno and Selig, one of the most surprising results was that coral cover was similar between reefs maintained by conservationists and unprotected reefs. This consistent pattern of decline across the entire Indo-Pacific indicates that coral loss is a global phenomenon, likely due in part to large-scale stressors such as climate change. But for Bruno and Selig, one of the most surprising results was that coral loss was just as extensive on some of regions most intensely managed reefs.

The results of the study have significant implications for policy makers and resource managers searching for ways to reverse coral loss. We can do a far better job of developing technologies and implementing smart policies that will offset climate change, Bruno said. We can also work on mitigating the effects of other stressors to corals including nutrient pollution and destructive fishing practices.

Although reefs cover less than one percent of the ocean globally, they play an integral role in coastal communities, Bruno said. They provide economic benefits through fisheries and tourism and serve invaluable services like buffering from storms. When corals die, these benefits quickly disappear. Coral disease, predators, rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, nutrient pollution, destructive fishing practices and sediment run-off from coastal development can all destroy reef communities.

Indo-Pacific reefs have played an important economic and cultural role in the region for hundreds of years and their continued decline could mean the loss of millions of dollars in fisheries and tourism ,Its like when everything in the forest is gone except for little twigs,a few lone trees Selig said.


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Contact: Becky Oskin
becky_oskin@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
7-Aug-2007


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