[Coral-List] Remnancy vs Resiliency: Part 2

Alan E. Strong Alan.E.Strong at noaa.gov
Sat Feb 25 03:45:17 EST 2006

Hi Phil,

Even Plenary talk at Ocean Sciences here in Hawaii this week...George 
Philander...claims the evidence is not that clear...


Richard Grigg wrote:

>         Coral reefs are not dying all over the world.  We have 1000's that 
>are very healthy in the Pacific, not to say there are not problems but it 
>doesn't help to make sweeping false generalizations.
>                                                                 Rick Grigg
>At 12:23 PM 2/24/2006 -0500, Phil Dustan wrote:
>>Dear Colleagues,
>>        Again, thanks to everyone for participating in this most interesting
>>thread. It also reminds me of the Reefs at Risk thread we had a few
>>years back but there are more people involved now so it’s important to
>>continue.  And now that we’ve had the opportunity to contribute our
>>thoughts, perhaps we do some good work.
>>        We all know that reefs are dying all over the world, in remote 
>>and less
>>remote locations. We know that reefs in different places are stressed by
>>different things. For example, Florida Reefs show signs of stress from
>>nature, land based sources of pollution as well as bleaching, loss of
>>diadema, and anything else you can probably name. Rainbow Gardens in the
>>Exumas, Bahamas was once pretty little patch reef, lost 80% of its coral
>>cover between 1991 and 2004. But the biomarkers from there do not show
>>signs of stress from LBSP and it’s probably that global warming is to
>>blame. And everyone can cite an exception as well. Each reef has its own
>>history and ecology.
>>Let’s face it:
>>        The stress to reefs occurs at nested scales from local to global,
>>varies in severity at different scales in different locations, is
>>ongoing, and has had cataclysmic results. You can site the geological
>>record of past changes and say the ongoing decline is really no big deal
>>in light of what happened in the Tertiary, or say that we really don’t
>>have enough baseline data to make an informed decision, or pretend it’s
>>outside our control. Without human activity, natural change would take
>>its course, but the human disruption has spread like a flame across the
>>seas.  Mangroves, kelp forests, oyster reefs, salt marshes, etc. are all
>>in trouble.  Dust storms resulting from inefficient agriculture spread
>>spores, nutrients and pollutants across oceans at global scales.
>>Everywhere is connected and the dots lead back all the way to human
>>reproductive success.
>>        Reefs are dying all over the world.  This fact puts reefs on the 
>>screen at conferences, in books, in the media, and drives the formation
>>of government task forces and increased agency budgets.  It is my
>>opinion, based on what I know, that the demise of coral reef communities
>>(along with most other coastal ecosystems) is signaling a decline in the
>>health of the oceans.  So can we live without reefs- maybe? Will reefs
>>reappear after humans leave the planet-probably? But can we live on this
>>earth without a healthy ocean?- probably not.  The canaries are dying
>>and we have got to do more.
>>        As I said in my earlier remarks that started this thread, I think
>>resilience is the wrong term because it gives the wrong impression.  We
>>scientists and managers work with the terms and understand them, but the
>>everyday person, or politician, may have a very different concept of
>>resiliency.  Instead of remnancy or resiliency, perhaps an index of
>>ecological integrity might be more realistic.  Lots of us have struggled
>>with this idea and there are some very good protocols, programs, and
>>ideas floating. An index of ecosystem vitality comes to mind.
>>        As the “body of experts” I think we have to ask ourselves what we 
>>going to do about the coral reef crisis now.  Can members of the coral
>>list find some common ground upon which to proceed as a group? Or,
>>should be go about our individual ways and do what we can at our own
>>scales.  I’d like to believe that we have more power in numbers and
>>could help to generate more awareness around the planet as a group.  For
>>example, perhaps the National Science Foundation and National Institutes
>>of Health could establish a joint program in coral reef, or oceanic,
>>health and its relationship to human health. Perhaps federal regulations
>>concerning sanctuaries could be more concerned with conserving a
>>resource than the economic benefit derived from the resources. It is
>>simply unconscionable to think that we can harvest virtually all the
>>lobster and a significant proportion of the fish from a sanctuary and
>>still call it a sanctuary!  No take should be he rule, not the
>>exception.  Who in their right mind can argue that trawling is
>>sustainable, or thousands of divers on a reef have little effect….. And
>>the list goes on.  Science tells us that optimal yield only works if we
>>had a valid baseline to begin with and we are way beyond that on almost
>>every reef on the planet.
>>        This coral list ­ albeit sponsored and censured by a US Federal 
>>is probably is the closest thing we have to a real time global forum for
>>reef advocacy based on science.  Perhaps we can begin to embark on a
>>process that might help generate long term solutions that are grounded
>>in science. Do people think that it might be possible to reach consensus
>>on a set of 8-10 action items, or changes in the practice, that would
>>forward the conservation of coral reefs right now, not that more study
>>of any factor will not improve our understanding, but what do we think
>>can be done right now as well as over the long term?
>>                Thanks,
>>                Phil
>>Phillip Dustan  Ph.D.
>>Department of Biology
>>College of Charleston
>>Charleston   SC  29424
>>(843) 953-8086 voice
>>(843) 953-5453 (Fax)
>>Coral-List mailing list
>>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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