coral reefs doomed?
BTyler3 at aol.com
BTyler3 at aol.com
Sun Sep 9 20:18:34 EDT 2001
Re: Mark Spalding's comments and others...
<<Just a few quick thoughts on this, because tommorrow and Tuesday I'm going
to be facing quite a bit of national and international press regarding the
launch of the World Atlas of Coral Reefs. I'm quite expecting a question such
as "We heard last week that coral reefs will all be dead within 50 years and
there's nothing we can do about it, so why should be bother trying?">>
I'd like to throw in my two cents worth about why bothering to study/protect
coral reefs IF(??) they are actually on there way to widespread decline as is
being discussed here. This probably seems obvious to biologists and
managers, but not necessarily to politicians/reporters
controlling/influencing the purse strings.
There are other reasons to protect these areas and to maintain water quality
in reef areas other than maintaining hard corals.
What would be the effect of hard coral die-offs from many of the worlds coral
reefs? No doubt there would be a change in structure, both physical and
ecological. Coralline algae, sponges, and possibly soft corals, would likely
become the dominant structure-forming organisms. This change in structural
characteristics would lead to community changes in composition, diversity and
abundance, but not necessarily complete elimination of important marine
resources in these areas.
In the worst case scenario, there may eventually be complete erosion of
wave-dissipating functions of the resulting reefs, but this may take much
longer. But it seems to me that these altered reef areas would still be
valuable marine resources worthy of protection for the future, if nothing
else then to help put off the possibly inevitable breakdown of the entire
reef structure. Good water quality and management practices should
hopefully enhance whatever takes place over the long-term.
Dr. Bill Tyler
Indian River Community College
Ft. Pierce, FL
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