The situation is particularly acute in the island nations of the Caribbean, which have seen an 80 percent decline in coral cover in recent decades. To address this crisis, an international team of researchers, in consultation with the government of the Bahamas, launched the Bahamas Biocomplexity Project--an interdisciplinary approach to ecosystem management that project leaders say could serve as a model for coral reef conservation worldwide.
"The Bahamas Biocomplexity Project works across various disciplines to understand the intricate scientific and socioeconomic factors contributing to ecosystem changes," said project principal investigator Dan Brumbaugh, senior conservation scientist at the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.
"Under the rubric of 'biocomplexity,' our approach recognizes that natural and human systems are inextricably linked, and that analyses and solutions must therefore transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries," he added.
On Feb. 20, Brumbaugh and Fiorenza Micheli, assistant professor of biological sciences at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, moderated a symposium entitled "Coral Reef Ecosystems and People in The Bahamas: Practical Applications of Biocomplexity Science" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis. Panelists included educators, social scientists and marine biologists, who provided a progress report on how biocomplexity science, still in its infancy, is being applied to the problem of coral reef eco