[Coral-List] Reef Remnancy not resiliency
chwkins at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 21 13:15:18 EST 2006
Phil and everyone:
Your shot across the bow is welcome by some of us who realize that the biology only holds so much promise for a solution, and that there are a suite of things that need to be employed in tandem with the biophysical sciences to address these issues.
I am not sure where I stand about remnancy vs. resiliency. It has a bit of a chicken and the egg connotation to it. Are some reefs remnant because they are resilient? Are they now resilient because they are remnant, for whatever reason? It is a tough one to wrap your head around...
I'd like to comment, though, on one part of your posting, and that is the notion that promoting competition among dive shops with a "R" scale. I would think that identifying a reef as an R3 would prompt management to look more towards limiting activities at that site, rather than a "rush to destroy it" approach.
At first glance, I might suggest that such a scale would be useful, though. However, it is critical not just to understand the reef condition, but also the users of that reef(s). Specialization theory (a human dimensions tool) offers a framework to do this. With specialization, we know that there are is a continuum of users from low to highly specialized (e.g. PADI Open Water Divers to Nitrox Divers), and that highly specialized users are the ones most likey to obey regulations and support management actions (Ditton, Loomis, Choi, 1992; Salz and Loomis, 2005, Salz, Loomis and Finn, 2001; Bryan, 1977/2000). Directing those users with to an R3, R4, or R5 reef would be then become a management alternative.
In addition, management alternatives such as placing only a few mooring bouys at the highest "R" sites, would seem like a good strategy.
Of course, all of this depends on identifiying resilient or remnant reefs and then scaling them, which seems to be what is causing some problems. And on understanding the nature of the area's user groups, which is never done very methodically.
I have just identified one potential way to like resiliency to a conservation mechanism. I believe there are others, but we need to know all of the tools available.
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Christopher Hawkins, PhD student
Human Dimensions of Resource Management
Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Program
Department of Natural Resources Conservation
314 Holdsworth Hall
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Dear Coral List,
Id like to thank everyone for participating in
the discussion about
healthy reefs in teh Florida Keys. I've gotten
lots of response but no
one can point to a healthy reef, because there
are none left. And
probably haven't been for a long time.
My point is that before we talk about
resilience, maybe we can reach a
true consensus that the reefs are a mere shadow
of their past. By my
calculations nad measurments, the Keys have lost
over 90% of their
living coral since we began to study them in the
1960s and 70s. The
Tortugas are in better shape, but are also losing
vitality pretty fast
too. This is shameful. All this time we have been
talking about studies,
monitoring, and awareness and the house has been
in full flames right in
front of our faces. Shame on everyone that wants
to minimize this or,
even worse, deny it. The authorities should be
worried about how to
protect what is left, and should have been fully
engaged in this years
ago, but everyone wants to pretend that its
patchy, or not here, or
look over there, theres a new recruit! Worse
yet, some want us to
think that we can remake the reef with concrete
or boulders- the built
it and they will come mentality. There really is
no point in continuing
to wear a smiley face. Looking for patches that
are the remnants of a
far greater luxuriance, without documenting
(georeferencing) the losses
that are far greater, supports this form of
Well, the water is too polluted and weve know
this for a very long
time. We may not know exactly how, but we know it
is and perhaps there
are some creative ways to reduce loading. And
there are too many people
fishing and gathering, and Key Largo STILL does
not have a sewage
system because its too expensive? And watershed
effluent is not simply
But still we look for bright spots. I
think its because its
more politically palpable and easier. The really
worthwhile road is
hundreds of years long and involves some really
hard reality checks,
sacrifice, political savy, and serious money.
What's the point of having
a sanctuary if there's nothing left except an
Its been said by many that the coral reef
science community eats their
young. It also seems to be good at reinventing
discoveries and denial.
The reefs are dying faster that we are
progressing however. Rather
than resiliency, Id favor a term like remnancy
(to coin a new term)
that portrays reality a bit more. Which reefs
are hanging on, or slower
in losing ground. Perhaps we could institute a
scale of remnancy (the R
scale from 0-5). Molasses reef might be rated as
R2, Rock Key R3,
Carysfort R1, etc
Maybe this might help create
public awareness and
political pressure. It would also promote healthy
dives shops and localities along the Keys. Who
wants to dive on an R2
when we can go to an R3? In a few hundred years
some reefs might even
be up to R4 if conservation is successful.
Otherwise,with business as usual, we just keep
shifting the baseline
downward and keep studying the reef, and gee,
its a problem that we
need to keep working on. But the house is now
ashes and the emperor is
wearing a beautiful set of new clothes.
Thanks again and I hope we can keep focusing on
the reefs. Just
imagine the Florida Keys without reefs?
Phillip Dustan Ph.D.
Department of Biology
College of Charleston
Charleston SC 29424
(843) 953-8086 voice
(843) 953-5453 (Fax)
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