[Coral-List] Impact of listing 66 coral species on coral research

Shortfin Mako Shark shortfin_mako_shark at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 13 09:31:52 EST 2012

I want to remind everyone that the ESA has 11 sections. Although one of the main objectives of the Act is to protect species that are declining and threatened with extinction, Section 4 of the Act also manadates that the Agencies implement Recovery Plans (i.e., achieve recovery of the species).
 Recovery plans must incorporate, at a minimum:
	1. a description of site-specific management actions necessary to achieve recovery of the species, 
	2. objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species be removed from the list; and 
	3. estimates of the time and costs required to achieve the plan's goal
Section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop and implement recovery plans for threatened and endangered species, unless such a plan would not promote conservation of the species.

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From: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
>To: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> 
>Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> 
>Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 8:05 PM
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Impact of listing 66 coral species on coral research
>*Gene's point that Acropora in Florida appeared and disappeared in the
>geological record is irrelevant to the discussion of protecting species
>from extinction, since those species did not go extinct and then come back
>from the dead.  They survived somewhere else, such as the Caribbean.
>I have to assume that Eugene has no idea that this line of evidence, as
>interesting as it is, is totally irrelevant to the question of whether
>listing 66 corals under the Endangered Species Act is a good idea or not.
>The Acropora species came back repeatedly in the geological record in
>Florida, because they did NOT go extinct as a species.  Species being, like
>Acropora cervicornis, for instance.  There were still living colonies of
>Acropora cervicornis somewhere in the western Atlantic, the only place in
>the world where they live.  But Florida is not the only place that they
>live.  Florida is near the northern end of their range, and cold events can
>kill them quite easily.  My undertanding is a number of corals were killed
>in Florida a couple of winters ago.  If they HAD gone extinct, they would
>never have re-appeared in the geological record.
>Anyhow, the reason for the Endangered Species Act is that once a species
>goes extinct, you can't get it back.  Now there might be a qualification
>for plants, where a plant went extinct and then someone found some seeds in
>a very dry place, and the seeds were still able to germinate.  Another
>exception may turn out to be a tortoise in the Galapagos Islands that has
>been in the news.  The last member of that species died recently, his name
>was "Lonesome George."  But turns out he was a member of a sub-species, and
>another sub-species has some genes from his sub-species, that got into them
>because sailors may have brought some of George's subspecies over to
>another island (probably for food, and some escaped) and they interbred
>with the other subspecies.  But that only works for things that can
>interbreed.  "Biological Species" form only a few hybrids, if any, with
>other species.  That's an Ernst Mayer concept.
>    Most species are defined based on morphology, not genetics, because
>there are too many species (over 2 million described) and genetics is too
>expensive and time consuming to test each species, as are inter-breeding
>experiments.  Now a number of coral "morphospecies" (species based on
>morphology) of corals have been found to interbreed in lab experiments
>(such as experiments by Wallace and Willis).  Veron has used the term
>"reticulate species" that Wallace and Willis used (which probably came from
>plants like Eucalyptus and Iris) and proposed that this is a common feature
>of corals.  The fact that some species are inter-fertile in the lab does
>not necessarily mean they interbreed on reefs, but suggests they may be
>capable of doing that.  At this point we don't know what proportion of the
>66 species that were proposed for ESA status can or can't interbreed in the
>There are a lot of species that have gone extinct in the last 100 years or
>so.  I have read that the rate of extinction now is higher than during the
>mass extinctions in the geological record.  I do not have the expertise to
>examine the basis for that claim and say whether I think it is correct or
>not.  But there seems very little doubt that the rate of extinctions has
>gone up orders of magnitude from the background rates before humans started
>causing extinctions.  I would bet that humans have been cause, or at least
>the straw that broke the camel's back in most extinctions that have been
>documented in the last 100 years or so.  The law was passed to try to slow
>that down, because once you have lost those species, you can't get them
>back.  There is a long list, a very long list of extinct species from the
>last 100 years or so, and not a single one, not one, has been brought
>back.  There is talk of trying, but talk is cheap, and there is not a
>single species brought back so far to prove it can be done..  Maybe someday
>a few species will be brought back, at great expense and effort and
>ingenuity.  Usually an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  And
>what is very unlikely indeed to change is that most species will never be
>brought back.
>So the Endangered Species Act is not about trying to restore populations as
>Gene has said twice.  It is about stopping extinctions.  And talk about
>corals coming back in the geological record are not about extinctions, that
>is irrelevant (except if small population sizes can be demonstrated, and a
>link between small population sizes and extinction, something that was not
>Gene's point and he didn't mention.)
>Cheers,  Doug
>On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:
>> Dear Listers, I suppose coral biologists and environmentalists will
>> never understand/learn what the geology of coral reefs is telling us.
>> As pointed out many, many times, about 98 percent of the Florida Keys
>> reefs are no less than a meter thick yet they have been underwater at
>> least 6,000 years. Acropora has come and gone  several times during
>> that period  long before all the current hysteria about
>> Co2/warming/alkalinity shift began. Seems likely that if history were
>> not repeating itself our reefs would be many meters thicker and
>> contain a continuous record of all the species we worry about. Gene
>> --
>> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
>> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
>> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
>> University of South Florida
>> College of Marine Science Room 221A
>> 140 Seventh Avenue South
>> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
>> <eshinn at marine..usf.edu>
>> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
>> -----------------------------------
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