Reefs at Risk.

Pam Muller pmuller at
Mon Jun 29 20:34:44 EDT 1998

Three points:

Point 1. The 1917 flu epidemic that killed literally millions of people
worldwide, started, at least according to one theory, in a prisoner of war
camp.  That is, a new pathogen, once it gets into a population with
minimal resistance, doesn't require that it's victims be stressed, only
that they lack resistance (the current spread of HIV is another pertinent

Thus, there is no reason to expect that the spread of WBD and other
new pathogens like the possible Diadema virus, once they get into a
region,  have anything to do with the vitality of the population

Point 2. Despite an unfortunate "The" in the Florida Keys section of the 
Reefs at Risk document, I don't know anyone who thinks declining water
quality is the only problem. To quote from the Reefs at Risk document
"The coral reefs of the Florida Keys exemplify the complexity of threats
to reef resources".  

On the other hand, humans have doubled the rate at which fixed nitrogen
is entering terrestrial ecosystems (e.g., Vitousek et al 1997, Science
and several other recent papers).  To assume that we haven't 
similarly altered nitrogen flux to aquatic systems is unrealistic.  Of
course, understanding the spectrum of consequences of possibly doubling
the annual rate of nitrogen flux to coastal ecosystems is obviously not a
trivial matter, especially when we are adding so many other wonderful
things to our atmosphere and coastal waters at the same time.

Point 3. I suspect that looking for "the smoking gun" in the Florida Keys
is analogous to searching for The Holy Grail.  I doubt that you will find
it, but hopefully you will learn something along the way.  

Pamela Hallock Muller
Department of Marine Science
University of South Florida
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 USA
pmuller at
Phone: 813-553-1567
FAX: 813-553-1189 

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what
nobody has thought."  - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -

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