[Coral-List] Coral, algae and microbes

Thomas Goreau goreau at bestweb.net
Thu Jun 15 14:51:09 EDT 2006

Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for your message, I guess they must have posted it?

I do agree with your statements below fully. I think the data you  
have gotten is quite fascinating, an ingenious and valuable  
experimental and analytical approach, and shows a lot of different  
things may be going on depending on the specific algae-coral pairs.  
Congratulations: this is worthy of much more work! Because the short  
piece that Science is actually publishing somewhat simplifies and  
overextends your conclusions, i wanted to point out only that the  
field ecological data must be taken into account before people leap  
to conclusions that a bit of algae will kill all the corals, or that  
it is the cause of disease epidemics (or epizootics as Bert Williams  
will point out).

I wish I had edited my final comment a bit, because I did not mean  
the end comments to seem so harsh. In fact they are aimed not at your  
very interesting paper but the many truly awful papers on reefs that  
have been published in Science and Nature in recent decades despite  
saying nothing new, just hidden behind poor scholarship and jargon- 
filled verbiage.  It also reflects the fact that almost every time  
they ask me for comments, and I take the trouble to give a thoughtful  
response, they never run any of it!

Good luck and best wishes,

On Jun 15, 2006, at 2:35 PM, Jennifer Smith wrote:

> Dear Tom,
> I wanted to thank you for commenting on our recent Ecology Letters  
> paper on coral, algae and microbes. I agree with everything you  
> mentioned in your email. However, I would like to argue that in our  
> paper we do not claim that this mechanism is happening everywhere,  
> all the time. The goal of the study was to document the  
> *possibility* for this mechanism to exist. We showed that yes, it  
> can exist in the lab. We don't know how common or widespread it is  
> in the field but that it is likely to be concentration  
> dependent...the more algae, the more DOC, the more bacteria, the  
> more potential for coral mortality. This of course will be most  
> pronounced in areas that are already being degraded by impacts such  
> as overfishing and nutrient pollution. Further, not all corals and  
> not all algae are created equally. Some coral species are likely to  
> be more resistant and some algae are likely to release more DOC  
> than others. These are all questions that still need to be  
> addressed and that we hope will stimulate some very interesting  
> research in the near future.
> Thanks again for your thoughts.
> Best Regards,
> Jennifer
> <jsmith.vcf>

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
goreau at bestweb.net

More information about the Coral-List mailing list