Bali Minisymposium

BGreenstein at BGreenstein at
Fri Mar 10 12:15:21 EST 2000

To Coral List Members,  

Given the postings coming in, today seems like mini-symposium announcement
day for 9th ICRS in Bali later this year. 

My co-conveners and I would like to make you aware of the symposium
described below.  The deadline for submission of abstracts is April 30,
2000.  Please send
your abstract to Ben Greenstein  (bgreenstein at, Mairi Best
(mmrbest at and David Hopley (David.Hopley at

For additional information regarding the meeting please check the web site
at - 


		Lessons from the Past: Reef Palaeoecology and Its
				Convenors:  *	Mairi Best, Univ. of
Chicago, USA.
					        *	Dr. Ben Greenstein,
Cornell College, Iowa, USA.
							Evan Edinger,
Laurentian Univ. Canada.
				Dr. Markus Bertling, Geol-Palaeo Inst & 
				Museum, Germany.
				        		Dr. John Pandolfi,
Smithsonian Institution, USA.
        					Dr. Rachel Wood, Univ. of
Cambridge, UK

Coral reefs are globally endangered, mostly because of man-made effects.
Other than implicating anthropogenic responsibility for the current crisis,
there might hence be little reason, at first sight, to engage in the study
of fossil (i.e. pre-industrial) reefs. Independent of their systematic
position, however, fossil reef organisms may be grouped according to their
organisation (e.g., solitary vs. colonial), growth, and ecological demands.
With these generalisations, it may be expected that extinct biota reacted
to a changing environment in a comparable way.

Many previous crises of reefs occurred during Earth history, leaving their
record in rocks; palaeoecological studies reveal these crises by noting
changes in reef organisms, in reef morphology, in post-mortem skeletal
modification, and -via the surrounding sediment- in environmental
conditions. Because of the timespan of the rock record, palaeoecology
offers unique insights into long-term processes associated with the demise
of reefs.

There are questions in reef palaeoecology, however, that need to be
addressed. One point is the frequent difficulty to distinguish between
autogenic succession of organisms and external forcing; another the
difficulty to establish a sound time-frame for the changes observed
(thousands or millions of years?). Most of all, very few fossil reefs have
been studied comprehensively with an approach oriented at modern ecology;
the few studies along these lines have concluded that the ecological
changes observed on modern reefs are without a Pleistocene precedent.
During the mini-symposium, the issues mentioned should be addressed,

- What taphonomic processes determine the preservation of reef systems?
- Can variation in taphonomic signature indicate changes in reef
- Does the Pleistocene/Holocene reef fossil record preserve any of the
ecological changes observed today?
- How different may a fossil reef be to still be able to act as a reference
for a modern one?
- How were reef-builders other than corals established?
- How did non-scleractinian reefs function ecologically?
- Where did corals take refuge under hostile conditions?
- How did reefs survive in extreme (with respect to nutrients, turbidity,
temperature, etc.) environments?
- How important were biotic vs. abiotic stressors?
- Which time-scales may be relevant for the demise of coral reefs?
- Which organisms are the best/most reliable biomonitors to indicate the
"health status" of a reef today and during Earth history?

Ben Greenstein, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Geology
Cornell College
600 First St. West
Mt. Vernon, Iowa 52314
bgreenstein at
PH (319) 895-4307
FAX (319) 895-5667

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