[Coral-List] Objective Science?

Bruno, John jbruno at unc.edu
Thu Feb 9 23:25:07 EST 2012

Dr Alina Szmant, telling it like it is on the corallist! I agree with your points and as I've said before, you inspire me!

John F Bruno, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
UNC Chapel Hill

Message: 7
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 09:03:39 -0500
From: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu<mailto:szmanta at uncw.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Objective Science?
To: Bill Allison <allison.billiam at gmail.com<mailto:allison.billiam at gmail.com>>, GlennPatton
<glenn at glennpatton.com<mailto:glenn at glennpatton.com>>
Cc: Coral List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml..noaa.gov>>
<68ECDB295FC42D4C98B223E75A854025D9F3F8605D at uncwexmb2.dcs.uncw.edu<mailto:68ECDB295FC42D4C98B223E75A854025D9F3F8605D at uncwexmb2.dcs.uncw.edu>>
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I have watched the coral reefs of Florida, Puerto Rico, MBRS and more recently southern Caribbean lose coral cover year after year since the 1987 major bleaching event, all due to dramatic and prolonged elevated seawater temperature events.  We have now shown that development and settlement  of two dominant coral  species (Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata) are seriously affected by temperatures as low as 30 degrees C, and thus spawn from the surviving adult colonies when they do reproduce, will result in fewer larvae and reduced settlement potential.  In my opinion, based on over two decades watching Caribbean corals die from elevated temperature, I think that ocean acidification (OA) is a minor player in the future health of Caribbean coral reefs.  It doesn't kill corals, just slows calcification a bit, and in some species not at all.  The levels of OA that are being used in lab experiments to demonstrate an effect on calcification are soooo next century, and by th
en, elevated temperature will have decimated coral populations even more.   There won't be many corals left to be affected by decreased pH, and maybe the survivors will be the ones that are not affected by decreased pH.

In my opinion,  OA is just the most recent band wagon for short attention spanners who got bored of working on temperature effects.  But OA has some big names promoting its significance (good way to loosen up $$ and other currencies), and the band wagon marches on.  I think that papers like the D'eath et al Science paper last year, that with NO EVIDENCE to support their statements, in their discussions invoking OA as THE cause for the decreased rate of calcification they observed in their cores since 1990, during a decade when corals were frequently bleached and stressed by temperature (both of which cause decreased calcification), are totally irresponsible, and makes me totally doubt our current peer review system.  [I could write a whole lot more about everything that is wrong and poorly done in this paper but will stop here].  There is nothing that ticks me off more than bad science!!!

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409 USA
tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913

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