What is a coral reef?

John Ware jware at erols.com
Sun Jun 7 14:25:23 EDT 1998

Dear Coral Listers,

I am in the process of collecting definitions of the term 'coral reef'
or the more restrictive term: 'tropical coral reef'.  Clearly this is a
problem that has bothered coral-reef people for years and most of the
time we simply ignore it.  The subject came up briefly in Boston, and
we  really don't seem to have any reasonable definition.

I think that, if I can collect enough definitions from enough people, I
may be able to form a 'membership' function based on ideas and concepts
taken from fuzzy logic.  This would allow one to evaluate some object
and compute its membership in the class of objects which we would call
'coral reefs' or 'tropical coral reefs'.  The membership function would
range from 0 (not even a little bit like a coral reef) to 1 (a bona
fide, real-life, absolutely-no-question) coral reef.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone with their particular definition,
or definitions which they have found in the literature.  (For example,
your definition might be a syllogism: I am a coral-reef scientist.  The
things I study are coral reefs.  Therefore, this thing I am studying is
a coral reef.)

It would be nice (but not necessary) if the definitions included some
quantitative attribute, for example size, calcification rate, species
composition or some such.  I don't mean that I am looking for numbers,
just things that are potentially quantifiable.

If I receive sufficient responses, I will provide a digest of
definitions to the list.

Thanks in advance.

Please respond directly to:

jware at erols.com

John Ware
SeaServices, Inc.

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